Financial Stability Project

In today's economic climate, it is more important than ever for American women to be empowered with the confidence and competence to make smart financial decisions for themselves and their families.  Women control the majority of consumer spending, yet women are 40 percent more likely to be poor than men, and 67 percent of women feel they have little knowledge of financial products and services.  The Women’s Legislative Network is committed to promoting the participation, empowerment and leadership of women legislators in the area of women’s financial stability.

The Network's Financial Stability Project seeks to increase state legislators' understanding of the economic status of American women and to provide in-depth information and tools for legislators working to support women's financial stability.

Check back often for project updates and announcements.  Browse NCSL resources in the menu at right.  And don't hesitate to contact us with feedback and questions!

Note: Documents indicated by Adobe PDF are printer-friendly and require Adobe Reader.

Financial Stability News and Resources

NCSL page tracking 2013 financial literacy legislation.

Bonds Make it Easy campaign to publicize the availability of tax refunds in the form of U.S. Savings Bonds

New Report, "Invest in Women, Invest in America: A Comprehensive Review of Women in the U.S. Economy." Joint Economic Committee, U.S. Congress, December 2010. (PDF)

FDIC and National Credit Union Administration Join Education Secretary to Announce Partnership to Promote Financial Education and Savings Programs 11/15/2010

National Financial Capability Challenge. The National Financial Capability Challenge is an awards program designed to increase the financial knowledge and capability of high school aged youth across the United States so they can take control over their financial futures.

President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability. Members. The Council will advise the President on how to maximize the effectiveness of existing private and public sector financial education efforts and identify new approaches to increase financial capability for all Americans.

New Report, "Wives as Breadwinners: Wives' Share of Family Earnings Hits Historic High During the Second Year of the Great Recession," Carsey Institute, University of New Hampshire. (PDF)

New Report, "Women-Owned Businesses in the 21st Century," U.S. Department of Commerce.

"Poverty Rate Rose Sharply in 2009," New York Times, 9/16/2010

"How Retirement Planning Shortchanges Women," Wall Street Journal, 9/12/2010

New! Follow the Twitter feed of the USDA Cooperative Extension personal finance experts.

"Families and Credit Cards" and "Credit Cards - What You Need to Know," educational brochures available in five languages (Consumer Action).

Alliance for Economic Inclusion, FDIC

Debt Reduction Resources, America Saves Week

Research Report: "Financial Literacy and Financial Sophistication in the Older Population." University of Michigan Retirement Research Center.

Family Farm Finances, University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.

"Working Mothers in the Great Recession." U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, May 2010.

"What You Need to Know: New Credit Card Rules." Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

"The New Money Rules for Recent Graduates." New York Times, 5/7/2010

"Working Financial Literacy Into the Classroom." New York Times, 4/9/2010

Youth Saves Resources, America Saves Week.

FamilyNew from NCSL for 2012!

Federal Earned Income Tax Credit: What Legislators Need to Know.


Kentucky LogoThe Network in Louisville:
NCSL Legislative Summit 2010


Credit vs. Debit

NCSL Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce Committee

There are differences between debit and credit cards and how each is used as a payment instrument. How do the recent credit card reform and the financial regulatory reform legislation affect debit cards, liability and unauthorized transactions, overdraft fees and other charges/fees for the privilege of using the debit card? For merchants, there appear to be distinct advantages to encouraging the use of debit cards. Debit card transactions exceed those now of credit cards—-are they subject to similar regulations and protections afforded to credit cardholders? How are states regulating this payment instrument?


  • Senator Karin Brownlee, Kansas, CFI Vice Chair
  • Melissa Calderwood, Kansas, CFI Staff Chair


  • Jean Ann Fox, Director of Consumer Protection, Consumer Federation of America, Washington, D.C.
  • Ron Gagliardi, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Kentucky Telco Federal Credit Union, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Richard Santoro, Vice President, Government Affairs, MasterCard Worldwide, New York


Boosting Savings in Troubled Times

Americans who develop a savings habit create a cushion in case of emergency and strengthen the country’s financial foundation. Research shows that even the poorest Americans will save money with relevant incentives and access to savings opportunities. This session highlighted innovative public/private approaches—from outreach campaigns by banks to video games—that engage more people in traditional financial services.


