Research provides the foundation of the Institute’s activities. To support and enhance its outreach programs the Institute works with scholars from the UA and other research universities, drawing from a wide variety of academic disciplines including behavioral finance and economics, psychology, sociology, consumer sciences and family studies. This interdisciplinary approach is expanding the research agenda to generate insights regarding consumer financial decisions. These insights guide the development of the Institute’s financial education workshops, curriculum and delivery methods. In addition, the Institute’s research agenda includes studies of the impact of existing financial education programs across the country to measure program effectiveness, including measures of subsequent change in behavior.

Take Charge America Institute Research Projects 2022-2023

Employment Status Change and Retirement Savings During the Covid-19 Pandemic: An Exploration by Race/Ethnicity and Gender

PI: Dr. Kenneth White

Project Summary/Abstract: The Covid-19 pandemic created a financial crisis which caused some workers to lose their jobs and led others to leave jobs for various reasons. This separation from employment may have impacted savings, particularly retirement savings, and exacerbated existent income and wealth gaps by race/ethnicity and gender. This project uses survey data collected in 2021 to explore differences in employment status change and retirement savings by race/ethnicity and gender. The project further explores factors which affected the strength of the pandemic created financial crisis on retirement savings behavior and financial well-being for those that had a change in employment status.


Sources of Financing College Education and Student Mental Health

PI: Thomas Korankye, Ph.D., CFP® 

Project Summary/Abstract: A college education is invaluable in creating incremental wealth, but not everyone can access it due partly to its higher costs and family budget constraints. Those who attend college may finance it through college savings, student loans, employment, scholarships, family loan, and cash gifts. The adopted funding strategy could have unintended consequences on students' well-being. This project uses ABC-X model of family stress to examine the effects of college funding strategies utilized by students on their mental health. Primary data will be collected from randomly selected students (N=3,000) from the University of Arizona using Qualtrics Panel. The research findings will be useful for various stakeholders, including financial educators.


Why save if we’re all doomed? Investigating the effects of climate anxiety on millennials’ propensity to save for retirement

PI and Key Personnel: Sabrina Helm, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Retailing and Consumer Science (PI), Marissa Hettinger, Graduate Student, Family Studies and Human Development

Project Summary/Abstract: Millennials are the first generation to have emerged into adulthood with high rates of climate anxiety; they are likely to witness dramatic environmental and societal decline in their lifetimes due to climate change. Increased hopelessness for human survival and personal flourishing may lead to a pessimistic view of the future, impacting millennials’ financial planning and further compounding their lagging behind previous generations when it comes to building up retirement savings. Based on forty in-depth interviews with U.S. millennial professionals, this study presents the first investigation of climate anxiety effects on individuals’ financial planning, propensity to save for retirement, and financial parenting. Study findings will inform novel strategies for financial counseling/coaching to encourage proactive financial behaviors despite uncertain futures.

Take Charge America Institute Research Projects 2021-2022


The Bridges Financial Management Class (BFMC) is a promising financial education program with coaching components. It adapts FDIC’s Money Smart curriculum to better address issues faced by adults in poverty. Created in South Bend, BFMC educates participants on topics including credit, spending plans, banking, and financial predators. It aims to increase participants’ financial knowledge, commitment to practicing what they’ve learned, and confidence in navigating financial systems. This project will work with Interfaith Community Services (ICS) to evaluate the pilot of BFMC in Southern Arizona, documenting participants’ experiences, changes in financial behaviors, and suggestions for adjusting the program to best serve the population here.




PI: Madeleine deBlois Co-I: Kara Haberstock Tanoue


Factors Associated with Student Loan Indebtedness in Retirement


The student-loan debt has reached $1.5 trillion, with about $250 million owed by retired households. Existing research shows that having student-loan debt in retirement is associated negatively with life satisfaction, suggesting that student debt is a bane of retiree well-being. The rationale for this study is to find out the factors that are associated with people’s decision to carry student debt into retirement, given the adverse effects on their well-being using a secondary data analysis of a nationally representative sample of retired Americans aged 65 years and older (N~ 8,000). The research outcome will assist financial planners and educators identify practical ways to shape decisions regarding student-loan debt holdings in retirement.




