Title:
Method and system for impulse savings
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Impulse saves are made by a user of a first computing device. A first electronic message is received from the first computing device. The first electronic message comprises an amount of money not spent by a user of the computing device. A running total of the amount of money not spent is computed. A second electronic message to at least one other computing device is transmitted. The second electronic message comprises at least some of the running total. An electronic transfer of the amount the amount of the second electronic message is made from one account to another account.



Inventors:
Solomon, Leah (Brooklyn, NY, US)
Halladay, Jayson (Brooklyn, NY, US)
Application Number:
13/307012
Publication Date:
03/22/2012
Filing Date:
11/30/2011
Assignee:
SOLOMON LEAH
HALLADAY JAYSON
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
705/35
International Classes:
G06Q40/02
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
FU, HAO
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PERKINS COIE LLP - SEA General (PATENT-SEA P.O. BOX 1247 SEATTLE WA 98111-1247)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A computer program product comprising a computer readable medium comprising computer executable code which, when executed by a microprocessor of a computer causes the computer to: (a) receive a first electronic message from a first computing device, the first electronic message comprising an amount of money not spent by a user of the computing device; (b) compute a running total of the amount of money not spent; and (c) transmit a second electronic message to at least one other computing device, the second electronic message comprising at least some of the running total.

2. The computer program product of claim 1 wherein the computer readable medium further comprises computer executable code which, when executed by a microprocessor of a computer causes the computer to repeat (a), (b), and (c), until the running total is at least equal to a savings goal.

3. The computer program product of claim 1 wherein the computer readable medium further comprises computer executable code which, when executed by a microprocessor of a computer causes the computer to trigger an electronic transfer of the amount of the second electronic message from one account to another account.

4. The computer program product of claim 1 wherein the computer readable medium further comprises computer executable code which, when executed by a microprocessor of a computer causes the computer to trigger an electronic transfer of an amount of money equal to at least some of the running total from one account to another account.

Description:

This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/326,635, filed Dec. 2, 2008, which is hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND

A need presently exists for methods and system for impulse savings.

SUMMARY

A first electronic message is received from a first computing device. The first electronic message comprises an amount of money not spent by a user of the computing device. A running total of the amount of money not spent is computed. A second electronic message to at least one other computing device is transmitted. The second electronic message comprises at least some of the running total. An electronic transfer of the amount of the second electronic message is made from one account to another account.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a system for impulse savings.

FIG. 2 is a method for impulse savings.

FIG. 3 is an exemplary goal library.

FIG. 4 is a method for periodically transmitting electronic message reminders.

FIG. 5 is a method for periodically automatically transferring money to a financial account.

FIG. 6 is a method for generating reports of progress made towards a savings goal.

FIG. 7 is a method for friends to encourage a plurality of users to save.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Briefly, the disclosed systems and methods give users the opportunity to commit money they are about to spend to a savings goal instead, and to do so using a mobile device. Giving the user the opportunity to take this action and then immediately sharing it with their savings partners can help to overwhelm the desire for immediate gratification with the rewards of having taken a step towards their goal, and being recognized by family and friends for having saved some money. Additionally, the user is encouraged by having their various commitments to save recorded and presented graphically on a website so they can further celebrate and share the process of accomplishing their goal.

FIG. 1 is a system for saving money with mobile devices. A computer 10 and mobile devices 40 are in communication via at least one communication network 20. Each mobile device 40(1) through 40(n) belongs to a user of a plurality of users. While four mobile devices 40 are shown, there may be a greater or lesser number of mobile devices. The users, or members, of group 50 each have a savings goal, that is, an amount of money they each wish to save over a specified period of time. One exemplary savings goal for a family (having mobile devices 40(1), 40(2), 40(3)) is to save $1920 over sixteen week for a family vacation. In this example, the family 50 should save $120/week.

So, in one example users of mobile devices in the group (40(1), 40(2), 40(3)) make purchasing decisions throughout a typical day, for example whether to buy a snack, to go to the movies, take a taxi, and the like. These are generally low cost items that offer immediate gratification. The users have the opportunity to commit the money that they would spend on these items to the savings goal rather than spending it. In one example, Jim, the user of mobile device 40(1), when presented with the decision of whether to purchase a snack, decides not to and sends a text message from the mobile device 40(1) describing an amount representing the money not spent, or portion of the money not spent, and the product or service not purchased. One exemplary text message is “$5 snack.” This text message is received by computer 10 over the communication network 20. The computer 10 records the amount and description of the product or service, as well as an identifier identifying the sender.

