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The Dark Side of Money

Managing how we spend tangible money is relatively easy. It gets hard when money gets abstract.

Photo of Alper Yaglioglu

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OpenIDEO Chicago MeetUp team has raised a though provoking question here: "Does an 18 year old kid understand the value of their education (relative to the price)?"

I'm a university student at a private university and currently the tuition fee for the 2015-2016 academic year is $13.950. Most students don't work so they are backed by their parents. Let's do a quick calculation. Every week we have 20 classes and a semester lasts for 14 weeks. That makes 20x14=280 classes in total. 14000/280= 50$ per each hour! Everyday we have four classes in average. Let's say I feel like skipping school today, it would cost me 200$! That's when money gets really abstact. You pay 14.000$ and never think about the tuition fee again until next year.

Let's redesign the whole journey. John has breakfast and goes to the microeconomics class. There's a POS machine right outside of every classroom. University charges 200$ and he attends the class.

Would it make money more tangible for John?

How would this new way of paying tuition fee influence his in-class performance?

How might we make money more tangible so that people can keep track of it better?

We had the same challange on the Renewable Energy Challange. Energy gets really abstract when paying bills once a month. Check out how M-Power pre-paid price plan makes energy more tangible on Andrew's fab post.


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Photo of Annie

Thanks for the share Alper, it got me thinking. A while ago I sat down with a friend who was in debt to help her come up with a strategy that would work for her. She had tried financial tracking apps and read lots of books on getting back in the black but none had proved sustainable. We decided to go back to pen and paper. We got a notebook and ruled it up with columns for expense types so we could tally up each day what money had been spent and then reflect on whether she felt she had attained value from the expenditure. I won't bore you with all the details but the point was , she managed to overcome her debt in less than two years and has so for the last year. Although sometimes overwhelming and always monotonous, writing down daily, creating a physical record that she carried around, detailing her every expense was a much more effective way than an app and I think that had a lot to do with its tangible nature. Somehow it felt more real but also more controllable.
Regardless of who's money is being spent if a student had to write down each day they went to class how much it was costing perhaps they would try and get the most value they could for that money and be more accountable and financially savvy. If they went a step further, adding a column to their notebook and recorded the approximate amount of hours they would have to work in their first job out of school to repay this, it may change their whole perspective!

This is of course the opposite of what is happening with transactions these days, the more technical innovations in this space, the more I fear people will get in debt as we move to a cashless society.

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