In order to be more specific about my intended audience and market, I will be defining a user group by creating 3-5 user personas and targeting those personas for the next round of user interviews to develop my thesis further.
Previously, I built an app that more or less sought to illustrate ‘true cost’ economics. The value of a purchase were posed in terms of the relationship between money spent to purchase an item and the time it take us to earn the money. As metaphysical as this may sound, it was a simply formatted as a choose-your-own-adventure game with three major branches. My intended user for this intervention interaction was, just like Sly Stone sings, “everyday people.”
I was fortunate to have gleaned some key insights from the ‘everyone’ approach which seeded me towards who to approach for the next round of interviews. One man mentioned that he thinks of spending money on himself in terms of how much overtime he would have to work. His non-overtime pay, regular hours worked, is accounted for in providing for his family. A woman in her late 20’s attributed her careful spending of money on non-necessities to the teachings from her parents and religion. She takes a photo of what she desires to buy and if she sees is a few days later and still wants the item, then she considers buying it. A man in his early 30’s mentioned right away that he already thinks of money in like this, in terms of hours worked. When I asked how he has come to a similar approach to financial decisions, he said it because as a worker in the gig-economy, you kind of have to do this. One man is a fine artist and did not at all think of money in terms of time except that he worked to get the next commission or grant that, as a large chunk of money, would allow him to continue making his art– value was not in the dollar but in continuing his body of work.
To expand my information base, I have selected freelance workers and college students as two personas to interview, which will then be split into those with and without children or families.
Even if gig-workers may seem to understand money in different, tangental terms, I will interview people at WeWork sites to hear how freelance workers manage to save for retirement or to save for income taxes.
The campus of NYU would be another site to interview college students close to completing their BFA or MFA degree. This audience is relevant as they would be close to beginning their career and in a prime position to think of saving money despite possibly having loans to begin paying off.
The thirds audience or user will be someone at a financial institution– their role being to set up accounts for new users or in consulting people how to manage their money. This user may be found at a bank or a financial advisor that, for instance, manages 401K plans.
Before interviews begin, I will familiarize myself with the digital tools that exist to help people save for retirement, add to their savings account, or to control impulse purchasing. I want to know how people learned to take control of their finances (if they have or not), what events or emergencies derailed their savings, how long have they been saving, what incentives or motivations are there to save for the future, and what tools or techniques they utilize.
POSITION: Hi, I’m conducting researching for my thesis– investigating the personal finances of ______(fill in with persona) from a non-bias position to understand what does and doesn’t work for people. There is no right or wrong answer and I am not to judge your beliefs, habits, expenses, what you buy nor how much you make. You are free to give as much information as your comfortable with. Would you be willing to talk for 15 minutes perhaps I can buy you a coffee. . . . .
CONVICTIONS: Understand what they believe to be true and why. How did they learn or start doing this, how is it currently going?
DOUBTS: What event or emergency could threaten your future financial security? What are the factors in your control and what are out of your control?
1) Do they have a credit card? Roughly estimate the balance due in terms of your monthly rent– how many months worth or rent is the balance?
2) Do they have a savings account? How much money in savings do you consider to be adequate?
3) Do you have a retirement plan? If so, what type (Roth IRA, Traditional IRA, 401K)? How many years have you been contributing to it? Does your employer match your investment?
4) How do you track spending versus income? Mentally, an app, online tools etc.
5) What’s an example of a big ticket purchase you made and how do you navigate buying it? Decisions, cause and effect, timing, cost to others or yourself.
6) Do you have dependents like family, friends, spouse, partner, or children that you account for in your finances?
∆ peripheral questions: Do you believe that human activity causes climate change?