Reflections – Empathy

Our reflections of the empathy phase.

The empathy phase was an exciting start to our project. We had many thoughts and feelings, and experienced that the data we gathered “proved” us very wrong in many of our beliefs.

We started out thinking that students have very small budgets, and wondered what we could do to help them. However we were not sure if there was anything that could be done, because it was not like we could help them gaining more money.

Through our expert interview and cultural probes we found a very different result. We could clearly see that even though the students budgets are small, the students are not making smart choices, and waste money on many things such as: take-out food and shopping. We could clearly see from the data we gathered that students weren’t very conscious with regards to their budgeting and saving, and we wanted to help find a solution for this.

We could see that there was a problem present, and with every problem there is a solution. We just had to find it.

 

Cultural Probe

Our Cultural Probes

The goal of our cultural probes was to be able to get better insight in what kind of budget students in higher education in Norway have. The users of our probes are students, as earlier mentioned. We wanted to be able to see if there is something that could be done in helping these students managing their budgets, or if there was a need for more or better information regarding the topic.

We thought our probes could help us with this by giving us a first-hand look at their budgets, and how they’re managing it. It would also give us information in their habits, such as how many times they take a taxi or go to the cinema. We wanted to see if there is help needed in managing their budgets, or if they are managing fine with this on their own.

We made three cultural probes. The first probe was two different boxes, and some sticky notes. The goal here was to write down their last buys and put them in the different boxes. One box for necessary buys and one box for unnecessary buys.

The second probe was a tracker, with the goal of crossing off for how many times they for example, go to a restaurant, go to the movies, take a taxi or go shopping. They would then have to put a sticker with either a happy face, or a sad face, depending on how good the activity was. Could it be avoided? Or was it necessary?

The third and final probe was a cardboard “phone”. Here the user is supposed to take a picture of something they want, but cannot afford. They were supposed to send a picture of this to one of our phone numbers. The goal here is to be able to see if their goal is realistic, or achievable with a better managed budget. We want to know if we can make a solution to help them with this.

The results from our probes shows that many students actually need help in managing their budgets, and it might not be that they just don’t have enough money, but that they actually don’t know how to manage them. We saw that a correlation between the students, that many of them go to the store almost every day, instead of just buying groceries for the entire week. Several of them also use a lot of money on small buys, such as take-out and shopping. We have seen earlier in our expert interviews that information from the right instances, such as banks, do not reach the students. There are many helpful services out there, but the students don’t know about these, and therefore do not have the opportunity to get guidance from them. Could the students manage their budgets better, with more guidance and/or information?

Expert Interview

For our expert interviews we chose to interview a customer service representative at SpareBank 1 and Pål Esben Gustavsen.

Our first interview was with Pål Esben Gustavsen, as he has many years of experience working in banking and setting up budgets. Helping students and other people with financial guidance. We reached out to him, and asked if he wanted to help us with this assignment, and he happily did. The interview was held at Pål Esben’s house and this was the most natural since he is the father of one of our group members.

Interview Guide:
Do you have many students contacting you regarding their budgets and saving money?
Do you have any specific help for these students?
Is there a certain type of students that reach out to you?
What are your best tips for saving while being a student?
Have you had to survive on a student budget yourself?

The results of this interview:
After the interview we now have a better understanding of student budgets, and have a better insight into how we, and other students can get a better economy. The tips we have been given are easy to follow and we don’t need to make major changes in our everyday life to make it go around. The most important thing was that we should not spend more than we had to, and think through all the purchases we made.

Interview Transcript:
Er det mange studenter som kontakter dere for å få hjelp med sparing og budsjettering? “sparebank 1, som jeg jobbet i kontaktet alle ungdommer når de ble 18 og inviterte de til en veiledningstime hvor det er mulighet til å snakke med fagfolk om nettopp dette med sparing og egen økonomi. ca 50% av de som får tilbudet takker ja da det er viktig å ha kontroll og vite hva som er lurt helt fra starten av. vi ser at de som har god økonomi som student og er flinke til å prioritere pengene sine riktig er ofte det før de begynner å studere. som student og ung voksen legger du grunnlag for hvordan økonomi du skal ha som voksen, bruker du mer enn du har får det konsekvenser senere. dette er noe som er veldig viktig at unge vet. jeg har ikke vært med på at studenter har kontaktet meg for hjelp til å sette opp budsjett med mindre de har hatt noen andre økonomiske problemer de har trengt hjelp til.”

