CHASM Seminar: Managing Finances and Multiple Long-Term Conditions: The FinWell London Financial Diaries

Wednesday 9 December 2020 (12:30-13:30)

Helen Harris:

Speaker: Olga Biosca, Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health, Glasgow Caledonian University. 

This seminar will be delivered online. If you would like to book a place, please email Helen Harris at

Despite an established link between income and health, limited evidence exists on how the struggle to make ends meet impacts on aspects of both mental and physical health and vice versa. Financial management and health interact and often reinforce each other. However, little is known about the nature of this relationship and what can be done to alleviate the challenges faced by people in difficult financial situations whilst also trying to manage multiple long-term health conditions. 

We used an innovative mixed methods design (financial diaries, interviews and Q methodology) to establish whether there is a perceived link between people’s financial lives (including the use of microcredit initiatives) and their health (focusing on the progression of long-term co-morbidities), and the mediating mechanisms that might facilitate this association. We explored these issues with a group of people living on low-incomes with long-term health conditions in two London Boroughs (Lambeth and Southwark) who experience different levels of participation in fair microcredit and other local financial and community support schemes. To better understand their lived experiences and money management strategies, twenty-one participants completed financial diaries over a period of six months. 

Our diaries show how changes in income and expenditure drive financial decisions and how financial management strategies underlie all aspects of our participants’ day-to-day lives. Frequent financial decisions represent a significant source of stress and anxiety for participants. Diaries also reveal some of the complex strategies that are used to cope with the financial uncertainty and short-term illiquidity derived from low income, ill health, rising living costs, insecure work and the implications of welfare reform. 

Data collection for this study was finished on March 2020 when COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic. Given the fragile situations of most diarists when we finished data collection for this project, it is very likely that our diarists will be amongst those hardest hit by COVID-19, and the associated social and economic measures put in place to combat it.