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Resource Flow

By organizing and visualizing how a person or family spends money, you’ll see how it comes in, goes out, and opportunities for more efficiency in the system.


Suggested Time

30 Minutes

Level of Difficulty


Materials Needed

Pens, paper


Design team, person you're designing for

Process Phase

A Resource Flow is an exercise you can try while you’re conducting an Interview. It consists of listing—or better, drawing—every asset that comes into a household and how those assets are spent. Remember that assets aren’t always money, so be sure to include livestock, seeds, labor, and the like. Likewise, not every payment is perceived as such. Obligatory giving, charity, and care for family members might not seem like a payment, but should be considered.


  1. See if any of the people you’re Interviewing want to draw. If so, let them. If not you can do it as well.
  2. List or draw everything that brings money into the house. Remember that assets may not always be currency.
  3. Now list or draw everything that takes money out of the household.
  4. Start asking questions about what you see. What’s the most expensive thing he buys, what can’t he live without, what is there never enough money for? Have the person you’re designing for rank both inputs and outputs in terms of value. Find out how frequently money comes in and goes out. Use the lists to get a full picture of their finances.
  5. A nice additional step is to map these inputs and outputs on a calendar. You might find that money comes in all at once but has to be paid out bit by bit. Or that though you’re not talking to a farmer, her income may be tied to an agricultural cycle.