Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Some more non-scammy financial sites

A while back, I posted some non-scammy personal finance sites, but that was one child and three years ago, which is an eon in internet time.  Here are a few more that have piqued my interest (pun intended) since then.

Your Money: The Missing Manual - by the author of the Get Rich Slowly blog I mentioned last time, this book provides simple, down-to-earth guidance on all things personal finance.  There isn't anything here that you couldn't also glean from the website and other sites, but here it is all in one neat package.  I think this would make a great gift for high school graduates.

RedPocket - I've recently switched to this for cell service and am very happy.  They piggyback on the major carriers, but provide much cheaper rates. I got the exact same service - two lines of unlimited talk and text + 5G LTE with unlimited slower data after that  - for less than half the price.  ATT was costing me $115/month, RedPocket costs $60/month the first month, and $50/month after that. Assuming they continue to work well, I plan to get the annual service, which would bring me down to $40/month.  If you use less or no data, you could get even cheaper.  One tip I learned the hard way:  when porting your number over, you will be prompted for your _current provider_ account number and password, however you should enter your account PIN, not your website password. You set up this PIN when you first got your phone, but if you don't remember it, you will need to call your current provider's support.  You also may need to manually set up some carrier settings on your phone.  If you run into issues, RedPocket's live chat works great.  The only downside I've found so far is that Visual Voicemail is not supported on my device and network.  It is supported for other networks and Android, just not on iPhone on the GSMA network.  There are some 3rd party voicemail services I would like to try, but for now I have to check voicemail like it's 1999.

Robinhood - This is a commission-free stock trading service.  Where other online brokers often charge you for each buy or sell, Robinhood is completely free.  In addition to stocks and ETFs, they offer a limited set of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.  They make money by interest on your cash holdings and on optional monthly subscriptions that let you do leveraged trading and  faster money transfers.  The downside is that they don't offer some things long-term investors need like partial shares, automated dividend reinvestment, or IRA accounts.  For that reason, I only recommend this _after_ you have a full emergency fund, no debt besides house, and have maxed out tax-advantaged accounts (IRA/401k), as a learning tool for investing or crypto.  (Disclaimer:  the link above gets both you and I entered for free stock, but that is not why I'm sharing it- I do use and like the free service).

M1 Finance - This is also a commission-free investing service.  Unlike Robinhood, it _does_ offer partial shares, dividend reinvestment, and IRA accounts.  All with no fees.   You can buy any stock or ETF, but they also provide some pre-done blends of various ETFs (called "pies") along with descriptions of how they work, average return, and relative risk.  They make their money on interest on cash holdings and limit your transactions to once per day, but for a long-term investor this is not a bad thing.  They also offer loans based on your holdings and a debit card, but I have not evaluated those.  I haven't fully made the leap, but am leaning toward these guys and away from Betterment/Weathfront type services which offer the exact same funds but charge an annual fee based on your holdings.  (Disclaimer: the link above gets both you and I $10, but I am only sharing because I do use and like the investing and research service.)

Reddit Personal Finance - The wiki here offers some good advice, and people routinely ask and answer "what if" posts about various situations.  Good motivation for getting your finances in order or asking questions that you can't find answers to elsewhere.  Also, /r/Frugal but be careful - reddit can be a huge time waste.