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.

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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

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

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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

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.

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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”.

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5 Tech Stocks You’re Not Thinking About

With AAPL (Apple, $193.46) Sitting in the center of attention of its market capital on the race for $1 trillion, there are a 5 major partnerships AAPL is paired with and if you don’t have investments with these, you might regret it later.

GE (General Electric, $13.76) has been on a depressing down-trend since February 2017, but that’s not stopped them from making great business partnerships. GE is a multinational conglomerate, paired with AAPL to increase their efficiency with energy, transportation, development, and healthcare.

Unlike GE, ACN (Accenture, $160.61) is a professional management and consulting firm based in Dublin, Ireland. ACN is partnered with AAPL to improve AAPL’s customer relations and iOS technology. ACN has also been growing and mostly is known for their digital and technology operation services.

An investor favorite, CSCO (Cisco, $43.65) is a world renown technology software corporation, hosted in the Silicon Valley in San Jose, California. CSCO is joined with AAPL for their iOS features, macOS, mobile apps features, and much more. CSCO helps AAPL with their digital product “essentials”.

International Business Machines, also known as IBM (IBM, $145.36) is not very popular, but they still stand as the largest computer company in the world. IBM is partnered with AAPL for their main cloud developer console and assisting with the production of AAPL’s mobile apps.

System Application and Products, also known as SAP SE, (SAP, $116.93) is a German software company that creates software to manage business operations and customer relations. With consistent growth, SAP is partnered with AAPL for fluid mobile transfers from AAPL’s products, location services, and production of AAPL’s Touch ID features. SAP has made great business decisions and is on the market growth for the past 5 years.

These 5 companies are a few of many proud partnerships AAPL loves and investors bet they will be advertised as the “best stocks” when AAPL makes their $1 trillion market capitalization. Though not all of these companies have a great history of financial performance, their partnership with AAPL may have been the best business decision they have ever made.

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Ford: Driving Back to Fourtune?

F (Ford $11.71) has made great company changes in order to sustain in the automotive industry. With a growing revenue of only 3.28% from 2017, many investors have mixed feelings about the business operation.

In this time in the automotive industry, there is a high demand for sport-utility and pickup truck vehicles. From F discontinuing their sedan models, they are projecting a lucrative return for this year and the year of 2019.

With a forgiving dividend history of $0.15 per share (since 2014), they have a very low GPR (Gross Profit Revenue) of 16% and spend almost half of their revenue in SGA costs. F‘s financial track record could be better (in my humble opinion), yet many investors are considering the stock a buy at its low price. But is it worth the investment?

Their $11 million dollar free cash flow has given the company little room to work with reinvestments. Investors hold the company accountable for their bright outlook on the next 5 years to come.