We're developing a number of banking products to help our users save more money. More importantly, we'd like our users to develop money-saving habits. I'm pretty aware that lots of people have made pretty big lifestyle changes with the help of an app. People can be motivated to get out of the house to get in shape or to drive cars. According to this article about changing user behavior, three elements have to be present at the same time: motivation, ability and triggers. Take an uber driver as an example:

  • Motivation - "I want to make some extra money"
  • Ability - "I have a car"
  • Triggers - Uber sends out notifications of events in the area, surge pricing maps, and driver rewards (gas card, insurance discounts, phone plans), and achievement badges.

I've also looked into some ways that fitness apps cause behavioral change in health (I've looked at more, but I can only post two links).

My question is this: There are countless ways to inspire a user to do something. How do we get users to not do something? How do we get users to not spend money?

The idea I'm toying with is to have a badge/achievement system that rewards frugal behaviors like using coupons, not eating out, comparing them to how they were a month earlier, and other methods that don't rely on a dollar amount in a savings account.

  • This is really a subset of psychology called 'Behavioural Economics' - I couldn't find a StackExchange network but Economics might be worth a try.
    – PhillipW
    Jan 9, 2017 at 20:43
  • What data sources can you work with? Can you do some web site crawling on the Internet (in order to include more detailed info about where the user has spent his money) or are you just restricted to the data provided by the bank system? Jan 10, 2017 at 13:10

2 Answers 2


Rather than focusing on "not doing something" focus on the doing. So in this case rather than "you are not spending X money" it would be "you are saving X money".

The way you give badges doesn't need to differ from other apps I guess. Simply show the amount of money saved and use the positive way of showing things.

I am not sure of how this would work but you might need a first month to compare the next ones with, or an amount entered by the user from the beginning and then showing him how much he is saving (according to those numbers).


Habit changing is one of the hardest things to do. You will be better off trying to twist an existent behavior into a desired one.

BJ Fogg outlined some building blocks to achieve a Target Behavior. Basically:

  1. The person must want to do it - They must be highly motivated
  2. Must be able to do it - The task must be easy
  3. Must be prompted to do it - The trigger is effective only when the person is highly motivated (want) or the task is easy (able).

IDEO worked with BoA to create a product called "Keep The Change". A description can be found 3rd paragraph of page 8.

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