Investing in stocks has always seemed like a daunting and confusing process to me. I just don’t get it. Acorns has made it utterly painless, and has helped me save some money in the process!

Here’s the skinny; Acorns is an app that takes money you designate for investment and automatically invests it into a portfolio of stocks curated by Acorns staff. How do you designate such funds, you ask? There are two ways of doing so – the first is to automatically withdraw money from your bank account in specified quantities and at specified intervals (for example, $10 a week); the second is to have Acorns “Round-Up” your purchases (though I feel “Round Off” is a more apt term) to the nearest dollar, and invest that money into your portfolio.

Here’s how it works in practice. Let’s say you have your Debit card connected to Acorns, and you spend  $4.65 on a Venti Vanilla Latte at Starbucks. Acorns sees that purchase and rounds it off to the nearest dollar – $0.35, for those keeping track at home – and then invests it into your portfolio. So your purchase total comes to $5.00 – $0.35 you’ll never, ever miss. But say you’re one of those people that goes to Starbucks and buys that same Vanilla Latte every single day. $0.35 a day for 30 days is $10.50 a month – $126.00 a year. This isn’t just Starbucks purchases, though, this is every purchase you make with any associated accounts in Acorns. As of today, after two months of using Acorns, my current portfolio stands at $244.47. Not bad, considering I haven’t made a concerted effort to save anything!

Once you’ve invested some cash, you’ll be able to see how and where that money is allocated into your portfolio. For example, here’s mine (at right), using the “Aggressive ” setting (Portfolios are separated in five groups: Conservative, Moderately Conservative, Moderate, Moderately Aggressive, and Aggressive).

As you can see on the left, the large companies in which my money has been invested focuses on Fortune 500 companies, including tech juggernauts like Google.

In addition to direct deposit and round-ups, there are two more ways to earn money using Acorns – Referrals and Found Money. Referrals, as you’d expect, revolves around getting credit for having someone that isn’t currently using Acorns create an account after using your referral link ($5 for you, $5 for them). The second method is Found Money, which generally involves spending money at companies that have partnered with Acorns in order to receive a percentage of your purchase “donated” back to your Acorns account. These partners range from Walmart to Nike, Blue Apron to MeUndies, and vary in offers from a percentage of your purchase to a flat “bounty” for signing up.

What I like best about Acorns is how simple and easy it is to get into it. You sign up, answer a few questions about your income, link a bank account (using your login for that bank) and credit cards (likewise) and you’re set. In about 15 minutes I was up and running, with a $20 base deposit and $10 a week thereafter to supplement my Round-Ups.

I know there are probably a couple questions floating around inside your head, so I’ll try to address the ones that I had initially:

How secure is Acorns?

According to the company, your money is completely SIPC (Securities Investor Protection Corporation) insured (up to $500,000) while the site itself uses 256-bit security to keep your information protected.

Can I withdraw money from my account?

The short answer is yes, you can – and it’s easy. The long answer is that you always have access to the money in your Acorns account but not always right away – as with any investments, it takes time to turn that liquid asset into something more substantiative (5-7 days for a withdrawal, according to the app).

How much does it cost?

Acorns is $1 monthly on portfolio valuations of up to $5000. Anything higher and the rate is 0.25% per year. When compared to traditional portfolio management services, this rate is exceptionally low.

How do I get started?

First, download Acorns. If you want to get a free $5 deposited into your account courtesy of a referral code use THIS LINK when registering. Once your password is created, you will then be asked to link your bank (by signing in with your online account), enter some tax information, and then answer some questions based on your income and spending habits, so Acorns has an idea of which portfolio to choose for you.

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