Personal Finance

  • M1 Finance Review: Pros, Cons, Features

    I’ve been using M1 Finance for over a year and wanted to share my experience in a review. In this M1 Finance review I’ll be sharing my experience using M1 Finance, why I like using it, and the pros and cons I’ve encountered.

    M1 Finance App Review Video

    What Is M1 Finance?

    M1 Finance started as an investment platform but their tagline now is M1 Finance: The Finance Super App™.

    You can now invest, borrow, and spend your money in one easy-to-use platform. They continue to add new features each year like the upcoming credit card. The goal at M1 Finance is to have all of your financial needs taken care of in one place.

    M1 blends the best of financial technology providing personalization and automation so you can make your own money moves easily. It is designed for long term investors who want a simple design with powerful automation. M1 has been very clear that they are focused on long term investors not day traders.

    M1 Finance is regulated and safe to use. Your investments are covered under Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) in case of the firm’s insolvency or misconduct. You can feel secure that your M1 Finance investment account is covered.

    Feel free to read more about the details of SIPC insurance here.

    For all the details behind M1 Finance you can look them up on FINRA’s Broker Check.

    M1 Finance Features

    There are multiple sections or features at M1 Finance:

    M1 Invest

    M1 Invest is the investment portion of M1. It’s designed for self-directed investors who want to make their own investment decisions.

    The easy-to-use tools let you develop your own strategy and then take advantage of the automation built into the platform. You can build a custom portfolio or choose from an expert designed portfolio to get started.

    M1 Invest

    With M1 Invest you can purchase fractional shares of stocks and ETFs. This is one of the best features of the app and makes it ideal for new investors without much money to invest.

    The automation built into the M1 “pies” function keeps your portfolio on track and up to date with your desired allocation by dynamic rebalancing. You can set it once and they take care of the rest.

    M1 Borrow

    With M1 Borrow you can get a loan through M1 with a low rate. You are able to borrow against your investments with a flexible line of credit at a very low rate. The current rates for borrowing through M1 borrow are 2% at the time of this review.

    This type of loan is using margin against your investment portfolio at M1 Finance. You can get this line of credit for up to 35% of your portfolio’s balance. There is no application or payment schedule and the loan is very easy to get.

    M1 Borrow

    The interest on M1 Borrow accumulates for each day that you use your portfolio line of credit. You receive a bill at the end of each month and you pay for the line of credit borrowed. There is no minimum monthly loan repayment and you have flexibility with how you pay back the principal.

    M1 Spend

    On the Spend side of M1 is a 1$ APY checking account. This checking account inside M1 allows you to earn multiple times the national average APY for a checking account.

    M1 Spend

    The M1 Spend checking account comes with a debit card you can use anywhere Visa is accepted. You can also send checks when needed. You can send the physical checks without ever using a pen or writing out the check personally.

    Having the M1 spend account open allows you to transfer money and direct deposit into M1. Then you can easily move money into investments.

    M1 Credit

    The M1 Owner’s Rewards Credit Card was announced in July 2021.

    The Owner’s Rewards Card By M1

    It offers up to 10% cash back on certain brands that you’ve invested in. If you invest in what you buy it may be worth getting the credit card to get cash back from brands you buy from often.

    The credit card is only available to M1 Plus members.

    Some of the benefits listed for these features are only available with an M1 Plus account. Otherwise they are not available or will cost more for a regular account.

    What Is M1 Plus?

    M1 Plus is the paid version of an M1 Finance account that gives you extra benefits. It is currently $125 per year but the first year is free.

    M1 Basic vs M1 Plus

    Here are the benefits offers with a M1 Plus account:

    M1 Invest Benefits

    • $0 trading commissions
    • AM or PM trade window 
    • Smart Transfers
    • Custodial accounts

    M1 Plus Borrow Benefits

    • 2% rate
    • $5,000 minimum balance

    M1 Plus Spend Benefits

    • Digital checking included
    • 1% APY 
    • 1% cash back
    • 4 monthly ATM fees reimbursed
    • All international fees reimbursed
    • 5 debit card design options
    • NEW: Send checks.

    These are the benefits you will receive if you upgrade from M1 Basic to M1 Plus.

    M1 Finance Account Types

    M1 Finance currently offers multiple account types for investing:

    • Individual taxable brokerage account
    • Joint taxable brokerage account
    • Traditional IRA
    • Roth IRA
    • Sep IRA
    • Custodial accounts

    You can sign up with any of these account types.

