2011 News

‘Striving to Save’ still garnering positive reviews nearly a year after its publication

Striving to Save: Creating Policies for Financial Security of Low-Income Families was published in February, 2010 to acclaim from economist Stuart Rutherford, Assistant Secretary at the US Department of Treasury Michael Barr, and Director of Brandeis’s Institute on Assets Thomas Shapiro. [Read their comments here.]

Almost one year later, the book, authored by CSD Research Professor Margaret Sherraden and CSD Research Director Amanda Moore McBride, with CSD Senior Scholar Sondra Beverly, continues to receive attention for its rigorous research and nuanced presentation of the complex financial lives of low-income families. The book is based on in-depth interviews with 84 low-income households, conducted as part of the American Dream Demonstration.

In his review for CHOICE, Darius Conger, an assistant professor of Economics at Ithaca College, notes the important implications of the research for saving among low-income families:

Although samples are small, the volume enumerates many positive outcomes for participants, both economic and psychological, including self-confidence and the development of life goals, and from those, the acquisition of assets such as housing and education . . . This study highlights the more severe problems, relative to those with higher incomes, encountered by both IDA participants and the nonparticipant comparison group and demonstrates that asset accumulation among the working poor is both possible and life altering, under the right conditions, for such families.

Barbara O’Neill, Extension Specialist in Financial Resource Management and Professor at Rutgers University’s Cooperative Extension program, applauds the book’s portrayal of the financial struggles encountered by low-income families. In her review in the Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, she writes:

Striving to Save is interesting, informative, and intensely personal, thanks to the descriptions of respondents and their verbatim quotes. After reading a few chapters, readers will have a much better appreciation of the constrained financial lives that low-income families lead.

O’Neill, with 30 years of experience providing financial education to low-income savers, also praises the utility of the book for educators in the field:

In fact, Striving to Save should be required reading for anyone teaching low-income families to save, or writing financial education curriculum materials for low-income families, or running an America Saves campaign. The book can help financial educators and counselors “walk in the shoes” of the people that they serve.