The computer 10 then forwards, over the communication network 20, a message such as a text message to the other mobile devices 40(2) and 40(3) comprising the amount, the good or service not purchased, and the name of the person who decided not to purchase, for example, “Jim, $5 snack!” Knowing that a savings partner has committed money to the savings goal encourages others in the group to do the same. For example, after receiving the text message, Sally, the user of mobile device 40(2) is presented with the dilemma of whether to purchase a shirt that costs $24 or one that costs $32. Sally, desirous to go on vacation, and being encouraged by the actions of Jim, decides not to purchase the more expensive shirt but rather to purchase the less expensive one. Accordingly, Sally, the user of mobile device 40(2) sends a text message such as “$8 cheaper shirt.” The message is received by computer 10 which then transmits a message to the other mobile devices 40(1) and 40(3) such as “Sally, $8 cheaper shirt!”. In this way all member of the group are aware of each others' actions and are accordingly encouraged to save.

In another example, Jim chooses not to purchase a pair of shoes that cost $100, but only wants to contribute $30 to the savings goal. In this case, an exemplary text message is “$30 shoes.” Thus, with respect to not spending money “an amount” or “the amount” is understood herein to include the total amount of the money saved (that is, not spent), or a portion thereof. In yet another example, in order to save money, Sally chooses to stay home instead of going out with her friends on the weekend. Sally knows from experience that if she goes out with her friends she is likely to spend around $60. In this case, an exemplary message is “$60, stayed home and didn't go out with friends.” Thus, with respect to not spending money, the “description of the good or service not purchased” is understood herein to include not taking part in an event or activity, giving up an event or activity, or any other action that results in money not being spent.

In addition to storing the descriptions and amounts not spent, computer 10 also keeps a running total of the amount of money not spent, that is the amount of money saved towards the savings goal. Computer 10 generates periodic reports from the stored information. The reports, such as graphs and figures, show progress made towards the savings goal. The reports may be transmitted to the mobile devices 40 of the users, published as a web page to be viewed by other computers 70, transmitted to a “cheering section” 90, that is a group of people who are not saving but want to encourage group 50 to save, to blogs, web applications, social networks, instant messaging applications, email, and the like.

Computer 10 may transmit periodic message reminders to the users (that is the mobile devices 40) reminding them to transfer the money they have saved that period to a savings account 80. Each user may receive a different message as each user may have saved a different amount. The message reminders may also be transmitted to email addresses and the like.

Each user may have a different savings goal, and each user may have a different or individual savings account 80. In one embodiment, the users pool their money and resources to reach a common savings goal. In another embodiment, each user has an individual and different savings goal and separate savings account. For example, one user's savings goal may be to reduce credit card debt, and another user's savings goal may be to save for a vacation.

Some or all of the users may optionally provide bank account information, stored by computer 10, so that computer 10 can automatically transfer money from one bank account such as the user's checking account, to a savings account 80. For example, an Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfer could be executed on a weekly basis for the amount saved by each of the users. The transfer may be any type of electronic transfer whether by ACH or any other transfer method. The transfer may be an inter-institution transfer and/or an intra-institution transfer. The transfer can be from any type of financial account to any other type of financial account whether those accounts are managed or administered by the same institution or by different institutions. The account(s) may be accounts linked to a card product such as a credit card, debit cart, prepaid card, and the like.

Furthermore, members of the cheering section 90 can transmit messages to members of the group 50 in order to encourage them. Exemplary messages include “Sally, you better stop buying shoes” and “If you can all save $160 next week I will give you a gift of $50.” In this way, other members of the cheering section can contribute to the saving goal as well as encourage the group 50.

