Financial Wellbeing in the United States and Canada

Financial Wellbeing in the United States and Canada

Dr Vinita Godinho is our General Manager of Advisory, leading the program design, advisory and FIAP teams. She is currently based at the Center for Financial Inclusion in Washington DC on a Fulbright Scholarship. While at the Center she will work with their researchers and partners to explore behaviourally-informed financial solutions for those on low incomes, in particular how to motivate families to save more and borrow less.


Financial-Inclusion-Week-Good-Shepherd-Microfinance-Financial-Wellbeing-in-the-United-States-and-Canada
Dr Vinita Godinho’s stops across the United States and Canada

 

As part of a Fulbright Australia scholarship this year, I have the privilege of making my way across Canada and the US, connecting with those working to improve the financial lives of vulnerable groups within their communities. Across the globe people aspire to wellbeing, and the financial aspect of achieving this, referred to as financial health (people have day-to-day financial systems that build long-term resilience and opportunity); financial wellness (people achieve financial stability and address the financial issues that cause them stress) or financial wellbeing (people are able to meet current financial needs, feel secure about their future, and are free to make choices that allow them to enjoy life) in different parts of the world, is a growing area of interest for researchers, policymakers and practitioners alike.

Yet the multiple definitions and ways of measurement make it difficult to compare what is being measured; why it matters; how people are faring now, and changes over time. It is also hard to piece together how the growing evidence-base across the globe can inform efforts to improve the financial lives of those in our local sphere of influence. My learning journey has already yielded some practical insights on the key priorities for policy and action:

  • The growing income inequality is compromising financial wellbeing – Australia received the lowest overall financial wellbeing scores amongst five comparable developed countries.
  • Two specific behaviours where Australia receives the lowest scores – active saving, and borrowing to meet daily expenses – must be prioritised for policy and action.
  • Pathways to stable employment are essential, as a growing legion of the ‘working poor’ in Australia, are disproportionately vulnerable to financial stress and crisis.

Photo by Sabine Peters on Unsplash

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