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Financial diaries

Financial Diaries is a research methodology which collects data about, and provides insights into, how people manage money.

For a succinct introduction to financial diaries and their potential please see the file listed at the foot of this page. 

Financial Diaries were imagined by David Hulme and Stuart Rutherford at Manchester University, UK. The first Diaries were run in Bangladesh (managed by Rutherford) and in India (managed by Orlanda Ruthven) in 1999-2000. Later, Daryl Collins, advised (among others) by Jonathan Morduch, ran Diaries in South Africa.

The results from these first three Diaries – Bangladesh, India and South Africa – were described in the book Portfolios of the Poor (portfoliosofthepoor.com).

Following the publication of the book Daryl Collins, who had joined US-based Bankable Frontiers Associates (BFA, bankablefrontier.com), went on to run Diaries for BFA in several African, Asian and Latin American countries. She and Morduch also worked together on the large-scale US Financial Diaries project (usfinancialdiaries.org).

Meanwhile US-based Microfinance Opportunities (MFO, microfinanceopportunities.org) led by Guy Stuart, developed their own Diary methodology. MFO has run Diaries in Asia and Africa and is now working on one in Latin America. For their recent Myanmar Dairies (completed late 2015) they worked with Rutherford.

Several independent academics have also used Diaries. Among these the work of Rajalaxmi Kamath is notable, especially for pioneering daily Diaries. A recent publication of hers can be found here. A leading Bangladesh NGO, BRAC, has used Diaries to investigate its own pro-poor work in the field, and a team at Meiji University, Tokyo, is right now planning to use Diaries to help understand the lives of financially-challenged groups in Japan.

*Click here to see why Facebook’s boss, Mark Zuckerberg, included Portfolios of the Poor at number 5 in his list of ‘the 23 books everyone should read’.

Stuart Rutherford,
Apr 23, 2016, 11:22 PM