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How to invest your spare change with Acorns

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Turn your loose change into an investment through a diversified portfolio roundup financial service.

Investments can be one piece of a sound financial plan, but the hardest part can be figuring out where to begin — and feeling like you have enough cash to get started. Acorns offers a unique way of investing in shares and fixed income securities by allocating it’s virtual spare change to this micro-investing tool.

Acorns is passionate about making it simple to invest from a young age, without having to save for years to acquire the necessary lump sum amounts.

Think of it this way: If your morning coffee costs $2.29, by the end of the year Acorns will have invested $259.15. Imagine if you drank two cups a day!

Why should I invest with Acorns?

Many companies make it possible to start investing from a young age without needing big lump sums. But, it’s not every day that you find a product that does this by saving and investing your spare change. Acorns will automatically save and invest your spare change into a mix of Exchange Traded Funds (ETF’s) quoted on the S&P 500 or Dow Jones Industrial Average that you choose according to your own preference in portfolios. Not only will the financial service invest your spare change, but it can also invest lump sums in recurring weekly or monthly amounts that you select.

To add to this, Dr. Harry Markowitz, who many call the father of “modern portfolio theory”, is a special adviser to the Investment Committee that constructs the Acorns investment portfolios.

What are some of the benefits of using this financial service?

Three investing methods

You can use three different methods to invest money when using Acorns. The first is a key benefit of using this financial service and it is called Round-Ups. This approach invests the change of your daily purchases. Secondly, is a recurring approach, where you can set daily, weekly, or monthly amounts that will allocate money to your investments on a recurring basis. Thirdly, you can use lump sums to boost your investments with bigger, once-off, capital amounts.

Personalized portfolio

Choose from five diversified portfolios constructed by industry experts under the guidance of Nobel Prize winning economist, Dr. Harry Markowitz. These portfolios consist of a mix of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) quoted on the S&P 500 or Dow Jones Industrial Average, and are constructed to reach targets that speak to different financial goals and circumstances.

It’s a micro-investing platform

This type of platform makes it easy for everyday people to turn their everyday purchases into an investment tool. You can use this financial service for a small fee compared to bigger and more extensive platforms that charge high fees for unused features when it comes to micro-investor users.

Security

Acorns stores all your information on a remote server with bank-level security and data encryption. Your information won’t be stored on your device and your funds are insured against fraudulent and criminal activity including cyber-crimes. Online accounts are protected by SSL encryption and multi-factor account authentication processes.

Flat-fee structure

The flat-fee charged varies according to the tier your monthly balance falls in.

  • For accounts under $5,000, there will be no account fee and only a maintenance fee of $1.00.
  • If your balance is equal to or exceeds $5,000, you will not pay a maintenance fee, but you will pay an account fee of 0.25% per year (charged monthly, computed daily).
  • The service is free for college students with a valid .edu address for four years after their initial registration.

You can withdraw and deposit money as you wish

There are no limits to the number of withdrawals and deposits you can make, and no fees for making them.

You can take advantage of fractional investing

One of the most powerful benefits of Acorns is that you can allocate fractional interests in ETF Units to individual investors. This allows you to open an Acorns Investment Account and invest in your personally selected, diversified portfolio, with only $5.00.

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How does it work?

As mentioned above, Acorns is a micro-investing tool. Its process is comprehensively explained on their website, but below is a simplified explanation for when you create an account with Acorns (explained further on in the article):

1. Allocate money

You will need to allocate money to your account by using one of the three methods detailed above in the article. The unique benefit of Acorns is that you can allocate your change from daily purchases to your account and it will be invested automatically. Round-Ups mean that your transactions are rounded up to the nearest dollar and the actual change you would have had is now allocated to your account and will be invested.

2. Choose your portfolio

There are five diversified portfolios available that consist of a mix of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) quoted on the S&P 500 or Dow Jones Industrial Average. These portfolios are constructed by an investment committee that is assisted by Nobel Prize winning economist, Dr. Harry Markowitz.

3. Invest your spare change

Acorns has a unique algorithm that works to keep the funds in your account within the specified range allocated to the portfolio you choose. It balances the ETF’s despite market fluctuations, but requires you to agree to the automated procedure of rebalancing your account by re-investing the ETF’s automatically. Any activity within your account, like withdrawals or deposits, will start corresponding transactions that work to automatically rebalance your account so that it stays within the target range of your chosen portfolio.

4. Withdraw or deposit at will

You can set your methods for investing money and withdraw or deposit money from your account at anytime.

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What fees will you pay to use the service?

The financial service offers a flat-fee for usage. For accounts under $5,000, there will be no account fee and only a maintenance fee of $1.00. If your balance is equal to or exceeds $5,000, you will not pay a maintenance fee for the month but you will pay an account fee of 0.25% (charged monthly, computed daily).

As with any financial service, it is advised to study the fee structure (there is a comprehensive overview on the Acorns website, under Program Agreement) to know the fees you can expect, for example, an account balance fee.

What support can you expect from Acorns?

The financial service offers dedicated support through email and via telephone at: (855) 739-2859, 6:00 am-5:00 pm PST, Monday- Friday. You can also contact the team through their Twitter, @acorns.

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What are the pros and cons of using Acorns for my next trade?

The pros

  • Unique method of capturing funds through rounding up everyday purchases you already make
  • Portfolios are constructed with the help of a Nobel Prize winning economist
  • Offers a powerful micro-investing platform on the web and on mobile applications
  • Offers flat-fees
  • Banking level security

The cons

  • Cannot build complex or big investment portfolios as it is focused on micro-investing
  • Usual investment risks still apply
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This all sounds great, how do I get started with Acorns?

  1. Go to the website and click to create an account.
  2. Fill out your basic personal details and create passwords
  3. Link your debit or credit card for the Round-Up feature
  4. Connect or create the funding account that will invest your allocated money
  5. Tell the financial service more about yourself for a better user experience

Do you have more questions?

Kyle Morgan

Kyle Morgan is a writer and editor for finder.com who has worked for the USA Today network and Relix magazine, among other publications. He can be found writing about everything from the latest car loan stats to tips on saving money when traveling overseas. He lives in Asbury Park, where he loves exploring new places and sipping on hoppy beer. Oh, and he doesn't discriminate against buffalo wings — grilled or fried are just fine.

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