Below are the top financial products I use or have used to help me achieve financial freedom. Each product provides an actionable solution that is synergistic to the advice I provide in my articles.
There are literally thousands of products to choose from and I’ve passed on 99% of them. Let me help you cut through the clutter by highlighting only the top financial products after hundreds of hours of research.
I’ve met with with the senior management from most of these companies given I live in San Francisco and used to travel to conferences several times a year. I believe in looking into the whites of each CEO’s eyes before making any recommendation.
With a global pandemic upon us, now is more important than ever to save money, reduce expenses, stay on top of your finances. The top financial products can help you build more wealth.
Full disclosure: all products are affiliate partners of Financial Samurai. With every sign up, Financial Samurai may be paid a referral fee.
Top Financial Products For 2021
Let’s take a look at the top financial products today to help you achieve financial independence sooner. 2020 was a doozy of a year. The investor class got wealthier, while millions of other people got left behind.
To achieve financial independence, it’s important to optimize your investments, minimize your cost of debt, and make solid strategic career moves.
Most Attractive Investment Opportunity 2021
Fundrise – Fundrise, founded in 2012, is my favorite real estate investing platform for investors who wish to diversify their real estate exposure. Instead of concentrating your risk and money in one property, with Fundrise you invest smaller amounts of money (as little as $500) in a portfolio of properties with potentially higher returns across the entire country. The average historical range is around 8%.
With stocks at all-time highs and valuations at the top end of the range, I much prefer investing in real estate in 2021. Real estate is tangible, less volatile, provides utility, and generates income. In an inflationary environment, real estate is my favorite asset class to own as inflation whittles down the cost of a mortgage and boosts the value of the property.
After selling my rental house in San Francisco for 30X annual gross rent in 2017, I reinvested $500,000 of the $1,800,000 proceeds in real estate crowdfunding. It is great to earn income passively and consistently, no matter the economic environment.
Most of the investments went into properties in the heartland of America to earn 100% passive income. It makes sense to arbitrage the valuation and net rental yield differentials between expensive coastal city real estate and inexpensive heartland real estate. Thanks to the pandemic, the migration out of urban areas is real.
Real estate can help shelter your investments from volatility due to the income and shelter it provides. As mortgage rates decline, demand for real estate goes up because affordability goes up.
Check out Fundrise’s 5-year annualized returns compared to the S&P 500 and the Vanguard Real Estate ETF. The outperformance in 2018 of 14% was strong as was its 12% outperformance in 2015 when stocks went nowhere.
Fundrise is free to sign up and is available for all investors – accredited and unaccredited investors alike.
Best Mortgage Lending Marketplace
Credible – Credible is a lending marketplace that provides real quotes for free. Instead of applying for a mortgage on different platforms, it’s way more efficient to apply to refinance or get a new mortgage on Credible where multiple qualified lenders will compete for your business.
Mortgage rates collapsed to all-time lows in 2020 as capital has rushed to the safety of bonds. However, mortgage rates ticked back up in 2021 due to higher inflation expectations as the economy reopens. Take advantage of low interest rates by getting pre-qualified lenders to compete for your business.
Personally, I was recently able to get a 7/1 jumbo ARM for only 2.125% with no fees. It is nuts how cheap mortgage rates are, which is one of the reasons why real estate will likely continue to do well in 2021+.
In my opinion, refinancing to or getting a 15-year mortgage looks like the best deal. In normal times, a 15-year mortgage has a higher rate than a 5/1 ARM. Therefore, it’s worth taking advantage and getting a lower rate and a shorter amortization period.
See if you can refinance to a lower mortgage rate here. Credible has six qualified lenders competing for your business so you can get the lowest mortgage rate possible. You will get a free real quote after filling out the application.
- NMLS ID# 1681276
- Address: 320 Blackwell St. Ste 200, Durham, NC, 27701
Best Free Wealth Management Tool
Personal Capital – Personal Capital has the best free wealth management tool for investors and people who are the most serious about planning for a healthy retirement. You can easily x-ray your portfolio for excessive fees, get a snapshot of your asset allocation by portfolio, track your net worth and plan for your retirement.
Think about Personal Capital as a sophisticated version of Mint or an interactive version of Excel. I spent two years consulting for them in their San Francisco and Redwood City offices. I’m also a shareholder in the company since 2014.
When there is so much uncertainty in the world, you absolutely must stay on top of your finances. Understand where your risk exposure is. Stay on top of your cash flow. Personal Capital’s free tools will help you bring calm to the chaos. Sign up for free here.
Once you link you portfolio(s) that have at least $100,000 in assets, you can also get a free portfolio analysis session with one of their advisors worth $799.
I had a session when they last opened up this free offering in 2014 and the session helped me recognize how conservative I truly was. As a result, I ended up putting a tremendous amount of cash to work in stocks and real estate. The results have been great given how well both stocks and real estate have performed since.
Here’s my comprehensive Personal Capital review.
Real Estate Investing For Accredited Investors
For accredited investors who are able to invest $10,000 – $25,000 per deal, check out CrowdStreet. CrowdStreet has a direct-to-sponsor model where investors invest directly with the real estate sponsor, thereby improving efficiency and communication. Further, investors are not charged a fee to invest. Instead, the fee is borne by the sponsor.
