The Struggles of Low-income Families to Build Savings Accounts

by kris bishop on July 1, 2010

Click to watch the New America Foundation video featuring Margaret Sherrard Sherraden, co-author of the new release Striving to Save: Creating Policies for Financial Security of Low-Income Families:


Sherraden_lowres Margaret Sherraden: “Saving and building assets are core strategies for household well-being and development. In their own voices, the poor in Striving to Save reveal in engaging detail why and how they strive to save. Building on an understanding of economic behavior and institutions, our book analyzes the effects of a landmark innovation in saving and asset building in low-income households. Key lessons include the importance for policy and programs to provide opportunities for low-income households to save and build financial capability.”

by Margaret Sherrard Sherraden and Amanda Moore McBride, with Sondra G. Beverly

Cloth: 978-0-472-11712-3



In Striving to Save, Margaret Sherrard Sherraden and Amanda Moore McBride examine savings in eighty-four working families with low incomes, including fifty-nine families who participated in a groundbreaking program of matched savings and financial education. In-depth interviews with these families, along with savings and survey data, shed light on saving in low-income households. The book concludes with recommended public policy approaches for increasing savings in households that are striving to save.


Margaret Sherrard Sherraden is Professor of Social Work at the University of Missouri, St. Louis. Amanda Moore McBride is Assistant Professor of Social Work at Washington University, St. Louis.


Striving to Save is a major new contribution to a growing body of literature that seeks to understand savings as experienced by the poor themselves, and to produce insights that will help to provide them with better services.”
—Stuart Rutherford, co-founder of SafeSave and author of Portfolios of the Poor

Striving to Save will inform and inspire social policy with its breakthrough approach in understanding how low-income families make ends meet while striving to make a better life for themselves and their families. Scholarly work in savings, debt, household finance, and behavior economics will benefit from this pioneering study that provides real-life context for some of the most important issues of our day.”
—Tom Shapiro, Brandeis University

“The central contribution of the book is to use original qualitative research to provide readers with a nuanced understanding of the financial difficulties facing low-income households, their financial decision-making processes, and their paths to saving and building assets over time. The book provides an essential corrective to the unidimensional view of poor households as unable and unwilling to save.”
—Michael Barr, University of Michigan and Assistant Secretary of Treasury


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