Free Tools For Your Money
I get asked everyday what tools I use for my own investing and keeping track of my finances. So, I thought it would be helpful to create a page that lists all of the free tools that I recommend for your personal finances, including the free tools I use.
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 email on our Contact Page. We'll be glad to help you out.
Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and will earn me a commission. These are all things that I have experience with and I am recommending because they are helpful and are companies that I trust, not because of any commission it may earn me.
My Personal Financial Setup
This is the current setup I use for my finances. You'll notice that almost everything is free. I do use one paid program - Quicken - but I'm migrating away from that towards a free tool.
Banking: I currently use USAA for my checking and savings accounts. I love USAA because they offer free checking, the provide free checks, offer ATM reimbursement, and you can take pictures of your checks to deposit them in the account. Plus, their level of service is top-notch. Check out USAA here.
Investing: I currently use Fidelity for my investing account. I previously used Scottrade, which I still recommend, but I found Fidelity to be a better fit for me right now. The reason? Fidelity was able to handle our family trust, as well as they have easier deposit and withdraw options for their accounts. Check out Fidelity here. Check out Scottrade here.
Organization: I currently use Personal Capital to keep track of all my finances. They have one of the best free online banking dashboards that I have seen. I am still using Quicken as well, but I don't update it regularly. I also love the Personal Capital app on my iPhone. Check out Personal Capital here. Check out Quicken here.
Credit Score: I currently use Credit Karma to keep track of my credit score. I think this is a great tool, especially since I've had two major credit issues - one with student loans and one with identity theft. Check out this great free tool here: Credit Karma.
Taxes: I have tried and compared all of the major tax programs, and I've found that TaxACT is my favorite. Not only is it the cheapest option of all the major tax software programs, it also does everything I need for my taxes, and has great support if needed. Check out TaxACT here.
Insurance: I currently use USAA for my insurance as well. I use them for my home owners, auto insurance, and even an umbrella policy. USAA has been great for my families needs and I continue to trust them with my insurance needs.
Beyond my personal setup, I've reviewed and used a lot of different products and services. I fully realize that not everyone is in my own financial situation, and there might be other tools and resources that could be a better fit for them.
For example, one area that I no longer need help with, but many do, is student loan debt. I side hustled and paid off my debt, but there are still millions of people struggling with it. That's why I continue to make sure that I stay up to date on the best tools and resources that may help.
Here are some other tools I recommend, and why they may be useful for each situation.
Banking And Savings Options
Before you do anything else financially, you have to have a checking and savings account. When it comes to your everyday banking needs, you don't need to get complicated. A lot of people search and search for the highest earning accounts, and I, frankly, don't have time for that.
I believe that you should find a great checking account, savings account, and maybe a Certificate of Deposit if that makes sense for you. I'm not saying never change, but banking isn't something that you should be switching all the time - it's a hassle and you'll never earn significantly more.
Here are some of my favorite banking options.
USAA: I use USAA and it's my favorite for a variety of reasons. First, they offer free checking and savings account. They also allow for everything to be done online for free, including online bill pay. They also offer free checks, and ATM reimbursement. Bottom line is that I've yet to find a better bank.
Discover Online Savings: Discover has a great online savings account that I highly recommend if you want to earn a little more on your savings, but still have online access to it. Plus, even though rates change quite often, I've consistently seen them offer above-average rates on their online savings account.
Investing And Retirement Tools
Investing and saving for retirement is a huge priority when it comes to building wealth. The earlier you start, the better. And there are a lot of options when it comes to places to invest. Here are some of my favorite picks and why.
Fidelity: I started using Fidelity in 2013 and loved the ease of access, the simplicity of their platform, and their low fees. I finally moved my total portfolio in 2014, and I'm glad I did. They manage their accounts well, and make it easy to deposit and withdraw (something that Scottrade does poorly).
Motif Investing: Motif has become my second favorite investing platform over the last year. What's great about Motif is that you can create your own "Motif", which is essentially a portfolio of up to 30 investments (stocks, ETFs). Then, you can buy into that Motif as a single commission. That's awesome.
Scottrade: Before Fidelity, I used Scottrade, and they were okay. What I loved the most about Scottrade were the low fees. They also had a great trading platform and great research tools. In fact, sometimes I still find myself using the Scottrade stock screener because it worked so well.
TD Ameritrade: If you want to trade options, there is really only one platform that I can recommend, and it's thinkorswim from TD Ameritrade. I started using thinkorswim when it was a stand-alone company, and it's only gotten better since being acquired by TD Ameritrade.
Options House: Another good options trading platform is Options House. They offer a lot of free promotions and you can basically trade free for a long period of time after signing up. They also offer a lot of account bonuses, so if you are exploring different options, give them a try.
Betterment: If you want some help investing, maybe you should consider Betterment. They are a "roboadvisor", which means that they have automated help that can aid you in setting up your portfolio and balancing it for you automatically. This is a good choice if you're willing to pay a little more for some professional help.
Beyond investing in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, you might also consider looking into peer to peer lending. I've been using peer to peer lending as a small portion of my investments for a long time, and I highly recommend considering it as an option. There are two main peer to peer lending companies:
Prosper: I've been using Propser as my peer to peer lending platform of choice since they first started. I've been with them at least 7 years, if not longer. What I like about Prosper is that it's easy for fund your account, and they have a nice automated system for finding loans and building your portfolio for you.
Lending Club: Lending Club is another very popular peer to peer lending platform, and probably the most well-known one. They offer a great variety of loans, as well as solid collections, and even the ability to buy and sell existing loans.
Young adults and millennials need insurance too. But many don't think about it. If you're young, chances are you defaulted into the same insurance company your parents had. Maybe you're still even on your parent's insurance?
Well, if you don't shop around for your own insurance, you may be paying too much. If you're young, you might not need a lot of insurance, but everyone needs something - auto insurance, renters insurance, life insurance, and more.
USAA: I use USAA for all my insurance needs, but I understand that not everyone can qualify for USAA since you must be in the military or a dependent. USAA does offer great insurance coverage and good prices, and I use them for all my needs.
Allstate: If you're looking for renters insurance, check out Allstate. They have great prices on renters insurance, and it could even lower your total insurance if you combo it with car insurance. Read my guide to renters insurance to learn more.
Compare Now: Auto insurance can be difficult to shop for. That's what makes Compare Now so awesome - it compares all your options for you so that you can know you're getting the best price on car insurance.
Top Tools For Students
Students are always looking for tools to make their lives easier. From buying textbooks (which are crazy expensive), to finding study guides, here are some top tools for students.
- MBA No Gmat.com: #1 Guide on the Web for No GMAT MBA Programs.
- Chegg Textbook Rentals: Chegg is a great way to rent textbooks.
- CourseSmart: This is a great place to buy and sell textbooks for a great price.
- College Book Renter: This is an alternative to Chegg. Between both sites, you should be able to find the book you need.
Books I've Read, Reviewed, and Loved
When you find a great book, you want to share it. Great books for personal finance can be hard to come by because the topics can be boring, and it's not always easy to read.
Here are some of my personal favorites:
- Millionaire Teacher by Andrew Hallam (Read my interview with Andrew Hallam here: 9 Questions for the Millionaire Teacher)
- Why Do We Buy Low and Sell High by Amir Avitzur (Read my interview with Amir Avitzur here: An Interview with Amir Avitzur)
- A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel (Read the review here: A Random Walk Down Wall Street)