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  • Writer's pictureNathan Zarcaro

Why Acorns is Worth It in 2023: How to Get Started

Updated: Oct 19, 2023


Most Americans understand the important of investing early and often, but struggle to identify what they should invest in. Finding the money to invest in the first place tends to be an even bigger challenge for many.


Luckily, a number of companies have tried their best to solve America's retirement. crisis.


One of these companies is Acorns.


In this article, I'll explain why I think Acorns is a great option for most Americans to start investing.


Download the Acorns app



Acorns is a micro investing app that aims to help Americans invest for their future by rounding up their debit card purchases and setting up recurring investments.

Best for:

  1. New investors

  2. Those that want a robo-advising model

Pros:

  1. Low monthly fees

  2. Ease of use

  3. Automatic diversification


What is Acorns?


Acorns is a micro investing app that will automatically round up your purchases each time you make a purchase on a linked debit or credit card. Each time you make a purchase, your total will be rounded up to the next dollar, and the spare change will be saved in your Acorns account, where you can then invest this money for your future.


There is more to the platform than just round up investing, however. You can also opt for recurring investments. Additionally, Acorns also offers checking accounts, complete with a debit card and mobile check deposit functionality.


For a limited time, signing up for Acorns with this link will earn you a free $10 sign up bonus.



How does Acorns work?


Acorns utilizes a robo-investing model in order to invest your contributions. Basically, when you download the app, you'll complete a questionnaire, which will ask you a series of questions regarding your:


  • Risk tolerance

  • Investing timeline

  • Financial goals


After you've completed the questionnaire section, the app will take into account your age, net worth, and other variables to create an investing model that works for you.


You'll then be invested into one or more ETFs that the Acorns algorithm deems to be a good fit for your lifestyle and objectives.


I'll provide more detail about your investment options in a minute or two.



What account types does Acorns offer?


At this time, Acorns offers a number of different account types, including taxable brokerage accounts, as well as Traditional, Roth, and SEP IRAs through the Acorns Later program. Finally, parents can also open investment accounts for their children through the Acorns Early program.


Here is some more information about each account type.



1. Traditional IRA


Traditional IRAs are a great way to save money for your retirement, and potentially lower your taxable income while doing so. Money is contributed on a pre-tax basis, meaning that you won't owe taxes on your money until you withdraw your funds at retirement time.



2. Roth IRA


Roth IRAs are like Traditional IRAs, but your contributions will occur on a post-tax basis. This means that your capital gains and retirement distributions will be tax-free!


I love my Roth IRA. I've even written a guide about how to max out your Roth IRA this year.



3. SEP IRA


If you're an employee of a qualifying business, you may be eligible to participate in a SEP IRA. SEPs, short for simplified employee pension plans, can be a good option, since contributions are typically tax-deductible.




Retail cashback with Acorns Earn


One of the least talked about parts of the Acorns program is that you can actually earn investment bonuses after shopping with thousands of retail partners. To earn your bonus, I recommend that you add the Acorns browser extension right to your web browser.


You can sign up for the program directly through the Acorns registration process.


Here is a sampling of some participating retailers:




Acorns app fees


Over the past decade, investors have begun to pay a lot more attention to investment fees. Typically, there are a number of different fees you may be subject to, including:


  • Monthly or annual account fees

  • Transaction fees to buy/sell a stock, mutual fund, ETF, or other investment

  • Management fees (expense ratios) on mutual funds or ETFs


Let's see how Acorns stacks up.



1. Monthly account fees


As of this time, Acorns does assess a monthly account management fee, which is equal to $3 per month for investment accounts, IRAs, and checking accounts. Those on family accounts, counting investment accounts for children, will pay $5 per month instead.


Ideally, I'd like to see an investment account with no monthly fees, but the Acorns model is so unique that I think it is really reasonable for the value the app offers.



2. Transaction fees


One of my favorite parts about Acorns is that they've taken after many of the large financial services firms like Fidelity and Vanguard by not charging any transaction fees, commissions, or other fees when you buy and sell investments through the app.


