Stock Market On A Budget: Acorns Investment App For Millennials

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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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Why I am not setting New Years Resolutions this year

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I love the New Year, I always have. For a girl who spent most of her life looking through rose-colored glasses while meeting goals, there is nothing better than the new year. A new year brings a beginning, another challenge, a brand-new planner, and usually a new journal (since I had filled the others up). I would also tend to set several resolutions or goals at the beginning of the year, fully intending to see them through.

It usually lasted about a week.

This year looked absolutely nothing how I thought it would. A year ago today I was sitting in our house in Grinnell, probably reading books with Tristan and answering text messages from work because they called me constantly. Now we are back in Missouri; 3 moves, a new family member, and one ill-fated RV idea later. I work from home and am seeing excellent progress being made towards my goal of being able to be a full-time blogger, which has been my dream since before the creation of this blog.

It’s time to pause, to reflect. It’s a lot to reflect on.

So in the spirit of personal growth, I will be doing things a little differently this year. I’ve been mulling over ideas, and have been discussing them with Peter. The biggest thing we have been talking about is the difference between setting a resolution vs a goal.

Peter never sets New Year’s Resolutions, but always accomplishes his goals. I always thought the terms “resolution” and “goal” were interchangeable until I married him. Even after marrying him, I still set resolutions that I believed were goals. So for clarity’s sake, some vocabulary:

(From Webster’s Dictionary online):

Resolution: a firm decision to do or not to do something.

Goal: the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result. 

Peter explained it to me this way: Resolutions are things you say would be nice to accomplish. Goals are roadmaps to a desired outcome. One is a wish, the other is a map.

I like resolutions, and I like goals. The thing is, I’m very good at getting excited by something and throwing everything else to the wind, including previously set goals or resolutions. Most things that I wanted to do last year I didn’t accomplish, except for our family vacation and having our second child.

So this year, our goals for the year are very simple. We have a few family goals (2 vacations to specific places and a move to our dream neighborhood later in the year), financial goals (we are back to being debt-free after we sold the RV and now we just want to build up our savings again), and my blogging goals.

On social media recently I’ve alluded to some changes I’ll be making here on the blog. One of those changes is to return the blog to its original purpose. For that purpose, I have created a mission statement. This mission statement will be the filter I use when deciding what types of things to write about and promote:

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

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this change. I’ve felt a little all-over-the-place when it came to the blog. I knew it had lost its purpose, and I’m so pumped to refocus.

I’m especially excited to get back to the frugal finances aspect, and help you all save money. I created a list of 25 ways to save money in 2018, available as a free download. It’s not your average “use coupons at the grocery store” list either. This is 25 legitimate “tough love” actions we have taken to cut our expenses down. These ideas are sure to save you hundreds each month!

Related: How to Make (not just save) Money using Ebates

Since I’ve learned so much about blogging, I started a new page on my top menu “Make Money Blogging.” I want  to protect the blog from blogging about blogging (a common joke among bloggers is that the only ones who make money are those who blog about blogging), but I also want to share my resources. I wrote a 10-page mini ebook about everything I’ve learned in the 12+ years I’ve been a blogger. This ebook covers multiple topics related to a profitable blog, and includes my resources that have helped me become successful. It is also available for a free download, because I want to share this knowledge with you.

As far as learning about blogging goes, I was able recently to invest some blogging profits into the popular Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course, and am working through that now. It is so full of actionable information, I am very excited to be learning from a blogger who makes over $100,000 per month from her blog. She is very knowledgable and makes it so easy to understand. It will take me a while to go through all my old posts and get them “Pinterest-ready,” but it will definitely be worth it.

I have also committed to posting monthly blogging income reports, both for accountability purposes and to measure my progress. My first one was written last month about how I made over $650 on Black Friday, and I am excited to start working on December’s in the next few days.

If there are things (within the mission statement) that you would be interested in reading about, please leave me a comment and let me know!

Thank you so much for being a reader this year, I look forward to growing with you all in 2018!

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