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AFI Resource Guide - About Financial Capability Services

Published: March 29, 2016
Assets for Independence (AFI)
Resource Guide

Financial capability is defined as “the capacity, based on knowledge, skills, and access, to manage financial resources effectively.” Financial capability is a critical step towards financial security, and many people (regardless of socioeconomic background) may lack one or more factors of the financial capability equation. Some may lack the knowledge (e.g., understanding the terms of their credit card account) or the skills (e.g., calculating the total costs of using credit) needed to manage their financial lives effectively. Others may not have the access to resources necessary for managing their finances well (e.g., high quality but affordable financial services). Challenges in any of these areas will negatively affect financial capability.

This document provides an in-depth look at ten key financial capability services:

  • Financial Education
  • Financial Coaching
  • Financial Counseling
  • Credit Counseling
  • Credit Building
  • Access to Safe and Affordable Financial Products
  • Free Tax Preparation Assistance
  • Access to Federal and State Benefits
  • Incentivized Savings Programs
  • Asset Ownership Programs

Each service addresses a different aspect of financial capability. Some services are more suitable for clients who are just beginning to work towards financial capability. Other services will work for clients who have already built basic knowledge and skills and are ready to advance. The services also vary in the amount of resources and specialized knowledge needed for implementation. The descriptions in this document provide detailed information on each service—an explanation of what it is, why it is important, and how to implement it.

NOTE: This resource was initially developed as an appendix to Building Financial Capability: A Planning Guide for Integrated Services, a resource for community-based organizations interested in integrating financial capability services into existing programs for low-income people.

Last Reviewed: June 14, 2019