What do the Pope, Jay-Z and Putin have in common? They were all, within the past month or so, deep faked using artificial intelligence (AI) tools. The Pope wore a puffer jacket, Jay-Z collaborated on a new track, and Putin (who does actually have an arrest warrant) went to jail.
In an AI-driven world where anything seems possible, my question isn’t how well AI can fake it, but how AI can help me make it. I’m talking about money. I want to know the solutions to real problems I’m facing in my life.
For example, after 6 good years, my trusty Bluetooth headphones are starting to go on the blink. How do I get my hands on a replacement—say, Apple AirPods—for the lowest price possible? And as a 26-year-old female living in Singapore expecting to start a family by 30, how do I map out an investment plan now?
These are some of the personal finance questions I posed to ChatGPT, NotionAI, and Bard. Here’s what they told me I should do.
- The personal finance questions I asked AI
- Q1: How do I redeem or buy Apple AirPods in Singapore for the lowest price possible?
- Q2: I’m a 26-year-old female living in Singapore, and planning to have children by age 30. Map out an investment plan for me and my partner.
- Q3: How do I turn $1 into $100 in a week?
- Q4: I want to earn my first million by 30. What should I do?
- Which AI chatbot is the best for giving financial advice?
The personal finance questions I asked AI
My strategy here was to cover financial goals over 2 main aspects: (1) short-term versus long-term; and (2) attainable versus pretty darn hard. I asked the AIs questions about real queries I have:
|Attainable financial goals||1. How do I redeem or buy Apple AirPods in Singapore for the lowest price possible?||2. I’m a 26-year-old female living in Singapore, and planning to have children by age 30. Map out an investment plan for me and my partner.|
|Tough luck answering that one||3. How do I turn $1 into $100 in a week?||4. I want to earn my first million by 30. What should I do?|
I asked these 4 questions to 3 AI chatbots. Here’s a quick introduction to each:
- ChatGPT: This one practically needs no introduction. The OG modern AI chatbot that took the world by storm, ChatGPT was launched in Nov 2022 by American AI research lab OpenAI. I’m sure you’ve heard numerous stories about how useful ChatGPT is (even big companies like Microsoft are using it!). But one limitation of ChatGPT 4 is its database—currently, it can only draw from data up to 2021 to answer your questions.
- Bard: Google’s response to ChatGPT, Bard is an AI chatbot that draws data from the live web. In that sense, you may think Bard the AI is kinda like an extension of Google the search engine…but in reality, Bard has been known to not just give wrong information, but actually make stuff up. As Google puts it, Bard is currently still “experimental”. There’s also a waitlist, so not everyone can give a spin (yet). But great news: We managed to gain access and are putting Bard to the test in this article.
- NotionAI: NotionAI is the integrated AI assistant in Notion, a web application that you may use or that your colleagues may use at work to stay organised. Their AI tool’s main aim is to, in their words, “Work faster. Write better. Think bigger.”. A work productivity app doesn’t sound like the best source of financial advice, but the AI’s answers may surprise you. NotionAI actually uses GPT-3, which in simple terms is a programme that learns data and generates human-like text from it. GPT-3 is an earlier, less advanced version of ChatGPT’s current GPT-4.
Q1: How do I redeem or buy Apple AirPods in Singapore for the lowest price possible?
My ideal AI assistant would tell me exactly which website/retail store to buy my AirPods from, and for bonus points, also name me a good credit card to rack up cashback while I’m at it. But that’s me being idealistic. In reality, most of the AIs returned pretty generic responses. 1 of them convinced me, 1 confused me, and 1 just felt low-effort. Here are their responses, ranked worst to best.
Worst response: Bard
Why do you lie, Bard? “Apple offers the lowest price on AirPods”, Bard claims. I did a quick check and found that a set of 3rd generation Apple AirPods with Lightning Charging Case costs $261.40 directly from Apple, $243 on Shopee, and only $226 on Lazada. Even if I wanted same-day delivery and paid an extra $15 on Shopee, it’ll cost me $258–still cheaper than Apple’s, which will only arrive 2 days from now!
Bard also says: “If you have an older pair of AirPods, you can trade them in to Apple for a discount on a new pair.” Another falsehood, it turns out. Apple does accept trade-ins for smartphones (they don’t even have to be iPhones), tablets, watches, and Macs. They’ll give you credit via bank transfer towards your next purchase in return. But this doesn’t apply to AirPods. The best thing Apple can do for your old earbuds is to recycle them for free. Sanitary considerations are probably a chief reason—you don’t want a stranger’s ear gunk in your own ears!
