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Automate Me!

Maybe technology can help.

Photo of Darrick Hildman

Written by

Who does this idea benefit, who are the main players and what's in it for them?

This idea would help the common American who might not have the time, motivation or resources for Financial Literacy.

How is your idea specifically using the power of communities to improve financial opportunities and resources?

This could be a great resource offered by Credit Unions.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

There are already some apps out there that are moving this direction. We could get feedback as to their experience and what they would want.

What skills, input or guidance might you be seeking from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

What could an application like this offer it's users?

This idea emerged from:

  • An individual

As I thought about my own Financial Literacy and Empowerment in the Research phase of this project, one of the realizations I had was that I would really like to not have to think about the amount of financial education I need or the work I need to do. 

There are some tools out there like direct deposit and automatic bill pay and apps like Mint.com and Check. Turbotax has made doing taxes for a lot of folks. But they don't seem to be as comprehensive as I would like.

I would love it if my credit unions Savings account could receive my money through direct deposit (it does already) and then look at my profile and automatically not only pay my bills, but determine how much money should go to savings, to investments and to retirement and then give me an allowance to play with.

Of course for those who are savvy, they could tweak and adjust their plan however they want. But for those others like me, it is on cruise control. 

I don't know, maybe it is already out there.

14 comments

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Photo of Eliza Rosenbaum
Team

Hey Darrick!
We were really intrigued by your idea, and loved the dynamic conversation it sparked! We've actually seen a number of interesting posts and conversations about using technology to make finances simpler and less daunting, and we'd love to see you stay active in the challenge and share your perspective on this important theme.

In fact, your idea aligns nicely with Dylan Jones' idea "A Personalized financial guide and incentive system" (https://openideo.com/challenge/financial-empowerment-challenge/ideas/a-better-finance-app-can-present-information-when-it-s-contextually-relevant-and-help-users-build-personalized-incentives). We hope you'll check out the conversation, and share some of your insights here! We're all about finding common themes, combining efforts and collaborating, so don't hesitate to jump in :)

Photo of Teamfrcc
Team

Financial literacy isn't just understanding how economics works but understanding how to interface with an economic network. It used to be one set of obstacles but now it is two and understanding how to use technology, despite all of its convenience, is probably more complicated than understanding investing and other money making or security strategies. If there were more easy to understand technological avenues for being financially stable and responsible it would take some of the technological mystery ofut of finances in the digital age. ~Paul Stark.

Photo of Shuai Chen
Team

I really like this idea. It makes it almost impossible to be financially irresponsible!

Photo of Trevor z Hallstein
Team

Hi Darrick,

The notion of taking an out-of-the-box look at using technology to create a shift from self-reliance to community-support is heartwarming. Do you have a sense for what communities would be served by the idea you have in mind? Do you have a sense for what products and data visualization tools are available to simplify the decision making for people and the understanding of the trajectory they are on?

Photo of Darrick Hildman
Team

You know, I had me in mind for this, middle to low-income folks who know a little but could use some help. I guess if you have more money you hire someone to do this for you. Like Turbo Tax, it could just be a little easier.

I have used Mint and Check.com. I think they are on the right track but I would like to see it more integrated into my Credit Union. Sometimes it is a little difficult or clunky to connect with my bills.

Photo of Rollston
Team

Hi Darrick,

Whilst I get the concept of an App or technology assisting people with savings, Bills, etc. I'm unsure how this will teach people about how to manage their own finances. If it is automated how does this teach, yes it has got great opportunities to force people on how to save and keep up to date with Bills . though if someone doesn't have q choice and it is just 'happening' I think this could possible have a detrimental affect. As bank balances grow, so I would assume, peoples confidence in managing finances, so one day they decide to not use the technology anymore and they make a couple of bad decisions and they are back to square one and worse of all they don't understand how it happened in the first place. What if this tech forced people to choose ( teach) and also provide scenarios on those decisions so people are informed prior to hitting that transfer funds button. Whilst technology is great to make our lives easier and less complicated I am a believer that it also takes away our intelligence due to it ( the tech) doing the work for us.

