Think money is boring? So do the creators of Charlie.
By combining Facebook Messenger, secure data encryption, and a cute little penguin mascot, Charlie created an ideal environment for new budgeters to learn more about personal finance.
My budgeting journey with Charlie
As a member of the Debt.com Review Team, I’ve signed up for, downloaded, and heavily researched so many budgeting tools that I’ve stopped keeping count. I expected Charlie would be similar to the rest. I was wrong.
Unlike other budgeting tools that you have to download to use, Charlie lives in Facebook Messenger. At first, this really bugged me. It’s hard to feel secure sharing any information on Facebook, a social network with no shortage of privacy violations.
The creators of Charlie understand this and realize that I’m not the only one who’s hesitant to connect financial accounts with Messenger. Their website emphasizes its security – 256-bit encryption – that keeps your data safe. Swayed by their security measures, I hopped on Messenger and started chatting with Charlie. Since everything goes through Facebook, I didn’t need to create any new usernames or passwords to start using the service. Here’s how Charlie introduced himself:
$80 per week is quite the figure, so I was eager to see how Charlie would work its magic. Next, I linked up my bank accounts through a secure login window on Messenger. Now that Charlie could see my finances, it asked what I needed help with. I made up a $5000 debt to see what Charlie would recommend.
After learning about my debt, Charlie asked me my interest rate and was very nice when I said I had no idea what it was. Do you hate paying interest? Apparently, Charlie does, too. The friendly penguin suggested a balance transfer card as the solution to my debt, calculated how much interest I would pay if I only paid $100 on the debt per month, and recommended a specific card.
Charlie has other functions besides budgeting, examining your debt and spending, and cracking some good jokes. This little penguin bot can also help you avoid extra charges, negotiate bills, save toward your goals, and warn you when you’re about to overspend.
How does Charlie work?
Charlie is based in artificial intelligence so he can understand your personal finance questions and come up with fitting and helpful responses. They also work with other companies, such as Billshark. Billshark allows Charlie to negotiate bills on your behalf, so you never even have to pick up the phone.
Similar to apps like Mint and Credit Karma, Charlie also uses affiliate links to make money. When Charlie recommends products or services to you, they may earn a commission when you click the link. This shouldn’t affect how they recommend things to you.
How much does Charlie cost?
One of the best parts about Charlie is that it’s completely free to use. No app, no cost, full security.
What other reviewers are saying
We aren’t the only ones who were interested in giving Charlie a try. Other sites also hung out with our little AI-penguin friend, and had mostly positive things to say. Reviews out of 5 stars were usually either a strong 4 or a whole 5. On their site, they follow some users through their own journeys.
Overall, reviewers love this finance-savvy penguin. They love the convenience of being able to ask money questions through Messenger and get immediate responses. The basic budgeting features help users keep their finances in line, and Charlie can even identify fees you can cut down on and find you deals on rates.
There were only a couple cons mentioned by reviewers. One of these aspects was the fact that you can’t open multiple Charlie accounts. Since it’s connected to Messenger, you could only have another Charlie account if you got another Facebook account. Additionally, if Charlie finds an issue with your bank, you have to address it directly with the bank and can’t do it through the application.
The Bottom Line
This is the best app I’ve used for beginning budgeters. If you don’t know much about money or personal finance, Charlie can teach you. The AI system guides you through with prompted questions and answers, showing you exactly where to go to get where you want to be.
For experienced budgeters wanting an in-depth review of their finances or a tool with many assets, this may not be the best choice. It’s too simplistic for those who want anything more than a little bit of guidance and a solid view of the big picture of their finances. To those people, I recommend something like Tiller Money.
That being said, I still see Charlie as one of the better budgeting systems out there. Not only does he help you with your money, but he’s also teaching you valuable personal finance concepts that will help you for years to come.
Charlie is also simply adorable, and I would let him sort me into a Hogwarts House based on my spending habits any day.
To get started with Charlie, visit their website or send him a message on Facebook Messenger.