Most people are not investing in the stock market either because they either lack the funds or are intimidated. In this acorns review post, you’ll learn how to invest intelligently every day automatically with your spare change using the Acorns app.
- Over Time, Investing Builds Wealth
- Acorns Does This Automatically
- Get Started With Spare Change
Let me start this post by asking a question. Do you invest in the stock market outside of your 401k at work? I’m willing to bet the answer is no. In fact, most Americans are not investing in the stock market on their own. A 2017 Article by money.com stated that just 27% of middle-class Americans hold a significant amount of stock. Another article in 2019 by CNBC stated that 85% of Americans are saving less than 15% of their income for retirement. Yet another article by Yahoo! states that 58% of Americans have less than $1000 in savings.
If you fall into one or more of these categories right now, that’s okay. I presume you’re reading this because you’re looking to change and start taking control of your finances. Keep in mind, it’s never too late to start. With the proper information, time, and patience, you too can build a strong investment portfolio that needs little to no input from you. I’ll show you how.
Why Should You Invest In the Stock Market With Acorns and Why do So Few People Do It?
Investing in the stock market is historically one of the best ways to build wealth and get your money working for you. However, so few people do it because it’s incredibly intimidating to the average person.
Just look at that screen grab from Yahoo! Finance. That’s just from clicking on the “Trending” button to see what’s popular today. I didn’t even pull a detailed report. The sheer amount of data on that screen would make anyone’s head spin in they didn’t know exactly what they were looking at. Never mind the fact that it’s a potential mine field if they bought the wrong stock and it plummeted. It’s no wonder so many people choose to avoid the stock market.
How Can Acorns Help Me Avoid Picking The Wrong Stock?
There are a couple of ways to avoid the minefields in the stock market. A popular method is investing in what are called “index funds.” You see the 4 graphs listed across the top? Those are called indexes. They are a group of stocks picked by experts to give an overall view of the market’s health.
They’re usually companies that you’ve heard of and use every day. McDonalds, Disney, Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, and ExxonMobil are all part of the Dow Jones index, which is the most popular index in the US. An index fund is put together by an investment firm and is meant to rise and fall with the index it’s tied to. Investors buy into one fund rather than buying individual stocks. This makes things a lot less complicated for the average investor.
By investing in these index funds, your money will generally do exactly what the market does. In the graph above, the red line is the Dow Jones Index, and the blue line is the expert picked fund. Notice how closely they correlate? Because of this simplicity, index funds are very popular among amateur investors. If the market goes up, you’ll make money, if it goes down, you’ll lose money.
Historically, the market has risen about 7% a year so this is a good estimate of what to expect when investing in one of these funds. Fidelity and Vangaurd offer index funds for all of the indexes listed above that are basically free. They charge a nominal fee (usually less than 1%) to invest your money for you which means you get to keep more than 99% of what you earn.
It’s Not That Easy Though
The downside to these traditional index funds and investment houses is that they require a lot of self discipline to be successful. You need to be consciously adding money to them every month for them to grow at a rate you’d be happy with. No matter how well the market does, you’re never going to retire off of your initial investment.
This presents most people with a problem. If you’re not actively saving or investing every month as it is, what makes you think you’ll start investing regularly from now on? These types of accounts also require minimums of about $1000 to get started. If you don’t have $1,000 then how can you get started investing? Luckily there is an app for your phone that both automates the monthly investing and has a low minimum.
What Can Make Index Funds Super Easy?
Enter Acorns. Acorns is an investment adviser that has an app that will automate your investing activities for you. It will not only make sure you’re contributing money to your account every month, but it will also pick your stocks and funds for you.
How Do I Start?
First, you create an account and deposit at least $5 to start. Once you deposit your $5, you answer a series of questions about your investment goals. The questions are not about what specific stocks or returns you want, but rather things like, “Do you see yourself withdrawing this money in 3 months or 20+ years?” or “are you okay with little ups and downs in the market or do you want to avoid risk as much as possible?”
These questions are what matches you up with a one of Acorns’ pre-made funds to deposit money in. They rank from conservative to aggressive in terms of risk and they ask questions in plain English so that the average person doesn’t get intimidated or confused. The whole point of the Acorns app is to get the average person with no experience or knowledge of stocks to start investing.
Once you’ve answered your questions and match up with a fund, you then choose your round up amount. The round ups are what make investing effortless and take self discipline out of it. It’s the Round-Up amounts that will go into your investment account automatically as long as you’re making purchases.
First you link a credit or debit card (or both) and when you buy something, the Acorns app will round up that purchase to the nearest dollar and invest the difference. For example, if you buy a coffee for $3.25, Acorns will round it up to $4 and deposit the $.75 automatically. If you’re like me and link every card you have to the Acorns app, it will translate to about $50 a month that you’re investing. It’s not much, but it will get you started and get you comfortable with the idea of investing every month on autopilot.
Supercharge Your Investing With Acorns
If you really want to start investing a lot on autopilot, the Acorns app has a Round-Up Multiplier feature. You can multiply your round-ups up to 2x, 5x, or 10x. Using the same coffee example above, instead of investing $.75 you can tell Acorns to invest $1.50, $3.75, or $7.50. Just be careful when using a multiplier greater than 2; it can really add up fast and there’s no sense in investing if you can’t pay your rent first.
I prefer the recurring investment approach because it takes a lot of unpredictability out of the equation. In addition to the round-up multiplier, you can also set a specific dollar amount to invest regularly. This can be every day, week or month. Doing it this way allows you to know exactly what will be coming out of your account and when. I have mine set to come out on the last day of the month so it’s easy to figure in my budget. The round-ups are a great way to get started, but they won’t make you rich. It really takes a multiplier or recurring investment to build a large investment account.
What Acorns Costs
Now that I’ve told you about what Acorns does, let’s talk about what Acorns costs. I know it would be great if all this automation were free, but the fact is that it’s not. It’s only $3 a month until you get to $1 Million invested. That’s it. $3 a month with no fine print. I love it. What I love about it is that as your account grows, your subscription fee becomes a smaller percentage of what you have.
With traditional money managers, they charge a percentage fee so when you make more money, their fee gets larger. Acorns is the opposite. Yes, 3 a month seems like a lot when you only have $25 in the account, but once you cross the $20,000 mark you’ll be glad to pay it. Because of this, I recommend tossing in as much money as you comfortably can upfront so the effect of the $3 is minimized as quickly as possible.
Sum It All Up
In conclusion, I think the Acorns app is a great way to get the average person to start investing because it requires so little thought once it is set up. You will invest every month without fail as long as you have an account set up. Because the account minimum is so low, anyone can open an account immediately, and with the automatic round-ups and recurring investment, you’ll always be investing. There will never be a month or week where you forgot to transfer money into your account.
Just remember, this will take time. Stock market investing is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t expect to have a six figure account in a month. It will take at least a year for you to have a significant account if you’re just using your spare change without a significant recurring investment. If you read my create income posts, you’ll learn other ways to free up money to start investing or increase your recurring investment. If you have any other methods you use to invest on autopilot, drop a comment below.
Until Next Time,