It has been at least 3 months since I last posted into my financial blog on my journey with Acorns and Betterment. Well I can happily say both have been a large success so far and I am extremely optimistic about what else is to come with the two new emerging platforms. Both are showing gains for me and still showing different characteristics.
When I first started my journey on Acorns I jumped into it pretty quickly but obviously when you get into an investment of some sort your first objective is to find a way to reach $100. That was accomplished pretty quickly as I quickly ran my account up to $250 in the first two months. The second objective or milestone in a platform like Acorns is to reach $500. Reaching $500 took me a bit longer but I kept on depositing and have enjoyed seeing my returns keep getting bigger and bigger. And finally my most recent milestone was reaching $1000. I more so forced the action and pumped in $290 in a $90 and $200 deposit to force the action. And now I am pretty satisfied with the fact that I have over $1000 in this great micro investing tool for young millennials trying to carve a path into the highly complex stock market. I am currently posting $1037.57 with a 4.2% return since opening up my account in September. Quite fascinating to me. I have slowed down my roundups and weekly deposits though. My main objective was to get to $1000 and then start figuring out how I want to recalibrate my thought process on Acorns and how I am going to reach my loftier $1500-$2000 milestone goals. I currently deposit $8 a week and do manual round ups which average out to around $9-$11.50 a week including my $8 weekly deposit. Which is still exceptional in my mind. I signed up for early access to the web based platform and it is extremely crisp and eye appealing they really do have a better web based platform than Betterment currently. All in all Acorns has been great fun and entertaining for me. I do consider Acorns to be my for fun account and take greater care of my Betterment account. I just wish Acorns offered an affiliate program of sort. I love showing people this great tool. I will say though only 16% of my funds in Acorns were accumulated from Round Ups, the rest of the funds were from me depositing the cash into the platform in larger sums than the micro investments.
While Acorns has been great fun Betterment has been on the rise for me also. I joined both platforms at nearly the same time and have been juggling both hand in hand. Betterment has been posting a larger return than Acorns and I even joined Betterment a couple days later. On this day today I recently decided that I was going to shift my portfolio from 90% stock 10% bonds to 95% stock 5% bonds. I decided this was an ethical play on my part because I recently just turned 25 and feel like I have enough time in my mid twenties to make a pretty aggressive play. I also have my Acorns set to its most aggressive feature. My reasoning behind this play is simply because countries like India and China are still growing rapidly and I need to be apart of the BRIC markets while Im still young. So by increasing my risk another 5% I am opening up to more emerging markets. My portfolio should be reset to 95% for tomorrows opening. I took a screenshot of my 90% holdings today and will track the difference between the two portfolios. I am hoping that I can hold my portfolio at 95% stocks until I am at least 28 years old but am hoping to be able to carry it until I am 30 and then think about dropping back down to 90% stocks. Currently I have pumped my account on Betterment up to $1530.23 with a monthly deposit of $100 set. I am currently thinking about upping my monthly deposits to either $125 or $150 but still trying to figure out how I need to allocate my funds with Acorns, Lending Club, and future IPOs that I want to be able to buy into. I opened up a Prosper account also but think I am going to pass on Prosper. Like Acorns I opened up my Betterment account in September and am posting a generous 5.5% in returns! This is currently the highest that my account has ever been at so anything above 5.5% from here on out is a new high for me. Q1 was pretty soft for me on my dividends but It was still better than a savings account.
So if you are curious to know which platform I currently prefer it is equally weighted between the two platforms and I recommend either one. I usually recommend Acorns to more people though simply because you can get into the market for a cheaper price as long as you are willing to place between $50-$75 into your Acorns account every month. I do consider Betterment to my more serious platform between the two but am currently in love with Lending Club and getting ready to make a huge splash with them in the next couple of months, but that will be in another article I write. I would like to also thank Betterment for the sweet shirt they gave me!