    M1 Finance Pros

    There are some great things about using M1:

    • Free investing with no fees
    • Lots of customization options
    • Automation for set it and forget it investing
    • Can buy fractional shares
    • Dedicated dividend dashboard reporting
    • Intuitive pie interface
    • Very good rates on borrowing and checking
    • Research tools and info in app and website
    • Helpful customer service with great solutions

    M1 Finance Cons

    Unfortunately there are also some downsides:

    • Customer support can be slow at times
    • No advanced order options
    • No crypto or options or forex
    • Only one trading window per day without M1 Plus (2 windows)

    Depending on what you want to use M1 Finance for and your needs you may or may not care about these pros and cons.

    M1 Finance Bonuses

    M1 Finance offers many bonuses for people signing up to use their services.

    There is almost always a M1 Referral Bonus. These bonuses have ranged from $10 – $50 bonus when someone signs up and opens a new account through a referral link. It changes every few months so double check to see how much they offer at the moment.

    M1 Finance sign up bonus referral link
    M1 Finance Referral Link

    They have also offered rollover bonuses. If you rollover an account to M1 Finance from another platform you could get up to $4,000 for their summer transfer bonus.

    You can check out there current bonuses and promotions on the website.

    If you want to open an account now and get the bonus for singing up, you can watch the video below on how to sign up for an M1 Finance account.

    How To Sign Up For M1 Finance With A Bonus Video or M1 Finance Signup Bonus Instructions Article

    My Experience Using M1

    I’ve been using M1 for over a year and have been very happy with my experience.

    M1 Finance Review Video

    What I Use M1 For

    I use M1 Finance for two key things:

    1. Investing (M1 Invest)
    2. Saving money (M1 Spend)

    I use it for these two things right now because it provides the best experience of any investing app I’ve tried so far.

    I have not used the borrow function and do not yet have the credit card.

    My M1 Review

    M1 Finance is great for medium to long term investors who want a easy to use platform. M1 makes investing quick, simple, fun and free. All of those align with my investing strategy and values which is why I love to recommend it!

    The platform is not for day traders or those who like to make quick decisions and change their strategy often. If you are impulsive and want to make quick moves then M1 will not be the platform for you.

    M1 has removed so many barriers to traditional investing. It’s made investing more accessible than ever with the lack of fees and fractional shares.

    That’s all due to the founder’s vision. From the start he has said he believes “everyone’s money should be working harder for them.” It’s no wonder M1 has become the leader of investing platforms that are simple, easy, and free yet powerful enough to provide amazing solutions to seasoned investors.

    I hope this M1 Finance review was helpful to you! If you’d like to support my work feel free to do one of the follow:

    1. Use my M1 Finance referral link
    2. Buy me a coffee

    Read More

  • Do I Need Life Insurance For A Mortgage?

    Because I’ve shared all the details of our mortgage and our mortgage payoff plan, I get a lot of questions about mortgages. One of those questions is less common but still important: do I need life insurance for a mortgage?

    What Is Life Insurance?

    Life insurance is one thing that many people avoid until they get older. What is life insurance? Why do people get life insurance?

    Life insurance is a type of insurance that pays out a sum of money either on the death of the insured.

    Do you need life insurance?

    Simply put, it is a contract with an insurance company. The insurance company takes monthly premium payments from you in exchange for providing a lump-sum payment to your beneficiaries when you die.

    Life insurance is designed to replace a person’s income or cover special needs for your family when you aren’t around to provide income. It is very important when you do have a family. It’s a way to take care of them and show them you love them enough to keep taking care of them after you are gone.

    That is the most basic definition of life insurance, but there are many additional types and variations.

    What are the types of Life Insurance?

    There are two basic types of life insurance available:

    1. Term life insurance
    2. Permanent life insurance (which includes whole and universal life)

    Term life insurance policies provide insurance coverage for a set period of time. The most common terms for life insurance are between 10 and 30 years. At the end of the term there is nothing left. There is no cash value component to a term life insurance policy.

    Permanent life insurance policies provide coverage to last your entire life and also includes a cash value component. A portion of your premiums are invested by the insurance company and the cash value grows tax-deferred over time. The death benefit of these life insurance policies is immediately payable from the first day of the policy and the cash value builds up over time. Of these policies there are two types: whole life insurance and universal life insurance.

    There are even more types of life insurance that are less common but can be purchased. You can learn about these when you submit an inquiry with an insurance company.