PI : Thomas Korankye, Ph.D., CFP® Co-PI: Melissa Curran, Ph.D.


Take Charge America Institute: Research Initiatives and Publications 

Determinants of Young Adult Financial Behaviors

One of the research centerpieces of TCAI was the development of the “Arizona Pathways to Life Success of University Students” (APLUS) project. An interdisciplinary team of researchers from consumer sciences, economics, psychology and human development collaborated to study how young adults learn to make financial decisions. Initiated in 2007, with seed funding from the National Endowment for Financial Education(NEFE), this study follows an initial cohort of 2,100 freshman students at the University of Arizona through their college years and beyond (up to 20 years, subject to funding). The principal objective of the study is to understand how young adults form money attitudes and financial identity, and how those defining characteristics are shaped (or not) by subsequent life experiences. To-date, the project has generatednumerous peer reviewed publications as well as insights for the design of financial education. It has also attracted interest from both the popular and business press, providing additional exposure to the topic of financial behavior of young adults. In addition, this research project formed the basis for collaborative partnerships between the Institute and other Norton School units. The APLUS project is now principally managed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin- Madison and the University of Minnesota.


Effectiveness of Credit Counseling and Consumer Financial Education 

Consistent with its mission of creating programs that improve consumer financial decision-making, the Institute has undertaken several efforts to study the effectiveness of financial education, i.e., what works and why. Representational efforts in this regard include:

Credit Counseling Research Roundtable (as “CCRR”). From 2009-2012, CCRR, a collaboration between the Institute and nine non-profit regional and national credit counseling agencies, met periodically to discuss topical industry issues and identify researchable questions. It was during this period that the Institute commissioned or conducted several research projects, such as benchmarking data collection, involving the collection and pooling of activity data contributed by member agencies; and, a study of the relative effectiveness of face-to-face vs. telephone vs. online delivery of counseling advice. The latter project, at the request of the counseling industry, addressed whether the quality “gold standard” of face-to-face delivery was realistic, or even desirable to maintain, due to the massive increase in demand for counseling advice.

Cherry Blossom Institute. From 2014–2017, the Institute created, organized and provided financial sponsorship for an annual conference on the effectiveness of financial education. The conference series began with a one-day meeting in Tucson, Arizona, in 2014 that engaged a select group of nationally-known researchers. This foundational meeting led to the creation of the Cherry Blossom Research Institute, held each April at the George Washington University School of Business. The two-day conference brings together researchers from around the world to present and discuss papers on the effectiveness of financial education and its influence on financial behavior. Each year’s program is determined through a competitive application process and call for papers that annually attracts more than 75 submissions for about 12-15 presentation slots.


Accuracy in Credit Reporting

From 2010-2012, the Institute collaborated with the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Fair Isaac Corp. to conduct a congressionally- mandated study of credit report accuracy for the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The study utilized a nationally-representative sample of approximately 1,000 consumers to participate in detailed reviews of their credit reports from the three major credit- reporting agencies. In addition to conducting the reviews, the research team followed consumers’ progress through the federal dispute resolution process to resolve errors identified during the review. The study was thought to be the first to use a national sample to estimate the prevalence, severity and impact on consumers of errors in credit reports. Results from the study (released in February 2013) presented regulators and the credit reporting industry with a first-ever benchmark for evaluating the quality of data compiled by national credit reporting systems.




O'Neill, B., & Xiao, J.J. (2005). Consumer practices to reduce identity theft risk: An exploratory study. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, 97(1), 33-38.


Xiao, J. J. (2005). Behavioral economics and consumer behavior. Journal of Consumer Economics, 21(1), 47-50. 


O’Neill, B., Xiao, J. J., Sorhaindo, B., & Garman, E. T. (2005). Financial distressed consumers: Their financial practices, financial well-being, and health. Financial Counseling and Planning, 16(1), 73-87.



Xiao, J. J., Sorhaindo, B., & Garman, E. T. (2006). Financial behavior of consumers in credit counseling. International Journal of Consumer Studies. 30(2), 108-121.


O’Neill, B., Xiao, J. J. (2006). Financial fitness quiz findings: Strengths, weaknesses, and disconnects. Journal of Extension, 44(1). Available at


Xu, Y., & Xiao, J. J. (2006). Advances of consumer economics in the U. S. and its inspirations for Chinese scholars. Academic Research, (7), 50-56. 