The year is coming to an end and Im pretty optimistic about next year and the gains I will be making financially in the stock market. I opened up an Acorns and Betterment account in the middle of August and went straight to work with both of those accounts trying to create a portfolio of some sort through both of the new mobile platforms. Since I opened both of them at pretty much the same time I was able to track the performance of both of them. I always noticed that while I put less money into Acorns it always had a higher return than Betterment. And it has held true since the beginning with me. The reasoning behind this can be because of a couple things. One of them being that the platform is based more on micro investing while Betterment is based on larger sums of money being deposited in. So with Acorns I am buying on micro tiny dips on a daily bases where as Betterment I am buying only once or twice a month typically. But the biggest difference I have noticed is that Acorns offers a REIT ETF and Betterment does not. I currently have $543.30 in my Acorns account including Dividend Payments that will process tomorrow. With $23.82 in GAINS including tomorrows Dividends that have not processed yet. Thats pretty dam impressive for only having around $550 in my Acorns account. Which is why I like having 2 portfolios currently because on Betterment I have double that amount of money invested into my account and my GAINS are HALF of that. Betterment I am currently posting $1028.32 including Dividends Payments that will process tomorrow also. My Dividend Payments were 33% higher than what they were on Acorns. My GAINS were half of what Acorns were and I have double invested in Betterment. Im showing a $13.32 Gain. None of this is anything for me to startle over though. I noticed that Betterment is a little less volatile than Acorns and offers better Dividends than Acorns which in the long run is what matters the most. But if you really had to select between the two and were really tight on funds Acorns is the way to go currently. Acorns just launched a better monthly fee platform which is only $1 a month until you hit $5000 then it is only .25% a year. So you are ponying up $12 a year to watch your money grow. As opposed to Betterment which offers smaller returns but is less volatile you are charged $3 a month if you do not deposit at least $100 a month or .50% if you do deposit that. Overall the young ride has been pretty fun so far. Long Term Investing is easy once you start seeing Dividends arrive into your account. 2015 will be my first official year in the stock market where I actually know what is going on and Im pretty excited for it. The early winter/spring will be pretty light for me but ill pump up my deposits during the summer. If I deposit $100 a month into Betterment I will be tucking $1200 into my account. Which that is a Guaranteed amount for me even if I have to find a way to make it happen I will make sure my monthly deposit goes in because it is extremely crucial to my growth as a young millennial getting into the Emerging Market. Being a Millennial I am getting an opportunity to buy into the Emerging Markets of India,China,Brazil, and Russia. (BRIC) And yes I do know that Russia is collapsing hard right now but you can’t really suspect their economy to crash for another 15-20 years. I am a big believer in the Chinese Economy and keep an eye on the companies growing there. Im not a fan of the Indian Economy though while it will most likely grow I don’t see much trust or gain in what they will bring when you compare them to China. Everything is virtually outsourced to China and nothing is sourced to India…… What will India offer than China can not?
I recently just deposited my first $100 into Lending Club to play with that and see what I could expect from the platform. I only had 4 Notes to purchase with the $100 so I went through and selected 4 loans I felt pretty comfortable with. I managed to find a A,B and two D loans. None of them have processed yet so I still have to wait for them to be fully funded. Again I only put $100 in because I really have know idea what I am getting into even though I understand what I am doing.The moment I saw they were going to have an IPO I went straight to my bank account and moved money into my Sharebuilder account right away to have it ready for the IPO. I knew the IPO was going to be ginormous and it rightfully was. The platform and tools they offer for investors and people looking for loans is simply amazing. Being on the secondary market is true crap though. I got stuck buying in at $23.74 I believe, I still bought though because I didn’t think I would see the shares drop much lower than that ever again.They closed today at $25.83 but its been really volatile. I am a firm believer in the company and think that the growth in this company will be huge in the upcoming future. P2P Lending is going to be huge and I expect P2P to have its own sector in five to ten years. This should be a massive growth field. As far as me investing in them through P2P Lending Im pretty optimistic about the 4 loans I selected and hope to see a profit. If this ends up working out properly for the first 3 or 4 months where all 4 people pay out properly, I will happily put another $250-$500 to start pushing for more growth. My Lending Club Journey has begun and I hope to see it prosper!
