Below is a list of resources that we are familiar with and like enough to recommend. Some of the items might have a small affiliate benefit, at no cost to you. Rest assured that any affiliation has no impact on a recommendation… we own and/or use these items ourselves and believe in them. Most of the bolded text are links to take you directly to the product mentioned.
Betterment. We have a large amount of money invested with Betterment. It makes investing SUPER simple and automatically diversifies your investment across a selection of low-cost exchange-traded funds. It also makes automatic investment deposits nice and easy to allow for dollar-cost-averaging.
Motif Investing. Motif is another service that makes investing easy, but it gives more control too (which in itself makes it a little less-easy than Betterment). It allows you to pick a group of funds and invest into them for a very low trading cost. They also offer up to $150 free for new investors – and who doesn’t like free money.
Prosper. Prosper is a peer-to-peer lending platform. So people go there and deposit money, and other people go there to borrow money. The lent money is split into $25 amounts and diversified across a lot of loans to lower risk. We don’t borrow from Prosper (of course – because we’re debt-free!) but we do have part of our investment money there earning interest. Returns change all the time so I won’t write them here, but look for a blog post on the topic with some information.
Fidelity Investments. If you want more control over your investments (and have the time to justify doing this), including if you desire to own some individual stock shares, we use Fidelity and have been very happy with them. Great tools, great service, and good rates.
TD Ameritrade is very similar to Fidelity and is running a special where new investors can trade for free for 60 days and also get up to $600 cash. If you want to self-manage your own investments, I’d definitely look into that option.
Making Money / Saving Money / Selling Stuff
If you have some stuff to sell, eBay is a great option. It’s a bit more effort, including the need to ship items to the buyers, but you can sell just about anything here… and get some decent prices.
One of my favorite places to “sell” stuff is Amazon Trade-in. They don’t accept all items, but I always check here first. In fact, from my personal research I’ve found that Amazon often has the best rates that they’ll pay for certain merchandise.
Craigslist is another great place to sell some items. You don’t have to worry about shipping because it is generally local people looking for local deals. Just be smart and careful since you’ll be dealing with strangers.
We always check AirBNB when we travel and compare the options to hotels. Very often we can find comparable (or better) rates and we get to enjoy a private residence versus just a room in a hotel. Use our link here to save money on your first AirBNB stay.
Driving with Uber is a GREAT way to make some extra cash. When I go online to drive people I tend to average about $15/hour – after expenses! It’s a nice and easy income option if you have a car available.
The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. This is a great read and an excellent guide to solidify a personal financial situation and making progress toward Financial Peace. The principles in this book are so good that we’ve modeled most of our financial coaching practices on these time-tested principles.
The Automatic Millionaire. No, this isn’t a get-rich quick book but rather a book about the power of long-term and consistent financial practices. It’s a fairly easy read with very powerful ideas and suggestions that can have a huge impact on wealth building.
The Millionaire Next Door. All millionaires drive expensive cars and live in big fancy houses, right? No – think again. People who live “rich” are actually more likely to be broke. This book is based on tons of interviews and surveys and presents a more accurate and realistic picture of the average millionaire.
Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover Forms
The Quick-Start Budgeting Form – for beginners to budgeting; a simple form with minimal categories to help get started on your monthly budget.
The Cashflow (full budgeting) Form – when you are ready to move beyond the quick-start form and budget your income and expenses at a more detailed level.
The Irregular Income Form – if you have irregular income, in place or or in addition to a salary, then this form will help allocate those funds as part of your budgeting process.
Monte Carlo* retirement nest egg calculator. Once you understand the value of Monte Carlo simulations, this is an excellent tool to help with retirement planning. (*More on this in a future blog post.)
Dollar-Cost-Averaging (DCA) is a powerful investing technique. This is a calculator that you can use to back-test different investments under DCA principles.
Here is a student loan repayment estimator tool – for those of you with student loans.
Estimate your federal tax bracket with this online tool that shows you marginal rate (tax on next dollar earned) but also your effective rate (the percentage of tax against your total income).
This S&P 500 Dividends Reinvested Price Calculator shows the return if you bought into an S&P500 Index at a certain time and held it for a certain period. It’s interesting, but what I find more interesting is the S&P 500 Dividend Reinvestment and Periodic Investment Calculator because that’s what most of us will be doing to achieve financial freedom – investing at a consistent level every single month.
Thinking about changing up your investment portfolio mix? Here is a nice online tool to backtest a custom portfolio. You can enter stock symbols and the percentage of your total invested in each, and it will run tests to show how that mix would have performed over the past few years. Of course past performance doesn’t guarantee future performance, but it is interesting at a minimum, and could be useful in understanding the impact of different balances.
Find a Financial Peace University (FPU) class near you. This is the class produced by Dave Ramsey that is held in most cities various times throughout the year. It’s a great resource that runs for nine weeks covering topics such as emergency funds, budgeting, investing, insurance, mortgages, and more.
You can check your credit report free once per year. If we’re eliminating debt, why mention this? Well, first it helps you confirm every line of credit open in your name and its status – so you can make sure everything is paid off and you can also contact those providers to close the credit lines. It’s also a good idea to check your credit report every once in a while to make sure no new credit is opening up… like because of identity theft or other scheme.
MySocialSecurity is the government-run site where you can go to check on your social security benefits. No, this isn’t just for people claiming or about to claim – check it over time to make sure income is being reported properly and also to get an updated idea on expected social security benefits at different retirement age levels.
Bible Verses Dealing with Money
It’s amazing how many bible versus have excellent advice and wisdom about money. It’s neat that people thousands of years ago when the bible was written were dealing with very similar financial issues as people today.
I’ve heard that there are over 2,000 verses in the bible having to do with money – so this is obviously just a small sampling that we chose to share here.
Proverbs 22:7 “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”
2 Corinthians 9:7 “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Proverbs 3:27 “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”
Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Proverbs 13:11 “Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.”
Proverbs 14:23 “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”
Proverbs 14:29 “He who is impulsive exalts folly”
Proverbs 21:5 “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”
Proverbs 1:5 “A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.”
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