Banks require people to manage money as if they were accountants. But individuals drive their choices regarding the social and emotional meaning that they give to money. This meaning determines the way they manage it.


Money has a social and emotional value

Individuals do not manage money as such. They actually manage their life trying to conciliate money management and social and emotional balance.


People manage their money according to the meaning they give to it
Individuals’ moral principles and their emotional relationships create a network of constraints which draw a mental map. It leads their choices beyond simple financial calculations and gives a meaning to money, thus directing its flow. It is made of each individual’s potentials, assets and necessities. I can have an overdraft for three months in a row but no way I’m using granny’s money.


But banks require people to manage as accountants
Banks think of money management as a topic per se. Hence they expect individuals to behave like accountants: allocating budgets, adjusting their spendings to their revenue every month, or the bank will call to order.
For banks, it is completely irrational to have an overdraft while you have savings aside.


Manage money and life

Banks demand to manage your money while you try to manage your life. What if banks take in account the meaning that individuals give to their money?


Enquête sur les usages de l'argent

Banks and institutions share particular ideas of what money is and what people should do with it. These preconceived ideas drive banking products and their advice to people. These lessons are some conclusions from our study : Enquête sur les usages de l’argent.
However, the relationship between people and money isn’t obvious and deserves much deeper reflection. Do the perception of money and its real use match the banks’ assumptions?


The field research was conducted between July 20th and August 7th 2015, throughout 15 in-depth interviews. This panel was constituted of strongly different type of profiles in terms of age, life cycle, revenues and possessions, marital status or living areas.

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GUILLAUME MONTAGU - Anthropology & Strategy
After following a sociology and political anthropology research program at La Sorbonne, Guillaume has offered his social sciences skills to companies. He joined unknowns to lead researches and studies.

Social sciences assume that individuals have reasons to do what they do. It’s our role to understand and explain their behaviours.


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All icons used in visuals come from Creative Commons – Attribution (CC BY 3.0) 
Thanks to the authors : Kevin Augustine LO,  Mister Pixel,  Michael Thompson,  Bradley Ashburn,  Nicholas Menghini,  Nicky Knicky,  Aha-Soft, Martin Lebreton,  Rohith M S, Jessica Scott, Vineet Kumar Thakur, Thomas Helbig, parkjisun, Yazmin Alanis, Pablo Rozenberg, Rediffusion & Kenneth Von Alt.