Sep 13, 2016

NGPF Podcast: Tim Talks To Researcher Dr. Carly Urban About The Effectiveness of Financial Education


I have to be candid and say that I get a little ticked off when I read about how personal finance education doesn’t work (see here and here and here). Here are just a few of the quotes that I came across questioning its value:

  • So when it comes to education, I start rolling my eyes when people suggest education is the magic bullet. Let’s get real, please. As heretical as it is to say in our society, “education” is not the panacea for personal finance.
  • There is almost no evidence that personal finance education works.
  • Financial education is simply not working.

So, given my contrarian nature and based on my experience in the classroom, I went in search of research that showed that finance education works. Long story short, Brian Page (thanks Brian!) connected me to Dr. Carly Urban at Montana State University and this conversation happened. Dr. Urban shares her recent research which demonstrates that financial education DOES have an impact. She discusses what she found in her research and the impact financial education had in three states that currently have mandates. She also highlights shortcomings of earlier research on the topic and the big questions that she hopes to answer in the future. Enjoy!


  • 0:00~0:59 – Introduction
  • 0:59~1:35Carly‘s current gig
  • 1:35~3:23 – Why Carly loves conducting research about personal finance
  • 3:23~5:00 – Slight digression: her research about the impact of political ads
  • 5:00~6:17 – Research on mortgage modifications
  • 6:17~7:30 – How Carly learned about personal finance
  • 7:30~7:56 – Best advice from Carly‘s parents
  • 7:56~10:19 – How her interest in personal finance research began
  • 10:19~12:40Carly‘s research interests
  • 12:40~14:39 – Which states Carly chose to focus her research
  • 14:39~15:59 – Data sources for Carly’s research
  • 15:59~18:36 – Results from Carly‘s research
  • 18:36~21:25 – Publicity given to Carly‘s research
  • 21:15~21:51 – A word from our sponsor, Next Gen Personal Finance
  • 21:51~22:59 – Varying class lengths and types
  • 22:59~24:45 – Key elements of a personal finance education
  • 24:45~27:43 – Thoughts on the stock market game
  • 27:43~ 28:28  – Incorporating personal finance into a high school curriculum that is already packed
  • 28:28~29:48 – Parents being educated about personal finance
  • 29:48~35:00 – How Montana State University addressed student loan issue at their school with a targeted communication
  • 35:00~36:36 – Causation versus correlation
  • 36:36~37:50 – Improvements to the student loan letter
  • 37:50~40:42 – How the MSU student loan letter differed from the Indiana University communication to their students
  • 40:42~43:10 – Questions that remain unanswered in financial education
  • 43:10~43:56 – Conclusion
Carly Urban’s research discussed on podcast:
Notable Quotes:
  • “Courses that are a graduation requirement have much higher of an impact than the other looser mandates”

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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