Financial Diaries

Shedding light on the financial management of the low income households

Financial Diaries were started by Stuart Rutherford of SafeSave and David Hulme of the University of Manchester. They felt that a great deal of information about the lives of the poor was being missed by only relying on snapshot interview research methods. By interviewing hundreds of households every two weeks over the course of a year, and reporting on their most minute financial transactions, Financial Diaries provides a rich and detailed understanding of the financial behavior and needs of low income households. They tested the Financial Diaries in Bangladesh in 2000, followed a year later by a sample in India in 2001. Daryl Collins, BFA’s Managing Director, implemented a much larger sample in 2003 for South Africa while she was a member of the Finance faculty at the University of Cape Town.

BFA has since implemented Financial Diaries projects in ten countries–India, Kenya, Mexico, Mozambique, Pakistan, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, the United States and Tanzania. BFA’s proprietary Financial Diaries database application is the key to collecting quality high-frequency data. With the portfolio of many Financial Diaries countries, we are expanding the application by helping local researchers implement data collection as well as assisting with data analysis. Thus Financial Diaries is not only is more cost-effective but also leaves behind more knowledge researchers in the country to expand the work.

Photo credit Adriana Zehbrauskas

Financial Diaries Projects

Smallholder Financial Diaries

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Kenya Financial Diaries

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Mexico Financial Diaries

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The Financial Database Application

Building off the original Financial Diaries database that was built in Access in 2004, BFA has built a copyrighted relational database that makes the collection of high frequency, small volume data possible and generates diary questions and basic reports.

BFA currently promotes the use of this database application, along with training manuals, to local researchers, effectively lowering the price of data collection and empowering local researchers to provide insights into a wide range of environments. By also linking the database application to the i2i data platform, BFA has enabled a broad sharing of this data.

Photo credit FSD Kenya

Learn more by visiting www.financialdiaries.com

What did we learn about Gender Gap from Financial Diaries?

The Financial Diaries are deep and systematic studies into the financial lives of low income families, giving us a unique view into the detailed financial behaviors of respondents. Through A Buck Short, a report by BFA, with sponsor Omidyar Network, our consultants Caitlin Sanford (former) and Julie Zollman take a deeper look at the experiences of the Financial Diaries women from India, Kenya, and Mexico. This study illuminates the reality that serving women, and especially low-income women, requires thinking more intentionally about women’s financial lives, especially for financial service providers aiming to reach the female market.

Photo credit Adriana Zehbrauskas

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A Buck Short
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Updated January 2017