With the advent of internet trading platforms and Robo-advisors, it’s easier than ever to connect into the world of online investing. In spite of an abundance of resources, though, people still find themselves struggling just to get started. If you’ve never invested but would like to try, the world of investing apps is a safe place to start.
Here are 5 of the top investing tools to get you started.
iOS & Android (Supports 3D Touch and Touch ID)
This is one of my favorites and the one I’ve used the longest. Acorns are little seeds planted by you, the learning investor, as you start your journey towards growing a live oak of financial freedom. Recently, I wrote about apps that promote positive savings habits, and I almost included this fine example in that article.
However, Acorns is more than a savings app. Each time you spend money, the app will automatically tally the leftover change of your purchase (round-ups) and save it in a nursery. Once the $5 automatic investment threshold is reached, Acorns will withdraw that amount from your checking account and deposit the funds in your very own brokerage account. That money will automatically be invested in Exchange Traded Funds that match your preferred portfolio style. Acorns can be considered a Robo-Advisor, but for those who’ve never set foot in the investment realm, it’s a great place to start.
Read More: Acorns App Review
To use the Acorns service, you’ll pay a $1 fee each month that your balance is below $5,000 — which is separate from any expenses incurred by the underlying ETFs (exchange-traded funds) you own inside the account. Once your account value hits $5,000, the expenses are set at a rate 0.25%, computed daily. Doing the math, these fees are low and roughly in line with Robo-advisers like Betterment, Wealthfront, and Charles Schwab.
The ETFs in your Acorns portfolio will be run by Vanguard, which has historically low expense ratios. Easily track your account performance and history in multiple windows, and watch your account value and dividends grow over time.
Further educate yourself with the Acorns app investment magazine. Grow magazine offers free advice and education on current market news and long-term trends. After Brexit, I opened my app and was greeted with a pop up invitation to read an Acorns Grow article on the topic. Their advice? Do nothing. Article categories include advice, interviews with successful investors, and stories – a collection of blog type posts that journals investor’s roads to financial wisdom and freedom.
Trending: Betterment vs. Wealthfront
You can set up recurring investments, make one-time investments from $5 to $50,000, and earn money by referring friends. In the app, you’ll find a referral link you can share on Facebook, Twitter, and pretty much any other way you can think on your phone. Both the referring user and the new user will receive $5 when the first investment is made. Acorns can access your contacts (only with your permission) and send out messages to friends of your choosing, making the referral process easier than ever.
With the ability to link an unlimited number of accounts (credit cards, debit cards, checking and savings accounts), you can withdraw or invest money as often as you want. For those withdrawals, you may incur capital gains or losses depending on how the ETFs performed. It’s important to review your account statement at the end of the year and share it with your tax professional to determine if you need to pay taxes on dividends and gains. Acorns is not sponsoring any tax sheltered retirement type accounts (IRAs) as of yet.
Bonus: College students who register with a .edu email address will have the Acorns account fee waived for their first four years from the date of registration.
Peeptrade is an unusual app that allows you to peep (watch and monitor) other people’s trades. Their system is based off the Guru and the Peeper, or the “professional trader” and the everyday investor. If you’re not sure what to buy, you can follow other traders via the Peeptrade platform and get an idea of what others are doing.
Be aware that many of the Gurus on the Peeptrade service (which is still in beta testing) charge very high fees for you to see what they are trading. The good thing about this is you can review their performance before deciding who you want to follow, and not all gurus charge for others to watch how they’re trading.
Under the Guru Screener tab, you can review a list of individual Gurus/investors and sort them by total return, Sharpe ratio, and total return versus the S&P 500. To become a Guru, you’ll need to apply on the Peeptrade website.
Disclaimer: I can’t recommend any true novice use Peeptrade. It’s a risky proposition to pay a complete stranger for investment advice unless you’re able to talk (and hopefully meet) with them.
Referral Bonus: Even if you don’t really use the app but know someone who you think would be a great Guru, you can refer them to Peeptrade. You’ll receive $50 if they link a broker account to the Peeptrade service.
