Apr 27, 2018

NGPF Podcast: Tim Talks to Financial Education Researcher, Melody Harvey

Far too often, we read in the media articles with titles like "Does Financial Education Really Work?" that take a skeptical view of the work that we do. Yet, every day, we seem to be seeing more evidence that it does. Today on the podcast you will hear from Melody Harvey, a current PhD candidate at Pardee RAND Graduate School. Her dissertation focuses on the question of whether financial education impacts usage of alternative financial services (a.k.a. payday borrowing and other high cost borrowing strategies). What she found will have significant implications for policy makers...you have to listen to find out why! She got her start in personal finance as a young entrepreneur selling avocados in the neighborhood and has been passionate about money management ever since. Thank you to Melody for sharing her time with us and for making a significant contribution to the field with her research. Enjoy! 


  • 0:00–0:52 Introduction
  • 0:53–2:39 Where her passion for financial education stems from
  • 2:40–6:03 Melody, the young avocado selling entrepreneur, learns money management
  • 6:04–9:59 Testing her hypothesis
  • 10:00–11:11 What constitutes as a state mandate?
  • 11:12–12:32 Taking a closer look at the numbers
  • 12:33–16:12 Let’s cut to the chase… what are the results?
  • 16:13–16:38 A word from NGPF
  • 16:39–17:52 How women lack financial literacy
  • 17:53–20:50 What’s the link between financial education & avoiding certain financial behaviors?
  • 20:51–24:22 Resource constraints hinder financial education implementation
  • 24:23–25:34 How a handful of states went above and beyond
  • 25:35–27:13 Looking to the future
  • 27:14–29:45 What state governments and policymakers can do, especially in underserved areas
  • 29:46–30:26 Best thing bought for under $10
  • 30:27–30:42 “Invest, save, and spend, but don’t forget to give”
  • 30:43–33:14 What she wished she knew when she was 18
  • 33:15–35:41 How she stays up-to-date
  • 35:42–36:24 Conclusion

Resources mentioned

Melody’s go-to resources:


  • “We’re… living in a time where we are increasingly being asked to take responsibility for our own finances and own financial health.”
  • “My hypothesis… was that young adults who were required to take personal finance in high school would be less likely to borrow payday loans or auto title loans—any kind of high cost products.”
  • “I found that individuals who were exposed to the mandate were about 6 percentage points less likely to use alternative financial services.”
  • “According to the study, an overwhelming 89% of Americans believe that financial education should be offered at schools, but I think that what makes it so difficult is these various resource constraints.”

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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