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.
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.
I’m a big fan of real estate, but don’t currently hold any physical properties. No problem, I invest in REITs through Fundsire.
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.
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
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.
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?!? 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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