It’s December 2nd and my deposit processed this morning for todays trading to begin. I had a $100 deposit process into my Betterment account and was happy as usual on my timing. The day before the market took a pounding and I ended up being down 1.5%. I had a solid return on the dip. If you take a look at the chart below I zoomed in on the VOO which is the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF
So first we take a look at the entire week which during this period dates between November 25th and December 2nd. Look at that massive plummet due to oil prices on the 1st of the month. Incredible because on that day Apple also ended up down -3.25% and even today ended up being down another -.38% today. A lot of people think the sell off was due to people just taking profits, but also because Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales didn’t produce what share holders were hoping for. Which if that is the cause that seems a bit silly due to the fact that Apple rarely puts anything on sale. While I titled this buying on the dip their is know actual way of knowing if you are going to buy on the dip until the market actually opens. I just seem to get lucky and end up processing buys on the dip. These buys have brought me solid rewards though.
The S&P 500 is still looking for another 184 points to close out the year. Would be pretty awesome if it closed out at the projected 2200, but who really knows. I recently posted an article on Millennials in a Bear Market. A portion of it was about rising interest rates and trying to situate myself during that time period. I did a bit more research and the consensus seems to be that even when interest rates do rise the rates wont rise to anything above 2% and it will take a good amount of time to even reach 2%. So I do not think I have to sound the alarm that much. A lot of analyst think 2015 will be a pretty calm year, but thats fine hopefully it gives me a chance to situate more funds on the low and reap the rewards the following years.
On a side note I have decided that sometime in the near future I am going to open a investment fund specifically for Black Friday. Im gonna create it on Betterment and just set it to a target goal of $1000.
Drinking Alcohol is like pissing nickels and dimes down the drain with every single sip of what ever you are drinking. Especially if you are a millennial with little to anything to your name. I classify a millennial as a kid that was born between 1980 and 1995. A lot of people keep going until the early 2000’s but seriously when does the Z Generation actually start? Just today I received the first of my monthly dividend payments from five of the index funds I own shares in. I don’t expect much of anything from these payments right now because I don’t even have $1000 invested in the market yet. I wont see much of anything until I start getting a lot more in the market, but thats not the point. The point behind this is if Im going to piss away my loose change on something useless. Im going be putting my hard earned money in a washer and dryer if anything. Not a bartenders hand who doesn’t deserve any of the money I make because they already get over tipped. That is literally the only place I will put my loose change and I don’t even consider quarters loose change. A quarter is a lot of money. Even now none of my loose change gets dumped or wasted uselessly. Since I have Acorns linked to every single debit and credit card I own all of that loose change gets deposited into my Acorns portfolio instead of wasting time in my bank account doing literally nothing. Everyone does this when they have a few dollars in their wallet or when they wanna buy a drink or a small snack. They instantly round up and call it a loss. A bag of chips or a can of pop for $2.99. No one thinks its actually $3 it’s $4 and 80% of the time you are going to pull out a $5 bill and just place it in your head that you spent $5 and forget about that extra $1.50 you have. Well instead of forgetting about it do something productive with it since you already forgot you have it left and put it into a portfolio to get some dollar cost averaging going! I never pay face value for anything thats just stupid. I make sure I get some sort of cash back bonus on my credit card and I make sure I have extra incentive by investing the rest. I am more interested in the idea of trying to create something for myself at a young age so I