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Our Favorite Services
This blog is not just about financial education, but it’s about putting your money strategy into action. We get asked all the time about our favorite products and services. Here we will highlight some of our favorites, all of which we either use ourselves or have reviewed extensively. We hope you enjoy these products and services as much as we do!
Investment Tracking – Personal Capital
While YNAB is our favorite app for budgeting, Personal Capital is the one we like for tracking our investment portfolios. It offers lots of great advice, including analysis of the fees that are eating into your returns, and its free tools can offer terrific insights into your portfolio. Want to learn more about Personal Capital? Check out our review!
Budgeting – You Need A Budget (YNAB)
YNAB (You Need a Budget) is the single best budgeting software we’ve ever used. It works differently than other budgeting software, allowing you to take a proactive approach to your money.
Real Estate Investing – Fundrise
Fundrise is a platform that allows you to invest in a low-cost, diversified portfolio of commercial real estate. If you’re looking to start real estate investing but don’t have the capital to buy property, this is a great option to get started! Be sure to check out our full Fundrise review!
The information contained herein neither constitutes an offer for nor a solicitation of interest in any securities offering; however, if an indication of interest is provided, it may be withdrawn or revoked, without obligation or commitment of any kind prior to being accepted following the qualification or effectiveness of the applicable offering document, and any offer, solicitation or sale of any securities will be made only by means of an offering circular, private placement memorandum, or prospectus. No money or other consideration is hereby being solicited, and will not be accepted without such potential investor having been provided the applicable offering document. Joining the Fundrise Platform neither constitutes an indication of interest in any offering nor involves any obligation or commitment of any kind. The publicly filed offering circulars of the issuers sponsored by Rise Companies Corp., not all of which may be currently qualified by the Securities and Exchange Commission, may be found at www.fundrise.com/oc.
Micro-Investing – Acorns
While micro-investing isn’t the right fit for everyone, it is an easy way to get started investing with just your spare change. If you are looking for a way to commit to investing with as little effort as possible, Acorns is the way to go.
After School Finance (“Affiliate”) is an affiliate of Acorns Advisers, LLC ’s website (“Acorns”). The Affiliate will receive compensation from Acorns if you enter into an advisory relationship or into a paying subscription for advisory services. You will not be charged any fee or incur any additional costs for being referred to Acorns by the Affiliate. The Affiliate may promote and/or may advertise Acorns’s investment adviser services and may offer independent analysis and reviews of Acorns’ services. Acorns and the Affiliate are not under common ownership or otherwise related entities. Additional information about Acorns is contained in its brochure.
Robo-Advisor – M1 Finance
M1 Finance is a hybrid between a brokerage and a robo-advisor, allowing you to buy individual stocks or have your money managed based on your risk tolerance and investment goals. What sets M1 Finance apart, though, is that the service is completely free to use. Check it out to see if it’s the right fit for your portfolio! See our honest M1 Finance review to learn more!
Credit Report – Credit Karma
Keeping tabs on your credit report plays a key role in understanding your financial picture. While we recommend Annual Credit Report to pull your full credit report once per year, we like Credit Karma for its monitoring and making sure there are no unexpected changes to your credit report.
If you’re looking for a way to lower your bills with little to no effort, Truebill is the way to go. They will help you lower your cable, cell phone, and home security bills, among others. We tried Truebill and saved $885 in a matter of weeks! It is an easy way to save money on services you’re already purchasing!
Best Bank Account – CIT Bank
Everyone needs a good place to keep their savings. And if you’re going to have a savings account, you might as well earn as much interest as you can on your money! That’s why I like CIT Bank! They offer high-interest rates so that inflation doesn’t erode the value of your savings over time. Check it out today!
Cash Back Credit Card – Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card
This card is a great all-purpose cash back card that earns 1.5% on every purchase. It is perfect for any generic spending that doesn’t earn extra rewards on other specialty cards (things like car maintenance, insurance bills, etc.).
Hotel Chain Credit Card – Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
If you are a Hilton loyalist, this card gets you automatic Diamond status and 14x points on all Hilton stays (plus a free weekend night reward and resort credit). The card is pricey, but if you are a road warrior, it may be easy to justify.
Our Reading List: Personal Finance
Along your financial journey, there are countless resources to help you make the most of your financial life. To that end, here we will share some of our favorite books that can help guide you along the way.
Drop whatever you are doing and go buy this book. While there are many books that share how to build wealth, this book shares the mindset of people who successfully build wealth. It is the single-most thought-provoking book about personal finance we have ever read and one we are sure will change your life.
This book is one of our favorites. We get it, the name sounds like a scam (the author came up with it in college). But, it is perhaps the most comprehensive resource we’ve discovered to date on all key tenets of personal finance. It will also help put your finances on autopilot to help you make the right decisions without even trying.
John Bogle, founder of Vanguard, is a legend in the investing world. As the creator of the modern day index fund, this book will explain just why index funds work work, and why active money managers often fail to outperform index funds.
If you want to understand more about financial theory, this is the book for you. Malkiel explains that stocks tend to perform in a random walk, in that their price performance is hard to predict. He makes a compelling case for why both fundamental analysis and technical analysis are flawed, and why investors who buy and hold low-cost, diversified index funds often win.
Looking for more great books? Check out our favorite financial freedom books!
Our Reading List: Real Estate
While there are many ways to wealth, real estate is one of our favorites here at After School Finance. Real estate offers many advantages not offered by traditional investment vehicles. If you’re interested in learning about real estate, check out some of these books to see if real estate right for you!
If you’re intrigued by real estate but not sure where to start, this is the best book to begin. For most people, rental property is the easiest place to start investing in real estate. Brandon Turner is a real estate guru that will walk through why invest in real estate, why getting started isn’t as hard as you might think, and key principles to ensure success. This isn’t a book of hype (though it might get you excited) – it is your roadmap to success.
While you may find it peculiar that the second book on this list is about investing long-distance, there is a reason why. David Greene’s book is the best book around for learning how to set up a team to help you make sound investing decisions. The principles of investing out-of-state apply even if you’re investing locally, as the key to success in real estate investing is in building systems that allow your investments to become passive.
For many people, the common refrain is that they cannot afford to invest in real estate. While this is a legitimate concern, it turns out there are actually countless ways to invest creatively even without lots of money. Yes, it is in fact possible to buy real estate with no money down. While it can be a bit more difficult, the techniques in this book allow anyone to invest in real estate.
If you want to learn more about real estate, check out this ASF list of the 7 Real Estate Books You Need to Read Before You Invest.