Stock Market On A Budget: Acorns Investment App For Millennials

how to invest on a budget, millennials saving money

Back when we were first married and our budget was incredibly tight, we pinched every penny until it screamed. We strategically worked our budget down to the last cent. We kept hearing how millennials should be building their investment portfolio, but because of what we thought we knew about the stock market, we thought this was completely impossible.

Now that we have been able to increase our weekly budget, I don’t write down every penny spent on our kitchen chalkboard. Instead, as we make a purchase, I round up to the next dollar and keep track that way. Which will you remember better – that you spent $13.67 or $14?

While this makes math much simpler and easier to remember on the go, it makes reviewing the statements on the computer more difficult because my budgeting doesn’t match well.

I was also looking for a way to make my dollars work for me, but I wasn’t sure I was ready to learn all the ins and outs of investing. We definitely weren’t ready to risk a bunch of money to learn about the stock market the hard way.

There’s an app for that.

I had been reading about the Acorns app for over a year and toying with the idea of using it. I hesitated because the stock market is scary and the idea of putting funds into an investment opportunity seems crazy.

I was wrong.

When you sign up with Acorns (get started with a $5 credit from me!), you fill out a short questionnaire to help determine your investment goals. The investment portfolios are organized by growth rate and risk, and include a variety of companies to help you reach your goals.

How Much Money Does It Take?

There are several different ways to invest your money with Acorns, and they are all focused on making investing possible for millennials. It takes $5 to get your account started – open your account with this link and get that $5 from me!

Auto-Pay

Have you ever heard the budgeting advice “always pay yourself first”? The idea is to take steps to make sure your savings account is a priority. This is the idea behind monthly automatic withdraw. You can choose between presets of $5 a week, $20 or $100 per month, or set your own custom amount. As they encourage on the site, “even $5 a week is $260 a year!”

You can also deposit in one-time amounts, which would be helpful if you want to get your account started or give it a boost.

Round Up

Rounding up is the absolute easiest way to save. All it does is round up every purchase to the nearest dollar.

This is the easiest way to build your investment porfolio automatically. Simply link your debit card(s) to Acorns, and every time you use your card to make a purchase, the amount will be rounded up to the nearest dollar. Once the amount reaches $5, Acorns will withdraw that amount and invest it for you. You can increase the round ups to multiply 2x, 3x, or 10x the amount.

Are you wondering if that’s even worth it? At the time of this writing, I have had exactly 150 roundups and added $87.10 to my investment portfolio, just from roundups. It adds up steadily, and I feel better knowing there is very little risk involved.

Found Money

If you’ve followed me for long, you know I’m a huge fan of getting money back via rebate apps. Acorns has joined the party with this, but instead of giving you cash back, they add the amount into your investment portfolio.

To use this feature, you simply log into your Acorns account and click on the “found money” tab. This will bring you to a current list of available offers. The offers are in several categories, including food, clothes shopping, membership fees for certain stores, and even occasionally signing up with a new insurance company. At the time of this writing, for example, I see a $30 investment when you sign up as a new driver for Uber, and a $30 return when you sign up with a new Blue Apron meal delivery service.

I think I’m most excited about this idea because, although I do love getting cash back in my hands, I also really like that this money (that I was going to spend anyway) goes into an account that will benefit me for years to come.

Like other rebate apps, the deals may vary, but typically they have deals on fun things, like food, wine, and travel. So yes, it’s the dream of millennials – you can make money while you treat yourself. It’s now possible, thanks to the Acorns investment app.

Educate Yourself

There are so many articles within Acorns, designed to help you understand everything related to investing in general. From deciphering the jargon to recognizing trends in the industry, the blog articles will help you learn all about this crazy world of investments and how to make the wisest decision.

Down To The Details

Alright, so now that you know why using the Acorns investment app is so awesome, let’s talk about the details of how it all works (if you aren’t a details person, just click on over to sign up now and get started with $5 from me).

Step One: Sign Up

Click this link to sign up for your Acorns account, and start it off with $5 from me! (You can use this regular link if you aren’t comfortable with using my affiliate links, but you won’t receive the $5 bonus)

Step Two: Survey

Once you have an account, Acorns will take you through a short survey to determine the level of risk for investments you are likely most willing to take. The risk ranges from conservative to aggressive, depending on how close you are to retirement and how much you want to regularly invest. Personally, we are set to moderately conservative.

One of the features I like the most about the Acorns company is how it takes the guesswork out of the investment experience. Once you sign up and are assigned a risk level, Acorns takes care of the rest. You buy into a diversified investment portfolio, which contains a mix of different stock categories including large company stocks, small company stocks, real estate stocks, government bonds, and international large company stocks.

