In 2016 I collaborated with the AARP Foundation Income team to investigate ways of helping vulnerable 50-64 year-olds improve their financial situation by tracking their finances.
Give older adults the tools to control their money
How can AARP Foundation help older, vulnerable Americans become more financially secure by addressing postponing saving for retirement, debt and gaining control of their money? Most older adults do not have a budget, but they do bank online and over 50% check their account and credit balances before making a purchase.
We took a human-centered approach to solving the challenge by listening to the people we serve. We held co-creation sessions with 50-64-year-old adults to understand their pain points and desires. We collaborated with AARP’s research team and utilized AARP’s innovation process, design thinking activities, and design sprints, allowing for rapid learnings and pivots to drive quick results.
My Role
Initially, I partnered with the Income team to help assess interest in a tool or service that would help older Americans take control of their finances by building out an online campaign. Realizing a deeper need for understanding the customer and building empathy early in the process, I took the lead on developing empathy, insights, prototyping, and testing.
Customer Insights and Ideation
Leading design sprints and co-creation sessions, I collaborated with a program manager to unearth customer insights. The insights and learnings informed product features that addressed customer motivations and behaviors.
Experience Strategy and Vision
I created prototypes to share the product vision and future opportunities that align with AARP Foundation’s strategic initiatives.
Design Execution and Validation
I executed journeys, wireframes, and prototypes. I moderated user interviews to test and refine the prototypes.
The program manager and I presented our work to the senior leadership team at quarterly check-ins and for funding requests.
Key Insights
  1. We can move quickly, but… As a small innovation team, we were rather agile in our ability to design and test. Our dependencies within the organization don’t and sometimes can’t work at the same pace, which impacted our ability to test early assumptions.
  2. Low income doesn’t mean lack of spending power Most interview participants were willing to spend between $1 – $20 per month on a service that would help curb their spending
  3. Older adults actively use their smartphones There is a segment of the low-income population that bank online and on their mobile devices