Finsee is a customized AI assistant that provides tailored financial guidance to encourage young adults to engage with and reflect upon their financial behavior. 


11 weeks


Isaac J.

Aleksei O.

My Contribution

Participant Interviews 

Secondary Research

Study Guide Content

Data Synthesis 

Concept Development

Project management



Young adults currently face financial crisis 

 Financial literacy is the ability to apply knowledge and skills to manage financial resources effectively for a lifetime of financial well-being. Yet, only 24% of young adults can demonstrate basic financial literacy.  Paired with crippling student loan debts, increased cost of living, and a lack of savings, young adults are more financially vulnerable than previous generations. 


The goal of our research was to identify and understand financial behaviors to generate insights for how technology might facilitate better fiscal outcomes. 

  1. What are the financial behaviors of young adults and what are the underlying contributing factors?

  2. In what ways can current financial behavior be improved?

  3. How can we enhance financial literacy in young adults?


Secondary Research

We conducted:

  • A literature review to ensure a solid understanding of the topic and identify what work has previously been done in the space.

  • Semi-structured interviews with 2 experts:

    • A banking representative from an on-campus branch to gauge if and how students are currently using the bank as a financial resource.

    • A financial aid administrator to gain insight into the guidance provided to young adults undertaking large amounts of debt.

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Semi-structured Interview

We used interviews to:

  • Establish attitudes regarding participants own financial knowledge and behavior.

  • Understand hardships (or benefits) that exist as a result of that behavior, identify existing barriers that may prohibit gaining financial knowledge, and what resources they use to learn about and manage financial information. 

Cultural Probe

Due to the sensitive nature of money, the team designed a probe comprised of activities that allowed us to understand financial behavior in a less personal, more hypothetical manner. We asked participants to: 

  • Create an annual budget to examine long term financial planning ability, prioritization, and thought process 

  • Map out areas of spending to understand  and contextualize spending habits

  • Write a letter to their more fiscally responsible self to establish values and long term goals

  • Sketch 3 things you would buy if you received $100K to explore thoughts around spending without financial constraints

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After data collection was complete, we externalized the data and used affinity diagramming to identify themes which led to generation of our insights and subsequent ideation. 


1. People utilize tools that bypass the need to increase personal knowledge

"I don't know anything about stocks, I trust the app to do it for me." - Participant 8

2. Early financial education is obtained by observation of parental behavior

"My parents tease me for being so frugal, but I learned it from them." - Participant 2

3. Financial management is motivated by avoidance

"I keep up with my budget to avoid overdrawing my account.  I never want  to feel that way." - Participant 5

4. Financial dependency degrades relationships.

"There's no 'you owe me'. There's no wedge." - Participant 4

5. Financial empowerment is derived from handling money, not having it.

"I'd feel really shaky without a budget. I never had nice things and I don't  need to have them now." - Participant 7


Our insights allowed us to develop the following design principles that were used to guide our ideation process. 

  1. The design should enable accumulation of financial prowess through reflection

  2. The design should seek to neutralize anxiety that occurs around financial interactions.

  3. The design should encourage continuous engagement in financial management. 

  4. The design should be to allow users to be spectators of their own behavior


The team generated a variety of potential solutions which we vetted against our design principles.  Most of the ideas generated targeted financial reflection but didn’t actively work to reduce anxiety or provide financial education in the process. We down-selected to what would comprehensively address our design principles - a device that supports the diffusion of financial education, offers moments of reflection, and avoids relationship degradation.

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Smart Wallet

Connects to your bank account balance and will lock if spending lints are reached

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Smart Lock

IOT device that alerts you of your account balance when you enter and exit the home

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Digital Parent

IOT device that monitors spending habits and will give advice for better financial planning.

Our final design idea was a highly customizable, omnipresent financial monitoring system that entailed: 

  • A 3D custom printed form of a figure provided by the user in order to establish greater emotional connection with the device. 

  • IOT device embedded with hot mic and speaker which will be connected to a user’s financial ecosystem and will monitor all electronic spending habits. 

  • Artificial intelligence will then identify patterns in financial behaviors and provide frequent feedback and custom advice based on this data.


Using this idea, we filmed a short behavioral prototype video and asked participants the questions below to explore their motivations around potential use of our device and test its usability. 

  • What do you think this device does? 

  • How do you think this device works?

  • Who would use this device? 

  • When would they use it? 

  • How would interacting with this device make you feel? 

  • How would you improve it? 

Despite the intentional invasive nature of this device, participants embraced this design. Overall participants understood the concept of the device and saw value in a financial monitoring ecosystem. Allowing the device to take a custom form was unanimously appealing, as participants thought it fostered organic interaction based off an established relationship. Physical embodiment of the system was also viewed as beneficial for its ability to create a point of reflection. Participants mentioned some of the device elements creating discomfort, such as the tone of voice and animatronic interactions.

From this testing, we learned: 

  • The need to balancing the humanistic and technological elements in order to foster connection with the device

  • The value of relying on the inherent power dynamics of personal relationships to help mitigate the invasive nature of this technology. 

Next Steps

Moving forward, I would expand the research focus to individuals in lower income levels to understand how higher financial strain impact behavior. This would inform how our design could be used by individuals who stand to gain the most benefit from financial education and support. Additionally, I would like to test the concept which an older demographic to gauge the level of interest in using this form of technology.