From a tiny acorn, a mighty tree can grow. That’s what Acorn encourages users to believe with its straightforward investing app. Through linking your credit, debit, and bank accounts, Acorn takes your everyday spending and rounds up to the next dollar on purchases. The difference is then deposited into your Acorns investing account.
Spend $3.64 at Starbucks? Acorns rounds it up to $4.00 and puts the remaining $0.36 into your investment account. The same goes for anywhere else you make purchases.
There’s a lot to love about Acorns, especially if you’re a younger investor who wants to plan for the future but may not have a ton of extra income to save.
What’s the benefit of Acorns? And is a good place to store your hard-earned cash? Find out everything you need to know in this ultimate Acorns review.
What Is Acorns?
Acorns is the modern version of saving your spare coins in a jar on the fridge. Founded in 2012, this micro-investing and robo-investing services company has grown to over 4.5 million users and $1.2 billion managed assets. That’s not bad for a company that focuses on your extra change.
Pay attention to these key terms: micro-investing and robo-investing. Micro-investing is the process of depositing, saving, and investing small amounts of money into investment accounts. Usually, platforms that provide obstacles for investing like training fees and account minimums.
Robo-investing is the process of using automated algorithms and advanced software to manage your portfolio. If you’ve ever wanted a robot to walk your dog or cook your dinner, think of robo-investing as the investing equivalent to this.
Micro-investing and robo-investing are the two defining characteristics of using Acorns. If you wanted to pick out select stocks like Apple, Microsoft, or your best friend’s company, then this isn’t it. Instead, you choose from one of five portfolio styles that vary in terms of risk and reward between conservative and aggressive.
Likewise, while Acorns will happily look after millions of your dollars, you can get started using it for as little as $5
How To Get Started With Acorns
You don’t have to know anything about stocks, portfolios, or bonds to use Acorns. You can get started using it in just a few minutes.
Download the app or sign up through the Acorns website. You will have to put in a good deal of personal information, including your address, birthdate, and Social Security Number. Do note Acorns, like many other investment apps, are for US residents online. You’ll also need to link at least one bank account to get the service up and running.
After this, Acorns will then ask you some questions about your employment status, net worth, and risk tolerance.
Be honest because this will directly determine the type of portfolio that Acorns chooses for you though you are free to change styles at any time.
Once you do this, you’ll be taken to your account dashboard where you can start your first deposit, set up Roundups, and customize more of your settings and preferences.
Acorns is meant to be low-maintenance and low effort. While it has branched out into a few other offerings, including Acorns Later (for retirement) and Acorns Early (accounts for your children), its main offering revolves around a few main terms and features.
The heart of Acorns. This is the change difference between the purchases you make and the next dollar up. Acorns automatically rounds up for each purchase for linked credit and debit cards to invest automatically.
2. Recurring Investment
This is a set amount of money that will be automatically invested each week from your connected bank account. The idea is to make investing an automatic activity for you. You can set it to be done daily, weekly, or monthly.
3. Found Money
With Acorns, you can get extra cash into your account when you shop with select Acorns partners. This updates all the time and includes big names like Apple, Chevron, Airbnb, and many other major companies.
The catch, however, is you must purchase by going through the Acorns “Shop Now” portal.
4. Acorns Spend
Acorns now offers a checking account and debit card that saves and invests for you directly with each purchase. The card also offers ATM-fee refunds at 55,000 ATMs around the country.
5. Acorns Grow
Acorns Education blog for smart financial and investment decisions that is accessible via the app or online.
Acorns has three pricing tiers starting from $1/month:
- Lite – $1/month: Acorns Invest (automated investing account)
- Spend – $3/month: Invest, Later, Spend
- Family – $5/month: Invest, Later, Spend, Early
However, there are no transaction or withdrawal fees for Acorn. So, if you decide you need to withdraw your money for whatever reason, you can get it back within a few days without paying a fee.
Different Acorns Investment Approaches
Acorns is a robo-investor. This means you’ll never directly pick the stocks, bonds, and other financial products in your portfolio.
Instead, you’re given a choice between five different investment styles from conservative to aggressive.
The more aggressive you choose, the more of your savings get invested into stocks and less in bonds, which are generally more conservative. That’s because stocks are higher risk (and reward) while bonds are safer long-term bets.
Acorns automatically suggest a portfolio type based on your age, income, and assets. You are free to change the style at any time. Acorns will rebalance the portfolio within 5 days.
However, remember there is a reason why you’ve decided to invest with a robo-investor. Do you really want to bet against advanced algorithms? While you may want to change your style periodically, doing so often may actually cause you to lose money.
Who Should Use Acorns?
Overall, Acorns is best suited for these types of people:
- People interested in passive saving and investing
- Young adults without retirement or 401(k) accounts
- People with little time, patience, or interest in personally manage investments
- Those who need a little kick start to make saving an integral part of their lives.
Is Acorns Worth It?
Acorns is perfect for younger investors. If you are under 24 or have a .edu email address, you can actually get all your fees waived.
Fees between $1-5 a month are pretty low and some of Acorns competitors offer even lower monthly costs. Further, the more you deposit into your Acorns account, the less of a percentage these fees will become.
What’s best about Acorns is how easy it is to set up and use. As you can see from above, you can start putting away your spare change in minutes. In addition, the portfolios actually do perform pretty well. You might not make millions, but you can get a solid return on investment for absolutely minimal effort —what could be better than that?
- No minimum investment required to open an account
- Straightforward to use
- Roundups make building a nest egg simple
- Automatic investing
- Suggest portfolio based on your profile
- Some customizability
- Great extra account options like IRA and account for children
- No fee for withdrawing funds
- Found money increases ROI of app and can double-dip with credit card rewards
- Fees are a bit high especially for those with small balances
- No tax benefits or assistance
- Smaller portfolio compared to other tools
There are tons of different apps out there that offer a similar micro-investing approach to saving. That big question is how involved you want to be in the process.
Two of the most popular alternatives to Acorns are Robinhood and Stash.
What Is Robinhood?
Robinhood is a better fit for people who want to be more active in choosing their investments. With it, you get much more customization than Acorns while still keeping low fees and commission-free treads.
You can even get in on cryptocurrency trades with it. If you’re looking for a streamlined and straightforward way to get into trading stocks, then be sure to check it out.
What Is Stash?
Stash also puts much more control into your hands. With it, you select stocks and bonds directly. Stash also offers a debit account, fractional shares, suggested investing themes, and roundups. Stash’s account fees are a touch higher than Acorns, but Stash does offer more frequent promotions so it’s a bit of a toss-up in this area.
The Common Issue With These Types Of Apps
These tools are all great, but there’s nothing they can do that you can’t do yourself given a little time, energy, and self-education. You can set up your own brokerage accounts and invest directly into the same funds, bonds, and stocks.
Acorns and the other tools are simply providing a convenience for you. The fees really aren’t that much but there is nothing stopping you from directly setting up a brokerage account with an institution like Charles Schwab or TD Ameritrade.
So, consider investing directly and keeping what you would have spent on Acorns or Stash for yourself.
Acorns: The Bottom Line
Do you want an effortless way to start investing? Then Acorns is an excellent option for you. It allows you to invest automatically through roundups and recurring payments so you can start building your nest egg with zero knowledge of the stock market and minimal fees. Start putting your spare change to work and check it out now.