Money Dominating Toolkit
I get constantly asked the best tools to get out of debt, start a budget, open a Roth IRA, and keep track of your portfolio.No more stressing required. Everything you need is below.
Below you'll find the best of the best in various facets of the financial industry. Before you dive in, read this important disclosure.
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Don’t worry, we don’t let the potential of a commission get in the way of telling you about the best in the industry. And we’ve turned down opportunities to promote tools that didn’t line up well with our readers’ best interests. No commission is worth losing your trust.
If you read through this list and don’t find exactly what you’re looking for, or you just aren’t sure which option to pick, drop us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ll be glad to help out.
This is only for our subscribers that have decided to join the Money Uprising Movement (Mum). Find out more about the movement here.
Here's what you get:
- 2 free chapters to my best selling book, Soldier of Finance.
- Our Top 6 Tools to Get Your Money Back on Track
I get asked all the time what's the best money tools out there. Here's our top 6 picks.
- Soldier of Finance inspired budgeting guide
Easy way to get your budgeting on track.
- The Bad Habit Destroyer
Learn how eliminate bad financial habits in 21 days
- Goal Achiever Worksheet
Setting goals is HUGE. This is the same goals worksheet that I used to grow my business by over 100%.
- The Situation Report
Got some debt to take down? This guide will help identify where you need to start.
- The Life Insurance Super Saver Checklist
People often overpay for their life insurance. I won't let that happen to you.
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Investing and Retirement
Six months into my career, not much changed. Sure “I thought” about investing and did put a measly 3% into my 401k, but it still wasn’t a priority.That is until a client meeting that changed my life.
The meeting was with a couple who were in their early 60’s and thought it was time to finally meet with a financial planner. After the usual pleasantries, we got down to business to see how I could help them.
In the meeting I learned how concerned they were about retirement. They knew they had social security in a few years but weren’t confident it would be enough. To make matters worse, their entire life savings was just over $30,000.
No pension, small social security checks, and $30,000 in investments is all they had.
They were stressed and it was evident.
Scottrade is an online and brick-and-mortar discount brokerage firm, which is one of the reasons why we like it so much.
Not only do you get inexpensive trading costs, but if you ever want to sit down with a live human being you can at one of Scottrade's 500+ branches around the country.
The firm has kept their trade costs steady at $7 per stock and ETF trade for years.
Mutual fund trades vary based on the type of fund with a maximum trade commission of $17. (But you shouldn't be doing a ton of trading in mutual funds anyways; see below.)
Jeff likes Scottrade so much he even created an account there himself with a video that takes you step-by-step through the account opening process with Scottrade: Opening a No Fee Roth IRA with Scottrade.
E*TRADE is one of the bellwethers of the online discount brokerage industry.The company has been around since 1992 and has constantly been pushing the industry to better technologies and other trading innovations for customers.
Technically E*TRADE does have brick-and-mortar locations for you to go to, but there are only 30 in the entire country. E*TRADE is primarily an online discount brokerage firm, and they are one of the leaders in the industry. Their trade fees are just slightly higher than a few others, but there is no minimum deposit required to get started.
- Account Set Up Fees for Roth IRA: None
- Account Maintenance Fees for Roth IRA: None
- Minimum Deposit to Open Account: $0
- Commissions on Stocks, ETFs, and Mutual Funds: $9.99 per stock or ETF trade, maximum of $19.99 per mutual fund trade
Tradeking is an online discount brokerage firm with some of the least expensive trade fees available. $4.95 for stock and ETF trades is crazy talk. Plus no-load mutual funds are reasonable at $9.95 per trade. If you want to get funky with your investing you can trade options with Tradeking for just $0.65 per contract (plus the $4.95 base).The company is a strong competitor to bigger firms with brick-and-mortar stores thanks to a merger with another smaller discount brokerage firm, Zecco. The two companies combined forces to bring low prices to every customer. The firm was rated #1 for Customer Service by Smart Money from 2010 to 2012 as well.
Give Tradeking a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
TD Ameritrade – An all around great brokerage with especially easy Roth IRA rollover tools (they say it takes 15 minutes or less to set up your IRA), with one glaring problem: $49.99 trade commissions no-load mutual funds. Yikes.
