Ever try to build something without any tools? Sure is difficult.
Same goes for building a nest egg. Here are the top tools and resources that helped us get our finances to where they’re at today. We’ve personally used each and every one of these products, and wholeheartedly recommend them.
Before getting into the tools, we are disclosing that this list includes some affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. The potential commission had no bearing on our decision to include a resource on this page.
Ultimately, the decision about whether any particular resource will be of help to you is yours; buy the product or service if you genuinely think it will help you, and don’t if you don’t.
What is it: Bank account
What we love: Excellent interest rate, easy application, FDIC-insured
Details: CIT has consistently provided us with awesome rates that beat out most banks, big or small.
What is it: Bank account
What we love: Offers both checking & savings account, lots of free features (including free checks), FDIC-insured
Details: Because their savings and checking accounts are both solid, Discover makes for a great everyday bank. On the checking account side, they have awesome perks including free checks. The savings account offers a competitive rate, so you won’t feel like you’re losing out on a whole lot of interest when you let your funds sit here.
What is it: Retirement accounts
What we love: Low fees, variety of funds, ease of use
Details: Vanguard makes it easy to understand your options, compare funds, and invest for your future. The biggest plus? Exceptionally low fees!
Chase Freedom Unlimited
What is it: Credit card
What we love: 1.5% cashback, no annual fee, welcome bonus, referral bonus
Details: We like the idea of never paying full price for anything ever again, which is why we’re all about cashback credit cards. This card gives you 1.5% cashback on everything, regardless of category. There’s no annual fee, plus you can earn $150 for signing up and using the card. And if you become a fan, you can also earn $100 for anyone you refer (up to $500).
What is it: Debt tracking & repayment calculator
What we love: Free, ease of use, graphs
Details: If you’re in debt, do yourself a favor and sign up for this free debt tracking site. We’ve looked at lots of debt tracking calculators, but none of them are as awesome and easy to use as this one.
Our favorite thing about Undebt.It is that if you sign up for a free trial of their premium service, they automatically cancel it at the end rather than charge you just because you forgot to opt out. Which means Undebt.It really wants to help you and isn’t out to make a sneaky buck. Gotta love honest companies like this one.
What is it: Cashback app
What we love: Free to join, in-store and online cashback, welcome and referral bonuses
Details: Getting cash back on stuff you already buy is our definition of a money win. Our detailed review of Rakuten (Ebates) will tell you everything you need to know about this site, including how to make money through the welcome bonus and for referring friends.
What is it: Rebates app
What we love: Free to join, any brand rebates, variety of rebates and participating stores, welcome and referral bonuses
Details: It is virtually impossible to not save money using this app. Unlike a lot of other grocery rebate apps, Ibotta doesn’t require you to buy only specific brands just to earn. We basically wrote a whole love letter in our raving Ibotta review. Like Ebates, first-time users get a welcome bonus and you can get rewarded for referring friends.
What is it: Discounted gift cards
What we love: Welcome bonus, flash sales
Details: Going through Ebates to buy discounted gift cards from Raise.com is our favorite Ebates hack for stacking savings on top of savings. Get a welcome bonus when making your first Raise.com purchase. It’s free to join.
Author: Chris Guillebeau
Perfect for:Anyone wanting to get inspired to take on a side hustle to make some extra moolah
Details: Warning: You WILL dream big after reading this book! Written by the guy who runs the amazing podcast Side Hustle School, this book shares 100 stories of how ordinary people started a side hustle that let them make a little extra cash by tapping into their passions or natural talents. Each profile is short and sweet, telling you how the person got their start, any lessons they learned along the way, and how much they now make (some people make more than their day jobs!). With 100 Side Hustles, there is no shortage of ideas and inspiration to get your side hustle on.
I Will Teach You to be Rich
Author: Ramit Sethi
Perfect for: Anyone who wants a solid crash course on finances, starting from the ground up
Details: This book is about as close as you can get to being a personal finance bible for the masses. Sethi covers exactly what the Average Joe needs to know to get out of debt, stop living paycheck to paycheck, and invest for a healthy future. His no-fuss-but-some-sass writing style makes the book easy to read and, more importantly, easy to follow.
Slaying the Debt Dragon
Author: Cherie Lowe
Perfect for: Anyone needing inspiration and tips for getting out of debt
Details: Get ready for some hardcore money inspo. This family got out of $130,000 of debt (no joke!) in just a few years, and lived to tell the tale in a fun fairy storybook-like fashion.
We love that the author interviews quite a few other couples too, sharing their debt profiles and success stories as well.
No matter what your debt situation, you’re likely to find a story that’s similar to yours, so you can see how they did it and feel encouraged about replicating their success.
Women & Money
Author: Suze Orman
Perfect for: Anyone who needs help learning to put themselves first financially and building their confidence to make money decisions, male or female
Details: Have trouble convincing yourself that you deserve success, security, and financial freedom? Not on Suze’s watch!
To understand the value of money, you need to understand the value of yourself first. Women & Money will empower you to see that, and show you how to handle your money in a way that reflects your true self worth. With a super simple financial plan that outlines exactly what you should do with your money, it can’t get any more straightforward than this.
Author: Vicki Robin
Perfect for: Anyone who wants complete freedom to do whatever they want with life
Details: As valuable as money is, there is one resource that’s far more precious: time. Having the freedom to do whatever you want with your time, whether it’s to continue working or to pursue other passions, is the true end goal of handling your personal finances. This is book is practically the bible of the FIRE (financially independent and retired early) movement, and will forever change how you see money as fitting into your life.
What is it: Web hosting service
Why you need it: To buy your domain name and park your website
Details: Of all the hosting services we’ve tried before, Bluehost is our fave because they are low-cost to start with (they provide a free domain website with a hosting package), and have responsive customer service, which is HUGE when your website has issues and you are NOT tech-savvy (like us!).