It is really nice to see them put the customer experience above their bottom line.



3. Expense ratios


As is the case with most all other investment companies out there, mutual funds on the Acorns platform do come with expense ratios which are assessed by the fund's parent company. The good news is that the funds on the Acorns platform carry very low fees compared to other funds out there.


At this time, depending on the fund(s) you invest in, you'll end up paying somewhere between 0.03%-0.25%.


At 0.03%, every $1,000 you invest will carry an annual fee of just $0.30. Not bad at all!



Acorns investment options


Users of the Acorns platform are able to invest in up to 25 different ETFs. Since Acorns uses a robo advisor model, your money will be automatically invested for you based on that questionnaire you'll complete.


As of early April 2023, investment options on the Acorns platform include:


  1. iShares Core S&P Mid-Cap ETF

  2. iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF

  3. iShares Core MSCI Total International Stock ETF

  4. Vanguard 500 Index ETF Shares

  5. iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF

  6. iShares Core 1-5 Year USD Bond ETF

  7. SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF

  8. Goldman Sachs Access Treasury 0-1 Year ETF

  9. iShares Ultra Short-Term Bond ETF

  10. JPMorgan Ultra-Short Income ETF

  11. iShares Short Treasury Bond ETF

  12. iShares ESG Aware MSCI USA ETF

  13. iShares ESG Aware U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF

  14. iShares ESG Aware MSCI USA Small-Cap ETF

  15. iShares ESG Aware 1-5 Year USD Corporate Bond ETF

  16. iShares ESG Aware MSCI EM ETF

  17. iShares ESG Aware MSCI USA Small-Cap ETF

  18. iShares ESG Aware 1-5 Year USD Corporate Bond ETF

  19. iShares ESG Aware MSCI EAFE ETF

  20. iShares 1-3 Year Treasury Bond ETF

  21. iShares MSCI USA ESG Select ETF

  22. iShares U.S. Treasury Bond ETF iShares MBS ETF

  23. iShares ESG Aware USD Corporate Bond ETF

  24. ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF



What are ETFs?


ETFs, or exchange-traded funds, are funds made up of individual securities like stocks and bonds. Similar to mutual funds, the main difference between ETFs and mutual funds is that ETFs price live during trading sessions, similar to stocks. Mutual funds, on the other hand, typically price once per day, after the close of a trading session.


Like mutual funds, ETFs are often attractive investments because they help investors to diversify their portfolio by holding as little as one fund. Some ETFs, for example, may be made up of 500 or more individual stocks or bonds.



Why I think Acorns is perfect for new investors


As I alluded to in this post's title, I believe that Acorns is the perfect solution for two types of people:


  1. Those that are new to investing

  2. Those that struggle to find room in their budget to invest


This is because these are the same people that are unlikely to know how best to invest their money in the first place. Luckily, thanks to the Acorns platform, this isn't something that you have to worry about. Remember, if you opt for robo-investing, the Acorns algorithm will make your investment decisions for you.


Another reason why I think the app is the perfect place to begin investing is because of the low fees across the platform. Many of Acorn's robo-investing competitors, like M1 Finance and Betterment, tend to charge higher monthly fees, management fees, or tend to have higher asset minimums to get started investing.


For $3 a month, the benefits of beginning to invest far outweigh the monthly fee.



How to get started on Acorns


Getting started investing on Acorns is incredibly easy to do! To get started, click this link, which will award you a $10 bonus just for completing your registration. Next, you'll need to establish your account, which should only take 2-3 minutes of your time.


You'll need to register with your name, social security number, and address, per federal requirements, to assure accurate tax reporting.


Finally, just set up a recurring investment (minimum of $5 per transaction) to claim your $10 bonus!



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About Nathan Zarcaro

Nathan Zarcaro is the founder of The Student Debt Destroyer and is passionate about personal finance related causes.  A 2018 graduate of Providence College's Liberal Arts Honors Program, Nathan studied Finance, and has worked for industry leaders in both finance and healthcare.  In his free time, Nathan enjoys playing golf and traveling with his wife Brigid.

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