Now, with the system of FIG. 1 in mind, FIG. 2 shows a method for saving money with mobile devices. At step 210 a plurality of mobile devices is provided. Each of the plurality of mobile devices belongs to or is operated by a user of a plurality of users. The plurality of users of the group may also be referred to herein as “savings partners.” Each of the plurality of users has a savings goal. The savings goal may be common for the plurality of users, or different for some of the users in the group. The savings goal, for example, includes an amount of money to save and a length of time.

At step 220 an electronic account is created. The account is created and stored at a computer. The account stores, for example, identifying information about each of the plurality of users, the savings goal, and how the savings goal is divided among the plurality of users. The identifying information about each of the users includes the name of the user and a unique electronic identifier (step 310). The electronic identifier is for contacting the user electronically, that is sending an electronic message to the user. Each user may have more than one electronic identifier. Examples of electronic identifiers include email address, mobile phone numbers, user IDs for instant messaging services, user IDs for social networking application, user IDs for blogs and micro-blogs, and the like. The account may also store bank information.

The account may be created by one or more than one of the savings partners. In creating the account, the savings goal is defined. So, the step of creating the electronic account 220 further includes defining a duration and an amount of money to save (step 300). For example, if there are four savings partners and their savings goal is to save $1040 over eight weeks then their common savings goal amount is $1040 and the duration is 8 weeks. Step 220 may also include selecting or uploading a goal image and a description of the goal which is stored in the account (step 320). For example, using the above example, the common amount to save is $1040, and the duration is eight weeks. The description is, for example, “Trip to Costa Rica!”. One or more of the users may select or upload an image of a beach, for example, to be displayed as their exemplary goal image.

At step 230 a periodic sum of money to be saved by the plurality of users is computed according to the savings goal. Using the savings goal example of $1040 over eight weeks for four users (also referred to herein as savings partners), one exemplary computation of the periodic total sum of $130/wk ($1040/8 weeks), the period being one week, and with each savings partner having an individual periodic savings goal of $32.50 ($1040/8 weeks/4 users). This is only one exemplary computation however and it is noted that elements of the savings goal can be modified or adjusted so that the periodic total sum and individual periodic savings goal varies from varies from period to period, the length of the period varies, and the individual periodic savings goal is different or varies among the savings partners. This is, at least in part, designated by arrow 295. Thus, step 230 of computing the periodic sum may further include computing the periodic sum such that it is different for at least some of the plurality of users, or is different for all of the plurality of users from period to period, or such that the length of time of the period is variable.

The method of FIG. 2 may also include selecting a goal from a library of goals. In this way a “template” may be presented to automate at least some of the elements of steps 220 and 230. FIG. 3 shows one such exemplary goal library. Each of the goals 400 includes at least some of the elements resulting from steps 300, 310, and 320. Examining goal 400(3), there are two users (step 310) as show by icons 402, the amount (step 300) is $1920 as denoted by “goal” 404, the duration (step 300) is 16 weeks as denoted by “duration”, the description 408 (step 320) is “Adios Credit Card Debt!”, and the image 410 (step 320) is an image of credit cards. In this example, the periodic sum to be saved (step 230) as denoted by lead line 412 is “$50/wk” for user 402(1) and “$70/wk” for user 402(2). Those skilled in the art will appreciate that these are only a few of the steps and element in creating an electronic account and computing a periodic sum and that many variations and changes are possible while remaining within the scope the present invention.

Turning back to FIG. 2, at step 240 a first electronic message from a first mobile device of the plurality of mobile devices is received. The first electronic message comprises, at least, a description of a service or product not purchased by user of the first mobile device and the amount of money not spent. Revisiting the example given above, Jim sends a text message (“$5 snack”) from his mobile phone (40(1) of FIG. 1) which is received (step 290) by the computer (10 of FIG. 1), the computer being operative to receive electronic messages such as text messages. This first electronic message is transmitted when Jim makes his decision to not purchase the snack. It is noted that the term “first mobile device” refers to the mobile device that is currently transmitting the electronic message and that any one of the mobile devices may be considered the first mobile device. “First mobile device” should not be confused with any particular order in which the mobile devices are physically arranged in the figures. From iteration to iteration of the method of FIG. 2, any one of the mobile devices can be the first mobile device.

At step 250 the description and amount are stored in the account, and they are associated with the user by way of the electronic identifier. In the present example, the electronic identifier is the mobile phone number of Jim's mobile phone (40(1) of FIG. 1).

