A savings tool for volatile income

What is Lancelot?

A digital wealth management tool to help anyone with volatile, unpredictable income consistently and safely save money.

The Problem

Due to the volatile nature of freelance/gig economy jobs, traditional ways of saving for retirement aren't an option for most. They needed a tool that adjusts for the volatility in their income.

Through our research, we found many different savings tools, some we used ourselves, but none of them targeted the unique needs of those with unstable income. This presents an opportunity as the number of freelancers is expected to reach 43% of the workforce by 2020.

A Betterment study found 59% of the gig economy uses an app for finding work, yet less than 20% use one for saving money for the future. It also found that while 87% of freelancers try to save, 70% have less than $5000 in savings.

What I did

User Interviews

Interview Script/Test Plan Writing



User Recruitment

Test Moderation

Project Timeline

 January 2019

4 Weeks

The Solution

Lancelot revolves around the concept of three saving zones. Users can set the amount saved based on the size of the deposit.

Once users have adjusted to saving, the app encourages them to start putting money into a retirement account. 

How we got there

We ran three one-week sprints back in January 2019. During each sprint, we iterated on our concept and then tested with users.

I lead the research portion of each sprint, developing our initial research questions, interview, and test scripts. There were a few questions we wanted our research to answer.

  • Does the idea of customizable savings ranges appeal to those with volatile income?

  • Do people with volatile income feel they can save for retirement?

It didn't take long to get some validation on our initial hypothesis. We ran three rounds of testing, an interview + A/B Test, and two rounds of concept testing. We tested five people during our first sprint, a mix of freelancers and gig workers.


"My income is really seasonal – I haven't had any since September."

"I drive for Lyft to even things out when I don't get contracts."

Savings Anxiety

I don't feel secure enough to save beyond my emergency fund."

"I'm concerned about [savings] long term, but I don't feel like I have enough money to save."

Savings Anxiety

I don't feel secure enough to save beyond my emergency fund."

"I'm concerned about [savings] long term, but I don't feel like I have enough money to save."


"Retirement is just sort of beyond the horizon for me.

"I've had so little income, [retirement] doesn't feel like something I should look into."

It was clear we were on to something;

  • People with volatile income have trouble saving.
  • Putting money away for savings is hard and causes anxiety, which leads to them not saving.
  • Retirement isn't even an option according to the people we talked to; they don't know how and feel they can't afford it.

Design and Iteration

Initial Design

The core functionality of Lancelot went through three iterations.

The first iteration of Lancelot had users save money once a month based on three saving zones. This idea was validated, but our per month model didn't sit well with users.

"I'd want it to react by deposit. It would see the income transaction and then take out a percentage depending on how much it is. Like setting it aside before you even see it. But this feels like another bill on top of everything, which doesn't feel good."

We heard this idea from more than one user and decided to pivot from a per month savings model to per deposit. This way, the app would act more like a 401k for full-time employees who never see the money being taken out of their account.

Setup – Step 1
Setup – Step 2A
The Pivot

For the second week of testing, we switched to a per deposit model that saved money from each deposit based on the saving zones.

This wasn't perfect as users were confused by how we visualized their data.

Users immediately assumed that dot size indicated deposit amount, but in this version, dot size meant deposit frequency.

Final Design

For the final round of testing, we cleaned up the issues with the graph by steering into what each of testers had expected. Dot size meant deposit amount and cleared up the length of time the graph displayed.

The response to the latest iteration of Lancelot was overwhelmingly positive.

"This is 100% the right way to get people who don't feel like they can save to actually dip their toes into savings accounts... in a way that's at their own pace and makes them feel like they're accomplishing things."

"It's not something that people in my position think about, because part of the freelance game is that you have to scramble to pay attention to all
your money stuff - this is just such a great idea."