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Smart Wallet: Would you use one?

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By Gray Hall - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – If you find yourself constantly over spending, researchers are working to help you. There's a new technology called the "Smart Wallet."

It looks normal, but the wallet is smart -- literally. It's called the Smart Wallet. It's a prototype created by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The goal is to help consumers control spending. But will it work?

We posed that question to Dr. Tom Arnold, Associate Professor of Fiance for the University of Richmond.

"Will it solve all of the spending problems most people have? I don't think it will do that," he said. There are three prototypes -- each would be linked to your bank account.

The Bumblebee buzzes whenever a transaction is made at the bank. The Mother Bear will resist opening when you're at risk of exceeding your budget. The Peacock grows and shrinks, depending on how much cash you have in the account.  Arnold says, "I think the one that many parents will be handing their teenagers is the one that doesn't open."

We hit the streets to get reaction form consumers about spending and the idea of using a Smart Wallet.

"I probably would not and the reason is I very seldom have extra money in my wallet and I use my debit card for just about everything," said Betty Cwiklinski.

"If you give this to my husband he will give it to me for Christmas. I definitely need one of those," said Ida Farinholt. 

"If I had one of these I would never be able to open it. I think it is a great idea," said Nancy Thompson.

Some savvy consumers don't need any intervention. Jaime Pelissier has a strict budget. He says, "I am old enough to understand that I have made mistakes before and I don't want to make them again."

If the idea of a wallet is just too outdated -- well, there is App for that -- if you have a Smart Phone there are a number of ways you can control spending.

Dr. Arnold says, "What's going to be curious about the Smart phone is that as they kind of become a more integral part of everything you have, you better not lose it."

Saving is a constant battle, regardless of how it's done -- experts say a budget is the best way to take control. Dr. Arnold says, "When it all comes right down to it, it is your own self restraint that is going to matter. Apps, Smart wallets, regardless, it comes down to you."

It maybe a while before you can get your hands on one of these Smart Wallets -- researchers are working out the kinks. M-I-T is also working to make the Smart Wallet more user friendly. Instead of the bulky hardware, all three designs would be available in one item, the size of a credit card, that you could insert in your wallet.

To learn more visit MIT's website.

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