Common Cents Lab

Solutions that aim to increase the financial well-being for low-to moderate-income people living in the United States

FOCUS AREAS

Our goal is to create and test solutions... see below to read our findings:

Improve Cash Flow Management

Improve Cash Flow Management

Many Americans are struggling to manage their cash-flow effectively. This is largely due to high income volatility, and unexpected expense shocks. As the Center for Financial Services Innovation has documented, cash flow management is not an issue affecting just temporary, seasonal, or contract workers. According to the U.S. Financial Diaries Project, the average family income experiences a 25% increase or decrease from their
median income for more than five months out of the year.

Decrease Expenses

Decrease Expenses

While the median household income rose 5.2% in 2015, it is still below 1999 levels. With stagnant income and increasing expenses, our middle-class is suffering. And the world is getting more tempting. From the growing persuasiveness of advertising to “one-click” payment methods, it is becoming harder for consumers to resist the temptation to buy. Even when consumers try to be fiscally responsible by setting auto-savings, preliminary research by Daniel Fernandes has shown that many people who have auto-savings will still incur credit card debt because they do not adjust their expenses to account for savings.

Manage Debt

Manage Debt

Families with low credit scores or limited credit histories are forced to seek liquidity from often predatory lenders such as pawn shops, auto title lenders, and payday lenders. Credit scores can also a ect a person’s ability to rent a home, gain employment, or access student loans. The current lending system has become too focused on trying to measure risk rather than on developing strategies to mitigate that risk. Furthermore, the credit system attributes too much of the risk to individual characteristics without also examining how the way in which the system is structured may actually perpetuate or contribute to missed payments or default. Instead, we believe that how a borrower’s environment is designed can increase the likelihood of repayment, regardless of each individual’s credit risk. This way, we don’t have to push individuals with low credit scores to use predatory lenders who lend at interest rates of upwards of 400%.

Increase Short-and Long-Term Savings

Increase Short-and Long-Term Savings

In the complex financial lives of Americans, nearly half of all people living in the United States would not be able to live off their savings for three months at the poverty level. The outlook is even more startling for low-income households; only 1 in 3 households earning $15,000 or less even have a savings account. In a study we conducted with close to 1,000 LMI participants, 36% self-reported having less than $500 in savings (including retirement savings).

IN THE PRESS

Seven Ways Behavioral Science can Improve Customer Financial Health

For many casual observers, a CFO's role is largely assumed to be…

Authors
Financial Decision-making Research Sponsor Mariel Beasley
Moving On Up

Imagine you just landed a new job and want to move to…

Authors
Rethinking America’s College Savings Programs

With the start of summer comes graduation season, and along with it,…

Authors
Financial Decision-making Research Sponsor Mariel Beasley
Hourly Employees Need Reliable Schedules: Can Behavioral Science Help Companies Deliver?

We talk a lot about how Americans don’t have enough savings. Bankrate…

Authors
The Deadline Made Me Do It

A social impact startup came to Common Cents Lab, our behavioral research…

Kristen Berman PRINCIPAL, COMMON CENTS LAB

This 1 Weird Trick Can Help People Grow Their Savings

If you are like most Americans, you are paid between two and…

Authors
The realities of living as an independent contractor

Imagine that you made $20,000 last year. In addition, you experienced high…

Authors
Why Don’t People Manage Debt Better?

Credit cards are ubiquitous in American society – nearly 70% of all…

Authors
‘On-Demand’ Work Woes

As the middle class shrinks and real wages have been steadily decreasing,…

Authors
Financial Decision-making Research Sponsor Mariel Beasley
Translating Good Intentions Into Actions

According to recent research, 57 percent of American adults say they are…

Authors

WHERE TO FIND US

Upcoming Events we are attending and hosting!

