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REVIEW: I tried Acorns, the app that turns your spare change into investments

Acorns, the spare-change investment app, launched in Australia just three weeks ago, and by Thursday the fintech startup announced it had more than 50,000 local signups, exceeding the comparative growth rate when it launched in the US.

The app links with your bank account and credit cards, rounding up daily purchases and automatically investing the ‘change’ into a diversified portfolio of ETFs. The idea is to create an easy entry into the stock market for younger, new investors, removing traditional entry barriers such as high fees and buy in prices.

Acorns, while free to download will cost you $15 a year if your portfolio is worth less than $5000 or 0.275% if it’s worth more than that. Still significantly less than a traditional broker.

I’ve been using the app for a month now, depositing in regular round ups and seeing if I can actually make any money.

Signing up to the service is super easy.

Download Acorns from the App Store and create an account. It does ask for some pretty personal details though to help work out the best investment portfolio for you, so if you really value your digital privacy, this might not be for you.

Once you’ve created your account, link your bank accounts and credit cards. The ease of setting this up depends on what bank you’re with and whether or not your account requires an RSA token for login. I was lucky, my debit card and savings account were linked easily by logging into my Netbank account, while I could do the same without issue with my Amex.

All the big banks are here, plus most other institutions under the more banks section.

Once you’re all set up and connected, you begin to customise. You can select how much you want to round up when it lands on an even dollar, which for me I kept it at the default amount of $1. Your most important part is selecting what portfolio you want.

Your money can be invested in five fund types, ranging from conservative, which puts most into cash and bonds, through to aggressive which has over 80% allocated to equities.

At first I had mine in the very safe moderate setting, but I have since moved it up to moderately aggressive, with companies such as Telstra, Westpac, BHP and Wesfarmers.

Here’s a snap of how my funds are spread:

It’s mostly large Australia stocks, but there’s a few Asian ones in there too.

The roundups work really well, so essentially, if you spend $3.50 on a coffee the app will then automatically round up 50c into your investment account. Once you’ve rounded up $5 worth of change it then deposits it into your account. You can also accelerate this if you want and deposit more money as you please.

Roundups can be anywhere from 1c – $1.

Since I signed up, I’ve deposited a total of $120.99 just through roundups and an initial $20 deposit to kickstart the account. It’s chump change compared to what you would usually do on the stock market, a colleague of mine has deposited nearly $800 though, which makes it a bit more effective.

You don’t have to invest strictly the automatic $5 at a time.

In nearly 30 days of having an account and in a market that’s been losing ground since the start of the new year I have made the grand total of $3.40 with a gain of 2.81% in just that period, which is actually really great. If it can keep this rate up, I might actually make some money.

But for me, being still very young and having never invested money in the stock market before, this has done exactly what it’s meant to. I’ve become genuinely interested in the market and want to invest as much money as I can, which has hopefully led me to a successful future investing.

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