Earlier this year, True Link Financial, in collaboration with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network andQuality Trust, created a survey for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities on the topic of financial management. Our goal was to gather the perspectives of adults with disabilities in order to better understand the needs and challenges they face when dealing with money. With the help of our wonderful partners, we conducted outreach via social media and email to over 50 organizations committed to serving people with disabilities nationwide. Our survey focused on three main questions:
1) How is your money managed?2) What challenges do you face when dealing with money?3) What type of service or tool could help you with these challenges?
The results clearly show that current financial tools and services are missing the mark in supporting adults with disabilities. Over 75% of respondents report that their disability makes it difficult to manage their money, and only 36% reported that they are either “happy” or “very happy” with how their money is managed.
The survey also asked for respondents to go into more detail regarding the most common challenges they face when dealing with money. Most individuals reported issues related to budgeting and spending management with these challenges impacting more than 40% of respondents:
- Creating a budget (49.4%)- Sticking to a budget (57.5%)- Keeping track of how much has been spent and/or how much money is left (51.7%)- Keeping track of bills and paying them on time (46.6%)- Impulse buying or shopping sprees (40.8%)
As a company founded to protect vulnerable individuals from financial abuse, we also asked our respondents about exploitation and fraud. The results indicate this as an area of concern. 19.5% reported that being taken advantage of by a friend, family member, or paid helper is a challenge, while 17.2% reported that being a target of fraud, scams, or identity theft is a challenge.
These money management challenges are addressed in a variety of ways – the most common of which is getting help from family or friends (33.3%). Other strategies include:
- Having automatic payment for bills (24.7%)- Having a joint bank account with someone they trust (22.4%)- Giving someone they trust access to their accounts (16.7%)
In addition to understanding how respondents felt about the ways their money is currently managed, we also wanted to gain insight into what features should be included in financial tools or services better designed for them. In considering a prepaid debit card product, 67% of interested respondents desired the ability to receive a text alert with important information about their spending. This was followed closely by the ability to see pictures, graphs, guides, and other visual or text-based aides, which was desired by 60.4% of interested respondents.
We also noted significant interest in self-determination and supported decision-making amongst our respondents. In considering potential settings for a new financial tool, these options were considered desirable by respondents interested in a prepaid debit card product:
- The ability to allow someone else to help me make decisions about money without giving them full control (52.8%)- The ability to limit how much money I can spend on different things (45.3%)- The ability to block certain types of purchases that I don’t want to make (35.8%)
In reviewing these responses, it is evident that adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities are lacking what they need when it comes to effective money management tools. At True Link, our hope is that these results encourage the creation of financial services and products that better address the needs of these individuals.
We’ll be speaking more about these survey results at the Supported Decision-Making (SDM) Symposium, November 18-19, 2015 in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the National Resource Center on Supported Decision-Making (NRC-SDM). We have been invited to share our expertise on supportive tools and services for people who are aging or living with a disability.