I created this page so you can easily find the products and services I use and recommend to others. Everything listed on this page are services or products I personally use (or used) or have had close friends use and enjoy when I offer them help with their finances. I’ll make updates and changes to this page as needed.
Please note that this page does include some affiliate links. This means I receive compensation from the product or service when you make a purchase. This does not mean you pay more for something, in fact, some times I am offering a discount code or promotion to help you save some money. In no way is the cost higher because it is a referral. Again, everything on this page is something I personally use or know about by directing friends to use and they have a positive experience with.
Betterment: Betterment was one of the first of the robo-advisors. They do it all for you – build you a portfolio, invest your money, rebalance, tax-loss harvest, and more. All you have to do is answer a few questions and link your checking account. I’ve been using them since 2014 and love everything about them. You can read my complete review for more information. If they are a fit for you, they are offering 6 months free when you sign up!
Motif Investing: Like Betterment, Motif Investing is changing the investment landscape. Instead of investing in a few stocks, you can build your own “motif” which is a basket of stocks and trade all of them at once for the same price it costs to trade one stock anywhere else. If you don’t feel like building your own motif, you can choose one that is already made. To learn more, check out my full review. If you like what you see, signing up will get you $150!
Trade King: I know that not everyone is a fan of buy and hold investing. While 100% of my investing for the long-term is based on a buy and hold plan, I too have a “play” account that I trade in. For this, one option is Trade King. They have super low commissions on stock trades and on options as well. You can read my full review of all Trade King offers here. Right now, you can get $100 in free trade commissions when you open an account.
Scottrade: Whether you are looking for a place for long-term, buy and hold investing or a place for a play account, Scottrade has you covered. Thousands of no fee mutual funds, hundreds of no fee ETFs and only $7 for stock trades. To learn more about Scottrade, check out my review. If you up sign now, you can start investing in less than 10 minutes. As a bonus, if you are transferring an account to Scottrade, you can get $100 in transfer fees waived that your other advisor will most likely charge you.
Charles Schwab: This is the main broker I use right now. Everything about them is easy to use and they have everything I need when it comes to investing. Low cost mutual funds, commission-free ETFs and low stock trade commissions. Add that up with their superior customer service and you have a great discount broker. Unless something dramatic happens, I doubt I will ever stop using them. Click here for my detailed review. If you open and fund an account, you’ll get a free $100!
Personal Capital: While I don’t use Personal Capital to invest (even though you do have the option to), I do use their free software to track all of my investments. Once I link my accounts, I see all of my account balances in one place. I also see my asset allocation, cash flow and net worth. But the best part is that I see how much fees are costing me when it comes to my investments. Trust me, it’s an eye-opening experience. You can read more about Personal Capital in my full review. Personal Capital is 100% free to use, so sign up today and make sure your investments are building wealth for you.
Insurance is an important aspect of our financial lives. Below are the recommended insurance products I use. If you need an intro on insurance so you better understand it, be sure to read my complete insurance guide.
Allstate: For many years, I stuck with one insurance company thinking that loyalty would get me the lowest premium. Then I read an article about the benefits of shopping around and I did so. To my surprise, there were other insurers that were cheaper. One was Allstate. My wife and I have been with them for over 4 years now and not only is their service and response amazing the few times we’ve needed them, but their price is the lowest when we shop around. You can get a free, no hassle quote here and see just how much you could save by switching.
Liberty Mutual: At my previous job, we would get a discount on insurance with Liberty Mutual. Many of my co-workers use them and rave about their service and pricing. Recently I was talking with some close friends that still swear by Liberty and I trust their input as they have high standards when it comes to their finances and getting the most for their money. You can get a free quote from Liberty Mutual and see how they compare to others.
eHealth Insurance: If you are self-employed, you most likely need to get your own coverage for health insurance. You could go to the Affordable Care Act website and try your luck at understanding things there – I’ve personally had many issues with the site – or you could use eHealthInsurance instead. By using this free service, you can get multiple health insurance quotes quickly and easily. For me, it was a much friendlier and informative user experience than using the ACA website.
QuoteWizard: When looking for life insurance to protect your family in the case of your untimely passing, term life insurance is your best option. It’s low cost for a decent level of coverage and there are rarely any additional fees. By comparing a few quotes with a reputable company like QuoteWizard, you get a better idea of the cost of term life insurance and can build a policy that fits your exact needs. No more worrying if you are paying too much.
Money Management Resources
For the daily management of your money, this section is for your banking and saving needs. You will see the bank accounts I use as well as what I use to help boost my savings.
Capital One 360: This is formerly ING Direct. You might find articles online about how Capital One was going to destroy ING, but so far that hasn’t happened. In fact, they have made the bank even better. I was one of those that was cautious of the potential issues with the switch, but it’s been over a year now without any issues. To get a full analysis of everything they offer, read my Capital One 360 review. If this bank sounds like an option for you, be sure to sign up here to get a $25 bonus when you open your account.
