Helping humans squirrel away money for later
Squirrel is a smart savings account that helps humans reach their savings goals by simply sorting their spending.
When my girlfriend took the UX course at General Assembly, I jumped at the opportunity for us to collaborate on solving a problem together. Bethany, being passionate about helping people save for the future, decided to tackle what Mint, Digit, and Acorns just couldn’t seem to crack: How can we help young city-dwelling professionals find the healthy balance of living today and saving for tomorrow?
“My major issue is being a single person in this expensive city. I want to meet people and try new restaurants, but that makes it incredibly difficult to save for the future.”
Megan, Brooklyn, NY
In her research, Bethany found that although most people prefer an automatic savings withdrawal to save money over a period of time, they lack the understanding of their own spending habits necessary to set and meet informed savings goals. Many determine their monthly withdrawal based on the remaining balance of their checking account – only to find there is no “remaining balance” when you’re living month-to-month.
Imagine you’re a sculptor. Before you is a large block of marble. Deep within the marble is a beautiful statue, waiting to be revealed. Sculpting is knowing which marble is excess – and which marble is the figure.
Setting a savings goal is a bit like sculpting a figure from marble. The block of marble is your spending habits. The figure inside is your savings goal. If people understood their spending habits, they would see what could be spent and what should be saved.
Defining clear objectives and scope
- Assess past spending habits to expose opportunities to save
- Adjust spending limits to set monthly automatic withdrawal
- Inform user of ongoing spending activity and progress
We landed on an analogy of dividing spending habits into six buckets: bills, dining out, groceries, transportation, shopping, and entertainment. Once a user had their last 30 days of spending organized across these six buckets, they could adjust their spending in each category in order to accommodate their monthly automatic withdrawal.
Sketches & Wireframes
…but does the user care to do all this work?
Refining the solution
Make it simple
We realized our solution was far too involved for our user, who did not want to be burdened with heavy-handed savings tools. We simplified the buckets down to two: essential spending and nonessential spending. Then, using a method made popular by Tinder, our user could simply swipe left and right to categorize their spending into the two buckets.