Money Talks: The Easy Way to Turn Spare Change into Actual Money

As we've gotten older and more dependent on our phones and cards to do all the paying, we've lost a little bit of that "piggy bank" mentality -- it's easy to forget about spare change when it's all just digital anyway. But actually, there are apps that are better for our change than the piggy bank ever was. If you pick the right one, you can turn your change into small investments that will, with any luck, make you money in the long run.


In the App Store, you'll find a few options for apps that make use of your change. But the most popular by far is Acorns, a mighty little app launched in 2015 that rounds up all your purchases and drops the change in an investment portfolio of ETFs. 

It functions like Bank of America's popular "Keep the Change" program, but instead of sitting in a savings account, the change will go into the stock market. You set the risk you want to take on a scale from conservative to aggressive and then just ... wait.

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The idea of Acorns is to remove the big initial investment (and fee) that comes with a traditional entry into the stock market via broker, and to keep all the investments so small that you'll barely notice them. It's an easy way to try out investing for the first time and to make good use of extra nickels. But, if you like the way your investments are going, the app lets you add larger sums of money at any time. 

Acorns is free to download, but it will cost you $1 a month (or 0.25 percent if your account is larger than $5,000). So, no, it's not free. But it is a good deal less than a traditional broker, and it's pretty likely that you'll make some kind of noticeable return after a few months.

Plus, it's pretty low-stakes. There's always risk when we're talking stocks, but if anything, you're just going to lose your change. Who cares about pennies anyway?


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