Editor’s Note: A chatbot did not write this article, but we did interview the three most popular free ones as well as real humans.
If it seems like just about everyone on the artificial intelligence frontier is gunning for your money, it’s because most are.
Retailers and manufacturers are incorporating AI technology such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and IBM’s Watson into their apps to provide personalized advice and recommendations. The easier it is to shop, the easier it is to spend.
But you can tame the virtual Wild West with AI-powered tools yourself. The new Bing Chat certainly can save you time and money, according to Tia Secasiu, Microsoft product marketing manager for global search and AI. “Bing is now the default search experience in ChatGPT,” she told Money Talks News.
Bing Chat is free when you enter through Microsoft’s Edge browser, where it’s built in, or on your phone’s Bing app. Sign in with a free Microsoft account or your Office 365 subscription. Bing is a plug-in now for ChatGPT premium users, but will soon be available to ChatGPT’s free users too, Secasiu said.
Other AI apps and chatbots like Google’s Bard can help you spend wisely, too. Following are some top ways to make AI work for you.
When it comes to prompting a chatbot for help, it’s not just what you say but how you say it.
“Tell me what you want, what you really really want,” Bing Chat, quoting the Spice Girls song “Wannabe,” told Money Talks News when prompted to talk about prompts.
For example, “What are the best deals on Levi’s jeans right now?” will not work on ChatGPT (free) because it doesn’t have its own search engine yet, and it doesn’t know anything more recent than September 2021. Bing Chat and Bard will bring up offers and links to a variety of online stores such as Amazon, Macy’s, Walmart and more.
You can also specify styles and sizes, or ask for comparisons of two or more items with a prompt like, “Compare the three most popular chainsaws for home use.”
Bard, when prompted, presented a table showing the Stihl MS 180, Husqvarna 450 and Rancher Echo CS-400 in a table showing specs and price side by side. Bing Chat showed comparisons of Stihl MS170, Makita XCU03PT1 and Oregon CS1500, and it offered links to online sellers.
You can ask Bard how to track the price of a specific item you want and alert you when it goes on sale. If you need grocery deals, Bard and Bing can look up specific items in your area, but looking at your favorite grocers’ apps might be more effective, they both say.
Microsoft just introduced Buying Guides for shoppers using its Edge browser and Bing. They include summaries of customer reviews, product suggestions and comparison tables showing multiple items’ details side by side. It also has a Price Match feature that offers assistance contacting retailers if an item’s price falls after you purchase it.
You can get complicated with your prompts, and also converse with the chatbots about more details they need you to ask to fetch the right information.
“I’ll be there for you, ’cause you’re there for me too,” says Bard, quoting the theme song from the TV show “Friends.”
2. Graphic design
You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create professional-looking posters, slideshows, party invitations, event flyers, resumes, social media posts and more with free AI-powered tools.
Canva, launched in 2013, can generate pictures from text and will even generate a video of a talking head reading your text. If you’ve got kids in school, it has thousands of student-oriented templates for creating study projects, schedules, essay outlines, flash cards and more. Canva is free and offers a premium version at $119.99 annually with unlimited access to 100 million-plus stock photos, videos, audio and more.
Bing Chat, which uses DALL-E, can generate pictures in many styles such as cartoon, photorealistic or oil painting.
You can also check out these apps with free and premium pricing:
3. Virtual try-on
Google says its virtual try-on for apparel uses generative AI to show you clothes on real models in a wide variety of shapes, skin tones, hair styles, ethnicities and sizes XXS to 4XL. You can change models and viewing angles, as well as rotate your model to get a feel for the item. Google also lets you change the color, style and pattern and search for the item in different stores. It’s handy if you seek a cheaper version.
The try-on tool launched with only women’s tops, but men’s tops will follow soon, Google says, and eventually it will include more clothing.
4. Meal planners
Developers have cooked up a wide variety of meal-planning apps and websites that incorporate AI. They can take into account your budget, cooking skills, health and nutrition needs, personal tastes, special diets, prep times and more.
You can get started by asking your favorite chatbot to prepare a meal plan for you with as simple a prompt as “Please give me a weekly meal plan that is easy, healthy and budget-friendly. And can you suggest where to find the ingredients locally that fit the plan?” Answers can include dishes such as Vegetarian Spaghetti Squash Lasagna or Chicken Stir-Fry With Brown Rice, with links to recipes.
