This page contains all the tools I love and use every day. You can always come back and reference it for all your own wealth hacking needs. 😀
I’ll continue adding to this page over time as I come across great new tools that might be helpful to you. I’ll also reference this page frequently in posts and videos, so I definitely recommend you bookmarking or linking to this page for convenience and quick access!
Personal Capital is like an industrial grade version of Mint. It’s designed specifically to help investors optimize their portfolios. You hook up all your external accounts (checking, savings, brokerage, retirement, mortgage, credit card) to Personal Capital (with their military / bank-grade encryption protecting all your data) and then the tool starts telling you all kinds of interesting things.
I use Personal Capital for a couple things. One, they have a great Retirement Fee Analyzer tool which helps you clearly see what you’re paying in brokerage and maintenance fees, both in terms of percent of earnings lost to fees and and what that translates to in years of retirement lost to fees. It looks like this:
There’s a bunch of line item details I didn’t show in the screenshot that gives you account-level breakdowns. You’ll quickly start rebalancing and moving money around when you find out how much you’re being gouged by certain brokerages or via certain holdings. Two, Personal Capital has a nifty asset allocation “Mekko chart” tool, which lets you see your portfolio allocation like this:
This is really helpful in showing you visually whether your allocations align with your expectations. You can use this to calibrate your annual portfolio re-balancing.
This is what I use to MANUALLY track monthly income, expenses, and net wealth growth. If you want to take total control over your finances and understand how to optimize them like crazy, there is no substitute for rolling up your sleeves and doing the hard analytical work yourself.
My spreadsheet has detailed line items for groceries, eating out, utilities, transportation, healthcare, entertainment, clothing, and more. Tracking these buckets individually has helped us understand our daily “unit economics.”
So, we’re able to understand things like:
- How much do we spend on food each day per person?
- How much do we pay in utilities each day, and what’s the variance between low season vs. high season?
- How much do we pay in gas each day?
- On average, what do we spend on clothing each day?
- How much do we pay in taxes every day?
In the spreadsheet, I also annotate many cells with comments on what specific charges were, what certain line items contain, why items spiked or dipped in certain months. This makes it easy to audit later when I do trend analysis.
I analyze in particular our savings rate because, for us, that’s the most important metric for reaching financial independence.
Motif Investing is a cool online brokerage I use that charges no account fees and offers a creative approach to investing.
I first talked about using Motif Investing in my Income Report analyzing my net worth. There, I mentioned the unique thing I like about Motif is that it lets you to invest in “themes” rather than specific stocks.
A motif is a basket of up to 30 stocks or ETFs that reflect an investment theme, market insight, or trend.” It lets you bet on an industry thesis instead of a specific company. I like this approach because betting on individual stocks almost always results in losing against much better equipped hedge funds. But betting on an industry-wide trend puts individual investors on more equal footing. That’s because while Goldman Sachs may have an unfair advantage for specific stocks, it’s harder for them to have inside info or an unfair advantage for an entire industry. Motif lets you bet on an entire industry.
On the Motif website, you can invest in pre-existing professionally built motifs based on trends like globalization, resource scarcity, disruptive technology. Motifs can have themes like “connected cars,” “rising interest rates,” or “shale oil.” But you can also customize and re-balance any pre-existing motifs, or even design your own from scratch. Then you can buy the whole motif (with all the individual stocks inside it) in one click, for one flat fee: $9.95. That’s the same price many other online brokers charge for a single stock trade. With Motif, you get 30 stocks for that one price.
Motif investors have collectively built more than 180,000 motifs, which can inspire your own ideas for creating interesting investment theses. UPDATE: now you can also invest in J.P. Morgan-led IPOs through Motif, which other brokerages don’t offer — this is an exclusive benefit for Motif investors. Plus, you can purchase IPO shares commission-free, all the way up to the IPO’s max. Just specify the dollar amount you want, and Motif will estimate the max shares allocable to you.
Special bonus for HYW readers: if you sign up through my affiliate link, you’ll get a credit of up to $150 when you start trading.
TD Ameritrade. I have four accounts open here: a taxable account, an IRA, a Roth IRA, and a SEP IRA. TD Ameritrade has the best online trading and research tools. The cost per trade ($9.99) is a little on the steep side, but it’s worth it for the trading and research tools. There are no maintenance fees or minimum holding requirements. Plus, they offer many commission-free ETFs, so you’ll pay zero on those. If you’re not day-trading, but rather buying and holding, then the couple extra bucks per trade is immaterial over the long run.
Vanguard. I have a Vanguard account through an old employer program. I like Vanguard because they are absolutely no frills. They don’t offer any exotic financial instruments (with high fees) — their fees are pretty much the lowest in the investment management industry. That’s because Vanguard has no outside shareholders: Vanguard is entirely owned by its own funds, which in turn are owned by individual client investors like you and me. Because they are not trying to drive a stock price up to appease outside shareholders, they don’t need to charge excessive fees, which in turn helps you keep more of your investment returns. Over a lifetime, the compounding effect of those savings can really add up. If there was only one investment brokerage I could invest my money with, I would choose Vanguard. In his annual shareholder letter, this guy said the same thing.
Capital One 360. I use this for almost all my personal banking needs. Not only is the ATM network vast, but they have all the same services I need and use in a retail bank: bill pay (single or auto-recurring), transaction history, direct deposit, wire and ACH transfers, seamless transfers between checking and savings, CDs, and even paper checks. Note their 38,000+ ATMs are unbranded Allpoint ATMs located in pretty much all grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores — not the fancy Bank of America or Citi or Wells Fargo retail ATMs on every street corner.
Bank of America. My core banking needs. They are expensive, but I use them for ubiquitous ATM convenience, safe deposit box options, and ease of transferring funds to other Bank of America account holders.
