Striving to Save

Creating Policies for Financial Security of Low-Income Families
Margaret Sherrard Sherraden and Amanda Moore McBride
With Sondra G. Beverly

The struggles of low-income families trying to build savings accounts


In Striving to Save, Margaret Sherrard Sherraden and Amanda Moore McBride examine savings in eighty-four working families with low incomes, including fifty-nine families who participated in a groundbreaking program of matched savings and financial education. In-depth interviews with these families, along with savings and survey data, shed light on saving in low-income households.

The book concludes with recommended public policy approaches for increasing savings in households that are striving to save.

Cover art by Paula Newcomb based on image © apcuk

Margaret Sherrard Sherraden is Professor of Social Work at the University of Missouri, St. Louis.

Amanda Moore McBride is Assistant Professor of Social Work at Washington University, St. Louis. Amanda Moore McBride's website

Praise / Awards

  • "Striving to Save will inform and inspire social policy with its breakthrough approach in understanding how low-income families make ends meet while striving to make a better life for themselves and their families. Scholarly work in savings, debt, household finance, and behavior economics will benefit from this pioneering study that provides real-life context for some of the most important issues of our day."
    —Thomas M. Shapiro, Director, Institute on Assets and Social Policy, and Pokross Professor of Law and Social Policy, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University

  • "The central contribution of the book is to use original qualitative research to provide readers with a nuanced understanding of the financial difficulties facing low-income households, their financial decision-making processes, and their paths to saving and building assets over time. The book provides an essential corrective to the unidimensional view of poor households as unable and unwilling to save."
    —Michael Barr, University of Michigan

  • "Striving to Save is a major new contribution to a growing body of literature that seeks to understand savings as experienced by the poor themselves, and to produce insights that will help to provide them with better services."
    —Stuart Rutherford, co-founder of SafeSave and author of Portfolios of the Poor

  • "These stories are incredibly inspiring and can be used by financial educators to motivate low-income audiences and teach them specific strategies to save money. Striving to Save should be read by anyone who is teaching or developing curriculum materials for low-income audi ences, conducting research about savings by low-income audiences, overseeing IDA programs, or developing public policies designed to help low-income households save."
    Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning

  • "Sherraden and McBride have provided a rich and fascinating account of the life of the poor. From all the publications that came out of this project, this is perhaps the most important one.  ... The reader cannot come away without appreciating the challenges facing the poor and how difficult it is to become financially stable in America. In a field often dominated by economists and statisticians, this account of qualitative research exemplifies what social work research is all about: telling the big picture story of modern poverty in a personal and engaging manner."
    Families in Society

  • "Striving to Save is a comprehensive, timely, and moving examination of the struggle that low-income families face trying to accumulate savings."
    Social Forces

  • "Striving to Save is a highly educational reading because it summarizes the findings of a major IDA pilot study while succinctly reviewing and applying savings-related concepts to these findings. ... The book can be of great interest to people who want to learn more about IDAs, as well as those who may be searching for cogent research about savings behavior among low-income families." 
     —Journal of Community Practice

  • "Striving to Save will be of interest to anyone interested in understanding the savings behavior of low-income families or the policies related to promoting their economic interests. The book’s contribution lies in the rich data presented and the quality of the data collection, analysis, and presentation. Reading about the stories of low- income individuals and about their perceptions of the events that have shaped their lives and savings behaviors are essential for policy makers and researchers, whose experiences tend to be far removed from those of the people they hope to help."
    Social Development Issues

Look Inside

Copyright © 2010, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 340pp.
  • Tables 20, Figures 2.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2010
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11712-3

Add to Cart
  • $74.95 U.S.

Related Products



  • Wealth, Asset Building, Savings, Individual Development Accounts, Behavioral economics, Financial capability, Financial literacy, Asset-based policy