Financial Diaries Project

The government and financial industry in South Africa are increasingly aware of the need to provide financial services to poor households, but a lack of understanding of the financial needs of the poor makes this task a difficult one. The Financial Diaries study addresses this knowledge gap by examining financial management in rural and urban households in South Africa.


The objective of the financial diaries was to develop a multi-dimensional, comprehensive set of data on household financial management that was both qualitative and quantitative. This dataset would capture financial instrument usage across different types of households and track that usage over time. Not only would the financial flows be captured but also the texture of the decisions that went with those flows – why a transaction was entered into, what was the intent behind the strategy, what was done with lump sums of money. The depth of this dataset should allow us to explore a breadth of issues relating to the use of financial devices.


Fortnightly interviews were conducted for a year in three different areas in South Africa: Langa in Cape Town, Diepsloot in Johannesburg and Lugangeni, a rural village in the Eastern Cape. From this data a number of papers have been published, which are listed on the Output and Publications tab.

Please see here for a full explanation of the methodology behind the financial diaries. This page also provides access to the survey questionnaires and the database.

Daryl Collins