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How I used spare change to pay for my next vacation
App puts small amounts of money to work
Published Sunday, November 12, 2017 6:13 am
by George Acheampong

In 2017, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone carrying any cash, much less a pocket full of change.

With our debit and credit cards as our primary go to option for payment(s) along with application such as cash app, PayPal and Venmo. It’s easier than ever exchange money for goods and services without ever having to touch a single dollar bill. So how did I save $1,800 with my spare change that I will use for my next vacation you might ask? With the innovative and convenient app Acorns.

So what is Acorns and how does it work?
Admittedly, I didn’t have to come in the house at the end of each day and empty my pockets into a piggy-bank or a big jar. However, I was able to save my spare change, but in a way that was automatic, efficient and I didn’t even have to think about it.  All you have to do is connect your bank account and debit card to the platform and spend money as you normally would.

With each transaction, Acorns will round it up to the nearest dollar and invest the difference. For example; lets say you went to Starbucks to get your pumpkin-spiced latte (it’s that time of year) and a muffin. Your total comes up to $6.32. Acorns is going to round that transaction up to $7.00 and invest the difference, which in this case, 68 cents.

Now that might not sound like much, but if you factor in every time you grab a bite to eat, go shopping or get gas; overtime, that could amount to a decent chunk of change. Acorns usually waits until you have $5.00 worth of spare change, known as Round-Ups, before making an investment. However, they do give you an option to “invest now” if you simply can’t wait to get in on the action

What kind of investments can I get with “spare change”?
When you create an account with Acorns, they ask you a few standard questions that help them learn a little more about you. They will help you figure out what your risk tolerance is so that you can be invested in a way that would be suitable for the level of risk your comfortable taking, ranging from conservative to aggressive. Acorns touts that their portfolios are diversified over 7,000 stocks and bonds, which is made possible due to fractional share ownership or “micro investing” in their portfolio of Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs).

How much do I need to get started and what’s the cost?
Acorns has no account minimums and no trading fees. All you need to do is connect your bank account, which will be your funding source, in the event you want to deposit or withdraw money with your Acorns account.  Once your debit/credit card is linked, you go spend as you normally would and your spare change will start getting invested! The cost is $1 per month; until your account reaches 5,000 then you will pay a fee of just .25 percent annually.

Additional features
Found money – Acorns has partnered with a handful of partners that will invest in your Acorns account on your behalf if you shop with them. To name a few: Airbnb, Blue Apron, Direct TV and several others. Shop with vendors you would normally patronize and get money invested in your account.

Track performance – you can easily track how your investments are doing by checking the performance from one day, one month or even one year and beyond. So far my account is up just shy of 11 percent, which isn’t too shabby for some spare change.

See your potential – Curious to know how adding a few extra dollars to your account could change your savings goals? Acorns gives you the option to setup one-time investments that you can do whenever you like, as well as recurring daily, weekly or monthly investments. So if you’re looking to supercharge your savings beyond just your spare change, you can do so. Acorns easy-to-use interface allows you to quickly see what your projected account value could be by adding or increasing a recurring investment. I recently started doing a $5 a week recurring investment. Big money, I know.

The bottom line
Acorns is a great new-age way to automate your savings in a way that if you tried to do it manually, would likely be cumbersome and unsuccessful.  In my opinion, Acorns should be viewed as a supplemental savings and not a replacement to having a solid financial strategy in place. Acorns is simple, easy to use but does have its limitations in service offering and portfolio options.  So if you’re looking for a new way to boost your savings, consider giving Acorns a try.

For informational purposes only. You should always consult with a financial professional prior to investing.

George Acheampong is a financial planner and founder of Charlotte-based Makes Cents 2 Me.
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Great article! Thanks for sharing details about acorn.
Posted on November 30, 2017

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