The financial management of Roma families in six European countries
Unemployment, informal occupations, and fluctuating incomes create many difficulties for the Roma in managing their household budget. The research, carried out in order to assess the needs for financial literacy education, pointed out to some specific problems and opportunities characterizing the financial management of the Roma.
The specificity in Roma’s situation is the result of long-term living and occupational segregation on ethnic basis which led to some forms of housing and work that are not encountered in other populations, such as, for example, living in “nomad camps” or collecting and recycling materials, to give just two examples.
Moreover, interviewed Roma underlined the existence of an informal network of help linked to the feeling of belonging to the same ethnic community and used for borrowing money or exchanging favours such as free work.
The needs assessment process shed light on the informal savings and money lending circuits that are intertwined with communities’ social relations and hierarchies. Just like for consumption, borrowing and lending money is not just a matter of money, but also of social relations, trust and personal circles within one’s own community.
Since most of the people earn money day by day, it is very difficult for them to plan their expenditures, to save money and to make investments. In the economical conditions of Roma and Sinti population, investments are not so frequent and most of the time are related to emergency. The fluctuating state of their finances and the difficulty in planning leads to running out of money and turning to relatives and friends for borrowing. This is a quite typical situation that can shift into risky credit forms (usury) when the family cannot help or the amount of money needed is too big.
These results argue for the need to develop tailored intervention and educational programs in order to tackle this sensitive topic and thus to improve the overall condition of the Roma communities in Europe.