This is a list of services I personally recommend to build wealth, save money, and increase your performance and efficiency.
I hate clutter, and don’t like using a lot of apps or having a lot of memberships or accounts. So, I only focus on what I consider the best and highest-impact products and services that are simple but powerful.
Personal Capital is by far the best tool I’ve found for managing your money, pushing your net worth higher, and planning for retirement.
And it’s completely free.
The tool provides a complete picture of your financial situation:
Most of us have multiple accounts, like one or more bank accounts, a 401(k) or TSP, a Roth IRA, a taxable brokerage account, etc.
And it’s a hassle to keep track of our overall positions across multiple portfolios. Your 401(k) might have domestic stocks, foreign stocks, bonds, emerging markets, etc. And then your IRA has a different set of investments with a lot of overlap. Are you sure you know how much percentage of your wealth you have in each?
This tool shows you your overall portfolio weighting across all accounts, like how much money you have in each type of investment you own.
It also includes:
- A graph of your net worth over time, to see where you stand.
- A detailed breakdown of where all your expenses go each month.
- A fee-scanner, to find hidden fees you might not be aware you’re paying.
- A retirement planner, that helps you figure out if you’re on track.
And it uses bank-level encryption for maximum safety. I use it myself.
You can access the free tool here.
Simple Investing with M1 Finance
M1 Finance is in my opinion the best platform to invest on for most people, and I personally have an account there.
It’s completely free, with no annual fee or commission fees. You can build your own custom portfolio, and re-balance it with the press of a button, or set it so that whenever you add new money it automatically re-balances to your targets.
Unlike most robo-advisors that only let you invest in a small number of ETFs, M1 Finance lets you invest in a broad range of ETFs and individual stocks.
They offer pre-built portfolios from experts that you can invest in, or you can make one for yourself. You can keep it simple with a small number of index funds, or you can add specific companies you want to own to your portfolio.
For more advanced users with accounts worth $10,000 or more, they also offer some of the lowest margin rates in the industry at 4%.
If you want to do more advantaged strategies like options trading or buying stocks directly on foreign exchanges, there are more complete brokerages that offer more opportunities in exchange for higher fees. These are the two I use and have been very happy with:
Fidelity Investments: An excellent one-stop-shop for index funds, as well as individual stocks and options. My Roth IRA is at Fidelity.
Charles Schwab: Another great brokerage, especially for individual stocks and options. I particularly love the free research you get, including Morningstar analysis. My other taxable investment account is with Schwab.
Not all brokers are the same. In addition to providing premium research (typically worth hundreds of dollars per year if purchased from the source directly), some of them have better order execution than others, and can get you better prices on your stocks or options, which usually more than makes up for their commissions.
There are some free brokers, but they make money by sending your orders to high-frequency traders who skim a bit off the top without much transparency.
Overall, Fidelity and Schwab are some of the best long-term brokerages for investors.
FA Trader is a premium forum for serious investors.
The community has 9 analysts including me, and hundreds of members. We discuss stock picks and economic trends, and members have a lot of access to ask the analysts questions.
One of the best parts about it is how diverse the expertise is. We have a technology analyst, two economists, a biotech expert, a commodities trader, and more all under one virtual roof. My focus there is on North American stocks and international ETFs.
Check it out here.
If you have a good local credit union that you qualify for, then check them out.
Because they are not-for-profit organizations that exist to serve their members (rather than shareholders), they usually have better customer service, lower fees, and better rates than most for-profit banks that send the profits to shareholders.
That being said, there are exceptions. Online banks in particular can be very appealing.
Discover: An excellent online bank, and a great credit card issuer. Because they have no physical presence, they operate very lean and save you money, but still offer top-tier customer service.
I have a detailed article on my favorite investing books, which you can check out here.
My #1 recommendation is The Most Important Thing by Howard Marks, a billionaire bond investor. The book is wise, concise, and broadly applicable to all asset classes.
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