Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


School of Business


Financial literacy impacts the lives of individuals, families, and communities. Not all individuals appear to possess the basic financial knowledge necessary to plan for a comfortable lifestyle (Mandell, 2008). Some individuals possess financial knowledge but other psychosocial factors interfere with the ability of that knowledge to influence their actual consumer financial behavior (Dodaro, 2011; Estelami, 2008; Huston, 2010). Personal construct theory (Kelly, 1955) posits that behavior reflects self-constructed meaning and reality derived from a combination of experience and anticipation of future events that frame an individual's worldview. Meaning is self-constructed yet influenced by society's complex interrelationships. Thus, behavior reflects social aspects and psychological aspects in addition to factual knowledge. The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to develop a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of financial literacy given the complex interrelationships between financial knowledge, consumer financial behavior, and psychosocial factors. This study used a phenomenological qualitative approach as the critical lens through which to view the meaning, structure, and essence of the lived experience of financial literacy. Viewed through a phenomenological lens, personal construct theory served as the theoretical framework for the study which used the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET) for data collection and analysis. Fourteen individuals who had completed a financial literacy program (i.e., Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University) and 12 individuals who had not completed a financial literacy program participated in this study. ZMET was used to elicit participants' thoughts and feelings about financial literacy and how financial literacy affected their lives. Common themes elicited included the deep metaphors of journey, balance, connections, and resources. Of particular note, the deep metaphor of transformation was elicited as a theme for individuals who had participated in a financial literacy program. Participants' lives, the lives of their families, and, ultimately, broader society were transformed as a result of completion of a financial literacy program. Not only were lives transformed as a result of financial literacy, participants reported transformed attitudes towards financial literacy. A consensus map illustrating the essence of the lived experience of financial literacy was developed. Participants described financial literacy as a holistic phenomenon. Financial literacy resulted in financial well-being; a personally constructed concept that reflected individuals' aspirations for themselves, their families, and broader society. A holistic model of financial literacy that illustrated the relationships between financial knowledge, consumer financial behavior, and psychosocial factors was developed.