The world is warming up to the idea that personal finance isn’t a closed book. In fact, today’s society is embracing an open, communicative approach to money. And this new approach is helping folks save money, climb out of debt, and make smarter, more educated financial decisions.
Charlie is one of these personal finance management apps that is taking the world by storm. With a cute and friendly cartoon penguin as your guide, Charlie will educate you about the importance of savings.
More than that, Charlie will show you some of the biggest areas in which you could be saving, smart ways to save without cramping your lifestyle, and give you the tools to cut your bills down to size.
Don’t let the adorable facade fool you; Charlie means business.
What is a personal finance management app?
One of the biggest tools at our disposal today is the wellspring of personal finance management apps. With a few taps of a keyboard or a swipe or two on your phone, you can get better rates on things like car insurance, cable premiums, and even checking accounts.
Personal finance management tools cover the spectrum from major decisions about wealth management, investments, and assets to seemingly-minor details of your finances like where you park your car when you go out for drinks.
By raising awareness about how much we spend, on what we’re spending, and why or when we spend the most, these apps are helping people save significantly, change dangerous and wasteful spending habits, and discover new ways to keep more of their hard-earned cash for themselves.
How does Charlie work?
Charlie is a really simple concept: text message your way to financial independence. Sound too good to be true? Maybe, but with a system like Charlie, people are definitely a whole lot closer to financial freedom than ever before. Here’s how it works:
- Log onto HiCharlie.com.
- You can connect to Charlie via Instant Messenger (via your Facebook account) or with your cell phone number, whichever is more convenient. Remember, you are going to be texting back and forth with Charlie, so choose the option that is most convenient for texting purposes.
- Next, Charlie will introduce himself (or herself) through a string of salutary SMS messages.
- After that, Charlie will ask permission to access your bank or credit account statements. I was actually skeptical about this inquiry and cover my hesitations in the security section below.
- Once onboard, Charlie will go through your finances with a fine-toothed comb, pick out the areas where you are paying too much, and advise you on how you can save. For example, Charlie will look at how much you’re paying for your Comcast bill, compare that to the average monthly premiums being paid in your area, and inform you if your bill is too high. From there, the software will even help you renegotiate your Comcast plan, so you end up paying less each month.
So, you end up saving automatically without having to give up a thing. That’s the beauty of this type of program and my kind of finance management.
How much does Charlie cost?
So far, you’ve heard a lot about how Charlie works and what it could do for you.
I’ll ask you a pretty forward question: how much would you pay to have someone guide you towards smarter spending, faster savings, and instant reserves?
Probably a lot. Which is why I was shocked when I saw how much Charlie charges. Are you ready for this? Charlie charges a whopping $0 for these tremendous services. That’s right; you get all the bill-cutting, savvy savings, and automated dollar accumulations for free.
Features of Charlie
Charlie is an impressive app, especially when you consider the price. What makes this service really stand out is the robust set of features that are packed into this tiny package. In addition to having a clean and intuitive user interface, Charlie offers great features, including:
In case you were worried about the safety aspect of letting a digital penguin access your bank account (because I know I was), here’s a little reassurance. Even after you give permission for Charlie to access your accounts, the program can only read specific data entries like monthly statements. It cannot change anything, make any transactions, or even access non-permitted areas of your accounts. What’s more, Charlie uses 256-bit end-to-end data encryption, completely anonymized databases, and the highest levels of access permissions. It also has some impressive investors backing the program.
Charlie also stays on top of your accounts to help you save money. How? By monitoring your accounts, Charlie lets you know when your balance is running low, when payment due dates are approaching, and more. This way, you avoid late fees or having to pay overdraft fees because you went under on your checking account. It’s the little things like this feature that make Charlie so successful at helping users save money in real-time.
It may surprise you to learn how much those daily lattes add up to at the end of the month. Another convenient (or at least eye-opening) tool that Charlie uses is the spend tracker. You can tell the program to track a specific type of spending, calculate your monthly spending, and even set limits on that particular item or activity. You’ll get a notification if you are nearing your spend limit, so you can decide if you want to make that purchase or not. For example, if you have Charlie set a spend limit on your Uber rides, you can decide to walk the extra three blocks when you are nearing your limit. This is a really valuable tool that helps people keep mindless spending in check.
If you’re looking to save up for something with a specific price tag (think new appliance, destination vacation, or big purchase), Charlie can help you save up for the prize. Using the savings calculator, you can see exactly how much you’ll need to save each week to reach your goal, set a goal date, and program reminders to help keep you on target.
Charlie is a fabulous tool, but it’s not the only one out there of its ilk. There are other personal finance apps that you can use including Clarity, which I found to be much less efficient and more haphazard, Albert, which I found pretty intuitive, and Digit, which you have to pay for. And then there’s TipYourself, which is nice because there’s no syncing of accounts, but it’s not automated. So, you just have to pick your preferences.
My experience using Charlie
To give you the full user experience, I signed up for Charlie to see how things really worked from the inside out. I have to say that this was hands down the easiest personal finance tool I’ve ever tried using. I outlined the signup process above, and it really was as simple as that.
From there, using the tool was simpler than simple. If you can send a text message, you can use Charlie.
There’s a neat dashboard that you can use to access all kinds of information about your accounts, graphs to chart your monthly spending, comparisons to show you how and where you can save, credit and debit card transactions and totals, and a lot more. It was convenient having all of my transactions in a single place. This way, I was able to see a full picture of my finances and what I was spending.
I also liked the various reminders that Charlie lets you set up. You can get reminders about when it’s time to pay bills (an important one if you don’t have autopay set up) when you’re reaching your spend limit and even notifications when deals come up for services you’re already using.
Pros and cons
- Free tool that also has excellent trust ratings — Charlie has solid reviews online and a great Trustpilot rating.
- No downloads needed, instant access — It’s a free-standing tool, so no download necessary.
- Tons of helpful money-saving features and tools — Charlie shows you where, how, and what to save.
- State-of-the-art security and privacy features — Charlie won’t access private areas of your accounts or make changes and only uses strong encryption.
- Only available in the US — International users are not currently supported.
- Only one account per user — You can’t sign up for multiple users under one account.
As a free personal finance management tool, Charlie beats out the competition on value for money hands down. The tool is easy to use, fast and totally makes saving money effortless.
Add to that valuable, smart, and convenient finance tools, and Charlie quickly becomes your new best friend.
What’s more, Charlie has an Excellent 5-star rating on Trustpilot with tons of positive reviews from real users to back up the claim. The fact that everything is automated just makes this adorable penguin all the more loveable.
Getting your personal finances in order should be a top priority for everyone, and with the help of a friendly penguin named Charlie, now anyone can do it with ease.