Plum is an AI-powered app for Android and iPhone that will help you save on bills, set cash aside, and invest money 24/7 without you having to do anything…
What if you could set money aside, save on bills, and invest money on a weekly basis without having to do anything? If you’re new to the idea of investing money, the concept can be rather overwhelming. You need to know the difference between buying a stock versus buying into an index tracker. And you need to be careful.
Stock markets are volatile places, now more than ever, and while plenty of people do make seriously good money playing the markets, most tend to avoid it for fear of doing something silly and losing money. Back in 2015, I spent a year boning up on investment strategies – from buying stock to getting involved in index trackers. I researched them all.
Turns out I’d needn’t have bothered, though, because you now have apps like Plum which will do all the hard work for you. And, best of all, it is free and simple to use.
Powered by AI, Plum is kind of an all-in-one financial wizard in your pocket.
It will help you set money aside, invest in stocks and index funds, and help find you better energy providers. And if that wasn’t enough, it will also provide feedback on your spending patterns, so you can make better decisions about how you spend your money going forwards. The Plum AI runs 24/7 too, so it is constantly monitoring activity in your account and how it changes over time.
Sounds good, right? But how does Plum actually work? Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what technology makes the Plum app so smart…
How The Plum App Works – Exploring Plum’s AI
In order to use Plum, you will need an active bank account. Plum links to your bank account (all major UK banks are supported) and from here it begins analyzing your account activity. It looks at what you spend on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis and, over time, forms a comprehensive framework of your spending patterns.
At its core, Plum is an AI robot. It lives in your bank account and can make decisions in real-time on what you can afford to save each week. It can also determine how much you can invest too – and it can be any amount, large or small. Obviously, you have complete control over Plum; it cannot and will not just remove hundreds of thousands of pounds from your account.
Created by two Cypriot dudes called Alexa and Victor, Plum was born when Alex came up with an algorithm that would monitor his account’s comings and goings and make small savings here and there when appropriate. Over time, the algorithm was finessed to become a more complete AI, one that can analyze an account’s balance and make calculations about how much money can be set aside at any one time.
For instance, say your account always has at least £500 in it, and you want to save £50 a month. The Plum AI, once you’ve given it the command to find a way of putting aside £50 a month (your goal), will then go about siphoning money out of your account every few days to meet your goals.
The key, though, is that the AI is designed to do this without you even noticing; the goal is to make stashing money as painless as possible – something that just happens in the background without you even noticing. By the end of the month, every month, Plum will contribute to hitting your target and all the money will be stored inside your Plum account.
It sounds crazy, but it really does work. I started using Plum last year. I wanted to buy an ESP LTD EC1000 guitar; they’re about £600-700, so I couldn’t just go out and buy one. I also hate credit cards and I suck at manually saving money. I decided to give Plum ago with the express purpose of putting aside £600 inside four months. And, to my surprise, it worked.
I now have enough money for my beloved ESP LTD EC1000 guitar.
And the best part? I didn’t even notice the money going out of my account. I didn’t change my spending patterns. I didn’t scrimp or go without. I just set up Plum, let it do its magic, and went about my life. Fast forward four months and I now have £600 in my Plum account. And it’s all down to how Plum works in the background 24/7 to build your spare cash pots.
Getting Started: How To Set Up Plum Account
Plum is free to use, but if you want to use it invest you will have to pay a monthly fee of £1 per month (more on this in a bit). Available for Android and iPhone, Plum can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play.
Once you have the Plum app installed, you need to log in with an email address to set up your Plum account. After this, you need to securely link Plum to your bank account. Don’t worry, this process is painless and is handled by the Plum app – just enter your details and follow the prompts.
Installation and linking your bank account takes about two minutes. Once everything is set up correctly, you need to then tell Plum how to start setting aside your money. Plum’s default saving mode is known as Normal. This is its default setting, so if you just want to dip your toe in the water, you’re best off starting here until you’re more familiar with how everything works.
