Lots of people want to save a little bit of money every month, but few people end up actually doing so. It is so easy to spend every dollar of pay, with nothing left at the end of the month. But what if there was an easy way to save, every month, without breaking the bank? Saving just the way we always used to, by putting away spare change? Read our Acorns app review to find out how you can invest your spare change – electronically.
Savings shouldn’t be complicated, it is hard enough to find money to put away. The Acorns app aims to make it easy to save – while leaving you with enough choices so that you can save how much you want to, when you want to. That said, the Acorn app’s main selling point is micro investing.
Before the cashless society started to take shape most people used to have a pot where spare change would go – pay $1.75 for a coffee, and $0.25 would end up in the pot. Eventually, this spare change would add up to a sizable sum that could be invested every month. But with the increasing use of debit and credit cards for payment fewer of us have spare change lying around.
The Acorn app links to your bank account and monitors your card transactions. When you spend $1.75 on coffee, the app “rounds up” the amount you spent to $2.00. It then allocates $0.25 for investment. $0.25 does not sound like a lot, but with many people using a card for up 50 or 100 transactions a month, the aggregate amount can be something meaningful.
Acorn calls this micro investing option Round-Ups. But the Acorn app can also work for users who want to save fixed amounts, or larger amounts. You can even save with Acorn without putting away a penny of your own money. In addition to micro investing, the Acorn app gives you the option to invest:
- Recurring amounts. You can set a fixed amount of as little as $5 (or much more if you wish) to be invested on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
- One-time investments. The Acorn app lets you invest a single, one-off amount if you want to. This is a great option just after a bonus payment, for example.
- By referring users. If your friends sign up to Acorn the app gives you an investment bonus.
- By shopping at qualifying brands. You can even top up your Acorn investments by shopping at brands that are signed up with Acorn. Every time you shop a small amount is added to your investment account.
Note that the Acorn app is a sophisticated investment solution. Yes, it offers you plenty of ways to save. But the Acorn app also lets you choose how and where you want to invest. With the Acorn app you can choose from a range of ETFs, based on your investment goals.
You can save for free in a low-interest savings account, but any investment fund that offers substantial returns will charge an investment fee. This is the case with ETF-driven Acorns too. The fee structure is nonetheless attractive in comparison to other apps. With Acorns fees are divided into two tiers, based on the size of your account:
- Under $5,000: If you have less than $5,000 saved with Acorns you pay a flat monthly fee of $1. Whether you have $100 or $ 2,000 invested the fees you pay add up to $12/year.
- $5,000 and over: For larger accounts, Acorns charge a fixed 0.25% per annum. So if you have $10,000 invested you will pay a $25 fee.
Acorn’s fee structure is competitive if you have a larger amount invested. Betterment, for example, charges 0.25% while robo-advisors such as Liftoff and FutureAdvisor charge 0.4% and 0.5% respectively.
On the other hand, the $1/month fee can be an expensive portion of your total investment with Acorns if you have only a very small amount saved in the app. Stick to saving by means of Round-Ups, for example, and the first few month’s fees may eat up several percentage points of your savings. That said, it is still better than saving nothing at all.
Investment apps always get a mix of both positive and negative reviews. Yes, the Acorn app has received negative reviews but overall, users like the app. This becomes clear when you look at the app store reviews for the Acorns app. On Google Play, users rate the Acorns app (4.3 / 5). Users love the Round-Ups feature and the fact that investments can be withdrawn at any time. However, some users complained about app glitches and difficulties closing an account.
There are negative reviews from Apple users too, with one user frustrated with glitches caused as Acorn was trying to catch up with new account registrations. But overall App Store users like the Acorn app, scoring it (4.7 / 5). Just like Android users, Apple users really like the fact that you can easily squirrel away small amounts of money without noticing the effect on your monthly budget.
Both Acorns and Stash are great apps to help you get into the habit of saving and investing. The management fees for these apps are similar and both apps allow you to open an account without committing to an investment.
Stash doesn’t have the round-up feature that Acorns has, so you need to be more deliberate about your savings efforts with Stash. Yet Stash offers a wider selection of ETFs, so you could potentially fine-tune your Stash investment more closely to your requirements.
Many people like the theme-driven investment options of Stash, but Acorns could be a better option if you simply want to set your investment goals and forget about it. Acorn also has the benefit in that it automatically picks funds for you whereas with Stash you need to choose your investment options. As always, choosing which app is better suited to your circumstances will depend on your individual investment goals.