    Do I Need Life Insurance?

    In general, how do you know if you need life insurance?

    In fact, up until a few years ago I didn’t even understand why life insurance was needed. When I was younger, broke, and in debt I didn’t have life insurance. When I grew older and had children, I finally got life insurance through Bestow.

    Should you get a life insurance policy?

    If you are young and have no dependents then you likely don’t need life insurance.If you have people dependent on your income then you probably need life insurance to protect them.

    Whether or not you need life insurance depends on your life situation and whether or not your need the financial protection and confidence.

    Here are a few reasons you may need life insurance include:

    • You are married
    • You have children
    • People depend on your income
    • You are the sole provider for your family
    • You want to cover funeral and burial expenses
    • Your house has a mortgage
    • You have large debts
    • Your a business owner
    • You want to build tax-deferred cash value
    • You want to supplement your retirement income

    These are just a few of the reasons why people get life insurance and there are more.

    Do I Need Life Insurance For A Mortgage?

    A home is usually the largest asset many people have. Because of this people wonder if they need life insurance for their mortgage so their family will remain in their home.

    There are typically two options for life insurance for a mortgage:

    1. A term life insurance policy that pays out enough money that your family could pay off the mortgage if you pass away.
    2. A mortgage life insurance policy that directly pays off the mortgage when you die.

    Mortgage life insurance is different than regular life insurance and it should not be confused with mortgage insurance (the insurance you must take out when you have an FHA loan or a lower down payment on a conventional mortgage).

    Unfortunately the mortgage life insurance tends to feel very scammy and the mailers you get after buying a home use scare tactics and prey on emotions. They will say something like  “If you died tomorrow, would your family be able to pay the mortgage and maintain their quality of life?”

    Mortgage Life Insurance Benefits

    Let’s look at some of the benefits of getting a mortgage life insurance policy:

    • Pays off the mortgage when you die
    • Can be useful if you can’t qualify for regular life insurance

    Mortgage Life Insurance

    It may be useful in some situations but there are also many negatives:

    • Premiums fluctuate, often going up over time
    • Policies shrink over time with dwindling payouts
    • Age limits on policies
    • No flexibility for your family in how the money is used

    Do You Actually Need It?

    Usually you come out better with a term life policy than with a specific mortgage life insurance policy. With the payout from a term life insurance policy your family can pay off the mortgage or choose to use the money for other needs. This can be useful if the mortgage rate is low or the payment is reasonable.

    Most mortgage life insurance policies are not great because they offer no flexibility. The money from these types of policies is sent directly to your lender to pay off your home. This means your family has no choice in how the money is used.

    do you need mortgage life insurance?
    Do you need life insurance to pay off your mortgage?

    These policies are also not super transparent and are harder to find quotes for online which makes it hard to compare and shop around. Without price transparency and comparison you are unlikely to get a good deal.

    In the end you are much more likely to come out better with a term life insurance policy and making sure your family is financially literate and able to use the money in the best way possible when you pass.

    How Much Life Insurance Should I Get?

    The next question is always, how much life insurance should I get? Is it possible to get too much insurance?

    The amount of life insurance coverage you purchase will depend on a number of factors:

    • Age
    • Debt obligations
    • Income
    • Years until retirement
    • Health
    • Family
    • Other dependents

    These factors will all combine to determine how much life insurance you need.

    A common recommendation from professionals is at least 10 times your annual salary. So if you make $50,000 per year you should purchase a policy for $500,000.

    However, your specific circumstances might make this number change. If you are the sole breadwinner or have a large mortgage or have many dependents then you might want to get more coverage.

    Life insurance amounts should be enough to make sure your loved ones are taken care of financially so they don’t have to worry about money while grieving.

    How To A Get A Life Insurance Policy

    The best policy is the one that fits your individual needs. This will be based on how much you need for the payout and how much you can afford to may monthly for the policy based on your budget.

    For a low monthly premium cost you will likely want to look at a term policy since these tend to be cheaper. If you are using your insurance to grow wealth then you may want a whole or universal life policy which will be more expensive monthly. You should compare between the monthly costs and payout benefits to pick a policy.

