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Families learn to make every dollar count

The Issue

Families with lower educational levels and limited resources make more money management mistakes than wealthier and better-educated families. Providing money management information in formats that appeal to limited-resource families and in a learner’s native language are known to increase financial literacy of less-educated families. International studies have shown that computer-based money management programs are effective in helping less-educated families improve their financial knowledge and decisions.

What Has ANR Done?

The Making Every Dollar Count program is an English/Spanish computer-based, audio-visual, interactive money management program designed to empower participants to independently learn the skills needed to make better financial choices for their families. It was developed at the sixth-grade reading level to meet the the needs of people with diverse learning styles. The program consists of lessons on goal setting, making spending choices, stretching income, budgeting, paying bills on time, options for buying when cash is not available, saving money on food and the impact of food advertising. The online, self-paced tutorial can be used anytime and is available free at http://makingeverydollarcount.ucr.edu.

The Payoff

Families learn and use money saving skills and strategies

Participants in five counties (Kern, Butte, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara) increased their financial skills and behavior by participating in the Making Every Dollar Count computer-based program. An evaluation of 140 participants (39 percent Asian/Pacific Islander, 32 percent Hispanic, and 29 percent white) showed 47 percent who had classroom and computer instruction, 56 percent with classroom instruction only, and 44 percent with computer instruction only had identified community resources to help stretch their budgets. Additionally, 50 percent of the combined, 48 percent of the classroom and 40 percent of the computer only groups had used simple ways to save money on food. Nearly all the participants believed they had learned from the program and were taking actions suggested by programmatic content.


Supporting Unit:

UC Riverside, Consumer Economics Program; Butte County; Kern County; San Joaquin County, San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County; News & Information Outreach in Spanish
Karen Varcoe or Connie Costello, (951) 827-5241, karen.varcoe@ucr.edu or connie.costello@ucr.edu