Investments

Personal Capital - This is the tool that I use to track my checking, savings, investment, retirement accounts, and my net worth.  It has good reports, tracking, and a retirement calculator.  In addition to all that it's free.  There are a few accounts that I can't link but you can add them manually and still include them in the reports and tracking.  It's a bit of a pain to update the manual accounts all the time but I only have a couple that I can't link so it's not too difficult.  Those two accounts are fairly static, so I update them once a month and it's pretty accurate.

Morningstar - This is a great place to research ETFs and Mutual Funds.  In general, ETFs have lower fees and will save you money in the long run, but always do your own research.  They have a free portfolio manager (requires you to register a free account).  With a premium paid account you get access to the Premium Portfolio Manager and Analyst Reports.

Betterment - Looking for an automatic low-cost way to start investing?  Look no further than Betterment.  With SmartDeposit you can automatically invest your excess cash, no more paltry savings rates.

E-Toro - This is a social trading site where you can copy other traders.  You can allocate a portion of your funds to be automatically traded in the same investments as them.  You can also invest in alternates investments like stocks, Forex and even cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Dash, and Ripple.

Vanguard - Is the leading company in low-cost ETFs, some of the lowest expense ratios in the industry.  They have funds for pretty much any type of investment you are looking for including bonds, from Market Indexes like the S&P 500 to individual sectors.  If you have $10,000 or more to invest, there is an Admiral version of some funds with an even lower expense ratio.

Fidelity - Fidelity is another brokerage that has a large selection of low costs funds.  I personally use Fidelity for my DRIP stocks.  They offer commission-free reinvestment of stock dividends.  I have found it's cheaper to use Fidelity to run my own "DRIP" program than to use the company's DRIP.

Ally - Ally bank usually has one of the best interest rates around.  I can easily transfer excess money online, so I tend to keep my short-term emergency savings with Ally to earn the extra bit of interest.  I know with the current saving rates so low it doesn't amount to much but every bit helps.

Money Management & Budgeting

Personal Capital - Again Personal Capital does a great job in this category too.  I could've added it to the Retirement section as well.  You get the point.

Excel/Worksheets - If your old school and like something on paper there is always the worksheets and excel spreadsheets I've created.  My free financial worksheets include the Spending Plan, Financial Goals, and Net Worth.  My Checkelope spreadsheet is a version of the old tried and true envelope budgeting system. With Checkelope you don't have to withdraw cash from the bank every payday and put it in physical envelopes. You can create virtual envelopes and track your money in your account. Here is my free version of Checkelope. Finally, I have a Debt Snowball and Avalanche spreadsheet. You can track up to five debts.

Mint - I've used Mint for several years before I found Personal Capital. By linking your accounts you can track and pay bills, do you budget, track investments. I found with Mint I was able to link more of my financial accounts than Personal Capital. So this may be a better choice if you can't link your accounts.

YNAB - You Need A Budget is as the name suggests a budgeting site that helps you gain control of your money.

Credit & Debt

Annual Credit Report - You can grab a free copy of each of the three credit agencies once a year.  This is the official site by Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.  You don't get your credit score for free but you can check for errors in your report.  I pull a different one once every four months.

Credit Karma - One of the two places to get free credit scores, monitoring and more.  I use Credit Karma as well as Credit Sesame. They are both great at helping you keep track of your scores and any issues you have with your credit rating.

Credit Sesame - This is the other one of the two places to get a free credit score, monitoring and more.  I use both Credit Sesame and Credit Karma.  Why not, they are both free!

Excel snowball spreadsheet - Debt Snowball/Avalanche is one of the best ways to pay down your debts.  Begin by listing all your debts and minimum payments, then figure out how much extra you can pay each month.  With the snowball method, add that amount to the debt with the lowest balance, and continue paying the minimum on all the other debts.  With the avalanche method select the highest interest rate debt instead of the lowest balance, this will cost you the least interest in the long run.  Now that the first debt is paid off, add the amount you were paying on that debt to the next in line.  Rinse and Repeat.  Here are a couple of Debt Snowball spreadsheets to help, manual sort version and a version which will sort the debts for you with macros.

Real Estate

Mortgage Calculator - One of the most popular mortgage calculators out there is Karl's Mortgage Calculator.  To get a complete picture of the costs of owning a home make sure to include any HOA fees, Taxes, Insurance, and PMI.

Lending Tree - One of the best sites to compare mortgage rates is Lending Tree.  You can compare offers for free, plus they have several tools from a mortgage calculator to a free credit score.

Roofstock - Find residential real estate where you can earn monthly passive income.

Zillow - Zillow can be a great place to research homes.  You can find photos and details about properties almost anywhere.  Just understand that the prices are not necessarily accurate, as there are a lot of factors that can affect prices.  Home values are local and you should speak to a Realtor or Appraiser with in-depth knowledge of the area.

HUD Homes - If you are looking to invest in real estate a great place to start your search is HUD Homes.  It is a great place to look for a home you plan to occupy just make sure to use a Realtor who has experience with the HUD home process.  It can be frustrating dealing with the whole process, these are government owned homes we are talking about here!

Retirement

Retirement Nest Egg Calculator - Vanguard's retirement calculator.  Both Personal Capital and Vanguard have great retirement calculators.  Vanguard's calculator currently uses Flash, which I don't use anymore, so for me, it's the Personal Capital version.

Solo 401K - If you are a business owner with no employees except for your spouse, then you should have a Self Employed 401K.  You can be a full-time employee of another company and still contribute if you have your own side gig.  The rules can be complex so speak to your accountant or financial planner.  For more information check IRS Publication 560 and Wikipedia.

Roth IRA - Roth IRA contributions are made after taxes but withdraws at retirement are usually tax-free.  See Wikipedia for more information.

Bonus

USAA - If you are a part of a military family then USAA is one of the best benefits out there.  Along with their Auto, Home, and Life insurance products they also have checking and savings accounts, Loans, and Investment accounts,

Growing up financially
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Growing up financially content is for educational purposes only and should not be used for investing real money. Growingupfinancially.com is not an investment adviser, brokerage firm, or investment company. Christopher Graham and growingupfinancially.com are not professional money managers, accountants, or financial advisors. Any investment involves the taking of substantial risks, including but not limited to, complete loss of capital. Every investor has different strategies, risk tolerances, and time frames. Contact a professional certified financial advisor before making any financial decisions.
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