It was just 15 to 20 years ago when the thought of managing your own retirement portfolio was ludicrous to most people. Wall Street was a far-off place where billionaires played with their money and held lavish parties. A vast majority of Americans couldn’t have told you whether the stock market was up or down for the year, average market returns, or simply how their own retirement funds were being allocated.
That is not to say that some of that does not true today. In fact, far too many people today still have little to no clue how they will survive their retirement years. Recent numbers show that nearly 50% of Americans don’t own shares of a single stock. However, those that own stocks take a much more active approach to managing their own portfolio. Charles Schwab, one of the first discount brokers, reported over 9 million active customers in 2015. TD Ameritrade reported another 6 million. A lot of these users are opening individual IRAs and other accounts and actively managing their own portfolios.
In today’s age there are no limits and everyone truly can be an investor. There are a number of ways to take control of your own retirement portfolio, ranging from almost completely passive, to selecting every single asset it will contain. Here are a few I personally use.
Accorns App is the ultimate passive investing tool. It is geared towards new investors that would like to start building up a portfolio but either don’t know enough about it to be able to make wise decisions, or don’t have the time to do the research.
Acorns is famous for their phrase “every purchase you make becomes an investment”. The idea behind the software is to invest your spare change. Every time you make a purchase on your credit or debit card that isn’t an exact dollar amount, Acorns will add enough change to make the purchase equal an exact dollar amount. The extra will be invested in your Acorns account.
All a beginner has to do is choose their retirement age, and how risky they want their investments to be, and Acorns will do the rest.
I wrote a review of Motif after signing up and thoroughly enjoying the experience. Motif is more for people that are looking to have a little more say in their portfolio, but perhaps do want to pay exorbitant fees to do so.
Motif allows you to purchase a bundle of stocks (a Motif) for the price most brokers will charge for a single purchase of stock. The bundle can have 30 stocks, meaning you can build a diverse portfolio, and pay less than $10 to purchase all the stocks in your bundle. Motif is growing quickly, and beginners in particular are happy with the opportunity to have some guidance in their portfolio, while still maintaining control.
The Robinhood app is proving to push the limits of stock market investing all over again. One limit many users have often felt when trying to run their own portfolio is the extremely high cost of broker fees. Yes, anyone can sign up for a broker and trade their own portfolio, but not everyone has a big enough portfolio that a $10 charge on each end of the stock purchase doesn’t cut significantly into gains.
Robinhood is a completely free app that allows users to purchase any stock they want with no fees whatsoever. Robinhood started with very minimal services, but has opened margin accounts, instant trades, and is looking into giving investors the option to short in the near future. Anyone with a smartphone can invest any amount they want in any company they believe in with the app.
The age of investors is still nowhere near its peak. As investing becomes easier and sites like Modest Money make learning investing even easier, more regular Americans will pour into the stock market. It truly is the time where everyone is an investor.