Economics & Finance

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


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Jan 29, 2019
5.25 x 8 in.
14 b/w illus.
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The ideal of the American Dream seems increasingly out of reach, even for many families who are trying to do everything right. To find out why, Jonathan Morduch and Rachel Schneider followed 235 low- and middle-income families as they navigated a year of ups and downs. Through the groundbreaking US Financial Diaries project, we meet real people, from a casino dealer to a street vendor to a tax preparer, who open up their lives and reveal a world of financial uncertainty. For these families, even limited financial success requires imaginative—and often costly—coping strategies: forming saving clubs, borrowing from relatives, strategizing about skipping bills, and devising ways to keep money just out of easy reach. In The Financial Diaries, Morduch and Schneider challenge popular assumptions about how Americans earn, spend, borrow, and save. This book uncovers deeper causes of distress and inequality, starkly illustrating how changes in America have placed too much risk on the wrong shoulders. The authors describe new tools and policies—from fin tech apps that help people manage money to laws that guarantee predictable hours—that will improve stability for those who need it most.

Awards and Recognition

  • Winner of the 2018 Silver Medal in Economics, Axiom Business Book Awards
  • 2018 Silver Medal Winner in Finance/Investment/Economics, Independent Publisher Book Awards