Har dere et spesifikt tips til de som kommer og trenger hjelp? “det er å spare så mye man kan og ikke bruke mer enn du har. studentlånet skal betales tilbake til lånekassen når du er ferdig med å studere så jo mindre du bruker, jo mindre må du betale tilbake av dine egentjente penger. det er når du er ferdig studert du som oftes skal etablere deg og komme deg inn på boligmarkedet. Sett opp et budsjett, og følg det! Tenk igjennom alle kjøp, trenger du det egentlig? og tenk igjennom, er det lurt å dra ut på byen med venner og bruke masse penger når det er lenge til neste innbetaling kommer? Det er viktig å være litt streng med seg selv for å klare å hode målene man har satt seg”

Er det en spesiell gruppe som kontakter dere? “som sagt tidligere så er det ofte de som har gått på en liten (eller stor) økonomisk smell og enten tatt opp et forbrukslån, fått en betalingsanmerkning eller to, eller for å finansiere store kjøp de egentlig ikke har hatt penger til. Det er nok flere enn mange tror som roter det litt til for seg selv økonomisk og da er det fint de kan komme til banken og få hjelp av fagpersoner. Vi er der jo for å hjelpe alle som trenger det.”

Hva er dine beste tips til sparing for studenter? “ikke bruk mer enn du må, selv om du får 8000 kroner utbetalt av lånekassa i måneden trenger du ikke bruke alt om du ikke trenger det. det skal betales tilbake. Sett opp et budsjett, få oversikt over hva som går ut og hva som kommer inn på kontoen. Bestem det for hvor mye du skal bruke på f.eks mat, klær eller transport i starten av måneden. Da er det mye lettere å si til seg selv at en ikke har rå da det skal holde hele måneden. Vurder ALLE kjøp, trenger du egentlig det du hat tenkt til å kjøpe? Om det er noe dyrere du skal kjøpe, spar. Ikke bruk alt fra en utbetaling. Vurder også om du trenger det helt nyeste, nytt. Skal du ha ny telefon. se og sammenlign priser. Kan du få like bra brukt? må du ha den dyreste, nyeste modellen? Ikke handle på kreditt, da bruker du penger du ikke har.”

Har du selv levd på studentbudsjett, hvordan gikk det? “Jeg studerte et år i Bergen og fire i Aalborg, Danmark. Da levde jeg på studentbudsjett og fant ut av viktigheten ved å prioritere riktig pengebruk. Det begynner å bli noen år siden så det var ikke helt samme ordningene som det er nå men jeg klarte meg relativt greit, men det hendte jo at jeg ringte hjem til mor og far og spurte om litt ekstra.”

__________________________________________________

In our second expert interview we decided to interview a customer service representative from SpareBank 1. We conducted the interview through our computers from the school area. We reached out to them through their chat function on their website. We wanted to see if there are many students who contact their banks regarding savings and budgeting. We chose this because it’s very relevant for our theme, and it’s something that we find very interesting to know more about.

Interview Guide:
Do you have many students contacting you regarding their budgets and saving money?
Do you have any specific help for these students?
Is there a certain type of students that reach out to you?
What are your best tips for saving while being a student?
Have you had to survive on a student budget yourself?

The results of this interview
We wanted to see if there are many students who contact their banks regarding savings and budgeting. According to the customer service representative there are not many students who does this. “opplever ikke at veldig mange studenter tar kontaktet med banken for å få hjelp til sin langsiktige sparing og budsjettering dessverre”.  She informs us in her e-mail that unfortunately not many students reach out for help with savings and budgeting. She finds this very unfortunate, because they have many great tips and ideas for this, and they also have free savings-counseling. This could be very helpful for students, because the bank can help students who are saving for a house, their pension, or just help in how to survive on a tight budget.

The customer service representative also shared many great tips with us, such as planning your food shopping, thus avoiding many spontaneous buys. And also suggestion microsave, wich puts a small amount of money on a savings account each time you use your card. The customer service representative said she has also experienced having to survive on a low student bugdet, but she was dependent on having a job on the side as well.

It might seem like not many students know about this particular service, and the information flow could be improved. Students need to be enlightened that there is a service out there that could really help them with their economy.

