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If you’re a college student, recent grad, or, really, anyone interested in getting started investing, then you’ve probably heard a little something about the Acorns investment app, and for good reason: It’s a great way for the average Joe to start investing and building wealth.
You can read my complete review of Acorns for a complete picture of just why I love the app as much as I do, but the beauty of Acorns can be boiled down to a couple of main points:
- It’s a simple way for beginners to start investing
- It automates the investing process through the use of round-ups and daily, weekly, or monthly recurring investments
- It is incredibly cheap to use (investors pay just $1 per month on accounts under $5,000, and just .25% on accounts over $5,000. And it’s FREE for college students!)
With that in mind, it’s also important to note that the app enables users to make money in some other unique ways. A $5 bonus for referring friends is one way which can really add up over time. But if I had to choose a single Acorns feature that had the most potential for helping investors build their portfolio (besides signing up for a recurring investment), it would probably be Found Money.
What is Found Money?
Found Money is a program run through the Acorns investment app that rewards app users for shopping through certain retailers, which Acorns calls “partners.” By making a purchase with a partner through the app or web portal, the retailer will deposit an agreed-upon sum of money into your account.
The program works similarly to websites such as Ebates. Depending on the retailer (and the agreement that they’ve set up with Acorns), each qualifying purchase will earn you either be a percentage of your order or it will be a flat dollar amount, which is deposited into your account within 90 days.
When the program just launched, there were only a handful of participating companies, limiting the impact that Found Money could have on an investment portfolio. But Acorns has doubled down recently to add more and more partners to the program. It’s grown so much that as of this writing (January 1, 2018) there are 132 deals available through the Found Money program. These partners range from small to large companies, making it possible for an Acorns user to do 100% of their shopping through the Found Money program if they decided that’s what they wanted to do. Imagine the impact that could have on an investment account!
Editor’s Note: There’s one important thing to keep in mind when dealing with the Found Money program. Namely, it’s only a benefit if you use it to make a purchase tat you were already planning on making. If you use the Found Money program as an excuse to buy things that you don’t need or that you weren’t planning on buying, you’re wasting money—even though you’re earning a reward invested into your account. So do yourself a favor and remember to always shop responsibly!
Putting Found Money to Work for You
The list below is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list. To see a complete list, you must be an Acorns user, but you can see a sample of about 30 Found Money deals by visiting the Acorns website here. But as I said above, there are more than 130 available deals. That means there are 130 ways for you to get cash back on purchases you were already going to make—money that will help your investment portfolio reach new heights.
Acorns regularly adds new partners to the Found Money program and removes some partners as deals expire and aren’t renewed, so those mentioned below could definitely change. But as of January 2018, all of the deals described below are currently available through the Found Money program.
For Your Everyday Needs
- 24 Hour Fitness: 5% of membership fee for new members
- Bed, Bath & Beyond: 2% of purchase
- Blue Apron: $30 for new customers
- Dollar Shave Club: 10% of purchase over $20
- GNC: 5% of purchase
- Pier 1 Imports: 2% of purchase, up to $40 per month
- Sam’s Club: $10 for new members
- T-Mobile: $30 for new service members
- Talkspace: $40 for new members
- ToysRUs: 2% of purchase
- Walgreens: 2% of purchase price, up to $40 per month
- Walmart: 1% of purchase, up to $40 per month
For When You Want to Have Some Fun
- DirecTV: $25 for new service members, up to $75
- Dish TV: $75 for new service members
- Gamefly: $20 for new subscribers
- GameStop: 1% of purchase, up to $40 per month
- Scribd: $10 for new subscribers
