Account Ownership

Having a secure and cost effective checking or savings account can reduce the cost of routine financial transactions (Doyle, Lopez, & Saidenberg, 1998), encourage savings, help individuals and families build and accumulate assets (Beverly, Moore & Schreiner, in press), and aid individuals in developing a positive credit history (Caskey, 1997), which can help them to buy a car or obtain housing.

Unbanked individuals lack access to financial services and credit building. The research shows that low income families are much less likely to have bank accounts. The poor, young, seniors, immigrants and minorities are more likely to be unbanked (Aizcorbe et al., 2003). Many have argued that low income families can increase their financial security and reduce their debt if they rely on banks instead of check cashing services, payday lenders, or other marginal financial services (Klawitter & Fletshner, 2006).
Programs should track the number and percent of unbanked individuals and families in their programs and compare data annually. Client data could be collected at intake/enrollment and at termination/exit from program (pre-post assessment).


Sources Cited

Aizcorbe, Ana, Arthur B. Kennickell, and Kevin B. Moore (2003). “Recent Changes in the U.S. Family Finances: Evidence from the 1998 and 2001 Survey of Consumer Finances.” Federal Reserve Bulletin 89(1):1-32.

Beverly, S.G., Moore, A., & Schreiner, M. (in press). A framework of asset-accumulation stages and strategies. Journal of Family and Economic Issues.

Caskey, J.P. (1997). Beyond cash-and-carry:Financial savings, financial services, and low income households in two communities (Report written for the Consumer Federation of America and the Ford Foundation ). Swarthmore, PA: Swarthmore College.

Doyle, Joseph J. and Lopez, Jose A. and Saidenberg, Marc R., How Effective is Lifeline Banking in Assisting the 'Unbanked'? (June 1998). Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Vol. 4, No. 6, June 1998. Available at SSRN: or

Hogarth, J. M., S. G. Beverly, and M. A. Hilgert. 2003. Patterns of Financial Behaviors: Implications for Community Educators and Policymakers. Paper presented at the 2003 Federal Reserve System Community Affairs Research Conference, Washington, DC. Retrieved September 12, 2007, from

Hogarth, Jeanne M., Christoslav E. Anguelov, and Jinhook Lee. 2005. “Who Has a Bank Account? Exploring Changes Over Time, 1989–2001” Journal of Family and Economic Issues 6(1), pp. 7–30.

Klawitter, Marieka and Diana Fletschner. (2006). “Banked or Unbanked? Individual and Family Access to Savings and Checking Accounts.” Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs Working Paper .#2006-16.

Additional Resources

Financial Planning Association,

NeighborWorks’ Success Measures Tools for Practitioners