CSD hosts CFPB financial education and tax-time savings events
7/5/2017
With the Center for Social Development as a partner, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau held two events in June at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work. 

The first, the CFPB Financial Education Exchange (CFPB FinEx), was for St. Louis-area practitioners and direct-service providers. The event centered on workplace financial wellness programs and how employers can use CFPB’s resources. 

The second, the Tax Time Savings Initiative Cohort Convening, drew Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) leaders and managers from across the country.

CFPB FinEx attendees learned about new research findings from the CSD’s Employee Financial Wellness Programs (EFWP) Project, as well as easy ways to access education tools and resources, with the goal of helping to improve the financial well-being of the people they serve. CSD co-hosted the June 13 event with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Presenters included CSD Associate Director Michal Grinstein-Weiss, CFPB Senior Financial Education Program Analyst Irene Skricki, CSD Project Director Meredith Covington and CFPB Financial Education Outreach Analyst Ken McDonnell. Among the topics were workplace financial wellness programs research and CFPB FinEx tools and resources, financial coaching and a discussion of the CFPB Financial Well-being Scale

At the June 21 Tax Time Savings event, participants shared ways VITA programs can increase economic stability through improved use of savings products and services. Practitioners shared their challenges and strategies for promoting tax-time savings, building relationships with other CFPB Tax Time Savings Initiative partners, implementing promising practices, and creating consistent messaging to make savings promotion more effective.

The daylong event included a presentation of CSD research, including findings from Refund to Savings and myRA research projects, with discussion about behavioral concepts that underpin money decisions and how those concepts can be put into practice at VITA sites to encourage savings. 

CSD’s Grinstein-Weiss, Stephen Roll, research assistant professor, Genevieve Davison, program manager, and Sam Bufe, statistical data analyst, all made presentations. Among the findings discussed were:
  • The importance of the role that the tax refund, which is worth well over a month’s pay for the typical low-income online tax filer, plays in low-income people’s lives.
  • The ways in which low-income tax filers use their refunds, typically either using it for essential purchases, debt payments, or to save for emergencies.
  • Even light-touch interventions, like those pioneered by Refund to Savings, can dramatically shift the rate at which tax filers save their refund.
CFPB presenters included Daniel Dodd Ramirez, assistant director of the Office of Financial Empowerment, and David Sieminski, policy analyst. Denise DeVaan, of ICF International, also presented and facilitated.

“The CFPB continues to be an important leader in the financial capability space, and CSD was pleased to host these important convenings,” Grinstein-Weiss said. 

“Sharing best practices and disseminating research findings in this type of collaborative atmosphere is key to supporting the many organizations working to lift underserved populations,” she said.