  • Where:San Jacinto East, 98 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701
  • Date:March 13

How can modern cities ensure a financial safety net for citizens despite tightening budgets? This workshop will dive into concrete policy ideas gleaned from 3 years of financial wellbeing research with FinTech companies, banks, credit unions, non-profits, and cities. From child savings accounts to improving SNAP benefits to easing Gig Economy worker woes, we’ll dive into ways cities can advance citizens’ financial health and put in place testing plans to ensure their ideas deliver.

  • Where:Wisconsin Dells at Cula Vista Resort
  • Date:December 7

With the continued growth of the CSA movement in the Midwest comes opportunities and complexities. The conference will provide a forum for CSA farmers and advocates to come together for deliberative discussion and peer-to-peer learning. Full-group sessions will discuss shared values of the movement and strategies for promoting cooperation and shared risk among farms and communities.

  • Where:Hilton Austin, 500 E. 4th St., Austin, TX 78701
  • Date:December 7

At this two day event, attendees:

Heard the latest from big. bright. thinkers. on key issues facing credit unions.
Had experiences that harvested great conversations and sparked new ideas.
Went back to their credit union as a Dust Kicker, ready to take action!

PARTNERSHIP PROCESS

The Common Cents Lab partners with tech companies, credit unions, banks, non-profits, and cities to
design and test behaviorally-informed interventions to increase financial well-being for vulnerable
populations in the United States.

CURRENT AND PAST PARTNERS

PAST EXPERIENCES

What do our partners say about working with us?

“As we have learned through our partnership with Common Cents Lab, we might think we know what the member wants or needs to better their financial lives, but through experimentation we can allow the data and results to speak for themselves.”

Adele Glenn Emerging Channels Innovation Architect at Credit Human

“Common Cents has added rigor to the way we build new features that improve our users’ lives.”

Jimmy Chen CEO of Propel

“Partnering with Common Cents has been instrumental in helping us develop features to drive substantial savings for our customers.”

Ethan Bloch CEO of Digit

Multipliers of Prosperity

OUR ADVISORY COUNCIL

Anat Binur

Investment Partner

Cathie Mahon

Assistant Commissioner and Executive Director at NYC Department of Consumer Affairs

Evelyn Stark

Assistant Vice President of Financial Inclusion at MetLife Foundation

John Lynch

Professor of Free Enterprise at the Leeds School of Business

Parker Thomas

Change Maker at Angel List

Rachel Schneider

Senior Vice President at Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI)

Scott Cook

CO-FOUNDER OF INTUIT

Thomas Brown

Partner at Paul Hastings

THE COMMON CENTS LAB TEAM

Aaron Nichols

BEHAVIORAL RESEARCHER

Andrea Dinneen

SENIOR BEHAVIORAL RESEARCHER

Anja Schanbacher

POST-DOCTORAL ASSOCIATE

Brad Swain

SENIOR BEHAVIORAL RESEARCHER

Dan Ariely

PRINCIPAL, CENTER FOR ADVANCED HINDSIGHT

Emory Nelms

SENIOR BEHAVIORAL RESEARCHER

Jamie Foehl

SENIOR BEHAVIORAL RESEARCHER

Jan Willem Lindemans

SENIOR BEHAVIORAL RESEARCHER

Joanne Yeh

SENIOR BEHAVIORAL RESEARCHER

Jordan Axt

SENIOR BEHAVIORAL RESEARCHER

Joseph Sherlock

SENIOR BEHAVIORAL RESEARCHER

Kristen Berman

PRINCIPAL, COMMON CENTS LAB

Margaret Gorlin

SENIOR BEHAVIORAL RESEARCHER

Mariel Beasley

PRINCIPAL, COMMON CENTS LAB

Michelle Zong

BEHAVIORAL RESEARCHER

Richard Mathera

SENIOR BEHAVIORAL RESEARCHER

Vahid Ashrafimoghari

BEHAVIORAL RESEARCHER

Wendy De La Rosa

PRINCIPAL, COMMON CENTS LAB