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Tracking success—a core set of financial outcomes for financial empowerment programs

Today, we’re releasing a core set of financial outcomes  to help human services organizations demonstrate the value of building financial empowerment and capability initiatives into their work. 

Many of these organizations help people access housing, jobs, emergency assistance, or other services they may need to address crises, achieve economic independence, or build assets. Including financial empowerment in these services can help individuals improve their financial well-being. For example, if an individual knows how to get and read their free annual credit report, that skill may help them improve their credit score which, in turn, may lead to securing a job or an affordable place to live.  

To this end, we have developed five core financial capability and empowerment outcomes that can be used across programs to provide a common framework and language for demonstrating success of integrating financial empowerment into existing programs. This core set of recommended financial outcomes is designed to:

  • Help inform and guide service delivery organizations and those who design, fund, or evaluate service programs assess the value of integrating financial capability and empowerment into human services programs.
  • Provide a suggested core set of outcomes for the field.
  • Augment, not displace, current programmatic outcomes and accommodate a broad range of different program types.

As shown in the table below, the five core financial capability and empowerment outcomes we identified are:

  1. Planning and goals 
  2. Savings
  3. Bill payment
  4. Credit profile
  5. Financial well-being

We’ve included financial well-being in the core set because it is the ultimate goal of financial empowerment, capability, and education efforts. We have a specific measure for this core outcome: the CFPB Financial Well-Being Scale . This is an outcome measure based on a consumer-derived definition of financial well-being that includes concepts of financial security and freedom of choice, now and for the future.

Core outcome 1 - Planning and goals 2 - Savings 3 - Bill payment 4 - Credit profile 5 - Financial well-being


Setting up a plan or goal

Having savings or habit

Improvement in bill paying 

Improvement in credit profile; thin file or no score to demonstrated credit history

Individual’s sense of financial security and freedom of choice

Options for indicators (not exhaustive list)

Plan in place

Goal in place

Plan execution

Goal achieved

Active use of plan or budget

Regularity of savings

Automaticity of saving

Setting up a rainy day or emergency fund

Percent of income saved

Retirement included

On-time bill payment

Fewer late fees

How person prioritizes if insufficient funds

Fewer late payments/number of delinquent payments

Increase in credit score or credit quality tier

Alternative data reported, e.g., utility bills (incling for thin or no file consumers)

“Becoming visible”—gaining credit history 

CFPB Financial Well-Being Scale

10 item  (standard) version


5 item (abbreviated) version


Self- or staff-reported, or tracked

Self-reported or account status

Self- or staff-reported, or credit report

Credit report and/or credit score



Household or individual

Household or individual

Household or individual



Building financial empowerment strategies into existing programs will be more sustainable if programs can demonstrate measurable and meaningful financial outcomes alongside their other program objectives. Through these efforts, organizations that provide financial services or support can help those they serve achieve financial well-being.

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