Not too long ago, Bankrate.com released a shocking survey. It showed that more than half of all Americans are not investing in the stock market. 52% of the adults in the U.S. have absolutely no stock investments.
No trading portfolio. No 401(k). No IRA. Nothing. But here’s the thing: the stock market is the single best to way to make money. Over the long term, stock prices go up. It’s just how it works.
Check out this chart for the most common reasons people aren’t investing:
But there’s a magic bullet that can put an end to this insanity and help you start making money in the stock market.
First, let’s debunk a couple of the most common of stock market myths — and the reasons most Americans say they’re not investing.
The Rent Cost Is Too Damn High
It’s a common misconception that keeps folks from investing in equities. And I hear it all the time from friends.
“The stock market is too expensive. I just don’t have enough money to even start investing.”
But they couldn’t be any further from the truth! There are literally thousands of stocks and ETFs that trade for less than $10 a share. So even if you’ve only got a hundred dollars to start, you can still get your foot in the door.
There’s a Crash Around the Corner
Another big reason people don’t invest is fear of a crash. I can understand — there’s not much worse than watching the value of your investment get cut in half. And that’s always a risk, but in the long run — which is the only kind of investing I really push — stocks go up.
I mean, even if you’d invested at the peak of the market before the three most recent crashes, you’d still be ahead of the game now:
And that’s just if you’d put your money in at the top and then did nothing since. If you bought at the bottom during the savings and loan crash, the dot-com bubble burst, and the Great Recession, you’d have gains of 864%, 179%, and 220%!
And again, that’s just buying and holding. If you’d scheduled monthly investments and stuck to it through the crashes, those gains would be even higher.
What I’m trying to get at here is that there’s absolutely no reason not to invest. And there are a million reasons you should.
So let’s talk about how these apps take away the other reasons people have to fear investing, and then we’ll get into the apps themselves.
Time for a Silver Bullet
We’re living in an age of innovation, where technology is constantly adapting and evolving.
Less than 20 years ago, there were 500 million mobile phones in the entire world. Fast-forward to today, and now there’s at least one for every human on the planet above the age of 15 — that’s over 5 billion.
These technological breakthroughs haven’t just been in consumer products, though. They’re infiltrating every facet of our lives, right down to our ability to make financial investments. In fact, there are a handful of companies that have not only made it incredibly easy to start investing, but also addressed almost all of the concerns of retail non-investors.
Don’t have enough money? Think again — you can use spare change to invest with these apps. Don’t know enough about the markets? Wrong — all of them have impressive resources for investor education. Don’t trust brokers or advisers? No problem — with these companies, you become your own adviser. Troubled by high fees? Not anymore — you can even invest for free with some of these apps!
There’s exactly no excuse not to invest anymore. Literally everyone can and should be involved in the stock markets.
Investing App #1: Folio
Ok, so technically this isn’t an app yet, but Folio was the first broker to offer flat-fee pricing where you pay a monthly or annual subscription and can make as many trades as you want. It was also the first to offer partial shares of stocks, too — which is HUGE! On top of that, Folio offers customizable funds that allow users to tailor-make a portfolio to suit individual needs and interests. The company also offers investor education resources to help you craft your diversified portfolio and set up automatic investments.
Investing App #2: Acorns
Acorns has a similar business plan to Folio in that it offers customized funds for retail investors. They’re similar to ETFs that track particular sectors in the marketplace. The company uses the diversification strategies of the father of the concept himself, Dr. Harry Markowitz (who won the Nobel Prize for his research on diversifying away market risk). Investors are able to select their investment goals and individual levels of risk-tolerance so that all investments are tailored to suit each particular investor. And if you still think you don’t have the money to invest, Acorn has a solution: roll-up purchases. You can link the app to your bank account and skim the change off of your purchases.
Investing App #3: Motif
Next up on the list is Motif Investing. Like Folio and Acorn, Motif also offers pre-designed, ETF-like funds. There are over 150 of these funds that have been designed by financial professionals and over 55,000 that have been created by other users. You can follow any one of these strictly, customize them, or design your own, entirely original one. Like the first two, commissions are extremely low, and there is even a completely free option to invest in what the company calls “Benchmark Horizon Motifs.” Oh, and if you design a fund that other investors follow, the company will pay you for your expertise through something it calls the “Creator Royalty Program.” So whenever someone invests in or rebalances a Motif that you designed, you get paid.
Investing App #4: Stash
Stash is a super easy (and super cheap) way to get into the market. You can get started with just $5, and its buy-and-hold strategies are perfect for people looking to build a solid nest egg with little effort. This is a tool that encourages saving and building a habit of adding to your portfolio through recurring deposits and purchases. Stash has a long-only philosophy and doesn’t allow margin or short trading. During the sign-up process, the app asks some questions to figure out your risk tolerance (kind of like a short personality test) and then gives a handful of recommendations that match your investing persona. Investments are limited for the purpose of keeping things as simple as possible for beginners. There are about 30 or so ETFs divided into three categories: I Believe (funds with causes), I Want (funds that fulfill investing goals), and I Like (funds based on trends).
Investing App #5: Robinhood
Robinhood, as the name suggests, was created in an attempt to get your money out of the hands of the rich and back where it belongs — in your investment portfolio. The founders set out to create an app that allows individual investors like you and me to get the same kind of treatment as the big banks on Wall Street. And they did exactly that by taking all commissions out of the game. That’s right. FREE trading! Whaaaat? I know! I didn’t believe it at first either, but it’s true. The company offers all sorts of investments ranging from ETFs to common stock and, soon, even options. This is a brokerage that lets you actively trade stocks and funds but won’t suck you dry trying to make a buck. Not too many of those out there. Actually… there aren’t any of those out there. Robinhood is literally the only free trading platform in the world.