The only thing that irked me about NotionAI’s response was the lack of localisation. Best Buy? Walmart? Not in Singapore, mate. But aside from the poor examples NotionAI selected, the advice was sound. NotionAI was also the only one to suggest using price comparison tools, which I dutifully tried to do. While this didn’t yield any listing priced lower than the $226 one on Lazada, it’s a tip I might KIV for use in the future.
Unlike NotionAI, ChatGPT identified local shopping platforms I can actually use, such as Lazada and Shopee. It even named online marketplaces like Carousell for pre-owned AirPods as an option. I also liked its tips on waiting for new models to be released while prices of older models drop, as well as asking someone to buy AirPods and ship them over from overseas. Overall, ChatGPT gave the most varied and accurate responses.
Q2: I’m a 26-year-old female living in Singapore, and planning to have children by age 30. Map out an investment plan for me and my partner.
This was a tough one to answer. How would these AI tools map out an investment plan for me without any knowledge of my current financial situation? Here’s a summary of the points each AI suggested.
Also keep these in mind as you develop your investment plan:
Winner: It’s a draw!
Broadly speaking, all 3 AI chatbots agreed that I should save for retirement and build an emergency fund equivalent to 3-6 months of living expenses. The other more varied advice the AI chatbots gave me was all pretty decent, and I don’t really want to call out a clear winner on this one because each response had its pros and cons. Instead, here are some things I noticed:
- ChatGPT and NotionAI give more localised suggestions. I liked how ChatGPT and NotionAI both mentioned CPF explicitly—I mean, I did also explicitly state I live in Singapore. But on that note, Bard got me scratching my head with their mention of a 529 plan. Turns out, this is a term used in the US. It refers to a savings account for education expenses, on which earnings and education-related withdrawals are exempt from tax. They’re called 529 plans because they’re authorised by Section 529 of the US Internal Revenue Code. Cool, but not really relevant to me.
- ChatGPT thinks they know me. ChatGPT told me to contribute more to my CPF, and thus seemed to assume I am a Singaporean or Singapore PR (all I said in my prompt was that I’m “living in Singapore”). On the other hand, NotionAI told me to consider investing in a CPF or an SRS account, the latter of which is also applicable to foreigners. Though ChatGPT’s advice is more applicable to me as a Singaporean, I appreciated that NotionAI provided more options and felt more inclusive to the wider Singapore population.
- Bard likes to be specific, perhaps to its own detriment. Bard made headlines earlier this year for a factual error, and I’m not really sure where they pulled their “save $250-300 per month per child” figure from here. Considering that they told me to go for a 529 plan in the same breath, this is probably based on some US data (if based on data at all?). Additionally, I don’t think naming a figure or even a range is a good idea if they don’t know my current financial situation. When I prompted Bard to give me a more detailed investment plan (just to mess with it!), Bard also specified that “a good goal is to save $10,000-20,000 for your emergency fund.”. You just said to aim for 3-6 months of living expenses, Bard! Are you assuming you know how much I spend a month, or are you just confused?
- However, Bard also gave me more pointers to think about. On its own initiative, Bard volunteered 5 additional things to keep in mind while I develop my investment plan, such as my time horizon, risk tolerance, and tax implications. I was pleasantly surprised Bard went the extra mile here, and that made up for its other questionable references discussed earlier.
Here are the full responses from each AI chatbot.
Q3: How do I turn $1 into $100 in a week?
Let’s have some fun with these IA chatbots now. I decided to ask them a tough one: Tell me how to make $100 from $1 in 1 week. Sounds highly unlikely? Maybe even impossible? ChatGPT thinks so too. I got called out!
What a holistic, safe, and wholesome answer, ChatGPT. Kudos to you for trying to try talking sense into someone trying to strike it rich too fast, lest they lose a ton of money or resort to illegal means. I was impressed that ChatGPT not only told me—nicely, too!—to basically be more patient, but also gave me tips on how to develop a healthy, long term, sustainable wealth plan. It made me feel like ChatGPT really considers the question and its implications.
Bard did not want to give a “that’s unrealistic!” cop-out answer, even if it’s the most truthful one. Instead, Bard told me I could go for high-risk stocks, start a business, or win the lottery. I laughed at that last one. What a way to remind me that my lifetime 4D/Toto earnings stand at a grand total of –$12. Though the likelihood of winning the lottery is extremely low, Bard acknowledged that too. And all in all, it did provide suggestions that, with some luck, would indeed earn you $100 in 1 week. When I poked Bard for more details, it pointed out that I could also sell some of my belongings or sell my car.
