For years, I’ve wanted to try investing in stocks, but have always been too low on funds to make the leap. Then, I stumbled across an app called Stash. With just $5 and the Stash app, you can invest in ETFs or Exchange-Traded Funds. ETFs are investments – stocks, bonds, etc. – that are grouped together by a common theme and are traded on the public market. These funds allow you to own a portion of the investments as part of an investment group consisting of other people investing just like you. 

To buy or sell ETFs, a broker is required, which is where Stash comes in. This app connects you with a broker, saving you the extra work of finding one. It also acts as an advisor and the actual trading tool; however, Stash does not hold your money. Apex Clearing Corporation is the financial institution that makes the underlying trade system work. They are members of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). So, if anything ever happens to Stash, your funds are safe.

To use Stash, you first connect your bank account. Don’t worry, they don’t need your bank login information. They verify your account with a routing number and micro-deposits that happen within a few days of you signing up. You can then deposit money instantly. Withdrawing money takes 1-3 business days, and you can withdraw up to $10,000 a day. Once you connect your account, you choose a risk level – low, moderate, or high – which helps the apps make accurate investment suggestions.

Stash makes it easy to choose companies you want to invest in by grouping them into clear themes. For example, I invest in an ETF called “American Innovators”, which includes Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Alphabet Inc, Intel, IBM, Visa, Cisco, and Oracle. There are also options like “Clean & Green”, which include clean energy companies, like Companhia, China Everbright, Covanta, Electric Power DEvelopment, China Longyuan Power Group, GCL-Poly Energy Holdings, Meridian Energy, Gamesa Corp, Vestas Winds, and Xinyl Solar Holdings. Stash encourages you to invest in a variety of companies, because it lowers your investment risk. 

Purchases and sales happen twice a day, Monday through Friday. Stash provides details of each ETF’s historical performance, both overall and personally. It tells you which companies/investments are included and how much in dividends you could possibly earn. Dividends are financial rewards given to shareholders and bonds when an investment is doing exceptionally well. 

The app also shows you how much of the Stash community owns shares in each ETF.  It’s up to you how you interpret it. Does the higher percentage mean the ETF is performing well or that other Stash investors are just following the herd? It can be hard to tell. 

For those who like the “set it and forget it” approach to saving money, there is an Auto-Stash feature that will deposit an amount you choose at a specified frequency. You have to choose an ETF in order to do this, but you can auto-invest in more than one. 
I’ve been very happy with the Stash app. I love how convenient it is to transfer money and choose ETFs. I just wish there was more to choose from. Certain companies appear multiple times in the ETFs (Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, etc.). I’d love to invest in Tesla, but the company is absent from the ETFs. Still, I think this is a great opportunity for people to get started in investing. Just realize, purchasing ETFs is not like buying and selling on the stock market. It’s a long term investment. The market will go up and down, but the key is not to sweat it. 

If you’d like to give Stash a try, they offer $5 to start. If you use this link, I’ll get $5 too. No pressure. An extra $5 is just nice to have. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to give the app a try.