The following recommendations are of products and services that I currently use or have used in the past that I have found to be helpful. Though some (not all) links are affiliate links, I only recommend products and services I have used myself and based on my own personal experience.
Personal Capital links to all of my accounts, allowing me to get a clear picture of my finances at all times. From tracking net worth and expenses to evaluating your portfolio with their free online tools, Personal Capital is perfect for those of us who want to make sure we’re on the right financial path. Best of all, it’s FREE to sign up!
You Need A Budget (YNAB)
I’m convinced that You Need A Budget (YNAB) is a tool that, given enough time and attention, could help many, many people get a handle on their finances. YNAB helps you work toward spending last month’s money (rather than relying on the next paycheck!), allows for flexibility, and breaks down larger expenses into smaller, monthly expenses. If you want to break the paycheck to paycheck cycle and are willing to commit the time to do it, YNAB is a great system. Centsibly Rich has partnered with YNAB to offer readers 3 months of YNAB for FREE. Try it out to see how it works for you!
Credit Karma is a free online tool that allows you to check your credit score and offers credit monitoring for free. They also make recommendations to help you save money and raise your credit score. Credit Karma provides useful services and tools, no matter your financial situation.
Digit provides a great way to automatically save without even lifting a finger. Just when I thought we couldn’t save any more, Digit went and proved me wrong. Digit links to your checking account and uses algorithms to predict your spending, bills, and income (based on past transactions). Digit then withdraws small amounts from your checking account into a savings account. In my experience, this really adds up over time, is a painless way to save and has not affected my monthly cash flow. Check out my review here.
Acorns is another great way to save and invest without making any concerted effort or noticeable difference in your day to day finances. Again, just link to your checking account and Acorns rounds each transaction up to the next whole dollar amount, depositing that amount into an investment account. Acorns takes about five minutes to set up and you get to choose your level of risk.
We’ve had a Vanguard account for the last 8 years or so and have been incredibly happy with the service, low fees, funds and user friendly applications Vanguard offers.
We were initially introduced to Vanguard 15 years ago as the fund for our kids’ 529 accounts – we took notice of the decent growth (great funds + low fees = better returns), decided to open our IRAs with them, and have never looked back.
WiseBanyan is a financial “robo-advisor”* offering investment accounts for free (includes investing, trading and re-balancing). WiseBanyan makes it’s money through a la carte services and products, such as tax loss harvesting, but you don’t have to utilize any paid services to invest with them (my account is completely free).
So far, we’ve been very happy with the user friendly application and the ease of opening and contributing to our account. A really cool feature WiseBanyan offers is called Milestones, where you plug in your financial goal and WiseBanyan tells you how much you need to invest each month to reach your goal (you can set up several different Milestones).
*I realize there are other financial advisors out there offering similar services to those offered through WiseBanyan and come highly recommended, but I don’t have any personal experience with them.
Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin
I highly recommend this book to everyone. It completely changed the way I think about and use money in my life. Honestly, it’s a must read for anyone wanting to get a handle on their money (and their life)! Though it was originally published in the 1990s, a revised version from 2008 is available.
The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn
This was the book I read cover to cover (900+ pages) when we first started living on one-income. The book offers complete uber frugal advice in almost every area imaginable. It’s so full of ways to cut spending, it’s unbelievable. Take the tips and tactics that work for you and apply them – every little bit adds up!
The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko
A well-written book based on research of real-life millionaires. The book shoots down the assumption that the typical millionaire lives in a mansion and owns 20 expensive sports cars. The authors found quite the opposite – most millionaires live below their means, live in unassuming middle class homes and drive affordable cars. Which means maybe you, too, could become the millionaire next door!
The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach
Known for the term “the latte factor”, author David Bach offers a financial plan for those of us who want a fix it and forget it approach to building wealth. The focus is on using automatic paycheck deductions deposited into pre-tax retirement accounts, such as 401ks or IRAs, and living on what’s left.
I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
This book is a six-week program (aimed at a younger audience of 20-35 year olds), covering everything you need to know to get your finances in order and set you on the path to building wealth – complete with actionable steps and scripts for negotiating bills.
The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason
An evergreen book on money and wealth, this book offers advice in story form on the value of minding the gap between income and spending in order to build wealth.
Though we have always been careful with energy usage, when we switched all of our lightbulbs from CFLs over to LEDs, our electric bill was noticeable lower each month (average savings of approximately $10-$15/month!).
I detailed how we save money on refilling foaming soap dispensers in this post and (conservatively) estimate this saves us about $50/year. Every little bit helps and doing this takes less time than going to the store. Win-win!
We use the Thermos 24 oz. Hydration water bottles and keep them filled and in the fridge so they’re handy to grab when heading out the door. Using refillable water bottles helps the environment and your pocketbook! (We’ve used these for about 3 years, with no breakage.)
It’s never been an aspiration of mine to be a door-to-door salesperson, but if I had to choose one product to peddle, this vacuum would be the one! It is the bomb – seriously I tell everyone I know how much I love, love, love this vacuum! It really sucks 😉 !
Seriously though, it never loses suction, has great on board attachments and a hard floor “Dust Away” attachment that I LOVE! We have all hard floors in our house and this attachment has been a dream – it has a microfiber pad that dusts while vacuuming. No more sweeping and less scrubbing. The only negative I can think of is that the canister is a little heavy (the entire vacuum weighs around 14 lbs.), but it’s never been a problem for us.
If you process your own fruits and veggies, this strainer is perfect for canning/freezing and/or making jam. It is so much easier than the standard food mill – just put your food through the hopper, crank away and the strainer separates the pulp, skins and seeds (into a separate bowl), leaving you with just the puree. This has saved me a ton of time over traditional methods.
Confession: I used to be addicted to baking (I even won baking contests at the Iowa State Fair!), but had to break that addiction to improve my weight and my health (because I did love to test and sample my baked goods – frequently), so I sold my KitchenAide mixer to buy this little beauty.
I’m a borderline minimalist, so I wanted a multi-use appliance that would mix, process and blend so I wouldn’t have to store several appliances in my cabinets. I’ve had this food processor for about 7 years now and it’s still going strong. I use it to make cookie and bread dough, smoothies, and to chop/shred veggies – it works like a charm.
I use this little tool to make “noodles” out of the oodles of zucchini growing in the garden. It’s fast and easy – just stick the zucchini in, turn and wa-lah – healthy veggie noodles! I pop the “noodles” in the microwave with some butter for 20-30 seconds for super fast, tasty, healthy meal or snack.
I’m not a fan of shopping. At. All. Amazon Prime has saved me money and my sanity countless times over the years with free two day shipping. We often find products we need at a lower price with Amazon, plus we don’t have to waste gas or even put our pants on to get what we need. 🙂 An added bonus is free Prime Video and Prime Music streaming. Try the Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial by clicking here.
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