At step 260 a running total of the amount of money not spent (that is, the money saved) is computed. This is computed separately for each of the savings partners since they may each have different savings goals and savings from week to week. If the savings goal is common, it is computed in aggregate to determine if the common savings goal has been reached.

At step 270 a second electronic message is transmitted to all of the plurality of mobile devices except the first mobile device. The second electronic message comprises the description, amount, and an identifier identifying the user of the first mobile device. Recall, this information is available as described with reference to step 310. The second electronic message may be transmitted to a mobile phone number, an email address, a blog, a micro-blog, an instant messaging application, a web application, or any electronic device operable to receive messages. Web applications may include any program that can be executed in a web browser or served from a server to a client computer, including applications such as Facebook and other social networking sites. Many social networking sites provide an application programming interface for developing third party social applications. Accordingly, “web application” as used herein also includes such applications. Also, a third electronic message may be transmitted to the first mobile device. The third electronic message may comprise, for example, confirmation of receipt of the first electronic message, a copy of the first electronic message, or other information.

Next, at step 280 it is determined if the savings goal has been reached. The savings goal is reached when the running total of step 260 is at least equal to the amount of the savings goal. Steps 240, 250, 260, and 270 are repeated if the savings goal or goals have not been reached.

Referring to FIG. 4, at step 400 an electronic message reminder is periodically transmitted (for example, from the computer 10 of FIG. 1) reminding the plurality of users to transfer money to a bank account. These periodic reminders are sent until the savings goal is reached (step 410). The periodic reminders can be sent to each user only until their individual savings goal is reached. The period may be, for example, monthly. The amount of money the electronic message reminds each user to transfer may vary among users since their individual savings goals may be different, and their actual savings may be more or less than their goals. Thus, the electronic message reminders may be tailored based on each users' description and amount (step 250), and individual running totals and aggregate running totals (step 260). Some or all of this information is transmitted to each user according to their electronic identifier. Depending on the electronic identifiers, the electronic message reminders may be transmitted to, for example, mobile devices, and to computers, such messages to computers including email, blogs, micro-blogs, web pages, RSS feeds, instant messaging applications, web applications, and the like.

FIG. 5 shows a method for periodically electronically transferring money according to the users' savings goal and savings progress. This method may be used alone or in combination with the method of FIG. 4. At step 420, at least one bank account is linked to the electronic account created in step 220. For example, if the savings goal is common for a family, the family's checking account and savings account may be linked. In another example, the savings goal is for a group of friends and each friend has a different savings goal, and a separate and individual savings account.

One way of linking accounts is to store bank account numbers and bank routing numbers associated with each user. In this way, the computer can execute electronic money transfers, such as automated clearing house (ACH) transfers from each user's checking account to the corresponding savings account.

No matter the type of transfer executed and the details of the accounts that are stored, at step 430 money is periodically electronically transferred from at least one bank account to at least one other bank account. As disclosed with reference to FIG. 4, the period and amounts may vary according to each user. The periodic electronic transfers continue until the savings goal is reached (step 440).

As shown in FIG. 6, and as already mentioned above, the computer also generates reports. The reports, including graphs and figures, show progress made towards the savings goal and may also show progress made towards individual savings goals. The reports may be transmitted or published to the mobile devices, to other computers to be displayed as a web page, to a “cheering section”, that is a group of individuals who are not savings partners but want to encourage the savings partners, to blogs, web applications, social networks, instant messaging applications, email, and the like. The reports may be periodic, such as weekly, as long as the savings goal has not been reached (step 280), and they may also be a final report such as once the savings goal has been reached (step 280). The reports may show progress of each user in relation to their individual savings goal, and they may show progress of the savings partners as a whole. Those skilled in the art will recognize that many different types of reports may be generated, all within the scope of the present invention.

