Lauren Segapeli, Samara Watkiss and myself will be spending the next 7 weeks researching the intersection of personal relationships and debt in the lives of young adults. Our interest in this topic arose from the importance of community in micro-lending in other cultures and curiosity why such community-centric financial support isn’t leveraged in the United States.
We will look at the cultural norms and mental models around debt and debt resources and how friends, family and romantic partners influence and support the development of financial habits and financial literacy.
We will focus our research on men and women between the ages of 18-26 from varying socioeconomic and racial groups. People in this age group are in the process of developing their own patterns of financial decision making and faced with many new financial questions. In particular we plan to talk with individuals who have recently graduated from high school, started a full time job, are going to college, have graduated from college, been recently married, moved in with roommates, or are having children. We are interested in learning how these life-events affect individuals’ approaches to managing their finances, and the ways in which they utilize their social or family networks to tackle the financial challenges they face.
Through methods of contextual inquiry, we will observe the financial habits of young people in the context which they happen, as well as the tools and artifacts they use to manage and track their finances. We will employ investigative exercises in which the participant will create a timeline illustrating the role finances have played in various stages of their lives. Such participatory exercises will act as creative and reflective stimulus to help pull more rich, detailed information from the participants.
We have developed a full research plan that includes details about the methods and participants we will be focusing on, a weekly schedule, a discussion guide and script to be used throughout the process. The completed research plan can be found here.