Can I use AI to plan my finances?

Artificial intelligence robot touching futuristic data screen

Since OpenAI released the current version of ChatGPT to the public, people have been prompting it to generate all sorts of content – I asked ChatGPT to plan my Europe trip

But can you use AI for finance and budgeting?

Let’s put ChatGPT to the test and find out if its answers are factual, useful, and practical.

Hey ChatGPT, can you help me with my money questions?

ChatGPT: Of course! I'll do my best to help you with any questions you have about money. What specifically would you like to know?

How can I create a budget?

ChatGPT: Creating a budget involves setting financial goals, tracking income and expenses, and making adjustments as needed. 

Start by listing all sources of income and monthly expenses. Categorise expenses into needs (such as rent and utilities) and wants (such as entertainment and dining out). Determine a realistic amount to spend on each category and track your spending. 

Use tools like spreadsheets or budgeting apps to help you stay organised. Reevaluate your budget regularly and make adjustments as necessary to meet your financial goals.


What strategies can I use to save for retirement in Australia?

ChatGPT: There are several strategies you can use to save for retirement in Australia. 

One common approach is to make contributions to your superannuation (super) account, which is a tax-effective way to save for retirement. You can make contributions through your employer or on your own, and there are caps on the amount you can contribute each year. 

Another strategy is to take advantage of government incentives, such as the co-contribution scheme and the low-income super tax offset

Finally, consider seeking professional advice from a financial planner to help you create a personalised retirement plan that aligns with your goals and financial situation.


Should I pay off debt or invest my money?

ChatGPT: The answer to whether you should pay off debt or invest your money depends on several factors, including the type and amount of debt you have, the interest rate on the debt, and your overall financial goals.

In general, if you have high-interest debt, such as credit card debt, it's usually a good idea to focus on paying that off first as the interest charges can quickly accumulate and negate any investment gains.

On the other hand, if you have low-interest debt, such as a home loan, it may make more sense to invest your money, especially if the potential return on your investments is higher than the interest rate on your debt.

Ultimately, it's important to create a balanced financial plan that takes into account both debt repayment and investment goals. A financial advisor can help you create a plan that works for your unique situation.


How can I invest in the Australian stock market?

ChatGPT: To invest in the Australian stock market, you can open a brokerage account with a licensed stockbroker or online trading platform

Once you've opened an account, you can transfer funds to it and start investing in shares listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). 

You can also consider investing in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or managed funds that provide exposure to a diversified portfolio of Australian stocks. 

It's important to do your research, understand the risks involved, and consider seeking professional financial advice before making any investment decisions.


How can I minimise my taxes in Australia?

ChatGPT: There are several ways to minimise taxes in Australia, such as contributing to a superannuation account, claiming deductions for work-related expenses, and taking advantage of tax offsets and concessions. 

Consider seeking advice from a tax professional to help you identify tax planning strategies that suit your financial goals and circumstances. 

You can also stay up-to-date with tax laws and regulations to ensure you're taking advantage of any changes or new opportunities for tax minimisation. It's important to always comply with tax laws and regulations and avoid any illegal tax avoidance schemes.


How much money should I have in an emergency fund?

ChatGPT: The amount of money you should have in an emergency fund depends on your personal circumstances and financial situation. As a general rule of thumb, it's recommended to have at least three to six months' worth of living expenses saved in an emergency fund.

However, if you have dependents or an unstable income, you may want to consider saving more. Additionally, if you have a high level of debt or job insecurity, you may also want to aim for a larger emergency fund.

It's important to regularly evaluate your financial situation and adjust your emergency fund accordingly. This can help you feel more secure and prepared for unexpected expenses or a loss of income.


Note: It’s not always possible for everyone to save 3 to 6 months’ worth of living expenses, so this answer gets a low score for practicality. That being said, it’s still worth aiming for if you can afford it.

What government support can I use to buy my first home in Australia?

ChatGPT: The Australian government offers several support programs to help first-time homebuyers. 

The First Home Loan Deposit Scheme (FHLDS) allows eligible buyers to purchase a home with a deposit as low as 5%, without paying lenders mortgage insurance (LMI). 