    Here’s how to choose a policy:

    1. Decide the type of insurance you want to purchase.
    2. Figure out how much coverage you need and how long you want it to last.
    3. Submit an inquiry to an insurance company or broker to get policy quotes. (If you haven’t decided which type to get, pull quotes for all kinds of life insurance.)
    4. Compare the quotes from different providers and policies.
    5. Choose the insurance policy that meets your needs and budget.
    6. Submit your paperwork and payment information to begin insurance coverage.
    7. Schedule your medical exam if needed. (Or choose a life insurance policy with no medical exam.)
    8. Continue making monthly paymnets.

    Remember that it’s ok to shop around for life insurance and choose the best fit for your needs. Don’t let an insurance sales person talk you into something that you don’t want or need. You can find and choose the best policy for yourself.

    Things To Know About Life Insurance

    There are a few things to know about life insurance.

    Life Insurance Cost

    The longer you wait to buy life insurance the more expensive it will be.

    The younger and healthier you are when you get a life insurance policy the cheaper it will be.

    Work Life Insurance Policies

    Most companies have a basic life insurance policy on you as an employee and they also offer you the ability to buy additional life insurance.

    These policies can be useful and are easy to get so many people take advantage of them.

    However, it is important to remember that if you leave the job you can’t take this type of life insurance with you.

    Multiple Policies

    You can have multiple life insurance policies. Stacking multiple policies is actually a useful tactic and the best way to add or remove policies as your life and needs change.

    Health Issues

    A lot of people want to know if they can get life insurance with health issues. Can you get life insurance if you are a smoker? Can you get life insurance if you are obese? Is it possible to get life insurance if you have had cancer?

    The answer is yes you can.

    Most insurance companies will offer policies for all of these health situations but the cost will be higher. Most policies have contingencies for those who are “high risk” as well which is why many require a health exam.

    Getting Life Insurance

    Whether or not you need life insurance is very dependent on your particular life situation.

    With young kids you likely need a good amount of life insurance. If your kids are grown and out of college then they probably won’t need the money from a life insurance policy. If you have enough assets to produce investment income replace your income then you might not need life insurance. Every situation is different.

    While there are a few basic questions you can ask to determine whether or not you need life insurance, you should definitely do your research and look into the best options for your family.

    Life insurance can be something that people want to avoid because it can be morose, but it is important to get in order to take care of your family. It is one of the most loving things you can do.

    My Experience With Life Insurance

    I personally chose to get a term life insurance policy with Bestow.

    Life Insurance Without A Medical Exam | How To A Get Life Insurance Quote

    I had a work life insurance policy but also decided to get term life insurance outside of that policy.

    The reasons why I personally decided to get life insurance:

    1. I knew that while I was covered at work, if I got laid off that policy wouldn’t go with me.
    2. If something happens to me I need to know my children are taken care of financially.
    3. We have a mortgage and if something happens to me and my income disappears, I want my house to be paid off.
    4. I want to make sure my family has the resources they need to survive if I’m not able to be here for them.

    Things I wanted when I applied for life insurance:

    1. Term life insurance for 20 years because that would cover til my daughter graduated college.
    2. Easy to apply and get covered without jumping through hoops.
    3. No medical exam. I hate medical exams and I have conditions with mental health and asthma.
    4. Affordable rates. I knew that I’m not in perfect health but I wanted to find the best options available to me.
    5. I didn’t want to deal with a sales person trying to push whole life insurance that I didn’t want (this has happened the one other time I looked into getting life insurance personally).

    Getting A Quote

    What I’ve learned from this experience is that it’s worth getting a quote from a couple different companies.

    It does not affect your credit and you can compare your options easily when you aren’t going through a long medical underwriting process. In my experience getting a quote and completing my policy took about 10 minutes start to finish (15 for me because I did record the experience and got distracted) and the whole process was so convenient that I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner.

    If you are looking for term life insurance, you can get a quote and see if you qualify! It’s worth applying to see if you can get rates as low as $15 a month for $250k with no health issues.

    You can read about my experience here: Bestow Review: Term Life Insurance With No Medical Exam

    Read More

  • Are You Ready For A Home Mortgage?

    Home ownership has long been part of the American Dream but over the decades that dream has been changing. Owning a home can be wonderful but it also comes with a hefty mortgage. It’s important to take time to determine if you are ready for a mortgage or not.

    Many people build wealth without home ownership and recognize buying a house can be an anchor.

    Because of this more people are questioning home ownership through a mortgage. Is there a best time in life to get a mortgage? Is home ownership even worth it? When should you make the leap into buying a home?

    Home ownership can still be amazing for many reasons, but let’s look at how to determine if you are ready to buy a home and take out a mortgage.