  • Representative Rosie Berger, Wyoming


Eloy Villafranca's PowerPointAdobe PDF

Peter Tufano's PowerPointAdobe PDF

Video recording of the session.

Maximizing Public Investments in Tight Budget Times

NCSL/Annie E. Casey Partnership on Family Economic Success

Research and evaluation help lawmakers identify what a state is getting for the activities it undertakes and the funds it spends on behalf of its citizens. Tight budgets provide an opportunity to assess the policies and programs that are most effective. This session highlighted the importance of research, performance measures and evaluation to improve outcomes for working families.


  • Representative David Heaton, Iowa


  • Kathy McGuire, Deputy Director, Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA), Florida
  • Arlene Lee, Senior Associate, Center for the Study of Social Policy, Washington, D.C.

Audio recording of this session.

Network Luncheon: Women 4 Women of Louisville

Following the Network's business meeting, Margo Waddell, with Women 4 Women, discussed her organization's work. Women 4 Women is a Louisville organization dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls. Finance 4 Her is a financial education program that teaches women basic money management -- budgeting, saving, planning ahead. After the course, Women 4 Women pairs students with volunteer financial coaches who meet with them regularly to keep them motivated and on track.


  • Representative Elsie Arntzen, Montana


  • Margo Waddell, director of programs, Women 4 Women, Louisville, Kentucky

Margo Waddell's PowerPoint presentation.Adobe PDF
Finance 4 Her's free downloadable curriculum.Adobe PDF

Money imageNCSL Compilation of 2009 Earned Income Tax Credit-related Enactments More.


Presentations and Materials from the 2009 Financial Stability Seminar in San Diego, California

Sessions included outreach to underbanked populations, the financial status of women, credit scoring, and financial education.
(Links to external pages are provided for informational purposes; NCSL does not endorse the views on these pages.)

Innovation and Asset-Building: Spotlight on California


  • Anne Stuhldreher, Senior Research Fellow, California and Asset Building Programs, New America Foundation
  • Whitney MacDougall, Director of Corporate Affairs, Intuit

The Bank on California project launched one year ago with the goal of helping low-income individuals make better use of financial services to convert their wages into wealth, with an initial focus on connecting qualified households to appropriate bank accounts. The We Connect campaign is an innovative public-private partnership spearheaded by First Lady Maria Shriver and is designed to help Californians become more financially secure by connecting them to important programs and resources, including information about Earned Income Tax Credit eligibility. This session included information about asset building policies, Bank On and We Connect, and the faculty discussed how state legislators can get involved.

Anne Stuhldreher's PowerPoint Presentation.Adobe PDF

Whitney MacDougall's PowerPoint Presentation.Adobe PDF

Other Resources:

Bank On
Website with links to programs nationwide and tips for starting a program in your own community.
The Center for Financial Services Innovation
Research about unbanked and underbanked consumers.
National Community Tax Coalition
EITC/VITA and Free Tax Assistance Campaigns
America Saves Week
February 21-28, 2010
Building Assets: A New Approach
State Legislatures magazine, June 2008
NCSL Report

The Economic Status of American Women


  • Doreen Mattingly, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Women's Studies, San Diego State University.

Dr. Mattingly reviewed recent data about women in the workforce and about how the economic crisis has affected women's employment, income and assets.

Doreen Mattingly's PowerPoint Presentation.Adobe PDF
Other resources:

The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Changes Everything

Department of Labor Women's Bureau

Bureau of Labor Statistics

CDC National Center for Health Statistics

The Urban Institute: The Role of Welfare in a Recession

Credit Scores and Financial Education


The upheaval in the economy and new regulations affecting the credit card industry mean that many consumers' access to credit has changed. Knowledge of how one's financial history affects credit scores, which in turn can affect access to loans and insurance, is critical for financial stability. This session covered the rules everyone should know and how to take that information back to your communities. Candace Bahr and Ginita Wall discussed their women's financial education initiatives and how legislators can implement similar programs.