- Sirius XM: $10 for new subscribers
- Ticket Master: 1% of purchase
For When You Want to Travel
- AirBnB: 1.8% of booking fee
- Alamo: 2% of the rental price, up to $40 per month
- CheapOAir: $5 per travel package, airfare booking, or a hotel booking, up to $40 per month
- Choice Hotels: 5% of booking fee, up to $40 per month
- Comfort Inn: 4% of booking fee, up to $40
- Enterprise: 2% of rental fee
- Expedia: 4% of reservation fee
For When Your Finances Need Some Work
- Blooom: $10 when you complete a free 401k analysis
- Common Bond: $100 when you refinance a student loan
- Liberty Mutual: $5 when you request a home or auto insurance quote
- Lifelock: $25 when you sign up for any of their services
For When Your Wardrobe Needs an Update
- Banana Republic: 3% of purchase
- Bespoke: $10 for new subscribers
- Columbia Sportswear: 5% of purchase, up to $40
- GAP: 3% of purchase
- Hot Topic: 3% of purchase
- Macy’s: 5% of purchase
- Mizzen + Main: 10% of purchase price
- Neiman Marcus: 3% of purchase, up to $40 per month
- New Balance: 5% of purchase, up to $40 per month
- Nike: 5% of purchase
- Nordstrom: 1% of purchase, up to $40 per month
- AirBnB Hosts: New AirBnB hosts who sign up through the Found Money portal will earn a whopping $200
- Avon: New Avon Representatives signing up for the Avon Starter Kit will earn $10
- Grammarly: $10 for new customers
- Lyft: $15 when you sign up to become a driver
- Norton: 15% of purchase
- Uber: $15 when new drivers sign up
- Udemy: 15% of purchase price, up to $40 per month
For Your Big Purchases
- Casper: $75 for a purchase of more than $500
- EHarmony: 35% of subscription fee, up to $40 per month
- Jared: 3.5% of purchase
- Kay Jewelers: 3.5% of purchase
- Zales: 3.5% of purchase
When You Want to Treat Yo-Self
- 1-800-FLOWERS: $10 for every qualifying purchase, up to $40 each month
- Birchbox: $10 for new subscribers
- Godiva: 5% of purchase
- NBA Store: 5% of purchase price
- NFL Store: 5% of purchase price
- ProFlowers: 5% of purchase, up to $40 per month
- Sephora: 3% of purchase, up to $40 per month
- Shop Disney: 1% of purchase
Does Acorns Found Money Really Make Money?
Okay, so I know what you’re thinking. “How much of an impact can a couple of extra dollars a month really make in the grand scheme of my investment strategy?” No joke: It can be pretty substantial.
To demonstrate the power of Found Money, let’s assume that you shop at Walmart for most of your monthly purchases and spend an average of $300 per month through Walmart’s Found Money portal. Because Walmart offers a reward of 1% of your purchase, that would translate into $3 per month ($36 per year) that Walmart would invest into your Acorns account. Multiply that by 40 years, and you’ve got a not insubstantial $1,440.
But that doesn’t factor in any investment growth. If those $3 each month earned an average annual return of a very reasonable 8% each year, you would have $9,290 after 40 years.
That’s nearly $10,000 of free money, all for making purchases that you were already going to make. Talk about crazy! Factor in other Found Money opportunities, and you would have even more growth. Earning an average of $15 in Found Money each month and earning 8% annually for 40 years would net you nearly $50,000! (Check out the Dave Ramsay Investment Calculator to run your own investment scenarios.)
Again, though, it’s important to note that this investment strategy only makes sense if you are making purchases that you were already planning on making. If you have an extra $300 in your account each month, it would make a lot more sense for you to invest all of it, rather than to spend it through Found Money and capturing a single percent of it. $300 invested each month for 40 years, earning 8% annually would equal just shy of $1 million—a tremendous boost over the $10,000 you’ll make from Found Money.
Using Found Money to Your Advantage
As you can see from the examples above, it is quite literally possible for you to plan your spending in such a way that everything you buy is bought through Found Money partners. Between everyday spending, hobbies, and larger purchases, it’s possible to add tens of even hundreds of dollars to your account each month. Talk about crazy.
If Found Money sounds like a program you can get excited about, you should take a look at Acorns to see if t’s a good fit for your financial goals. I use it, and I love it (or else I wouldn’t talk about it as much as I do!).