FIG. 7 shows a method for friends to encourage the plurality of users to save. At least one electronic identifier for at least one friend of the plurality of users is received at step 460. At step 470 the friend's electronic identifier is stored in the electronic account. In storing this electronic identifier, it may be associated with one or more users of the plurality of users. Users may have the same or different friends. At step 480 a message is transmitted to the friend's electronic identifier indicating progress made towards the savings goal. The message may include, for example, any of the elements described above with reference to messages and reports. At step 490, a message is received from a computer or mobile device of the friend (90 of FIG. 1), the message commenting, for example, on the progress made towards the savings goal. The message received at step 490 may further be transmitted to one or more than one of the mobile devices (40 of FIG. 1). The message may also be displayed with other reports and other messages to further encourage the plurality of users to save.

Referring back to the figures, many other variations are possible. For example, users (40 of FIG. 1) may have more than one savings goal, and they may belong to more than one group (50 of FIG. 1). Also, users (40 of FIG. 1) may save without a specific goal in mind. In such an embodiment, the duration and amount of the savings goal (step 300 of FIG. 2) may be defined, either alone or in combination, as a number so large such that it is never possible to reach in one's lifetime (for example, 1010). In this case, the savings goal is never reached (step 280 of FIG. 2) and the method of FIG. 2 only ends when ended manually. Also, it is possible that there is only one user. Is this case, no second electronic message is transmitted (step 270 of FIG. 2 is skipped). Instead, the third electronic message disclosed above is transmitted to the first mobile device. The third electronic message may be an automated response selected from a list of responses. For example, after the description and the amount is received (step 240 of FIG. 1), the third electronic message may be “Way to go!” or “Congratulations!” or the like. Or the third electronic message may comprise the running total (step 260 of FIG. 2), for example.

Another example within the scope of the present disclosure includes card product such as a pre-paid debit card. The card product is linked to a transaction account from which purchases are made, and a savings wallet account. When an impulse save is made, the money not spent is transferred from the transaction account to the savings wallet account. The transfer may be made by a bank or other financial institution that has a master account for all users, which are pooled, and which also is the card issuer. The transfer may be made by the card or merchant processor.

Another example within the scope of the present disclosure includes any financial services provider or processor such as a payroll provider. In the example of a payroll provider, employees register an account with the server which is also tied to a company's human resource (HR) department. Impulse saves, that is amounts not spent, made by an employee is sent to the server. The impulse saves are totaled and, for each pay period, the aggregate impulse saves are transmitted to the employer and/or payroll provider, and the amount not spent is deducted from the employee's paycheck and transferred to a savings account such as a 401k account.

As already disclosed, impulse saves received at the server may be transmitted, in part or in whole for each user, to bank or other institution linked to the user's account, and an intra-institution or inter-institution transfer may be made, all as disclosed above.

In this way, spontaneous decisions to not spend money, whether for a particular goal or for any random or non-particular save, may be made. For example, savings games may played such as “save $15 if a black dog walks in front of you,” with such games having benefiting the users (or players) because they are encourages to save money. These games may be played by way of social networks.

Also, as already disclosed, impulse saves may be sent from and received by any type of computing device. And, as already disclosed, an individual may use the systems and methods disclosed herein and their impulse saves may reported on a social network such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and the like. In this way a user's social network friends are, at least, their cheering section. So, sharing may be with a spouse, family members, friends, social media connections, and the like.

Finally, it is appreciated that the mobile devices 40 may comprise many different types of mobile devices such as cell phones, smart phones, PDAs, portable computers, and any other type of mobile device operable to transmit and receive electronic messages. The computer network(s) 20 may include the internet and wireless networks such as a mobile phone network 30. Computer 10 may be one or more computers and may comprise any type of computer capable of storing computer executable code and executing the computer executable code on a microprocessor, and communicating with the communication network(s) 20. For example computer 10 may be a web server. The electronic identifiers include email addresses, mobile phone numbers, user IDs for instant messaging services, user IDs for social networking application, user IDs and URLs for blogs and micro-blogs, URIs, and the like. It is appreciated that other elements and configurations of FIG. 1 are possible while remaining within the scope of the present invention.

It is appreciated that the mobile devices mentioned herein may comprise many different types of devices such as cell phones, smart phones, PDAs, portable computers, and any other type of device operable to transmit and receive electronic messages. The computer network(s) may include the internet and wireless networks such as a mobile phone network. Computers disclosed herein may be one or more computers and may comprise any type of computer capable of storing computer executable code and executing the computer executable code on a microprocessor, and communicating with the communication network(s). For example, a computer may be a web server. References to user identifiers may include electronic identifiers such as email addresses, mobile phone numbers, user IDs for instant messaging services, user IDs for social networking application, user IDs and URLs for blogs and micro-blogs, URIs, and the like.

