Save Money Without Even Trying
For anyone struggling to save more money, here's a company you absolutely need to know about.
When you’re just starting out in your career, you’re not exactly swimming in excess cash—something that previously might have precluded you from investing for your future. But since it is never too early to start preparing for retirement, disruptive companies have emerged recently that help investors of all means to do just that.
Though the space is getting more and more crowded, we’ve done our homework and identified some of the leaders in this emergent field. Whatever your need, these five businesses can help you get your finances in order.
Betterment is a financial services company headed by CEO Jon Stein (pictured above). As its name suggests, Betterment helps its more than 30,000 customers ‘better’ their finances, offering a unique platform that enables them to effectively invest in their retirements without paying the often-exorbitant fees that traditional financial institutions typically charge their clients. Betterment’s approach has helped the start-up grow quickly since it was founded in 2010, with assets under management increasing to more than $650 million. Its success has caught the eye of venture capital firms, as well, who handed the New York City-based company more than $32 million during a fundraising round earlier this year.
Launched earlier this year, Acorns is an app available for Apple and Android-based devices that has a straightforward purpose: It enables users to invest without having to think about it. For $1 each month and a yearly fee between 0.25% and 0.5%, the company invests a customer’s money across a diversified portfolio based on an investment philosophy pioneered by Dr. Harry Markowitz, a Nobel Prize winner for his work in economics. The money accrues quickly, too, because Acorns can be linked directly to a customer’s bank account, with spare change from everyday purchases automatically allocated to an individual’s personal Acorns account.
Among the newest companies featured in our list, Robinhood offers consumers the ability to trade stocks without having to pay high fees. Robinhood’s executive team says it’s able to offer a zero-fee model—E*TRADE, for example, charges $10 per trade, according to NerdWallet—because it doesn’t have the hundreds of brick and mortar stores or the bloated payrolls of its competitors. The company, which plans to launch its app early next year, has already signed up more than half-a-million customers. It decided to move forward with a full-scale rollout, TechCrunch reported, after a successful round of beta testing where more than 80% of its users were under the age of 30—significantly lower than the average user of traditional stock-trading platforms.
Founded by Alexa Von Tobel, LearnVest has raised nearly $70 million in funding, according to CrunchBase, to further its goal of providing low-cost financial guidance to consumers from all income brackets. Based in Manhattan, LearnVest pairs each of its customers with a financial planner who offers personalized advice specifically tailored to help meet an individual’s goals. The company’s app—which is available for Apple devices—offers a number of helpful features that provide financial guidance and help users set goals and track spending and saving.
Like Betterment, Wealthfront offers its customers financial services that historically were only available to the clients of major investment houses like Fidelity. Since launching in 2011, Wealthfront has blazed a new trail within its emergent industry, raising just under $130 million, according to CrunchBase, with investors such as Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Greylock Partners betting on the company’s continued success. Like the other companies we’ve profiled, Wealthfront promises its clients—for whom it manages more than $1 billion in assets—a more efficient and less costly way to invest their money. With the minimum-sized account beginning at $5,000, Wealthfront is a little more selective than Betterment, which does not set a limit. Yet it’s still relatively inexpensive, managing the first $10,000 for free and all money beyond that for a 0.25% annual fee.