Real Accounts: a long-term study of UK households’ financial lives
This innovative research project uses first hand stories and digital transaction tracking to build an in-depth, in-the-moment understanding of households’ income, spending and money management strategies over time.
Launched in spring 2023, the Real Accounts project is being led by Nest Insight in collaboration with Glasgow Caledonian University and the Centre for Personal Financial Wellbeing at Aston University, with support from the Aviva Foundation.
At the moment, too little is known about how low- to moderate-income households across the country manage their money or the strategies they use to deal with changes to their income, the rising cost of living, and unexpected expenses that come up in day-to-day life. We’ll combine first-hand stories with real-time transaction information to build a long-term picture of households’ experiences, decision making and diverse financial approaches
Information for participants
Find out what you and your household can expect when taking part in our research study and how your participation could make a difference to others in the UK and beyond.
Work with us
By working together, there’s much more we can learn. We believe there are several ways to extend this project, broaden its reach and increase its impact.
News and blogs
Keep up to date with the latest news and blogs from the Real Accounts project.
What makes this work exciting?
Believed to be the first study if its kind in the UK, the Real Accounts project will gather research insights that look:
Beyond single dimensions
What are people saying?
"In uncertain times, we need to better understand how people deal with fluctuations in their incomings and outgoings – and what kinds of financial support and services might enable them to build a buffer, and a plan, to deal with today’s pressures, as well as what tomorrow may bring."
Alex ChristopoulosAviva Foundation Lead
"As the rising cost of living continues to impact households across the country, and levels of household debt climb, this research is more crucial than ever. The project aims to shine a light on exactly what it is like for households today managing volatile income and expenditure, sharing their first-hand stories."
Sope OtulanaHead of Research at Nest Insight
"This research is really timely given people are currently facing the very significant impact of the cost-of-living crisis and often enormous uncertainty about both their incomes and their expenditures. The outcomes of this work will generate deeper understanding of what it means to experience financial challenges in reality and over sustained periods of time. It will contribute to finding better ways to help people in their everyday lives."
Professor Andrew Lymerat the Centre for Personal Financial Wellbeing at Aston University
“Families on low to medium incomes are facing the impact of changes to their finances which are outside of their control, and that they have never seen before. Real Accounts will capture the lived experiences of these people and tell the human stories behind statistics over time, capturing events in each household’s financial calendar like back to school and planning for Christmas."
Michael HealeyActing Head of Insight and Evaluation at the Money and Pensions Service
"The study of financial choices and coping strategies in challenging circumstances, such as the current cost-of-living crisis, will contribute to improved evidence-based policy and practice."
Olga BioscaProfessor of Economics at Glasgow Caledonian University
"We know from our own users the pressure that the current economic situation is placing on them, with many unable to save resorting to borrowing to get by each month. Having thorough data and insight will enable any solution to be highly personalised in its approach and have a much more positive impact on those that require it most."
Samantha SeatonCEO of Moneyhub
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