The systems and methods may be implemented on an Intel or Intel compatible based computer running a version of the Linux operating system or running a version of Microsoft Windows, Apple OS, and other operating systems. Computing devices based on non-Intel processors, such as ARM devices may be used. Various functions of the server or mobile device may be implemented in hardware and/or in software, including in one or more signal processing and/or application specific integrated circuits. The computers and, equivalently, mobile devices may include any and all components of a computer such as storage like memory and magnetic storage, interfaces like network interfaces, and microprocessors.

An application programming interface (API) permits the systems and methods to operate with other software platforms such as Salesforce CRM, Google Apps, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites, and the like. For example, the interactive messaging system could interface with CRM software and GOOGLE calendar.

A computer program product may include a computer readable medium comprising computer readable code which when executed on the computer causes the computer to perform the methods described herein. Databases may comprise any conventional database such as an Oracle database or an SQL database. Multiple databases may be physically separate, logically separate, or combinations thereof. The components of the computer, including creating, storing, modifying, and querying databases, and interfacing and communicating with networks are well understood by those having ordinary skill in the art.

The features described can be implemented in digital electronic circuitry, or in computer hardware, firmware, software, or in combinations thereof. The features can be implemented in a computer program product tangibly embodied in an information carrier, e.g., in a machine-readable storage device or in a propagated signal, for execution by a programmable processor; and method steps can be performed by a programmable processor executing a program of instructions to perform functions and methods of the described implementations by operating on input data and generating output.

The described features can be implemented in one or more computer programs that are executable on a programmable system including at least one programmable processor coupled to receive data and instructions from, and to transmit data and instructions to, a data storage system, at least one input device, and at least one output device. A computer program is a set of instructions that can be used, directly or indirectly, in a computer to perform a certain activity or bring about a certain result. A computer program can be written in any type of programming language (e.g., Objective-C, Java), including compiled or interpreted languages, and it can be deployed in any form, including as a stand-alone program or as a module, component, subroutine, or other unit suitable for use in a computing environment.

Suitable processors for the execution of a program of instructions include, by way of example, both general and special purpose microprocessors, and the sole processor or one of multiple processors or cores, of any kind of computer. Generally, a processor will receive instructions and data from a read-only memory or a random access memory or both. Some elements of a computer are a processor for executing instructions and one or more memories for storing instructions and data. Generally, a computer will also include, or communicate with one or more mass storage devices for storing data files. Exemplary devices include magnetic disks such as internal hard disks and removable disks, magneto-optical disks, and optical disks. Storage devices suitable for tangibly embodying computer program instructions and data include all forms of non-volatile memory, including by way of example semiconductor memory devices, such as EPROM, EEPROM, and flash memory devices; magnetic disks such as internal hard disks and removable disks; magneto-optical disks; and CD-ROM and DVD-ROM disks. The processor and the memory can be supplemented by, or incorporated in, ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits).

To provide for interaction with a user, the features can be implemented on a computer having a display device such as a CRT (cathode ray tube) or LCD (liquid crystal display) for displaying information to the user and a keyboard and a pointing device such as a mouse or a trackball by which the user can provide input to the computer. The display may be touch sensitive so the user can provide input by touching the screen.

The features can be implemented in a computer system that includes a back-end component, such as a data server, or that includes a middleware component, such as an application server or an Internet server, or that includes a front-end component, such as a client computer having a graphical user interface or an Internet browser, or any combination of them. The components of the system can be connected by any form or medium of digital data communication such as a communication network. Examples of communication networks include, e.g., a LAN, a WAN, wired and wireless packetized networks, and the computers and networks forming the Internet.

The foregoing detailed description has discussed only a few of the many forms that this invention can take. It is intended that the foregoing detailed description be understood as an illustration of selected forms that the invention can take and not as a definition of the invention. It is only the following claims, including all equivalents, that are intended to define the scope of this invention.