Read our Guide: How to Start Investing
Robinhood, the app for stock trading commission thieves, boasts fast stock buying in just three clicks. Set up is easy: provide an email address, unique username and password, and link your bank account. After you’ve submitted all of your information, the Robinhood team will review your application and then notify you when you’re approved. They will verify that you are who you say you are (like any other brokerage) before approval, which usually takes less than one business day.
The best thing about this app is that it’s absolutely free. Like the legend of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, this app wants to give money back to the trading masses: there are no trading costs for users.
The simple interface just requires you to search for the stock ticker of your choice, then place your order by swiping up after confirming all of the details. Quick and easy.
Just because this app is simple, though, doesn’t mean you can’t be sophisticated. Choose from Market, Limit, Stop Loss, and Stop Limit orders. If you don’t have enough money to place the order, Robinhood will ask you if you want to deposit the exact amount required to complete that particular purchase. It’s a good feeling not having to deposit “extra” money in order to pay fees ranging from $5-10 per order. The app will automatically determine what’s needed to give you the buying power required to complete the order. Then, it will prompt you to make the deposit.
Add stocks to your homepage by searching for the ticker and then clicking the check mark in the upper right corner. If you want to de-clutter your homepage, swipe left to delete individual stock shortcuts. If you want to buy quickly, that same swipe left will show a Buy button that will shortcut to the order page.
The homepage will also show you the top losers and top gainers of the day, as well as snippets of top investment news items. Clicking on these “news cards” will take you to an in-app web browser where you can read articles on your favorite finance websites. In the case of the top gainers/losers, a click will produce an RSS-type feed of those stocks with brief business summaries of each. On each stock that you view, you’ll see news articles directly related to that ticker symbol. The basic stock stats provided by all trading platforms are here, too: view the dividend yield, P/E Ratio, and more.
Robinhood users can also access the Robinhood blog, Under the Hood. The founders of Robinhood are sharing their story on a mission to make the markets more accessible for the average person. Providing a free trading platform is the first step. (Read about how Robinhood is partnered with another investment app at the end of this article.)
As of this writing, there is a waiting list for the Robinhood Instant service, which allows users to access trading money immediately after a sale, rather than having to wait up to three days. Deposits up to $1,000 will have instant tradability and there are still no planned fees or commissions. There is an Invite Friends option, which will bump up your place in line to receive this new, yet-to-be beta-tested feature.
According to the app’s blog, Robinhood Instant is a free upgrade service. It will be slowly rolled out to users according to what position in line they hold. (Full disclosure: I’m number 58,512 out of 60,911.)
The epitome of an intro-to-investing app, Stash starts users with as little as $5. Even if you know nothing about investing, this is a great place to start small and work your way up.
When you create your account, you’ll be asked to set your risk profile – which is investment speak for how much money you think you can stand to lose if there is a market downturn. If you can withstand a 40% fall in the market and remain unafraid, you may be up for an aggressive risk profile. If you shudder at the thought of a 20% correction, then you’re probably in the conservative risk profile column.
Wherever you fall, Stash has something to meet your needs. Building your Stash balance is easy and worry-free: automatically invest cash into your Stash account or invest directly into individual ETFs and stocks.
To help the beginning investor, the team at Stash came up with a clever way of describing each possible ETF or individual stock you can invest in. You’ll find three categories under the Discover tab, each with multiple options. Each ETF is creatively nicknamed so you understand what you’re buying.
Related: Best Apps to Build Savings Habits
The three investment categories are “I Believe,” “I Want,” and “I Like.” Each category contains different ETFs from providers like iShares, Schwab, and others. Stash makes it easy to review the performance and major holdings of that fund whenever you click on that ETF title that catches your eye. You can also check out the “Who Owns It” tab, revealing what percentage of the Stash community profile owns that same investment. Follow your friends who use the Stash app via your contacts list or Facebook account; easily ask a friend about what they think of an investment option with the share button.
The “I Believe” category lets you invest in your convictions and support what is important to you. A few examples are Defending America (Ticker: ITA), Clean and Green (ICLN), and Data Defenders (CIBR). The “I Want” category of portfolio options is focused on your financial future and investing in your goals. I chose the Aggressive Mix (AOR) but you may like the Blue Chip option that invests in the Vanguard Mega Cap ETF (MGC).
