The Acorns app is pretty cool–it helps you make money in a way that is hands-free… Who wouldn’t like that?
In this article I’ll be covering the 3 different ways to make money with Acorns.
Saving your nickels, dimes and pennies is a thing of the past–because, well, coins just aren’t even used that much anymore. In the world of plastic credit cards and PayPal, coins and paper bills don’t play the role they once did.
Don’t get me wrong–they still have their place. It’s just that digital transactions are becoming more commonplace and have taken over the largest portion of the pie.
Acorns knows this and developed their app to help ordinary people who aren’t very good at saving or investing–easily save and invest their money in a way that is comparable to saving and investing extra pocket change–only it’s completely digital.
Overview of the Acorns App
Acorns is what can be called a “micro investing” app that was first released in 2012. It has received a lot of media attention because of its ingenuity and what it brings to the table, having been featured on Forbes, CNBC, Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal and more.
What it offers is a “hands-free” investing service that is a very easy way for beginners to get started saving and investing their money. That said, it probably isn’t a good choice for the savvy investor who knows what they are doing.
*I keep referring to it as an app as if that is all it is. You can also open an account on their website instead of using the app.
In a nutshell, how it works (the main feature of the app) is by rounding up your purchases to the nearest dollar amount and investing the ‘extra change’ for you–all done automatically.
Example 1: If you go to a gas station and get $19.50 worth of gas–and you go inside to pay with a $20 bill–you are going to get back $0.50. If the cashier has a full drawer, you will get two quarters. With the Acorn app you will be paying the same $19.50 to the gas station for the gas, but the transaction will be rounded up to $0 and the extra $0.50 will be invested automatically.
Example 2: If you buy a ticket to go see the newest Marvel superhero movie for $7.95 the app is going to round that up to $8 and invest the extra $0.05.
Pretty cool right? It really is hands-free.
But not completely hands-free I guess–because you will have to use your hands when you are making a purchase with your debit card (bummer).
Linking Your Card
In order for Acorns to do its thing and scrape change from your purchases, you are going to have to link a card (or multiple cards if you want). This is pretty simple: You will be able to do this by searching for your bank inside the app and connecting it using your banking credentials (instructions here).
Another option you have is the Acorns Spend debit card that you can get for free (you can order one here). Yes, they have their own debit card that you can use. This is free and is hooked up to your Acorns Spend account, just like an debit card and checking account.
Acorns Spend Debit Card vs Your Own Card
Some of the benefits to having an Acorns Spend debit card include…
- Immediate round-ups (If you link your own credit/debit card it can take several days for the round-up to go through)
- Unlimited ATM reimbursement
- No minimum balance
- No overdraft fees
You can also choose to increase the amount that Acorns rounds up your purchases with their feature called the ’round up multiplier’, which you can use to increase the amount of your round-ups from 2x to 10x. So instead of getting a 5 cent round-up you could make your round-ups 2x and get 10 cents.
I’m glad they added this feature because regular old less than $1 round-ups don’t do all that much for most people–unless you are making tons of transactions all the time.
You can also get what is called ‘found money’. Acorns has ‘found money’ partnerships which big companies like AirBNB, Walmart, Blue Apron, Nike, Lyft, Macy’s, and a lot more where you get 1-2% cashback when you spend money at these places–and this money is automatically invested.
Really this is just like any ordinary cashback program (except for the part where Acorns invests it)–I guess they wanted to sound unique and call it ‘found money’. At any rate–it’s a nice little benefit where you can make money and have it invested by simply doing your normal shopping.
In addition to the automated investments that come from getting cashback and having your transactions rounded up, you also have the ability to invest money yourself. You can choose to make one-time investments at anytime you want or you can set up recurring investments, which can really add up.
So not only is it a good way to scrape some spare change from the money you spend but it is also an easy way to invest small amounts of money on a recurring basis. Investing just $10 a week adds up to over $500 a year.
Ok–so the app rounds up your purchases.
You receive cashback when you make purchases from certain companies.
And you can add money into your account on your own.