Fan, J. X., & Xiao, J. J. (2006). Cross-cultural differences in risk tolerance: A comparison between Americans and Chinese. Journal of Personal Finance, 5(3), 54-75.



Schuchardt, J., Bagwell, D. C., Bailey, W. C., DeVaney, S. A., Grable, J. E., Leech, I. E., Lown, J. M., Sharpe, D. L., Xiao, J. J. (2007). Personal finance, an interdisciplinary profession. Financial Counseling and Planning, 18(1), 1-9.



Barron, John, Byung-Uk Chong, and Michael Staten (2008). The Emergence of Captive Finance Companies and Risk Segmentation in Loan Markets:  Theory and Evidence. Journal of Money Credit and Banking, 40(1): 173-192.


Elliehausen, Gregory, Michael Staten and Jevgenijs Steinbucks (2008). The Effect of Prepayment Penalties on the Pricing of Subprime Mortgages. Journal of Economics and Business , 60: 33-46.


Elliehausen, Gregory, E. Christopher Lundquist and Michael Staten. 2007. The Impact of Credit Counseling on Subsequent Borrower Credit Usage and Payment Behavior.   Journal of Consumer Affairs, 41(1): pp 1-28.



Shim, S., Barber, B., Card, N., Xiao, & Serido, J. (2010). Financial socialization of young adults: the role of family, work, and education. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39(12), 1457-1470.


Serido, J., Shim, S., Mishra, A., & Tang, C. (2010). Financial parenting, financial coping behaviors and well-being of emerging adults. Family Relations: Special Issue, 59,453-464.



Shim, S., Serido, J., & Tang, C. (2011). The ant and the grasshopper revisited: The present psychological benefits of saving for tomorrow. Journal of Economic Psychology, 33(1), 155-165.


Xiao, J. J., Tang, C., Serido, J., Shim, S. (2011). Antecedents and Consequences of Risky Credit Behavior Among College Students: Application and Extension of the Theory of Planned Behavior. Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, 30(2), 239-245.



Brown, Daniel, Charles Link and Michael Staten. 2012. The Success and Failure of Counseling Agency Debt Repayment Plans. Eastern Economic Journal, 38: 99-117.



Serido, J., Shim, S., &Tang, C. (2013). A framework for promoting financial capability among young adults. International Journal of Behavioral Development. 37 (4), 287-297.


Shim, S., Serido, J., Bosch, L. &Tang, C. (2013). Financial identity styles among young adults: A longitudinal study of socialization factors and consequences on financial capabilities. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 47(1), 128-



Shim, S., Serido, J., & Tang, C. (2013). After the Global Financial Crash: Individual Factors Differentiating Young Adult Consumers’ Trust in Banks and Financial Institutions. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 20, 26-33.


L. Douglas Smith, Michael Staten, Thomas Eyssell, Maureen Karig, Beth A. Freeborn, and Andrea Golden. 2013. “Accuracy of Information Maintained by U.S. Credit Bureaus: Frequency of Errors and Effects on Consumers’ CreditScores.” Journal of Consumer Affairs, Vol. 47, No. 3, 588-601.



Serido, J. & Joseph, M. (2014). Challenging Assumptions: Crossing Disciplinary Divides to Make Knowledge about Gender and Finance. Feminist Formations, 26 (2), 52-83.


Xiao, J. J., Ahn, S.Y., Serido, J., Shim, S. (2014). Earlier financial literacy and later financial behaviour of college students. International Journal of Consumer Studies. Online First.


Serido, J., Shim, S., Xiao, J. J., Card, N., & Tang, C. (2014). Financial adaptation among college students: Helping students cope with financial strain. Journal of College Student Development, 55(3),310-316.



Shim, S., Serido, J., Tang, C., & Card, N. (2015). Socialization processes and pathways to healthy financial development for young adults. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 38, 29-38.


Serido, J., Curran, M., Wilmarth, M., Ahn, S. Y., Shim, S. & Ballard, J. (2015). The unique role of parents and romantic partners on young adults’ financial attitudes and behaviors. Family Relations, 64(5), 696-710 doi: 10.1111/fare.12164.


