Why You Should Start Micro Investing – an Acorns Review

How it works:

Acorns helps you build an investment account with very small micro investments that are rounded up from each purchase you make in your day-to-day life.  Those funds are then invested for you which gives you the opportunity to earn a higher return than a regular savings account.  You can also set up for small recurring deposits each day, week, or month with a minimum denomination of $5.00 increments.  The recurring investments are optional so you could choose to just opt in for the round up the change program.

For example, if you purchase something and the total is $5.44 then it will deduct $6.00 for the transaction and put $0.54 into your Acorns account to be invested.

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Tiers and Fees:

Lite: $1 per month

This is the basic package that allows you to invest your round up change, set up auto deposits and gives you the opportunity to earn bonus investments that are discussed below.  If you are just looking to get start with Micro Investing, then this is a great cheap option.

Personal: $3 per month

In addition to the Lite features this level gives you the option of quickly opening a retirement account which will give you the tax advantages that go along with them.  You will also have access to a checking account through Acorn.

Family:  $5 per month

All the features and benefits of the Personal Tier and the ability to set up investment accounts for each of your kids that can easily be transferred to them in the future. 

Sign Up Process:

The sign-up process was very easy and they make it very easy to link the App to your banking site and set up initial and recurring investment deposits.  You have the option of entering certain criteria about yourself to create an investor profile.  Doing this is quick and easy with just 7 questions to answer and it helps Acorns to suggest the best Micro Investment path to set as your default. 

Recurring Investing:

Acorns gives you micro Investment options of Daily, Weekly, or Monthly with the minimum amount being $5.00 so there are options for everyone. 

Round Up the Change:  This is the Acorns feature that rounds up every purchase and bill that comes out of your linked account to the nearest dollar and turns that money into a micro investment account.  You can also choose to multiply the roundups by 2X, 3X or 10X!   

Special Offers:

Acorns has partnered with over 350 name brand companies who are willing to invest in your account if you shop with or in some cases sign up for a membership.  If you do or are planning on buying from any of these companies, it’s an added bonus as they will make the contribution for you doing so!

How Micro Investing and Acorns Could Help You

Pay off Debt: 

Wait until this builds up to a specified amount of money then transfer out of Acorns and make another payment to a debt.  Maybe set this for either the minimum payment amount or whatever amount you pay each month.  You won’t really notice this money leaving your account and overtime it will turn into a bonus payment for you!

Save For a vacation:

You could use this fund for vacation savings or at least a portion of it each year.  If you and the family go on vacation every year wouldn’t it be great to tap into this account and have all your

Invest for the future:

Acorn allows you to open a Retirement Account and realize the tax advantages while saving for your Retirement.  $50 per month that earns 7% each year would turn into over $55,000 in 30 years.  Not a bad little retirement present for yourself just from rounding up your change.

Invest for your kids:

Acorns makes it easy to set up investment accounts for each of your kids and gives you the ability to transfer the funds to them later.  $50 per month that earns 7% each year would turn into over $24,000 in 20 years which would allow you to really help them get off on the right foot financially when they enter adulthood.

Review:

If you are a serious and savvy investor, then I do not think Acorns will give you the control options you are looking for as it is somewhat limited.  If you are new to investing or have trouble saving money this could be a great option for you.  It is very easy to set up and it does not take long to see your account start to grow, all while not really noticing the Micro Investments that it is round up for you!

Click here to start Micro Investing today!

6 Ways to Stay Motived While Getting Out of Debt

If you are reading this then I am sure you have enough debt to make you regularly think about it and looking for a way out.  Figuring out exactly where you stand and creating a plan is a vital first step to attacking your debt but unfortunately, that is the easy step.  The hard part of the process is having that Mindset Change that needs to occur, a strong enough “Why” that will help you change behaviors and provide you with enough motivation to get you across the finish line.  Below are some tips to help you stay motivated throughout the process.

Declare your Why

Why are you doing this, why are you going to commit to a different life?  This needs to be strong, detailed and clearly defined.  Are you doing this for your children?  Are you doing this so you can eventually retire?  What will life look like the day after all your debts are gone?  Will you sleep better? What is one thing you will save for that’s on your bucket list once you are out of debt?  Use all of what you create here to fight your old behaviors that got you into this situation.

Make the decision to get out of debt as a family or household unit. 

The actions of the entire family, not just one person determine how the budget looks at the end of each month.  Majorities will not work neither; this needs to be a unanimous decision with everyone on board.  On top of this, you will be each other’s biggest source of support through this process and everyone needs to be personally accountable and stay committed.

