As my financial infrastructure develops, I’ll share the tools/websites I use every day to manage my finances. I put these services here independent of any promotions I may receive on the site; everything listed here I something I actually use and love.
To track my net worth over time, I use Personal Capital. Personal Capital is free to use. Simply spend a few minutes linking all your bank accounts, your credit cards, and even your house and Personal Capital does the rest.
Mint is the gold standard when it comes to budgeting and tracking your financial health over time. I’ve been using it since 2010 to track my expenses and its remarkably simple to see where you’re overspending.
You’re also able to easily categorize your transactions, monitor your investment performance, and track your credit score all in one place. Mint is the “central command” for all my personal finances. And best of all, its completely free!
Real Estate Crowdfunding
I’ve only got a couple of real estate crowdfunding investments in my portfolio currently, but I’ve loved working with Crowdstreet. Their marketplace is the biggest one out there and you can find investment opportunities in almost any kind of commercial real estate you can imagine. I’ve found their investing process to be simple, straightforward, and trustworthy. The deals they bring to their platform are with experienced real estate investors who truly are domain experts.
Real Estate Equity
- CrowdStreet – CrowdStreet is my favorite online commercial real estate investing platform. They’ve got an incredible deal pipeline across every imaginable type of commercial real estate investment. I’ve found working with them to be delightfully straightforward and strongly recommend accredited investors looking to get into the space take a good hard look at what they have to offer.
- RealCrowd – Another one of the big players in the real estate crowdfunding space, RealCrowd does an excellent job pulling together commercial real estate investments from large, experiences sponsors. In fact, according to their website, “real estate companies currently listing on RealCrowd average about $645m in transactional history and 24 years of existence.”
- Alpha Investing
- Equity Multiple
Real Estate Debt
- AlphaFlow – Creates a diversified pool of 75-100 real estate loans. Low realized default rates and high 8-10% monthly dividends.
- PeerStreet – Gives investors access to individual short-term real estate loans for a variety of projects. The loans on the platform tend to be on single family residences for acquisitions or refinancings.
- Fundrise – eREIT pioneer offering capital appreciation or income prioritizing portfolios in different geographies for non-accredited investors
- RealtyMogul – Offers both REIT-style investments for non-accredited investors and one-off opportunities in individual properties for accredited investors
- RichUncles – Offers a NNN focused REIT and a student housing REIT. Note they do impose income and net worth minimums but they are less onerous than that of becoming an “accredited investor.”
Public Market Investing
I work in financial services so my public market investing is strictly monitored by my employer. As such, I only have a few brokers I am allowed to use. I use Fidelity to manage my discretionary equity investments. At $4.95 a trade, their rates are competitive and I’ve found their execution to be quite good. If you are an experienced investor, check out their Active Trader Pro platform.
The bulk of my public equity investments are with Wealthfront. Robo-advisers have transformed the investing industry and Wealthfront is, in my opinion, the best one out there. The provide clients with free transactions, tax loss harvesting, rebalancing, and dividend reinvestment, all for 0.25% per year, which is a fraction of what traditional financial advisers charge.
I am considering switching my stock investments over to Interactive Brokers. The offer compelling low rates on margin borrowing and on cash in your account. They also offer a suite of advanced asset classes like futures and bonds that are not available on other platforms. I will post updates as I make a decision on this.
Private Equity Investing
Investing in private businesses is a more ad-hoc endeavor. Each new opportunity you pursue can come from a multitude of places: introductions to VCs, meeting business owners, online marketplaces, etc. There are many online marketplaces where potential business buyers can browse for their next deal. Keep in mind, that like commercial real estate, business marketplaces should be used to find brokers, not necessarily deals. Often, the deals that make it to the marketplaces are the ones that sophisticated buyers have already passed on.
As wealth increases, the percentage of total net worth allocated to business interests goes up as well. So if you’re looking to learn from the wealthiest people on the planet, consider this chart from VisualCapitalist.com.
