I am continually reading other financial-related blogs and there are so many good ones out there. I will keep updating and adding to this list, but wanted to start with a few that I keep returning to:
- Mr Money Mustache I love this site and although I don’t subscribe to some of the extremes that MMM does to be financially independent, I find almost every post to be thought provoking and they keep me continually improving my financial habits.
- The New York Times’s Your Money Under this site, there are a handful of contributors and the site’s topics range from retirement strategies to building wealth to presenting new ways of thinking about money. I particularly like the entries by Carl Richards who goes by “The Sketch Guy.”
- Get Rich Slowly This site used to be one of my favorites. The posts are now fewer and far between; however, there still is a lot of great content, and if you haven’t already checked it out, it’s worth a look.
- Chris Reining Chris does a great job of writing in a clear and convincing way and shares some useful personal stories. A good start to Chris is reading his article on how to reach financial independence in one simple sentence
- Frugal Woods . I am continually amused by this site and find a lot of the content to be useful. As with MrMoneyMustache, I find a lot of the concepts to be more extreme than I’d like, but still informative and entertaining.
The Millionaire Next Door - If you haven’t read this book yet, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It hits home on the importance of living below your means, structuring your time in the best way to accumulate wealth, putting financial independence above displaying wealth, raising financially independent children, and realizing that having a low-spending “defense” is as important as a high-earning “offense.”
The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins - I picked up this book because I am a big fan of Mr. Money Mustache and he wrote the forward. This book succinctly walks you through important money lessons on building wealth and how to do it. JL’s blog is also worth reading.
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki - While not giving the concrete details for how to achieve financial independence, this book provides motivation and valuable concepts for being financially literate and independent.
What’s in my wallet? Well, although that’s the Capital One catch phrase, it’s not one of their cards. As I explain in my credit card article, the cards in my wallet are listed below. By using these cards wisely, I manage to earn just over 3% cash back (or cash back equivalent) on average.
- Citi Double Cash – This is my default credit card, meaning if what I’m buying doesn’t specifically fall into a category for one of the cards below, this is the card I use. It puts my cash-back floor at 2%.
- Chase Freedom – Although not as rewarding as this card originally was, it’s still a useful card for getting 5% cash back in rotating categories each month. I use this card only for making purchases in the qualifying 5% category that quarter. You have to click a link each quarter to earn that cash back, and also be sure not to spend more than $1,500 each quarter in the extra cash back categories, or else you’ll drop to 1% cashback, half of what you’d be getting with the Citi Double Cash.
- Citi Dividend – Much like the Chase Freedom card, this card was originally a lot better deal, but still great for getting 5% cash back in rotating categories each month. I find the categories aren’t as good as those on Chase Freedom, but at times it has a category like airlines or grocery stores, where I may easily spend a couple thousand dollars in a quarter. You have to click a link each quarter to earn that cash back, and there is an annual cap of $300 ($6,000 of annual spending at 5%) for how much cash back you can earn at 5% in a year. If you reach that cap, put the card away until January of the following year.
- Sam’s Club Mastercard issued by Synchrony – This card gives you 5% cashback on gas (at all gas stations, not just Sam’s, with the exception of other clubs like Costco), 3% on restaurants, 3% on travel (airlines, hotels, rental cars) and 1% on everything else. This is the only card I use for gas, and very frequently is my go-to card for restaurants and travel, unless they fall into a 5% category on another card. Costco has a very similar card, where you get the exact same benefit, except 4% back on gas instead of 5%. You also get 2% back at Costco on this card. I recommend you get the card for the club at which you belong, and they’ll often give you a one time $30 to $60 instant refund at the register the day you sign up for the card in the club.
- Certain Airline and Hotel-specific cards – The following cards are solely used for the airline or hotel with which they’re associated (with the exception of my spending more during the first month or two to hit the minimum spend to get the opening mileage bonuses). Beyond often offering a cash-back equivalent via miles or points that is worth well more than 2% cash back, they also provide added benefits like free checked bags, huge initial miles/points bonuses, or increased status at the airline or hotel (which in turn means more points or miles or other valuable perks). As you’ll see, I pretty much only fly three airlines and try to stay at Hilton-branded hotels (usually Hampton Inn) so I realize I may not be capturing the airlines and hotels that are relevant to you.
- JetBlue Plus Barclays Card. Although this card has a $99 annual fee, the 30,000 miles after you spend $1,000 as well as the free checked bag for you and family members flying with you make it well worth it over the standard JetBlue card. Even if you only pay for it for one year, those 30,000 miles are worth well more than $99.
- Southwest Chase Business and Personal Cards. These cards carry annual fees between $69 and $99 and give mileage bonuses between 40,000 and 60,000 miles each depending on the time of year and what promotion is going on. You’ll likely have to spend $1,000 or $2,000 on the cards to get the promotional miles, but those miles are worth well more than the annual fee and opportunity cost of missing out on cashback from those purchases. Plus, one of the best perks in the airline industry is the Southwest Companion Pass. Once you hit 110,000 miles in a year, you basically get buy-one-get-one on Southwest for you and your favorite person for the remainder of that calendar year and the following year.
- American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum Select Citi Card. There is typically a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived for the first year (perhaps keep the card for just shy of a year). With $1,000 of spending you’ll get 30,000 miles plus a free checked bag on American for you and your family flying with you when you use the card to buy your flight.
- Hilton HHonors Amex - This card does not carry an annual fee, and although there are other Hilton cards that give more upfront miles, this is a nice one to use just for booking with Hilton-affiliated hotels. You automatically get a Silver Status with a 50% point bonus at the hotel, plus an additional 500 points per online reservation, and another 7 points per dollar for using the card. I average over 25 points per dollar spent for my typical stay, which is the equivalent of over 10% cash back when you consider a $150 room can be booked with 30,000 points.
Products / Services
- For Do-It-Yourself Investors, the three best brokerage sites for ETFs, mutual funds, and equity trading are Vanguard , Fidelity, and Schwab .
- For banking, my favorite interface and app are at CapitalOne360 (which I’ve been using since it was ING) – plus you can use the brick-and-mortar Capital One banks when you have a cash deposit. I’ve recently found that its rates aren’t as competitive as Ally Bank and Synchrony Bank plus Ally has a great ATM card that reimburses your ATM fee at literally any ATM machine in the U.S.
- Personal Capital. This is a great tool for tracking, visualizing, managing, and evaluating your investments, plus it’s free. I find the user interface to be easier than its popular competitor Mint.
- Betterment. I still keep much of my investments directly with Vanguard, but have started using this tool especially for my taxable investment account. The fee of 2.5 basis points is very reasonable for what they do. Betterment manages rebalancing and has a feature where it will automatically rebalance do tax harvesting where it sells certain funds that have a tax-deduction creating loss and then put my money in something similar so I don’t miss out when that bundle of stocks rebounds. These two features easily make me more money than the 2.5 basis points that it costs.
- If you like the layout of this site and have been thinking about creating your own blog or website, I highly recommend Kevin Clack at ClackConsulting.com.