Let people know

Inform those closest to you in your life of your plan and intentions.  Get the good news out there and let those closest to you such as family and friends know about the new journey.  If you need to cut back on some of the old things you used to do it will not be awkward if you need to decline or suggest something different as they know what you are trying to do.

Develop a personal accountability plan

Most people are in debt because of bad habits – how are you going to hold yourself accountable?  What daily, weekly and monthly goals do you have for yourself?  What can you do to maximize your process to accomplish your debt free goal in the fastest amount of time?  Can you work 10 hours of overtime each month – is that available to you and if so can you commit to it?  Can you pick up a side job?  Will you stop spending on a wasteful habit you currently have?

Smart Sheet is a good resource for creating S.M.A.R.T. goals which is a great goal setting methodology that we highly recommend.

If part of your personal accountability is to pick up a Side Hustle to earn more and pay off debt quicker then check out our post on the Best Side Hustles You Can Start Quickly

Join groups or communities of like minded people  

If you hang out and follow people that want to buy a bunch of “wants” all the time, then you will inevitably experience regular urges to do the same.  If you are constantly interacting with people that want to get out of debt, then you will find it easier to keep going and staying motivated.

This group right here is a good example of that so keep it up, get involved, respond to other’s questions as it will help you build more confidence over time and help other members of the group as well.

Charts and printouts

Tracking charts are a great way to track your progress and keep you motivated throughout your journey or a particular goal.  Debt Free Charts is a great resource for all sorts of charts and I’m sure you can find one that will fit your personality and provide you that extra boost of will power when you feel like giving up.

Nothing good in life comes easy and getting out of debt is not an exception.  The mental game is more important once the math has been figured out so do everything you can to stay in a positive and motivated mindset each day.  Revisit your “Why” each morning so you are reminded throughout each day of why you are going to make certain decisions.  Reflect each night on what small steps you took to speed up the process – if it’s been a rough day then do a bit of visualization of what life will be like each day WHEN you are out of debt.

Good Luck, You Got This, DO NOT QUIT!!!

Tips To Quickly Pay Off Debt

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When trying to pay off a large amount of debt it’s very easy for one to forget that small decisions add up and that the answer to How do you eat an Elephant is…..One bite at a time.  If you start to think in smaller increments, much smaller increments it can help you make the decisions to pay off your balance much quicker.  Many people wait until they have a larger chunk of money set aside and then make an additional payment on their credit card instead of making “micro payments” which are smaller but more often throughout the month.  What can happen is that while saving up a chunk of money something comes up and since the money there, a lot of the time means the money is now gone. 

Breaking it down into these small increments can help you keep going mentally, knowing that your small decisions are adding up helping you erase the debt quicker.  Try focusing on just 1% of your total balance and doing everything you can to pay an additional 1% to the debt you are trying to get rid of.  You might not think it does much, but it will end up saving you a lot of money that otherwise goes straight to your lender. 

Example:

$3,000 of credit card debt at an interest rate of 19% with a minimum payment of $60 per month.

Continue reading “Tips To Quickly Pay Off Debt”

How Making an Extra $500 Per Month Can Change Your Life

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Do you live with the stress and anxiety of having an uncomfortable amount of debt?  Are you frustrated that you seem to be living paycheck to paycheck and you cannot find a way to get ahead, to save and to start investing in your future?  Now more than any time in the history of the world has it been easier to earn additional income without getting a formal second job.  If you are serious about changing your situation and have the time and determination to put in some work, it can dramatically improve your finances in many ways.

Continue reading “How Making an Extra $500 Per Month Can Change Your Life”

3 Ways to Make $500 Per Month That You Can Start Quickly

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Food Delivery

Delivering food is one of the fastest ways you can earn an additional $500 per month since the start up process is quick and relatively simple.  All you need to get started is a valid driver’s license, auto insurance, a car or in some areas a bike and a smartphone.  Filling out the application is very easy and user friendly and from there it can be 1-3 weeks on average and you are good to start your deliveries!  Get started today with Grub Hub and you’ll be making some side hustle money in no time!

The Ride Share Guy says that on average delivery drivers with Grub Hub make $12 – $13 per hour.  To make $500 per month delivering food you need to work about 9 hours per week. 

Grocery Shopper and Delivery

Being a Grocery Shipper is something that has really taken off since the pandemic started early in 2020 as many people are trying to avoid going to grocery stores so the demand is high right now which is good news for you. Shipt is one of the major companies to sign up with and based on some of the reviews you can be hired and start working in as little as a week.  In order to qualify you must be 18 or older, have a valid drivers license and auto insurance, have a reliable vehicle 1997 or newer, knowledge of produce selection and be able to lift 40 lbs.  They advertise that you can make anywhere from $16-$22 per hour and you get to keep 100% of any tips you receive.