The First Home Super Saver Scheme (FHSSS) allows you to save for a home deposit in your superannuation account, taking advantage of the tax benefits. 

The HomeBuilder grant provides a $15,000 grant for eligible applicants who build a new home or substantially renovate an existing one.

Additionally, some states and territories offer their own first-home buyer incentives, such as stamp duty exemptions or reductions.


Note: Applications for the HomeBuilder grant actually closed in April 2021. ChatGPT has been trained on information that is a little out of date. So, it’s important to always double-check if what it says is still relevant.

Results: Can ChatGPT help plan your finances?

Overall, using ChatGPT prompts for finance seems pretty capable of providing (very) general tips to help plan your money. It can even provide you with information relevant to Australia, despite being made in the US. 

The only cases where factuality was a problem were when it came down to having outdated information. So, it’s quite trustworthy. All of the tips from ChatGPT were useful and most were practical, simple steps you can take to plan your finances. 

I asked ChatGPT to write short answers because a lot of the original ones it generated were far too long for this article. However, they did go into a lot more depth.

There’s definitely a place for finance AI in your toolkit, but at this point in time, ChatGPT doesn’t appear to be a viable replacement for financial advisors or a Google search session – at least not the versions of artificial intelligence we commoners have access to.

How to use AI prompts to help you budget

If you’re looking to use artificial intelligence to plan a budget, you can request that ChatGPT helps work out the difference between your expenses and income, and how much you might be able to save. 

However, by the time you’ve typed in all the numbers, you’re already halfway to creating your budget and having an AI chatbot do the maths for you is sort of pointless. 

Should I be concerned about privacy when using AI for budgeting?

Unless you could upload your bank statements (despite the obvious privacy risk) for it to analyse, I’d say ChatGPT is better at giving you tips for budgeting, as opposed to creating one. 

But before you leap blindly into airing your personal information on the internet, make sure you read into the service’s privacy statement and the way it collects info about you.

How AI can help improve your financial planning

Where AI can help is its ability to condense a wide range of information into digestible tidbits that serve as the starting point for your own research. 

For example, when I asked ChatGPT what government support was available to first-home buyers in Australia, it rattled off a few of the federal schemes and mentioned that there were state-based ones too. 

So, in effect, ChatGPT is more like a conversational search engine, useful for finding information quickly. 

Have a question about credit card repayments or insurance? ChatGPT can point you in the right direction. Want to know which credit card or insurance policy is better? ChatGPT won’t be able to tell you, but it will give you things to consider when doing your own research.

What is ChatGPT and how does it work?

ChatGPT is an AI language model created and trained by the folks at OpenAI. It has been designed to respond to users’ prompts in a conversational tone as if you were chatting to someone online.

Users can input a ChatGPT prompt for virtually anything and get a detailed response (as long as it doesn’t violate its content policy). 

While watching it casually produce 1,000 words in less than 20 seconds is impressive, ChatGPT still has its limitations. 

ChatGPT can come up with plausible-sounding answers, yet be utterly incorrect, according to OpenAI. So you need to be mindful that it will not always give you the capital ‘T’ truth – especially when asking questions that can impact your financial decisions.  

The AI learning model also has a limited dataset of information that it uses to ‘think’. So, learning models like ChatGPT don’t have access to the constantly growing pool of knowledge that we do through the internet. (Not yet, anyway.) They’re still trained by humans and are therefore not perfect.

Is ChatGPT reliable for financial advice?

Overall, the sort of advice ChatGPT gives you is pretty general and unbiased, by design. In that respect, it’s a useful springboard for you to do your own research. 

In terms of trustworthiness, it has proven to be mostly factual, but you should always double-check whatever it tells you to be sure it’s the truth.

Can ChatGPT save me money on expenses?

Not really. That is unless you take on board its financial tips and put them into practice. 

Think budgeting, getting rid of unnecessary expenses, keeping an eye out for deals, comparing products, and not going too far down the credit card debt rabbit hole. 

Then, you might be in a better financial position.

Can ChatGPT help with financial decisions?

ChatGPT can certainly lay out the options that you have when making a financial decision, but it will give you a spiel about how it cannot make the decision for you. 

You could be better off finding a professional financial advisor to help with any big financial decisions that you have.