Ease Into Investing | Stash vs. Acorns
Investing is not a popular habit to pick up. Between balancing work life and personal life, there seems to be no time at all to decide which stocks to buy and sell.
Following the millennial-oriented trend of making things simpler and intuitive, Stash and Acorns offer a way to easily begin investing. These app-based services allow anyone to try out investing without immense financial risks. Both Stash and Acorns allow anyone to check-in/make changes to their portfolio without stress. Analyzing Stash vs. Acorns will allow you to decide the best app to use to start (or continue) investing.
The Rise of Investment Apps
Online investment brokers, such as Wealthfront and Betterment, have offered the ability to acquire and trade stocks for years. The issue that has arisen with this, is that many novice investors struggle to decide where to invest their money. The research to decide things, like the best ETFs for their needs, can be very time-consuming. Stash and Acorns both use robo-advisor features to do the difficult investment work for you.
Although both of these services are designed to be used on your Android or iOS device, both Acorns and Stash offer web access as well. These apps both provide a pleasant user interface that allows for easy access to account reporting, investing/withdrawing cash, changing ETF selections, etc.
The portfolio selection between Stash and Acorns is structured similarly. Both apps allow the user to pick between a professionally selected group of ETFs to place their money. Beyond that concept, the differences in the portfolios are as follows:
Stash Invest ETFs
- Most of the investments on Stash are ETFs (group of securities that work to track an index, typically with a theme). Roll with Buffet is the only investment bundle that isn’t a typical ETF like the other choices.
- Upon signing up for Stash, the user is asked to complete a short assessment that classifies the user as a conservative, moderate or aggressive investor.
- From there, the Stash Invest user is provided a recommended list of ETFs that fit their risk threshold. These ETFs are themed and so allow the user to invest in packages that interest them. Here are some examples of these themed packages (Stash offers around 30 portfolio options in total):
- Blue Chips (Conservative) – Consists of popular and impactful tech companies such as Apple Inc., Microsoft and Amazon.com.
- Clean & Green (Moderate) – Investments in clean energy companies such as First Solar Inc., Gamesa Corp Technologica and Vestas Wind Systems.
- Modern Meds (Aggressive) – Made up of investments in biotech and pharmaceutical companies such as Exact Sciences Corporation, Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.
- Investments, as low as $5, can be placed into one (or more) of the above ETFs.
- Like Stash, Acorns consists of ETFs, though their portfolio options are much more limited.
- Also similarly to Stash, after signing up, the Acorns user is asked to complete a short assessment that decides the user’s risk tolerance.
- Though the similarities stop from there, as Acorns has the user pick one (and only) one of the below ETF categories:
- Moderately Conservative
- Moderately Aggressive
- As you can see, Acorns may have significantly less ETF choices, but instead they allow the user to simply invest their money into a risk category.
Stash Your Cash
Beyond the similarity in platform and portfolio design, there are stark differences between these two services. Stash Invest offers a slightly more involved approach with your investments.
After signing up and choosing a starting ETF, how you maintain your account is up to you. Your initial $5 investment is placed into the ETF of you choice (perhaps American Innovators or Enjoy Yourself). From there, Stash will maintain that ETF and document any/all growth your investment accrues. The Stash app encourages you to add to your account on regular intervals (this can be automated). You can decide to keep adding money to your initial ETF choice or you could choose to invest in another ETF and build-out your portfolio. You have complete control over how much/when you invest your money and what particular ETF you’d like those funds to go into. To get more info, check out our Stash Review.
Knowing the Fees
As Stash isn’t a free service, you need to be aware of the fees involved. As you begin investing, Stash charges $1 per month for accounts under $5,000 and 0.25% annually for accounts over $5,000.
Investing Your Spare Change With Acorns
Whereas Stash gives you a variety of ETFs to use and allows you to choose when to invest into them, Acorns investing works much differently by taking a robo-advisor approach.
Upon signing up, completing a profile and choosing a risk threshold (ranging from conservative to aggressive), the hard work is done. Acorns links to your bank account(s) and debit/credit cards. For each purchase you make, Acorns rounds that sum up to the nearest dollar and invests that change into your selected ETF. There is no work necessary on the user’s side, as the Acorns app rounds-up purchases and invests that “spare change” simultaneously. You simply set up an account, and watch your investment grow. This is a much more hands-off approach to investing than that of Stash. It even has incentives, such as Found Money, where Acorns partners, like Nike and Apple, place cash back from purchases into your account. Check out our Acorns Review to learn more.
Knowing the Fees
The fees are exactly comparable to Stash in that Acorns is $1 per month for accounts under $5,000 and 0.25% annually for accounts over $5,000.
Deciding the Best Investment App
So which is the superior service in regards to Acorns vs. Stash? Well, as you can see from the comparison above, it really comes down to your needs.
If you are looking for a variety of ETFs, control over when you invest/how much and developing a ETF portfolio full of variety, then Stash is likely the better choice for you.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a completely hands-off micro investing approach that doesn’t offer an overwhelming amount of ETF options, then Acorns may be just the right fit.
One thing to keep in mind is Acorns (at this time) only offers taxable accounts. If you are looking to build a retirement fund, Stash now offers Roth IRA accounts in addition to their taxable accounts.
The most important decision to make is not deciding the winner in Stash vs. Acorns, but rather, when to get started investing. When it comes to investing, it’s never too early, and these apps will certainly help get you started.