Bard did also give 1 line of advice on a safer and more realistic way to grow money: go for low-risk investments over a longer time period. But sorry Bard, this isn’t much compared to ChatGPT’s tips.
Last place: NotionAI
I put NotionAI in last place for neither suggesting ways to make $100 in a week like Bard, nor giving me extra credit tips for long-term investment plans like ChatGPT. While NotionAI also told me turning $1 into $100 in a week is unrealistic, it wasn’t as forthcoming with long-term financial planning tips. It just told me to build a “diversified portfolio that matches your risk tolerance and investment goals”—true, but not as helpful as ChatGPT, and not useful to me if I have no idea how to even begin investing.
Q4: I want to earn my first million by 30. What should I do?
Don’t we all wish we had a cool million sitting in the bank? While this isn’t entirely unrealistic, it’s by no means an easy thing to achieve. When I asked the AI chatbots how to go about doing this, all 3 actually gave pretty good responses. Here’s a summary:
Winner: It’s a draw!
All these responses are sound advice and I can’t really name a winner, but there were some things I noticed:
- ChatGPT suggested we invest in ourselves. They’re the only ones who advised me to develop a high-income skill like coding or writing (wait a second…) and take courses, attend workshops, or read books to enhance my knowledge and skills.
- Only NotionAI and Bard pointed out it’s important to start early. Maybe that’s obvious, but it’s an important point when you consider longer investment time horizons.
- All the AI chatbots recognised the importance of investing through a range of investment vehicles. A diversified investment portfolio is essential.
- Bard makes a good point: Know the risks. Think about it. Unless you earn a ridiculously high salary, odds are you’re not going to hit 1 million any time soon from your salary alone—even if you save the bulk of it. You need to grow your money through investments instead, and all investments come with some degree of risk.
- How much should we save? NotionAI and Bard suggest somewhere between 15% to 30% of your monthly income, but my personal take is that this is very subjective. Saving more is always a good thing, and also means you have more to invest. However, everyone has different salaries, financial needs, and budgets, so don’t stress if you can’t hit these numbers.
Here are the full responses from each AI chatbot.
Which AI chatbot is the best for giving financial advice?
I think the first question to ask is this: Can AI chatbots be our financial advisors in the first place? I mean, AI is becoming really powerful—scarily powerful. So much so that over 1,000 technology leaders and researchers, including Elon Musk, have called for a 6-month pause in AI development. Italy recently banned ChatGPT, and various other governments are calling for its regulation.
When it comes to giving financial advice, ChatGPT, NotionAI and Bard generally gave reasonable suggestions. None told me to throw caution to the wind and throw my life savings into high-risk investments. In fact, from questions 1 to 3, a recurring theme was caution and understanding investment risk.
Bard is probably the most inaccurate AI chatbot. For questions 1 and 2 especially, I felt like it just wanted to give me definite, specific answers. Even answers not necessarily true when it came to the Apple AirPods in question 1. However, even if I had trusted Bard and purchased AirPods from what turned out to be the most expensive place to get them, I would only have lost out on a $40 opportunity cost. When it came to the heavy hitting questions, Bard dished out decent general pointers that acknowledged risks and advised that I turn to safer, long term financial planning. Yes, Bard did have some poorly chosen examples like the American 529 plans, and questionably chosen, baseless figures like saving $250-300 a month for a child (for what income level? For how long? For which school? So many questions!). But ignore Bard’s specifics, and it’s not terrible financial advice.
ChatGPT performed the best on 2 out of the 4 questions, the other 2 being a draw. In fact, at no point did ChatGPT make me raise an eyebrow at its answers. I was most impressed with its response to question 3, pulling me down to earth and telling me to think of safer, long term investment instead of quick, risky financial gain.
It’s extra things like that that set ChatGPT apart from NotionAI. NotionAI is a convenient, competent AI assistant that works seamlessly in Notion, and for that reason it’s very useful. However, in terms of the breadth and depth of information it can provide, ChatGPT remains the superior AI. That makes sense—since NotionAI uses an earlier predecessor to GPT-4, ChatGPT should be more advanced.
Overall, ChatGPT gave logical advice. It warned me of risks, and counter-suggested safer alternatives to grow my wealth. It was also able to name locally relevant things like CPF, Shopee and Lazada, so it didn’t just answer questions generically—it answered questions for me. Will it take over the world? I don’t think so. But is it a good AI tool? I’d say the OG modern AI chatbot deserves its crown.
Found this article interesting? Share it with your friends and family!