Personal Finance Software
I recently switched to Personal Capital. Why? Easy to set up, easy to use. You can have all your investments, income, and expenses summarized in one place online with one login ID instead of having everything spread across the whole internet. And it is free! What’s not to love?
Setup takes 10-20 minutes, and you can see for yourself whether you like it better than Quicken or Mint. I know Personal Capital is better than my old fashioned spreadsheets! Here’s my review of Personal Capital.
Book on Investing
My top recommendation for beginner or intermediate investors is The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing. It’s concise and to the point. At just under 300 pages and 23 chapters, you can easily read a chapter per night and in under a month become well-versed in investing in a common sense manner. They focus on asset allocation, diversification, tax efficiency, ruling your emotions, investment expenses, and insurance. I have a copy and loan it to my friends if they show a genuine eagerness in setting up their investments in a simple, low cost, tax efficient manner.
Brokerage or IRA firms
Vanguard is better for Vanguard mutual funds or if you only want to buy Vanguard exchange traded funds.
Fidelity is better if you want to trade stocks and exchange traded funds.
Online Shopping Portal and Deals
Ebates is a great shopping portal. They offer a slightly different assortment of stores than Mr. Rebates, and offer higher cash back percentages at some retailers. For example, they pay 7% cash back at Travelocity for cruise purchases which sounds like a great way to get back $50-200 on a typical cruise or other travel purchase. When you sign up through this link and make a qualifying $25 purchase through Ebates, you’ll get a $10 gift card.
In addition to Ebates, I also use the Mr. Rebates shopping portal for online purchases and pick up an extra 2-6% on just about everything I buy online. Sometimes the percentages are much higher. In dollar terms, I get a buck or two for smaller purchases of a few items, $4-5 for reserving a hotel room for a few nights, and $20 or $30 if I buy something significant like a television or computer. I shop at whatever online retailer provides the best deal, and I just remember to click through Mr. Rebates right before I check out. 10 seconds of work for a buck or $30 is a great use of my time. Sign up for Mr. Rebates through Root of Good and get a bonus $5.00 to get your savings started. Many Root of Good readers have signed up for Mr. Rebates and they are already getting hundreds of dollars in cash back.
Groupon is another great option to save money on places you already shop or to try something new. Tons of local restaurants and entertainment options offer a 40-50% discount when you buy a Groupon voucher. Watch out – it’s easy to go crazy with the deals they offer and spend more on dining and entertainment than you do today. And beware buying good deals and forgetting to redeem them. But try this – next time you’re planning on going out to eat, check out Groupon first to see if your choice of restaurant offers a discounted certificate. If you want to help out Root of Good, consider signing up for Groupon through this link.
If you have a blog and need to migrate to new hosting soon, or want to start a blog at a reliable host where real people provide tech support, check out Rockaway Hosting (that’s my referral link – if you sign up I might make a commission on services you buy). And use coupon code ROCK10 if you want to save an extra 10% off their low rates. The code generally stacks with their promotions on multi-year packages, too.
So far Rockaway works flawlessly. Things are running smoothly and their tech support is amazing. I’ve received email responses on tech support issues from the owner at 4 am and 8 pm on weekends (when does he sleep?). Other hosting companies might be slightly cheaper and work just fine until you have a technical problem you need help with.
I have 3 different cards in my wallet at any given time to maximize cash back and travel rewards. I apply for new cards when better rewards programs become available. It’s silly not to accept free money when the credit card companies offer it to you (find out why)!
For more details on credit cards I recommend, check out my complete credit cards recommendation page.