Automating finances with a robo-advisor


When you think of “investing,” what comes to mind?

Big firms on Wall Street?

Busy workers chasing quarterly reports?

Shoving quarters into a piggy bank?


Spending is easy.

Saving is hard.

Investing is… complicated?


It doesn’t have to be.

A whole new category of mobile applications—robo-advisors—automates the process of investing using the item you always have with you: your phone. Each application has different functionalities, but they all strive to allocate some of your hard-earned money into vehicles of investment.

ETFs (exchange traded funds) are one such investment vehicle. ETFs are marketable securities that track bonds, commodities, or indices. For example, a “U.S. Technology ETF” would track bonds, commodities, or indices associated with the U.S. technology market. If someone put money into this fictional ETF, they would be investing in a range of services, since the ETF itself is exposed to a variety of different assets. ETFs have become more popular recently because they are relatively inexpensive to own (charging low fees), and they are available to trade like common stock on a stock exchange. For example, you can buy 5 shares of “Company X” on the stock exchange, or you can buy 5 shares of “U.S. Technology ETF” on the exchange as well.

One mobile application that uses ETFs is Acorns. Acorns charges you $1 per month ($0 if you are a student, .25% of account value for accounts above $5,000) to invest your money automatically. It does this in two ways. 

1.) Purchase Round-ups: Every time you buy something with a linked card, Acorns will round up the sum and transfer that amount to your Acorns account.

2.) Recurring Investments: You can choose to set up daily, weekly, or monthly deposits from your bank account into your Acorns account.

Acorns lets you choose what kind of ETF portfolio you want to invest in, ranging from very conservative (bond-heavy i.e. often low risk, low reward) to very aggressive (stock-heavy i.e. often high risk, high reward). Money transferred to Acorns then spreads across different ETFs in varying percentages based on your selected portfolio.

The value in an application such as Acorns means that anyone can start investing (there is no minimum investment). Furthermore, anyone can automate their investing habits, since Purchase Round-ups and Recurring Investments occur in the background of your day-to-day life. Little sums start to add up, and these sums are continuously reinvested to help grow your Acorns portfolio value.

If you are interested in investing, robo-advisors have made it easier than ever. Do your homework, stick to a plan, and consider making investments into your future. 


This article is intended to describe investments and robo-advisors. It does not offer or suggest to readers any investment advice in specific ETFs or companies. Information in this article is not professional investment advice. Acorns makes no claims regarding investments and portfolio value. Author discloses use of Acorns as a financial tool, and does not have any specific investments in the examples mentioned above. Any investing involves risk and investments may lose value. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Please consider your objectives and the pros/cons of any financial tool before investing. 

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