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Banking Meets AI: The Tech Tools Changing How We Save and Invest

Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere these days, and personal finance is no exception. In this month’s issue we’ll dive into the next generation of personal finance apps, the new tools available to savers and investors, and how to deploy them in your daily lives to optimize your financial wellbeing.

Sparklers and Champagne Glasses

We’ve featured automation and digitization of personal finance and lifestyle several times in these pages, including in the following issues:

  • April 2022, Smartphone Apps
  • December 2021, Online Shopping/Apps
  • October 2020, Digital Banking

In each of those sectors, evolving technology has continued to bring amazing innovations—in the form of financial apps and software.

And now, we are experiencing a light-year’s worth of technological developments created by the rapidly growing field of artificial intelligence (AI).

Here are just a few of the applications that are being enhanced by AI, courtesy of

Smart Budgeting and Expense Tracking. Instead of just tracking your expenses and income, AI offers the ability to comprehensively view your entire financial picture, review and evaluate your spending habits, categorize expenses and offer insights into exactly where your money is going.

Tools for Automated Saving and Investing. For many years, we’ve had opportunities and tools to automatically save and invest, especially with the advent of 401k plans. But investors have had few automatic resources to determine if the offered investments truly fit their investing needs. With AI, your personal data and preferences will be evaluated to help you determine things like your risk tolerance and how much you can really afford to set aside, as well as offering ideas to boost your investment gains. And at the same time, AI will analyze market movements and news to help you decide if the time is right to invest in the market and maybe in particular sectors.

Of course, as the Chief Analyst for an investment newsletter, I will reserve my judgment as I’ve yet to see Robo-Advisors that can adequately take the place of a good money manager and financial advisor. In my opinion, beginning investors may find such tools helpful. And while I believe that some of these tools—such as determining risk tolerance—would be valuable for all investors, I can imagine a hybrid model which includes specific AI tools, accompanied by customized personal advice from a trusted source.

Wealth Management. No doubt, AI will help investors look at their financial health on a macro level and should be able to offer customized recommendations on debt management, retirement planning, estate planning, and insurance coverage. By looking at the complete picture, consumers can use these tools to optimize their wealth, based on their personal needs and desires.

Improved Fraud Detection and Security. If AI can strengthen fraud detection, we will all benefit. Cybersecurity Ventures forecasts that global cybercrime costs will grow to $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, up from $3 trillion in 2015, a remarkable increase in just a decade.

Most of you have probably been a victim of some type of hacking—in your credit cards, bank accounts, or payment processors. I just recently had to replace my bank debit card due to unauthorized charges; I’ve had to order new credit cards more than once in the past few years; and last year, even my PayPal account was hacked.

So, yay AI! The mega computers sorting data will get much better at finding patterns of misbehavior by using biometric authentication, speech recognition, and behavior analysis.

Chatbots and Natural Language Processing. I know you’ve all had exposure to chatbots and virtual assistants on your bank, brokerage, credit card, and other financial platforms. For better or worse, they are here to stay. And as they become more entrenched in AI, they should see radical improvements in interpreting questions and matching them with the right answers.

Loan Approval and Credit Scoring Improvements. Loan approval is heavily dependent upon credit scores, which, to put it mildly, have never encompassed a person’s total financial picture. AI credit scoring algorithms are beginning to include utility payments, rent history, and even social media activity, in order to determine the trustworthiness and repayment ability of borrowers.

Emotional Well-Being and Behavioral Finance. AI experts say that AI will be used to analyze personal patterns and give feedback on how closely folks are meeting their financial goals. That means timely reminders to keep you on track in case you slack off.

Tax Preparation and Filing Features. No longer just data entry programs, the new AI-powered tax apps help taxpayers organize their documents, calculate deductions, and generate accurate tax returns. Hopefully, they can also help me find more deductions!

The Potential for Blockchain Integration in Finance Apps. In the ever-evolving crypto world, these applications are designed to strengthen security, streamline processes, and improve trust in financial interactions.

Digital Home Management from Purchase through Sale. Think of all the processes you go through during your home ownership period—house-hunting, buying, mortgaging, renovating, repairing, and eventually selling your home.

There are a zillion questions you will ask throughout these processes—of Realtors, lenders, insurance agents, home maintenance providers, home improvement retailers, contractors, utility companies, title companies, home inspectors, and others. Now imagine generative AI technology on a digital home management platform—a Q&A session that can provide most of your answers in a chatbot without human interaction.

