Making “Someday” Come Sooner: Saving While Paying Off Debt
A commonly held belief is that people should ﬁrst pay off all of their debts, and only then can they begin to build assets. However, over 80% of Americans hold some form of debt, so if everyone prioritizes paying down debt before building assets, savings may be placed on hold for a very long time, if not indeﬁnitely.
To help families build their short-term savings, we partnered with the Latino Community Credit Union, a North Carolina-based credit union with a mission to serve unbanked individuals and immigrant communities.
In 2016, we ran an experiment with EarnUp showing that homeowners were more likely to overpay on their mortgages if we asked them to “round up” their payment. This is because we are naturally attracted to round numbers.
We built on this work and asked ourselves if we could use a similar approach to get members to build up savings as they pay down their debt.