The following is a translation of preliminary results from research conducted by José Ossandón, with the support of Tomás Ariztía, Macarena Barros, and Camila Peralta, and funded by IMTFI.
Luisa is a 54-year-old housewife who lives in the municipality of La Pintana, south of Santiago. Seven others live in her household: her husband Patrick, her children Nacho, Paty, and Andrea, her son-in-law Rafael, and her grandchildren Camila and Cristian. Luisa also has a fourth daughter Katia, who lives with her husband Rodrigo in the same neighborhood. Luisa’s husband Patrick works as a freelance painter sporadically, and he earns on average 150,000 pesos (US$312) a month. In addition to housework, Luisa manages a kiosco or small shop in her home, which earns her between 20-30,000 pesos a month. Andrea and her husband work and take care of their own expenses. Paty, in turn, is unemployed and so receives help from her parents to cover her expenses and those of her daughter. Nacho is studying nursing with the support of a loan (called a Crédito Aval del Estado, or State-Guaranteed Credit) and recently has begun to receive his first income as an occasional worker in construction. Luisa and her family maintain their home with the money that Luisa and her husband earn and with the financial support they receive from their children.
With regards to her financial life, Luisa has a savings account, an emergency fund of 40,000 pesos cobbled together with money from the kiosk in the BancoEstado, a state-owned financial institution. Since Luisa and her husband have informal jobs, neither has access to checking accounts or bank loans. Luisa is, however, an active participant in three informal financial institutions, two pollas (rotating savings organizations) and a caja común (“common fund”) that functions as a Christmas savings club. The caja can also be used as a source of credit, but under certain restrictions. Loans must be repaid with interest, there are fines for late payments, and if a member misses her quota for three consecutive dates, she is removed from the group and the money she has contributed up to that point is not returned to her.