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Honest Review: Acorns Investing App

Honest Review for one of the hottest investing apps on the market!

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Acorns is a stock investing app that has many special features customized for the beginner investor. Its main selling point for customers is their specialized “round up” feature. If you connect your bank account to the app, they will monitor your personal bank account and round up every dollar spent and use the cents toward your stock account.

For example: If you bought a cup of coffee this morning that cost you $2.75, Acorns will round up to the nearest dollar to $3.00 and place the $0.25 cents towards your stock portfolio to be invested.

(Another example presented by Acorns to round up to $4.00)

Fees Involved

  • $1 a month for holding an account Acorns Core (standard). However, this feature is free for college students
  • $2 for Acorns Core + Acrons Later (standard account and retirements
  • $3 for Acorns Core + Acorns Later + Acorns Spend (standard account, retirement account, and Acorns exclusive checking account)
  • Additional fees may vary

Investments Allocated

Simplified, Acorns does all the work for you. When you sign up for a free account, you will be asked a few questions that will customize your investment portfolio. You will be able to choose your investing style from categories that range from conservative, moderate conservative, moderate, moderate aggressive, and aggressive. These customized stock portfolios will have a range of investments from government bonds and real estate stocks to corporate bonds and emerging market funds.

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In my humble opinion…

This is a very simplified way to invest into your stock account, however, I didn’t make many purchases and I found that it was best for me to add my own money instead of using their automated feature.

Acorns use stock advisors form Vanguard and Blackrock to customize their managed portfolios. This is exceptional, however, Blackrock’s ETF’s at times has higher fund management expenses that may give your a less return from other ETFs.

Also, I prefer taking charge of my own investments and arranging my own stock portfolio. Acorns didn’t give me the liberty to add or take away any stocks.

This app is best for the new investor that doesn’t want to put a lot of time into studying the market. If you find yourself in the position with a very busy career or you find the stock market confusing but you still want to invest, this may be an application for you to try.

Please see About Me & Disclaimer for additional information about Black Tea.

Stock Investing 101: What Are Dividends?

Find out what dividends are and how you can use them to make you wealthy!

Stock analysts talk about them often and investors love them, yet what exactly are they? Let’s have a crash course on what dividends are and how they can help you and your stock portfolio.

A dividend is a specific amount of money paid to you on an annual or quarterly basis from the company’s profits. Think of it as…well, sharing the wealth.

Types

Though there are several types of dividends, the two most common uses in the stock market are cash dividends and stock dividends.


Cash Dividends

  • A cash dividend is when the company pays their shareholders in the form of cash payments (most common).

Stock Dividends

  • A stock dividend is given to the shareholder by the company increasing the current amount of shares by percentage.

Find more details about cash and stock dividends here.


Dividends are paid to investors on a quarterly basis (four times a year). Yet, depending on the company’s board of directors they can be scheduled to be paid once a month, semi-annually (twice a year), or annually (once a year). There are also times when a company may choose to not set a particular schedule and may randomly, this is also known as “irregular dividends”.

But Wait…There’s More

Dividends within a company are managed at the discretion of the board of directors and may be increased, decreased or eliminated at a time of their choosing. Dividends are also taxed at long-term capital gain rates.

Please see a certified tax consultant for additional information on taxes and if your dividends are “qualified or “non-qualified”. View more tax information here.

Dividends to some investors are a sign of “financial health” for a company. Investors can create a customized dividend schedule or algorithm to support their current income or support their income for retirement. This schedule is customized to receive dividend payments from companies in a systematic fashion (payments made daily).

If you want to buy a stock in time to catch their dividend payment, you must buy before the company’s ex-dividend date. Find more information here.

Related: 5 High-Yield Dividend Stocks You Might Love

Not For Everyone

Though most investors enjoy dividends, not every investor concentrates on having a dividend portfolio. It’s also not common for startups and higher-growth companies to have dividends. Startup companies are in their “new years” and revenue will fluctuate from quarter-to-quarter. This may be a time when these new businesses need to keep their profits to reinvest. And higher-growth companies (big corporations) may not use dividends so they can reinvest and use the extra cash flow to fund new projects.

Dividends are a wonderful tool and when used responsibly, they can make you very wealthy. Be wise about all of your investments and enjoy the wealth.

Please see About Me & Disclaimer for additional information about Black Tea.

Information Attainted:

Dividend.com, Investopedia.com, USANews.com, Intuit.com

Earnings Week: What To Look For In The Next Earnings Report

This is a big week in the stock market. Find out what to look for in the next in your company’s earnings report.

