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Until very recently it wasn’t easy for the average person to invest in the stock market. It was a practice reserved for the rich and the informed (and the male). Getting into the market meant working with a broker, bank, wire house, or financial advisor and most wouldn’t even take your call without a high account balance (usually around $250,000). But thanks to a few innovative companies, it’s now easier than ever to invest in equities.

As any financial professional will tell you, don’t invest in something you don’t really understand. I’m gonna go ahead and assume you’re just starting out and that the stock market is somewhat of a mystery to you. I recommend starting with Burton Malkiel’s A Random Walk Down Wall Street, which you can find in the Financial Literacy Library.

This episode is called “How to Invest $1000” but really we could call it “How to Invest $50” or “How to Invest Your Loose Change” thanks to a cool company called Acorns that will set up an investing account for you by rounding up to the nearest dollar when you make a purchase from a connected account*. That’s the absolute easiest way to get into the market. Acorns is just one of a growing list of “robo advisors” or online investing platforms that make it incredibly easy to start investing. It takes about five minutes to set up an account. You money goes into a very large pool of predetermined mutual funds for a very low fee.

I took $1000 of my own money and stuck it in a few different robo advisors. Listen to the episode to find out what I thought. I’ve got the wonderful Nick Holeman from Betterment to answer my questions about robots.

The Robo Advisors

Nerdwallet does a great side-by-side comparison. You can find that here.

Wise Banyan is actually free but that makes financial journalists nervous and honestly, it made me a little nervous.

So what’s actually in your online invest account? Mostly mutual finds and ETFs.

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If you’re unsure about investing in crappy corporations with shoddy business practices, Wealthsimple offers a bunch of socially conscious funds. 
Here’s more on how these funds support companies trying to do a bit of good and maybe save the planet.
On of the biggest robo advisors is Betterment. The platform is super easy to use.
I like Ellevest a lot. This female-focused platform takes into account factors like the wage gap and the face that women generally tend to live longer. Their goal-based investing gets a little more creative than the usual “save for retirement.”
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Then there’s Vanguard. No frills trusty Vanguard without the flashy website. Vanguard has extremely low fees and chances are if you’re in one of these robos you’ll be in Vanguard funds.
Here’s the other side of things! Why passive investing is potentially bad.

The Non-Money Minute

Is your olive oil FAKE? ARGH! Experts seem think so. There’s a fabulous book on the subject called Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil.

Like the weird creepy background music? It’s a track called “Metachroma” from C.R. Gillespie’s album Seance Works.
*Disclaimer: Moneysplained is for entertainment and education purposes only.