5.4.5 Employ the financial diaries methodology to capture nuances of youth financial management over time

Financial diaries 1 are research tools that YEO programs can use to gather more detailed information about youth financial behavior. They are particularly useful to track youth finances over time, allowing for a more complete picture of how seasons or migration may affect youth financial behavior. They are frequent, repeated surveys, typically once a week to once a month. They primarily focus on collecting data on cash flow. But can include other topics such as food security, health, migration, and others. They can identify seasons of high and low income, cash flow, when more loans are needed, how youth use various financial tools, and fluctuations in migration. Whereas the typical baseline and endline surveys capture more of a ‘snapshot’ of activities, the financial diaries methodology records daily activities that can tell a different and more accurate story. Freedom from Hunger used the methodology in Mali and Ecuador to learn more about youth participating in the Advancing Integrated Microfinance for Youth (AIM Youth) program. Preliminary data was presented at the 2012 GYEOC and a full report will be released in 2013.

Noteworthy Results: AIM Youth

Freedom from Hunger, with support of The MasterCard Foundation and local partners (cooperatives, NGOs, and credit unions), expects to provide 37,000 youth (22,000 in Mali and 15,000 in Ecuador) with integrated financial and non-financial services through the AIM Youth program. AIM Youth used the financial diaries methodology in Mali to survey 72 respondents (36 treatment and 36 control) from six villages. Respondents were randomly selected but were representative along geography, age, and gender lines. They were asked to respond to surveys every three weeks for three months; then once a month for a year. Preliminary results from July 2011-January 2012 included the following:

Treatment Group Demographics: 84 percent are 13- to 17-years-old, 16 percent are 18-24, 86 percent are unmarried, and 55 percent are in school. Food insecurity and poverty levels of participants fluctuated seasonally.

Location of Savings: Youth use several tools for savings. Savings group members save in savings groups, through livestock, and with help from a guardian at home. In July 2011 respondents reported preferring banks but in January they reported a preference for savings groups. 

Savings Amount: Treatment groups saved more than control groups. At this point in the program, the data is showing that savings group participants are saving more and building more assets than the control group.  This suggests an accomplishment of a main goal of the program, and efficacy of the savings group methodology.

Attitudes and Knowledge: Treatment respondents reported identifying safe places to save money, differentiating between good and bad borrowing decisions, and improved beliefs in their own capacity to save.

Practical Tips: AIM Youth on the Financial Diaries Methodology
  • Try to employ or enlist young enumerators; youth likely feel more comfortable opening up to them.
  • ŸIf possible cost-wise, plan to use the same enumerators over time with the same respondents.
  • ŸUnderstand the implications of sending frequent surveyors into a community: will they villagers think they work for the government?  Is this a good or a bad thing? Make reassurances accordingly.
  • ŸGet permission of village chiefs for surveying in advance if necessary.
  • ŸDetermine the time parents are available for first consent, and when youth are available for ongoing interviews (usually evenings and weekends).

For more information, see http://www.freedomfromhunger.org/.