Wells Fargo. My home mortgage is through Wells Fargo.
Tax Filing Preparation
I use TurboTax to file my taxes. I have used them every year since I started earning any income. What I love about TurboTax is its simple, user-friendly interview-questionnaire format for going through your taxes.
Rather than having to wade through a ton of indecipherable tax forms and worksheets that look like a robot wrote them, TurboTax walks you step-by-step through a friendly visual online interview flow that helps you input all your income, interest / dividends, deductions, home mortgage expenses, and special situations to make sure you get the maximum possible refund you’re entitled to. They even have a refund guarantee or your money back. They also have packages specifically tailored to taxpayers who are dealing with rental property or small businesses, which makes it super useful for anyone with multiple income streams.
Definitely recommend checking out TurboTax the next time you file your taxes.
InMotion Hosting. I use InMotion hosting to run all my websites: from Hack Your Wealth, to my e-books and videos websites (where I teach people how to break into the finance industry and get into an elite law school), to experimental websites where I try out new ideas. Some of those ideas have worked and others have failed, but I’ve always used InMotion to host them.
I like InMotion because: (1) their systems are blazing fast: I’ve tried a few other web hosting providers, and have found the server response times for InMotion to be the fastest. (2) InMotion’s self-serve admin tools are excellent: you get the standard 1-click WordPress install, but you also get access to tons of other C-Panel controls and diagnostic tools. You won’t get shell access for shared accounts (you do with VPS and Dedicated Hosting), but you will get access to the file manager, which lets you navigate the raw directory tree for all your sites and directly edit files and code. So, when you accidentally change something you’re not supposed to through wp-admin and it takes your site down, you can just quickly log into the C-Panel file manager and undo those changes manually, bringing your site right back up without even a call to customer support. I can’t tell you how many times this has already saved me. (3) InMotion’s customer support is great: they are reachable 24/7, you always get to talk to a human (based in the US, not offshore), and they’re quite technical and can solve technical problems.
I started out with InMotion’s Shared Business Hosting, which is fine to start with, but after you get a meaningful amount of traffic, you’ll probably want to explore upgrading to a Virtual Private Server or Dedicated Hosting Solution where you aren’t sharing resources with other website owners and you get more horsepower to manage your site.
StudioPress Genesis Framework. Back when I first started Hack Your Wealth, selecting the right theme framework was what I spent the most time and effort trying to get right. Eventually, I narrowed it down to Genesis vs. Thesis.
I wrestled for a long time deciding between the two frameworks, because I knew this infrastructure decision would have long-lasting consequences on my website development speed, flexibility, stability, and SEO. I extensively evaluated different theme frameworks: Thesis, Genesis, Cherry, Dynamik Website Builder, and several others. In the blogosphere, there seemed to be a holy war between Genesis and Thesis advocates in particular. I read an article that Matt Cutts (head of the Google Search web spam team) switched from Thesis to Genesis; I also read that Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress himself, endorsed the Genesis Framework. Eventually, I decided to take the plunge with Genesis, and I’m very happy to report that the speed, flexibility, lifetime customer updates, and modern available themes have all made me very happy with the choice. Below are some useful links I considered when making my decision.
- Good article evaluating different WordPress theme frameworks
- Google search volume trends for Thesis vs. Genesis showing an inverted curve, with Thesis declining and Genesis rising
I use Suzanne Ahjira’s excellent (free) Flint theme, built on top of the StudioPress Genesis Framework, as my front-end theme. What I love about Flint is that it’s so incredibly deep, extensive, flexible, and robust. It’s crazy how customizable it is. You can literally control every single div, class, and container with custom colors, widths, padding, margins, font styles, placement, and more. It’s basically like a visual editor for all the CSS on your site. And there is also a custom code editor where you can further add and refine CSS and filters and hooks. It lets you get into the code when you want to, but it provides you with menus and options to customize just about everything without touching code if you don’t want to.
I now use ConvertKit for all my email and lead capture automation. I started off using free email software for HYW. That worked for about a year until it broke and put me in a scramble. What I love about ConvertKit is that for a single monthly price, which is based solely on your number of subscribers, you get unlimited everything: unlimited sent emails, autoresponder sequences, and lead capture forms. The other killer feature they have is the ability to create automation rules so your readers can segment themselves simply by clicking links in your email sequences. For example, if readers click on a product link, the system can automatically tag them as being interested in that product, and you can later target them specifically with, say, a discount if they didn’t buy initially. This tagging / segmentation feature doesn’t have to be by product interest, though. If readers click on a link about a specific blog post topic or questionnaire you sent, you can tag them as being interested in that topic specifically and then later customize unique content related to that topic directly (and only) to that sub-group of tagged readers. Super powerful stuff that most other retail-price email software doesn’t have. Highly recommend checking out ConvertKit if you want a powerful but (reasonably) affordable email solution.
I use Long Tail Pro to do keyword competitiveness analysis. LTP gives you a BUNCH of cool data on keywords you punch in, which it crunches and organizes from Google’s Adwords tool and various Moz tools. The main insights Long Tail Pro gives you are data about how your competition ranks on Google for specific keywords: including their page authority, domain authority, number of backlinks, juice links, and Moz rank. These correlate strongly with a page’s position rank on Google’s search results page, which you can analyze to understand what your site / page needs to beat your competitors in Google rankings.
Disclosure: A few, but not all, links above are affiliate links. That means, at no extra cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you decide to sign up through them. Please understand I have experience with all these tools. I share them here because I proudly use them myself and genuinely recommend them — not because of any small commission I may earn. If you plan to use one of these products and would like to help support this blog, then using these links will do exactly that. It’s win-win, and I greatly appreciate your support.