Last week I asked my friends on Facebook for insight on which investment apps they were using. Many mentioned Acorns, Betterment, and Robinhood. Some even mentioned the big banking institutions. Well, I’ve done a TON of research on all of these guys the past week as I was preparing to shift my blog posts to retirement and investments. More importantly, I was searching for an app to use for myself. So if you think I feel pressure in providing great content, now I have more pressure from Vania to make the best investment decisions with our money, lol!
In all seriousness, I’ve chosen to go with Stash and here is why!
The cost to use Stash is $1/month. If you’ve got $5,000 or more in investments it’s a 0.25% per year. That’s it! Compared to the other investment apps I considered, they are all within the same ballpark, if not identical in pricing. But moving my cash from Merrill Edge where a trade would cost me $6.95 and add an additional $0.1 – $0.3 per $1,000 in principal. Needless to say, these large brick and mortar institutions can’t compete.
What I love about Stash is the fact that they promote learning and education. Compared to the other investing apps I’ve seen, these guys have the best education platform. While it’s simply just a “blog” they have made it an important piece of their application because they want their users to be informed and to be educated.
This hits home for us at MoneyQlip because our mission is to educate, empower, and inspire our readers in their journey to financial freedom and wealth. It was a match made in heaven!
If you’re wondering what REALLY sold me on the app, it was this piece. Stash Retire. The other apps I considered did not offer retirement accounts. My wife and I have 100% of our investments with our 401(k), Roth IRA, and government pension (yes, she has the luxury of a great pension!). This is our investment strategy because we are focused on paying down our debts. Once we are debt free, we’ll be going hard with investing our cash in the markets. Until then, 10% of our income is allocated to our retirement accounts.
My experience with setting up the Stash Retire required more effort. Since I have my Roth IRA at Merrill Edge, I had to liquidate or sell my stocks (pay a ridiculous commission) and wait for my cash to clear by September 1st. Once it clears, I’ll conduct an indirect rollover. Which means I’ll transfer the funds to my checking account at Bank of America then transfer the funds to my Stash Roth IRA. The IRS allows us to do this as long as we deposit the funds back into another Roth IRA account within 60 days. If you go over 60 days, you’ll pay a penalty and possibly be taxed on it.
Selecting your ETFs
As for picking your investments, I enjoy how they segment the lists and the information that it provides. You can pick funds based on your personal beliefs, what you like, and what you want or prefer. Once you pick a fund, it gives you an overview of the fund, the companies that are in it, the dividends it offers, and the historical performance in a simple and clean design.
I won’t tell you which funds to pick but I WILL SAY to make sure to diversify your selection and to not put all of your eggs in one basket.
If you know anything about me, I’m a geek when it comes to finance tools and calculators (laugh at me all you want). Stash offers a really cool tool that allows you to see how your money will work for you based on monthly deposits and the rate of return from your investments.
What you can gain from using this tool is understanding how compounding interest will work in your favor and how monthly contributions will accelerate the growth in your portfolio. When you project the growth potential, don’t get overly excited by the max growth potential the calculator illustrates. I prefer to remain on the conservative side to keep my expectations low and to help me remain calm if s**t hits the fan with the markets. Remember, when you invest you’ve got to remain in the game for the long run and don’t pretend you’re some day trader.
Before I use an app to play and mess around with my money, I had a couple of questions to ask. I sent the support team an email (no option to phone call or live chat) and surprisingly they got back to me within 1 hour and 30 minutes. They were extremely helpful and very clear with their answers and for that I gave them a smiley face when asked for a review about the service.
At the end of it all, my one and only gripe with Stash is you can only add one funding account. It may not seem like a big deal, but a guy like me has his cash in multiple types of accounts and it becomes painful to move the money around. Apart from that, they have a rock solid product and I’m very excited about it.
As for my old pals at Bank of America and Merrill Edge, sucks to suck. You’ve lost my Roth IRA and emergency fund within 3 months. I don’t care about your special membership status (based on the balances you maintain). There’s serious competition that’s stealing your business and it’s not only from Stash, but from the fin techs in general and online banking. Sure, you may be the Goliaths in the market but Stash and others are winding their sling shots. Don’t be surprised if you loose my checking account relationship too by the end of the year.
Oh, one last thing that I have to point out…I’m not being compensated for this review. This is my personal perspective on the app and I’m sharing this with the MoneyQlip community as I will continue to write more blog posts about investments and retirement in general. In addition, by investing with tools like Stash you run the risk of experiencing negative returns based on how the markets perform.