When I first created this blog, I decided it would be about my journey to reaching a million dollar net worth.
Instead of just writing personal finance advice, I figured it would be more interesting and useful for you – the reader, to share my actual numbers and document everything I’m doing to raise my net worth.
It hasn’t been easy to go public with my money situation, especially around people I know in real life. But my hope is that someone can take these random words I type out each week and maybe turn it into something useful.
I’ve shared with you my net worth updates, the numbers for my eBay business and even what credit cards I’ve been using. If I ever start earning an income from this blog, I’ll be sure to update you on that as well! I just keep spending time and money on it with no monetary return for now.
So, in an effort to show you everything I’m doing financially (minus actually giving you the login to my accounts) I thought I might as well lay out all the financial tools and apps I use.
You’ll notice that I’m a man of simplicity. I do enjoy trying out new things if it will make my life easier, but I’m not one to use 15 different apps if I can use just one that provides what I need.
To track all of the following accounts in one place, I use Personal Capital. It definitely helps me keep things simple!
Let’s take a look at my wallet
Since I’m constantly working to earn travel rewards, I only use my bank account as a place to deposit my paychecks so I can pay off credit cards. I keep a little extra cash in the account so there’s never a chance of overdraft. Any other cash has a mission and I can’t keep money in an account that isn’t earning any interest.
When my wife and I got married, we decided to join our finances and I picked what I thought was the best place to do banking at the time. I chose a local credit union because that’s what I was taught to do from the resources I was learning from at the time.
I still think credit unions are a great place to do your banking. They usually don’t charge the kind of crazy fees you’ll be hit with if you go with some of the big-name banks. I like banking somewhere that has physical branches because that enables me to deposit cash if I need to.
Several years ago before I knew anything about investing, I created an online savings account with Ally bank. I was doing the best I could with the knowledge I had and Ally had one of the highest interest rates of any bank in the country at 2%.
I’ve since turned my Ally bank account into my “business account”. I only use it to pay off the credit card I use for my eBay business. I just recently created a new checking account with Ally that is going to serve as my checking account for this blog. Hopefully, I start earning something to put in it 🙂
Credit cards are probably my most complex category, but even with that being said, I still strive for simplicity.
About a year ago, I started learning about travel hacking and began to open up credit cards to get the signup bonuses. It’s a great way to save a lot of money on travel and can even be a way to make an extra thousand or two every year if you don’t use the points for travel.
For now, I’m sticking with Chase cards because the points are some of the most flexible and the cards offer some of the best rewards.
The first card I got was the Chase Ink Business Preferred. I used my name and social security number to sign up as a business. I didn’t get accepted at first, but I heard about a reconsideration line with Chase and called the number and they were able to approve me. I earned a whopping 80,000 reward points with this card!
The next card I got was the Chase Sapphire Preferred. They’ve increased the bonus on this card since I signed up from 50,000 points to 60,000!
After that, I got the Chase Ink Business Cash. It’s like the other Chase cards with a solid 50,000 point signup bonus.
The current card I’m using is the Chase Ink Business Unlimited. It’s another 50,000 reward point card.
I’m not sure what card I’ll go with next. I’ll have to see if we can get any more Chase cards because there's a 5/24 rule.
The 5/24 rule means you can only have opened 5 credit cards in the past 24 months to qualify for a Chase card. I think they view business cards separately from personal, so one person could get 10 cards within 24 months if they do personal and business cards.
I’ve also got a Chase freedom unlimited card for my eBay business and a Discover card for the blog. I just picked basic cards that don’t have annual fees when choosing these cards.
I need to start transferring my points over to one card and close any accounts I’m not going to use anymore.
I’ve tried several budgeting apps and have settled on using Every Dollar. Every Dollar is an easy to use app that allows me to manually enter all of my financial transactions in one place. I like using Every Dollar because I’ve got several streams of income and several places I send my savings.
If I had to use another app, I would go with Mint. Mint is cool in that it’s free to use and you can connect bank accounts to the app to monitor. I don’t like Mint because I can’t teach it that I have several different income streams and goals for my money, so it’s hard to keep my personal and business money separate.
I’ve also tried YNAB but had similar issues using it as I did with Mint. YNAB also isn’t free, so I only used it for the free trial period and decided it wasn’t worth it to me to pay for it.
There’s a paid version of Every Dollar that I’ve used and liked. With the paid version, you’re able to link your bank accounts (and credit cards) to the app and it will automatically pull transactions for you. I liked this feature enough to pay for it, but when I went to renew my account, my credit union was no longer supported for some reason.
It might sound like a chore to manually enter all of your transactions, but I’ve come up with a system to make budgeting easy and quick.
I love investing in stocks because the simplest approach is also one of the best strategies. You can make investing as complicated as you want, but thankfully people like JL Collins have done the research and found that your best bet for successful investing is low-cost index funds.
With simplicity in mind, I’ve opted to put all of our investment money into the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSAX). This index fund is the only one we really need at this point in our lives because we are so far away from when we will need to start withdrawing the money.
It’s a bit aggressive to be invested 100% in stocks, so I might look to transfer a portion of our portfolio into a bond index fund when we get older.
Currently, I’ve got a 401k with my day job and that’s our main investment account for now. We also have a traditional IRA for my wife that we transferred from her former employer and a Roth IRA I started back before I had a 401k.
On the side of our traditional retirement accounts, I have our emergency fund in a Betterment 60% bond 40% stock investment account. I created an account with Betterment a while ago to put my Roth IRA in, but I decided that Vanguard was where I wanted it instead.
During that process, Betterment suggested the 60/40 account as a good place for an emergency fund and that’s where I’ve kept ours ever since. Honestly, the most optimal move would probably be to roll the Betterment account into my Vanguard Roth IRA, because you can withdraw any contributions you make to a Roth IRA so the money would still be accessible.
Some people cringe at the thought of having an emergency fund invested in stocks, but I’m a bit more of an optimist and the money would be just as accessible as if it were in a bank account anyways.
And that pretty much sums up all of my financial apps and tools! What’s in your wallet? Comment with any cool apps or credit cards that you use!