Trenton, N.J. – Summary: Most of us are hard-wired to make illogical decisions about our money at times, especially when we are under financial duress – a constant pressure for a majority of lower income workers. Isles has developed tools and techniques to help people overcome those tendencies and make it easier for them to reduce debt and improve their financial decisions. Using what we’ve learned from years of experience and research on behavioral psychology, we teach financial concepts, but more importantly we create realistic budgets, automate savings and payments, refinance high cost debt, and provide one on one coaching until good habits are learned and practiced. Good financial decision-making is a key building block for self-reliance. Citi agrees.
Isles, Inc. recently received a $160,000 contribution from Citi Community Development to support the expansion of Isles Financial Solutions. Isles Financial Solutions (IFS) is an employer-based financial capability initiative for low-wage workers, designed to create positive, long-term behavior change in financial knowledge and decision-making.
Isles empowers IFS customers to improve their financial capacity through an innovative mix of financial coaching, credit-building finance, savings products and group-based learning. Currently, Isles works with employees at Princeton University and Trenton community members. With this funding, Isles will expand these services at Princeton University as well as begin working with at least one new local employer of lower wage workers.
In addition, $10,000 of this contribution will be used to fund the Personal Finance Employee Education Foundation (PFEEF) to conduct an evaluation of the effectiveness of IFS services. The year-long evaluation will measure the improvements in employee financial capability, savings, and credit scores, as well as the benefits to employers of improved worker productivity and reduced financial distress.
“We’re honored and delighted that Citi would provide us the support to expand IFS services to more workers in Mercer County,” states Peter Rose, Isles Managing Director of Community Enterprises. “We’re excited about this opportunity to measure the effectiveness of our model, which we believe offers a unique blend of services that can rapidly help improve the financial capacity, increase savings and lower high-cost debt for lower wage workers.”
During an IFS pilot at Princeton University in 2012, 40 low to moderate income employees were invited to join the program to reduce their debt and build assets. These individuals became active participants with measurable positive consumer financial behavior changes that included:
- 100% prepared and are using a household budget;
- 50% improved their credit scores (at least 100 points);
- 100% accumulated at least $500 in savings;
- 75% decreased overall debt at least 25%; and
- 50% decreased what they paid in interest and fees.
“Isles Financial Solutions is truly a results-oriented program helping lower income workers effectively address their financial issues and enabling them to focus more on their jobs and careers, benefitting both themselves and their employers,” said Helen Steblecki, Citi’s State Director of Community Development for New Jersey. “Citi is pleased to support Isles in its expansion of this program and the Personal Finance Employee Education Foundation in its evaluation of IFS to provide further evidence of the critical need and benefits of this type of comprehensive financial counseling program.”