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Exploring undergraduates’ money-management life: insight from an emerging economy

Vilani Sachitra (Department of Commerce, Faculty of Management Studies and Commerce, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka)
Dinushi Wijesinghe (Department of Accounting, Faculty of Management Studies and Commerce, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka)
Wajira Gunasena (Department of Languages, Cultural Studies & Performing Arts, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka)

Young Consumers

ISSN: 1747-3616

Article publication date: 16 July 2019

Issue publication date: 19 August 2019




Undergraduates are expected to be future leaders responsible for business and nations. Given that sound financial decision-making is critical to their success in their careers and lives, it is important to understand the money-management behaviour of undergraduates. In the context of developing countries, the body of knowledge on money-management behaviour is dominated by functional financial literature and there is little research on factors beyond this. This study aims to fill this gap by exploring economic, social and psychological factors that influence money-management behaviour of undergraduates in a developing nation (Sri Lanka) and how undergraduates respond to these influences.


The study used a qualitative exploratory approach. Data collection was carried out using focus group discussions and individual interviews amongst undergraduates in a leading Sri Lankan state university.


The results indicate that undergraduates adopted both careful and risky money-management approaches. The subthemes, specifically identified under economic, social and psychological factors, revealed how undergraduates responded to each of these factors and the influence of contextual and cultural differences in their money-management behaviour.

Research limitations/implications

Findings of the study revealed the importance of promoting innovative educational strategies to change the dependability mindset of undergraduates and to promote stress-management strategies that will assist them to enhance their personalities and creativity in making financial decisions. Theoretical and practical implications and future research directions are provided.


The literature scores in developing context are limited to exploring the existing pattern and the levels of the functional financial literacy. This study has deepened the authors’ understanding of how the developing context affects undergraduates’ response to the factors relating to their money-management behaviour. The findings from this study will be useful to government, financial institutions, educational institutions, parents and those who have a keen interest in encouraging healthy money-management behaviour in undergraduates.



The author/authors wish to acknowledge that this paper was made possible by the support and guidance given by the “Australia Awards Fellowships Program for Sri Lanka – 2018,” which was funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia, and co-hosted by Monash University, Australia and the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka.


Sachitra, V., Wijesinghe, D. and Gunasena, W. (2019), "Exploring undergraduates’ money-management life: insight from an emerging economy", Young Consumers, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 167-189.



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