Only 29% of millennials are actively planning retirement—concerns surrounding paying off student debt often preoccupying their current concerns—but the issue becomes only exacerbated when looking at low-income minorities. A survey of current low-income minorities in the baby boomer population reveals that 52% of the surveyed population are not comfortable with the amount of savings that they have, putting nothing or very little into their savings each month. Low-income minorities continue to face barriers to saving in high living expenses, unexpected emergencies that occur too frequently, and too much debt to pay off—and the situation isn’t going to get better for the youth in such communities. Thus, understanding how to help this target group save is incredibly paramount.
The perception of what it means to save can vary among person to person. But after digging into various sources, we have come to the conclusion that saving means adhering to one’s personal savings rate every month (a rate that is personally calculated based on a person’s income, the age when he/she wants to retire, debts incurred, investments, etc.). This personal savings rate can vary from 10-20%, depending on each person’s financial state, but adhering to it means contributing the appropriate percentage of the person’s income to his/her savings account every month. Our perception of what are desirable factors for saving primarily focus on the motivations and abilities of our target population.
We have to know our target well enough then we would be able to know what’s the pain points are and what could be the strategy. Thus we start by profiling young low-income minorities.
- Do not have much knowledge about finance and saving
- Do not have much assets
- The cost of living is too high, there won’t be much money left if not planned properly
- Do not understand the necessity to save
- More likely to impulse purchase
- Conclusion: low motivation, low ability, no triggers
Once we figure out the challenge, we could start to think from 3 aspect below:
1. How to boost their motivation？
- Being fun
- Understanding the Advantage of saving
- Understanding the setbacks of low financial security
- Protect against unexpected emergencies
- Less stress every day
- More peace of mind that they can make it through every month
- Not having to ask people for money
- Contributing to family’s financial security
- Would have the chance to make big purchase (house, cars)
- For further education or skill training
- Preparing the money to raise kids
- Building good credit record
- Being dependent from family
2.1 How to improve their ability？
- Guiding booklet
- Training session
- Learning from others
2.2 How to make our saving product compatible with their ability？
- Clear structure and use procedure (User Experience)
- Good interface (User Interface)
2.3 What could be the trigger？
- Money reward
- Gifts reward
- Virtual product reward (credit points, virtual gift)
- Process effects (if their friends are trying to save, they would be more likely to save)
- Going through big accident
- Seeing other’s experience
After making such considerations surrounding our target population and the current issues surrounding the act of saving money, we arrived at the current design for our app. Our app seeks to promote positive financial behaviors, particularly surrounding saving money, in low-income minorities—particularly the youth and those currently in their 20s. As we will explain in detail later, our app design works by creating a simulation game to boost motivation and ability in our target group, while providing an attractive trigger, to encourage them to learn and perform the desired actions.
For our app to work, however, we will ask users to link their bank accounts to the app and to personally input any other financial information possibly not known by their bank accounts (loans, credit cards information, income, utilities, 401k/pensions information, etc.); this information will be updated every month. The app will also collect data on how the user is reaching their savings and financial goals. From such data, our app will determine significant financial metrics such as living expenses, personal inflation rate, net worth, and most importantly each individual’s personal savings rate. Then, every month, based on the user’s saving and financial behavior, our app will use an algorithm similar to user-based collaborative filtering (by comparing the user’s behavior with other users’ behaviors) to give the user suggestions about better ways in which they can save and invest money.
Every time the users act financially beneficial move, they could earn corresponding points to grow their tree, buy decorations, and get other fun tools. They would be able to visit friends’ space, leave message and post to other social network such as Facebook and Twitter. The way we define a financially beneficial move could be divided into two major parts: First would be behavior in reality such as attending a community group meeting and financial learning session. And the second part is a virtual move such as accounting the money they spent in the app and reaching their monthly savings goal, etc. In an ideal situation, if we obtained the necessary sponsorship from banks and other companies, points accrued could also be exchanged for some cash that users can add to their savings account.
To launch the app, sponsorship by banks would be major capital source. Because the promotion of this app would bring a great amount customers for the bank. In addition, financial product advertisement could be implanted.