The meaningfulness of saving money

Santiago De Francisco
Graduation Project
Company: Rabobank NL
Supervisory team: Pieter Desmet (chair), Mafalda Casais (mentor), Julian Bongaards (external advisor - Rabobank NL)

The Meaningfulness of Saving Money was a two-part project conducted within the Delft Institute of Positive Design, supervised by Pieter Desmet and Mafalda Casais, MSc.

The first part was a six-month research internship, which resulted in a paper for the 9th Design and Emotions Conference held in Bogotá, Colombia. The second part was a graduation project that took the results of the research internship as a starting point.

Feeding your piggy bank with intentions

Supported by several studies about the relation between money and happiness, the aim of the research internship was to define to which extend design can contribute to the meaningful of saving money.

To evaluate this proposition, the BILLEGAS piggy bank was used in order to identify and define those elements that improve motivation, attachment, and commitment. The Positive Design framework was used to help clustering these findings. Two studies were conducted. The first one consisted of questionnaires and interviews about saving. 


(Fig 1: Results from the questionnaires and interviews)

The second one was the evaluation of the different elements of the BILLEGAS piggy bank, in order to identify which ones had the more impact on the meaningfulness of saving.


(Fig 2: Set up of the “Happy Savings” experiment)


(Fig 3: Detailed image of group 3 piggy bank kit)


(Fig 4: One of the participants during the closing session filling in the assessment sheet)

Finally, we concluded upon certain important strategies and defined some further directions that we consider important in order to enrich more the experience of saving money. These directions were further explored during the graduation project. Direction 1 (D1) refers to the ability to choose and transform currency into more meaningful references by visualizing the progress of savings. Direction 2 (D2) is about the use of alternative more relatable forms of handling and saving money by allowing users to resemble the use of a piggy bank combined with digital services. And finally direction 3 (D3), is about building a sense of community supported by shared saving intentions and the creation of saving networks.


(Fig 5: The 3 design directions that came as result from the research)


(Fig 6: Result of the research and the elements that were presented to Rabobank)

SWINe (Saving Widget for Interactive Networks) from San De Franc on Vimeo.


The Cash Pack, an electronic piggybank that enables users to discover the value of desired purchases.

The graduation project started with the result from the research internship together with a review of literature from Positive Psychology, Positive Economics and Positive Design. This project was about exploring the meaningfulness of saving money by discovering its intrinsic value, by explaining it, I will try to persuade you to find the importance of being more conscious about your savings, your goals and your emotions. I will bring you through my own quest on finding the meaningfulness of saving money.
cp-01-new(Fig7: Step by step of the conceptual process)

I started with a literature research and a study about the different solutions available in the market and placed them in a chart that was used for the ideation and the concept generation phases. Together with those concepts, two user tests were conducted.


(Fig 8: Stages of the design process)

The users tests aimed to evaluate the proposed ideas and gather new insights to continue unveiling the challenges that took me closer to synthesize this project. In the end a Human-Product Interaction solutions is proposed that encourage people to save money, reflecting and exploring on the importance of each item they are saving for, making an assessment between the price that is paid for an item and the value one can discover within that item.


(Fig 9: Prototype of the Cash Pack (Billy) character and the mode of use)

The Cash Pack – Discovering the value of saving money from San De Franc on Vimeo.