ACORNS INVESTING REVIEW

In this Acorns investing review, we’ll explore the robo-advisor concept of micro-investing and how it can work for you. Touted as the new millennial investing strategy, this is an app that strives to simplify the investing process for the up-and coming investors. Instead of throwing your loose change in a piggy bank, you can use their automated savings tool.

ACORNS INVESTING REVIEW - HISTORY

Jeff Cruttenden, 28, came up with the idea for the business in 2011 while he was a student in Portland, Oregon. "So many of my friends talked about investing all the time, [but] they literally had nothing," he said.

Finally his dream to make investing accessible to everyone came true and the Acorns app was launched on August 26th, 2014.

"People generally associate investing with lots of dollars," said Jeff Cruttenden, co-founder and CEO of Acorns. "Once [people] find out that you can invest spare change, it's a really attractive concept."

Not surprisingly, millennial's make up the majority of ​it's user base. As of May 2018, it had more than 3.5 million users.

Acorns Investing Review

ACORNS INVESTING​ REVIEW - HOW DOES ACORN WORK?

The investing app encourages you to invest your spare change using a system they call "round-ups. ​It sweeps excess change from every purchase using a linked account into an investment portfolio.

There are three levels of service: Core, Later and a checking account called Spend.

Investing in a Core account lets you put a minimum of $5 to work by purchasing a set of diversified exchange-traded funds (ETFs).  For $1 per month, Acorns Core automatically transfers money to your account, based on your preferences. ​The app rounds up to the nearest $1 and gives you the option to transfer that change into an investment portfolio.

For example, if you buy a coffee for $4.75, ​the app rounds up to $5.00 and automatically invest $.25. Once the roundups reach $5, it withdraws the money and invests in a personalized stock portfolio.

What's more, you can attach a credit card or a PayPal account to your portfolio.

ACORNS INVESTING REVIEW - HOW IS ​THIS APP DIFFERENT?

Everything is automated, no minimums, no trade fees, only $1, $2 or $3 until you have $1 million invested. There's support when you need it. What’s more, it’s free for college students with a valid .edu email address.

ACORNS INVESTING REVIEW - GROWING YOUR INVESTMENTS

You can apply a multiplier to your roundups as well to save more. So, a $0.25 roundup turns into $2.50. Which means at the end of the month, the app invests about 30% of your income. 

In my opinion, it's a great way to save.

​The mobile app gives you a complete view of your account and how you can change your future buy investing more. Acorns Later customers, you can now allocate One-Time Contributions to the 2018 or 2019 tax years! Just tap "Invest for your future," then "Later," and select the "One-Time" button at the top of your screen.

ACORNS INVESTING REVIEW - FEES

At a glance the fees seem reasonable. In fact, if you’re looking to open a Acorns Core taxable investment account, it will set you back only $1 a month. Additionally, the Acorns Spend checking account and debit card is $3 a month. This also includes the investment accounts. 

Compared to traditional management, mutual funds, and do it yourself exchange traded funds, this fee is incredibly low. It does, however, take a $1 per month fee on accounts under $5,000 -- and .25% per year on accounts over that amount.

If you spend more you invest more and the % Acorn takes goes down. At 100 transactions per month with an average of $.25 per transaction, you’ll invest $25 the first month and give 4% to Acorns. At 150 transactions, you’re investing $37.50 and giving almost 2.7% to Acorns.

On the other hand, if you only make 50 transactions a month with an average of $.025 rounded up, you’re only investing $12.50 a month. This means Acorn’s taking away 8% of your investment portfolio in your first month. 

ACORNS INVESTING REVIEW - THE COMPETITION

Typically other robo-advisors out there charge a percentage of your assets they manage. For example, competitors like Wealthfront and Betterment charge a 0.25% management fee. Furthermore, Wealthfront has a $500 account minimum, effectively excluding those with little money to invest.

Canadian robo-advisor Wealthsimple has relatively higher fees of up to .50%, but also offer a human touch. Wealthsimple charges a .40 - .50% account management fee. 

In contrast, Acorns charges a flat fee of $1, $2 or $3 which is rare.

ACORNS INVESTING REVIEW - THE PORTFOLIOS

Similar to other robo-advisors, Acorns takes the investing decisions out of the hands of the user. Like any investing company/service, you need to answer a series of questions to determine which portfolio is best for you.

Acorns lets users choose between five different portfolios on a scale of conservative to aggressive. Users answer basic questions about investment goals and risk preferences; which determine what portfolio their change goes into.

On the other hand, the portfolios are smaller than the average robo-advosor ones. They're made up of low-cost iShares and Vanguard exchange-traded funds that cover just five to seven asset classes. They range from real estate, large-cap stocks (domestic and international), small-cap stocks, emerging markets, and corporate and government bonds.

If that feels too restrictive, you might prefer to build your own portfolio without the help of a service like Acorns. Our trading service has blogs on how to invest in stock trading to get you started.

ACORNS INVESTING ​REVIEW - ACORN SPEND

By simply downloading their free app and linking it to your Acorns Spend debit card, you can spend, save and invest all at the same time.   

The app rounds up your purchases on linked credit or debit cards, then sweeps the change into a computer-managed investment portfolio. That approach is certainly a useful tool to save more — especially with the launch of retirement accounts, called Acorns Later.

Furthermore, Acorns Spend offers real-time roundups to your investment or retirement account, mobile check deposits, free ATMs (or reimbursed ATM fees), and requires no minimum balance.

ACORNS INVESTING REVIEW -  SPEND AND GET CASH BACK WITH FOUND MONEY!

Really, what’s better than cash back? When you shop with Found Money partners, they’ll automatically invest in your Acorns Core account! Cash forward is the new cash back.  

​This app has linked with over 200 companies - including Airbnb, Barnes & Nobel, Groupon, Lyft, Macy’s, Nike, Sephora, Walmart

You simply shop with the Acorns credit or debit card that you've linked to your Acorns Core account.

Found Money will appear in your account within 60-120 days of your purchase. You will be able to see the status of your Found Money in the history screen in your app.

ACORNS INVESTING REVIEW

  • $0 to open account; $5 required to start investing
  • Acorns Core is free for college students
  • No commission
  • No overdraft or minimum account fees, unlimited free or fee-reimbursed ATMs nationwide
  • Up to $250,000 fraud protection
  • Phone, email and in-app chat support
  • ETFs from 7 asset classes available
  • Exchange-traded fund expense ratios average 0.10%
  • You can now open IRA accounts

ACORNS INVESTING REVIEW - CONS

  • Human financial adviser not available
  • Forced to choose from their five default portfolios
  • Not ideal if you have less than 50 transactions a month
  • Only available to US citizens

ACORNS INVESTING ​REVIEW - WHO IS ACORNS BEST FOR?

  • Hands off investors
  • College students
  • People who struggle to save
  • Would-be investors with little money to invest

ACORNS INVESTING REVIEW - THE BOTTOM LINE

I’m 100% behind any tool that automates savings. The Acorn approach is particularly advantageous for college students who don't have much change to spare. 

The downside? At small balances, ​the apps fees can cut into or completely wipe away investment returns.

Compounding really is the 8th wonder of the world and in 4 years of collecting spare change, it can really add up!

Quite frankly, if you want to make the most of your spare change and get the occasional retailer kickback, there’s really no better place to do that.

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