Things We Like

The irony of personal finance bloggers recommending that you buy this or that isn’t lost on us. Getting rich boils down to spending less (hopefully much less) than what you make and then investing the difference. In the long run though spending money is both inevitable and the point of it all. We just want to be smart about it.

Here we make recommendations for products and services that we have found provide outstanding value. We use ourselves. If we don’t use something we won’t recommend it.

Some of our recommendations offer compensation for referring folks. Where possible we take advantage of these commissions. This doesn’t influence our opinions and participating in this is entirely optional on your part. If you are so inclined, using the affiliate links will help support this site at no cost to you and we would certainly appreciate it.

USAA

USAA LogoBanking and insurance services for military members doesn’t get better than USAA. They have continually innovated to provide the best internet banking available. USAA was one of the first banks to offer mobile depositing of checks. On top of that, they offer excellent customer service that caters to the unique needs of their military members.

The best endorsement I can offer for USAA comes from my non-affiliated insurance agent. My wife and I (was-in here). We purchase insurance for some things that USAA won’t cover (farm liability and related crop coverage). During a review with our agent I asked him what he could do with our cars. When I told him we were with USAA his response was that nothing he could offer would be either cheaper or provide better service.

Personal Capital

Personal Capital New LogoStep 1 in the MilitaryMillions Steps to Financial Security is Start Tracking Your Net Worth. Our favorite tool for this is Personal Capital. Once you create an account on the site and load all of your account information, you’ll get a continuously updated dashboard of your financial data. You’ll be able to see your consolidated cash flow, investment performance, and net worth. In the case of my family we have a couple of 401(k)s, an IRA, 529s for each child, some after tax investments, a home mortgage, a couple of credit cards, my wife and I have separate savings and checking accounts, and some other odds and ends. Personal Capital links to all of these and lets us see what’s going on.

A couple of notes: Personal Capital is free to use, but there will be some gentle offers to use their investment services. I generally ignore the emails and have politely declined their offer during one phone call. We don’t use the services as there are other lower cost alternatives, but they are a reasonable alternative to advisers working for sales commissions. The other potential issue is that you will need to provide your username and password information. They use encryption and you will be one of millions of folks using the service so this is only a modest risk.