With Micro-Investing, Your Smartphone Pays YOU

By Kat Tretina on 15 August 2016 1 comment

Approximately two-thirds of Millennials do not have any money invested in the stock market due to concerns about risk, putting them at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to retirement. Without regular returns and compound interest, young professionals will need to sock away a much larger amount of money to retire.

But new, micro-investing apps can help Millennials dip their toes into the stock market. Because the invested amounts are small, and the apps make investing accessible, young adults are more likely to start contributing money and earning returns.

What Is Micro-Investing?

Micro-investing, where users invest tiny amounts of money on a regular basis, allows people to start investing with relatively small sums. Some brokerages have investment minimums as high as $1,000; for those just starting out or battling debt, coming up with that first $1,000 can be overwhelming.

With micro-investing, your account is linked to your debit card or bank account. Every time you make a purchase, such as your morning coffee, the apps round up the purchase and the difference is invested in stocks. While the amounts are negligible and you are likely not even going to notice the withdrawals from your account, small investments build over time and help you develop the habit of saving and investing.

These innovative apps and platforms make investing simple and easy to do, even if you are new to financial management.

Acorns

Acorns' name is derived from the saying "From little acorns mighty oaks grow." Its goal is to empower people to build a large nest egg from small, regular investments. The app links to any credit card or debit card. When you make a purchase, the app rounds up and deposits your change into a portfolio of exchange-traded funds (ETFs). There are different portfolios available depending on your risk tolerance, from conservative to aggressive. If you do not know where to begin, Acorns also provides recommendations based on your age and target retirement date. There are no minimum account balances or commission fees, but there is a monthly cost of $1 and a management fee of 0.5%.

Robin Hood

Robin Hood is one of the few apps that offers zero-commission stock trading. It features a simple and intuitive design and allows you to connect to your bank account and make recurring deposits. You can shop for specific stocks or sell shares directly from your phone. Each day, the menu will show you how much you have earned on the market. Once you are ready to withdrawal money, the funds are easily transferred to your bank with the touch of a button.

Stash

Stash is one of the newest apps on the market. Their motto is if you have $5, two minutes, and a phone, you can be an investor. It is a tool that allows you to buy fractional shares, rather than having to pay the entire amount for a single share yourself. You can pick investments based on what is important to you, such as clean energy or fair trade. Stash charges $1 a month with no commissions. Special offer: Wise Bread users can get $5 to get started with Stash!

For Millennials spooked by the stock market and traditional stock market investments, micro-investing apps can be a useful tool to help them test the waters and get used to regular investing. These apps enable users to start investing with just small amounts, eliminating one of the main barriers to entering the stock market. With regular contributions and patience, over time, these small amounts can grow to substantial amounts of money.

Are you a micro or macro investor?

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Guest's picture
Jonathan Dyer

I'm a big fan of this trend in apps and FinTech in general. Personally I've only experimented with Acorns but intend to give the other two mentioned here a shot as well.

One thing I found very interesting about Acorns was how, following the Brexit selloff, they sent e-mails to users explaining what was happening and provided data that showed staying the course was the best move. It's little things like that that can have a big impact on educating the younger generation(s) about investing. Kudos to them.

Damian Davila's picture

I didn't know about Stash and Robin Hood, thanks for sharing.