All of this money then gets placed in an investment portfolio of your choice.
When you download the app you will answer some questions and will then be recommended a portfolio based on the answers given. There are a range of portfolios from more risky aggressive ones to more conservative safe ones
You can see what a moderately aggressive portfolio looks like here (which is what I would go with)…
No matter which portfolio you choose, they will all contain some amount of the following…
- Large company stocks
- Small company stocks
- Emerging market stocks
- Real estate stocks
- Government bonds
- Corporate bonds
- International large company bonds
The more aggressive portfolios will be focused more on stocks whereas the more conservative portfolios will be focused more on bonds.
All of their portfolios have been structured with ETFs from popular and trusted investment companies such as Vanguard and BlackRock. Besides the fact that the app makes it incredibly easy and thoughtless to save money, they also make it thoughtless when it comes to investing, since they tell you which portfolio to go with and their portfolios are used by pros in the industry.
The 3 Ways to Earn
- Interest on investments – This consists of the profit that you make from the automatic investments Acorns makes for you.
- Found Money – As mentioned, this is just cashback (as it is normally called) where you can get 1-2% cashback on purchases with companies that Acorns is partnered with–the difference is that this cashback money is invested for you.
- Invite Friends – You can earn up to $5 when you refer others to download and use the app.
You could break it all down and say that there are 3 ways to earn money with Acorns–or you could say that making money from investments is the only way, since the money you ‘make’ with found money and by inviting friends just goes into investments anyhow.
Wait a minute… Did you seriously think this was free!!??? Hahaha.
Acorns is NOT free.
No, but really, it isn’t. It also is very affordable however.
For accounts with less than $1 million you only have to pay a measly $1 per month. And if you are a student with a .edu email address you can have this fee waived for 4 years.
But this only gives you access to Acorns Core, which is the ‘core’ of the app.
- Acorns Core – $1/mo
- `The basics
- Acorns Core + Acorns Later – $2/mo
- Can additionally invest in IRAs for ‘later’
- Acorns Core + Acorns Later + Acorns Spend – $3/mo
- Get everything they offer, including their Acorns Spend checking account
Is It Safe?
Acorns Securities, LLC is a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) which protects members up to $500,000. You can learn more about this protection at sipc.org.
In addition to this they also have in place…
- 256 bit encryption on their website and app
- Multi-factor authentication
- ID verification
- and account alerts
… so that you can have peace of mind.
If you trust online banking then there is no reason not to trust Acorns.
Pros V Cons
- You probably won’t even notice – If you don’t use the round up multiplier, then you will probably never even notice the money leaving your account. Fractions of dollars adds up over time, but aren’t really noticeable in day to day life.
- It does the work for you – It rounds up your transactions for you. It invests for you. It does everything.
- An easy way to invest – You don’t need to know a thing about investing. You just choose which investment portfolio they recommend.
- No min balance for debit card – If you do end up going with the Acorns Spend debit card then you will be happy to hear there is no minimum balance required.
- Cashback opportunities – Cashback–who doesn’t like cashback?
- You spend more money – You will be spending more money on all of your transactions, since they are going to be rounded up. Although it is pretty much unnoticeable, I guess you could count this as a con.
- You probably won’t make much – Unless you are adding money into your account on your own, or unless you increase your roundups, you probably will not make much at all because the amounts being invested will be very small.
- Basic portfolios – The portfolios are very basic. Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t bad, but basic. For a savvy investor who knows what they are doing, they will likely be wanting more.
Conclusion – Worth Your Time or Not?
Overall I like what I see with Acorns. They make it easier for younger generations to get involved with saving and investing, which is going to help them out in the long run. While there is more to be desired and it may not seem worth it for someone who knows what they are doing, for a beginner it is something that I would recommend.
Acorns is a mindless way to help prepare for your future, which seems to be a problem that the younger generations are having more and more trouble with.
Do you want to save money? Do you want to invest that money? Do you want it to be as easy as possible?
Ya… Then Acorns is a good app for you.
I hope you enjoyed!
Comments or questions? Leave them below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can 🙂
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