Elements Financial: This used to be called Eli Lilly Credit Union. It’s still the same company, just a new name. I use them for my HSA account. They do charge a $3/month if you have less than $2,500 in the account. The great thing though is that they pay 0.75% interest right now. They also partner up with TD Ameritrade for investing your HSA money. You can click here to learn more/sign up. If you would like, you can contact me and I can personally refer you as well.
Ally Bank: I use them for my business accounting. I wanted to keep my personal accounts and business account separate, so after some research, I ended up with Ally. They have been nothing but super. The interest rate on their savings account is currently higher than Capital One 360. Transfers are super easy. The site layout is great. Transfers from PayPal to Ally are faster than with any other bank I’ve used. Really, I have nothing bad to say about them.
Digit: This isn’t really a bank, but it goes along with the theme and I absolutely love it. So what is Digit? It’s a free service that analyzes your bank account – both income and expenses – and transfers money automatically to a savings account every so often. On average, the service transfers around $5. In the time I’ve had it, it has saved me close to $1,000! I can’t stop recommending it. You can read my full review here. Signing up takes less than 5 minutes and then you are saving money without effort.
Lend Edu: Lend Edu is the place to go if you have student loans and are looking to refinance. When you fill out their questionnaire regarding your loans, they will show you 12 options for refinancing. I like them a lot because it is free to have them look at your situation and let you know where you might be able to save some money by refinancing your loans. The process takes less than 5 minutes and won’t ding your credit score!
Tiller: If you want to budget but can’t find a program that meets your needs and updating an excel spreadsheet is too much work, say hello to Tiller. It works off Google Sheets and downloads your transactions for you. You have complete control over the secure spreadsheet, meaning you can add graphs, pivot tables, you name it. And since it is a Google Sheet, it is easy to share with your family. It’s free to try and only costs $5 a month thereafter.
Credit Card Resources
Credit cards can be a great way to earn some cash back, frequent flier miles or other rewards. Personally, I stick with cards that offer me cash back. It makes it easier to get cash or statement credits than dealing with all of the various rewards you could get. Below you will find the cards I personally use.
While credit cards can be great, they can also be dangerous. I was in credit card debt and successfully dug myself out. I have many friends who were in debt as well and they got out too. Below are some of the tools we have used to overcome our debt.
American Express Blue Preferred: This is the main card I use for gas and groceries. I earn 6% cash back on groceries and 3% on gas. I also buy some gift cards at the grocery store to get the 6% cash back too. To get these high cash back amounts I do pay $75 a year. But this is worth it as I earned close to $400 after the fee last year. If you don’t want to pay the annual fee, you can still get the card, the only catch is that the cash back percentages are lower.
Discover It: This is my other credit card. I like getting the 5% cash back in rotating categories (and use this card for gas when it comes up) they have recently offered Amazon purchased during the 4th quarter for 5% cash back, so I do most of my Christmas shopping with it on Amazon. I also do a lot of online shopping with this card because I shop through the Discover website and earn 5% or more for doing so. I wrote a detailed review about this card found here. For new card members, Discover will double your cash back for the first year. Talk about a bonus!
Credit Sesame: Knowing your credit score it critical when taking out loans. The higher your score, the lower the interest rate and the more money you save. Until recently, you had to pay for your credit score. Not any longer. You can sign up for a free account with Credit Sesame and get your credit score for free! Knowing your credit score and building it over time is one of the keys to personal finance and Credit Sesame helps you do just this.
Make Money/Save Money Resources
We all want more money right? Here are some relatively easy ways for you to earn a few extra dollars while doing the things you normally do. While you won’t get rich overnight using these resources, you will earn some extra cash. By using these sites, I’ve made close to $3,000. (I also have more money making ideas if you are interested.)
Swagbucks: Swagbucks is an online portal that allows you to earn cash for doing various tasks. With Swagbucks, you can do many different activities to earn “swagbucks” which you can redeem for gift cards or cash through PayPal. To earn your swagbucks, you can play online games, search using their toolbar, shop online, and take surveys. It’s 100% free to join and you can start earning swagbucks right away!
Inbox Dollars: Inbox Dollars is a lot like Swagbucks. You earn money for doing various things online like watching videos, taking surveys, searching online, and reading email. In addition to earning cash, you can also enter sweepstakes and win more money or even gift cards from various retailers. You can sign up for your free account and start earning some extra cash in minutes. Next to Swagbucks, this is the easiest way to make a little extra money in a short amount of time.
Ebates: I love Ebates. It is a website that offers you cash back for shopping through their portal. The amounts vary by store but typically range from 1% up to 25%. Every day they have specials where you can earn double cash back and on Black Friday, they offer even more savings. It costs nothing to use, just sign up and use their portal to shop online. Once you earn cash back, they will PayPal you the money. I’ve earned over $2,000 cash back using Ebates. If you sign up, you will receive a free $10 gift card to Target, Walmart, Kohl’s or Macy’s!
