As a Mint user, I periodically receives offers to try out a variety of different financial services. Usually I just skip them. However, when I saw the deal to get $10 to try the Stash app, I figured it was worth a second glance. The terms seemed simple: start using the app with an investment as little as $5 and then they’d give me an additional $10 to invest. That seems fairly low risk to try something new, so I gave it a go.
What is Stash App?
Stash is an investment app. It allows you to invest in stocks and EFTs. You don’t have to invest in full stocks. Instead, you can invest in partial stocks in a system called fractional share investing. Basically, a larger company buys the full stock then divvies it up and people like me are able to invest as little as $5 for a partial share of the stock.
What to Know About Fractional Share Investing
I wanted to make sure that I knew what I was doing before I went any other further, so I did some research into fractional share investing.
Doing my research, I quickly learned that it’s extra important to pay attention to fees. This is always important when investing, of course. However, it is particularly important with fractional share investing. That’s because if the fee is a flat rate per trade then it can amount to a really large percentage of your investment. A $1 fee isn’t a big deal if you’re investing $1000 but it’s a big percentage of your $5 investment.
You can buy stocks that are doing really well and have high share value. In regular investing, those shares can get very expensive. You might not even be able to buy one share. However, with frational share investing, you’re allowed to just buy a “fraction” that you can afford.
As a newbie investor, I like this idea. It seems like a good way to start learning about popular stocks. Plus, you can easily invest in multiple stocks and EFTs without spending a lot of money.
A Little Bit About Stash
Before heading to the Stash website, I did some research into what others are saying about this investment app. Most people seem to have positive things to say. Here are the key things people report liking about the site:
- Accounts start at just $1 per month.
- Investments start at just $5.
- You’re allowed unlimited trades.
- You get access to advice from an online coach.
Moreover, people have frequently mentioned that they like the Stash app because it makes it easy to invest in themes that you want to support. For example, I ultimately chose to invest in green companies and women-led businesses.
Spend $5 to Get $10: Using Stash App
All of that seemed really legitimate. It was at least worth giving a try. So I clicked the “get my $10” promo offer that I’d received from Mint. That took me to the Stash app website. I set up an account (which was super simple, just name and password to get started).
Setting Up A Stash App Account
It took me to a page to start entering more info. Before beginning, I saw a happy little star character telling me “I’m Stash Coach.” Apparently you do certain tasks then you get rewarded with stars. While I think that this kind of gamification is a little bit silly, it’s popular across all different types of websites, today, so I wasn’t surprised to see it, and I’m sure some people like it. I appreciate the message behind it which is that I’ll get investing tips and website help along the way. From there I entered:
- First and last name
- Citizenship status
- Level of investing experience
- Conservative, moderate, or aggressive risk preference
- Time frame for when I’d like to use my investment money
- Tax filing status
- Income range
- Employment status
- Marital status
- If I have a retirement account
- If I have children
- Do I rent or own my home
- Approximate net worth
- Phone number
- Social security number
That all took about ten minutes.
Choosing a Stash App Investment Plan
Then I learned that there are three plans to choose from:
- $1/month beginner plan, which is the basic personal investment account, with debit account access, financial education tools on the site, and the opportunity to get “stock back” rewards when you use that Stash debit card.
- $3/month growth plan, which adds a retirement account to the beginner plan
- $9/month Stash+, which adds investment accounts for two kids, a metal debit card with additional Stash Back rewards, and a monthly market insights report.
I went with the $1 plan. You easily link your bank account to Stash so that you can fund your stash account.
Editing My Plan Details
Stash sets things up to make saving and investing really simple for you. Based on the questions answered previously, it gives you a plan. However, you can edit that plan.
For example, it suggested that my automatic savings account plan should be “set aside $10 every week for my Personal Brokerage account.” It tells me that I’ll have saved $520 per year if I do that. However, I didn’t want to do that right now.
You can easily edit the dollar amount and choose to invest that amount every week, every other week, every month, or just one time. Once I agree to my plan, the money starts to move. Note that you don’t have to create a savings plan at all.
Build a Portfolio
Finally, it’s time to start building the investing portfolio. Like with the suggested savings, Stash provides a recommended portfolio. Then you can easily add and remove investments. Stash clearly explains how each change likely affects the portfolio. Once you’ve built the porfolio you want, you can invest.
They recommend that you start with $20 or more. However, I wanted to see if it was true that I could invest with as little as $5. So I started with that. Indeed, it worked. The Stash App quickly recommended a set of 6 different EFT categories:
- $0.10 to “Small and Mighty” companies which are a set of little businesses poised to grow
- $.25 to “Up and Coming” which are emerging markets
- $.30 to “Happy Medium” – “medium-sized U.S. companies, generally worth under $10 billion” with room for growth
- $1.10 to “Foreign Heavyweights” outside of the US and Canada
- $1.47 to “an all-in-one fund for bonds … issued in US dollars from around the world.”
- $1.76 to “Match the Market” which “tracks the S&P 500—a grouping of America’s largest companies.”
You can click on each one to see detailed information about the EFTs performance including inception date, last price, dividend yield, YTD change and, of course, exactly which holdings are in that investment.
It is easy to edit each one, changing the amount of investment or deleting it altogether. You can also add other investments. As you do, the green-to-red slider at the top tells you how those choices have changed how balanced your investment is. For example, I added “clean and green” investmensts and the slider indicated that I was taking more risk with my money.
It’s important to realize that if you add investments, the amount you’re investing goes up. You have to edit the amount of each investment accordingly. However, it’s clearly indicated how much you’re investing in each item and what the total is. You have to agree to the final total before you make a payment. It’s all really simple.
Once I set up my portfolio, I could easily view it. And immediately, I saw that there was a $10 payment pending. I set up an account, invested $5, paid $1 for a month for the account, and they really did give me another $10 to invest. That seems like a win-win. I’m happy that I gave it a try.
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