I have always been a cautious investor.

This is because I don't know as much as I should about the stock market and how to choose what to invest in—and I have little time to learn.

But now there are two free apps to make saving and investing very easy—and I don't have to know a bit about finance because the apps do that work for me! Plus—all you need to get started is your spare change!

1. Digit

If you've ever wondered why you spend and what you spend on, Digit has the answer. This free app analyzes your spending patterns (past and present) and then begins making very small but regular transfers from your checking account to your savings account.

Over time, your Digit account balance grows, and before you know it, you have the beginnings of a rainy day fund you can turn to in a pinch. One downside—your Digit savings account won't pay any interest. But with the average interest rate for personal savings accounts today hovering around 1%, the ease factor more than compensates for this lack. Plus, there are zero fees for using Digit.

But best of all, Digit promises not to overdraw your checking account—ever. If it ever does, it promises to pay the overdraft fee for you!

What you need:

  • A supported U.S. bank (currently Digit supports 2,500+ banks).
  • A checking and savings account already set up at that bank.
  • Access to all necessary security information to allow Digit to sync with your accounts.

What you do:

  • Sign up online: https://digit.co/users/signup/basic
  • Submit your mobile number.
  • Enter the confirmation code.
  • Link your checking account to Digit.
  • Allow a few business days for Digit to do its analyzing.
  • In 2-3 days, the first transfer to your savings account will appear.
  • You can also earn $5 for every friend you refer who joins Digit.
  • You can pause or resume Digit at any time.
  • Security is bank-level.
  • Funds are FDIC insured up to the legal limit of $250,000.

2. Acorns

Acorns takes the work you’ve begun with Digit to the next level by helping you start to invest. Acorns works through "round-ups," rounding up your credit card purchases to the nearest dollar, then investing that spare change.

What you need:

  • A credit card, or a debit card and checking account (including the routing number), that you can link to your Acorns account.
  • Some basic information about yourself so Acorns can recommend an appropriate investment strategy for your age, portfolio, risk tolerance and investment goals.

What to do:

  • Download the free Acorns app of your choice.
  • Link your credit card or debit card/checking account to Acorns.
  • Provide enough basic information to generate investment recommendations from Acorns (which you can change at any time).
  • You can choose from five investment portfolios ranging in risk from "conservative" to "aggressive."
  • Once your "round-ups" reach $5, Acorns will start investing your funds for you.
  • You can then add funds in other ways (via your checking account, Paypal, etc.) and also withdraw the funds.
  • Your Acorns-invested funds are SIPC-insured up to $500,000.
  • Any dividends you earn will automatically be reinvested for you (saves you at tax time!).
  • Fees are minimal—$1 per month for balances under $5,000 (so you would pay $12 per year so long as your balance remained $4,999 or less) and 0.25% per year for balances $5,000+ (so, you would pay $25 per year if your balance was $10,000).
  • There are no trade commission fees and no deposit/withdrawal fees.

 

Bonus app: Learn more about investing

If you start saving and investing with Acorns and Digit and find you want to learn more about all things financial, you may want to check out the tips and resources on StockTwits, a free app that is trusted by brokers, fund managers and investors worldwide.

You can follow stocks you’re investing in, research stocks you’re interested in, and find out which stocks are trending in the market—in real-time!