Banking and investing have really changed since when I was first starting out. Investing, in particular, seemed out of reach. As a young woman (and now as an entrepreneur), I never had a benefits package of any kind — much less access to an employer-matching 401k or IRA.
A new service called Acorns seeks to remove traditional barriers to investing. For $5, anyone can open an investment account — or a Roth IRA — and watch it grow thanks to the beautiful curves of compound interest. If you opt in, Acorns also has a series of bells and whistles to encourage contributions, such as:
- “Keep the change”/Rounding up: Like many banks, Acorns has a program that deposits the cents out of your virtual dollars and cents. This is done by linking an already existing card to Acorns. So if you swiped for a bagel in an airport Starbucks for $9.30, $10 will be taken out of your account; $.70 will go into your Acorns investment account or IRA — and Starbucks gobbles up your $9.30 for a zombie bagel. Note: If you are enrolled in this program, Acorns will take and deposit an additional dollar on top of all ATM withdrawals.
- Automatic deposits: If rounding up isn’t your thing, you can schedule automatic deposits to your Acorns accounts on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
- Past, present, and future: Using graphs and tables, Acorns presents you with detailed analyses of your different accounts and offers to help you reach your future goals.
Most of the advice I’ve read says that weathering the ups and downs of the market is the only way to make money on it. Still, let’s say you wake up one day and the president is threatening to bomb the stock exchange. You may want to withdraw your cash and run. Fortunately, withdrawing from Acorns takes less than a minute to do on your iOS or Android device — subject to three to six days of processing before it appears in your account.
Acorns investment accounts are fully regulated, and can be transferred or rolled over. That’s why I feel comfortable opening accounts to use with my grandchildren — so they, too, can learn about the curves of compound interest.