Plum has several additional saving modes, however, which are designed to increase the speed with which you can save money. These are as follows:
- Eager – 25% more than Normal mode
- Ambitious – 50% more than Normal mode
- Beast Mode – 75% more than Normal mode
Or, if you want to lower the amount saved in Plum’s default Normal mode, you can use the following options:
- Chilled – 25% less than Normal mode
- Shy – 50% less than Normal mode
You’re probably wondering where all your funds are kept, right? Plum uses an electronic money wallet to put your money aside. The e-money account is 100% encrypted and totally safe (Plum uses PayrNet FYI).
You can withdraw money at any time too; there are no time limits, and the requested funds should appear back in your account within 30 minutes.
I like to just leave my money alone, though. The whole point of putting money aside is to not spend it, and the best way to do this is to just set up Plum, let it do its magic, and just forget about it for four to five months. Only come back to check your primary pocket or electronic wallet when a certain amount of time has elapsed, otherwise, you might be tempted to spend away all of Plum’s hard work.
Is Plum Safe?
This is obviously the biggest question on most people’s minds – is Plum totally safe? I mean, you’re giving it access to your bank account, so you definitely want to be sure it is totally legit. I was so paranoid about this aspect of Plum that I actually went out and opened another account – my OCD just couldn’t handle the idea that something MIGHT happen.
Turns out I’d needn’t have bothered; Plum is extremest safe to use. Like Apple Pay and Google Pay, it has limited access to your actual account. Plum has read-only access which ensures it can neither access your account information nor do anything drastic with your account or the funds inside it. Here’s the official line via Plum’s blog on how it all works:
“We never have access to (or store) your bank login details, and are granted read-only permission to your transaction data, so in the unlikely event of a breach, no money can be transferred out of your bank account. In addition, we also use symmetric cryptography (AES) to store any sensitive data, with 256-bit TLS encryption to communicate with our servers (which run on Amazon’s cloud–trusted by some of the biggest financial institutions in the world!)”
On top of this, your funds in Plum’s Interest Pockets (available under Plus/Pro subscriptions) is are FSCS protected up to £85,000.
The FSCS was created to protect customers from dodgy banking activity (like lending out their deposits and losing the money), so if something did happen to Plum, your money is protected and would be returned to you accordingly. No ifs, no buts.
However, keep in mind that the basic or free Plum Pockets are e-money wallets, they aren’t FSCS protected. This means that whilst you don’t receive any interest on the funds, the money isn’t lent out. That means that even if Plum and their e-money provider partner were to go bust, you can claim back your money through the e-money provider.
Want even more peace of mind? Here are some stats via the FSCS from its official blog(only applies to Plum’s interest-bearing pockets):
- In 2018-2019 we paid out £473m to 425,760 customers of failed firms.
- We’ve recovered £20 billion from the 2008 bank failures and repaid all £20.5 billion borrowed from HM Treasury that year.
- We’ve returned £375 million from other recoveries to the industry in the last five years.
- We were set up in 2001 under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.
- We are independent of the government and financial services industry.
- We can pay compensation thanks to levies that authorized financial services firms pay.
What do consumers think of Plum? According to the public review site TrustPilot, Plum has an average rating of “Great” – it has over 739 4.3/5 star reviews. The vast majority of users appear to love the application, how simple it is to use, and the fact that it has helped them save a ton of money.
I’ll admit, it wasn’t until I’d read a few TrustPilot reviews that I decided to finally pull the trigger on Plum and start running it. Basically, if you’re reading this and you’re still concerned about running Plum, I can guarantee you that I was more concerned! But I needn’t have been; the application, its security protocols, and its customer service are exceptional.
How To Invest Money With Plum
Plum doesn’t just put more of your money aside. You can also use it to invest your money too. And you don’t need to start big either; you can invest as little as £1 in some of the biggest companies in the world – from Apple to Google’s Alphabet.