While AI will certainly make huge inroads in this area, I think we still have a ways to go before this technology has the capabilities to totally replace humans in this arena.

Access for Underserved Populations. With more than eight billion people in the world, 1.5 billion of them do not have access to banks, according to the World Bank. With AI, these folks can gain access to certain banking and financial services, such as bill payments, lending and credit validation, which will aid them when they are ready to apply for a loan.

Even the AI pros don’t think that AI is going to be the be-all and end-all to managing personal finances. After all, we are human, and oftentimes, our decisions will need to be aided by human interaction—experts in the various fields that you will need—people who can help you assess your emotional requirements, motivations, financial goals, and preferences. But AI is certainly on track to revolutionize and improve the tools that we need for optimizing our financial health.

So, let’s talk about some of those.

There’s an App for That!

There are thousands of smartphone apps now available—free or for purchase. In the past, most were used for simply tracking income, expenses, and investments. With the advent of AI, those apps can now analyze your spending patterns, identify trends and offer personalized recommendations to make you more financially healthy. Additionally, they can forecast upcoming expenses and recommend ways for you to save money.

Personal finance apps have become more user-friendly and customizable. Here are a few of the free ones that you may find handy:

Financial Apps


This is a free budgeting app, in which users employ the “envelope method” (similar to the one that financial guru Dave Ramsey recommends), allocating their available dollars into expenses like groceries, rent, insurance, HOA, mortgage, and debt payoff. It’s a pretty simple app and even berates you for overspending by turning your envelope red!


This is a budgeting app and investment tool that helps you track your income, spending, and overall financial picture.

Debt Payoff Planner

This app offers you a way to gather all your creditors in one place and shows you how using two different debt payment methods—the snowball method, which pays off the smallest debt first while making minimum payments on the larger debts; or the avalanche technique, which prioritizes paying the debt with the highest interest rate first—will affect your long-term financial picture. Note: If you have been using MINT, this is a good substitute, as MINT is shutting down on March 23.

Mobile Banking. Check with your bank; almost all banks have mobile apps now. I use mine for personal transactions, as well as for my business, transferring money to my real estate agents, deposits, etc. There may still be some limitations, such as the amount of checks you can deposit through the app, but for simple transactions, I find it handy.

Online-Only Banks. If you don’t need a brick-and-mortar bank, you might want to consider an online bank. Fortune just ranked the 10 best online banks, analyzing annual percentage yield (APY), monthly service fees, overdraft fees, mobile application ratings, free ATM access, account offerings and services, and customer service options. Here are their findings:

The 10 Best Online Banks – per Fortune

Institution nameTop APY
Bank5 Connect0.027
Zynlo Bank0.05
Quontic Bank0.045
SoFi Checking & Savings0.046
American Express National Bank0.0435
Ally Bank0.0435
Laurel Road0.05
Capital One0.0435
Discover Bank0.0435

Investment Apps

Investment and wealth management apps have also come a long way with AI. You can not only track your progress, but you can now link all your investment accounts and keep an eye on your portfolio performance in real-time. You can also review past performance, and get alerts when a stock or your portfolio sees unusual activity or changes. For investors who don’t set hard stop-losses, the alerts feature can help keep you out of trouble, should your stock take a precipitous dip.

Here are a few popular investment apps:


Trade stocks, options ETFs; 0% commission.


Up to 3% matching funds available, interest on accounts.

Trade stocks, bonds, ETFs, Treasuries, collectibles, crypto.

There are hundreds of investment apps, and your brokerage company probably offers a free one, so I recommend that you start there.

Lifestyle Apps

This category is not really personal finance-related, but in my opinion, anything that helps me keep my life stress-free allows me to concentrate more on my finances! If you agree, see…

The Weather Channel. I travel weekly between offices in two different cities—1 ½ hours apart but significantly different climates, so this app—the world’s most-downloaded weather app, which includes current outside temperature, “feels like” temperature, precipitation, weather alerts and hourly forecast—is essential for me.

Google Calendar. I love the fact that when I say “yes” to an appointment or event, it shows up automatically on my calendar. The only issue I have with this calendar is because my offices are in two different time zones, my appointments sometimes get rearranged. However, I find if I turn my phone off and on when I get to my destination, the appointments are realigned in the right place!