Cricket Wireless: I use Cricket as my cell phone provider. They use AT&T towers, so my coverage is the same as when I was with AT&T but I pay nowhere near the price. In fact, for unlimited texts and calls and 2.5GB of data a month, I pay just $40. Actually I pay $35 because of auto-pay. If you are paying over $100 a month for cell service, you are throwing money away. If you sign up for Cricket, you can get $25 towards your bill. That means you’ll just pay $15 for one month (after that it goes back to $40). They also offer discounts on multiple lines as well.
Online Business Resources
If you want to make some money with a website, here are the resources you need. A theme, hosting, email subscription service and help with writing posts will get you started. The thing you have to remember with building a website is that it will take some time for you to turn a profit, but it can be done!
StudioPress: If you want to be online, you need a website. Luckily WordPress makes starting a website easy. In fact, you’d be surprised at just how many sites you visit actually are WordPress sites. But even with a site, you need theme. This is what your visitors see when they visit your website. There are many options out there including free themes. But many aren’t updated and as time passes, they become vulnerable to hacks. This is why I like Genesis themes. Yes they cost money, but they are always updated and they have a large following. So as you tinker around with things, you have plenty of support. The best part – you don’t need an advanced understanding of web design to build your site. Genesis makes it easy.
BigScoots: Once you have a site, you need to find a place to host it. There are many options out there. I’ve tried over 5 in the short time I’ve been blogging. Most have had issues. One had horrible customer support. Another would constantly try to upsell me on a higher priced hosting package. Another was unreliable. In the end, I found Big Scoots. I’ve had zero issues with them and their customer support is incredible. I won’t be going anywhere for long time if they keep amazing me like they have.
Aweber: When running a website, email subscribers are critical because they are your most interested readers. Check out any large blog online and every one of them will tell you that getting email subscribers is their number one priority. Since I started, I’ve used Aweber. They are cheap in price and offer tons of great features and their customer support is amazing. There have been other players in this space recently, but Aweber is the best I’ve seen. You can sign up here and get 30 days free.
Long Tail Pro: Another tool I use for building my online business is Long Tail Pro. It helps me to research keywords and phrases to include in my posts so that I can get more traffic. More traffic usually means more money. Long Tail Pro makes the process of finding valuable keywords much easier. They recently went to a browser version so you can access it anywhere you have an internet connection. If you sign up for Long Tail Pro today, you can start for $1 and save 33% on the overall price too!
Personal Finance Books
In this section you will find some personal finance books I highly recommend. These books have a permanent place on my book shelf and I re-read them every few years.
7 Investing Steps That Will Make You Wealthy: This is my own book I wrote on the subject of investing. We tend to make investing much more complicated than it really is. In my book, I outline and detail the 7 steps you need to use in order to be successful in the stock market. The 7 steps are easy to follow and you can start taking the steps to investment success in a few short hours after reading the book. Or you can make changes as you read along. It’s your choice. You can buy the ebook on Amazon or through me personally. If you buy through me, you’ll get it in 3 different electronic versions and you can save 10%.
The Richest Man In Babylon, George Clason: This book is a must read for everyone. It started out as informational pamphlets and then was put together into a book back in the 1920’s. The concept is that it provides 7 principles related to personal finance that helped a regular guy back in Babylonian times better manage his money. The principles are relevant today still even though they were written in the 1920’s. Talk about timeless information! The book is put together in a story-like fashion and it is an easy read, along the same lines of Aesop’s fables. You can find this book on Amazon.
The Millionaire Next Door, Dr Thomas Stanley: This is a personal finance classic. Dr Stanley interviewed millionaires to see how they really live and manage their money. He then put these findings into this book and the information is incredible. The typical American millionaire is nothing what you would think. It shows that appearances are deceiving and that saving you money is your best option for becoming a millionaire. Even though you probably want to get rich overnight, the lessons in this book will ensure you become and stay a millionaire. You can find this book on Amazon.
Live It Up Without Outliving Your Money, Paul Merriman: Another great book about investing. Paul Merriman writes clearly and anyone can get something from this book even if they have no investment knowledge. The chapters are short and the book is designed to allow you to jump around and still understand the concepts. Of course, you can go chapter-by-chapter. Throughout the book he shows you how to build a portfolio and even offers samples of different investments to choose from so you can easily build a portfolio that meets your needs. You can find this book on Amazon.
Think And Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill: . This book usually finds itself on a top 10 list of must read finance books. Interestingly however, is that this book was originally written in the 1930’s as a self-help/motivational book. Mr. Hill interviewed successful men during the time to help motivate others to pick up the pieces and start rebuilding their lives. Because it is about becoming successful, it ties in nicely with personal finance. After all, if you can be successful, the money will follow. You can find this book on Amazon.