Stuff We Like

This page will periodically be updated, when we find a new product that we use, and that saves us money. Please feel free to contact us and let us know of any money-saving products you like. Please note that some of these links help support the blog.

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Money, Investment and Mortgages!

How to Invest
The Simple Path to Wealth is all you need.

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Personal Capital
Personal Capital is an excellent tool that gives you a clear picture of your entire financial status. We have numerous accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs in addition to several checking accounts in different banks, investment accounts, etc. Personal Capital allows you to link them all on one site, which helps you keep track of all your money more easily than logging into and out of numerous sites. They provide all kinds of nifty charts like this one:

As cool as all of that is. Personal Capital has a fee analyzer that will tell if your investments are bending you over with fees. I don’t exaggerate when I say that Personal Capital saved me more than $100,000 by warning me of nasty, high fee mutual funds that I mindlessly invested in.

Wait, it gets even better. Did I mention that Personal Capital is completely free? They make money by offering their own mutual funds. However, you’re free to just say “No” to those if you find them unworthy.

Real Estate!
I’m a big fan of real estate, but don’t currently hold any physical properties. No problem, I invest in REITs through Fundrise and individual deals through PeerStreet.

Self-Directed Solo 401(k)
I love my Self-Directed (SD) Solo 401(k). It’s like a normal 401(k), but on steroids. I use mine to invest in real estate via private lending.

  • Trust setup: I used Sense Financial to setup my SD 401(k). Sense was fantastic, helping me through every step of the way. At one point in the process, I was having difficulty rolling over funds from Vanguard. A representative from Sense set up a 3-way call to get it sorted out,
  • Bank account: A Self Directed solo 401k has a lot of moving parts and it’s important to have a bank that’s familiar with them. After visiting a couple local chain banks, I decided to go with Solera National Bank. I couldn’t be happier with their service. They’re easy to work with, even though they’re remote. We’ve now done four deals which involved wire transfers and Solera executed perfectly. Contact Kreighton Reed to get started: 720.666.8153 or kreed@solerabank.com.

Mortgages
OK, so no one really likes mortgages, but with rates so low, it really doesn’t make any sense to pay cash for a house, when you can borrow at less than 4% but still make more than 10% with your portfolio. We have used the same mortgage guy for more than 6 years. Mr. 1500 likes to refinance whenever rates make it worthwhile, which for a very long time was just about every year. We found our current guy, Todd Bukaty of The National Bank of Kansas City through LendingTree, and have shopped around every single time, only to come back to Todd because his overall costs are less than anyone else’s. We have used him 7 times so far. He responds quickly to inquiries, and doesn’t pull any punches. If you need a mortgage, call Todd.

Accountant/Payroll Service
When I went from being a W2 employee to having my own corporation, I knew right away that I’d need an accountant. Saving/investing the maximum amount of money was my first priority. I spent hours researching retirement plans and knew that for my situation, a solo 401(k) was superior to a SEP IRA because it allowed for greater contributions:

Both plans allow you to contribute 25 percent of your earnings (for sole proprietors, the contribution is 20 percent). But the 401(k) allows an additional $17,500 in salary deferrals.

I quickly found that many accountants were unfamiliar with even the basic rules surrounding solo 401(k)s. After a long and frustrating search, a friend recommended Melissa Clary. She had all the correct answers, so I hired her. After almost two years, she’s been wonderful.

Phones and Gadgets

Republic Wireless
If you like Android, Republic Wireless (RW) is for you. RW uses your wireless connection for calls and texts to reduce costs. Our RW phone on the unlimited 3G plan runs about $30/month. How awesome is that?

Ting.com (cell service)
If you like the iPhone, Ting is for you. Ting works over the Sprint nationwide network, but does the billing themselves. Amazing monthly prices – $9 for 500 talk minutes, $5 for 1000 text messages, $3 for 100MB of data and $6 per device per month. Best of all, the prices above are for services that are shared among all the devices on your bill. Way cheaper than those “unlimited” plans. Click here to start saving money on your phone bill.

magicJack
Want phone service for $25/year? magicJack is the answer. Plug the magicJack into a house outlet. Plug your phone and Internet connection into that, and you are good to go for a YEAR! Mr. 1500 works from home and has many phone conferences every day and it has been super reliable. You do need high-speed internet for this to work. If you already have that, say goodbye to costly land-line service and sign up.

Apple
Apple?!? Their products are so expensive, or you have to sign up for a long contract! Maybe, but they last. We bought our first iPod in 2003, and it still works! My heavily-used iPhone 3GS works as well as the day we bought it. We have numerous i-products and they are built well and seem to last forever. If they ever have issues, bring them to the Apple Store for free assistance. If you don’t feel a need to upgrade every time they come out with something new (and you probably don’t if you are reading this blog) then dollar for dollar, Apple is the best. Remember, saving money isn’t always about paying the least for something.

 

Other

Autoslash
Ever notice that you don’t need to enter a credit card number to reserve a car? Autoslash takes advantage of this to save you money. Here is how it works. Book your rental on Autoslash. Autoslash checks rates and automatically rebooks when it finds a cheaper rate. I booked a car once and by the time I picked up my car, Autoslash had rebooked me 4 times at a rate that was half the original. Amazing!

