Here's What I Learned About Money After Using Acorns

By Chrissa Hardy on 14 April 2016 4 comments

I have a rich history of being broke. I've always struggled with managing my money properly, and being able to resist the urge to buy things I don't need, rather than saving for my future. The problem with the future is that it's the future. It's off in the distance, a haze that I can't even see. There's no immediate reward in investing or saving. When faced with a new book, a flowy frock, or a delicious meal, the peace of mind that comes with planning for the future has always seemed like the boring, undesirable option. Until now.

Now, I'm actually an adult. I've got big plans that go beyond what I'll be doing this coming Saturday night, and they involve retiring comfortably with lots of cash in the bank and lots of grandkids running around my yard. And what caused this shift in mindset was not only age, but also, Acorns.

How It Works

Acorns is a service that takes your electronic spare change, and invests it into a diversified portfolio. A team of experts, including mathematicians, financial experts, and top investors work behind the scenes to make sure your chump change grows into a brilliant little nest egg. You connect your bank account to your Acorns account, and the "spare change" from each transaction in that bank account gets automatically transferred into your Acorns account.

So, for example, with the bank I use, I have a checking account with a debit card, a savings account, and a credit card. Acorns sees the transactions of all these accounts, and rounds up the total of each purchase to the next dollar. If I buy something on Amazon and spend $19.60 — whether I use my debit card or credit card to pay — Acorns will round that transaction up to $20.00, and invest the remaining $.40. Once the round ups reach $5.00, the funds will be automatically deducted from my checking account, and Acorns will invest it.

The investments are spread over large company stocks, small company stocks, emerging market stocks, real estate, corporate bonds, and government bonds. Based on your investing goal and general time frame, you can change your investing style from conservative to aggressive whenever you want.

It's easy, convenient, and it really teaches you a lot about money — especially if you're prone to recklessly spending all your dough. Here's what I learned about money after using Acorns for just three months. (See also: 5 MicroSaving Tools to Help You Start Saving Now)

Investing Doesn't Need to Be Complicated

I've had a few investment accounts through previous employers, and it always seemed like such a complex and intimidating process to make the right investment decisions. It was like learning a new language, and I can't even remember most of the French I learned in high school, so I felt utterly left out.

But Acorns breaks it down and lets you see any changes to your investments in real time. You can also make changes to your portfolio at any time, depending on your goals. It could not be a more painless process.

Patience Is Money

They say, "Time is money" but I'd argue that patience, specifically, is way more valuable. Because you can't get anywhere in saving money or investing money without patience. Safeguarding your financial future takes a long time, and you need to be in it for the long haul, if you're going to do it right. Luckily, by using Acorns, and playing with their projection tools, that hazy future is a whole lot clearer.

Saving Is Surprisingly Thrilling

Getting any joy out of spending money used to mean purchasing a tangible thing that I could look at, wear, or play with like a shiny new toy. But Acorns has flipped that habit on its head, by giving me a substantial peek into just how cozy I can be if I save regularly and invest wisely. Being smart is way more fun than being spendy.

Since I started using acorns three months ago, I've invested about $300, between round ups, weekly automatic transfers, and occasionally sending over an extra $20 when I'm feeling particularly money-motivated. My total gain is $4.48. It doesn't seem like much, right? But that money was working hard for me over the course of 90 days. And if I hadn't used Acorns, I probably wouldn't have saved that much, and I definitely would not have made any extra. I'm proud of that baby gain, and I'm excited to see where I'll be in six months. (See also: The 5 Millennial Money Apps Everyone Should Use)

The More You Earn, the More You Learn

With Acorns, once you start seeing your account grow, you feel a sense of accomplishment that often leads to a hunger for more knowledge. You don't want to worry about losing it all, or your "luck" wearing out. So you want to know more, to become more informed, so you can maybe take what you've learned from Acorns and find other ways to invest in your future.

Your Money Should Never Get a Day Off

You work hard. And your money should always be working hard, too. Acorns makes monitoring your investments so easy that you can check in on everything while on a tropical vacation, sipping blended cocktails in the sun, while your moola is still on the 9-5 grind.

An Automated Life Is a Happy Life

The best part of Acorns, by far, is the automation. You link your bank account to Acorns to get it set up, and then you can also set up recurring deposits, track upcoming round-ups, and make checking on your investments as quick and easy as checking your Twitter notifications. This is now a quick part of your daily routine that leads to zero headaches, and only profitable progress in the right direction. Does it really get any better than that?

Have you tried Acorns? Has it worked for you? Share with us in the comments!

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Guest's picture
Guest

Although this app is based on a noble idea, it's actually pretty terrible. Their fee, as a percentage of your investment, is pretty high. You would have to have at least 150 transactions a month for this to be worthwhile. At that rate, you have a problem that no investment program is going to fix. At 50 transactions or less, 10% or more of your investment is being eaten up by fees. For Acorn, this is genius - but for 99% of the public that doesn't care or isn't smart enough to figure it out, it's just terrible.

Guest's picture
Guest

I completely agree with you. Fees eat up your nest. You must be vigilant in where your money grows.

Guest's picture
Guest

150 transactions is $75 on average. So yes, if you only invest for 1 month and then quit then you'd need 75 transactions and around 1.3% gain on that month (which actually would be decent gain for a single month). If you invest for 2, 3, 6 months or anything more your numbers really don't work. If you invest anything outside of roundups then your numbers again don't work. The fees are quite low once you have $5,000 in your account. 1/4% is comparable to wealthfront/betterment/stash etc... That being said if you just open an account and only use roundups the fees will eat all the gains in average market situations for the first 6 months or so. If you start with $100 or you invest $5-10/week then that time-frame will be a lot shorter. But if you're planning on taking your money out after a month you really shouldn't be investing it anyway.

Guest's picture
Guest

The app is a great way to start a diversified portfolio and easily save for long term wealth. The fee's are only 1.00 per month which is NOTHING compared to normal trades. Plus, I leave it on auto round up and since I put in about 50.00 a month, it's well worth it.

Guest's picture
Kalie Downey

I've been using Acorns for a couple months now. My portfolio is set to Moderate. Most days, I lose money.

While I am happy that I've saved money, I feel disappointed every time I log in and see the number go down. Maybe I'm expecting some sort of stock market boom?

The next time I see a profit, I am selling off my shares and putting the money into a high interest savings account instead.

That's just my opinion. I hope your stocks are doing better than mine!