Trying to figure out the best investment strategies for your money can seem a bit daunting, but it doesn't have to be. You just need a little know-how and access to some good investment tools and resources.
Here are some of the tools we use to invest and grow our nest egg. You certainly don't have to use all of these -- just pick out the ones you feel comfortable with and experiment...
Vanguard: If you wanted one brokerage to house all your investments, I would highly recommend Vanguard. We keep about 2/3 of our portfolio in Vanguard. They are the leader in low-cost funds like index funds and ETFs. Their low fees and high performance are ideal for long-term investors.
I especially like their Target Retirement Date funds, VTSAX (Vanguard Total US Stock Fund) and VBTLX (Vanguard Total US Bond Fund). And the best part is their expense ratios are about 10x lower than managed funds.
Schwab: We hold about 25% of our funds in Schwab. Their customer support is great - we get invited to in-person events at our local broker's office each quarter. We also always use Schwab for getting money at ATMs overseas, since they don't charge any fees.
TD Ameritrade: This is a great option for beginning investors, because they have $0 minimum deposits and lots of free available research & information.
Investing & Budgeting Tools
Personal Capital: I used to be of the old school, updating all our investment accounts in a spreadsheet each week. While I still like doing some analysis in a spreadsheet, I have found it to be much more efficient to synch my accounts into a tool like Personal Capital.
I definitely recommend Personal Capital for tracking your investments, your net worth, your cash flow, and your retirement goals. They provide a personalized assessment of your financial situation. This includes a dashboard for all your accounts, a retirement analyzer, assessment of risks & opportunities, and recommended strategies.
[NOTE: If you are at all concerned about the safety and security of linking your outside accounts to Personal Capital, like I was, they do a great job explaining how they keep all your information secure.]
And best of all, it’s 100% FREE! < Enroll HERE >
Mint: They provide tracking and tools to manage your personal finances, pay your bills, and stay on budget. These include custom suggestions & tips for saving money, goal setting, alerts, and an app.
Acorns: This is a great tool for beginning investors. They connect to your credit cards, and when you make a purchase, they'll round up to the next dollar and invest the difference for you. It's an easy way to passively get started investing your money.
YNAB: You Need a Budget is an all-in-one tool for synching your bank accounts, setting goals, and helping you stick to a budget. They offer a free trial so you can test it out for a month.
Coinbase: If you're interested in investing in the red hot cryptocurrency sector, then you should check out Coinbase. They're currently the #1 platform for buying and selling Bitcoin, Bitcoin cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin.
Betterment: One of the two pioneers in robo-advising (along with Wealthfront). Betterment offers a $0 account minimum and a 0.25% management fee. It also offers access to a team of financial advisors. It's Premium service provides even more access for a 0.40% fee.
Wealthfront: Like Betterment, Wealthfront offers automatic rebalancing, tax loss harvesting, and diversified portfolios. It also has a 0.25% management fee. Unlike Betterment, the account minimum is $500, but they'll also manage your first $10k for free.
Blooom: This service focuses specifically on your 401k. For a flat $10 / month, Blooom will optimize, watch over, and help you grow your 401k. And you can start with a free 401k analysis.
Charles Schwab: Schwab offers two types of robo-advisory services. Their free Intelligent Portfolio service (for accounts with at least $5k) builds, monitors, and rebalances your portfolio. And with their Intelligent Advisory program you get access to a financial advisor for a 0.25% management fee (minimum account is $25k).
Online Savings Accounts
American Express: We keep the majority of our cash in an Amex Personal Savings High Yield Account. The current payout is 1.80% APY.
Capital One: We keep some of our cash reserves in a Capital One 360 Money Market account. It pays out 1.75% APY with a minimum balance of $10k, and you can make up to 6 withdrawals per month. (Get a $100 Bonus if you sign up HERE).
Barclays: If you don't have at least $10k, you can still get a 1.85% APY at Barclays, which has no minimum balance required. They started in the UK 300 years ago, but now have US branches.
Notes / Disclaimers:
- The rates and terms listed above are subject to change. Always double-check the information on the company's website.
- Some of the links above are affiliate links. If you sign up through one of the affiliate links we may get a small referral fee. Please know, however, that we never base our recommendations on whether there is an affiliate offer.