I like CrowdStreet because their focus is on “18-hour cities.” 18-hour cities are also known as secondary markets that have lower valuations, higher cap rates, and higher upside potential due to demographic shifts.
There is a “fanning out” of the American population as remote workers look to save money. The global pandemic has helped accelerate this trend as many companies have permanently allowed their workers to work form home.
Best Rewards Credit Card
I use a rewards credit card for all my purchases and so should you. My personal favorite rewards credit card with no annual fee is the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card. I’ve been a Chase cardholder for over 10 years and also do all my business banking with Chase.
Here are the card’s following features:
- Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
- No annual fee
- 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first 15 months as well
- Get a $200 bonus after you spend $500 in the first 3 months
- Bonus cash back categories
- 5% cash back on travel purchased in the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal
- 3% cash back dining at restaurants and eligible delivery/takeout
- 3% cash back on eligible drugstore purchases
- Redeem cash back with no minimums
- Rewards don’t expire as long as your account is open
Sign up for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card here. When you can get 50% higher cash back on all purchase than the typical cash back card and not have to pay an annual fee, you are winning!
Disclosure: Financial Samurai has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Financial Samurai and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
Best Life Insurance Marketplace
PolicyGenius – In the past, you’d have to call a life insurance carrier one by one, fill out an application form, wait for a while, and not know whether the quote you received is any good or not. PolicyGenius helps you see multiple quotes at once so you can make a more informed decision.
I had dinner with both founders, Jen and Francois in San Francisco, and they are experiencing explosive growth.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned during the pandemic, it’s that tomorrow is not guaranteed. If you have kids and/or debt, please get at least a term life insurance policy to take care of your surviving loved ones.
Based on my recent checks, it looks like term life insurance rates have come down in 2020. This is great because we now all have serious fears about our health due to the global pandemic.
Here’s my comprehensive PolicyGenius review.
Best Personal Loan Lender
If you don’t have enough cash, you need to look for affordable personal loan options to keep yourself afloat. Getting a personal loan from Credible is a good place to start.
Take a look at the below chart. The spread between the average credit card interest rate and the average personal loan rate is at a 20-year high. As a result, those of you with expensive credit card debt should consider consolidating your debt into a lower interest-rate personal loan.
Credible also has the most comprehensive marketplace for personal loans where up to 11 lenders compete for your business. Get real personal loan quotes in just two minutes after you fill out the application.
There’s no reason why you should be paying expensive revolving credit card debt. We are in a low-interest rate environment and interest rates should come down.
Best Online Savings Bank
During a downturn, having a good amount of cash to cover your living expenses for 6+ months is very important. CIT Bank is currently my favorite online bank where you can earn maximum interest in a money market account. Because they are an online bank, they don’t have expensive physical store overhead. As a result, they can pass on their savings to you.
My favorite product is their savings builder account. They are paying a relatively health 0.4% APY if you maintain a $25K balance or deposit $100 a month. It’s tough to earn a high yield on your savings account because the Fed has slashed rates to 0% – 0.25%. But 0.5% is better than 0.0 – 0.1% that most banks offer today.
Here’s my comprehensive CIT Bank review.
Best Career And Severance Negotiation Book
How To Engineer Your Layoff – I have spent eight years crafting and updating this 200+ page ebook that teaches employees how to negotiate a severance and be free. Not only can you receive a severance, you may also get healthcare benefits, keep all your deferred compensation based on the regular vesting schedule, and be eligible for unemployment benefits.
Having a nice financial runway to move on to the next career, start a company, retire early, take care of a family, or simply travel the world is priceless. I personally negotiated a severance that paid for five years of living expenses. This allowed me to travel the world and work on Financial Samurai without stress.
If you are going to quit anyway, you might as well try and negotiate a severance. You have no downside to fighting for your rights. The book is now in its 5th edition and fully revised for 2021 and beyond with two new chapters, additional case studies, updated resources, and more. There are a total of 200 pages of actionable advice.
As unemployment claims rise, now is the time to try and work something out. Managers need to cut costs and would welcome volunteers in exchange for a severance. Further, the value of a severance package has gone up due to enhanced unemployment benefits. You can buy my book directly here. Use “saveten” to save $10.
Use The Top Financial Products To Improve Your Life
Ever since I started Financial Samurai, my motto has been, “achieve financial freedom sooner, rather than later.” By using the top financial products today, you will drastically improve your chances of achieving financial freedom.
The top financial products should help you save more money, make more money, and give you more confidence in managing your finances. Once you are confident about your finances, you can focus more on what truly matters: your friends, your family, and your purpose.
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About the Author:
Sam worked in investment banking for 13 years at GS and CS. He received his undergraduate degree in Economics from The College of William & Mary and got his MBA from UC Berkeley. In 2012, Sam was able to retire at the age of 34 largely due to his investments that now generate roughly $300,000 a year in passive income. His main passive income focus is on real estate crowdfunding to take advantage of cheaper valuations and higher cap rates in the heartland. He spends time playing tennis and taking care of his family.
Financial Samurai started in 2009. It is one of the most trusted personal finance sites on the web with over 1.5 million pageviews a month. Financial Samurai likes to highlight the top financial products to help people achieve financial freedom sooner, rather than later.