Interview Transcript:
kundebehandler
har blitt med i samtalen!
Kundebehandler: Hei, du snakker med *kundebehandler*. Hva kan jeg hjelpe deg med?
Meg: Hei 🙂 Jeg jobber med en skoleoppgave, og lurer på om du kan svare på noen spørsmål?
Kundebehandler: Det kan jeg.
Meg: Så hyggelig!
Meg: Er det mange studenter som kontakter dere for å få hjelp til sparing og budsjettering? – Har dere noen spesifikk hjelp til disse studentene? Er det en spesiell gruppe studenter som kontakter dere? Hva er dine beste sparetips for studenter? Har du selv levd på et studentbudsjett?
Kundebehandler: kan du sende det til meg på mail *Mail* så skal jeg svare når jeg har anledning
Meg: Supert. Tusen takk 🙂
Kundebehandler: bare hyggelig! Ha en fin dag
Meg: Takk det samme 🙂

The customer service representative we talked to wanted us to send an e-mail instead, so we sent her an e-mail with our questions. And this is the e-mail she responded to us with.

Hei Ida, Vi opplever ikke at veldig mange studenter tar kontaktet med banken for å få hjelp til sin langsiktige sparing og budsjettering dessverre. Jeg skriver dessverre ettersom vi har vært dyktige sparerådgivere som bistår med denne type rådgivning helt gratis. Denne type rådgivning kan være alfa omega for studenter som skal spare til bolig, pensjon og annet i en relativt trang økonomisk tilstand som student. Vi har mange gode tips og triks til studenter som ønsker å sparer eller gjøre smarte grep i økonomien sin, samt vi tilbyr også gratis sparerådgivning. Er det en spesiell gruppe studenter som kontakter dere? Jeg har ikke merket noen forskjell her nei. Hva er dine beste tips for sparing som student? Sette seg opp et månedlig budsjett så en har full oversikt over hva en kan tillate seg å bruke eller spare utover de faste utgiftene hver måned. Opprette gjerne mikrosparing i nettbanken så kan du sette deg delmål frem til du har spart opp nok til det en du ønsker å bruke penger på(eks en årlig ferie). Mathandelen kan det være lurt å planlegge på forhånd så man slipper unødvendige småkjøp gjennom uken. Når det gjelder den mer langsiktige sparingen over flere år anbefaler banken stor sett sparing i fond for å få best mulig avfastning av sine sparepenger. Har du selv levd på et studentbudsjett, og hvordan gikk det? Jeg har selv levd på studentbudsjett, men jobbet i helgene som jeg var avhengig av for å få det til å gå rundt.

 

 

 

Litterature Review

Documentation of the literature search

 Preparation
We want to explore what kind of information is available for students to help them plan and stay on a budget. Our main question is “How can higher education students in Norway survive on a low student budget?”

Our goal is to find easy and fun ways to save money, while still being able to enjoy life as a student. There must be a lot of information available, and we want to make sure that the students easily can access the most relevant information without issues.

The keywords we decided to use were “poor students”, “student savings”, and “student budgets”. We translated these keywords to norwegian, because we found that the literature available becomes much more relevant for norwegian students. We searched using Google and found a lot of relevant information.

The search provided accurate results based on the different keywords we used. Reading the headline and the small snippet under them provided insight as to what the search result contain before clicking it.

Based on the results it turns out there is a lot of information available, but it has different approaches and usefulness to answer our question. Most of them are blogposts and news articles, mostly distributed by companies or news media centered around finance. All of this content is usefull for our question and is helpful information for students. However, we did not find any scientific research with narrow enough relevant information.

Literature review
All of the articles we found on this topic concists mostly of a sort of «to-do» approach to student budgeting. A lift of a certain amount of tips and tricks to reduce expenses. And while a lot of them are the same, they differ in being more detailed or even more personal from one another. There seems to be no final solution to how a student should save or spend their money, as every students situation is different. An example is if the student is working and earning money or not. Another example is being able to buy your own appartment while studying and cut expenses that way. Even have a room in the appartment to rent out to another student. (Dalsbø, 2017)

Most of the information we found comes from one of Norway’s biggest banks, DNB. Being a bank with a lot of customers – many of them students – makes DNB a reliable source for information and guidance regarding student economy. They provide a lot of useful tips and recommendations, though most of them are about preparing students for the life as a student and not so much actually living as a student. Following just some of these tips will help students economy, but some of them are things to do just once, and not consitently. To many people life as a student is the first real start of responsibility and adulthood, therefore the foundation for having a healthy and stable economy starts during this period. Many students can find this lifechange overwhelming and difficult. In many ways and not just financially. Being able to find information and get help with how to spend and save money should be easy. Doing so is another thing.