Step Three: Choose Your Investment Amount

There are several ways to add money into your Acorns investment account (see above). Thankfully for us millennials with very little spare time to spend on our investment portfolio, they made the avenues for investing very simple.

Step Four: Cost

So how much does it cost to use the Acorns investment app? $1 a month. That is, until you have your first $1,000,000 invested with Acorns. That’s a pretty decent deal!

I’m a huge fan of using Acorns. I don’t have a ton of time to study investment opportunities, and I certainly don’t have the time to dedicate to watching the stock market screen each day. What I do have time for, as most millennials do, is to use an investment app on my phone to make me money while I’m on the go. I have time for companies that make investing on a budget possible, and I have time for opportunities to build my investment portfolio while I make my normal every day purchases.

If you grew up thinking that investing as a millennial was confusing or just out of your budget, I would whole-heartedly encourage you to check out the Acorns investment app and see just how easy it is to invest, even on a budget.

And don’t forget your $5! 🙂

If you found this review helpful, be sure to pin it for future reference!

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I Refused Call Myself a “Millennial Blogger” (that was a mistake)

What's wrong with being a millennial mommy blogger?

My name is Amanda, and I am a millennial mommy blogger.

I’m not sure when I made the subconscious decision to refuse to call myself a millennial blogger, or especially a (gasp!) mommy blogger, with the determination of my toddler after he skipped yet another nap, but somewhere along the line, I did.

Hold onto your hats (or socks, or whatever), because I’m about to get pretty honest.

I actually took most of February off from blogging because I was getting frustrated and I needed to step back and refocus.

You see, I follow blogs, read income reports, study under successful bloggers, and apply what they teach, and I still wasn’t making the traction (or the income) that I wanted to. Yes, my constant reworking of my Pinterest account and strategies do help, but I have yet to see the kind of returns on all my work that my blogging pals with the “here’s how I got 10,000 page views yesterday” kinds of articles are getting.

And yes, you can say that blogging is just for the lucky few, but it’s not. I’ve seen time and again (and I know these people, so I know it’s legit) that there is incredible opportunity to make a blog into a full-time income, which is still my goal.

At the end of last year, I formulated the official mission statement for this blog:

CrunchyHippieLife.com is where readers learn how to live a healthier, natural, and environmentally-responsible lifestyle on a budget.

The second half of that assignment (which I ignored) was to picture my ideal audience. So I analyzed who does the most commenting on my blogs and social media.

Shouldn’t be any surprise to you that the majority of engagement I have is with – you guessed it – millennial moms.

It’s not with the personal finance gurus who keep pinning to the personal finance Pinterest boards about cryptocurrency. They don’t care that I make money with eBates, they want to more information about bitcoin.

It’s not with the recipe bloggers who have recipe blogs. They don’t care that I afford real food without coupons, they just want to share their recipes.

And so on, and so forth.

With this in mind, I left a bunch of Pinterest boards that aren’t related to my mission statement and aren’t where my tribe is (hi, tribe!), and am now joining those millennial mommy boards.

And I love it. I’m finally with the people I can serve the most. March is off to a solid start.

So, without further ado:

Welcome to this month’s blog income report! I’ll be sharing an update each month, both for accountability to keep working on my blog and also an encouragement for those just starting out.

I’ve been blogging for over 12 years now. When I first started this blog over 4 years ago, my goal was to make money from it. Somehow, even after reading countless income reports and “how to make money blogging” articles, how to make consistent and significant income didn’t click until early November 2017. When I shared my new income with my friends, so many asked how I was making money with my blog that I wrote an ebook with my top 5 tips. Download it for free and learn from my mistakes!

Blogging Basics

Since this blog isn’t about blogging, blogging tips posts are limited to these monthly income reports. If you would like further tips and info about blogging, please join my blogging email list and receive my free ebook as a thank you for joining!

To get started making money from a blog, you need to have a blog on a self-hosted site. This opens you up for opportunities like joining ad networks, the ability to customize your site with your choice of plugins, and protects your blog from being deleted by outside sources (yes, it happens). You can start a blog for as little as $3.95 per month, so the investment for starting your blog is minimal. I use Siteground for my hosting and recommend it to anyone wanting to start a blog (set up through the free WordPress.org). The customer service is the best in the industry. I’ve used the other popular hosting site and found them confusing and difficult to work with, but I have had nothing but great experiences with Siteground.