Want to know what side dishes go with lamb chops, good sauces for grilling chicken, or what fish you can sub for salmon? Try Ask InstaCart. The online grocery delivery service, which already has a ChatGPT plug-in, is rolling out the feature blending its own AI and ChatGPT-capabilities. It anticipates your preferences and reminds you of what you need based on your shopping history.
Others to try:
- Mealime creates personalized recipe menu and grocery list based on your dietary preferences; it’s free with a $2.99 premium version.
- Paprika offers recipe and grocery-managing tools for one-time fees, not a subscription.
- The free Anylist app helps you create sharable shopping lists, collect and organize your recipes and make notes on prices and coupons.
- Foodcombo.com will send you recipes based on what you tell it is in your fridge and pantry.
Some apps can even integrate with your kitchen. With certain smart Whirlpool appliances, you can send pictures of what’s in your fridge to the Yummly meal-prep app and get recipes based on what you already have. The app can also send cooking instructions directly to a smart oven.
5. Fitness trainer
You can give a chatbot a workout by asking it to create a fitness program for you. Prompt it with your age, gender and goals such as weight loss, muscle strength or cardiovascular health.
However, AI software already powers plenty of fitness apps to create personalized workouts, says Barbi Walker-Walsh, 57, a flight attendant, journalist and gym enthusiast living in Tempe, Arizona.
“I’ve been using FitnessAI for years. The app uses artificial intelligence to create workouts based on input from users,” Walker-Walsh told Money Talks News. “I let it tailor workouts for me rather than piecing one together a la carte. Using FitnessAI has cut down on wasted time and frustration at the gym.”
Among other AI-driven fitness apps are:
Subscriptions typically run around $80 to $130 a year depending on the app. That is a fraction of the average range of $250 to $400 a month for two one-hour sessions a week with a human personal trainer.
Travelers are experimenting with chatbots to create itineraries and find cheap transportation.
The Points Guy travel website’s Jordan Waller called his use of ChatGPT to plan a trip to Lisbon a mixed bag. However, digital-nomad coach and avid traveler Madison Rolley took to TikTok to say the chatbot “spit out gold” for developing a two-week European itinerary for around $1,000 a person.
Expedia, which has a ChatGPT plug-in, recently introduced the chatbot to its own app so members can now can get recommendations on where to go, where to stay, how to get around, and what to see and do. Booking.com also is adding ChatGPT to its AI-powered app.
Hopper searches for the lowest prices and and most flexible options on flights, hotels and rental cars. It predicts future travel prices and notifies you when it’s the best time to book your travel.
Among other AI-powered travel-planning sites and apps to inspire your trips are:
7. AI at work
You might be able to use ChatGPT to make life easier at work, but should you?
Jodie Cook, founder of Coachvox.ai, says in a Forbes article that she trained ChatGPT to answer emails in her voice. Others use it to edit their work, summarize reports, analyze data, write reports, brainstorm fresh ideas or substitute it for a traditional Google search.
For example, to understand topics better, start a prompt with “Explain [this] to me as if I’m a beginner” for instructions, or ask the chatbot to create a marketing campaign and tell it your product and target audience.
Your boss might wonder what you’re doing with your time, too.
While ChatGPT can introduce efficiencies in workplace processes, it also presents legal risks for employers, says Karla Grossenbacher, a lawyer specializing in workplace policies. She and others cite potential issues with data leaks, accuracy and bias.
Companies banning or restricting ChatGPT and other bots at work include Samsung, Amazon, Apple and major banks.
8. Lower your bills
If you need help negotiating rent, credit card interest rates or car insurance premiums, the personal money-management site Cleo is ready to lend AI aid for free.
Its new ChatGPT-powered Haggle It feature will ask and help you answer why you seek lower rates. You choose how serious a tone — from chilled surfer to professional lawyer — you want to take. It will whip up a letter you can send to get negotiations started.
For example, you can threaten your long-time credit card company that you will transfer your balance to a bank card offering lower rates. It suggested in a recent test telling your bank, “While I would prefer to remain a customer of your bank, I cannot ignore the potential savings that this option presents.”
Cleo claims 1 in 3 respondents to a survey of 1,000 millennial and Gen Z Americans successfully negotiated lower rents and car insurance premiums; 1 in 5 got credit card rates or fees lowered.