Any time you’ve been involved in personal finance for as long as I have there are lots of tips and tricks that you’ll pick up along the way. I’ve always been a huge proponent of doing things yourself and personal finance is no different. No matter how much you pay someone, nobody will ever care about your money more than you do. It can be a lot of work to manage your family’s finances but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of tools out there to help you to do so.
Every resource that I’ve listed below is something that I currently use to manage my finances. Almost all of them are free or very inexpensive so you can rest assured that there’s no risk to you to try any of them. I’ve written reviews of most of the products listed below but if you have a specific question, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll do my best to get back to you.
Lending Club – Peer to peer lending is a relatively new investment but the returns so far have been amazing! In my after tax account, I’m currently returning over 11%(after 3 years) and I’ve recently funded a Roth IRA with $5,000 for 2013. You can read all of my articles about Lending Club here.
JobTonic – San Diego Job Search site that will help you find a job in San Diego.
Amex SPG Business – SPG bonuses are typically only in the 20-30k range but they are some of the most valuable points in the industry. You can use them at top tier SPG properties around the world at about 3 cents per point or transfer them to one of their 30 airline partners! I just booked 3 nights in the Grand Bertragne in Athens (275 Euros/night!) for only 6,000 points plus $110! E-mail me for a referral link if you’re interested in signing up.
US Airways Premier World MC – This card will be going away sometime in the summer/end of 2014 so now is a great time to get it. Once US Air and AA merge, your points will be converted to AA miles and you can use them with AA or any of its partners. I signed up for one last year for myself and will be applying for one for my fiancee this summer.
Barclay Card Arrival – This is one of my favorite travel cards out there right now since it gives you a sign-up bonus of 40,000 points and you get 2% back on ALL of your purchases. Unlike airline and hotel specific cards/points that can be difficult to redeem (due to blackout dates and availability issues) these points can be used on anything related to travel. Just book your travel and you can redeem the points as a statement credit, I even redeemed some points for an AirBnB stay last year! You can read my detailed review of the card here and don’t forget about the Free FICO score and Free Tripit Pro Membership benefits.
Barclay Card Arrival (No Fee Version) – If you’re interested in getting the Arrival card but you don’t want to worry about paying an annual fee then this card is your next best bet.
Credit Score Management
Credit Sesame – If you’re interested in staying top of your credit score, Credit Sesame is a great way to do it for free. They don’t provide your actual FICO score but it should give you a good approximation of your score. I check my score once a month with their site.
Trans Union – The only problem with a Credit Sesame score is that it’s only an approximation of your actual score. If you want your true FICO score for free, sign up with Trans Union and you’ll get a free 7 day trial of their service. As long as you cancel within 7 days, you won’t be charged.
Annual Credit Report – Annual Credit Report is the final part of my free identity theft protection plan. They offer a free credit report from one of the three major bureaus once a year. I stagger the reports every four months so that I can always know what’s going on with my credit report.
Betterment – Betterment is a great tool for beginner investors or those investors that want to take a more hands off approach. They will help you determine your risk profile and you can start investing on a monthly basis in order to ensure an adequate rate of savings. You can read my review of Betterment here.
Personal Capital – If you’ve never heard of Personal Capital, I would go and check it out right now! It’s a completely free money management software that offers professional investment services at no cost and their 401(k) analyzer will tell you exactly how much you’re paying in fees. I use it to manage all of my investment accounts and stay on top of my earnings.
E-Trade – If you’re looking for somewhere to do your after-tax investing, E-trade is one of the best. They have a nice and simple interface and right now they’re offering free trades for 60 days for new accounts. I don’t invest a ton of money with E-trade but whenever I do invest in individual stocks, I use them.
Vanguard – If you’re looking to open up an IRA or rollover a 401(k), Vanguard is one of the best options. They’re a huge proponent of low cost index investing and all of their funds are passively managed and among the least expensive in the industry.
Bogleheads Forum – This is where I go to get a lot of my complex investing questions answered. They also have a handy Wiki which will answer a lot of your basic investing questions.
Budgeting and Bills
Mint – Keeping all of my financial accounts in order over the years has gotten pretty tough. I have lots of bank accounts, 401(k)’s, IRA’s and credit cards to manage but Mint allows me to gather all that data into one place and quickly and easily view my daily transactions. You can check out my review of Mint here.
Flyer Talk – Flyer Talk is a great site for everything related to travel hacking. If you’re looking for the best credit card sign up bonuses or tips on frequent flier miles there are forums for everything. I usually peruse the Miles Buzz section for a month or two prior to my credit card App-O-Ramas.
Slick Deals – I always use Slick Deals before any big purchase and to stay up to date on all the latest and greatest deals in store and online. The Hot Deals section will have everything from great credit card deals to Amazon pricing mistakes and opportunities for free money.
Capital One Sharebuilder – I use Sharebuilder for their free checking and savings accounts, they are a great option if you’re looking to get away from the ridiculous fees of local banks. Sharebuilder is currently offering a $50 sign up bonus too for opening a new checking account.
Ally – Ally is what I use for most of my banking needs. The free checking and free ATM withdrawals make it a no brainer. Their CD rates aren’t as competitive as they used to be though so I advise shopping around to find the best deal. You can read my review of Ally Bank here.
Turbo Tax – I exclusively use Turbo Tax to do my taxes every year and it couldn’t be easier. My taxes are pretty complicated since I have W2 income, a small business and a rental property but I’m a tax nerd and I love figuring out all the deductions and expenses on my own. Read some of the articles I’ve written before on Turbo Tax.
Discolsure: I have a financial relationship with some of these companies so if you click on a link and sign-up I may receive a small commission.