Betterment – A different twist on investing. Instead of hitting you with trade fees and confusing investing options you select from two options (a basket of stock ETFs versus a basket of Treasury bonds) and are charged anywhere from 0.15% to 0.35% of the total assets you have invested with the firm.
Vanguard – Slow and steady wins the race, and automatic investing into low-cost index funds is about as steady as it gets when it comes to investing. Vanguard is known for having incredibly low fees on its index mutual funds and ETFs, so building a portfolio through automatic investing is a great and inexpensive choice.
It's reported that over 55 million households don't have enough life insurance coverage. Are you a statistic? We don't want that…. Going without the right levels of insurance puts you and your family at great risk.Typically for auto and home insurance we just go with the least expensive national brand. I got really frustrated on the life insurance side of things. Life insurance is one of the most critical insurance policies you can buy, but most people don't. That's what I started the Life Insurance Movement (see video below) to bring attention to a need that many families ignore.
When it comes to managing your day to day spending you have a system in place currently. Whether or not that system is ideal we can't tell you, but you've got something that you're doing.Instead of trying to convince you to use an Excel spreadsheet to track your spending or to stuff money in envelopes and store them throughout your house, we're going to focus on two big wins that should make managing your finances a lot easier.
Once you have learned about asset allocation and annual rebalancing you hit the frustrating wall of trying to track a portfolio that is shared across some or all of the following:Your or your spouse's Roth or Traditional 401k, your or your spouse's Roth or Traditional IRA, any pensions you have, or in normal taxable investing accounts.
You can manage the asset allocation within each of those individually, but seeing things on a large scale has been nearly impossible…
…until now. Personal Capital lets you tie in all of your investment accounts into one clear dashboard. Seeing the big picture with your whole portfolio has never been easier (unless you've been paying high fees for a financial advisor to handle this for you).
You can read our full review of Personal Capital, but we also did a video walk through of the tool:
Needless to say Personal Capital is now one of the financial tools we look at every single month. We love it.
Managing Bills & Budget
When it comes to managing your day to day spending you have a system in place currently. Whether or not that system is ideal we can’t tell you, but you’ve got something that you’re doing.Instead of trying to convince you to use an Excel spreadsheet to track your spending or to stuff money in envelopes and store them throughout your house, we’re going to focus on two big wins that should make managing your finances a lot easier.
More from GFC, Below
Raise your hand if you love sorting through paper bills to see when the next due date is so you can drop a check in the mail
That's why we thought.
Finovera is a free online service that will track all of your bills, remind you when the due date is near, and store all of your statements digitally. No more having to file everything into a filing cabinet. Finovera doesn't do bill pay, but if you click on the bill and want to pay it the site redirects you to that bill's login page.
It's a simple service that we think has a big impact on how you manage your finances.
Get Out of Debt
Tracking what your various interest rates are, your minimum payments, and figuring out which debt should be next in line to get your extra payments hasn't been easy.That is until Ready for Zero came along.
Managing your getting out of debt process with multiple creditors is very similar to tracking your investment portfolio. Ready for Zero solves this problem much in the same way that Personal Capital solves the problem of tracking a portfolio over several brokerage firms.
All you do is input your debts, interest rates, and so on and the tool creates the fastest payoff plan for you then helps you track your progress as you pay it down.
Best of all? It's free.
Peer-to-peer lending (or P2P Lending) is, in our eyes, a phenomenal new idea in the financial industry. Instead of going to a bank or a credit card for a loan with a high interest rate, you use a website and other people lend you money on better terms.
As we mentioned above, we'd rather you not borrow money to get out of debt — it just sounds weird since you are adding to your debt with that borrowing — but sometimes you need a personal loan to save you a ton of money. If you are able to take $35,000 in credit card debt at 20% and drop it to the same amount at 11%, you are going to save a ton of money in interest.
Likewise as a potential investor, the returns are risky but definitely higher than other options readily available to you. A majority of investors earn anywhere from 6% to 18% returns on their money lent out to other individuals.
