The following 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 discarded 99.9% of them. Let me help you cut through the clutter by highlighting only the best 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 travel to conferences several times a year. I believe in looking into the whites of each CEO’s eyes before making any recommendation.
Full disclosure: all products are affiliate partners of Financial Samurai. With every sign up, Financial Samurai may be paid a referral fee.
Most Attractive Investment Opportunity 2020
Fundrise – Fundrise, founded in 2012, is one the best platforms for investors who wish to diversify their real estate exposure. Instead of concentrating your risk and money in one property, with Fundrise you can surgically invest smaller amounts of money (as little as $500) in several properties with potentially higher returns across the entire country. The average historical range is between 8% – 15%, and unlike P2P lending, there’s a physical asset that actually has value.
After selling my rental house in San Francisco for 30X annual gross rent, I reinvested $500,000 over the $1,788,000 proceeds in real estate crowdfunding in the heartland of America. It makes a lot of sense to arbitrage the valuation and net rental yield differentials between expensive coastal city real estate and inexpensive heartland real estate.
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 incredible.
Fundrise is free to sign up and is available for all investors – accredited and non-accredited. Of course, there will always be investment risk and platform risk to be aware of.
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,” secondary markets that have lower valuations and upside potential due to demographic shifts. CrowdStreet is also free to sign up and explore.
Best Free Wealth Management Tool
Personal Capital – Personal Capital has the best financial tools 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 almost two years consulting for them in their San Francisco and Redwood City offices and have sat down with all senior management. I’m also a small shareholder in the company since 2013.
Here’s my comprehensive Personal Capital review.
Best Online Savings Bank
CIT Bank is currently my favorite online bank where you can earn maximum interest in a money market account or 12-month CD. 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 of theirs is their savings builder account. They are paying a very healthy 1.80% APY if you maintain a $25K balance or deposit $100 a month. 1.80% is huge because the 10-year bond yield is only at ~1.8%, while the Fed Funds rate range is only at 1.75% – 2%. This is a positive arbitrage opportunity, with zero lockup period.
You can finally take advantage of higher interest rates by making a higher rate of return on your money. It feels great to earn a risk-free rate of return after such a strong bull market since 2009.
Here’s my comprehensive CIT Bank review.
Best Personal Rewards Credit Card
I’ve been a client of Chase for over 10 years and have been very happy with their credit cards, rewards program, and service. My favorite personal rewards credit card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Highlights of the card features include:
- Get 60,000 points if you spend $4k in the first 3 months of activation (=$750 in travel rewards)
- Earn Rewards 2X Fast On Travel And Dining
- Redeem 25% More Value On Travel Rewards
- No Foreign Transaction Fees
- Built-In Travel And Purchase Protections
- Transferable Points To Frequent Travel Programs
- Earn Up to 75,000 Bonus Points For Inviting Friends
This popular credit card is great for those who love to travel and want a reliable card with a strong rewards program. Learn how to apply here.
Best Business Rewards Credit Card
One of the keys to building a great fortune is owning a business. Not only do you collect income, you build equity which can one day be sold for multiples of profit. The Chase Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card is my favorite business credit card to help you grow. It has a terrific sign-up bonus, great benefits, and no annual fee.
- Get $500 cash back if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
- Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
- Enjoy a 0% intro APR for the first 12 months
- No annual fee to worry about
- Employee cards are free
- Flexible rewards can be redeemed for cash back, travel, gift cards, Apple purchases, and more
- Rewards don’t expire if your account is active
- Built-in purchase, travel and fraud protections
- Set personalized account alerts and employee spending limits
Best Mortgage Lender
Credible – San Francisco-based 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 have collapsed to 6-year lows as the Fed announced on June 20, 2019 they would be taking a very accommodative stance going forward. The Fed is on a rate cutting path like through 2020. Take advantage. I personally refinanced my primary residence at the end of 2019 to a 2.625% 7/1 ARM at no cost.
Best Personal Loan Lender
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 or any other type of debt in this low-interest rate environment.
Best Car Insurance Provider
Esurance – Esurance is known for its user-friendly website, interactive tools and top-notch mobile apps. It’s best used by people who like to manage their own policies, have straightforward insurance needs and prefer to get quotes online. Esurance is owned by industry giant Allstate and provides for free some of the most competitive rates online.
Here’s my comprehensive Esurance review.
Best Life Insurance Finder 2020
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 recently had dinner with both founders, Jen and Francois in San Francisco, and they are experiencing explosive growth.
Here’s my comprehensive PolicyGenius review.
Best Career Advice Book
How To Engineer Your Layoff – I have spent seven years crafting this 180-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 so I could comfortable work on this site and travel the world.
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 3rd edition and fully revised for 2020 and beyond.
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 $250,000 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 was started in 2009 and is one of the most trusted personal finance sites on the web with over 1.5 million pageviews a month.
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.