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Coping with Financial Volatility: Strategies Families Use

Many families live paycheck to paycheck—often while coping with volatile income and expenses. With little to no savings and a limited social safety net, families are vulnerable to inevitable financial shocks. This event highlighted American families’  financial struggles and moved beyond the problem to discuss coping mechanisms and strategies by which families can gain greater stability and achieve financial health, as well as policies and products through which the financial services industry and government can make that journey easier.

During the panel discussion, Lisa Servon, author of The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives, discussed the difficulties consumers encounter in the mainstream bank and credit system. Bruce Murphy, executive vice president at KeyCorp, discussed the strategy Key has implemented over the past 10 years to help consumers resolve these difficulties. Rachel Schneider, coauthor of The Financial Diaries: How American Families Cope in a World of Uncertainty (forthcoming), discussed the struggles and coping strategies of families from diverse communities, and the products and policies that could improve their opportunities for success. Urban Institute scholar Caroline Ratcliffe discussed research on the role of emergency savings and programs to help families build wealth and get ahead. 



  • Bruce Murphy, executive vice president and head of corporate responsibility, KeyCorp
  • Caroline Ratcliffe, codirector, Opportunity and Ownership Initiative and senior fellow, Urban Institute
  • Rachel Schneider, senior vice president, Center for Financial Services Innovation
  • Ellen Seidman, senior fellow, Urban Institute (moderator)
  • Lisa Servon, professor, University of Pennsylvania
  • Sarah Rosen Wartell, president, Urban Institute
Event Materials


For inquiries regarding this event, please contact [email protected].


Date & Time Thursday, March 2, 2017
Urban Institute 2100 M Street NW
5th floor
Washington , DC , 20037
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  • Nonresident Fellow