Understanding budgeting methods

Key Problem Statement: How might we simplify budgeting and saving methods to make them more approachable to beginners?

I researched different methods of budgeting, looking for one to meet Skylar's needs of being easy to understand and showing a clear overview of how she spends her money. The method I found that best suited the user was called The Monthly Nut.​

  • During on-boarding Skylar can enter her expenses, savings, & take-home pay to automatically calculate a spending limit

  • Skylar is also able to manually edit her Spending Limit for the month if she wants to set it to something specific

  • This is the amount that all her purchases are subtracted from to get her Spending Money

  • Skylar can view how much money she has left to spend to stay within her spending limit. This is calculated by linking financial accounts using the Plaid API

2. Spending Limit

3. The Bubble

  • Skylar can look at The Bubble to see an estimated proportion of how much Spending Money she has left

  • The bubble changes color the close she is to her limit 

The Bubble: A Simple Visual of Monthly Spending

1. Spending Money 

After deciding on the budgeting method, I wanted to design a home feed card that was a simple visual of how much of the spending limit Skylar had left.

Focus #2: Home Feed

Bubble Colors

Green=<80% of Spending Limit has been spent

Red=100% or more of Spending Limit has been spent

Yellow=80%-99% of Spending Limit has been spent

Pantsuit Professionals (PSP)

Fintech app focused on budgeting and saving for professional women

Redesigning budgeting for women

Pantsuit Professionals (PSP) is a women's lifestyle brand with a focus on empowering younger working women. They seek to provide resources to increase financial literacy.

The challenge

PSP wanted to design an app aim at their target demographic to simplify budgeting & saving.

​My role

I was co-project manager as well as the UX Designer for the home feed section of the app on a team of five.

The project duration was three months. 

Focus #1: User Research & UX Strategy

To understand our primary user & their needs, we conducted five user interviews (I conducted one personally) and sent out a survey on our social media with 239 results. From there we wanted to encapsulate who our user was through a persona. 

“Managing money is stressful and I avoid looking at it sometimes.”
“I don't really know where to start with my money."
  • 28% of survey respondents used money management apps to both budget and save

  • Users felt intimidated by budgeting and 54% of survey respondents identified as beginners

  • 4/5 users interviewed value simplified overviews of their money

  • 5/5 users connect feeling about their self worth with their money/progress on money goals

Main User Findings

Meet Skylar

Skylar is a recent graduate who is working in NYC. She is looking for help with budgeting and saving for some short term goals. She needs to feel guided through the budgeting process and reassured by building trust.

To accomplish this she should be shown clear information about her finances and an easy to understand and utilize budgeting method. 

Home Feed Cards

Users valued simplified overviews of their money, therefore I designed two additional feed cards to show monthly & yearly spending trends

Monthly Breakdown

Annual Trends

  • Skylar can view her monthly spending based on category

  • Clicking on the card allows her to view a transaction by category breakdown

  • She is also able to view different months 

  • Skylar can view her spending over a year

  • She is able to view different years 

The app also has a short-term savings goal feature and a weekly tips section. I designed feed cards for overviews.

Savings Overview

  • Skylar can view her progress on her current short term saving goals

  • Clicking on this feed card brings her to the Saving section 

Money Tips

  • Skylar can view a weekly Money tip

  • Skylar can favorite money tips to view later

  • Clicking on this card brings her to the Money Tips section

Final Design: Hi-fi Prototype

Key Takeaways

  • Understand your user: When designing an app from the beginning understanding your primary user really informs the functions and features you design and prioritize.

  • Work with your developers: Throughout the process I had access to developers to ask about the feasibility of design choices, this was very beneficial in understanding limitations.

  • Document, document, document: There was a period where my team was asked to change projects mid-project and then we returned to this project. Having documentation made picking up my work and process much easier.