Project: Towards an effective financial education program

2017-2020 (completed)


Financial education programs are frequently used by municipalities and social service organizations to help people in a financially vulnerable position. Evaluated financial education programs so far show difficulties to effectively reach this target population. In our attempt to solve this problem, we built a behaviorally informed financial education program incorporating insights from both motivational and behavioral change theories.


In a quasi-experimental field study among Dutch financially vulnerable people, we compared the effectiveness of a behaviorally informed financial education program with both a control group and a traditional program group. We conducted surveys and in-depth interviews with participants and trainers, and utilized available registry data.


In comparison with the control group, we found robust positive effects of the behaviorally informed program on financial skills and knowledge and self-reported financial behavior, but not on other outcomes. Additionally, we did not find evidence that the behaviorally informed program performed better than the traditional program.

Additional qualitative interviews indicate that participants of both programs perceive added value from participating in the program. Overall, participants believe that they have gained (more) financial skills, manage their money better, and are more committed to managing their financial affairs. Finally, participants mention that they have learned the most from sharing experiences with each other and working on their own finances.



Tamara Madern (University of Applied Sciences Utrecht)
Barbera van der Meulen (University of Applied Sciences Utrecht)
Eline Maussen (University of Applied Sciences Utrecht)
Ernst-Jan de Bruijn (Wageningen University)
en_GBEnglish (UK)