Evidence of Financial Resourcefulness of Low-income Canadians: Snapshots of Five Families’ Finances

The Canadian Financial Diaries Research Project is a project which explores the financial health of low- and modest-middle income Canadians. Using the financial diaries methodology, this research looks at both the barriers and opportunities which can impact financial well-being. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected over the period of one year, from a purposefully-chosen group of 29 participants.

In this Snapshots of Five Participants we take a preliminary look at five of the participants in the Canadian Financial Diaries Project.  Their files were chosen to represent the diversity of participants included in phase one. Readers will find a description of their backgrounds, socio-demographic information, an overview of their financial practices, along with their assets and liabilities, and insights into their spending patterns and methods. Pseudonyms have been assigned in order to preserve the anonymity of participants.

The observations included in this summary offer the reader a quick glimpse into the lives and financial practices of the participants. The information included in this report has been based on quantitative and qualitative data from the financial diaries, interview logs, open-ended interviews, as well as participants’ assets and liabilities. The writer has attempted to weave, from the aforementioned materials, short summaries intended to serve as snapshots of the participants’ financial well-being. An intentional effort has been made to distinguish between the voices of the participants, the researchers, and the writer, and to present informative stories while attempting to remain aware of any personal bias.

Some themes which arise in these summaries are the importance of social networks and financial resourcefulness for working Canadians living pay cheque to pay cheque. Having family and friends to turn to in times of financial need and exercising strong budgeting skills were key factors which contributed to participants’ abilities to go through periods of financial volatility with resilience. The legacy of colonization can contribute additional barriers to financial wellbeing of Indigenous participants. Newcomers face particular challenges to financial well-being, specifically as they move through the costly process of acquiring work permits and permanent resident status.  

Report is available here.

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