After you purchase your blog hosting space, then it’s all about the set-up. Setting up your email list is absolutely critical for success, as you can build relationships with your readers and learn what kinds of things they would like to read about as well. All of social media is based on algorithms, so not all your readers will be shown what you post on Facebook or Pinterest, but you can reach them all by email. I’ve tried several email list programs and found the easiest to use is Mailerlite. They have a free program for lists under 1,000 subscribers, and all features are available. You will find that other companies might have free programs, but some features are unavailable with the free option. Mailerlite also has a drag-and-drop newsletter feature, which is great for non-techy people such as myself.

Okay, so now that you know my two favorite tricks of the trade (and how inexpensive blogging really is!), be sure to download my 5 top tips for blogging for profit. It’s free!

For even more resources on how to make money from your blog, check out my Resources page. 

Blog Updates and Housekeeping

I did some reworking of the site this month and gave it a bit of an update. You might have noticed that the layout is different. I played around with several different layouts (aka themes) and decided that this one looked the most professional and clean. I still have some tweaking to do with it to get it exactly perfect for me, but I’m not stressing. I also created a new header (again) so that anyone who visits the site knows my top 3 topics. I (currently) really like it! I’ve already changed over my facebook page header, and at some point will change over the header on my twitter page and email list.

I also created two new tabs that you should definitely check out – on my “Freebies” tab, there is a list of all the ebooks I have written and have available for download. There are currently four (!) of them, and they have a ton of information! The other tab is probably my new favorite, and that is the “Start Here” tab. These have my top posts for all my main categories, organized so you can see at a glance what I’m all about, without digging through four years’ worth of blog posts just to find what you want.

The Financial Side of Blogging

On a blogging Facebook group I’m on, I shared how I organize my blogging income. A bunch of people really liked my system, so I figured I would share it here. You see, there are tons of courses and ebooks about different strategies to improve your blogging experience. As a new blogger looking to improve, education is key, and some courses are absolutely beneficial. I pay for courses as I earn money with my blog using the 30/30/40 method. 30% of income goes into a credit union savings account to cover taxes, 30% stays in my account to pay for things related to my blog (courses I want to take, products I want to review, etc), and 40% gets transferred to our main bank account as my “paycheck.” As blog income increases, the percentage of money that I keep in my blogging account will decrease (and paychecks will increase!), but for beginning bloggers this is a super doable system.

I would strongly encourage anyone wanting to blog for a living to invest in a few key courses. Not all courses are equal, but that should not stop you from doing your research and finding some education that you resonate with (I list my favorite courses on my Resources page). I went to college to learn how to be a nurse, and I see this business endeavor as also worthy of investing money to learn how to do it well. Plus, you can learn from the mistakes others have made and save yourself some time (and find success even faster).

Here’s my February income:

MoneySavingMom: $28.10

ShopStyleCollective: $0.20

Adsense: $2.93

Total: $31.23

Total for 2018: $155.06

I was going to switch to a different ad network, but the one I had in mind was going to have significantly lower pay scales, so I decided to stick with Google Adsense until my page views qualify me for a higher paying network.

You Know I’ll Be Honest With You

Ready for another round of honesty? I almost didn’t post this because the income was so low. It can be hella frustrating and stressful to post income reports, especially since my first one was relatively awesome for a new blogger. But I’m sharing these for two reasons: The first is to hold myself accountable for constant improvement, as my goal is still to take this blog to a full-time income. The second is to be completely honest with you: blogging is so much more than just writing some posts and expecting the money to just flow in. It’s hard. It requires learning and becoming proficient (very quickly) in graphic design, business strategy, sales, marketing, and basic legal knowledge. It involves heavy research and strategy into how to get Google to acknowledge your existence to show your particular posts when people google their questions. You’re not going to understand that from blog posts that are just sharing things like “omg, I made $47 on my first day and you can too!” If that’s you…well, kudos to you! But for the rest of us, blogging isn’t easy, but the benefits are worth the effort.

If you haven’t started a blog (or just starting out), are these income reports helpful? If you’re here mainly for healthy living tips, do you find these income reports distracting? I know some bloggers send their income reports exclusively to their email list. I’ve been considering doing that, but also didn’t want to seem like I quit sharing when income was lower. I would love your input!

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January 2018 Income Report

make money blogging, passive income, income report, work from home ideas, work from home blogging, blogger, full-time blogger

Welcome to this month’s blog income report! I’ll be sharing an update each month, both for accountability to keep working on my blog and also an encouragement for those just starting out.

I’ve been blogging for over 12 years now. When I first started this blog over 4 years ago, my goal was to make money from it. Somehow, even after reading countless income reports and “how to make money blogging” articles, how to make consistent and significant income didn’t click until early November 2017. When I shared my new income with my friends, so many asked how I was making money with my blog that I wrote an ebook with my top 5 tips. Download it for free and learn from my mistakes!

