Description of the programme
Age UK’s Your Money MOT project aimed to test whether a paper-based budgeting tool could help older retired people to manage their finances through life events and plan ahead for later life. Age UK designed the tool collaboratively with older people. The tool was sent to 59 older people identified by local Age UKs in Bradford, Hertfordshire and London, who were asked to complete it before attending one of six focus group/workshop events at their local Age UK centre or a local hired venue. At the focus group/workshop events, facilitators took participants through the tool section by section.
The project was designed to answer the following research question:
- How can a paper-based budgeting tool help older people, post retirement, to manage their finances through key life events and to plan ahead for later life?
An outcomes evaluation assessed the impact of the tool, and a process evaluation reviewed feedback on its design and how best to introduce it to older people.
The mixed-methods evaluation included an initial quantitative survey completed by participants at the end of the focus group/workshops in November 2017, and a follow-up telephone survey two months later in January 2018. Qualitative data was collected from participants via the focus groups/workshops and six in-depth interviews held in December 2017. Eight Age UK practitioners also provided feedback on the tool at various points. In total, 59 older people participated in the project and evaluation.
- A paper-based budgeting tool, when delivered alongside a group session, can help some older people, post-retirement, to manage their finances.
- Qualitative data highlighted the tool’s positive impact on some participants’ financial mindset; ability and understanding of money management; and their financial capability behaviours, as intended in the project’s Theory of Change.
- Qualitative data suggests participants who benefited from the tool were more likely to:
- Be less confident with money management at the outset;
- Have a lower understanding of money management at the outset;
- Lack the financial capability behaviours the tool promotes.
- However limited quantitative changes were evidenced between the initial and follow-up surveys. This may be due to the relatively small-scale and short-term duration of the project. Participants demonstrated some change in understanding finances between the workshop and the follow-up survey but this was limited.
- The evaluation found limited evidence of the budgeting tool’s positive impact on managing money through key life events and planning ahead for later life. This suggests a different or supplementary approach might be necessary to address these issues, particularly regarding planning ahead.
- Many participants did not benefit from the budgeting tool. The following reasons were identified from participant feedback:
- The tool was not relevant to them and their financial situation.
- They were happy/confident with how they were managing their finances.
- They were already engaging in activities suggested by the tool.
- They were not motivated to improve their financial management or to engage with their finances.
- They felt that taking action was futile and would not lead to improvements in their circumstances and/or to improved financial and emotional wellbeing.
- They found the tool confusing and overwhelming.
- In terms of delivery, findings suggest a paper-based tool might best be introduced alongside facilitated, group sessions including peer support. Additional one-to-one support may be necessary for some people. Participants indicated that the workshop element was important in effecting positive change.
- The majority of participants preferred the tool in a paper-based format, but felt an online version should also be made available.
Points to consider
- The ‘workshop’ was delivered as part of the evaluation focus groups, so it was not possible to evaluate the effectiveness of the tool independently from these. Outcome measures used in the quantitative survey could have better reflected the qualitative questions, and objective measures could also have been included; only self-reported measures were used. Results should be viewed with caution as self-reporting measures are subjective, reducing the robustness of apparent changes reported pre-and post- intervention.
- The short time frame between the intervention and the follow-up survey, and the project taking place over Christmas, may have limited impact.
- The initial survey took place towards the end of the focus groups/workshops. A baseline survey was not undertaken; therefore project impact could not be fully measured.
- The lack of a control group means it was not possible for the evaluation to evidence causality. The evaluation could not therefore draw definitive conclusions about the effectiveness of the budgeting tool.
- Given the smaller sample sizes for analysis, results are not statistically significant, and it is not possible to generalise from these results to the wider population.