Finalist 2021

You Me and Money Preventing economic abuse in young adult relationships

Today / RMIT University School of Economics / YLab / Ecstra Foundation

You, Me & Money is a digital tool designed with and for young people to raise awareness of economic abuse.

Economic abuse—or financial abuse—is a form of intimate partner abuse that involves a partner manipulating or controlling access to finances. Research from RMIT revealed that 15.7% of women and 7.1% of men had experienced economic abuse in their lifetime.

You, Me & Money is a digital tool designed with and for young people to raise awareness of economic abuse and the behaviours associated with it.

Using the design language of a personality quiz, it helps young people understand their relationship to money, normalises talking about finances and provides helpful advice.

Design Brief

Economic abuse—or financial abuse—is a form of intimate partner abuse that involves a partner manipulating or controlling access to finances. Research from RMIT revealed that 15.7% of women and 7.1% of men had experienced economic abuse in their lifetimes.

Young people, who are new to both the worlds of relationships and finance are particularly susceptible to this form of abuse. They may not even know that it's happening.

Our challenge was to give young people—and the people who care about them—the tools to have better conversations about love and money.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

You, Me & Money was developed by young people for young people and guided by research conducted at RMIT University.

We worked with RMIT and YLab to co-design a digital toolkit to help young people have difficult conversations about finances and relationships.

We worked in collaborative creative sprints, creating a variety of possible solutions and testing and building on them with young people. Working closely with our stakeholders and young people helped us translate the often dry and inaccessible language of economic abuse into an approachable and shareable tool.

You, Me & Money is a testament to what can be achieved when the worlds of rigorous academic research, fast-paced participatory design, and creative thinking collide.

Getting the tone right was crucial for engaging with young people on what healthy behaviour around relationships and money looks like.

Using insights and data gathered from our co-design workshops, we wrote a content plan and engaged a young adult, Viv Mah, to turn our how-to advice for big life moments into fun, entertaining content that was youthful and impactful.

But enough about what we think, here’s what our co-design participants think of the content:

“It feels like a friend sitting you down and having a chat.”

“Really liked the tone on these, very respectful and understanding while also being engaging. Length is good, content itself is helpful.”

“Man, put that on a t-shirt.”

Design Excellence

You, Me & Money deals with heavy subject matter in a light-hearted way. It’s accessible, vibrant and playful, while bringing enough gravitas to be taken seriously. And it delivers relevant and personalised content in a non-obtrusive way. It’s a tight balancing act, and the collaborative co-design approach enables us to do that well.

Through the co-design process, young adults worked alongside academics and designers to set a criteria for successful design, based on their lived experience of financial abuse:
- It needed to be light and accessible, but with authoritative and clear guidance on a relatively heavy subject matter
- It needed an interactive hook
- It needed to be relatable and personalised to their situation
- It should promote different conversations specific to different personality types and life scenarios
- It should leave them with a better understanding of their and their partner’s relationship to money

The final design solution was continually refined with these key criteria in mind, and the art direction and tone of voice was iteratively crafted to suit, alongside the supporting technology. It was an integrated and participatory design response, involving designers, an illustrator, technologists, copywriters, and people with lived experience working in partnership together to design a compelling, beautiful, relevant, and useful online resource.

The mobile-responsive website provides a personalised experience by learning about people as they use the quiz. Careful and considered use of typography and layout ensure clarity and readability. The user experience (UX) design has a fierce focus on clarity, simplicity, and wayfinding. We bring structure to the reading experience through bold headings, descriptive graphics and colour-coded sections. The website was coded according to the WCAG 2.0 AA accessibility standards, so it works well for a wide range of people, including those living with disability.

Design Innovation

Intimate relationships are based on love and trust. But relationships also involve money—an inescapable fact.

While we might choose to live our lives differently, no one chooses to be abused, controlled—not physically, emotionally, verbally, sexually, or financially. But we can choose to learn more about what’s healthy and what’s not, and get help when needed.

Young adults are struggling—some worse than others—and it is our responsibility to give them the tools to navigate their path to relationship-based financial wellbeing.

We’re hoping that You, Me & Money is one such tool.

Our aim was to get young people—and the people who care about them—talking more about money in relationships. We looked at different critical money moments in people’s lives and gave them some food for thought to carry into their personal conversations.

“(Being involved in this project) has made me consider where money flows in my relationship. It has made me more confident to approach money conversations with my partner.” — Co-design participant

“Your ability to balance difficult topics with light-hearted humour is unique and so difficult to’ve made something really difficult look effortless” — You, Me & Money Launch attendee

Design Impact

“I think it uniquely encourages young people to reflect on their relationship with money, their money story, values and spending behaviors. It enables money conversations for young people in relationships.” — Co-design participant

We want to continue to help young adults navigate the world of finance healthily. We remain committed to updating You, Me & Money to make it a viable resource as the times change; and Today will be maintaining the website ongoing.

Guardianship of You, Me & Money has been passed from RMIT over to YLab. Like a share house in Melbourne’s inner north, YLab is full of young people committed to and passionate about the challenges and opportunities that young people face.

But like all good, empty-nested parents, RMIT will be there when needed.

As such, YLab will take the lead throughout 2021 in ongoing content editing, creation, and promotion of You, Me & Money.

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