Common Cents Lab Report: Hacking Human Behavior to Improve Financial Health

Mar 5, 2018 8:20 AM ET

While Common Cents Lab is a research entity, its work does so much more than create interesting research. It creates easier, more intuitive ways for people to save – which is something that most people say they want to do, but find difficult.

In 2017, twenty-seven organizations worked with Common Cents Lab to design products or outreach strategies that have helped nearly 500,000 low- and moderate-income Americans thus far. The organizations’ projects are varied. Some helped people save in the most traditional sense; others surfaced ways for individuals to decrease their debt and expenses. In the experiments conducted to date, more than $10.5 million went into the pockets of real people. While often in increments of $20 at a time, this savings total is a starting point to financial security for more people. You can read about the work in detail in Common Cents Lab’s latest annual report. In the report, you’ll find:

  • How to design retirement savings outside of work
  • Insights on if and how peer spending comparisons work
  • How to use natural age milestones to motivate behavior
  • What gets people to create a savings account when originating a new loan

Common Cents Lab is part of the Duke Center for Advanced Hindsight and supported by MetLife Foundation. According to Evelyn Stark of MetLife Foundation, “We believe in the power of understanding human behavior and designing products, services and interventions that help people spend less and save more – in a way that’s profitable for providers at the same time. That’s why we support Common Cents Lab. We think these experiments are just the beginning – as each partner organization continues to apply what it’s learned about human behavior, there will be more ways for low-income people to continually improve their financial health.”

Download the full Common Cents Lab 2017 Annual Report here.