The Financial Diaries: How American Families Cope in a World of Uncertainty

The Financial Diaries: How American Families Cope in a World of Uncertainty by Jonathan Morduch and Rachel Schneider

For one year, spanning 2012-2013, authors Jonathan Morduch and Rachel Schneider and a team of researchers interviewed 235 low- and middle-income families to find out why so many families feel so financially insecure.

Each family involved in the study, called the Financial Diaries, committed to revealing to researchers every financial decision and transaction they made, as well as the reasoning behind it, including how they earned, shared, borrowed, saved, and dealt with debt.

The authors discovered that even though “the story often told about financial success in America is that slow and steady saving over a lifetime, combined with consistent hard work and a little luck, will ensure financial security, a comfortable retirement, and better opportunities for one’s children,” that wasn’t the reality of the families they interviewed.

Combining the participants’ personal stories along with charts, facts, and statistics, the authors show how Americans’ conceptions of poverty, stability, and wealth “have been stuck in the past” and need a new approach.

Throughout this informative and inspiring book, Morduch and Schneider seek justice for people who are struggling financially and call on different levels of government and lending institutions to do what is best for citizens and consumers.

Though not openly based on biblical principles, The Financial Diaries inadvertently points to Scripture’s call to care for the poor and vulnerable. The chapter entitled “Sharing” gives a particularly heartwarming glimpse of ways in which financially struggling communities help out their members. It shows how “relationships have a deep impact on how we deal with money.” (Princeton University Press)

About the Author

Sonya VanderVeen Feddema is a freelance writer and a member of Covenant CRC in St. Catharines, Ontario.

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Middle income is not median income and median class families are not middle class families.  Most people never learn the difference between mode, median, and mean (average). Median implies "bell curve." The income distribution curve in not a bell curve. This old URL explains in clear "working class" language. 

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