The path to financial independence is a whole lot easier when you have financial tools and services that help you along the way. In the internet age we live in there are a myriad of different tools and financial services right at our fingertips and choosing which ones to use can be tricky and overwhelming. Today I want to share some of my favorite tools I personally use. Let’s get started!
Vanguard might be the most well-known and widely used investment management company within the Financial Independence community, and for good reason. Vanguard is notorious for their low fees. In a world where most mutual funds charge a 1 – 2 % expense ratio fee, Vanguard charges well under 1% on most of their funds. For example, you can buy shares of VTSAX, which have an expense ratio of .05%. WHAT! That’s incredible. That means if you invest $10,000 in VTSAX you will only pay Vanguard $5 to manage that money. Also, Vanguard doesn’t charge any transaction fees when you buy or sell Vanguard mutual funds. For all of these reasons I love Vanguard and I’m happy to let my money sit with them.
I used to have a savings account with a local bank near my house. This savings account paid me .01% in interest for the money I had in the account. Ally Bank, on the other hand, has an online savings account that pays 1% interest. That is 100 times more than my old savings account. Needless to say, I went ahead and opened an account with Ally. To be honest, 1% interest isn’t going to make you rich, but you would be hard pressed to find a savings account that pays you more than this and also has a reliable reputation like Ally.
To put this in perspective, I typically hold around $2,000 in my savings account at any given time. This means Ally will pay me about $20 over the course of the year ($2,000 * 1% = $20).
That’s about 3 Chipotle burritos.
For pretty much doing nothing I will gladly accept 3 burritos. The process of setting up an online savings account with Ally is extremely quick and easy too, so there’s really no excuse not to have a savings account that pays at least 1% in interest!
Fidelity 2% Cash Back Card
When it comes to credit cards, there are tons of cards out there that offer cash back rewards on different purchases. I personally use Fidelity’s 2% Cash Back card because it gives you 2% cash back on all purchases. That includes gas, groceries, and burritos. It includes everything. Applying for this card is also super quick and easy.
The last financial tool I want to talk about is an online brokerage account called Loyal3. This brokerage account is extremely unique. It offers free stock purchases, which is pretty astounding considering almost all online brokers charge $7 to $10 every time you buy or sell a stock. Also, Loyal3 allows you to set up monthly purchasing plans so you can purchase a certain dollar amount of stock automatically on the same day each month. In addition to these cool perks, Loyal3 allows you to buy fractional shares. This means if Hershey stock costs $100 per share and you have a monthly purchase plan set up to buy $20 of Hershey stock, you will effectively be purchasing .2 shares each month. This is the only online brokerage I am aware of that allows you to purchase fractional shares.
The only downside to Loyal3 is that there are only around 70 stocks to choose from. This is because Loyal3 has to partner with the company in order to sell their stock. Since this is the case, most of the stocks available for purchasing are well-known brands such as Hershey, Walmart, Target, Starbucks, Tesla, etc. I personally use Loyal3 as my dividend portfolio. I invest in 15 different stocks every month using their monthly purchase plans and I receive around a 4% annual dividend from these stocks, which I just reinvest.
These are some of my favorite financial tools and services that I personally find useful. All of them help me save and earn money in different ways and push me a little closer to financial independence. What are your thoughts on these services and tools? What are some of your favorite financial tools?