The Tip Jar: How I'm using an app to save and invest money

It's helping me set aside a few extra bucks every week.

Saving is hard when you're on a tight budget, which is why I'm always looking for opportunities to boost the amount I'm squirreling away.

I try to put as much of my paycheck as I can afford – which ranges anywhere between $0–$500 depending on my spending – into my savings account, but recently it's been closer to zero than $500.

Which is why I started looking into apps that would either save me money or help me save, and came across one called Acorns.

Now I'm going to make every effort for this not to sound like an advert for Acorns – it's working well for me so far, but I've only been using it for six weeks and it might not be for everyone.

Nonetheless it's helped me put away an extra $175 on top of my regular saving. Not only is that money being saved, but Acorns invests it for you as well.

Why it works for me

The reason why I like using the app is because it psychologically doesn't feel like I'm sending a lot of money out of my checking account.

Its premise is simple: You link the Acorns app to your checking or credit card accounts (or both), and it saves/invests your spare change for you.

So if I make a purchase for $9.55, Acorns rounds it up to $10 and puts 45 cents into my account. Once your "roundups" reach $5, it gets invested.

You can also set up recurring payments as well as "one-off" payments (I've set up $25 to go into my account every month). And I add an extra $20-$30 from my checking account whenever I feel I can afford it.

Of course, I could always make the same, small payments into my savings on a regular basis, but that would require significantly more effort. I like Acorns because it's all automatic, so I'm saving without thinking about it.

When you set up the app, which you access via a pin number, it asks you questions about your investment needs – taking a profile from you about how much risk you're willing to take on, and using a computer algorithm to invest and manage your money.

What's more the app has a number of commercial partnerships with companies like Macy's, Expedia, Groupon and, and these companies will put a percentage of your purchase into your Acorns account whenever you buy anything through the app.

The downsides

You have to pay a fee, but it's a negligible $1 a month ($12 a year) on balances of less than $5,000, and 0.25 percent of your account balance every year when you have a balance of $5,000 or more.

Nerdwallet notes that this 0.25 percent fee is broadly in line with what other "robo-advisors" charge. Acorns is also free of charge to college students for the first four years with a valid .edu email address.

As your money is being invested, you always run the risk of the investments doing badly and losing some money. And when you want to withdraw money from your account it can take several days, as your investments have to be sold.

It's also not the vehicle for more sophisticated investors who want a broader choice of where they put their money, nor should it be used in lieu of retirement vehicles like IRAs and 401(K)s.

Those interested in a more expansive investing app could consider RobinHood, which charges you $6 a month but allows you to make unlimited stock trades commission-free.

But for millennials struggling to save and who have no interest in managing their investments, Acorns is up your street.

Next Up

Image from iOS (101)

Charges: Driver was drunk, speeding before crash that killed 1-year-old son

A total of five children were in the back seat at the time, according to the charges.

Jeff Gladney

Vikings release Jeff Gladney following domestic violence charge

His release is effective immediately, the team said.

Screen Shot 2021-08-03 at 3.28.56 PM

Body pulled from water near Lebanon Hills Park swimming area

Surveillance footage showed a man walking towards the beach on Sunday.

fire truck

Victims of double-fatal house fire in Wadena County identified

The man and woman died in the early Sunday house fire.

Screen Shot 2021-08-03 at 7.50.23 AM

Charges: Witness thought Austin man was 'joking' before he killed woman

The criminal complaint details what may have led to the 20-year-old's death.

Melvin Carter

Minneapolis and St. Paul to require face masks in city buildings

The mayors are also urging businesses to adopt mask rules for customers.


Charges detail murder of woman by fugitive bomb-maker husband

Eric Reinbold is accused of killing his 34-year-old wife.

Jeff Gladney

Vikings' 2020 first-round pick Gladney indicted by Texas grand jury

If convicted Gladney could be sentenced up to 10 years in prison.

face mask

List of places in Minnesota now requiring or recommending face masks

Businesses and organizations are changing their policies in response to the delta variant.

Minnesota State Fair - main gate day 2021

The 2021 Minnesota State Fair: Everything you need to know

From ticket prices to new foods to health protocols, we've got you covered.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Suspect steals unlocked squad car, leads officers on miles-long chase

The suspect also brandished a shotgun from the stolen vehicle out the window.


The Tip Jar: How much money can you save giving up your car commute?

We had a race – car vs. bike vs. bus – to see whether it's worth your time giving up your car.

The Tip Jar: How to save some money on your internet service

I did it to save money. And now I want to help you save money as well.

The Tip Jar: Costco vs. Sam's Club, which is cheaper?

We also compared the 2 wholesalers' prices with a regular grocery store.

The Tip Jar: Getting the Black Friday sales right

Full disclosure, I don't like Black Friday.

The Tip Jar: Do you save money by shopping at Aldi?

Is Aldi cheaper than Walmart? And how does Trader Joe's stack up against Kowalski's and Lunds?

The Tip Jar: Are air miles credit cards worth it?

And are they better than frequent flyer miles?