Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Accession No.
Grant No.
Project No.
Proposal No.
Multistate No.
Program Code
Project Start Date
Nov 1, 2013
Project End Date
Sep 30, 2018
Grant Year
Project Director
O'Neill, B, .
Recipient Organization
Performing Department
Agricultural Food & Resource Economics
Non Technical Summary
An understanding of how American households make financial decisions is needed to inform the content and format of financial education programs and public policy. The work of NC 2172 through 9/30/18 will focus on exploring consumer financial decision-making across the lifespan with a focus on three specific decisions related to housing, post-secondary education financing, and the claiming of Social Security benefits at retirement. The NC 2172 research team will use a mixed methods research design, including online surveys and convenience samples, to obtain relevant data. Motivators and barriers in the household financial decision-making process will be explored.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
Knowledge Area
607 - Consumer Economics;

Subject Of Investigation
6020 - The family and its members;

Field Of Science
3010 - Economics;
Goals / Objectives
Determine how motivators and barriers to economic decision-making can be presented in specific decision situations across the life-span of households Suggest strategies that can be used to improve consumer financial decision-making
Project Methods
The methods to be used to achieve the NC 2172 objectives listed above have already been determined by the NC 2172 team. Dr. O'Neill will participate in the planned research project strategies, along with her colleagues, to do the following: analyze existing research to inform data collection; help design experiments and qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection; submit proposals for presentations; write/publish manuscripts and outreach publications.

Progress 11/01/13 to 09/30/14

Target Audience: This research project is designed to develop a better understanding of motivators and barriers affecting family financial decisions and strategies to improve financial well-being. This includes studies of consumer financial practices. The target audiences for research findings from this project were financial education professionals and consumers. Several thousand professionals, such as military financial counselors and Cooperative Extension educators, were reached through conference presentations, publications, webinars, and social media (Dr. O’Neill currently has 1,100 Twitter followers). Consumers were reached through the development of curricula for public programs, mass media, and social media, including Twitter chats. Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? Another research dissemination outreach method, listed under “Other Products,” was the delivery of eleven 90-minute webinars for professional financial educators including military financial counselors. Follow-up evaluations conducted by eXtension found that well over half of the over 1,200 people who viewed these webinars put knowledge gained into practice. Dr. O’Neill also provided national leadership for the development of the Personal Health and Finance Quiz (see Launched in July 2014, the quiz is among the first online surveys for public use to simultaneously query users about their health and personal finance practices. People who complete the quiz receive a score for each section (i.e., a Health Score and a Finance Score), a Total Score, and links to online resources for improved health and financial management. The quiz also collects research data about the daily health and financial practices of Americans to inform future Cooperative Extension educational programs. The Personal Health and Finance Quiz is Rutgers Cooperative Extension’s sixth online self-assessment tool. The previous five online quizzes include the Financial Fitness Quiz, Identity Theft Risk Assessment Quiz, Investment Risk Tolerance Quiz, Personal Resiliency Resources Assessment Quiz, and Wise Credit Management Quiz. Together, these online financial self-assessment tools have collected data about, and provided personalized feedback to, almost a quarter of a million people during the past decade. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? The NC2172 student loan decision-making research projectis currently underway. No results have yet been disseminated. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? My plans include conducting research about health and financial relationships with data fromthe Personal Health and Finances Quiz and contributing to co-authored papers with NC2172 colleagues about student loan decision-making.

What was accomplished under these goals? This research project is designed to develop a better understanding of motivators and barriers that affect family financial decision-making and strategies to improve financial well-being. This includes studies of consumer financial practices. Research results are shared with financial education professionals and consumers. During FY 2014, Dr. O’Neill worked with colleagues to conduct empirical research about consumer credit management practices and learning preferences for personal finance information. Both studies resulted in refereed journal articles. She also wrote two papers exploring health and wealth relationships. One paper was published and the second was recently revised and resubmitted. All four publications described above provide implications for financial practitioners and consumers. Dr. O’Neill’s project accomplishments for FY 2014 also involved attending monthly NC2172 conference calls and working with colleagues on a student loan decision-making research project. She served on the Focus Group subcommittee and helped draft survey questions and review literature. Focus Group data are being collected in Fall 2014, including an IRB-approved subsample at Rutgers, and research publications and presentations are anticipated in 2015.


  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Published Year Published: 2014 Citation: ONeill, B. & Xiao, J.J. Post-Recession, Post Legislation Credit Use: Insights from an Online Survey. Journal of Personal Finance (2014), 13(1), 65-76. [WWW Document] URL:
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Published Year Published: 2014 Citation: ONeill, B. & Ensle, K. Small Steps to Health and Wealth": Program Update and Research Insights. The Forum for Family and Consumer Issues (2014), (19(1). [WWW Document] URL:
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Published Year Published: 2014 Citation: Abdul-Rahman, M. F., ONeil, M., & ONeill, B. Personal Finance Hot Topics: A Comparison between Educators and Non-Educators. The Forum for Family and Consumer Issues (2013), 18(3), [WWW Document] URL:
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Under Review Year Published: 2014 Citation: ONeill, B. The greatest wealth is health: Relationships between health and financial behaviors. Journal of Personal Finance. Under Review; Revised and Resubmitted 10/14