Managing your money can be as simple as using pen and paper, but let’s face it: using tools makes it a whole lot easier.
These are some of the tools that we use every day to manage our finances, learn how to save money, and make more money.
Some of these products are affiliate links. They don’t cost you anything extra, but I get a small amount of money for referring you there.
Ibotta is one of my favorite money-saving apps. Each week they offer different rebates on grocery items. A lot of these are for branded items (think Pacific Rose apples or Lay’s potato chips), but they also have a lot of rebates for generic items too, like milk or brussel sprouts. The rebates switch up every week. But, they always have an Any Item rebate for $0.10 – $0.25 each week just for uploading a receipt at all. I’ve earned over $150 for free with this app!
Craftsy is one of my favorite platforms for learning new skills. They have a ton of cooking and gardening-related courses. I’m using both of these skills to help me save money by growing my own food and cooking at home, because one can only eat so many hotdogs and PB&J sandwiches.
These courses are much more in-depth than your typical TV shows. They teach you entire styles of cooking using examples that you can then adapt to new recipes. I’ve learned how to make home-baked artisan bread and tasty stir-fries with Crafty cooking courses. Plus, they have a lot of free courses (like knife skills), and they always have courses on sale for hefty discounts.
I love using MyFreezeasy meal plans as well. If you’re not familiar with freezer cooking, it’s pretty simple: prepare meals ahead of time, stuff them in a bag, put ’em in the freezer, and pop ’em out when you’re ready to cook. It’s saved me so much time and money because I don’t have to create these big huge meals each night. I’ve got better things to do than spend all my time in the kitchen.
These meal plans work off of a subscription-based model, with new recipes each month. I log in once per month, print out the meals I think look tasty, and keep them in a binder for later. The nachos, chili, and thai chicken recipes are my favorites!
If you’re just getting started with your own IRA, Betterment is my favorite go-to place. It’s where me and Zach started with our IRAs.
I really like it because the fees are low, you can get started with basically any amount (we only started with $100), and it automatically picks your investments for you. That was honestly the scariest thing for me getting started. But with Betterment, you just answer a few questions and it automatically picks the right investments for you so you don’t have to do a thing except add more money. Easy peasy! Plus, it’s a super user-friendly and intuitive platform. I wish all money management websites were this easy.
If you’re a bit more of an advanced investor, give M1 Finance a shot. They actually charge no fees to manage your account or buy into stocks or funds, which is totes awesome! Most DIY investing shops will charge you to keep your money invested there (they do charge some random fees; see here for more details).
I recommend this for people who are comfortable picking out which funds and stocks they want to invest in, since unlike Betterment, it’s not automatically picked out for you. Currently, we’re using this for our Fuck Renting Fund (aka our savings for a house down payment), and we have it invested in 80% VTI (Vanguard Total Stock Market Index), 10% VNQ (Vanguard Real Estate; this is savings for real estate, after all), and 10% in a responsible investing fund.
If you’re still paying off your debt, you NEED to check out this free tool. It’s basically a souped-up debt calculator that tells you exactly how long it’ll take for you to be debt-free depending on which debt payoff method you choose (debt avalanche, debt snowball, or a DIY plan). Knowing these stats are super motivating for me to keep working to pay off my debt!
What if I told you there was an easy way to pay off your debt faster, by rounding up each purchase you make and sending the difference to your debts? That’s exactly what Qoins does. I would love to use this app, except me and Zach use a zero-sum budget and it wouldn’t make sense for us right now since we allocate out for extra debt payments in other ways. But if you’re looking for a way to pay off your debt faster in a brainless, automatic way, definitely check this one out!
If you’ve got shitty private student loans with high interest rates (*raises hand*), it might be worth trying to see if you can refinance them to get a lower rate. This could save you a lot of money over time if you get a lower rate and don’t extend your loan for too much longer. See this loan calculator to run the numbers first to see if it’s worth it. (note: I don’t generally recommend refinancing if you only have federal student loans. These have a lot of built-in protections and payment options. Private loans generally don’t. Their motto is something like “bend over and take it.”)
This has been an amazing resource for learning more about the ins and outs of freelance writing. They have an fantastic community of helpful writers in a forum, pre-recorded courses and other resources, a no-BS job board (I got my first high-paying client from here!), and discounts on in-depth training. The only downside is that you can’t join at any time; they only open it to new members periodically. But still, if you get on the list, you’ll be reminded when they open it up next time.
BAFB’s Get Started in 28 Days course was what I used to take my very first steps in the freelance writing world. It’s a simple concept: each day, they email you with a lesson and one homework assignment. As long as you do the homework assignment, you’ll be a freelance writer by the end of the course. Simple, but it worked!
Freshbooks is the program I use to manage my business. It makes my invoices more professional-looking that doodling an invoice on the back of a receipt, or trying to cobble together something quickly in Word. This user interface is super sleek and super sexy, and it’s about one of the most intuitive programs I’ve ever used. That’s a good thing, considering I was super scared of the bookkeeping aspect of starting my own business, but Freshbooks makes it easy.