Charlie Review: Your Pocket-Friendly Financial Advisor (2019)
A study into nationwide spending and saving habits has shown that a whopping 47% of Americans do not have enough money saved to cover a $400 emergency.
It sounds shocking, but the fact is, between rent, bills, groceries, and other expenses, there isn’t much left over to save. But with an empty 401K looming closer with every passing year, it’s never too late to try and start saving for retirement… again.
While you may actively avoid big purchases, it’s the little things that really add up at the end of the month, like your daily coffee, weekly takeouts, laundry expenses etc.
It is hard to keep track of these expenses on a daily basis with all the other stuff on your mind. If only you had an assistant to help you manage your finances.
That’s where Charlie comes in! In our Charlie review, we’ll look at how this adorable AI penguin helps track and analyze your finances so you can manage your accounts more efficiently.
How does Charlie help?
We often spend money on unnecessary things (like that coffee you love and buy every morning from that super fancy place down the street), dismissing the expense as petty change.
You might catch yourself saying, “It’s only $5.” But those $5 purchases add up to around $150 each month.
We spend money every day without thinking about it. Charlie helps you identify where you might be overspending by analyzing your bank accounts and daily expenses. With the proper guidance and tracking, there may be more money left over as the month rolls to an end.
All you need to do is connect Charlie to your bank accounts and you’re good to go. Set a certain task or goal for Charlie and he’ll help you achieve it (provided you follow his advice).
Who....I mean...What is Charlie?
Charlie is a complex AI chat-bot built using complex mathematical algorithms and machine-learning technology, allowing this cute penguin to interact with the user and give surprisingly beneficial financial advice.
Founded in 2016 by Ilian Georgiev, Ivo Parashkevov, and Rob Luedeman, Charlie was built upon the idea that people don’t like to manage their finances, but they need to.
The trio came up with a solution to this dilemma by creating an online personal assistant that helps users manage and control their finances.
As of 2019, Charlie is available as a chat-bot on Facebook Messenger.
Getting Started with Charlie
When you go to Charlie’s website, it prompts you with two options, Facebook Messenger or your phone number.
After choosing one or the other, you will be taken to a chat where Charlie will initiate a conversation with you. You will be prompted you to connect your bank account to Charlie in order to officially get started.
Talk to Charlie on Facebook Messenger
If you opt for Facebook Messenger, you will be redirected to the messenger app.
Charlie will greet you and introduce itself. You can find template questions for most of the queries you may have.
After you start chatting with Charlie, you will be provided with a link to a pop-up window where you can choose your bank and connect it to Charlie.
Go through the appropriate procedure and give Charlie the permissions it needs.
Once you have officially connected your accounts to Charlie, it will start analyzing everything, from your monthly statements to your spending patterns.
Once the assessment is complete, Charlie offers some well-rounded advice on your financial practices.
Setting goals, tasks, and reminders with Charlie
At this point, you can ask Charlie to set goals, tasks or reminders to manage your finances better. Keep in mind that Charlie is only an advisory penguin.
He doesn’t have any authoritative control over your activities so you’ll have to do everything by yourself.
You will find the options for checking your balance, activities, accounts etc at the bottom. The additional features provided are also listed here.
Say Hi Charlie Using SMS
If you opt to give your phone number, Charlie will initiate a conversation with you via text.
Your messages will be subject to standard SMS charges as you will be using your carrier’s SMS service.
The SMS option isn’t as convenient as Facebook Messenger, but it’ll work when you’re not connected to the internet. You may not be online all the time, but Charlie sure is! In a wifi pinch, you can ask Charlie to access your account information.
- Overlay of all your Accounts: Charlie summarizes the details of all your account balances and creates detailed infographics based on your spending patterns and expenses.
- Constant Advice: Charlie provides constant advice, drawing from your buying and spending behavior. It identifies patterns and develops solutions based on them. The information is then delivered to the user as financial advice.
- Tracking and Reminders: Charlie keeps track of all your accounts and activities. If you have set a certain financial goal, it’ll keep working on it till you say otherwise. Charlie will constantly remind you of your goals and tasks, in case you forget. For example, if you tell Charlie to remind you not to spend 5 dollars on Coffee at 9 AM in the morning, it’ll give you that reminder every single morning until you tell it to stop.
