As you learn more about personal finance, and getting your financial house in order, you are going to need a few things to help you get started. I’ve put together a list of products that I personally use, have used previously, or researched thoroughly to help you on your way.
If you can’t find a reliable credit union in your area (which is my favorite choice, because credit unions run as non-profits), Capital One 360 is probably your best choice. You can seamlessly transfer money electronically between accounts, they offer no-fee checking, and you aren’t going to have worry about finding one in your area. Seriously, there’s probably a Capital One closer than a well-thrown rock from where you are sitting right now.
I’m a huge Vanguard fanboy, as they consistently have the lowest fees around. In addition, the company is owed by the funds themselves, rather than by stockholders, which eliminates Vanguard’s profit motive. Fidelity is another good-choice. As far as for-profit fund families go, they have eliminated a ton of fees, and offer some products cheaper than Vanguard. My final recommendation is Betterment. Betterment is not a fund-family, but a robo-advisor, that offers low-cost funds, like Vanguard products. Two features set Betterment apart: Automatic Rebalancing and Tax-Loss harvesting. While they charge a fee for this service, the stream-lined portfolio that Betterment offers can more than pay for itself.
What I term micro-investing is the small, irregular contributions that you can make during a given month. For example, remember the Latte Factor? Well, whenever I consciously decide not to make a small purchase, I often put that money directly into an investment account. There are three good products for this purpose; Acorns, Stash, and Robinhood. Acorns and Stash are very similar, and targeted toward Millennial investors. Robinhood is a completely free trading app, that lets you make commission free trades. Acorns lets you “Round-up” your expenses; contributing $.50 if you make a $2.50 purchase. Stash lets you buy ETFs, which are themed, so that those who don’t have much investment experience can get their feet wet, and understand what they are investing in.
Geico is a solid, low-cost choice all around. I advocate shopping insurance around for your specific situation. The key with insurance, whether it be car or home insurance, is to choose a reasonable deductible. You don’t need a $250 deductible on your home insurance; you probably aren’t going to file a claim for such a petty amount. Remember too that insurance companies are in business to make money; they are smarter at this game than you are, and most are very successful. Only insure things that you CANNOT AFFORD to lose.
This list is only meant to get you started; and these products should help you on your way to becoming financially independent. If you have any other suggestions for products or categories, feel free to leave a comment!
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