Not Spent (Concept)

Not Spent is an app that assists a customer to save money towards long-term goals by being more mindful about their spendings. Each time the user is unsure whether they actually want to purchase something or not, the app suggests they might rather add the matching amount to goal savings.


As we move towards a cashless future, it becomes increasingly easy to spend money. Digitalisation facilitates spending by removing friction and pain. The internet gives people an opportunity to buy things instantly, without the need to leave the house or to wait till the store opens. Moreover, merchants are interested in tempting customers into impulsive purchases. Every element in the system works towards spending.

There are two main methods to facilitate saving. First, customers can open a separate bank account and manually transfer money into it now and then. Second, there are tools that regularly and automatically transfer money to customer’s saving account. Both methods, however, are detached from the actual moment when the customer is tempted to spend money on something they might regret later on.

Consider a situation when someone is feeling hungry and walks past a bakery that puts cupcakes on showcase. The decision to buy comes with an instant reward in a form of a delicious cupcake. The decision not to buy comes… well, it comes with nothing. Even delayed purchases, such as ordering a pair of shoes online, provide an instant gratification. The decision not to buy, again, comes with no reward.

It is increasingly easy for us to please the present-self at the expense of the future-self.


Not Spent is designed to provide a reward each time customers make a decision not to spend money on something. It acts as a barrier between the customer and the purchase by reminding of something that user’s future-self wants and contrasting it with what their present-self wants.

When in doubt, instead of buying something that the user might not even need, they open Not Spent and add that amount there instead. With that comes the reward: the sense of achievement, the delight of seeing the graph going up, the feeling of doing the right thing.

Graphs help to keep track of the progress and tell the story.

For instance, you can see how the saver on the left is behind their target, but from the pattern it seems that it’s not uncommon, and they’re likely to add a large amount and get back on track soon. The saver on the right prefers to deposit smaller amounts regularly, except for that period around March when they might have encountered a hiccup.

Behind the scenes, Not Spent creates a separate bank account and transfers money there, yet it doesn’t bother users with bank terminology, instead letting them to focus on things that really matter: their money and their long-term goal.

Over time, the app learns where users are most likely to be tempted. It also lets users to review the spendings they did make and mark those that they regret now. To facilitate this process, Not Spent also sends a notification each time the user was charged. Marking a spending as unwanted is a matter of a swipe and a tap.

As the app learns where the user will most likely be tempted (fast food chains? coffee shops? electronic stores?), it also begins sending notifications before the potential spending, allowing customers to transfer money towards their long-term goal instead, or, to even temporarily lock their cards, so that they might walk away without temptation.

It is likely that Not Spent would be less efficient than tools that put aside customers’ money automatically and regularly. Not Spent is not designed for maximum efficiency, though, instead it’s designed to increase mindfulness about one’s spendings.

Conventionally, designers aim for less interface. Not Spent offers more interface than an automated tool. But by doing so, the app encourages the user to start noticing the situations where they are tempted, and with that, empower them to resist the urge to spend.