Billy Cash. The meaningfulness of saving money
It is often said that money does not seem to be a direct source of happiness. However it has been shown as a resource that enables people to engage in meaningful activities, making a salient contribution to happiness. Different authors state that 40% of happiness relies on activities, while only 10% is about circumstances (location, weather or amount of money). Saving is the activity of accumulating and storing money over time with an intention to spend it in the future. Given these propositions, it is interesting to consider the well-being effects of saving, since it can connect one’s present state to a meaningful future state.
Current solutions in saving do not actively explore the happiness of individuals, nor do they actively foster meaningful engagement. To explore saving in that sense, The Cash Pack was developed: A family of electronic and customizable piggy banks, composed by a docking device and a smartphone app, that encourages users to reflect upon the purchases they desire and to discover their true value. In this case, the user had created Billy Cash and had established a saving intention, an estimated price and the duration of the savings. Billy will help foster and engage the activity of saving money.
Saving money is not only about the purchased item, but also from what it represent to us. The relevance of this project is based on the idea of discovering the real value and meaning of desired purchases, while saving money. Specifically, the process has two moments, reflection and exploration.
The reflection stage happens while the user saves money. It is stimulated through printed messages, which contain thought-provoking questions related to the saving intention (e.g., “how can that object empower you?”). These messages are activated every week and are printed when the user connects the smartphone to the docking device. The amount that is saved is then calculated according to the estimated amount that the user expects to pay for the purchase.
The exploration stage aims to prolong the satisfaction the user gets form the purchased objects, after the saving period. Once the user has achieved the established amount, the system will wait for a confirmation of the purchase, and ask the user to upload a picture of the product in order to start providing challenges related to it. The challenges will make the user explore the product in a different and active way, adding meaning to it.
With these characters, users can track their progress of saved money and value discovered, learn from their future belongings, and experience a new way of saving. Saving money can become more meaningful by questioning the value of the things we want to acquire. After all, what makes us happy is not the amount of money we have, but what are we able to do with it.