Jennifer Flynn's PowerPoint Presentation. Adobe PDF

Candace Bahr and Ginita Wall's PowerPoint Presentation.Adobe PDF

Other resources:

NCSL Research: The Use of Credit Information in Insurance

The Use of Credit Information in Insurance: 2009 Legislation

Second Saturday Programs: What Women Need to Know About Divorce

The Center for Responsible Lending

Financial Education:


Federal Reserve

New! Federal Reserve Information about new Credit Card Rules

MoneyU: Financial Literacy for Young Adults

Wi$e Up: Financial Planning for Generation X and Y Women

Summit LogoThe Network in Philadelphia:
NCSL Legislative Summit 2009


Network Luncheon: WORC of Philadelphia

The Women's Opportunities Resource Center (WORC) is a Philadelphia success story. It promotes social and economic self-sufficiency for women by providing training, small business start-up loans, incentive savings programs, and access to a network of resources. Lynne Cutler talked about founding WORC, the programs it offers, and the success stories of former program participants. Elsie Dixon, a graduate of the WORC Self Employment Assistance Program, shared the story of how she started her own business after being laid off. 

Underbanked and Financially Underserved

What if you didn’t have a checking or savings account? How would you cash your paycheck? What if you needed money to cover an emergency? Some10 million American households are without bank accounts. Known as the “unbanked,” they often use check cashing services, payday lenders, wire transfers and refund anticipation loans. Panelists shared demographic data about underbanked consumers, discussed barriers to their involvement with traditional banks, and highlighted new strategies that encourage mainstream financial market participation. This session was a collaboration between the Network and the NCSL Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce Committee.


  • Mike Sunseri, Kentucky, CFI Committee Staff Chair


  • Matt Fellowes, Director, Safe Banking Opportunities Project, Pew Charitable Trust, Washington, D.C.
  • Randi Marmer, Assistant Vice President, Community Relations, TruMark Financial Credit Union, Pennsylvania

Matt Fellowes PowerPoint Presentation.Adobe PDF

FDIC National Bank and Household Unbanked and Underbanked Surveys.

State Foreclosure Solutions: Are They Working?

State policymakers have crafted programs to help homeowners facing foreclosure. Panelists described three state programs (in Connecticut, Kentucky and Pennsylvania) designed to keep people in their homes.
Listen to an audio recording of this session.
  • M. Dona Palmer, Business Development Manager, Homeownership Programs Division, Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, Pennsylvania
  • Roberta Palmer, Program Manager, Court Operations, State of Connecticut Judicial Branch, Connecticut
  • Brenda Walker, Senior Director of Homeownership, Kentucky Housing Corporation, Kentucky  

Dona Palmer PowerPoint Presentation. Adobe PDF

Roberta Palmer PowerPoint Presentation.Adobe PDF

Brenda Walker PowerPoint Presentation.Adobe PDF

NCSL's database of 2009 foreclosure legislation.


Presentations and Materials from the 2008 Financial Stability Conference in Atlanta, Georgia 

Sessions included economic and legislative updates, information about financial education programs, unbanked populations, and women and retirement.
(Links to external pages are provided for informational purposes; NCSL does not endorse the views on these pages.)

The 21st-Century Economic Reality for American Women

Jessica LeVeen Farr addressed how the current economic crisis affects women and discussed what legislators can do to help women acheive financial stability.
Jessica LeVeen Farr's PowerPoint Presentation Adobe PDF
Resources recommended by Jessica LeVeen Farr:
General Asset Building CFED
  New America Foundation
Financial Education JumpStart
  Federal Reserve
Homeownership and Foreclosure Counseling NeighborWorks America
EITC/VITA and Free Tax Assistance Campaigns National Community Tax Coalition
Predatory Lending Center for Responsible Lending
General Information on Women and Economic Security The National Council for Research on Women
  The National Women's Law Center
Other resources from our discussion:
EITC Data by State Legislative District (Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program).

Legislative Update

  • Heather Morton, program principal, NCSL Legislative Information Services
Heather Morton shared some recent legislative trends related to financial education, lending, foreclosures and asset development. 
NCSL Resources:
Other resources related to college savings plans/higher education finance:
Wisconsin Covenant

The Economics of Retirement for Women

The Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) works to provide low and moderate income women with basic financial information aimed at helping them take financial control over their lives and to increase awareness of the structural barriers that prevent women’s adequate participation in the nation’s retirement systems. Mother's Voices of Georgia has developed a groundbreaking financial management and retirement planning program aimed at women earning less than $30,000.
Cindy Hounsell's PowerPoint Presentation Adobe PDF
Vickie Elisa's PowerPoint Presentation Adobe PDF

