Understanding the financial lives of vulnerable groups using financial diaries

In a typical week, Patience visits 10 homes. Through rain or shine, she walks, rides her bike or takes a minibus between 1 and 20 kilometers to get to each house. When she arrives, she is greeted by her study participant and, as they do every week, they find a quiet place to talk. One by one, Patience asks the participant to tell her about all her financial transactions for the week. Often participants only have routine transactions such as food purchased for the family or income from a microbusiness. Some weeks participants have unexpected expenses like materials for a home repair. Occasionally they tell her about savings that they have put aside for large expenses in the future. Patience records all of this information as part of a financial diaries study. In this post, we explain what financial diaries are, how FHI 360 has used them in recent studies and what we’ve learned from using them.

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