Costco
Costco has a membership fee, but we think it’s worth it. We do a lot of comparison shopping and even Amazon usually doesn’t beat their prices. If you drive a lot, Costco may be worth it for the cheap gas and great tire services alone. If you still have qualms about the membership fee, know that you can have 2 people per account and the people don’t have to be related. Share your membership and get it for half price! We have the Executive Membership, and the Costco American Express credit card. No annual fee on the AmEx card with the Costco membership, up to 3% cash back on purchases (sliding scale, I can’t remember what types of purchases earn what, but everything is at least 1%) and the Executive Membership pays you 2% cash back on all Costco purchases. Our annual check is more than the $55 extra it costs to have the Executive Membership, and usually more than the $110 membership cost making it free to shop there.

Craigslist.org
Buy and sell almost anything with this great service. In upscale neighborhoods, you can find barely used stuff for almost nothing because people have upgraded and don’t know what to do with it.
Find people who know how to do things you don’t. We found an excellent handyman who built our deck for us, another who drywalled the basement (some things are WORTH paying someone else to do). You have to be careful and check references, but both of those guys were worth their weight in gold.

Google Docs
I’m see folks spend hundreds of dollars on Microsoft Word when Google Docs would serve them just fine. It doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of some of the Office Suite, but most people don’t need all of that stuff. Google Docs is also compatible with Word. Perhaps best of all, your work is saved to the cloud so all work isn’t lost when your hard drive goes belly up.

Wahl Shaver
OK, this one is applicable to men only, unless you wish to look like Sinead O’Connor. I always hated going to get my hair cut: drive to the Cheap Cuts, sit there for up to an hour reading crappy sports magazine and then pay $12 just to trim the follicles on top of my head. What a waste of time. Getting married resolved this issue. I bought a shaver and Mrs. 1500 started cutting my hair (no prior experience on her part). The only issue was that my shavers would last only about a year before crapping out. I’d try a different one every time. Finally I settled on this wonderful, Made in U. S. of A., Wahl shaver. Its going strong after 5 years.

Join the 10s who have signed up already!

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18 Responses to Stuff We Like

  1. David Brown says:

    Ok. It is not all about getting through life as a free man or woman. We have a greater job to do! Even if our accomplishments are modest. Do something to improve the world. Help people experience an enhanced sense of personal efficacy. It is not all about you and your immediate family. There are greater challenges out there. And you have something to contribute! Get on with it.

    • Kurt Knapp says:

      As jlcollinsnh says “As individuals we only have one obligation to society: To make sure we, and our children, are not a burden to others.”

      Doing this actually improves and contributes to the world.

  2. Sean says:

    Great list 1500! My favorite is the Wahl Shaver…I’ve using these to cut my hair for years and never really found one that I like. I’ll check out the Wahl when I’m in the market next time.

  3. Heidi says:

    Love the tip about auto slash. Haven’t tried it yet but I am going to use it for a trip to Louisiana in April. Thanks!
    Meadow Lark

  4. Sipoy Mutiny says:

    Apart from Apple (I own Apple products due to their innovative quality but find them expensive), I like other tips especially Autoslash…will definitely try it out on my next vacation/trip. Loving your blog so far…

    Best of luck for your $1M goal,

    Sipoy
    (Planned name for Sid Powar’s financial mutiny blog)
    PS: Sepoys were Indian soldiers in the East India Company

  5. DivHut says:

    Love your list. I am on Ting too! My bill dropped from $40+ a month to about $12. I plan to write about Ting on my blog. We also use Ooma… similar to Magic Jack and it’s about $48 a year for unlimited calling.

  6. Thunder says:

    Tip for Apple products… In regards to using the newest phones, you can usually upgrade your phone for free. The buyback is usually around $200 for the old model and that covers the cost of the new phone.

  7. Anna says:

    Do you have any great recommendations for auto and home insurance?

    • 1500 says:

      We use Geico for everything, but recently, I got a quote from Progressive for auto and it was a lot cheaper. I think Progressive has homeowners partners too. I’d be curious to hear what you learn.

  8. saruchan says:

    You should probably update the Magic jack info. It is more like $35 a year (still an awesome deal and much better than pretty much any VOIP out there).

  9. ufocharles says:

    I paid $99 for magic jack for 5 years plan. That brings to about $20. See their plans for device re-up. Once you have the device, just do the 5 years plan for a 100 bucks.

  10. Dean says:

    I like your list but there is one problem. Using Republic wireless wouldnt work for me. because I work in an area that doesnt get a very good signal. I only can get a signal with Verizon. So saving money that way doesnt work. I have been using Straight Talk Wireless instead. Its a little more but its awesome cause u can bring your own phone and even transfer your phone number. only $45 a month unlimited talk and text. and 5gb of data. which is quite a bit for the cheap price.

  11. Mtn Living says:

    We are going to take a Heloc in a year to do a remodel on our home that has about 100k equity in it. We also have $20k in credit card debt (long story) that is such a heavy burden to us. Do you think it’s wise to pay off the credit card debt with money that we take from the Heloc to get a fresh start or keep those two payment separate?

    • 1500 says:

      A HELOC probably has a lower interest rate, so I’d definitely pay off the credit cards with it!

    • John Mancuso says:

      Don’t do any remodeling until you save the money to pay for it and just pay off the CC. Taking out loans to pay other loans is a never ending cycle if you never learn how to save.

  12. viridine says:

    My husband has an electric shaver. I have my own shaver head that I switch out to do my legs. Works well when I have the patience.

  13. Thanks for sharing this list! I am already looking into a few of these options. Goodluck on reaching your goal by February! You are doing an awesome job this year.

  14. I have a Wahl trimmer that I have had for almost 10 years and I love it. It is the best investment I have ever had. I use the #2 on the top and #1 in the back. It works out very well and I have not spent money on a haircut in over 9 years. What savings!

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