Every year we spend more and more during the holiday season. Perhaps you can relate. It doesn’t seem to matter how well-intentioned we are heading into the season, there are always more expenses than we account for ahead of time. Last year was no different when it came to expenses, and yet, a smart financial move I made in January set us up for December success and helped us save money for Christmas. And, because that move was made in January – it’s the perfect time to discuss how you, too, can get started!
How I Save Money for Christmas
One of my favorite ways of saving for the holiday season has always been to put money into a savings fund. (You can find more about how those work HERE.) The only caveat with that is that you have to be disciplined enough not to spend it and sometimes we just don’t have that discipline.
When a friend told me about Acorns and how she’d saved a lot of money for a big purchase by using the app, I didn’t bat an eye. I’m always a big fan of new programs and apps, so why not check it out?
The first thing that caught my eye was the fact that the app allows you to “invest spare change automatically, set aside money from each paycheck, earn more, and get money tips on the go.” acorns.com. I’m a big fan of the change jar at our home, so why wouldn’t I want an easy way to invest my spare change? The opportunity to make some money on that spare change through their investment portfolios was just an added bonus.
What is Acorns?
Before I share the process I used to save so much money, I have to explain how the Acorns app works.
Acorns is considered a micro-investment app. Micro-investments are just what they sound like, small amounts of money invested in the market. This is a perfect scenario for those who don’t have a lot to start with, OR who aren’t ready to embrace sticking large amounts into investments. Over time, your portfolio (the money you’ve invested) grows as it accumulates interest.
How Do Acorns Investments Work?
There are three steps involved in getting your investments set up with Acorns.
Step 1: Choose Your Acorns Plan & Sign Up
One of the best parts about Acorns is that there are no surprise fees. They offer three, monthly subscription packages to choose from: Lite, Personal, and Family.
You’ll have the opportunity to look at which one might be right for you. Knowing that I didn’t need a checking account and wasn’t going to use it for retirement savings, I went ahead with the Lite Version for $1 per month.
Step 2: Determine Your Portfolio Type
Acorns allows you to pick from one of five different investment levels, Conservative. Moderately Conservative. Moderate, Moderately Aggressive, and Aggressive.
Personally, I chose to keep my investments in the “conservative” portfolio, mostly because I use the portfolio as more of a glorified savings account than a retirement or long-term investment portfolio. Your needs or decisions might be different than mine and Acorns will help you determine what the best choice is for you by asking you questions about your short- and long-term financial goals, age, etc.
Step 3: Determine Your Method for Contribution
Acorns offers several different ways that you can contribute to your investment portfolio. Personally, I found the following three methods to be the most useful for me, but you may find that some of their other options are a good fit for you as well.
If you link your bank account to Acorns, it will round up every purchase you make to the next dollar. That money will then be transferred directly into your Acorns investment portfolio.
For example, if you make a purchase in the amount of $25.96, Acorns would invest the $0.04 for you.
Likewise, if you make a purchase of $15.28, then Acorns will invest $0.72 for you.
The truth is that you probably won’t even notice that extra money is gone. I know I didn’t!
Acorns also partners with many businesses nationwide. Those businesses offer discounts and contributions to your investment portfolio if you make a purchase with them during a given timeframe. I’ve personally never used this service, but I have a friend that follow these “deals” carefully and often purchases items she needs AND adds money to her investment portfolio at the same time.
Of course, Acorns allows you to make recurring or one-time contributions to your investment portfolio. I loved this feature because it allowed me to set aside a certain (small) amount each month as a recurring contribution and, once again, not even realize it was missing.
I’m not going to lie, I don’t know everything about the app, but what I do know is that it was a very effective way for me to save some money last year, without even noticing I was doing so.
How Did I Save $689.46?
Of course, you probably want to know the exact steps I took to save hundreds of dollars for the holiday season. Not to worry, I’m happy to share!
Justin and I have four bank accounts we use on a regular basis:
- Our Combined Expense Account (For Bills, Etc.)
- Two Individual Spending Accounts (One for Each of Us – YES, we each get a monthly allowance!)
- Our Savings Account (For Emergencies Only)
Knowing that my spending purchases are normally on the larger and less frequent side (getting my hair done, etc.), I linked all four accounts to my Acorns Investment Portfolio for Round-Ups. By doing so, I knew I’d be contributing/saving more money each and every month than I would if only my personal account was linked.
Acorns tracked all of the purchases from each of the accounts, rounded them up, and then WITHDREW THE MONEY FROM MY PERSONAL SPENDING ACCOUNT.
Note: I say this especially loud because I was able to surprise my family with the money that I’d saved, but I didn’t take it away from our general living expenses. If you do plan to use your main account to supplement your investment portfolio (there’s nothing wrong with that!), just make sure you have the full support of your spouse!
The second step I took was to enable recurring contributions. Every two weeks, $5 was withdrawn from my personal spending account and added to the investment portfolio. From my perspective, it was just added assurance that we were going to have at least some money in our Christmas fund at the end of the year. In retrospect, it may or may not have been necessary, but I didn’t miss the money either way.
How Will You Save for This Year?
So, how are you planning to save money for Christmas this year? Sure, I put aside money with the holiday season in mind, but maybe you have a different goal. Whether it’s a large purchase or a vacation you want to take, using a separate app such as Acorns, might be a good option to help you achieve success.
Whatever method you choose, don’t be afraid to start small because every little bit adds up!