Now more than ever people are conscious and concerned with their finances. In 2018 Bankrate conducted a survey that showed that at least 17% of Americans have some type of budgeting application on their smartphone and in 2019 1/3 of American Millennials have a financial budgeting application, specifically Mint or Digit. Although Millennials are becoming more cognizant of their finances and looking to use a budgeting application, the current applications on the market are tailored to users that do not need explicit guidance or support to maintain budgets and spending habits. Benji is a new application that is targeted for users who need external help and motivation in order to stay within the boundaries of their budget. 

Benji is a free application that prompts users to register and connect to their bank account. While the user fills out their initial survey that learns how the user views their spending habits as well as their basic information, Benji looks over the users spending habits and calculates the users average weekly spending. Once the survey is complete, Benji will provide the average calculation and ask the user to review and verify that any required monthly costs (i.e. rent, bills, loans, etc.) are not included in the budget. Then Benji will ask the user to share their budget goal and timeline for accomplishing the goal to determine if it is a feasible goal. Next, Benji will provide a weekly allocated budget for the user to be able to spend on their nonessentials. Whereas most budget applications would stop here, Benji goes further to provide incentives for the user to reduce their spending and stay within their calculated budget. At the end of each week the money that is not spent in their budget, 20% of that remaining sum will be donated by Benji to a charity or cause in the name of the user. Not only does the user save money, but because of their frugal spending, they will be able to give to a cause of their choice with Benji’s money. 

Benji is specifically designed to help with the user’s mentality to save money. Using the principles of Robert Cialdini, Benji applies the reciprocity, social proof, and commitment to consistency social influences. Through Benji, users may join social groups working towards helping a cause that may be spearheaded by a celebrity, influencer, family member, or friend. Joining one of these groups will cause the user to feel the desire to keep their spending at a minimum so that they are contributing to the cause and are monitored by their peers. By also joining a group the user will feel that they agreed to help contribute to an organization so they do not want to not fulfil their agreement especially when others have been able to have donations made in their name. Even if the user has not joined a group, they will feel that since Benji has helped them save money and is working to help a cause or organization, then they need to save in order to have Benji work towards its goal of aiding those in need. 

In addition to Cialdini’s social influence, BJ Fogg’s theory of motivation and availability can be applied. Following the motivation and ability complex can prompt the user to fully engage and continue using a product. Benji uses hope/fear and acceptance/rejection as motivation, time, money, effort, and routine as ability, and app notifications as prompts. Through the motivation of fear of not meeting their goal and wanting to be accepted by their charitable group and anyone they are helping through their saving behavior, users will work to match their intended goal. Additionally, Benji provides the availability that allows the user ease. Through the little time they need to use on the app, the app being free, little effort since the app in on the user’s smartphone, and checking in and tracking the expenditures of the users promoting a routine that can be specified for a daily or weekly check-in, the availability of Benji to perform well in their desire to save money. Customizable notifications (depending on how often the user wants to be prompted) will act as prompts either signals encouraging highly motivated users to continue to engage or as sparks to encourage less motivated users to commit more to the process.

Is Benji too good to be true? Download now to find out.