Acorns is an innovative robo-advisor that can help you start saving and develop investing habits that can lead to long-term financial health.
What is Acorns Investing?
Acorns investing is a company that brings together long-standing wisdom about saving and investing with some of the newest innovations in achieving those goals.
The wisdom is that saving that starts early in life, is regular, and continues over decades can produce lifelong financial health. That is the power of compounding gains (each year’s gains mean more to invest the following year, and so on).
The innovations? Acorns is a robo-advisor that offers an automatic, painless (even enjoyable) way to open a savings account, continue an Acorns savings program, and make it habitual. As savings grow, the Acorns investing app and Acorns stock app support trading. Later, there are increasing options for accelerating the growth of wealth. Acorns now has more than eight million members that use its platform and its easy-to-use Acorns app.
How Does Acorns Work?
The “acorns” are the small initial amounts you save that can grow into the mighty oak of financial independence. It begins with opening and Acorns and then linking to any accounts you use to pay for things (a credit or debit card, for example). Then, whenever you spend, or, if you wish, just when you spend on certain things, Acorns automatically rounds up what you paid to the next higher dollar. For example, you spend $4.35, and Acorns increases it to $5.00. The 65 cents is automatically saved in your Acorns account.
You are not worrying about saving, and how much, and about investing. The amount you add to your Acorns account is literally pocket change. But it is regular, day after day, year after year, and that adds up. It definitely adds up to more than people accumulate who never start saving. And if you start at an early age, decades of compounding can do wonders for building wealth.
Acorns is about removing barriers that prevent a surprisingly large number of people from ever starting to save. For such people, the only steps they need to make are to open an Acorns account online and link it to one or more credit cards or other accounts, period.
If that is the savings part, what about the investment part? Acorns offers you some easy to understand choices. One is an individual, taxable investment account like one that you might open with any broker. Another is an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), either traditional, Roth, or SEP. IRAs are tax-advantaged in different ways. You pay no tax on the money you put into a traditional IRA, and the investment gains are not taxed over the years. You pay tax when you withdraw the money, usually in retirement, when you don’t have other income, so your taxes are lower. Different types of IRAs have additional tax advantages and rules.
And a significant bonus is the Acorns partner program through which leading retailers nationwide will add to your round-up amount when you make a purchase–just to say “thanks” for shopping.
Should You Use Acorns for Investing?
Acorns also offers accounts for kids, with their parents as custodians of the funds. By the logic of compound growth of savings and investments, starting as a kid is the best possible beginning for building real wealth. The simplicity of Acorns saving and investing is perfect for kids and their parents. But young people in college or starting their careers are excited about Acorns as a way to get a head start on building wealth; at a time, many of their peers aren’t paying attention. Another group that can benefit is the individuals in their forties or older who never started saving. Now, they have an urgent need to catch up. Even if funds are tight, the Acorns method gives them a much-needed start.
Acorns Pros and Cons
- You can put savings and investment on “automatic” for now.
- You have a choice of taxable and tax-advantaged investment accounts.
- For kids, it is a perfect way to begin saving.
- The Acorns app. enables you to do it all from your smartphone.
- There are additional features such as checking, free ATMs, and a “partner” program.
- Acorns does not do “tax-loss harvesting,” the timing of taking profits and losses to minimize taxes.
- While your account is very small, the flat fee can be a significant percentage.
- There are no human financial advisors, only robo-advisors.
Features and Services
Some features and services have been mentioned. Here is a little more about them:
How is it invested when you have chosen a type of account (taxable, IRA) and saved some money? Again, Acorns is about making it easy. It offers five investment portfolio options to its customers. Examples are “aggressive” and “moderately conservative.” Again, this keeps it simple for customers who don’t want to spend time on their investments.
Acorns Later is the Acorns program of Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). Acorns helps you to choose the IRA suitable for you at this time. Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, or SEP are tax-advantaged but somewhat different ways and with different rules according to the intended purpose.
Acorns checking is called Spend. The checking account comes with a debit card that applies Acorns and Acorns Later functions to all your purchases of any kind. You can do real-time rounding up and automatic retirement savings and extra savings. And Acorns and Acorns Later investing functionality applies to every purchase you make. Because the debit card is offered through Visa, you get fee-free access to more than 55,000 ATMs around the country. Deposits are easy to make using the Acorns app. And Spend accounts are FDIC insured, like other savings, up to $250,000.
This program enables parents and other family members to set up a custodial account for a child. To set it up, all you need is the child’s name and Social Security number. These are Uniform Gift to Minors Act (UGMA) custodial accounts, the most commonly used, and a simple way for a minor to own securities (stocks and bonds, for example) without needing a lawyer and a lot of paperwork or a court appointed trustee.
For its services, Acorns charges not a percentage of your account (assets), but a flat fee:
- $1 per month while your account is less than $5,000.
- $3 per month for an Acorns Personal account, including investing, checking, and an IRA.
- $5 per month for an Acorns Family account, including the custodial accounts for your kids and all the lower-tier features (personal account).
Acorns Lite is the account many people open when they start out. It includes a taxable investment account for your savings from rounding up, but not a checking account or an IRA. Acorns Lite costs $1 per month.
Acorns Personal is the next-level account, which includes investing, a checking account and debit card, and the option to open IRAs. Acorns Personal costs $3 per month.
Acorns Family is an account that includes all privileges of a Personal account but also a custodial (Amazon Early) account for your children. Acorns Family costs $5 per month.
How to Sign Up to Acorns Investing
The process of signing up with Acorns expresses its mission to remove barriers to starting to save and invest. On the Acorns website, you type in your name, phone number, date of birth and then choose a security question. In addition, you are asked for your address and if you are a U.S. citizen or not.
Then you answer three questions relating to financial regulations:
- Are you or have you been affiliated with a broker-dealer?
- Has the IRS notified you of being subject to backup withholding?
- Are you a 10% shareholder of a publicly-traded company?
If none apply, you leave them unchecked. These are questions the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) routinely poses when someone opens a brokerage account.
A new screen asks for employment information, your net worth, annual income, and your reasons for investing. Acorns is seeking enough information to provide you with the best investment recommendations for your financial position. The goal is to generate a recommended portfolio created by a team of experts (including a Nobel Prize-winning economist).
You can choose from five different reasons for investing:
- Long-term investment
- Short-term investment
- Major purchase
Lastly, you provide your Social Security number, which is required to verify your identity, meet IRS reporting requirements, and guard against fraudulent use of your account.
Once you check all the signup boxes in green, click the “Get Started!” button.
Your first step is to visit the Acorns website, where all its programs are presented in detail. There, you can enroll in an Acorns account: Lite, Personal, or Family. Your financial future and even the financial future of your children are in your control. You choose the rate of savings, select your investing goal, and define the broad goal of the investment portfolio.