In the first of two recently released reports showing promise, the FINRA Investor Education Foundation and SaverLife collaborated for the joint study, Savings: A Little Can Make a Big Difference. The research helps advocates, researchers and policy makers examine how best to approach financial health for lower-income Americans. Researchers combined data from SaverLife’s online savings platform built for lower-income Americans with survey data that explored the SaverLife members’ financial attitudes, experiences and behaviors. The study focused on the savings habits of nearly 700 lower-income households and tracked participants’ three-month average daily savings balances available in their SaverLife-linked accounts. Even when controlling for household income, gender, age, marital status, presence of dependents in the household and education, important differences in financial well-being persisted among those who could maintain a savings balance over a mere $100 vs. those who could

The second report is a collaboration between the FINRA Foundation and Urban Institute produced, Employer-Sponsored Small-Dollar Loans: A Survey of Products and Employers. This report is intended to help employers (and others) understand the current Employer-Sponsored Small-Dollar Loan landscape and emerging issues. The report looks at the need for safe and affordable short-term loans and describes the business models, terms, and features of existing ESSDL products based on a review of the field and interviews with 10 ESSDL providers. The accompanying checklist, Starting a Small-Dollar Loan Program for Your Employees, is a tool designed to help employers weigh structural options among different employer-based loan programs.