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Investing made simple: Acorns and micro-investing apps

10 Apr 2016
Simon - amaysim blogger


amaysim's customer guy

A wise person once said 'take care of the cents, and the dollars will take care of themselves,' but what if you have more spare change weighing down your pockets than you know what to do with?

Acorns won't come to your house and collect all your shrapnel, but it will help you make some serious dollars out of spare coins by taking that all-important first step towards building your first shares portfolio. Acorns is a buzzed-about new app that squirrels away your electronic cents in tiny amounts called 'micro-investments'. I know, I know... Investing seems like a snore of a topic at first, but the great thing about micro-investment platforms is that they make investing simple, accessible and totally plausible for anybody with a smartphone and a bank card. I'm no stockbroker or investment expert, so here are just my thoughts on how awesome Acorns is and how it can help kick-start your own investment portfolio.

What is micro-investing?

It's all in the name: investing small amounts of your spare-change cash into stocks and bonds. Micro-investment platforms have caused a buzz in the US since they first emerged about a year ago, and their technology of choice is the smartphone app. The key players in this new field are Acorns, SnapSave and First Step.

How does Acorns work?

Think of Acorns like an electronic piggy bank. Rather than leaving coins scattered around your car or lost beneath the sofa cushions, Acorns will squirrel away the virtual 'spare change' from your everyday purchases and invest it into a shares portfolio.

After you download the Acorns app, you just link it up to your payment card of choice. Every time you make a payment with that card, Acorns will automatically round up the total amount you've spent to the next whole dollar. Your purchase is paid for in full, and the spare change left over from the whole dollar amount is invested, literally a few cents at a time.

So, let's say your usual morning coffee costs you $3.50. With Acorns, if you pay for the coffee with your debit or credit card, the total paid will be $4.00. $3.50 goes towards your daily caffeine hit, and $0.50 is added to your Acorns account. Simple, right?

Every time the round-up payments to your Acorns account add up to the $5 threshold, your money is invested.

If you're extra keen you can also make extra investments, and add to your funds with recurring daily, weekly or monthly payments, or standalone lump sums.

Where will Acorns invest my money?

It's up to you. Acorns give you the choice of investing your money in one of five portfolios that were developed with a Nobel Prize winning economist (fancy!). The portfolios range from 'Conservative' (low risk) to 'Aggressive' (high risk), so whether you're a Cautious Clarence, a Wolf of Wall Street, or somewhere in between, there will be a portfolio to suit you.

And what if you change your mind? No drama. You can switch your funds between the five portfolios at no extra cost.

Is it safe?

Acorns are very serious about security, using bank-level encryption and strict ID verification. Nothing is stored on your phone, so you don't need to worry if your phone ends up in the wrong hands, and your invested funds are insured against fraud and crimes.

How much will this cost me?

The app charges users a $1.25 monthly account fee for holdings under $5,000.

What's the difference between Acorns and going to a brick-and-mortar stockbroker?

Acorns is a great first step for investing. The interface is easy to navigate, the functionality is clear and the small round-up investment amounts are barely noticeable amongst your average day-to-day costs. Your account is accessible to you 24-hours a day, and the choice of five portfolios simplifies what could be an intimidating and complex amount of choices. Most importantly it offers peace of mind for your money matters. Invest with ease, withdraw funds whenever you like because you're in control.

So that's the rundown on micro-investing and how Acorns can put your spare change to good use. Any questions? Hit me up in the comments below.

Simon – amaysim's billing guy