I am often waiting to line to get lunch, deciding what I can afford to get and realizing I have no idea. I check my bank account and go through a hundred calculations in my head about when I am getting paid, what bills are coming out when, and whether or not 7 dollars is more important to me right now than that burrito.
This is really the question we are trying to answer when we budget: How much can I spend? To answer the question of how much I can spend on lunch, most budgeting solutions want to know our bank information, our transaction history, and how much we have spent on lunch in the past six months. What if there was a way to keep our information as private as we want and require minimal effort to maintain.
Our solution is to zero in on answering the question, “How much can I spend?” and ignore all the others. By lowering the importance of understanding past spending habits we can tell you how much you can spend now without collecting personal information and requiring as little information from you as possible.
An MVP would include:
For anyone looking for a budgeting solution there are more options than you can possibly research. Of course, too many options can create a lot of pressure to find the “right” solution, and after picking a solution that seems right the pressure to budget “correctly” can cause a lot of stress. Many people are comfortable with the budgeting solutions they have found and stay on top of their budgets monthly. Others, however, over commit to a budgeting process, get overwhelmed and abandon their budget entirely. For those people, a simpler budgeting solution that fits their needs and personality is hard to find on the market.
We have conducted limited user research and have determined that there are as many budgeting approaches as there are people interested in budgeting. Budgeters vary widely in:
For our purposes we focus on two criteria to differentiate budgeters and their preferred budgeting method:
Existing budgeting software generally falls along this range with products like Mint.com on the side of minimal effort to maintain but the maximum amount of information given to the software provider, and the home Excel spreadsheet solution on the side of maximum effort to maintain but minimal privacy lost.
We have positioned our product to require minimum invasion of privacy while maintaining a very low level of effort to maintain. We do this by boiling budgeting down to its most essential elements centered on what we believe is the only question a budgeter really needs answered:
How much can I spend right now?
We then add as much flexibility as possible and strive to create an easy to use platform with a forgiving and stress free set of calculations in the background.
Our app will require some effort to set up; we will ask users to input all of their known expenses and income in a calendar format.
Jake had an email account that was hacked which lead to items bought with his information on Amazon. Jake works hard for his money and wants to have fun. He doesn’t want to worry about third parties having access to his information
Jen has started and abandoned more budgets than she can count. She tried Mint and realized she just didn’t care about how much she spent on groceries. All Jen really wants to know is how much she can spend this month without running out of money next month. Jen’s paychecks come every two weeks while all of her other expenses are monthly. More than once she has overdrafted because she thought she had plenty of money until all her bills were due at once.
The back-end was built in Ruby on Rails utilizing Devise for security and a TDD methodology for the more complex algorithms using RSpec. The front-end was built utilizing both ruby gems and Vue.js. A video of the MVP is found below.
Before launching live the front end was moved to a separate application and redesigned and recoded using React and React Router.
We will take a lean ux approach by launching our app as quickly as possible and get feedback live. Before launching live will will take opportunities we find to get as much design feedback as possible.
In future iterations of this product we plan to address the following: