Articles & Special Issues Financial Capability Financial Inclusion

Coming of Age on a Shoestring Budget: Financial Capability and Financial Behaviors of Lower-Income Millennials

Lower-income millennials make important financial decisions that may affect their future financial well-being. With limited resources, this population is at risk for acquiring too much debt or being unprepared for a financial emergency that can send them further into poverty and constrain their ability to leverage resources for future economic mobility. A financial capability approach, an intervention that combines financial education with financial inclusion through the use of a savings account, may correlate with millennials’ healthy financial behaviors. This study used data from the 2012 National Financial Capability Study to examine the relationship between financial capability and the financial behaviors of lower-income millennials between the ages of 18 and 34 years (N = 2,578). Compared with those lower-income millennials who were financially excluded, those who were financially capable were also 171 percent more likely to afford an unexpected expense, 182 percent more likely to save for emergencies, and 34 percent less likely to carry too much debt, relating to their greater overall financial satisfaction. The findings of this study indicate that interventions that develop lower-income millennials’ financial capability may be effective for promoting healthy financial behaviors.

Project: Financial Capability & Asset Building


West, S., & Friedline, T. (2016). Coming of age on a shoestring budget: Financial capability and financial behaviors of lower-income millennials. Social Work, 61(4), 305–312. doi:10.1093/sw/sww057