In the world of personal finance and small business, there are literally thousands of companies vying for your attention through clever marketing tactics. It can be difficult to sort through the good stuff and the junk at times. I created this page to try and help that issue a little bit. Below you’ll find resources that I highly recommend. I’ve used all of them except where specifically marked otherwise. Note that while this website does sometimes receive a small sales commission if you sign up for a service or buy a product through one of the links here, I only recommend products that I think will legitimately help you in your quest for a better financial future.
Money Management: Mint.com
Mint is by far the best way to manage your finances. Not only is it completely free, but it is very powerful, and can be used to track virtually any kind of account or other asset. You can also use it to do things like set and track goals, manage investments, and watch your spending.
Primary Banking: ING Direct
ING Direct currently pays the best interest rates, they have an easy to use online interface, and they always have some sort of sign up bonus, normally for between $25 and $50.
Brick and Mortar Banking: B of A, US Bank, or local bank
There are advantages and disadvantages to all of the above. I like having a bank that I can find a branch in pretty much any city, so I use Bank of America. However, local banks will sometimes be a great place to do things.
I use Sharebuilder exclusively for my stock trading. They aren’t always the cheapest rates, but having their system directly integrated with my ING savings account is very handy. They also give good signing bonuses.
Mutual Funds: Vanguard
I only recommend investing in mutual funds if they have a low expense ratio, and Vanguard is by far the lowest in the industry. They have a proven track record, and a wide variety of funds to invest in.
Taxes: Turbo Tax at Home
This should be common sense. With how easy taxes are these days, you should always do your own with Turbo Tax and save some money. The line they feed you about a professional finding more deductions isn’t true. If you don’t know about the deduction yourself, how would you tell your accountant?
Peer to Peer Lending: Prosper
You can read my full article on this topic here. Peer to peer lending is a very unique opportunity for you to make a lot of money by buying shares of a consumer loan. Prosper is one of the top rated companies for this, and I highly recommend that if you are going to do this, start with them.
Where to Buy Stuff
Plain and simple: Costco is my first stop for everything. Pretty much anything you need can be had at Costco for far cheaper than anywhere else, and the bulk quantities make shopping trips far less frequent. I buy everything from milk to computers there.
For the rest of my groceries I go to Winco. Again, they offer all sorts of bulk food, and it is absurdly cheap. I have a post planned for the future analyzing in depth how much you can save just by buying bulk snack food at Winco instead of buying it as you need it from gas stations and vending machines. Winco hasn’t really expanded much beyond the western part of the United States to my knowledge, but here they are by far the best option.
I buy everything merchandise wise I can from Amazon. Not only do they have everything you could ever think of, but you can get free shipping, and even media streaming now with Amazon Prime. Between the above two stores and Amazon, you can get just about everything you need. Building materials from your local hardware store would be the only other thing I could think of besides specialty items.