Happy March from the Connecticut Asset Building Collaborative! Spring is on the way! Read on to find out about the latest research that affects your work, and opportunities to learn more and connect with your peers.
Local opportunities to learn
New Haven Regional Networking Meeting
Get together in New Haven to learn about what’s going on locally, and network with your peers! The New Haven Regional Networking Meeting will take place from 9am-12pm on April 6th, at Gateway Community College. Register here!
Your Money Your Goals training
United Way of Greater New Haven’s Your Money Your Goals training series continues to be extremely popular with service providers all around the state. A fourth session will be held on March 27th, in New Haven. Register here. Contact Joy Duva at 203 691 4203, firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about this training.
Money Management for Life
Gateway Community College is offering the Money Management for Life course for free! This is a 3 college credit course that covers better ways to manage your money, develop workable budgets, and create short and long-term personal financial strategies. To be considered for acceptance into the course, you must have a high school diploma and currently be employed either full or part-time. You must submit a response to the following question, “What I hope to learn from attending the Money Management for Life course.” Please send your response to email@example.com. Once you have completed your response to the statement above, a College application and registration form will be emailed to you. Contact Pam Walsh at Gateway for more information at (203) 285-2142.
Asset Collaborative Peer Learning
Be watching for our next Peer Learning Session that will be held in the Hartford area around the end of May. Staff from Commonwealth (formerly D2D fund) will be visiting from Massachusetts to talk about Prize Linked Savings, Gamification, Behavioral Aspects of Asset Building and Marketing of programs.
The latest research that matters
Financially insecure residents cost cities millions
It’s not just individuals and families who suffer when they don’t have savings to cover emergency expenses. The cities that they live in end up paying a heavy price. Research by the Urban Institute finds that up to 4.5% of a city’s total budget might be being spent on the problem, through lost property taxes, unpaid utility bills (especially municipal utilities), homeless programs, lower home ownership and lower spending and small business development. Use this research to pressure your municipality to invest in asset building work!
Non-bank services – why do they make sense for so many people?
Take a look at this interview with Lisa Servon talking about her extremely important new book, The Unbanking of America, how the New Middle Class Survives. Lisa argues that mainstream US banks no longer meet the needs of low and middle income customers, particularly those with unpredictable and irregular income and expenses. The rise of check-cashers, payday lenders and other non-bank services is a response to the failure of banks to provide services and products that meet customer needs. Use this research to pressure local banks to do more to meet the needs of low-income customers, and to be more understanding of clients who don’t use banks.
Greater inequality may compromise spending on basic needs
Research from India shows that the more unequal a society is, the more the poorer groups spend on conspicuous consumption, not basic needs. Status matters, and the further one feels from high status groups, the more one has to spend to make up the distance. The study was done in a very different social and cultural environment, but patterns in the US, where inequality is growing fast, may be similar. Use this research to argue that inequality matters, and fuels dysfunctional financial behavior.
Moving towards a cashless society – who loses?
You may have read about countries that are moving fast towards cashless economies – from Sweden to India. It seems to be the look of the future, but we must be careful to pay attention to who may lose out as cash payments phase out. In the US, as in many other places, it is usually the poorest who rely on cash, both for receiving income and making expenses. Unless they have access to digital technology to replace cash, we may find that inequality takes on yet another form – digital versus cash. Read here to find out more.
News you can use
Just a reminder. Tax season ends April 18th, so make sure your clients have taken advantage of free tax prep through VITA. There are more than 100 VITA sites statewide - find those closest to you by calling 211 or visiting their website, or see here. Any household earning less than $54,000 is eligible for VITA. Households earning more than that but less than $64,000, or those that prefer to do their own taxes, should use www.myfreetaxes.com.
Asset Building Collaborative on Social Media!
The CT Asset Building Collaborative is now on Facebook and Twitter! This will help us to share information about policies, research and events relating to asset building. Take a look at the sites, allow them, and share them with your friends and colleagues to follow to. If you have information you want to share, or want to suggest content, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New student financing website
A new state website was recently launched, created by multiple agencies, to streamline all of the state agencies and services relevant to higher education financing. Visit www.ctdollarsandsense.com for a one-stop shop to help you plan, save and pay for college. For example, did you know about Chesla, the low-interest loan for Connecticut resident students already enrolled in school? Find out about it and more at www.CTdollarsandsense.com!
Short term savings products and steadier incomes are all we need
Short term savings products and steadier incomes can make a world of difference to the lives of people currently struggling to manage financially. See here for an excellent, printable summary of how those two changes could change the lives of struggling US workers.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in action!
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) does incredibly important work to protect consumers of financial services, particularly those least able to defend themselves. Just recently, the CFPB took action against UniRush for errors made in October 2015, when tens of thousands of economically vulnerable RushCard users were unable to access their own money to pay for basic necessities. Mastercard and Rush have been ordered to pay approximately $10 million to affected customers, and a $3 million fine. CFPB also recently sued student loan servicer Navient for failing to provide proper services to borrowers. This important work, protecting consumers, especially those least able to defend themselves, is threatened by the new administration. Do what you can to support and protect the CFPB!