Money | Work-at-Home
There are thousands of money products out there and I frequently get asked which one I use and which are really the best. So, this is a page of all my favorite financial resources out there! These are products I use myself or that I know have been incredibly helpful for others. We’ll start with the best tools everyone needs, and move on to investing platforms, tools to save money, and products/services we use in our home. I hope this helps!
If you want to check out some of my top recommendations on working-at-home (part-time or full-time), click the link at the top of this page! I’m always testing new products and constantly reading, so I’ll try to keep all these lists as up-to-date as possible.
Last updated February 8, 2018.
Financial Tracking: Keeping Your Financial Life in Order
Personal Capital (FREE!)
Personal Capital is a financial and net worth tracking tool. It is completely free to use and I started using it in late 2015 to keep track of Daddy Fish and my net worth. It focuses on investment tracking and investment advice, but I love that it puts all our financial accounts in one place. With checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, retirement funds, a mortgage, and college savings accounts it is hard to stay on top of what our real net worth it. Personal Capital makes it incredibly easy for us to check in on our progress every month.
As a heads up, if you link more than $100k of investable accounts, the company will reach out to ask if you want to hire them as a fee-based financial planner. This is completely optional, and you can continue using the Personal Capital tracking tools without talking to them. I declined the free call. But, if you want to go through the first free session it can be an interesting introduction to what financial planners actually do.
You Need A Budget (Free for 34 days, then $6.99/mo)
You Need a Budget is my absolute, flag-waving, raving fan, favorite budgeting app. I’ve been using it since college to track my budget. Their philosophy of giving every dollar a job makes it easy to break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. It has been this tool that has made all the crazy, unexpected expenses that have hit us over the years way less stressful. I recommend to new budgeters and budget pros.
While the service does cost $6.99 per month, YNAB estimates that the average user saves $600 by month two! They offer a 100% money-back guarantee. So if you try it out and don’t feel like it works for you, you can get your money back anytime.
Related article: Choosing a Budget Tracker
Credit Sesame (FREE!)
With so much of our financial data online, keeping an eye on your credit score has become even more important. I use Credit Sesame for monthly updates on my credit score and tips on how to improve my overall credit health. It is free to use and an excellent resource to learn more about credit scores.
Related article: Handling the Equifax Hack
Vanguard (Low-fee investment provider)
I use Vanguard for all of our investing. It is the one-stop shop for low-cost index fund investing, is easy to use, and has great customer support. We have taxable accounts, IRAs, and both boys 529s with Vanguard.
In recent years, Fidelity and Charles Schwab have made a push to challenge Vanguard’s position as the lowest fee investment provider. If you don’t have the account minimums needed to buy Vanguard funds (some funds require $1,000, $3,000, or $10,000 initial purchases), Charles Schwab can be a good option as they offer low-fee funds with no minimums. However, I continue to prefer Vanguard over these other providers. At both Fidelity and Schwab, you have to watch out for higher cost, actively managed funds which are offered in addition to index funds. Plus, despite these challengers efforts, Vanguard is still the 800-pound gorilla in the room. They manage far more index fund assets and have been able to use that scale to continually lower fees.
Related article: The Three-Fund Investment Portfolio: The Beauty of Simplicity
Qapital is my favorite automatic money-saving app for people who know they need to save money but can’t seem to do it. It is based on setting specific goals and rules for saving for that goal (like rounding up every credit card transaction to the nearest dollar and saving that money or putting away $10 every time you order take-out). Personally, I use it for things I know we enjoy doing, but are too cautious to put money towards. Like a monthly date night or a family weekend getaway.
It is completely free to use and offers 0.1% interest on all savings accounts. 0.1% is low for a savings account (I get 1.4% at Discover Bank, where I keep our emergency fund), but as you aren’t paying anything for the service it is better than nothing!
Qapital also recently launched Qapital Invest, a way to invest your longer-term goal accounts. I have yet to test this feature since I do all our investing with Vanguard, but it could be an excellent way for new investors to dip their toe in the water.
I use Ibotta every time we go to the grocery store. To be honest, I stink at remembering to look for coupons and when I do find them, I am always forgetting to actually bring them to the store. Oops. Ibotta is an easy way for us to get cash back on groceries each week, without having to find time to cruise the internet and local paper for coupons.
Related article: An Honest Review From An Ibotta Convert
As a busy mom, shopping online is a way of life. I don’t even buy the boys shoes in a traditional store anymore since Stride Rite moved to an all online sales model! Ebates’ browser plug-in makes it easy to get cash back from the purchases I am already making. Every quarter I get a deposit directly to my PayPal account, without having to do a thing.
I also love the coupon code finder in the Ebates plugin, which saves me the time of searching for promo codes.
Related article: Finding the Best Cash-Back Service: Ebates vs. BeFrugal
Buying meat in bulk is one of the key ways we save money on groceries. Personally, we buy most of our meat in bulk directly from a local farmer. But for some things, like chicken breast, we use Zaycon Fresh to get the best prices. We can get fresh, local chicken breast for $1.89/lb, less than half the price of the organic chicken breast at our grocery store! You’ll have to wait for a pick-up time in your area (that’s what it takes to buy directly from the farm – You can’t get things instantly!), but you will save money, support a local business, and reduce your carbon footprint by minimizing the travel distance of your dinner!
Related article: Complete Guide to Stop Wasting Money On Groceries
$5 Meal Plans (2 weeks free, then $5/mo)
Meal planning is a pain. If you want someone to make your weekly meal plans, while taking into account your dietary needs, $5 Meal Plans is the best deal on the web. Get a meal plan full of low-cost, easy to make recipes sent to your inbox every week! Your meal plan will also include a breakfast, lunch, and snack or dessert. The best part for busy parents? The meal plan includes a detailed shopping list! No flipping through recipes and trying to write down everything you might need.
Kids & Money
FamZoo (One month free, then $5.99/mo)
We all want to raise financially smart kids who will grow up to move out of our houses, not permanently camp out in the basement. And in a world where money is increasingly invisible, hidden behind credit and debit cards and online banks, teaching smart money skills has gotten harder. FamZoo is my favorite service for teaching kids of all ages how to handle money in a digital world. By using prepaid debit cards, FamZoo allows parents to create a “Bank of Mom & Dad”, where their kids have their own money but still have oversight from parents.
FamZoo offers a ton of cool features like the ability to create virtual save/spend/give jars, pay interest to motivate savings or charge fees for bad behaviors like skipped chores. Check out my full review below for all the reasons your kids need FamZoo. For only $5.99/mo for up to four cards, I think the cost is well worth the lessons your kids will learn.
Related article: Why Your Children Need FamZoo (Not a Debit Card)
I hope this was useful! Let me know if you try out any of these products! I love hearing how they work for other people.
Money | Work-at-Home
Some of these companies offer commissions for referrals and others don’t. This didn’t impact my choices as I always focus on products I actually use and know well! The services that do offer commissions don’t cost you any extra – and in some cases save you money! – and signing up through these links is a great free way to support the blog. I really appreciate it! You can visit this link for more information on affiliate links on Mama Fish Saves.