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Financial capability, average score (Indicator)


A six-question survey to measure individual financial capability. The Financial Capability Scale (FCS) has been shown to be associated with credit use, credit scores, savings and financial attitudes. Although designed for financial coaching, the FCS can be applied to other financial capability services and programs.

Note that this scale must be turned into a more complex indicator before it can be analyzed. Participants' scores must be compared with their pre- or post-scores and/or the scores from other participants who are in the same program or, depending on the evaluation question, in another program. 

Interpreting FCS levels based on results of the scale can be done by using the following cutoffs:  

  • 0-3 points: Low financial capability  
  • 4-5 points: Moderate financial capability  
  • 6-8 points: High financial capability

Alternate names:

Short name
Financial capability

Outcome Areas


This scale is designed for program evaluations and ongoing monitoring of client progress. It is well-validated and used in many financial coaching programs. Like any participant survey, there is a risk of self-report bias and lack of cooperation in filling out the survey.

Calculation rules

Computation Rule:

Sum of the six data elements
A count of the respondents who took the FCS survey


Six data elements. Users may make small changes to the scale items as needed, including the reference period for questions (3 months in the most recent versions). These types of minor changes generally will not degrade the validity of the scale.


List of survey questions, answer options and their scores

1. Do you currently have a personal budget, spending plan, or financial plan? 

2. How confident are you in your ability to achieve a financial goal you set for yourself today? 

3. If you had an unexpected expense or someone in your family lost a job, got sick or had another emergency, how confident are you that your family could come up with money to make ends meet within a month? 

4. Do you currently have an automatic deposit or electronic transfer set up to put money away for a future use such as saving for retirement or education? 

5. Over the past month, would you say your family’s spending on living expenses was less than its total income?

6. In the last 2 months, have you paid a late fee on a loan or bill? 


Asset Funders Network. (August 2013). Financial coaching and the Financial Capability Scale: Guide to using the scale. Accessed July 23, 2017.

Additional Attributes

Slot name Type Value Similar


Data collection

Surveys and interviews






Life skills


Health and well-being

Terms of use

Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International by the Center for Financial Security, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Attribution should be made to the Center of Financial Security, University of Wisconsin-Madison,