There are two main sources of private equity investments I look at: private business marketplaces and venture capital. The former offers opportunities to acquire and operate whole businesses while the latter is a more passive form of investing with a professional venture capitalist who raises a fund to invest in many early-stage companies. The first entails a large degree of control while the second provides more diversification but less control.
Private Business Marketplaces
These sites offer you (or your syndicate) full ownership of existing businesses. Think of it as mini-PE investing.
- Empire Flippers
- Exchange Marketplace
- Business Mart
Venture Capital Investing
For travel and food purchases: Chase Sapphire Reserve
.This card is expensive, with a $450 annual fee, but I find it pays for itself over and over again. Not only do you get 3 points per a dollar spent on travel and food, but when you use those points to book travel on Chase UltimateRewards, you get a free 50% bump in their value. New cardholders also receive 50,000 points after they spend $4,000 on the card within the first three months of opening their account.
Cardholders also receive a $300 annual travel voucher, which makes the net fee only $150. On top of that, Chase will cover the $100 fee for Global Entry (which I cannot recommend enough). Other features include no foreign transaction fees, airport lounge access through Priority Pass, perks at luxury hotels and resorts including upgrades, early check-in and late checkout, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, an auto rental collision damage waiver, lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement, among others.
For Amazon and Whole Foods purchases: Amazon Prime Rewards Card
f you’re like me and buy almost everything on Amazon, this card can’t be beat. Cardholders get 5% cash back on all purchases on Amazon and at Whole Foods, 2% cash back at restaurants, gas stations, and drug stores, and 1% back everywhere else.
Cardholders also get no foreign transaction fees, travel and emergency assistance, lost luggage reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, travel accident insurance, auto rental collision damage protection, purchase protection, extended warranty protection, and others.
For everything else: Citi DoubleCash
The DoubleCash is my workhorse for all non-food and travel related expenses. There’s no fee on the card, but you receive back 2% on every purchase you make. 1% is received when you make the purchase and the remaining 1% is received once you pay down the balance.
Personal Checking: MainStreet Bank Kasasa Cash Checking Account
Sometimes small regional banks can offer far better checking account terms than national banks. This is one such example. MainStreet Bank’s Kasasa Cash checking account offers a 3.00% APY on balances up to $15,000 with 0.25% on balances above that. Additional features include ATM fee reimbursements up to $12 per month, no minimum balance, no maintenance fee, free online and mobile banking, free bill pay, free e-statements, unlimited check writing, and a small $50 minimum opening balance. To get these features, account holders need to meet the following (relatively easy) requirements during each month:
- At least 12 debit card purchases (Venmo counts!)
- Enroll in e-statements
- Log in to online banking
Personal Savings: Synchrony Bank High Yield Savings
Synchrony offers a compelling 2.05% APY on balances in this account, which puts it among the highest in the industry. With this account you also get free online banking and up to six withdrawals per month online, by phone, or at ATMs.
Business Checking: Capital One Spark Business Basic Checking
Capital One offers this account for small business owners looking for flexibility. It offers unlimited transactions per month (other accounts typically impose a cap on this), and access to mobile and online banking. With a small average balance requirement of $2,000, this account is great for business owners just getting started or who like to run their businesses with low cash balances in their working capital accounts.
Business Savings: Axos Bank Business Premium Savings
With a $25,000 initial deposit requirement, the Axos Bank Business Premium Savings account provides a compelling 1.06% APY on all balances. While this may not be the highest rate available on a business savings account, Axos offers more flexible terms and easier access to your funds than other accounts. The account includes no average daily balance requirement, no maintenance fees, and free online banking.
As I develop spreadsheet tools for you to use in your analyses, I will put them here. Check back regularly or sign up for our mailing list for updates!
Financial Independence Template
Use this spreadsheet to calculate how long it will take you to achieve financial independence. For a detailed walk-through of this spreadsheet, please see this post.