Photo of Darrick Hildman
Team

Rollston, I think you are correct in many ways, this approach does not necessarily help folks become more literate and they could become more dependent on the system. This is one of those out of the box ideas that questions the main assumptions that everyone should or can become financially literate. We try to teach people to become health literate, or to be good drivers, and yet folks (including me) are still eating in unhealthy ways and we have a terrible amount of accidents a year due to driver error. Sometimes things like the driverless car can help. As you can see in my other ideas, I also look at some education options. Once I heard about the three Es for solving problems, Education, Engineering and Enforcement. Thanks for your reply.

Photo of Joe Silva
Team

Hello again, Darrick. This concept seems to be the logical next step towards ensuring productive financial behavior. I think, for the purposes of making sure people play by the rules and do not dig themselves into a deeper hole, automation is great. However, I agree with Shane's second point and know it is not our goal to control the behavior of these communities. Just the fact that you know about where your money should go shows that you are not "one that needs financial empowerment the most". The ones that need it are presently isolated by counterintuitive bureaucracies that truly intended to help them. Frankly, I think the system's approach requires only a simple fix and I'd be interested in working with you to pivot your idea. Here's how...

I suggest we talk more about how we can create trustful relationships in these communities to help members determine what they want automated. For example, before many organizations admit, or service clients from disadvantaged communities (the homeless, people with mental health conditions and /or substance abuse disorders, veterans, etc.), they require that the individual assigns their institution as the fiduciary controller of their income (SSI, SSD, public assistance, even earned income). We see this with automatic child-support payments as well. The automated assignment of personal financial responsibilities ensures the control of people's behavior. Members of the communities I mentioned do not trust the organizations with their money. Making an app to sort their bills is necessary, but it is not empowering. I think we need to be more proactive, dig deep into our toolkits and use interviewing skills to help individuals decide how to behave before an institution or an app tells them what they should be doing.

Photo of Darrick Hildman
Team

Joe, I think you are right, some tools will not work for some communities. When we look closer at the roots and we talk about distrust, it makes me wonder about individual beliefs and philosophies around money, and if a simplified belief system can help to change people's thoughts and habits? I think I will post that as a separate idea.

Photo of Joe Silva
Team

Cool. Yeah, I think something that can tap into "the simplified belief system" is achievable if we construct a system with adaptable frameworks that lend it self to a community's strengths.

I'm working on something similar as well. I look forward to your feedback and continuing to work with you.

Photo of André Fernandes
Team

Hi Derrick! Your idea made me remember a conversation my parents were having this morning about a payment for some things they're planning to buy, if pay in cash or through credit card in parcels (which is common in Brazil). The rates here are very abusive, among the highest of the world, and financial literacy is a big issue! As many brazilian consumers, my parents don't know how to calculate the final amount they'd pay considering the interest rates. It'd be interesting a tool to simulate the costs and the rates, of course.

What intrigues me is: several times I've already explained them the calculus, showed on Google and it doesn't get into their mind. Like my parents, many brazilian consumers have access to internet, the older generations show resistance to apps and tech stuffs. How to deal with such resistances? What alternatieves could be useful?

It's comfortable for many people use internet and smartphose for gossips, to access the same contents of TV and radio... and it's not the same for a sensitive topic noticed as boring and "difficult like a hell". What could break these barriers?

Photo of Darrick Hildman
Team

Great thoughts Andre. I can see an app like the apps they use to calculate tips, that would calculate how much more you will be paying if you pay with x card. They might already have one.

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Interesting idea Darrick! From the research phase we've seen how digital tools can make it easier for people to manage their finances. On the other hand, we've also seen how too much automation from digital tools can make people become less aware of their financial responsibilities - which may not be a bad thing in most cases: https://openideo.com/challenge/financial-empowerment-challenge/research/the-dark-side-of-money

In addition to automated features, I wonder how these digital tools can also be used teach people financial principles as well. Just some food for thought. Looking forward to where this might go!

Photo of Darrick Hildman
Team

Shane, that is a great idea to use the tool to also help people to learn more about their finances. I could see tips and learn mores to help when people are ready to take that step.