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How to use Acorns, the app that helps you easily turn your spare change into an investment portfolio

Jeff walter Cruttenden acorns foundersAcornsAcorns cofounders, father and son Jeff (L) and Walter (R) Cruttenden.

Acorns is an app that was designed for a single underlying purpose: to make investing a small decision instead of a big one, cofounder Jeff Cruttenden tells Business Insider.

Cruttenden wanted to make it easy for people, primarily those who were younger, to start investing a little at a time. To do that, Cruttenden built Acorns in a way that distills investing down to a decision of “how much” you want to invest and “how much risk” you want to take.

There are two ways you can invest money in Acorns. First, you can make a lump sum or recurring deposit. Simply select how much money you want to invest and transfer it from your bank. The second way is “round-ups.” After you connect debit or credit cards, you can set Acorns to “round up” your purchases and invest the difference — if you spend $8.46 on lunch, Acorns will invest the $0.54.

Then you select how much risk you want to take, and Acorns invests the money into low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Here’s what it’s like to use Acorns:

To start out, you need an email address and a secure password. Acorns will also let you create a four-digit passcode to log in on your phone.

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Then you link your bank account and any credit or debit cards you want. Linking cards is key to Acorns' 'round-ups' feature, where it invests your spare change for you.

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Acorns has to ask you certain investor questions before you get started. Cruttenden says the team spent two and a half years making sure the financial back-end was solid.

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Acorns enlisted the help of Dr. Harry Markowitz, the Nobel Laureate and pioneer of 'modern portfolio theory,' to help build the different portfolios.

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Acorns will ask you a set of questions about your life and give you a recommendation of which portfolio to choose from.

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This was the one it initially selected for me.

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Then you start off with an initial investment. In order for Acorns to start investing your account must reach a $5 threshold.

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This is what the menu looks like in Acorns.

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And these are the things Acorns recommends you do to get the most out of your account.

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To set up a deposit, just select whether you want it to be a one-time thing or you want it to occur daily, weekly, or monthly.

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You can also select round-ups, either automatic or manual. Every time the total of your roundups hits $5, it invests.

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If you don't want to wait, you can have your checking account make up the difference between $5 and your round-ups and 'invest now.'

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Now let's take a look at your portfolio. In Acorns, you don't choose individual stocks, but rather, risk profiles. This one is 'aggressive.'

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Here is a 'moderate' one. Acorns is showing me that with an average monthly deposit of $100, the projected value of my account will be $17,107 by the time I'm 36, having made over $5,000.

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Here's the projected value at 43 on that same 'moderate' portfolio.

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If you ever want to change your portfolio, it only takes a few clicks.

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Once you have begun investing, Acorns will show you how your account is doing, allowing you to review time periods including one day, one month, six months, one year, and all time.

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This wasn't a good day.

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But overall, my account has made 3% in less than a month.

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Acorns also shows you a breakdown of what you are invested in by dollar...

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...percentage...

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...or shares.

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And lastly, if you invite friends to Acorns, you'll each get $5 when they invest.

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