Flipboard. I have not yet used this, but the site aggregates news updates from many sources. PCMag has this to say about the app: “There’s a reason Flipboard remains PCMag’s favorite multiplatform newsreader: It does a wonderful job of aggregating articles, video, and social media into an accessible, but feature-rich, personalized digital magazine.”

Todoist. Finally, a way to organize my to-do list! In this app, you can create three lists— “Inbox,” “Today” and “Next 7 Days.” The app then automatically organizes the tasks based on the due date. It also allows you to create projects with timelines.

Nike Training Club. I love to exercise, but I hate routine, so I’m constantly searching Hulu, Roku and the app store to find something different. This app has more than 500 professionally designed workouts lasting 45 minutes or less.

Libby. As a voracious reader and a person who absolutely hates waiting for anything, this app is amazing! It offers access to your local library (sign in with your card). You can browse through audiobooks, ebooks and digital magazines—which will make your line waiting a lot easier to bear!

Smiling Mind. This app provides meditation exercises, grouped for specific programs, such as sleep, kids, anxiety, and connectedness.

Of course, each of these categories—and some of the above-mentioned apps—also come with premium versions. But you can always try the free one first to see if it meets your needs.

Introducing AI chatbots

According to IBM, “A chatbot is a computer program that simulates human conversation with an end user. Not all chatbots are equipped with artificial intelligence (AI), but modern chatbots increasingly use conversational AI techniques such as natural language processing (NLP) to understand user questions and automate responses to them.”

However, the next generation of chatbots will include generative AI capabilities that will “offer even more enhanced functionality with their understanding of common language and complex queries, their ability to adapt to a user’s style of conversation and use of empathy when answering users’ questions.”

The AI chatbots will use a range of AI technologies, including machine learning (algorithms, features, and data sets), to natural language processing (NLP) and natural language understanding (NLU) that will more accurately read user questions and match them to specific purposes.

According to The CEO’s Guide to Generative AI study, from IBV, 85% of business executives believe that customers will be directly interacting with generative AI in just the next two years.

Already, as you can see in the graphic below, AI chatbots are being used in a variety of services.

Screenshot 2024-03-27 at 9.50.16 AM.png
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Source: Tidio

I have to say, my experience with the AI chatbots is mixed. I tried to cancel my PayPal account, which actually took me several tries (after plenty of frustration), and finally resulted in my having to speak with a real person (actually several people) to cancel the account.

I’ve had the same issues with my bank (which is a large regional bank) when I tried to get a record of all the ACH payments I had made in 2023. Again, I wasted a lot of time with the chatbot and finally had to talk with a real person, which could only happen by visiting my local office.

However, in my real estate business, I’ve used chatbots to write descriptions of properties I have listed for sale. They do a pretty darn good job! Of course, I had to edit it and personalize it, but overall, I was satisfied.

And I’m not alone. According to Tidio, 69% of consumers were satisfied with their last interaction with a chatbot. And as AI advances, we can (hopefully) expect that to improve.

Accounting Software: Cheaper These Days

Accounting software has not changed a lot since I last wrote about it, except it has gotten less expensive for users. PCMag lists the following companies as the best for personal accounting in 2024:

Quicken Simplifi

Starts at $3.99 per month.

Quicken Deluxe

Starts at $5.99 per month.


Starts at $4.99 per month; best for kids.


Best free personal finance app.

Rocket Money

Best for negotiating bills, canceling subscriptions; free, but premium plan available.


Billed as another alternative to MINT, Chronifi emphasizes long-term planning. For instance, if a couple who are both working decide to have a baby and one party plans to stay at home—the software provides scenarios for the long-term impact on their finances.

Or, if you want to start a business and leave your current career, the software helps you determine 1) if it’s possible; and 2) how long it may take to make your new business profitable.

Of course, the software is only as good as the data you input, so the more realistic you are, the better your results will be.

You Can Now Access Your Credit Score Anytime, Anywhere

I remember when tracking your credit score was a tedious process. You had to contact one or all of the three primary credit bureaus—Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax—and even pay for the reports! Later on, you could get one free credit report a year at

Those days are over. Today, many of your credit card companies automatically inform you of changes in your credit score in your monthly credit card bill. But if you are deliberately trying to increase your score, you may want to check in more frequently. Fortunately, the following apps will help you do just that—at no cost.

CreditWise from Capital One

You do not have to be a Capital One credit card holder to use this app.

MyCredit Guide from American Express

You also do not be an AmEx card holder to use this.