This week we are having some of the market’s biggest companies presenting their quarterly earnings reports. These billion dollar empires hold up most of the market’s value and investors have high expectations. Here are a few tips to remind you of what to look out for in your company’s report.

Consistency

We all want rapid growth, but the companies that stand the longest have mastered discipline and consistency in every aspect of their corporation. Listen and look for consistent growth in production, financials, or even a decrease in liabilities.

Don’t let one bad quarter determine the value of a great company.

Read: Why You Need To Keep Read SEC Filings

Growth

Along with consistency, investors tend to look for stable growth. Whether you are looking for an increase in gross profit or an increase in production, listen and look for consistent growth from quarter-to-quarter. Yet, depending on the company’s competitive advantage, the company may have slower growth in this quarter from their recent quarters. Don’t let one bad quarter determine the value of a great company.Wheather you should continue to hold, sell, or buy more shares depends entirely on the individual investor.

Minor Details

Perhaps the company you love seems perfect! Too good to be true? Look in their filings to see if they have any unpaid taxes or read if the corporation has any pending lawsuits. Always pay attention to the minor details on the earnings reports (or calls). It’s typical for CEOs to say the wrong thing at the right time and drive down stock prices within minutes.

Earnings reports can be a pivotal moment for your investing journey. Contrast and compare from similar corporations. And if need be, refine your investing strategy. Buy low, sell high, and take your profits.

Please see About Me & Disclaimer for additional information about Black Tea.

How Entrepreneurs Can Stay Ahead Of A Slow Growing Economy

It has been said that our United States economy is growing less than 2%. And along with the “tariff wars” and talk of inflation happening, things seem a little scary. However, there are a few ways you can stay ahead from the harsh economy waves.

Save More, Spend Less

It’s pretty simple to stash away a few dollars, but in the midst of vacation season it’s not easy. Find a budget that works for you and create way to tighten your budget to put save more money. Buy what you need, don’t be tempted to buy what you want or what looks nice- I promise you there will always be something “nice” waiting for you.

Tip: The next time you go shopping, don’t mind the expensive fashion labels or popular food brands. Buy what you need. These billionaires don’t seem to be bothered by popular fashion brands.

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No better guy to eat with at @dairyqueen

A post shared by Mark Cuban (@mcuban) on

Side Job

In my opinion, a side job is needed to stay ahead (financially) nowadays. But if you’re looking to make an extra $100 a month, find a side job that interests you. Find a hobby that you can make money from. Many entrepreneurs work a side job from their business. They will use the extra money to fund their expenses.

Example: If you enjoy watching YouTube, consider starting your own channel and monetize your page. Perhaps you enjoy crafts? Create what you like to make and sell them on Etsy.

Taxes

If you have a side business, be responsible and take advantage of the tax breaks. It may be tedious bookkeeping, but the daily habits will keep you accountable and you can take advantage of the tax breaks you deserve (please see your CPA or tax consultant for extended information and business tax benefits).

Be Bold and Be You

In this day, only the bold entrepreneurs will make it in their business. You can’t be scared or fearful of stepping outside of your comfort zone. The best way to stay ahead of all the turmoil is to mind your own business. Concentrate on you and what you can do today for your business or future.

It’s never too late to be what you might have been.

George Eliot

Edible Earnings From DRI (Darden Restaurants Inc.)

DRI (Darden Restaurants Inc., $108.80) is a corporation that owns some of America’s famous restaurant chains: Olive Garden, Long Horn Steak House, Bahama Breeze, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, The Capital Grill, Yard House, Eddie V’s, and Season’s 52 Grill.

Last Thursday, shares jumped 8.3% after their shareholders call, impressing investors by beating their earning goals; from $123.8 million (0.98 cents per share) to $174.5 million ($1.39 per share).

Carrying a fantastic history of consistent dividends, DRI has been steady in their lifetime on the stock market.

Image from StreetInsider.com

DRI also announced to increase their dividends by 19% for 0.75 cents per share. Many stock analysts are claiming this company to as a buy and hold investment. Current shareholders are very satisfied with their consistent dividend history since 2011.

Their Seasons 52 grill was the only restaurant that lagged behind by -1.39%.

Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen was acquired last year by an all-cash offer for $780 million on March 27, 2017, some investors believe they could become more aggressive and competitive from their competitors BJRI (BJ’s Restaurant, $61.70) and DAVE (Famous Dave’s, $6.60). However, CEO, Gene Lee announced in DRI’s recent quarterly meeting,

“Our strategy remains unchanged, and our operators’ consistent focus on being brilliant with the basics has allowed us to continue building guest loyalty while taking market share.”

Please see About Me & Disclaimer for additional information about Black Tea.