Lending Club wasn't the first P2P lending website, but we think it is the best.Lending Club has a solid collections process that doesn't guarantee investors will recover any funds from loans gone bad, but it is significantly better than what Prosper does.
Underwriting on the loans seem to be better as well.
Lending Club was the first P2P lending company to give investors the option of trading your loans with other users just like you would any other other financial device.
You can make money flipping loans or simply cut your losses if you notice a borrower's credit score dropping on one of your notes. My synopsis is considered to be one of the best Lending Club reviews online by other financial bloggers. We cover how you account works for both investors and borrowers.
Prosper was the company that really brought the idea of people lending money to people without a bank involved to the public.For the longest time their collections process left investors with just about nothing when a loan went bad, but that is slowly improving.
Prosper also is currently available for investors in a few more states than Lending Club, although that may change if either company goes public with an IPO.
I opened accounts with both companies and have been tracking my returns. Thus far the returns have been rather salty. Get a better understanding of how Prosper works in our Prosper review.
Technically we could fit this section under “Getting out of debt”, but we'll leave it here since it relates to P2P lending.All of those P2P lenders have to have borrowers to lend that money to. If you are up to your eyeballs in debt, barely making your minimum payments, and unable to make progress on getting your balances down then a peer-to-peer loan might be the best option for you.
It's just like any other loan: you apply, go through underwriting, provide income and employment documentation, and get approved at a certain interest rate. You write up your story as to why lenders should want to fund you. Then you list your loan and wait.
With P2P you could take $20,000 in credit card debt at 20% interest and replace it with a $20,000 P2P loan at 12% with a 3-year fixed payoff payment.
No more wondering how long it will take you to get out of debt. One loan, one payment, and you could be debt-free in 3 years or less.
The key with Peer-to-Peer borrowing is taking the borrowed funds and applying them to your credit cards (or other debts) and cutting up the cards. Don't close your accounts unless they have an annual fee — you can lower your score by closing credit accounts — but cut up the cards so it is physically impossible for you to get back into debt.
If you don't do this you have a huge risk of paying off your credit cards, getting the P2P loan at the same amount of debt, and then racking up a new section of debt back on the cards leaving you with double the debt you had to begin with.
Tracking Credit Score
Your credit score is one of the most important numbers tied to your financial success.A bad score can result in you spending tens of thousands more in interest over your life time on home mortgages, auto loans, and even non-loan related expenses like car insurance.
The only way to know your true FICO credit score is to purchase it from myFICO.com.
The tools below give you proprietary credit scores that are similar to your FICO score but aren't exactly the same.
However, tracking these related scores and changes made to them can still help you keep tabs on your credit history.
There are some great ways you can earn money – some of them by doing what you normally do!
InboxDollars can reward you for all kinds of online activities: taking surveys, shopping, surfing the web, and more! Think about it. Just by changing your search engine you can earn some money for your wallet. Why not?
Day to Day Banking
Capital One 360 is by far our favorite choice for internet banking. Formerly ING Direct, Capital One purchased it and has kept everything but the name and colors the same. Same great service, same great accounts. You can get Capital One 360 Checking offers a fair interest rate, a debit card, and ATM access like you would expect. Capital One 360 Savings has a higher interest rate that is competitive amongst the other online banks, plus our favorite feature: the ability to set up multiple sub-accounts for various saving goals.
For example, you can have your main checking and savings account and under the savings account set up sub-accounts for goals like “Emergency Fund”, “Next Vacation”, or whatever you need. You can then set up automatic transfers from your other accounts directly into those sub-accounts to make saving money as painless and effort-free as possible. Plus they have Certificates of Deposit as well. It's a one stop shop for your banking needs and you get awesome customer service to boot.
You can open your free Capital One 360 account here.
Discover — the credit card company — also has a banking side that offers savings accounts and certificates of deposit. I'd stick with Capital One 360 for the savings accounts due to the ability to set up sub-accounts, but for something like a CD that you plan to never touch throughout the year? Discover is a great choice because they offer above-average interest rates on their Discover Bank Certificates of Deposit.For other banking options go to Managing Investments or Managing Bills & Budgets.