All you have to do is join Plum’s investment service (it costs £1 per month), select who you want to invest in, and let Plum get on with it. That’s how it works once you’re all set up, but you need to first get yourself set up correctly. And it is worth noting that with shares and stocks, you can and will lose money – that’s just the nature of the game.
When investing with Plum, you have three levels of risk to choose from:
- Slow & Steady – Lowest Risk, Smallest Gains
- Balanced Bundle – Medium Risk, Moderate Gains
- Growth Stack – High Risk, Highest Gains
Obviously, the higher the risk, the greater the potential for higher returns. However, with high risk comes the potential for big losses. With investing, especially if you’re brand new to the concept, it is far better to go LONG and SENSIBLE than fast and hard.
Investing money on a regular basis is wise, so just do that, at a moderate to low risk, and you stand the best chance of not only making some money but also putting you accumulated savings to good use. Then, just sit back and let Plum do its thing. Oh, and there is a management fee for the investment element of Plum; it’s 0.15% for funds. And fund fees start from 0.08%. This is pretty darn good, though, so no worries here.
What About Plum Pro – Is It Worth It?
Plum Pro is basically the standard Plum app on steroids. With Plum Pro, you pay £2.99 a month and this gets you access to Plum’s investment features, as well as more advanced money management tools.
Plum Pro’s additional features are called Super Savers. Here’s what you get:
- Pockets – In Pockets, you can set up and access dedicated pots with specific goals. You can have as many as you like too, so it’s a really cool feature for breaking up your pockets into priority piles.
- Rainy Day Savings – This one is kind of silly, especially if you live in Manchester, but how it works is simple: every time it rains in your local area, Plum will set aside some money from your account. I live near Manchester, so I wasn’t quite ready for this kind of commitment.
- 52-Week Savings Challenge – This feature will add £1 to your wallet every week for a year. In the end, Plum says you’ll have over £1378 stored away when combined with its normal money stashing automations.
- Paydays: To automatically deposit into your Plum account on PayDay
- Diagnostics: Which categorizes your spending within a monthly breakdown and compares your spending to people with a similar financial profile.
- True Balance: Showing you how much of your bank account balance is safe to spend after bills and regular payments are accounted for.
Plum Pro is now available on Android as well as IOS (although some features, like Paydays, Diagnostics, and Cashback haven’t been rolled out to Android yet).
In addition to all of the above, Plum for iOS now includes a rewards program, whereby users can get cashback via the following retailers:
- ASOS, 1.6% – 6.4%
- Farfetch, 4%
- Trainline, 0.8%
- Hotels.com, 4% – 6%
- Groupon, 11%
- Waterstones, 4%
- Miss Selfridge, 4% – 6%
- Wickes, 2%
- Mobiles.co.uk, £25 for New Handset Contracts & Upgrades
- Carphone Warehouse, 2%
- Cox & Cox, 2%
- Burton, 5%
- Mindful Chef, £7
- SimplyCook, £3
- Nails Inc, 5% – 6%
- Darlings of Chelsea, 7%
- The Sofa Company, 5%
- Benefit Cosmetics, 3% – 6%
Wrapping Up: Or, How I Learned To Love AI For Managing My Money
Should you download and use Plum on your phone? Given all of the above, I think most people would benefit from using Plum. I know it has helped me set aside and invest thousands of pounds during the last 12 months.
Even if you only use the saving free functionality of automatically setting money aside. People often complain about not having enough money to save, and I get this, but with Plum, you can – it’ll just do it in a way you don’t notice. And even little amounts are better than no amount at all.
After a month or two of using Plum, I decided to go for the Plum Pro app. I wanted to do more investing and I wanted to set up different saving pots for different purposes. Using the Plum Pro app allowed me to do this, and for just £2.99 a month it really is a steal. It’s saved me untold amounts of money since this time last year and that, for me, is well worth £2.99 a month!
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.