Time and time again, we meet people in crisis.
At Transformance, it’s part of our daily job: credit counseling, housing counseling, debt management and crisis relief. Each day we counsel individuals desperate for short-term and long-term changes to the lives – people who are exhausted from living paycheck to paycheck and continually worried about their financial future. And as committed as we are to provide immediate help and treat the symptoms to ease the pain and suffering, we are only too aware that a cure for empowering our communities is needed.
To paraphrase modern-day philosophers like Manish Abraham, “Actions change minds, minds change behavior, and behavior changes outcomes.” We’ve seen countless times where individuals have learned to make the right financial decisions for a season, then fall back into poor, albeit familiar, habits. So we began to look more closely at the disease of financial illiteracy and our own treatment schedules and wondered if there wasn’t a better way to make a more permanent impact and move people from recovery to restoration. How best could we incite behavior change?
The statistics are alarming: 57 percent of Americans — approximately 138 million adults — are struggling financially. Fourteen percent of Americans do not know their credit score or didn’t know they had a credit score. Nearly half of those living in the U.S. admit they would be unable to cover an unexpected $400 expense or would need to borrow or sell something in order to do so. Millions of Americans are raising children in households with poor family financial health and limited financial resources.
Armed with this knowledge, we considered the best ways to address a systemic issue that is growing worse across generations. We listened to economists, financiers, social service pundits, government officials, civic leaders and a cross-section of our client base. Along the way, we noticed a growing utilization of technology among learners of all ages and an idea was born.
Pocket Change USA: Financial Learning Hub is our first mobile app, a gamified education tool you can use to increase your financial knowledge while practicing good budgeting and spending habits. The free app is designed to let consumers track their finances while they learn, play, plan and connect with other learners. Users have 24/7 accessibility to Transformance’s financial literacy and educational resources, delivered right to their fingertips. Real time chats, forums and questions are answered by Transformance financial coaches. The app’s features are interactive, gamified and outcome-driven with both measurements and analytics.
Our smartphones and handheld devices are a personal and private resource where studies have proven that technology can drive behavioral change. As a financial capability advocate, Transformance (formerly Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Dallas) needed to reach our target audience where they are. Pocket Change USA accomplishes that.
(This blog post is part of the #FinHealthMatters campaign sponsored by The Center for Financial Services Innovation.)