Financial worries are one of the biggest causes of stress for young Canadians. College students willingly spend on clothes or food, but then they see their bill at the end of the month and are stunned. To combat this, there are apps on the market that help people budget their money. The problem is, even after budgeting, impulse spending often takes over and we end up spending when we didn't plan to. According to a 2016 study, 43% of students don't track their spending while 58% are not saving money each month.
This was the inspiration for our idea. Instead of focusing on helping them create the budget, we want to specifically target the issue of impulse spending to help young Canadians follow through with their budgeting plans, and add a social aspect to improve accountability.
What it does
Our product is a mobile app, its main function is to track the user's spending manually and visually to help reduce impulse spending. We have all experienced how painful it is to let go of cash when making a purchase, as the physical, tangible aspect of cash makes us perceive the disappearance of money better. But when you purchase on your phone by pressing confirm purchase or when you tap your credit card, it sometimes doesn't register how much you are really spending.
In our app, the user sets a goal for their maximum spending budget of the week (excluding necessities, this budget is for leisure spending/managing disposable income). They also choose categories they believe they spend the most money in (eg. food, clothing, Uber, entertainment, etc.). Every time a purchase is made, it will pop up on their screen, and they swipe the purchase towards the category it fits into. They can view their progress, transaction history, and data visualization of spending distribution (eg. pie chart) for any of the categories at any time. At the end of the week, they will be notified of whether or not they have met their goals. There is also a social component where they can add their friends to see who has been the most consistent with following their goals (they will not be viewing each other's exact spending numbers/personal budget information).
How we built it
We sketched the design on paper and we wireframed and prototyped the design on Figma. We built the app with Dart and Flutter. We incorporated the Firestore API to be used for real-time database to store the login information, as well as the budget transactions.
Challenges we ran into
At the beginning we actually had no idea what to do. SheHacks is the first hackathon for most of our team. No one had experience programming mobile apps, but we really liked the idea and we were to determined to learn how to build it. We did not have a framework to work with until the mobile app designing workshop where the instructors introduced us to Dart and Flutter. Half of our team learned a completely new language to code this app and we hit many road blocks. However, with perseverance and help from mentors, we finally arrived to where our project is today.
Accomplishments that we are proud of
Learning new languages is a big one. We are also proud of tackling and continuing to pursue such an ambitious idea given the skill sets of our team. All of us were new to Mobile App development. There was a lot of learning for everyone and so none of our efforts went to waste.
What we learned
Half of our team learned Dart, another team member learned some HTML and Figma. We also learned about mobile app development, and Google Cloud products from the workshops.
What's next for spent
More research on young adults' impulse spending habits, support for more categories, flexible start and end dates so users can choose their own spending period (eg. if they want to match with credit card billing cycle), secure integration with different payment methods, and growing the social aspect of the app to have increased user connectivity.