Staten, Michael. 2015. Risk-Based Pricing in Consumer Lending. Journal of Law, Economics and Policy, 11(1): 33-57.



Bosch, L. A., Serido, J., Card, N., Shim, S., & Barber, B. L. (2016). Predictors of Financial Identity Maturation in Emerging Adulthood. Emerging Adulthood, doi: 10.1177/2167696816631845



Friedline, T., West, S., Rosell, N., Serido, J., & Shim, S. (2017). Do community characteristics relate to young adult college students’ credit card debt? merican Journal of Community Psychology, 59(1-2), 80-93.



Curran, M. A., Parrott, E., Ahn, S., Serido, J., & Shim, S. (2018). Young adults' life outcomes: Perceived financial influences from parents, the romantic partner, and young adults' own financial behaviors. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 39, 445-456. doi: 10.1007/s10834-018-9572-9.



Totenhagen, C.T., Wilmarth, M., Serido, J., Curran, M. A., & Shim, S. (2019). Pathways from financial knowledge to relationship satisfaction: The roles of financial behaviors, perceived shared financial values with the romantic partner, and debt. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 40, 423-437.



Li, X., Curran, M. A., Zhou, N., Serido, J., Shim, S., & Cao, H. (in press). Financial behaviors and adult identity: Mediating analyses of a college cohort. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.


Other Published Reports and Articles


Shim, S., Serido, J. & Xiao, J. J. (2009). Cultivating positive financial attitudes and behaviors for healthy adulthood. (Arizona Pathways to Life Success for University Students). Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona.



Shim, S. &, Serido, J. (2010). Wave 1.5 economic impact study: Financial well-being, coping behaviors, and trust among young adults. (Arizona Pathways to Life Success for University Students). Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona. Retrieved from


Xiao, J. J., Shim, S., & Serido, J. (2010). Financial education, financial knowledge and risky credit behavior of college students (2010-WP-05). Networks Financial Institute. Retrieved from



Choi, Laura, Carolina Reid, Michael Staten and Richard Todd. 2011. Improving Evaluation and Metrics in Youth Financial Education: Conference Proceedings. Federal Reserve Bank of SanFrancisco.


Barron, John and Michael Staten. 2011. Is Technology-Enhanced Credit Counseling as Effective as In-person Delivery? Working Paper 11-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.


Iannicola, Daniel and Michael Staten. 2011. The Kids Are Not Alright With Banking. American Banker, June 29.


Shim, S. &, Serido, J. (2011). Wave 2: Young adults’ financial capability. (Arizona Pathways to Life Success for University Students). Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona.


Staten, Michael. 2010. Classroom-Based Financial Education for Youth: How Can We Do it Better? Edited compilation of conference panel presentations in Consumer Interests Annual, American Council on Consumer Interests.



L. Douglas Smith, et al. 2012. FACTA 319 Study on the Accuracy of Credit Bureau Information: Final Report on Contract FTC-10-H-0187, Federal Trade Commission.

Eades, Kenneth, Rossella Bannister, Billy Hensley, Christine Kieffer and Michael Staten. 2012. “The Role of Professors in Improving Financial Literacy: Roundtable Session highlights from the 2011 FMA Annual Meeting,”Journal of Applied Finance, (22): 186-194.



Eades, Kenneth, Jonathan Fox, Arthur Keown and Michael Staten. 2013. “The Role of Professors in Improving Financial Literacy: Roundtable Session highlights from the 2012 FMA Annual Meeting,” Journal of Applied Finance, 23: 138-144.



Serido, J. & Shim, S. (2014). Wave 3 Life after college: Drivers for life success. (Arizona Pathways to Life Success for University Students). Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona. Retrieved from report.pdf



Staten, Michael E., Turner, Michael and Walker, Patrick. 2015. Is CROA Choking Credit Report Literacy?, report for Policy and Economic Research Council, Durham, NC


Staten, Michael E. 2015. “Where Credit Report Reforms Fall Short,” American Banker, March 24.



Serido, J. & Shim, S. (2017). Wave 4 Approaching 30: Adult financial capability, stability, and well-being. (Arizona Pathways to Life Success for University Students). St. Paul, MN: University of Minnesota.