Written by: Nick Shoemaker
It is now easier than ever for the individual to start actively investing in the stock market. Apps such as Acorns and Robinhood have made the process significantly easier and quicker than ever. The account minimums for these investment apps are either next to nothing ($5 for Acorns), or actually nothing in Robinhood’s case. This means that a high school senior with a minimum wage job and a smartphone has the power to start growing their money, and does not need to get a financial advisor involved. The new wave of investors that these apps have recruited has led to major changes in people’s account balances, both drastically positive and negative.
There are entire online communities, such as subreddit r/wallstreetbets, that are dedicated to posting both success and horror stories of individual’s risky investment positions. These often young investors either win big, win big and then lose all their gains by reinvesting into equally risky investments, or lose everything entirely. Due to this, there have been calls for more regulation for apps such as Robinhood. However, is this the only solution?
More regulation on investing apps means the less opportunity for people with lower income to grow their wealth through the stock market, which does not benefit anybody. Taking away accessibility is not the only option to protect people.
The best way to protect new investors is through education. Many young people are seeking financial education, but are finding they are not learning these skills in their traditional schooling. Teaching the basics of finance, including the stock market, in the American education system will not only prevent the short-term losses we are seeing currently, but create a financially savvy person throughout all of life.
Though a lot of responsibility of education should be within the school system, investment apps targeted at people with lower income can and should do more to educate within their own apps. Financial education content within the app itself would further improve financial literacy within the younger demographic.
Regulating investing apps to provide less investing options and increase account minimums does nothing but gatekeep the stock market from lower income individuals. Providing more financial education will give more people the tools they need to become financially sound.
Nick Shoemaker is a registered representative of and securities offered through First Palladium, LLC, Member FINRA and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ash Brokerage, LLC. Supervising office located at 888 S. Harrison Street, Suite 900, Fort Wayne, IN 46802. 800-589-3000.
Let’s take a poll. Do you have an iPhone (or other smartphone if you’ve somehow survived without biting into the Apple)? Do you want to make more money? I hope you’ve answered yes to both of these questions. (If not, who are you and ARE YOU OKAY?) Here are 5 apps to help you make (and save) a few extra cents:
Stash is an app built for investing newbies. In fact, 86% of the app’s users are first-time investors. Stash is basically the Planet Fitness of investing platforms — a Judgement-Free Zone where users are provided basic investing education in an easy-to-understand way without some of the complexities of other robo-advising platforms. The app allows you to create an account and begin investing with as little as $5. Investment choices include individual stocks and ETFs, categorized by features like market capitalization or social responsibility. Currently, three different subscription plan options are available, based on your investing goals: Beginner, Growth, and Stash Plus. The Beginner Plan ($1/month) allows you to open your own taxable brokerage account, receive financial education, and use the Stash debit card with Stock-Back (earn stock as a reward for shopping at certain companies, like Amazon or Starbucks). The Growth Plan ($3/month) offers all previous benefits, plus tax-advantaged retirement accounts such as a Traditional or Roth IRA. Finally, the Stash Plus plan ($9/month) adds the features of a UTMA/UGMA accounts (savings for children), double Stock-Back rewards, and monthly market insight reports. (Disclaimer: Stash is an investing platform. If you choose to invest, you will be subject to market risk and could lose money. Also, Face The Fear is not sponsored by Stash. We just genuinely like the app and think you will, too).
Ever find yourself binging Netflix with ice cream tub in hand, wondering when you lost your motivation to workout and where you’re going to find it again? Achievement is here to help. For some people (aka me), the idea of strutting my “beach body” next summer isn’t enough to get me off the couch. Achievement knows money is a big motivator for many people, so it rewards you in cash for being active. The app synchronizes with various fitness apps you may already have on your phone, such as Apple Health, My Fitness Pal, Fitbit, Garmin, and even Twitter. You’ll earn points by completing exercises, logging food, measuring your heart rate, tweeting about your health, and reading health-related articles. Once you reach 10,000 points, you can “cash in” your points for a $10 reward sent to your PayPal, personal bank account, or a charity of your choice. Good for your health. Good for your wallet.
You spend money. I spend money. We all spend money. That’s a fact of life. Why not earn cash back on the money you’re already spending? Add an extra “drop” or two to the savings bucket, per say? Meet Drop – the cash back app. Drop allows you to link your credit or debit cards to the app, then gives you cash back points on purchases you make everyday at retailers such as Target, Starbucks, Lyft, AT&T, Apple, and more. You can also shop at certain retailers through the app to receive additional discounts on purchases you make and earn “boosted” cash back points. Once you’ve collected at least 5,000 cash back points, you can redeem them for gift cards to restaurants, movie theaters, clothing stores, airlines, and more. It’s an easy way to put some money back in your pocket without even thinking about it. (P.S. Drop is my personal favorite cash back app, due to ease of use and retailer options. However, if Drop doesn’t tickle your fancy, here are a few other highly-rated cash back apps you might enjoy: Rakuten, Ibotta, and Dosh).
Have you ever spent hours online trying to book a flight, searching for the cheapest option available, and finally purchased the tickets – only to find out prices decreased a few days or weeks later? Same. That’s when I found Hopper. Hopper is a free app designed to solve this problem and – from personal experience – it works wonders. The app allows you to choose a departure and destination location, as well as preferred dates for your travels. It then tracks those flights, analyzes travel trends, and tells you the best time to buy the tickets at the cheapest price possible. When I recently used Hopper to book a flight to Bogota, Colombia, it suggested that I wait to purchase the tickets, because it predicted a better price in the future. In the meantime, Hopper tracked the flight over several weeks, notifying me when the prices increased or decreased. However, even when there was a decrease in ticket price, Hopper would tell me if the prices were expected to continue decreasing in the coming weeks (so I should keep waiting) or if this is the lowest predicted price (so I should purchase the flights now). I followed Hopper’s advice and secured the cheapest tickets possible before they jumped up in price again. If you’re a frequent flyer, Hopper will easily save you hundreds of dollars (and hours of stress) a year.
If you’ve been a Face The Fear follower for a while, you KNOW how we feel about Mint. Budgeting is tough. Keeping track of every penny that leaves your wallet can be tedious and time consuming. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a little accountant living in your phone, keeping track of your budget for you, cheering you on when your credit score increases, and letting you know when you need to cool it on your spending habits? Say hello to Mint – the free budgeting app that keeps tabs on your cash money all in one place. Mint allows you to sync your accounts to the app – everything from your checking and savings, credit cards, 401(k) and HSA, internet service, car payment, investments, and more. By consolidating all of your assets (what you own) and liabilities (what you owe) in one place, it becomes much easier to assess your complete financial picture and determine if you are on track to reach your financial goals. You can create your own custom monthly budget, and Mint will let you know if you’re close to exceeding your budget in a particular category. It will also remind you when you have a bill due soon, and it will congratulate you when you’ve paid off debt. While Mint is really a one-stop-shop budgeting tool, it is most effective when credit/debit cards are your primary payment methods (vs. cash) and when you actually sync as many accounts as possible to provide a holistic financial picture. If you still frequently use cash for purchases or don’t want to bother connecting all of your accounts, Mint might not be the best fit for you. Overall, however, it’s an excellent resource to keep track of your finances in the palm of your hand (without becoming an Excel budgeting wizard – unless that’s your thing – then, you do you booboo).
We hope you’ll find these 5 apps helpful to budget, save, and grow your cash money. Let us know your favorite money-saving or money-making apps in the comments below!
Written By: Kaitlyn Duchien