We are always looking for ways to save or make some money. A little extra never seemed to hurt anyone, and these days, every penny counts.
Yet while that is true, we rarely look at pennies -- or any other kind of change, to be honest -- as actual money. Those of us who still use cash generally find change to be a nuisance, a necessary evil that is mostly used for throwing a tip into a jar or misplacing between the couch cushions.
But what if change could be a good thing? What if, and please stay with me here, change could actually be real money? Crazy, right? Wrong.
Investing with little effort from you
Acorns is an app that, for just $1 a month, will allow you to invest what would otherwise be "spare change" from debit card purchases by rounding up to the nearest dollar. For instance, if you spent $12.67, Acorns would round that up to $13 and then 33 cents would be deposited into your Acorns account.
If you want, you can also set it to boost its "round-up" by a rate of up to 10 times. In the previous scenario, your 33-cent deposit would increase to $3.30.
Additionally, you can deposit cash reward bonuses or accumulate "Found Money," which is money contributed to your account by one of Acorns' dozens of partners including Expedia, Sam's Club, AirBNB, Apple and Barnes & Noble.
No amount of change is too small, and the concept behind Acorns is that it all adds up. Once your balance reaches $5, the money will be withdrawn from your account and then added to your Acorns investment.
From there, you have choices regarding what kind of investments you would like to make. Acorns offers what it calls "Smart Portfolios," which were built with help from Nobel Prize-winning economist Dr. Harry Markowtiz. Your investment will be part of a diversified portfolio with more than 7,000 stocks and bonds, with it all happening automatically.
They range from conservative to aggressive, and it is up to you to decide how much of a risk you are willing to take, and you can easily invest more as you go along. Your money is SIPC protected up to $500,000, and you can withdraw your investment at any time with no charge.
Does this sound like something you would be interested in? Acorns charges just $1 per month to provide the service.
Will it make me rich?
When compared to other ways to invest, Acorns is not likely to greatly impact your finances one way or the other. The more you put into it, the more you could get out, but by just depositing "spare change" you are unlikely to have the kind of investment that could one day allow you to retire.
However, it is a perfect way for someone who is new to investing to get a feel for what it's like, and the ease at which you can monitor your account on your smartphone makes it simple to get a grasp of. And hey, if a little money can be made in the process, even better.