can watch it grown and prosper while I am still in my 20s. I already know my next plan of attack, and the next plan of attack after that, and so on and so on. I have so many places I want to get my money in but all of these things take time and patience. But knowing these things at a young age is going to give me a huge advantage over people my age and even people in their late 30s and 40s. My money will grow faster than theirs. That is a given. Compounding interest is the most powerful tool someone can grab on to. It doesn’t matter how much you have, it matters how much you want it. And if you want it bad enough it will happen. And I want and have huge goals. But it all started with a $20 investment into Acorns. I really get sick of reading articles on how dumb millennials are, but truthfully we are a really uneducated generation when it comes to making money. We are the intrapreneur generation, which isn’t our fault, we just got stuck with watching and witnessing literally every bad thing that could happen…. happen. Im extremely optimistic about things. If their is one thing I take a lot of pride on its being optimistic about a situation, but I am a realist. I talk about money with a small group of friends right now but more about educating ourselves and trying to create better situations for us. All I am trying to do is help people that I see with lots of potential and need for more knowledge. I really don’t know that much about money, but what I do no I like to share with other people I talk to because they to deserve to know what I no. I don’t talk about winning the lottery. I don’t talk about all of the wonderful things I will have when I win the lottery, and I don’t talk about inheriting a shit ton of money. All of those things just piss me off because people that talk about winning the fucking lottery have literally know principle. Its a huge fucking pipe dream and a waste of time and talking. And the people that do win the lottery have no idea where to put any of the money they have. Its a huge joke and a scam. Thankfully I went through my spending phase at a pretty young age. But even my spending phase where I literally bought everything was just a small microcosm of what people in my generation spend. The difference being I already had a solid credit score so I did’t have to worry about getting hit with astronomical interest rates. And none of my payments were due instantly that month. My Citi Simplicity card I own is almost entirely paid off and will be paid off entirely on my next paycheck, but I still have a huge Chase Slate to tackle… But my Simplicity card isn’t due until August 5th 2015. It’s the only card on the market with an 18 month 0% APR. So what I had was TIME. Something I take full advantage of when given to me. All I try to do with myself is better myself. I have executed more sunken costs than I even want to. Im trying as hard as I can to put so many things off until early next year.
I talked a lot about Acorns in this article and wanted to point out that my Acorns portfolio is growing at a faster rate than my Betterment Portfolio, but Im pretty sure it’s only because my first month of Acorns I was depositing $6.25 every single day for 30 days into it so I was getting some hardcore micro dollar cost averaging put into play. With Betterment I only make 2 deposits a month in it. The plan is to get both of them to $1000 a piece somehow. Ill be pretty happy with even $500 in my Acorns profile but Ill be reaching that pretty soon. I really need to keep moving on with both though until I see which platform offers the better value for my time and money. In all seriousness though If you have a smartphone and are around my age you really need to open up an Acorns account and get your feet wet in the stock market. I wish I was getting paid by these companies to promote them because I am going to literally talk about these two platforms every single time Im writing. Acorns is just micro investing, you only need to deposit $5 a month and that it! You don’t have to put hundreds or thousands of dollars into it. It was designed specifically for millennials. And you will almost for certain see Acorns Commercials on Nationally Televised Television in the future. It literally took me 5 minutes to sign up for Acorns and Betterment. I am a huge advocate for futures and don’t believe anything that happens now plays a significant value on what will happen in the future.