This is another great way to earn additional money to pay off debt or achieve your goals faster.  To make $500 per month working for Shipt,  you would need to put in around 30 hours per month which is just over 7 hours per week.

Pet Sitting & Dog Walking

For all of you animal lovers out there this is like getting paid for something you love to do!  Companies like Rover give you the option of Pet Sitting or Dog Walking and the set up process relatively quick at 5-10 business days on average.  According to Dollar Sprout, you can typically charge $20-$40 per night for sitting and $20-$30 per walk and of that you keep 80% and the other 20% goes to Rover.  This can add up quickly and is a great way for a pet lover to earn some extra cash.

Why Your Debt Free Plan Will Fail Without A Starter Emergency Fund

If you find yourself in a debt situation that is causing you to live paycheck to paycheck with no savings, you cannot just start throwing small bits of money at the debt right away.  Without an Emergency Fund you will most likely be doomed from the start and life would have to go perfectly as planned for you to get out of the debt hole you are in.

Not having an Emergency Fund is one of the biggest reasons that people are unable to get out of debt.  It is nearly impossible to get out of a serious amount of debt without first creating an Emergency Fund for many reasons.  If you have never really had an emergency fund you will be very surprised at how quickly it can change your mindset, decrease stress and anxiety, improve sleep and allow you to free your mind to live in a more positive space. 

What we are talking about here is a Starter Emergency Fund.  You will read all over the place that you should have 3-6 months of expenses saved up but if your situation is not great then all you need to worry about is getting this up to $500 or $1,000 – preferably $1,000.  Once you successfully get rid of all of your debt you will be in great financial shape and have the confidence to then build up a nice 3-6 month Emergency Fund but you shouldn’t worry about this right now.

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How the Starter Emergency Fund will help prevent you from failing to get out of debt

Not Adding To Your Debt When Life Throws You A Curve: 

Life has a tendency to throw you curveballs at what seem like the worst possible times.  If you are living paycheck to paycheck with no savings and you see your credit card balances going up and approaching your max limits, the thought of a $600 car bill can lead to panic and a lot of anxiety.  Knowing that you have money in the bank that can financially cover a lot of what life throws at you will give you a great sense of comfort and security.  Consider yourself the “owner” of this emergency bank and it’s much better to get a loan from yourself than it is to borrow from someone else.

Staying Mentally Strong Enough for Your Debt Free Plan: 

Many people get really motivated to get out of debt, getting all of their bills together and creating a budget and everyone is happy.  2 months down the line your car brakes start making that awful sound every time you break and now you need new brakes – boom, $750 please.  With no Emergency Fund, your only real option is to add to your debt and put it on the credit card.  Seems pretty straight forward but it is not, and this is where people give up on the plan that was just created.  Over those 2 months you might have been able to work really hard and pay down $500 – $600 worth of debt only to see all of this not only get erased but you are now in a worse position than you were 2 months ago.  This can crush someone’s confidence and turn a positive mentality negative which is why getting to at least $1,000 is so important.

Having an Emergency Fund in place will allow you to view life’s unexpected events as inconveniences instead of them feeling like life shattering events.  More importantly it will allow you to feel just a bit more secure which should help you sleep better at night and keep you in a positive mindset.  A positive mindset will be a major factor in whether you succeed and by accomplishing this first goal you will start strong and have a lot of confidence propelling you forward.

Best of Luck and Stay Positive!

The Positive Effects of a 2 Hour Per Week Side Hustle

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The Power of a 2 Hour per Week Side Hustle

So you took the big step, gathered all of your financial information and sat down and completed your budget………and with just making the minimum payments on your consumer debt you have a break even budget.  This is not the greatest situation to be in as paying the minimum payments on debt means you are in debt hell and it will take you years and years to pay these balances off and you will end up paying tons of money in interest payments.

Most people get too overwhelmed as to how to get out of this situation and with a little willingness to put in some work, a side hustle that can be done on your own time that fits your schedule is what you are missing.  The Power of working for just a few short hours each week can have such a dramatic impact on paying off debt and it’s something you should seriously look into.

Let’s assume that you have a credit card balance that is $8,000 with an interest rate of 19% and your monthly minimum payments you owe is $240. This payment plan would take you 49 months to pay off and in total you would pay the credit card company $11,760 over that time – THAT IS $3,760 IN INTEREST ALONE – THAT’S NEARLY HALF OF WHAT YOU CURRENTLY OWE!!!!