Signing up for Charlie
Signing up for Charlie is very simple:
Who is Charlie for?
Charlie is perfect for anyone looking to manage their finances.
When faced with the responsibilities of day-to-day life, people get so busy sometimes that they forget to pay bills, and file their taxes. Charlie is here to help!
By keeping track of small expenses that cause financial problems and hurdles in the long run, Charlie helps you reduce these redundancies and better organize, and manage your finances.
Is Charlie legit?
It’s totally understandable that you would be skeptical about an online, money-savvy chat-bot that has access to your bank accounts and statements.
Here’s the deal though, Charlie doesn’t have the ability to control your money - he just analyzes it, and shows you how you could be saving more.
This is probably why most reviews for Charlie are positive.
Most users are pretty satisfied with their experience because Charlie boasts an incredibly streamlined process, from start to finish.
Much of Charlie’s advice is only based on your current spending behavior and accounts, so there isn’t much that can go wrong there.
The only relatively bad reviews are mostly about how the app could be better.
The people at Charlie Co. might actually benefit from paying attention to the negative reviews. These are usually left by users who are familiar with budgeting apps and are looking to try new ones – they are in a better position to compare how Charlie rates against the other apps out there.
While the team at Charlie has tried to address most queries in their FAQ section, there are a few things they haven’t really been clear on, such as:
- Charlie is 100% free for everyone. However, there are charges for premium services and add-ons. After all, they are not a charity and need to make money somehow.
- Charlie does not use your information for anything other than analysis. However, users are encouraged to pay attention to the terms and conditions as they are subject to change at any time. If you feel your information might be in jeopardy, opt out of the service immediately.
- You can’t sue, or file a lawsuit against Charlie. Not that you will need to, but because they make you agree to a binding arbitration clause.
- At times, Charlie gives users outbound links to third-party sites. Make sure you’re comfortable with this. These links are perfectly safe, so you don’t have to worry about malware.
- Dig deep enough into their process and you’ll find that contrary to what they claim, Charlie does share your data with third-party sites. These sites help Charlie conduct the financial analyses required to give financial advice. While current users can’t call Charlie out on that because they’ve agreed to the Terms & Conditions, new users should be wary of this
- Lastly, in the event that Charlie’s parent company goes through a merger, or is acquired by another business, your data is at risk. All user information will be subject to new company rules, but users will still be held liable for the original terms.
Advantages of Charlie
- Easy to Use: There’s no complicated process involved and there’s no app to take up any storage space on your phone.
- Instant Replies: Charlie will always give you instantaneous replies because the AI develops results in real-time.
- User-friendly: Charlie is programmed to sound like a friend rather than a professional. The developers have also worked hard to ensure that Charlie’s responses sound natural and lifelike. They recognized that users are more trusting if they feel like they’re having a conversation, rather than being told what to do. This is also why Charlie is an adorable little penguin – He’s too cute to say no to!
- No Control: Charlie has no actual control over your finances, it can only advise you to control them.
Disadvantages of Charlie
Our review of Charlie wouldn't be complete without pointing out a few of it's downsides.
- Redundant: At times, Charlie might advise you to save money in places you just can’t. Like making monthly payments to a charity; Charlie wouldn’t understand the significance of your actions and is likely to constantly advise you to stop spending money there.
- Limited Conversational Abilities: While Charlie will understand most of what you ask from it, it won’t understand spelling mistakes or improper nomenclature. It may not understand certain sentences or words so you have to make sure you chat with Charlie in complete sentences.
- SMS Charges: Opting to chat with Charlie via SMS will impact your monthly phone bill, as your texts will be subject to the SMS charges imposed by your phone’s service provider.
Wrapping up our Charlie review
Totally! Our Charlie review found the little penguin to be a pretty great virtual friend. He’s cute and helps you organize your finances so you don’t have to stress over them.
Most budgeting apps require explicit access to your accounts which can be quite risky in some scenarios. Charlie requests read-only access to your accounts so you know that your money is absolutely safe!
Charlie offers a safe, reliable, and efficient solution to your real-time financial challenges – the personal, financial advisor you’ve been looking for – and you can fit him in your pocket! So give it a go – you just might end up saving enough for that vacation you’ve been dreaming about the last three years!
Already friends with Charlie? Tell us all about it! Share your experiences in the comments below!