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Sen$e Mobile App Closed

A mobile application to help service members and their families learn to make smart financial decisions.

The Challenge

While service members and their families receive unique financial benefits as a result of their service, the systems and processes required to negotiate these benefits are complex and often difficult to use. In addition, many service members enter the military without prior education in personal finance, and access to tools geared toward military life to make financial decisions are not readily available.

The Solution

A mobile application that promotes financial literacy and readiness using micro-learning, gamification, and other motivational techniques to cultivate life-long learning.

About the Project

The Sen$e project developed the Financial Readiness Personal Assistant for Learning (FR-PAL) application that uses engaging “bite-sized,” personally relevant, multimedia content to support service member financial literacy and preparedness. The app leverages micro-learning concepts to deliver content tailored to individuals’ usage history and self-reported life events, and validated financial tools and resources to help service members make better financial decisions. To encourage continued use, Sen$e features motivational elements such as push notifications, gamification, and visual progress indicators.

The application was developed in three phases using human-centered design principles and Agile software development processes. This iterative approach allowed for significant front-end analyses, engagement with end-users, derivation of user needs into requirements, and testing throughout each phase of the project to ensure a holistic and user-friendly system.

The goal of Phase I was to develop functional mockups of key aspects of the application’s functionality, including back-end data management, data flows, user interactions, and feedback elements. The needs of end users (service members, their families, and administrators) drove software design aspects that centered on the content ontology, content format, financial planning tools, and data flows. Content developed during this phase focused on crucial financial topics faced by service members, such as budgeting, retirement, transition, education, and scam-avoidance. Data garnered through this effort provided enhanced design recommendations.

In Phase II, wireframes and mockups were developed into an alpha version of Sen$e. The application was developed for use across Android and iOS platforms. Sample training content was developed within the content ontology for testing, and information assurance documentation was developed for release of the Phase II beta prototype along with the sample content. Phase II culminated in the development of a functioning prototype system that produced initial positive usability results, which were incorporated into the final design of Phase III.

Phase III included development of the final beta version of Sen$e, populated with training content, measures for data collection, and financial planning tools and calculators. A sustainment plan, usage guide, and developer and system administration documentation were also developed.

Sen$e is now available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store as a free Department of Defense app for iPad, iPhone, and Android. It is the only official DoD personal finance tool focused on the unique demands of military life.


Developing a Financial Readiness Mobile Personal Assistant for Learning
Hannigan, F.; Murphy, J.; Daly, T.; Udell, C.; Pfieffer, D.; Schatz, S., Ph.D.; Birtwhistle, M.
2017, IITSEC

Project Details

Period of Performance



Quantum Improvements Consulting, Inc.

DoD Collaborator / Stakeholder

DoD Office of Financial Readiness (FINRED)