Their clean interface is user-friendly as well, which makes everything so much easier to find.
What is it:
Marketplace for premium website themes to give your site professionalism and personality
What you need it:
To customize your website and look legit
Details: Of all the website theme marketplaces, ThemeForest has a wide selection at affordable prices. We bought another website theme *cough* Divi *cough*, but were sorely disappointed by the number of headaches that theme has caused us. The Core theme we purchased through ThemeForest (at about 1/10 of the cost) has rarely given us any problems.
(If you want to start off with a free theme, Kale is a great alternative with a simple, clean look.)
What is it:
Info product bundles, with an affiliate program
What you need it:
To start making money from your blog/online business
Details: Ultimate Bundles puts together flash sales of huge bundles of themed info products (think parenting, photography, blogging, healthy living, meal planning, etc) at hugely discounted rates. Their wide range of products means that there’s probably something you can find for yourself or to promote to your audience.
You get a generous 40% commission; and if you sell 5 bundles, you get a copy of the product for yourself for free. Even if you don’t sell 5 bundles, you can buy a copy at a 40% discount.
Can you technically learn how to blog without taking any courses? Yes.
Will it take a long time to do it on your own? Very likely yes.
Are courses worth it? That depends.
We’ve literally taken hundreds of courses, but many are overpriced yet underdeliver. Only a handful stand out to us, which we’re sharing for their affordability and effectiveness for your blog monetization strategy:
Dare to Conquer Framework
What is it: Creating an online business membership site
Details: This amalgamation of courses, challenges, chat, and other blogging resources is meant to provide you with an all-inclusive framework to create a 6-figure online business. Mama Chang’s first website consistently earns 4-figures a month after implementing version 1.0 of this course (formerly called Billionaire Blog Club) in her first year blogging. We hope to bring Keeping Up with the Changs to the next level with this resource.
What is it: Ecourse on free Pinterest marketing strategies for business owners
Details: Pinterest is a platform that offers great potential for new bloggers to gain free traction with their traffic. This ecourse was solely responsible for skyrocketing Mama Chang’s first blog from 1,000 to 100,000 pageviews in about one month’s time.
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
What is it: Ecourse on affiliate marketing strategies
Details: First monetization e-course Mama Chang took that earned her $100 in her first month blogging and hundreds of dollars consistently since.
Easy Backlinks for SEO
What is it: Ebook on off-page search engine optimization (SEO) techniques
Details: SEO is a long-term game for those serious about creating a viable online business. It takes a while for new sites to gain traction, so this ebook contains step-by-step strategy for beginner bloggers to expedite their sites getting onto Google’s radar.
What is it: Free graphics design site
What you need it: To create stunning graphics and logos
Details: We never would have guessed that as bloggers, we’d actually spend more time on images than we do on writing. There’s logo design, Pinterest pins, blog post images, printables graphics, Facebook headers, and…well, you get the picture (ha get it?).
Thankfully, even the most design-challenged users like us can create awesome-looking graphics by using Canva. There are tons of templates and design ideas to help inspire you. And, of course, we love that it’s free.
If you’re looking for more advanced features like a wider selection of graphics, photos, design options; the ability to resize templates; and the option to download images files with transparent backgrounds, then try out their affordable Pro version.
What is it: Free single-color icons
What you need it: To enhance your graphics
Details: We like the look of clean, simple icons so we love IconsDB. This library of single-color icons allows you to customize to any color hex code you want, so you can make the icons match your website’s color scheme. No attribution required.
What is it: Free icons
What you need it: When IconsDB just won’t cut it
Details: Compared to IconsDB, Icons8 has way more icons, in way more styles, and with multi-color options too. Attribution required.
What is it: Free stock photos site
What you need it: Huge selection of photos for blog post and social media images
Details: If you don’t have the time or skills to take your own photos, you’ll need to get yourself acquainted with royalty-free stock image sites that don’t require attribution like Pixabay.
There are lots of stock photo sites out there, but we’ve found that Pixabay tends to give the greatest number of search results. If you don’t want to pay anything, avoid the search results section that features photos from Adobe Stock or Shutterstock.
What is it: Free stock photos site
What you need it: For more relevant search results than Pixabay
Details: Our experience is that Pexels will give you fewer results than Pixabay, but the photo results tend to be more relevant. Still, we like to use both because you never know which picture captures your message.
What is it: Email marketing service
What you need it: To manage your mailing list
Details: Never thought the day would come that email is the best place to get people’s attention, but it kinda is. There’s way too much competition on social media, whereas you are much more likely to be read when you’re sitting in someone’s inbox.
MailerLite has a generous free account, that lets you have up to 1000 subscribers for the grand total of $0. With an easy to use interface and lots of cool analytics, we’ve got no complaints.
What is it: Digital bulletin board
What you need it: To organize your million-and-one ideas
Details: Trust us: when you start a blog, you will have way more grand ideas than you can possibly keep up with. Being able to jot them all down somewhere and having some semblance of organization will preserve your sanity. We love doing brain bumps on our boards with Trello, which is free to use.
Help A Reporter Out (HARO)
What is it: Media sourcing service
What you need it: To gain credibility and SEO juice for your site
Details: Organic search traffic is the stuff of dreams, at least for bloggers. Backlinks are what SEO algorithms look for, and HARO is one of the best way to build them legitimately.
HARO is an online service that reporters use to find sources for articles they are writing. They send out questions, you send back answers, and if they select your response, hello backlink and publicity!
It gives you the chance as a nobody to have a real shot at getting a backlink from a super high-ranking domain like Forbes or US News. Even if you don’t get chosen, it’s a nice way to get ideas for topics to write about, so you can still use submissions that aren’t selected as a future post.