Growing up in a country with diverse cultures, we observed that when it comes to making informed choices about money, there is another diverse pattern among diverse groups. Statistical analysis showed that these differences in financial planning basics correlates to differences in gender, qualification, location (rural, urban or metro), employment, technology savvy and current debt.
In most Indian families, we are taught about the value and importance of saving money. Even an ING survey found that Indians ranked number 2 in across 10 leading countries assessed on financial literacy levels. But going into the data it was found that this was linked to the basic Indian ethos to save and invest in real estate and gold.
However, with changing lifestyles, more dependency on credit cards and access to a variety of personal loans as well as a heavy EMI burden are affecting the success of the financial plan of the salaried classes.
When we moved out for college and started living alone, managing expenses, budgeting our lifestyle and student debts, planning for studying abroad, all this was not an easy task.
Thinking about the exact reason behind this problem, we realized that no one ever taught us about money matters. Whether it be schools or family, there is no curriculum or conversations on money management.
With one of our teammates suffering hard since the wake of the pandemic, as her father lost his job, and she had to support her family and fund her education alongside, we felt we should do something about this issue.
If her family would have been more informed and aware about financial backups, it would have been easier for him.
Hence, we came up with the idea to build something to solve this issue.
What it does
The Balanced Ed Finance Ecosystem consists of two major applications which compliments each other and can make user-experience more enhanced. The entry level mobile application Balanced consists of free beginner level learning resources to make your entry in the world of ‘Managing Personal Finance’. It also includes premium courses which can be unlocked once users are well-equipped with beginner’s courses. To make this sure, we have the reward-based-learning system, which is basically, learning-by-doing.
Our second application, Budget AI, is a set of budgeting and finance management tools. It includes a feature of goal-tracking which goes parallel with the learning system (Balanced Learning Resources).
To unlock premium courses on Balanced, a user is required to finish a certain set of goals, which aims to aid in implementing the knowledge that they have gained.
Even though the existing finance courses and YouTube don't work effectively if we don't get to apply all this in real life. There's a big difference between absorbing information and putting what you've learned into practice. Without doing the latter, the training you've received will go to waste, so it's important to have a strategy for implementing your learning.
Budget AI also includes features to curate your own personalized financial goals, for instance, repaying student debt or EMI.
With this we have basic features like Expense Tracker (which records all your expenses) and Budget Diary.
How we built it
The whole ecosystem has been pulled off with the use of following technologies:
We have leveraged the power of Azure technologies in the form of Azure Text to Speech converter for hassle free learning. You don’t need to read every time. Plug-in your headsets and learn everything about finance like an audiobook. Our backend comprises various technologies like Flask, Cosmos DB, and Azure App Services. We have used Flask to build our custom API’s which gives us all the data that is needed on the frontend. Some of the reasons to use Flask was its amazing integrated unit-test support and Easy NoSQL integration. Talking about NoSQL our database is also a NoSQL Database. Some of the reasons to use Cosmos DB over any other database or an RDBMS was its ease in scalability, easy integration with other azure services, developer friendly, and all the other standard advantages of a NoSQL over SQL database. For hosting our backend, we have once again taken advantage of the powerful Azure app services. The Web App Service provides Python. Scripts or executables on App Service can also be run on VMs.
The Frontend is built with the Flutter framework. Flutter, despite being one of the best mobile development platforms, gives cross-platform support. With the MVP ready for android users, our future goals include expanding it for iOS users too. An iOS app, a windows app and even a web-app Flutter can give everything, all under one codebase. A lot of important companies like Stripe, Twilio, Stream have their SDK’s for Flutter which can make life easier for us in the future.
What's next for BalancED
We look forward to adding many more features through which the users can learn and grow together. With time, We are planning on adding 4 new features in our app. Inclusive Learning For All: We are looking to add ways to make financial learning possible for physically challenged people. Dedicated Community Platform: Learning new things and getting perspective of others enhances our current knowledge and lets new ways to think about a particular topic. Not only that, When you study in a group, you tend to retain more information. Users can finish a chapter and ask relevant doubts to other users in the community section. Not only that, the community part will be the best way for us to interact with the users. India is a diverse country. We have 22 official languages. Not everyone can read fluently in English. This is not only about India, but we also plan to expand to different countries and add their native languages. These are the reasons why we are prioritizing support for multiple languages in our app. We plan to bring content in various languages so that financial education is accessible to each and everyone.
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