Free Credit Monitoring from Experian

FICO Free from myFICO

Confused about the Best Credit and Travel Cards for Rewards?

My best friend has a nephew who somehow manages to travel all over the world—for free! She says he spends hours researching the best rewards cards, putting all his charges on those cards (and insisting his family does the same), and it has paid off—big time—for him. He is always going somewhere exotic, and yes, I am jealous!

However, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend a lot of time figuring out which card has the best rewards. Fortunately, there’s an app (or several) for that!


CNBC says, “AwardWallet offers users the ability to integrate rewards loyalty programs from around 670 partners, from big players like Chase (Ultimate Rewards) to store-specific ones like Sephora (Beauty Insider) and travel partners like American Airlines (AAdvantage).” There are both free and paid versions of the app.


CNBC reports, “MaxRewards is exclusively integrated with banks and credit card issuers. They support top credit card issuers and banks like Capital One, Chase, Wells Fargo and Discover so if you’re using a credit card from a major bank, you’ll be able to use this app. However, with MaxRewards you won’t be able to track any hotel or airline loyalty programs.”


U.S. News says, “Before you make a purchase, you can check Uthrive to decide which credit card to use. Uthrive is free and does not have a premium subscription option for consumers.”

Need Money for an Uninsured Dental or Health Procedure? Read on…

Synchrony estimates hat people are paying $400 billion out of pocket for health care expenses every year! Consequently, health care providers who want to stay on top of the industry are offering point-of-sale consumer financing to their patients for dental procedures, cosmetic and other elective surgeries, hearing aids, veterinary care, and other out-of-pocket expenses that a normal budget doesn’t cover.

I couldn’t find any recent rankings for these types of companies, but here are a few businesses that provide these services:

Health Credit Services through Ally Bank



Check with your healthcare provider to see which companies they may be aligned with if you schedule an uninsured procedure.

When a Bank Loan or Credit Card Won’t Work for You, Try This

I’ve seen folks successfully raise money on crowdfunding sites for medical problems, personal needs, to start a business or to fund charities. But there seem to be a lot of questionable fundraising activities on some of these sites and problems that arise when funds are supposed to be repaid.

A more professional way to raise funds may be through peer-to-peer (P2P) lending, which involves skipping the bank middleman and borrowing directly from other individuals. recently declared the best overall peer-to-peer lender to be Prosper, which offers loans of $2,000-$50,000 to borrowers with credit scores of 600 or higher at rates ranging from 8.99%-35.99%.

Secondly, Investopedia ranked Funding Circle as the best for small businesses. The site offers loans of $25,000-$500,000 to borrowers with credit scores of 620 or higher at rates ranging from 7.49%-28.99%.

There are many more peer-to-peer lenders out there, so make sure you shop around.

Evaluating Which Apps, Software, and Websites Work for You

In addition to the products I’ve mentioned in this article, there are thousands of similar products available to you—both free and paid.

And as with any financial decision, it’s important to evaluate each one to determine if they fit into your personal goals, strategies, and needs. Here are a few parameters to consider:

Determine your Personal Financial Requirements and Goals. Do you need fancy or simple tools? Why not start with a free version and see if that works for you? You can always upgrade later.

Make Sure Your Data Is Safe. Since you are inputting sensitive financial data into many of these apps and sites, you’ll want your providers to include robust data encryption and authentication measures such as biometric authentication like fingerprint or facial recognition.

They Should Be Easy to Use. Your product should be well-organized, allow personal customization, and offer charts and graphs for your visual review and analysis.

Make Sure Your App or Site Is Compatible with Your Other Financial Tools, Banks, and Brokerage Firms. If you can synchronize your data, that will save you a lot of time that you would otherwise spend on data entry.

Desktop or Mobile? The younger generations are attached to their mobile devices and use them for almost every transaction. But many of us still rely on our laptops or desktops for most of our transactions. I think apps and software that work on both offer a more convenient way to take care of financial business.

Does Your Product of Choice Offer Reporting Capability? One of the reasons I love QuickBooks is that I can compile a number of reports that I can send directly to my accountant. If your products of choice do the same, it will make your life a lot easier.

Read Reviews and Rankings. I’ve offered a few lists and rankings here, but please do your own research to make sure the product is right for you.

The personal financial sphere is changing rapidly with the advent of artificial intelligence, and most of these tools are designed to make our lives easier and enhance our overall financial health. So, I say, if they give us more time to enjoy life and get financially ahead, let’s go for it!