I love Mondays, not because I don’t have to go to work but because the Market opens back up. The past week was pretty insane on the Market. I posted a +3.50% on Acorns and a +3% profit on Betterment last Friday (Halloween). Im pretty excited to get things rolling this month on the Market again. Obviously I like seeing myself being able to make a few dollars on the Market, but im more so fascinated with how the market fluctuates. I was excited as hell when the market dumped 10% 2 weeks ago. Im pretty sure it closed at 9% but peaked at 10%. It was pretty solid timing for me to be able to purchase a bit more in the Market. The following Monday though it just slingshotted instantly into the Green and it was as if the crash (Correction) never even occurred. Pretty much all of my purchases have been on the dip though. So Im getting full value out of what I put into the market right now. November is historically a huge month in the stock Market. The market closed slightly down today. The S&P 500 ended down only .01% today but the VOO ended up .06% VOO is the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF, which is what I track as my benchmark because most of my portfolio is composed of all Vanguard Funds. I still took a small loss of only .04% today nothing dramatic though. One of my Monthly deposits of $100 will process tomorrow into my Betterment account tomorrow morning. Which is good timing again because the Market ended down today so Im buying on the Dip again. That is my sole objective when I purchase shares. Buy on the low somehow. Historically the Market responds extremely well to Midterms and tomorrow is Midterms. Apparently 86% of the time the Market goes green the following 6 months. With an average return of 7% the first 3 months and an average of 16% the entire 6 months during that period in the S&P 500. If this is true I could close out 2014 with at least a 10% profit in only 4.5 months! I only make .90% in my ALLY Savings account which doesnt really house that much money in it. Sad part is ALLY offers the highest interest rate out of every single bank in the country. I discovered this 3 years ago and started banking with them instead of a big bank only returning .10%. Im still young and figuring out the Market as smoothly as I can but am being greedy as hell right now also at the same time trying to capitalize on all possible gains possible. I will be extremely happy with myself if somehow I do close the year up 10%. That is a blessing in itself, but my expectations are still pretty mutual right now.
After fiddling with Acorns for over a month I recently decided that I didn’t need to deposit as much money into Acorns as I was during my first phase with the software experimenting with it. I decided it would be better to allocate more funds to other funds and bills for the time being. So I changed the platform to only deposit $8 once a week and also all round ups. I estimated that it could be between $50 and $60 a month now going into Acorns instead of the $150-$200 I did my first month fiddling with Acorns. I am still pro Acorns and think its a valuable asset to my young life. Acorns recently just posted on their Facebook page that they were rewarding early investors in the program by bypassing all monthly fees and asset fees until 2015. It really isn’t that big of a deal but thats $1 in monthly fees and around $.12-.$14 in asset fees. But it helps when you are starting off small so I do appreciate that.
Alas I finally had my first profitable week with Acorns and Betterment. I waited at least 36 days to finally turn a small profit, but the week of the 19th-25th was extremely bullish. I peaked at Acorns at +.60% and on Betterment I peaked at .50%. So nothing fascinating more so interesting. Terrific that I am in the green on both accounts currently but noticed that Betterment gained ground on Acorns during this week. Acorns had .3% of an end on Betterment because I opened my Acorns a few days ahead of Betterment but I was suspecting Betterment to gain ground on Acorns and it did. So that is another reason more focus is going into Betterment as it seems to be a bit more concentrated on stocks analytically versus Acorns stocks.
Yet today was a sell off day due to the fact that 140 companies are reporting earnings this week and apparently oil prices are dumping really low. While the price of gas goes down for consumers the flow of money in the energy sector drops creating less income for people with holdings in the energy sector. The S&P 500 only ended down .15% today so I still managed to hold on to a .2% in my Betterment Portfolio. I track all of the index funds I currently hold a piece of and the one Im most excited about is the VNQ fund ( Vanguard REIT ETF ). With the economy rising up slowly this bodes well for millennials who do own a piece of the fund. Acorns have holdings in the fund which is nice because it offers a solid 3.61% Dividend/Yield. Unfortunately Betterment doesn’t have a piece of the VNQ.
While Acorns and Betterment are solid platforms they are just building blocks for people to build on. Later on in the future the next idea is to move on to Lending Club and individual Vanguard Funds, specifically to reach Admiral status with as many of their funds as possible. Thats still at least 3 years down the road unless I take focus off of Betterment and Acorns.
Every once and awhile you run into something fascinating. Something that just completely blows your mind when you come across it and see the potential and opportunity you can garnish from what you are all of a sudden absorbing. A little over a month ago I was sitting on facebook just scrolling through the news page. I follow a page called TechCrunch, a page that posts info on the worlds’ up and coming and new start up technology. TechCrunch had recently done a review on a new website called Acorns. I was interested in seeing what this Acorns was all about since it was titled as a new way of investing into the market for millennials. I took a look at the article and was mind blown with what they were presenting to me. Lets explain it here.
