Balance is a money-tracking app for users with variable income. I designed and prototyped the idea for an Interaction Design studio last fall, and am hoping to build it one day for iOS using the Plaid API.
How can we help students and people with variable income keep track of their money?
Students, hourly workers, Uber drivers—regular money tracking apps don't work for them. Apps like Mint are too complicated, and apps like Level make assumptions about a regular income. But these groups of people also need help keeping track of their money and planning their expenses.
As a student, I'd spent hours on r/personalfinance and other websites learning about personal finance and bugdgeting. Most solutions were too complex though, and my bank's existing services were sub-par.
I figured this must be a problem shared by other students and users with variable income, so I decided to try and design a solution.
Variable Income · Volatile Spending · Occassional Planning
Talking to students around me made me realize the three characteristics of my target audience: that they had variable income (some had jobs, some had occassional transfers from parents); volatile spending (books at the beginning of the semester); and occasional planning (too busy to sit down and make a budget.)
I sensed a need to have an intelligent money tracking app; something that would help you compare your spending to previous months, let you know of important things ahead of time, and occasionally give you tips to improve. This culminated in the design of Balance.
Balance steps in to solve this problem. It is a one-stop place to check on all of one's bank accounts. It integrates with popular peer-to-peer payments services, surfaces trends and challenges, and helps users stay on top of their finances.
Balance integrates with over 6000 banks across the country, all through Plaid's Link API.
Calendar view helps users visualize their expenses over the last few days, helping build an intuition for how their money is flowing.
Venmo + Square Cash Integration
Often one person will pay for a dinner, and get reimbursed from friends over Venmo or Square Cash. Balance integrates with these apps to make those payments transparent.
Challenges detect patterns in your spending and help you cut costs.
Trends show users their spending in relation to previous months.
Categories (both automatic and custom ones) give perspective on what users are spending most on.
A weekly email digest shows users a summary of their expenses, as well as any warnings or personal alerts.
Intelligent notifications detect particular expenses—your credit card bill, your monthly income, a regular transfer—and let you know instantly.
Notification Center Widget
Finally, the notification center widget means the user's latest balances are always just a swipe away.
Designing Balance was a fun experience, but I really hope to build it one day! I'd have to learn Swift and integrate the Plaid Link API. Beyond that, I'm very interested in the fintech space, and am actively looking for opportunities in the space.
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