The “I Like” category is described as a way to invest in your interests. Example options include American Innovators (VGT), Enjoy Yourself (PEJ), and Global Citizen (VT). While most investment options are ETFs, I found at least one individual stock with Stash. If you want to “Roll with Buffet”, you can purchase full or fractional shares of Berkshire Hathaway class B Shares (BRK.B).
Once you invest in any category option, you’ll find an additional tab that gives you a personal summary of how you’re doing with that particular investment. See a breakdown in current value, number of shares, how much you’ve invested, total return, and percent of stash, which is how much space that ETF takes up in your portfolio. This comes in handy because it’s important to know the portfolio weighting of each investment you make.
I checked my Stash account after the Brexit and the resultant market drop; Stash reminded me that I’m in this for the long term and that this is a great opportunity to add to investment accounts at lower prices. Like Acorns, this app wants you to learn and grow as an investor.
Like Acorns, you’re going to pay $1 a month with an account value of less than $5,000 or 0.25% per year for balances $5,000 and up. My $1 Stash fee was waived for the first 3 months of use. Earn bonus cash and give your friends $5 when they open a Stash account and invest. The limit on referral bonuses is $100.
So you now have a few apps that will start you on the road to investing. In order for you to make the most of the investment app you choose, though, you need to educate yourself. To help you along the way, the Rubicoin team created a great pair of mobile applications as part of a beginner’s roadmap to investing.
The Learn app has 36 individual lessons spread across 5 Categories: Why Invest, Basics, Finding Great Companies, Looking Deeper, and Your Investing Life. Each lesson includes an audible reading option at the top of the article, followed by the main teaching points and then the meat of the lesson.
Track your progress in becoming an educated investor by marking each lesson complete at the bottom of the page – and if it’s something you want to share with friends and family, you can easily post a link via the share button on the top right of the lesson. Learn provides a firm foundation of knowledge for the beginning investor.
You’ve completed all 36 lessons. What now? Click the invest button on the top of the app and you’re taken to the next app in the Rubicoin library: Invest.
Once you’ve downloaded the app, you’re whisked away to the Showroom packed full of stock categories. This app receives high praise from lay investors and professionals alike. The visually appealing layout and informative write-ups make it a joy to use. Just click the heart icon on any stock you like and it’ll be automatically saved to your portfolio as a potential future investment (unclick the heart to remove it from your favorites). Sort by dividend payers, high risk/rewards, bedrocks (blue chips), and even find a link to invest in the S&P 500 index (VOO).
I mentioned earlier that Robinhood had teamed up with an educational app: this is it. If you find a stock you want to buy while using the Rubicoin Invest app, you can link to your Robinhood brokerage account (remember, no trading fees) and click the Invest Now button. You’ll be transferred to the buy page of that stock ticker in the Robinhood app. Any purchases made with the linked Robinhood/Invest package will be tracked on the portfolio page inside Invest.
There are some costs associated with Invest. Under the Best Buy tab, you can purchase “the one stock we (Rubicoin) most believe in right now.” One week of access will cost you $1.99. I won’t reveal what this week’s best buy was, but it was accompanied by a detailed write up from Emmet Savage, the chief investor of Rubicoin. Each Best Buy that you purchase will be stored in your personal archive so you never lose access to that material. If you don’t want to spend any money with the Invest team, at least check out the Rubicoin Blog as a continuation of Learn. Their library of weekly investment articles will expand your knowledge base even further after you’ve completed the series of lessons on the Learn app.
You have many options when it comes to using your phone and technology on the road to investing. These make it easy to start an account and begin forming investment habits. Acorns, Stash, and Robinhood are awesome platforms to lead your plunge into the magical world of compounding interest. To teach yourself even more, why not read through Rubicoin’s Learn App and then explore its partner app, Invest?
Whatever you do, pick a platform and get started, even if it’s only a small amount. Remember that your greatest asset in building wealth through investing is time, not volume, so don’t let the “never done it before” excuse hold you back any longer.
Do you like any of the apps in this article? Tell us how you used them to start your investment journey.Topics: Investing