Acorns is a new financial platform designed for new people trying to get into the stock market. The main target is millennials in particular that don’t have thousands of dollars to invest in the market. With Acorns you can take your spare change from purchases on your debit card or credit card and the app automatically rounds up your purchase to the dollar! So lets say you decide to go to Target and buy some pop and salsa. Your total comes out to $4.69, great now your going to invest $.31 because it is rounding up to the nearest dollar! How great is that? The deposits are scooped up out of your bank account every time you reach $5 in roundups. The program it’s self currently is only a mobile platform for smart phones and not available on desktop yet. When you are signing up for the App it asks you how aggressive you would like to create your first investment portfolio with them. Im only 24 so I obviously set mine to Aggressive which is the riskiest feature on the platform, but because I am young I’m willing to own more stock than bonds. After doing this you link your checking account to the app and what ever credit cards you want also to the app. Every round up takes money out of your checking account including your purchases on credit cards. Once I signed up I deposited $20 into my account instantly just as a starter to see what would happen when the first process went through. The money appeared in my account the next day and I was on my way. I decided I wanted to go a bit harder at the app though and set my platform to deposit $5 a day instead of waiting for my round ups to reach $5. On average I deposit $6.25-$6.75 a day including round ups into my account Acorns account. You can choose to have all your purchases round up or manually select what you want rounded up into your account, but since the whole idea behind the app is to help you save I think its better to just deposit all round ups. As of today I have deposited $291.79 with a -1.10% return which is the lowest Ive had my losses at in 34 days. -$3.27 over 1 month of depositing every single day. I also forgot to mention the monthly fee is $1 a month so $12 a year.
When I first came across Acorns, TechCrunch also posted a link to a podcast called Listenmoneymatters, who had also done a review and episode on the app, before I start talking about Listenmoneymatters im just going to fast forward for now and start talking about another investing platform called Betterment. I found Betterment through the financial podcast called Listenmoneymatters. I will talk a lot about listenmoneymatters also but for now am just going to provide the link the their boss show.
So this is all great this is all happening extremely quickly in my mind and I cant believe that low and behold their might be a program even cooler and swifter than Acorns. I googled Betterment after the podcast ended and went directly to the website. Betterment is the big brother to Acorns in the investing world for millennials. If you are friends with me I will bug and pester you to join at least one of the platforms. They are both extremely crisp platforms for people brand new to investing. Betterment has been around for awhile and is known as a Robo adviser. Meaning human configuration is not involved when creating an investment portfolio for your needs, so no emotions are involved. I decided to sign up right away and looked over the platform and its fees.
The principle behind betterment is the same as acorns but it has a more detailed and analytical platform than Acorns does. Betterment goes into detail about the funds you are allocating your funds to and where you funds will succeed if you wait X-Amount of years. You create a financial goal when you sign up, mine was to build wealth, specifically $25k over 41 years. Obviously that is a long time and according to Betterment I could probably achieve my goal in 13 or 14 years, but for now since I am only 1 month I am just going to keep it set at 41 years until I get a better grasp on the program. Like Acorns I set my portfolio to 90% stocks and 10% bonds. I currently have deposited $515 into my portfolio with a -1.5% return so far. I signed up for Betterment a couple days after Acorns where Im negative -1.1%, amazing what a few days difference does. My goal is to reach $1k in both accounts by the end of December. That is a lot of money for my situation though. I plan on just placing a large sum into my Acorns account and stopping at $1000 and just putting the automatic daily deposits on so I can focus more on spending time with Betterment. The only catch with Betterment is you have to deposit at least $100 a month if you want to avoid paying $3 a month instead of .35% of your portfolio. So right now I owe about $.14 a month instead of $3 a month. I will go way more into detail about Acorns and Betterment as I continue to blog my journey.