Evaluating the impact of income volatility benefits on gig workers

Gig workers account for approximately 25 to 35% of the national workforce. When considering workers earning low to moderate incomes (LMI), these percentages are likely higher. Gig work provides reported advantages including flexibility, supplemental income, and independence. However, it also brings unique financial challenges such as complicated taxes, low and unpredictable wages, and difficulty accessing benefits. Due to these barriers to financial security, gig workers are often unable to build an emergency savings reserve.

Commonwealth launched the Financial Benefits Project pre-pilot to further explore the financial needs of gig workers and to outline recommendations for employer benefits that reduce the impact of income volatility. In combination with schedule stability and predictable wages, income volatility benefits have the potential to help workers earning LMI manage from day to day, particularly given the reduction of COVID-19 supports.

Across two cohorts, Commonwealth evaluated the impact of three interventions on financial hardships for 138 gig workers enrolled in the project. Participants were eligible for up to $1,000 in funds over a four-month period through weekly stipends, emergency grants, and emergency loans. 



Emergency savings preparedness and perceptions

According to Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), workers with household incomes of $75,000 or more are more than twice as likely to say they feel they can handle an emergency expense than those with household incomes of less than $35,000.

This report outlines the results of the 2022 survey that polled nearly 2700 Americans 25 and older. 



Emergency savings features that work for employees earning low to moderate incomes

Workers earning low to moderate incomes (LMI) continue to face challenges in financial security. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the financial situation of many workers earning LMI. Along with the current macroeconomic environment, it has become even more challenging to build liquid savings for unexpected expenses. In this brief, we will share insights from our latest research with DCIIA Research Retirement Center on how employers and service providers can build and offer emergency savings solutions that are inclusively designed for workers earning LMI.



Thriving or surviving study 2022

The Thriving or Surviving study uncovers the kitchen table issues that confront Canadians daily, revealing how the country is coping with concerns such as debt, savings, emergency funds and financial literacy.



Preparing for financial emergencies

Some emergencies in life can affect you financially. You could get sick, lose your job, or have a costly repair to your car or home. One of the best ways to cope with unexpected financial changes is to have an emergency fund. Ideally, this fund would provide enough money to cover your essential living expenses so you can avoid taking on debt.



Emergency fund calculator

Some emergencies in life can affect you financially. You could get sick, lose your job, or have a costly repair to your car or home. An emergency fund can provide a financial safety net. Ideally, this fund would provide enough money to cover your essential living expenses so you can avoid taking on debt.

Use OSC's calculator to estimate how much money should be set aside to pay for financial emergencies. 



Recordkeepers’ Role in Providing Emergency Savings for an Inclusive Recovery

In this webinar, Commonwealth in partnership with DCIIA Retirement Research Center (RRC) and SPARK Institute present findings from our new research about drivers and considerations of recordkeeper-provided emergency savings and host a discussion with industry experts.

Prosperity Now Scorecard Cost-Of-Living Profiles by State

Prosperity Now has created state-level Cost-of-Living profiles as new features on their Scorecard website. The Prosperity Now Cost of Living profiles provide a comprehensive look at the financial stability of every person living in the United States. Each state profile can be downloaded and used to determine the true cost of living is in the state, based on median monthly income and discretionary spending left at the end of each month after expenses. These values determine what is left over for emergency expenses and long-term aspirational expenses. 

This video presents the cost of living in Georgia.



Change Matters Volume 2: Assets

This is the second brief in a new series from The Financial Clinic. Change Matters leverages the data gathered through our revolutionary financial coaching platform, Change Machine, alongside the voices, wisdom, and lived experiences of Change Machine customers. We hope that our action oriented analysis will lead to positive social change. We believe we have a responsibility to ask the right questions, to use our data for good, and to inspire products, practice, and policy innovations that centralize the needs of the working-poor in building economic mobility.



Achieving Financial Resilience in the Face of Financial Setbacks

Financial shocks like these happen to financially vulnerable families every day. Such shocks destabilize household finances and can create hardships that threaten overall well-being. Having tools to manage financial emergencies is critical for people’s long-run financial security.

The Asset Funders Network (AFN) developed this primer to inform community-based strategies that can help economically-vulnerable families to better manage financial setbacks, shortfalls, and shocks. The goal of this brief is to provide a common understanding and language for funders and financial capability programs as part of a financial emergency toolkit.



Achieving financial resilience in the face of financial setbacks

The Asset Funders Network (AFN) developed this primer to inform community-based strategies that can help economically-vulnerable families to better manage financial setbacks, shortfalls, and shocks. The goal of this brief is to provide a common understanding and language for funders and financial capability programs as part of a financial emergency toolkit.



Set a Goal: What to Save For

America Saves, a campaign managed by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America, motivates, encourages, and supports low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth.

Information and tips for setting a savings goal, making a savings plan, how to save automatically, and other tools and resources are included. 



Soaring with savings

Saving is an important part of financial well-being. Saving money helps you manage short-term needs such as day-to-day spending. It protects you and your family during emergencies. It is the key to reaching your future hopes and dreams.

Maybe you are recovering from a hard time financially and re-starting your savings. Or maybe you are setting new goals, large or small. It is always a good idea to check your savings habits. Savings can give you peace of mind and the freedom to do the things you enjoy.

These worksheets can help you think through what kind of saving is important for you. It can help you create a plan for achieving your financial goals. The worksheets also contain information about savings plans and government supports for education and retirement.

Download the accompanying training deck and facilitation guide for activities, facilitation techniques, tools and resources to use with the Soaring with savings worksheets.

Soaring with savings was made possible through the generous support of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC).

We are grateful to Momentum Community Economic Development Society and Family Services Greater Vancouver for their content consultation on this resource.

Last updated on July 27, 2022: Additional resource added - Tax-Free Savings Account Calculator