Supporting the implementation and dissemination of the student driven savings app, SaveIt!
Each year AFCPE® awards the Mary O’Neill mini-grant of $2,500 toward the implementation of an innovative, high-impact financial education project. In 2014, the grant was awarded to Clinton Gudmunson, an assistant professor in the department of Human Development and Family Studies at Iowa State University, to support the implementation and dissemination of a student driven savings app, SaveIt!
SaveIt! is the focus of a current project funded through the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS). The app, which is entirely student driven, was developed during a weekend competition called Money Game Jam. Once selected, it went through further development by a professional programmer and is now in the testing and pilot phase.
With the generous support of the Mary O’Neill mini-grant, Dr. Gudmunson is working with graduate student, Emily Sorenson, to write an implementation guide that discusses how to obtain, use and integrate the savings app into common university financial literacy initiatives and then disseminate the implementation guide to financial literacy focused departments at universities throughout the country.
In the spirit of Financial Literacy Month, we checked in with Dr. Gudmunson and Emily Sorenson for an update on SaveIt!’s progress:
This past Fall, SaveIt! was scheduled to be piloted and tested by both undergraduate and graduate student groups and selectively launched via targeted student organizations, departments, and advisers at ISU. How is the pilot going?
We introduced Saveit! in an undergraduate personal and family finance class, using a variation of the app that permits simulations of bank accounts, without transfers of actual money. We have learned some important lessons about getting students connected and working to integrate the app into lesson plans. The app will become an official part of the next iteration of a service course that is designed for all majors to teach college students, especially freshmen, how to manage their finances while in school.
Thus, the first version of Saveit! is testable and beginning to be used. We want to have a few rounds of testing, in our classes, to the ISU student body, and soon after, everywhere. Our key programmer had the opportunity to present the app to students in this undergraduate personal finance class about the development of SaveIt! and is now reviewing the feedback as we work with instructors on implementation with curricula and fit with a game-playing pedagogy (in the upcoming iteration of the course).
Can you share some innovative highlights of the Saveit! app?
The app allows you to set any number of goals such as saving for textbooks, a spring break trip, and/or buying a gym membership. The app provides a unique “alternative currency” feature that allows you to see what your choice to save is actually worth. The amount you have saved can be quantified in terms of pages, days, or another parameter that can measure the progress appropriately. The app also allows you to set reminders to save money. Two examples of ways to save include ordering water instead of a drink the next time you go out to eat and giving up your morning coffee. You can set the reminder to ask you “Did you buy a drink at lunch today?” “Did you buy coffee?” and it gives you the option to put the amount you saved on those other expenses into your goal fund.
Once you have determined your goal(s), how much you want to save, and when you want to reach your goal(s), you are on the path to achieve success. You can transfer money between goals and into your personal checking or savings account easily. This app allows you to have as many goals as you want without creating another bank account as long as you stay within the $999 parameter.
How do you feel that Saveit! will make an impact on University financial literacy?
SaveIt! will impact university financial literacy by allowing students to see how far saving their money can take them. It will help the majority of students become aware that they cannot purchase all of their wants and needs each month and will help them to recognize the need to prioritize their savings for items they want to purchase. The app will help to instill that instant gratification can have detrimental effects on the pocket book. By being able to easily transfer money from a personal account to a goal account, set numerous goals, and visually see how much they are saving and have the ability to track their process, students will be better equipped to manage their finances after they graduate college.
Learn more about Saveit! and the progress of this project in Jacksonville this November. Dr. Gudmunson will join financial educators, researchers and practitioners at the 2015 AFCPE Research & Training Symposium in Jacksonville, FL where he will present a breakout session on Saveit!