Because all of the articles we’ve found have insight and great tips on how to save money in general. Some more specific with examples of buying a PC needed for studies. Pointing out that you should buy it used instead of new, because the used one is probably good enough for your studies. Also dividing purchases into defined categories may help getting an image of how and when to buy necessities. (Bøe, 2017)

Another method described to provide good overview and insight into a students economy is to set up a thorough planner. Having complete control of everything. There’s a clear connection between planning and saving. Phone and electrical bills and the seemingly ‘hidden’ expenses that might be paid automatically can go under the radar for many. Also limiting use of said phone or eletricity to reduce the bills are great tips to reduce overall expenses. (Borchgrevink, 2018) It’s the general tip of save everything you can on every expense you have. Which in turn will make your overall financial situation better, but not necessarily improve quality of life. It also demands for people being disciplined and informed enough to have the time and capability to make a planner. And time or capability depends on your studies and time spent elsewhere, like having a job on the side. Which many of the articles also recommends. (Holmene, 2017) But a lot of students doesn’t find the time or strength to work while studying. And those who do doesn’t necessarily have a better budget either (need reference?)

In one of the articles we found tips on how to save money from a student, studying economics, perspective. Say she struggled to strictly follow the tips herself, but they helped her immensely anyways. It then lists ten key tips on how to save, spend or get the most out of your money as a student. (Dalland, 2014) Most of it is recognizeable from other articles as well.

From here on the information found in the articles we chose tend to be the same advices, tips and recommendations as the last. With a lot of standard information about the topic. Except one, which is refreshing and different by being more personal and specific. Made by a student, mostly for herself, but then she shared it on social media and have become popular among other students on Instagram. She posts great-looking, cheap meals every day to show that it’s possible to eat while spending a minimum amount of money. She has launched a book and inspires others to do the same as her. Her tips are food-oriented and since food is so expensive, students can come a long way by reducing that expense by a lot learning from her. (Høyskolen Kristiania, 2019)

The challenge is to get students motivated enough to do all the recommended tips written in the information we have found. Since most of it is just lists it’s not very explanatory or intuitive. It doesn’t provide any direct guidance or budget to students. It’s not visual or engaging enough for students to explore and learn by just reading them. Clearer guidelines and specific numbers as to how a student can spend and allocate their loan would have been helpful. The information of how much a student gets from Lånekassen is public, so maybe some of the articles could provide an up to date budget usable by students every year. Make videos explaining simple economics. Make it fun and engaging. Make it ‘cool’ to be financially aware. There could be interactive budgets or graphs for people to easily access and use to get insight. The approach should be more direct help and a «do this» instead of «here’s a tip».

Because a lot of the information requires a lot of work or a lot of knowledge about economics or institutions that a lot of students doesn’t know how to operate. «Learn by doing» can be hard in this matter. And that is also why economics should be taught as a subject in school, because it’s important information and it’s something everyone engages with more or less their whole life. It can also then be seen as irresponsible of a society to let students run around with a lot of money when they have very little experience with how to spend and use them in a effective and responsible way.

Luckily there are more digital tools and ways to gather information about finance economics now more than ever. Having apps for budgets, loans, credit cards, bills, expenses, savings, bank to name the most common ones, helps a lot. Many of these are intuitive and provides useful information, but there is not a single app for complete control or complete help with a students finances.

References
Borchgrevink, P. S. (2018, 22. februar). Slik overlever du på studentbudsjett. DNBnyheter. Hentet fra https://www.dnbnyheter.no/privatokonomi/slik-overlever-du-pa-studentbudsjett/

Bøe, T. W. (2017, 20. november). Guide til sparing som student. MatNatPrat. Hentet fra http://www.matnatprat.no/2017/11/20/guide-til-sparing-som-student/

Dalland, A. (2014, 31. juli). Her er 10 sparetips fra en erfaren student. Dagens Næringsliv. Hentet fra https://www.dn.no/studentliv/utdannelse/her-er-10-sparetips-fra-en-erfaren-student/1-1-5161261

Dalsbø, V. K. (2017, 31. juli). 20 essensielle tips til studenter. DNBnyheter. Hentet fra https://www.dnbnyheter.no/privatokonomi/20-essensielle-tips-til-studenter/

Holmene, G. (2017, 09. august). Her er budsjettet alle studenter bør få med seg. Side2. Hentet fra https://www.side2.no/aktuelt/her-er-budsjettet-alle-studenter-bor-fa-med-seg-4649548

Høyskolen Kristiania. (2019). En fattig student møter fattig student. Hentet fra https://www.kristiania.no/studentbloggen/2019/en-fattig-student-moter-fattig.student/