Displaying all posts under the topic of US Financial Diaries
July 8, 2014
In mid-June the Stanford Social Innovation Review blogged the results of a survey they conducted. The survey’s purpose: to understand the role of academic research in the work of practitioners in a broad range of social, environmental and economic issue areas. Many of the 1,800 respondents described academic research as difficult to access, expensive, too narrow, and not relevant. Seventy percent cited the “difficulty of translating research findings into concrete action...
July 1, 2014
Financial Access Initiative
More than 200 alumni, students, faculty, staff, donors, and friends of NYU Wagner celebrated the school's 75th anniversary on Thursday, June 12. The celebration began with faculty presenting their research highlights, or "WAGTalks." FAI's Jonathan Morduch kicked off the series with an overview of the US Financial Diaries (USFD) project and its relevance in today's current economic debates. Jonathan emphasized that USFD provides a highly detailed...
April 15, 2014
Last week the New York Times highlighted a trend among low-income communities: people seeking tax prep at unregulated, sometimes fraudulent, pop-up shops. The article explains, "for millions of low-income Americans tax season means the biggest one-time influx of money all year." When preparers hand these customers a lump sum much larger than they're used to seeing on a daily basis, many filers don't think to check...
February 6, 2014
The Taylors overdraft their checking account every two weeks, on purpose.
As described in a recent issue brief published by the U.S. Financial Diaries, the Taylor family’s income level varies significantly from month to month. Sometimes it’s not enough to cover all of their expenses. So, they opened an account at a bank with a simple overdraft fee structure: One $35 charge per overdraft, no daily fees, and an allowance of up to $500 at a time. Since...
January 28, 2014
“Wow, the consumer knows about that?”
This was essentially how a banker responded when I told him the story of a woman I interviewed for the US Financial Diaries study. The participant – we’ll call her Jenna – was charged four $32 overdraft fees in the same day ($128 total, if you’re counting). Jenna explained to me that if her bank had processed her transactions in the order she had made them, there would only have been one charge. Instead, the bank posted her largest purchase first,...
November 6, 2013
As a field researcher collecting data for the US Financial Diaries project in Cincinnati, I interviewed 30 low-income families about the details of their household finances over 16 months. One question was always in my mind: What’s the difference between their financial lives and mine? And how might this comparison help design financial products for people who are struggling to make ends meet? One of the most important distinctions I identified was our vastly different abilities to save. For me, an unexpected...
October 30, 2013
Buried at the bottom of Shaila Dewan's recent New York Times article on "Microcredit for Americans" is an idea that deserves much more attention:
Grameen helps its clients in another way that many experts say is more important than increasing income — it establishes good credit scores. Many poverty alleviation groups have shifted their focus from saving to credit building, because people with poor or no credit must leave large deposits for basic needs like utilities,...
October 21, 2013
The U.S. Financial Diaries is a research project tracking more than 200 low- and moderate-income households over the course of a year, collecting highly detailed data on household financial activity. New York University’s Financial Access Initiative (FAI), CFSI, and Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA) recently released the Household Profiles. This series provides an intimate look into the financial lives of six households,...
June 5, 2013
The US Financial Diaries (USFD) project–a partnership among New York University’s Financial Access Initiative (FAI), the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) and Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA) –was launched to examine the financial lives of more than 200 low- and moderate-income households. Using the financial diaries methodology, previously used in Bangladesh, India and South Africa, the team has been regularly tracking the financial lives, choices and money management strategies of a broad...
January 25, 2013
Last November, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office of Financial Empowerment hosted a conference on “Empowering Low-Income and Economically Vulnerable Consumers: Making the Case through Access, Data and Scale.” A key highlight of the conference was a breakout session about the incentives and obstacles to collecting data in the field. Leading the session were representatives...