Blogging Basics

Since this blog isn’t about blogging, blogging tips posts are limited to these monthly income reports. If you would like further tips and info about blogging, please join my blogging email list and receive my free ebook as a thank you for joining!

To get started making money from a blog, you need to have a blog on a self-hosted site. This opens you up for opportunities like joining ad networks, the ability to customize your site with your choice of plugins, and protects your blog from being deleted by outside sources (yes, it happens). You can start a blog for as little as $3.95 per month, so the investment for starting your blog is minimal. I use Siteground for my hosting and recommend it to anyone wanting to start a blog (set up through the free WordPress.org). The customer service is the best in the industry. I’ve used the other popular hosting site and found them confusing and difficult to work with, but I have had nothing but great experiences with Siteground.

After you purchase your blog hosting space, then it’s all about the set-up. Setting up your email list is absolutely critical for success, as you can build relationships with your readers and learn what kinds of things they would like to read about as well. All of social media is based on algorithms, so not all your readers will be shown what you post on Facebook or Pinterest, but you can reach them all by email. I’ve tried several email list programs and found the easiest to use is Mailerlite. They have a free program for lists under 1,000 subscribers, and all features are available. You will find that other companies might have free programs, but some features are unavailable with the free option. Mailerlite also has a drag-and-drop newsletter feature, which is great for non-techy people such as myself.

Okay, so now that you know my two favorite tricks of the trade (and how inexpensive blogging really is!), be sure to download my 5 top tips for blogging for profit. It’s free!

For even more resources on how to make money from your blog, check out my Resources page. 

January was extremely hard for my family, and that’s reflected in the smaller income – it’s actually bigger than I expected! In the first week of the new year, Peter came down with the flu. Halfway through the week, both boys had a fever and just as they were getting better, I got the stomach flu. I am so thankful for my mother-in-law, who spent the night so she could help with the boys while Peter and I were both down for the count. We have finally turned the corner back towards health and I am so grateful!

January 2018 Income

Here’s the breakdown:

Amazon: $0.96

This amount seriously makes me laugh to even include it, but it’s income, so it counts.

Google Adsense: $3.50

This is passive revenue just from having a few ads on my site. I just got approved for a better paying ad network, so I am excited to change that over to the new network, and I hear it pays better.

Shop Style Collective: $2.85

I didn’t even put out any fresh affiliate post through SSC in January, and this network pays per click. Again, it counts!

FlexOffers: $4.92

I’m liking this network, I get affiliate links for places like debt relief companies, Groupon, and Macy’s .

ShareASale: $1.60

Everyone really likes ShareASale as a network, I’ve only found a few brands that fit my mission statement. My current favorite is IdealRaw organic vegan protein powder.

Commission Junction: $50
Siteground: $50
Private agreement: $10
Total: $123.83
Total earned in 2018: $123.83

In December I was able to re-invest some of my income into the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing class. The instructor, Michelle, makes over $130,000 per month from her blog, with a large percentage of it coming from affiliate marketing. Her course is absolute brilliance, and I am going through all my old posts, applying the material. There are several bonus courses included, as well as a mastermind Facebook group. I’ve learned so much and am excited to see how much our income increases as a result of applying everything I’m learning with this course. As you can see, the majority of my blogging income this month came from affiliate marketing, and I thank Michelle’s tips for keeping my income up when I wasn’t able to complete any sponsored work this month.

I am also learning and applying analytics-focused tricks I learned from the ebook Pinteresting Strategies, and I’m loving the growth of my Pinterest performance as a result! My traffic is now up over 50% and about 70-80% of all views are from Pinterest!

I set a lot of goals for January which didn’t end up happening because of our recurring illnesses. For February, I’m going to finish the revamp of older posts, and create two new big resources for you all. I put out polls on Instagram and Facebook to get an idea of what people are interested in, so I’m excited to put those together. They will be time-intensive, but I think it will be an important use of my energy.

One thing I’m especially excited about for this month is welcoming my husband Peter on board as my social media manager! Preserving family time is very important to us, and with the growth and goals of the blog for this year, I just wasn’t going to be able to get everything done without sacrificing family time. I’m so excited for his strategic mind and his vision! Last month I mentioned I wanted to rebrand. He has started working on rebranding and I’m hoping to start the transformation over the weekend.

As I said in my post about why I’m not setting New Years Resolutions this year, I mentioned that I am returning the blog to its original purpose, and I have created a mission statement. I have been working with several brands to bring you incredible content this year, all relating to living a natural lifestyle on a budget. I am so thankful and humbled for all of you readers, and I want to bring you the very best content for your very best lives!

