Helping grads start saving, investing
You’ve got the diploma. You’ve moved over your tassel. Now the real work begins. When you’re paying off student loans, saving and investing may seem like the last things you can afford to do. These apps can help make spending and investing a little less daunting.
Acorns: This investing app takes the concept of “seed money” and runs with it. The app is designed to let you drop in $5 to invest. It also lets you round up purchases you make to the next dollar and invest the difference. The app is simple to set up and makes it easy to start putting money into your account automatically. It’s also easy to stop, if you have a bad month and can’t afford to invest at the time. Acorns works best when you feed your account on a regular basis, even if it’s just a little at a time. This isn’t a get-rich-quick strategy; it’s about slowly growing your money over time.
Robinhood: Robinhood’s goal is to make you rich without making brokerage firms richer, by letting you trade without commissions and fees. The real benefit of Robinhood is that it’s fast. Users can pick the stocks they want and track their performance on the market. It’s also pretty easy to cash out. Robinhood is not as strong on educational tools as other apps, but if you already have a handle on how the markets work, it is an elegant and efficient tool for trading. There is a premium membership available for $10 a month.
Stash Invest: Stash Invest also is designed to let you deposit just a little money at once so you can invest consistently over time. Stash also provides a lot of educational information to help you pick investment options that work best for you. It offers ready-made portfolios that give you thematic choices for investing and that list companies in a particular industry or that support certain causes. Choosing among these portfolios can be a little more work upfront than other apps that put your money in a general, diversified fund. But it also gives you a strong basis for moving on to more advanced investing by educating you on the culture of investing.
Clarity Money: With options to help you keep track of bills, streamline debt and set up automatic ways to save, Clarity Money is an (almost) all-in-one financial app. It assesses your finances and suggests subscriptions you can cut or bills you can negotiate. It partners with other companies for some of these services, which can come with (clearly disclosed) fees. The app also cleverly takes into account when your next paycheck is coming so you can better plan what your immediate financial moves should be rather than focusing only on the long haul.
Digit: Digit is laser-focused on getting you to put something away for a rainy day. This app evaluates what’s going in and out of your bank account and socks away money depending on your situation. Digit communicates with you by text message, giving you daily updates about the money it’s pulled into savings. You can make a withdrawal at any time, if you want to spend some cash, or if you think that Digit has been overambitious with your savings abilities. But mostly, you can set it and forget it. You won’t make more money, because you’re not investing or gaining interest. But if saving is all you need, this is a completely manageable way to do it.
Hayley Tsukayama, The Washington Post
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