Now, what do you think would happen if you did something like driver for Uber or DoorDash or something similar and were able to make $10 per hour after taxes and expenses and did this for just 2 hours per week?  If you took that earned money and used it to make additional payments it would have a very positive effect on this credit card balance. 

2 Hours per week would be 8 hours per month and would add an additional $80 to your monthly payment making them $320 instead of $240.  By doing this, it would now only take you 33 months to pay this card off and the total amount of money you would have paid would be $10,560.  You would save $1,200 in interest and you will be done 16 months sooner which is HUGE.  You can now use this money to pay off other debts, start an emergency fund if you don’t have one or use it to invest in your future.

If you would like a free copy of our Side Hustle Calculator that you can play around with to see the effects additional payments will have please like our page and leave a comment below and we will get that sent to you.

Start your Debt Free Journey Today – Just Start!!

If you are in serious debt, or even what you feel is an average amount of debt but it’s enough to make you think about it on a regular basis, you need to make some changes and the time to start is NOW!!  Like a lot of things in life that might make you get out of your comfort zone, starting is often times the biggest hurdle.  After taking the leap at anything and giving it a small amount of time people in general often wonder why it took them so long to start and wish they started sooner.  This is no different and I promise you that if you take action right now you will feel better in the morning, maybe only a tiny amount better but these tiny amounts add up quickly. 

The below 4 steps can be completed, today, in less than two hours and by doing so you will wake up tomorrow with a firm understanding of what comes in and what goes out, an emergency savings account and the data we need to set up an attack plan for your consumer debt and improve our credit score.

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  1. Get an accurate picture of how much money is coming in and going out on a monthly basis.  Reply below if you’d like us to send you one!  You can also sign up for Mint which is a great site that you can link your bank to.  It allows you to see each transaction and label them into various categories which will give you a great picture of where your money is going.  You might be surprised just how much money you are spending in certain categories, for me it fast food!!

It can take you a little while to organize everything into proper categories but as long as you do two things – Signing up for an account and linking your bank accounts then you did it!  Maybe it will take you the next 3 days to get everything documented but that’s not what is important.  Up until this point you have probably tried to calculate and guesstimate what’s coming in and what’s going out.  What’s truly important is that you take the first step and starting the journey and knowing what comes in and what goes out each month is truly the first step of the journey.  Mint will give you a great dashboard that you can check in with as often as you would like and they also have a great mobile app to boot!

  • Sign up for an Online Savings account and schedule Auto-Deposits – even if it’s only $5 per month to start:  This will be used as your emergency fund moving forward and you want this with a separate account so it makes it a bit harder to access.  Having a budget is vital, having an emergency fund is just as vital.  Life is unpredictable, what is predictable is that random things will happen to you that you weren’t expecting and sometimes that means you need money and you need it now.  Once you have a nice emergency fund set up it will no longer affect your monthly budget or going into more debt.  After tonight you will officially have an emergency fund – it might only have a balance of $10 but non the less it’s an emergency fund – Congrats!!!  It’s recommended that you have an emergency fund with 3-6 months of your living expenses.  DO NOT GET DISCOURAGED – 99.9% of people need to build this account up over time to meet those recommendations and a lot of people go their whole lives never achieving this.

The Key here is to JUST START – today you didn’t have an emergency fund or a true plan for one.  Tomorrow you will wake up and no that even if it’s a small amount, you will be Auto Depositing money into it each month. 

  • Tally up your Consumer Debt:  We aren’t going to put a plan in today as that’s the next step.  The only step we need to Start Moving forward is to identify our consumer debt so we know exactly where we stand.  What you need to do is to write down on paper or create a spreadsheet of each Open Consumer Debt Account that you have.  You need to know the remaining balance, your interest rate as well as the minimum payment due each month.  Don’t let the totals stress you out – by putting this together you have STARTED!!! Congratulations to you for taking this first step!!
  • Sign up for a Credit Karma Account:  Knowing and working to improve this score will give you more options along your journey to become debt free.  If you don’t know your score, you probably aren’t thinking about it when making decisions.  Credit Karma is a great site as you an see your progress and get encouragement along the way.  For the longest time I avoided my credit score but once I signed up I was actually surprised that things weren’t as bad as what I thought they were. It’s fun and exciting to have a place to log into that can show you the effects your actions are having on your scores.  Getting out of debt is a journey and little bits of encouragement are needed along the way to keep you going. 