Happy February!

Are you getting ready to start a blog or know someone who is? Share this post as an encouragement that you can make money blogging!

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2016 Goals update

2016 goals update, plus a special bonus treat!

I love goals. I love to set them and I haven’t always been so good about the follow-through part. When I was single, I had a few goals that I accomplished (graduating school, paying off my car quickly, etc), but I have never completed goals so quickly as to now that I am married to the Master Goal-Crusher.

So far in the just over two years of marriage, we have pared down our belongings to about 1/3 of what we (I) had when we moved in together, paid cash for two cars, and destroyed our savings goals. We have also purchased a portable washing machine and just this week ordered a dryer (should arrive by the end of the month!).

Because of all the moving expenses and getting settled, we weren’t able to make any progress on our savings goals in February, but we didn’t have to go backward at all, which I am most excited about!

I have always admired Crystal Paine (aka, the MoneySavingMom) and how many goals she accomplishes. In a similar fashion to my own experience, she credits her husband for teaching her the critical steps and discipline of effective goal-setting. Together they have reached insanely awesome goals, like paying 100% cash for a house, going as a very broke newlywed couple living in a teeny tiny apartment to 13 years later owning 3 rental properties, an incredible blogging business, and funding multiple schools and aid in poorer countries. They inspire me daily.

Earlier this year Crystal and her husband Jesse decided to share their wisdom by teaching a 4-week tele course on goal setting called Makeover Your Year. This is typical Crystal courses (like the insanely popular Makeover Your Mornings course I blogged through here), but with her husband and you get to learn the wisdom they both have. There have been so many requests for another course (the first was live), that they recorded the sessions and now they are available for purchase! From March 18-March 21 (Monday) the whole course is only $25 (regular $29). This is so worth the investment if you are wanting to live intentionally in 2016. It’s definitely not too late to start goals and crush them!

I’ve spoken with several people recently who have mentioned to me they wanted to set goals and reach them with their spouses, so I had to pass along this info for you! I would love to know what you think of the course and how it benefits your family!

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How Much can you Earn with Swagbucks?

Can you earn free gift cards with Swagbucks?

Each month I will recap my progress with earning Swagbucks and using them to supplement our food budget.

I will admit that in January I really wasn’t very proactive in earning bucks. I know, bad me! It’s only the first of the year and I’m already slacking. Anyway…

I ended January with 2,061 Swagbucks and another 518 pending. This was earned almost entirely by using the “shop and earn” feature. Any time I needed to order something online (and I need to order lots of supplies for work frequently) I log into swagbucks first and use that link to go to the Amazon account. It costs absolutely nothing and I can earn points! The pending 518 is because I purchased a Groupon to get an eye exam and some contacts (after two years in glasses, I’m finally starting to feel like myself again!). Those will be deposited in 30 days or so.

Plans for my gift cards:

I’ve decided I’m going to save up to $50 in either a paypal or a Visa gift card this time and make my first purchase from Thrive Market. Try it for free and enjoy their amazing prices! I’ve just really been anxious to try them out because I’ve heard wonderful things. I want olive oil, cacao nibs, coconut, collagen….all the things to improve pieces of our diet that are usually pretty expensive are so cheap on Thrive Market I had a hard time finding what ELSE we would want to get that would get us to free shipping! Yes, I have my cart filled, I’m just waiting for 2,500 more points first so it can truly be a budget supplement instead of an excuse to buy extra health food because it’s “discounted.”

Things to keep in mind:
  1.  When doing the shop and earn rewards and it says Amazon is up to 7 Swagbucks per $1 spent, the “up to” is important. I was a little disappointed after all the things I ordered when what I purchased didn’t actually qualify for the full 7 Swagbucks/$1 special. Just keep that in mind. I didn’t have any trouble with my groupon converting easily though.
  2. Sometimes it takes forever for the points to show up as pending. And when that happens, the customer support team is ready and happy to help you, you just have to email them.

In Februrary I’m going to be better about answering the daily polls and the “No Obligation Special Offers” and setting up my phone to play the videos to earn more points at a faster rate. I don’t really have time to play the games for possible points that I used to, and they got rid of mahjong so I don’t really care for the games anymore anyway. However, if I am consistent with the videos, NOSOs, and the polls each day I will be adding a daily 39 points, plus a few bonuses here and there. That’s more than enough points for a $10 gift card every month! Add your online orders to that and it adds up!

Do you use Swagbucks? What gift card would you want if you were to consistently earn $10 a month just by searching and answering questions?

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