Flexible investing for college students

Bradley Smith / The Watchdog

With an increasingly grim financial future for millennials, many aspects of successful personal finance have been pushed into the back of people’s minds. Absurd college tuition, low wages and high living costs alone are enough to send any self-sustaining college student into a panic. Sometimes it seems like the only option is to curl up in a ball, hide under a blanket and stay there forever. Some are lucky enough to have support from parents, but for others, the world is not a friendly place. It seems ridiculous to spend time thinking about investing the scarce amount of money that is left over. Who has hundreds of dollars to spare to dump into the stock market?

Despite the financial challenges young people face, the steps to financial independence remain the same – one of the most crucial being investing. It’s common knowledge that saving money is a good thing. Something that is not as widely known is that if placed in a savings account, money will lose value to inflation. Simply budgeting and putting some money aside for no specific goal is not enough to build wealth.

The key to making money grow over time is compound interest, which is applied to certain investment accounts to make money grow exponentially. One of the most common ways to take advantage of this is through investments in the stock market. But typically, this can be a risky, expensive and time consuming process. Without much time or money to spare to get started and pay fees, many young people are discouraged and put off investing until later in life – or never. But this puts them at a huge disadvantage, because compound interest increases. Even a few more years can end up making thousands of dollars more.

Acorns is an online investment firm that can be completely set up and managed through the free Acorns app.

Specifically tailored to college students, Acorns allows young people to invest in mutual funds including stocks, bonds and real estate. One can choose portfolios from conservative to high risk, and if enrolled in college, pay no fees of any kind.

Acorns is an invaluable resource because it allows investing on a small scale. There is no minimum balance required to get started or a monthly contribution necessary. One of its main features is round-ups. Acorns will connect to a bank account and keep track of the transactions, rounding up to the nearest dollar and investing the spare change into the investment portfolio.

I’ve been using Acorns since September, and I have nothing but good things to say about it. The interface is extremely user-friendly and informative. The app tells me how much money I’ve made or lost so far, and the history of my account. The round-ups feature saves money in such a subtle way that I don’t even notice, and in the past few months I have saved over $30. Acorns doesn’t cause me any stress. In fact, I find it fun and encouraging to be able to check my portfolio every day.

Acorns has a very low risk factor compared to traditional methods of investing. In case of emergency, money can be withdrawn from the account through the app and will appear in the connected account in a few business days.
Acorns has just as much potential as traditional investment firms without the hassle. Anyone with a bank account and an income can get started with Acorns, and it is a great way for beginners to learn about investing. Acorns automatically trades and rebalances the portfolio, so all the user has to do is put money in. No stress, no time commitment, and the flexibility to invest as much or little as desired.

Not only is Acorns easy, it aims to educate millennials about personal finance and help to set them up for future success. I could not recommend Acorns more to anyone who wants to build their wealth.