Information Obtained: DardenRestaurants.com/investorrelations, Streetinsider.com, Markets.Businessinsider.com

Investing Secrets: R&D Expenses

R&D stands for Research and Development on a company’s financial statement. This expense is usually misunderstood and overlooked by many investors. Let’s take a quick look at how we can use this to our advantage.

Similar to “Cost of Goods”, R&D entails the company’s cost of reinventing new products and their costs of production. These expenses may vary, but technology companies can spend huge sums of money in this category. When GOOGL (Google/Alphabet, $1,144.23) may spend 25% of their gross profit on R&D (which is very good for such a superior corporation), AMD (Advanced Micro Devices, $16.50) spends almost 65% of their gross profit on R&D to survive and keep up with their competitors.

Look for consistent numbers in this area.

Some companies may need to spend more than others, however if prices continues to fluctuate year after year, this can be a warning sign of poor management. Depending on which sector you may be investing in, investors tend to look for consistent numbers in this area. INTC (Intel, $55.00) similar to GOOGL, is known for consistency spending 25% of their gross profit on R&D expenses.

These expenses are very important and investors. Calculating a company’s expenses is an exceptional way to discover their long-term stability over the next five to ten years. Some investors take a step further and combine the SGA and R&D percentages to calculate how much the company overall spends from their gross profit. Yet, every investor makes different calculations in regards to their own investing style.

Snapshots

Musk’s Billionaire Problems

In 2017, California had their worst year ever in wildfires. Over 9,000 fires destroyed hundreds of homes, fires reaching across 1.2 million acres along with claimed losses over $9 billion dollars and over 46 deaths. Yet, The Boring Company may be contributing to the madness with their new flamethrower model called, “Not-A-Flamethrower” (Elon Musk being the founder of the company). Is this necessarily a good business idea in the name of those who lost their homes and lives to the wildfires disasters?

The Boring Company sold their complete inventory of 20,000 flamethrowers off the shelves, making a whopping $10 million dollars. Yet, investors aren’t pleased with the poor business decision and tastefulness of the remarks made by Musk this year-or ever at that matter.

While not only marketing toward millennials, Elon Musk tweets below with a picture of a young couple with a baby stroller,

With TSLA’s recent autopilot crashes (though assumed by the fault of the dead drivers), Musk’s comments towards business mogul, Warren Buffet and journalists, investors see Elon a little too confident and is not putting up a good business face for the company. How will this new invention improve the quality of the company and not a mere show for rich “boy toys”? The Boring Company donated $10,000 to the repairs of wildfire damages in lieu of their flamethrower production. Musk backed up his statement with two snapshots of the terms and conditions for their Not-A-Flamethrower model,

With TSLA (Tesla, $321.10) known for generating world-renowned inventions, they have a many competitors and a spend more than 60% of their profit on research and development, over 80% in SAG costs as well as a negative cashflow of over -136 million dollars. The Not-A-Flamethrower is another great invention, but shareholders ask themselves if this is a long-term lucrative product that will continue profiting sales in the next 10 years?

 

Please see About Me & Disclaimer for additional information about Black Tea.

 

Why Do Companies Make Acquisitions?

Acquisitions and mergers are very important to big businesses. It helps their competitive advantage by keeping competitions low and company power high. But why are they so important?

Being in control of more assets give you power, it’s simply how the rich get richer.

Yesterday, AT&T won big with the approved merge with Time Warner for a bid of $85 billion dollars. This partnership means they gained more ownership, popularity, and more money. Being in control of more assets give you power, it’s simply how the rich get richer. These large corporations are looking to “join forces” as a united team, but who are they targeting?

Acquisitions don’t always work in a companies favor, yet it can be a good sign of positive cashflow.

Who’s Their Target?

Small businesses in the “growing phase” are a target for large corporations. With flourishing popularity, these small businesses get acquired for their innovative products or services that will help the large corporations grow beyond its capacity. Acquisitions and mergers don’t always work in a companies favor, yet it can be a good sign of positive cash flow (if the large corporation is lucrative). On the other hand, it is not uncommon for large corporations to merge together. For example, there is a lot of talk about CMCSA (Comcast, $32.06) and DIS (Disney, $106.95) placing a bidding war for FOX (21st Century Fox, $43.36). Also, MSFT (Microsoft, $101.94) recently acquired a large technology company, GitHub for over $7 billion dollars.

There are many factors that may fall into place before a large corporation buys another business, but these deals are happening constantly and won’t always appear on the news. To find a companies acquisitions, you can go to their Quarterly/Annual reports or visit the company’s website. Acquisitions bring a whole new meaning to the popular phrase, “If you can’t beat them, join them”.