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Evaluation Report of Wesley Mission Financial Literacy Program

2 November 2016 Wesley Mission news

Launched in 2011, the Wesley Mission 'In Charge of My Money' Financial Literacy program was developed to educate people at risk about money management, and avoiding getting into debt.

This 2016 report, was funded by Financial Literacy Australia and conducted by Macquarie University, details the first evaluation of the 'In Charge of My Money' program. In addition to examining the effectiveness of the program, the research also explored the usefulness of text message reminders (‘nudges’) after the program.

The four main goals of the project were to:

  • Ensure the program content is relevant and evidence-based
  • Identify whether the program facilitates sustained improvement in financial behaviours
  • Estimate changes to participant financial knowledge and understanding at the end of the program, and estimate their retention after several months
  • Ascertain how incorporating a practical strategy, such as text message reminders, increases the chance of sustained change.

Key findings:

  • Ensure the program content is relevant and evidence-based

This evaluation found both quantitative and qualitative evidence that the In Charge of My Money program content and delivery is relevant for some of the most socially and economically disadvantaged and vulnerable people within the Australian population.

  • Identify whether the program facilitates sustained improvement in financial behaviours

There was evidence that the In Charge of My Money program facilitated sustained improvements in financial behaviours. Statistical analyses revealed a substantial improvement in financial behaviours from before the program to several months after the program.

  • Estimate changes to participant financial knowledge and understanding at the end of the program, and estimate their retention after several months

There was evidence of retention of knowledge and understanding several months after the program. In fact, a very large, statistically significant improvement was found in both general financial knowledge and personal financial knowledge (knowledge about one’s own financial circumstances) from before the program to immediately after the program. These gains were still apparent 5-7 months after the program, demonstrating that study participants retained most of the knowledge they had learnt in the program over several months.

  • Ascertain how incorporating a practical strategy, such as text message reminders, increases the chance of sustained change.

Sending effective text message nudges in this population was challenging because some participants did not have reliable mobile phone access. During the trial only 65% of text 12 messages were actually received by participants in the ‘nudge’ group. Three participants opted out. This reduced the ‘dosage’ of the intervention for some participants and resulted in a slightly smaller intervention group.

Conclusion

This program evaluation found evidence that the In Charge of My Money program is relevant and evidence-based, does facilitate sustained improvement in financial behaviours, and does produce strong retention of financial knowledge and understanding for people facing vulnerabilities including drug, alcohol and gambling addictions, homelessness, and family strain. This study also found text message nudges may increase the chance of sustained change in financial behaviours after the program, but this finding needs to be replicated with a larger sample.

To read the full evaluation report, click on the link in the right hand column of this page.