Outreach to Underbanked Populations

106 million U.S. adults- 49 percent of the population- are "underbanked." These individuals either don't have a current checking or savings account, or they use non-bank institutions for at least some financial transactions.  Luz Urrutia shared some demographic research from the Center for Financial Services Innovation and discussed the strategies El Banco has developed to reach these consumers.  
Luz Urrutia's PowerPoint Presentation Adobe PDF(33 pages)

In Your Back Yard: The USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES)

Working through land-grant universities and other partners, CSREES develops programs for youth, financially vulnerable populations, and consumers making financial decisions throughout their lifetime. The overall goal is for people to acquire the knowledge, skills, and motivation to build financial security.  State extension services provide unbiased, research-based information and education via courses, Web-based curricula, and other educational outlets for people to acquire knowledge, skills, and motivation to build financial security.  Michael Rupured shared examples of the University of Georgia Extension financial education curriculum, and discussed how legislators can work with their local Extension services to reach constituents.
Michael Rupured's PowerPoint Presentation Adobe PDF

Fast Facts: Women and Asset Development

(Women's Legislative Network News, Vol. 18, No. 2, Fall 2006)

One of the most important pathways to success is asset ownership. An “asset” is defined as a single item of ownership that has exchange value, such as cash savings; stocks; bonds; home, business and real estate equity; and retirement savings. Some statistics about women and asset ownership:

• The average income gap (women earn 76 cents for every $1 earned by men) contributes to a lifetime loss of $300,000.

• 45 percent of women are “asset poor;” they do not have enough financial resources to cover basic needs for more than three months if their income is disrupted.

• Today, 25 percent of female-headed households have zero or negative net worth.

• Widowed women fare the best of all female-headed households, but they have only 59 cents for every $1 of wealth owned by widowed men.

• Never-married women own less than 25 percent of the wealth of never-married men.

• Divorced African American women hold only 10 percent of the median wealth of their divorced male counterparts.

• Women are less likely to have income from pensions than men (30 percent vs. 47 percent), and their pension benefits are less than half of men’s, on average.

• Women and minorities are more likely to be working in low-wage jobs that do not offer affordable health insurance or retirement benefits.

Source: Heather McCulloch, Principal, Asset Building Strategies, 2005.


New Orleans


The Network in New Orleans:
NCSL Legislative Summit 2008


What Is the Financial Status of American Women? Perception vs. Reality

This session was the kick-off event for the Financial Stability Project.  


  • Marsha A. Goetting, Professor and Extension Family Economics Specialist, Agricultural Economics and Economics Department, Montana State University.

Dr. Goetting led participants in an interactive session to test their knowledge of women's economic situation.  She shared data about per capita income, multiple job holders, the poverty threshold, health care coverage, credit card debt and retirement savings. Using Montana as an example, Dr. Goetting suggested legislators contact their State Research, Education & Extension Services, as many states have Family & Consumer Science programs with financial education resources.

Listen to a recording of this session.

Dr. Goetting's PowerPoint presentation Adobe PDF

Dr. Goetting's data and sources for further information Adobe PDF

Convening: The Legislator's Powerful Role

This interactive, full-afternoon workshop explained the legislator’s critical role as a convenor to help solve problems in both the district and the statehouse.  Experienced legislators and other trainers, from the Policy Consensus Initiative and NCSL, led participants in learning the principles and best practices, including the use of technology, and then applying them to real-life examples.  Part 1 of the workshop explained the purpose of convening and outlined some tools for success. Part 2 guided participants through planning their own convening processes. 

Convening community members to work through an issue is a critical skill and will be addressed throughout the Financial Stability Project.  


  • Representative Kathy Tingelstad, Minnesota
  • Roger Moe, Former Senate President, Minnesota
  • Ralph Becker, Mayor, Salt Lake City, Former House Minority Leader, Utah
  • Lana Oleen, Consultant, Former Senate Majority Leader, Kansas
  • Tara Perkinson, Deputy Clerk, Senate, Virginia
  • Greg Wolf, Director, Policy Consensus Initiative, Oregon
  • Sarah Giles, Program Coordinator, Policy Consensus Initiative, Oregon
  • Peggy Kerns, Director, NCSL Center for Ethics in Government, Colorado
  • Katie Ziegler, Policy Specialist, NCSL Women’s Legislative Network, Colorado
  • Bruce Feustel, Senior Fellow, NCSL, Colorado

Presentation: Convening Adobe PDF

NCSL Resources