Because I’m a tech blogger, my friends always want to show me new apps or products they find, hoping they discovered something before I did.
They’re typically disappointed as I respond with something like, “Oh yeah, I was using that back in 2010. It’s a cool app.”
But when a friend recommended the Stash investing app, I hadn’t heard of it.
I’ve primarily used Robinhood for stock trading since 2014. Robinhood is excellent, but you have to choose your stocks which requires research and know-how.
I’ve used Stash for a couple of months, and I like it! It’s a great way for rookie investors to dip their toes in the water, and see what the investing world is all about. Now, let’s dive into my Stash app review!
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How does Stash work?
Stash is a passive investing app for beginners. You allocate money, and Stash invests it for you based on your risk preferences. For Stash’s services, you pay $1/month or 0.25% if your balance is over $5,000. The first month is free.
After you’ve downloaded the app, you’ll be asked a series of questions to determine your risk tolerance.
You set up an initial deposit (as little $5), then set a fixed amount to be automatically deposited and invested every two weeks.
Where does your money go?
You’ll be investing in exchange-traded funds (ETFs). ETFs are groups of companies that are traded as one stock. ETFs help diversify your portfolio and are less risky than investing in individual companies.
Stash has 30 different ETFs to choose from (see a list here). Some of the ETFs mimic famous index funds like the S&P 500, Dow Jones, and Nasdaq. Other Stash ETFs have a catchy re-branded name of famous Vanguard and iShares ETFs. Stash didn’t create any of these ETFs; they’re all well-known and safe. Stash just curates the selection, names it, and shows you exactly what you’re investing in.
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- The app is beautifully designed. Everything is sleek and easy to use.
- “Auto-Stash” automatically takes money out of your bank account every two weeks and invests it into your portfolio of ETFs. It works in the background and doesn’t require anything of you.
- Stash has taken care of the hard work of research and curated 30 ETF choices. Stash’s biggest competitor, Acorns, only gives you five ETFs to choose from. Stash gives you more say in what you invest in. Here are a few of the curated names: Roll with Buffett (mimics Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway fund), American Innovators (mimics Vanguard Information Technology ETF), Global Citizen (mimics Vanguard Total World Stock ETF).
- If you believe in protecting the environment, there’s an ETF with eco-conscious companies. If you believe artificial intelligence is the future, there’s an ETF for that called Robots Rising. I’m not saying this makes a good investment strategy, but you can put your money behind something you believe in.
- You probably don’t want to invest your retirement savings in an app like this, but Stash has a retirement option for Roth IRA accounts for an additional $2/month.
- Stash is not cheap. $12/year is expensive when you consider beginner investors will have minimal amounts of money in their Stash account. If the market goes up by 7% (its average), you’ll profit $14 if you had $200 in your account. After paying Stash’s fee, you’ll only make $2 profit for the year.
- Stash is transparent about their fees, and the fees are displayed on the bottom of the sign-up page. But like other investing apps for beginners, its marketing is disingenuous in an effort to persuade uninformed investors. The whole “invest as little as $5 and make money!” pitch takes advantage of people who don’t know what they’re doing. If you keep $100 in your account and pay the $1 per month, you’ll be losing more money than you’re earning.
- Trading ETFs with Stash is not like trading individual stocks. Normally when you buy or sell a stock, the order goes through in a matter of minutes. With Stash, the process can take a while. I’ve seen it take a couple of days to process an order. However, it’s not a significant problem because you shouldn’t be day-trading ETFs.
- Smart Save is supposed to algorithmically take money out of your bank account based on how much it thinks you can afford. But it didn’t make sense to me; it just randomly took out $1 every other day without any rhyme or reason. You can turn this feature off. (Acorns has a much better take on this idea, where they round up your purchases. Learn more here).
- There isn’t a way to check your account outside of the phone app.
Who is this for?
Stash is a well-made app. It does the hard work of curating the right ETFs to invest in, and you get a say as to what you want to invest in and the kind of companies you want to support.
If you’re looking for a beginner investing app, but still want some say in what you’re investing in, Stash is a solid option.
Everybody should give Stash a try for a month. After your free month is up, only keep the app if you can maintain a balance of at least $200 in your account. Otherwise, delete it to avoid losing money.
Acorns is similar to Stash, and it’s worth a try as well. Acorns does a lot of the same things as Stash but on a more basic level, while making investing more fun with their Round-Ups.
If you like the idea of options, don’t want fees, and you’re willing to do research, check out Robinhood.