If you follow people on social media or look into success stories of others that have overcome debt and now prosper and have a good relationship with money there seems to be a common theme – Why didn’t I start my journey sooner.  If there’s one thing I wish you take away from this it’s that you don’t need to have everything figured out in order to get started.  These are very small steps you can take and once you do, you will have started moving forward towards a path of a better financial life.  They may seem small steps but they are steps in the right direction.  You climb Mount Everest by taking one step at a time, you need to have the same mindset when getting out of debt.

I hope you get started right now – and if you do, great job!!!!  You should be proud of yourself for taking this step towards a more comfortable relationship with money and a more rewarding financial life moving forward!!

How To Maintain Financial Responsibility during the Holidays

Have you ever wished you could genuinely enjoy the holidays without the worry that you don’t have enough money for all of the gifts and get togethers that will inevitably pop up?  Or that you won’t leverage the holiday season with credit cards that you could spend most of next year trying to pay off?  Let’s discuss some of the best things you can do to keep this holiday season under control while enjoying it at the same time for what it truly is.

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  1. Set Your Limits:

The biggest stressor over the holidays is over spending, which is why you need to figure out how much you can spend before you make your first purchase.  In an ideal world, you wouldn’t be putting any money on credit cards to make it through the holiday.  If you can’t find a way to make that happen, you should only charge what you feel you can pay off completely by the end of February.

2. Make a list of your expected spending:

This includes who you will buy gifts for, what events and get-togethers you already have planned and an expected amount you plan on spending.  When in doubt, over estimate the amount you think each one of them will cost as most people tend to underestimate spending this time of year.  Don’t forget the extra expenses such as wrapping paper, cards, parking etc. these expenses add up quickly!

3. Do not get caught up in the sales:

There are sales everywhere you look around the holiday season – these are budget killers because if you buy something on sale that is not on your list, you will now be going over budget.  You should FOR SURE be on the lookout for sales for the items ON YOUR LIST as this can help save money.  Do not become a victim to the sale this holiday season!

4. Do not wait for the last minute!!

The earlier you can get your list created the earlier you can keep your eyes out for sales.  Another thing that can sometimes happen to people who wait until the last minute is that sometimes things are not available, or they are hard to find.  When this happens it is easy to overspend to compensate for the failure to find what you were looking for.

The one thing to always remember is that the holidays are supposed to be a time for caring, giving, joy and happiness.  Stay within your means, have a plan and stick to it – if you are able to do this you will be able to enjoy the true meaning of the season and you won’t feel exhausted when it’s over.  Best of luck this year and Happy Holidays!!

3 Most Effective Auto Investing Apps

There are various different Apps out there where you can invest small amounts of money each month and some that round up purchases to the next dollar and invest that money for you as well.  If you are someone that has been thinking about adding to nest egg and investing money but don’t know where to start and can’t seem to make the jump and start – these are for you.  These sites make it very easy to sign up and start the process and you can have a plan set up that will make a weekly deposit to be invested based on your profile.

Most of these have a minimum of $5.00 per week, if you are someone that has been thinking about starting an investment account then you shouldn’t have a problem coming up with this amount.  $5 per week with an annual return of 7% would turn $7,800 that you would put in, into $26,500 over 30 years making you a profit of almost $20,000.

The average person makes just under 25 debit card transactions each month.  If you sign up for one of these apps and had it round up to the next dollar and invest that money for you it can surprisingly add up over time and honestly, you won’t really notice the money being gone.  If you signed up today, in 30 years your account could be over $15,000!!  This takes less than 5 minutes – and you won’t even know the money is gone.

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Acorns:

Simple site that took less than 10 minutes to create an account, a profile and link my bank account to start a weekly deposit as well as rounding up each purchase I make to the next dollar and depositing the change.  There are 3 tiers you can have and different options depending on what you are looking for.  Be sure to change from Personal to Lite if you are looking for the cheapest option which has a fee of $1.00 per month. 

Betterment:

Betterment offers you the option to plan for different major events and set’s up a plan based on where you are currently at, what your goal is and how much time you have to achieve that goal.  Weddings, Retirement, Emergency Fund, New Homes etc.  All of these purchases can require that you have a large sum of money saved up and Betterments goal is to help you build that money up.

E-Trade:

This is the better option to go with if you want more hands on control of your investments with an expansive offering of research tools and Analyst Reviews.  There is a higher deposit minimum but a very professional service offering.  You can research funds and create auto investment strategies which is what you should be looking have in place.

There are many options to choose from out there in the Auto Investment arena and if you are looking for somewhere to start, these 3 are great places to get going. Remember that sometimes it’s more important to start something that’s not perfect as opposed to not starting at all. The first two apps will allow you to start auto investing for very minimal amount of money. In order to climb Mt Everest, you must take that first small step – good luck!!