Saving money has been a battle for every generation of 20 and 30 somethings. However, the generation that graduated during the recession (my generation), had a pretty tough time coming out of highschool or college. I spent 4 years selling furniture in a retail store which shall remain nameless, but it rhymes with Lig Bots. I moved home from my college town, (Go Mountaineers!) for a short stent and worked my highschool job at a gas station. Finally I moved to Knoxville, TN and worked at a loading dock for a huge company, where I lost 30 pounds, was awarded “top loader”, and was paid very little. I didn’t break 9 dollars per hour until I was 25 years old. I was struggling to pay for rent, when I finally got a break and was hired by Computer Depot, Inc. Honest to goodness, it was the best thing that ever happened to my career. Not only was I learning from the best techs in the business, but I was being mentored by the man who started the business. He groomed me to be a manager and to take on some emerging tech repairs that a lot of technicians were not daring to touch at the time.
My life story aside, it was finally a time when I could start putting a little money back for emergencies or rainy days.
One of the managers at Computer Depot, Scott, introduced me to Dave Ramsey, and his “7 Baby Steps“. This is when I finally became concerned about retirement. Until that point it wasn’t a concern of mine, because I just needed to make it to the next week. I had always been taught by my very, frugal Father to put money away for emergencies and for the future. He also taught me to stay away from credit cards, but I never had any context to it until I started doing my own research.
I may not agree with every method that Mr. Ramsey recommends, but it did put me on the road to learning more about my personal finances. His baby steps are a fantastic way to get started, but I moved further by reading “The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns”. I am a continually revisit BogleHeads.org, and like everyone else, scoff and obsess over reddit posts about investing. Also, if you care about my opinion on websites, I love NerdWallet. When I bought a home, it’s mortgage section was a constant comfort. If you are a ready to give up your incredibly consumer based life, then maybe Mr. Money Mustache is for you.
So, how do you convince a millennial to invest their money? You build an app for it, obviously. Let’s talk about it.
First of all, there are a ton of these Robo Advisors, with Betterment and Wealthfront being the other popular choices. Each has their own methods, and they all require fees. Think of it as having a broker, and the fees that go along with it, but your money is managed in a less personal way. With Acorns, you have way less input into where your money goes when compared to other apps. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your investment prowess. If you are a newbie, you may want someone to tell you what to do.
Another thing to think over, if you have decided to go with a Robo Advisor, would be the fees. Acorns, will cost you about $15 a year if your portfolio is worth less than $5000 or 0.275% if it’s worth more than that. Depending on how often you use your cards, the fees may not be worth it. Make sure you do your due diligence and compare your Robo Advisors, if you think you may use one.
How it Works
Acorns takes the spare change left over from the purchases made with a debit card, credit card, or bank account and automatically invests it into a portfolio that you choose by varying degrees of risk level. They call this spare change “round-ups”. You can choose to round to the whole dollar, or you can even choose to add a multiplier to your “round-ups”. You have the choice between five levels of a portfolio style, from “conservative” to “aggressive”.
Aside from the “round-ups”, you can can invest any amount at any time, or set up a recurring investment. There are also referral rewards, and the most interesting feature, “found money”. With this feature, certain partners of Acorns will invest into your account when you do business with them. For instance, if you book a room with Expedia: they will invest 4% of your purchase into your Acorns account. Though this feature seems really cool, I have yet to find a reason to use it. Hopefully, with all this money I am saving, I’ll book a vacation and use Expedia.
While keeping an eye on your investment, Acorns also offers some light reading on financial subjects through their blog called, “Grow”. I have to say that it does have some interesting articles, but obviously it is going to sway subject matter to reflect using Acorns as a genius financial move.
Did I throw money at a phone app, just so I could write a review for this blog? Yep. I’m dedicated. I am also super interested in how this stuff works, so I did it just as much for my interest as for yours. I also own some Bitcoin but that if for another, sadder, article. I have had my Acorns account for around one month now. I am happy with the effectiveness of putting away this spare change. I am also fairly happy with its performance.
For the purposes of seeing what the performance was like in a short amount of time, I chose the “Aggressive” portfolio. This portioned my investment out in the way that you will see below:
To begin, I popped in $50 dollars and gave the app permission to use “round-ups”. Currently, I do not have a multiplier on, no recurring investments, and have not added any other money aside from the “round-ups”. It has been a month and 9 days since my first initial investment. Since then I have added $66.71 in spare change from my purchases. This alone, is pretty cool, but I use my debit a ton, and it may vary for you.
So how has this investment performed? It did ok. As of today, I have made a total gain of $3.92.
It doesn’t feel that “Aggressive”, and I definitely do not feel like a millionaire investment wiz. However, if you compare this to a typical Money Market Savings Account, which usually rewards you with 1% interest per month, I am doing better by comparison.
Acorns is a company that put their mobile users first, but they do offer a webtop version. Honestly, I don’t prefer one over the other as they are basically the same interface. However, both are very cleanly designed and easy to use.
They have integrated the fingerprint sensor into their mobile version making it secure, and quick to check up on your investment. There isn’t a ton to criticize here. It is a simple interface with easy to understand options. Here are some of my screenshots below:
I think this is a fantastic app. Then again, I am not a financial advisor, and I have very little knowledge of the stock market.
Will I continue to use this application? Probably, but this is not my only method of saving money, and it will likely be used for “play money” or “vacation money”, as I am one of those people who will rarely put money aside for that type of thing. I have to be thoroughly convinced that time off from work will be beneficial. Making myself consider travel has and always will be a battle for me, but I think having some money already set aside for it will ease the stress.
I won’t be entrusting this app with my retirement, or my savings, but it is a neat way to save some extra cash that otherwise might be frivolously spent. If I can make some reasonable gains along the way, that is really cool too.
If you are interested in trying out Acorns, you can click on my referral link here. Use this link to sign up, and both of us may receive a bonus. This is not a paid advertisement and it is a true reflection of my experience with the Acorns service. Please leave a comment below.
*Content is provided on an informational basis and should not be construed as investment advice. Individual circumstances will vary. Please consult a financial advisor before acting on any opinions expressed.