    Buying Our First House – Price & Mortgage Details

    Are You Ready For A Home Mortgage?

    Here are a few questions to ask yourself before pursuing home ownership:

    Is your credit ready?

    Unfortunately, buying a home is not available to everyone. You need decent credit to qualify for a mortgage.

    You don’t need an excellent credit score but you need at least a 600 credit score in most cases. A higher credit score will get you a better rate on your mortgage.

    If your credit is bad or you have negative accounts on your credit report, then you need to work on improving those before you will be ready to take out a mortgage.

    Check out these posts for help working on your credit:

    Are your finances stable?

    In order to get a mortgage for a home you will need financial stability in your life.

    This means steady employment and work history or at least two years of steady self-employment. You’ll not only need to have stable finances but also the ability to prove it.

    When you go to get your mortgage you will have to provide a ton of information proving you can financially cover the mortgage payment.

    Do you want to be in one place for multiple years?

    Home ownership is generally less expensive than renting over the long term. But if you only plan to be in a city for a couple years you could potentially lose a lot of money trying to buy and sell a home in that time.

    If you are moving often for your career or plan to try out new locations you likely should wait to buy a home. Taking out a mortgage is not a good idea if you will be selling within a short time frame.

    Can you handle the maintenance of a home?

    A huge benefit to renting is the ability to call someone when things break. If you own the home then you are responsible for getting things fixed.

    When considering a home purchase you need to also consider your ability to handle the home maintenance. Are you handy enough to fix things? Or will you be able to pay for someone to do so?

    You should make sure you are ready and able to care for all aspects of the home in addition to the mortgage.

    Determining If You Are Ready

    If you’ve moved through those questions and still want to buy a home then you are ready.

    I highly recommend you also spend some time learning about the home buying process. Too many buyers go straight to looking at homes and falling into dream land instead of going in with a realistic plan.

    Learn about the home buying process, home buying mistakes, and everything you can about how mortgages work.

    Now let’s look at some tips for determining when to obtain a home loan.

    Determining the Right Time For a Home Mortgage

    Buying a home is a dream that everyone shares, but it is not always a financial reality when you are not fully prepared.

    If you are thinking about applying for a home loan to make home ownership a possibility you should be careful to consider how the move will impact the household budget.

    There are several financial questions to ask yourself:

    • Can I afford a down payment to get a reasonable mortgage?
    • How will this affect our household budget each month?
    • How much of our income monthly will need to service the mortgage payment?
    • Will we need to give up anything to make it work financially?
    • Can I get a good rate on a mortgage?
    • Will I need to pay PMI? Can I get rid of PMI on the loan I will get?

    These questions are important for determining your home buying timeline.

    Buying a home sooner may allow you to get a lower price before home prices rise. But putting off a purchase can help buyers to save up enough to avoid PMI or pay less in interest over the life of the loan.

    home sweet home buying house for new homeowners
    When Is The Right Time To Buy A Home?

    Determining How Much House You Can Afford

    Before you look at homes you might want to purchase you need to determine how much house you can afford. It’s hard to know if you are ready for a mortgage without running these calculations.

    How do you decide how much house you can afford? You run the numbers!

    Here are some useful calculators for home affordability:

    You can use these calculators to help you decide how much house you can afford and how much of a mortgage you can take on with your income and downpayment savings.

    Looking At Mortgage Options

    Once you’ve run some preliminary mortgages you will want to talk with a mortgage lender and get pre-qualified.

    This is a great time to interview multiple lenders to determine who you want to work with for the home buying process.

    Here are some questions to ask a potential lender about your mortgage:

    • Will will the fees on this loan be?
    • What are the closing costs?
    • What will my monthly payments be?
    • Which type of mortgage terms do you offer?
    • What credit qualifications do you require and how will this affect the cost?
    • Do you offer mortgage points and what will those cost?
    • What is the interest rate and APR currently offered?
    • What are the income requirements to get a mortgage?
    • How much do I need in a downpayment?
    • Do you offer Preapproval or Prequalification?
    • Is there a prepayment penalty if I want to payoff the mortgage faster?

    These questions are a few of the ones that will help you figure out the financial situation and how you can afford a mortgage – or if you need to wait.

    Budgeting For A Mortgage

    Budgeting for a mortgage payment may not be difficult for families that are already paying hefty rental prices.

    In some areas you can pay less money each month when you have a mortgage than you would for a rental. It all depends on your market.

    The issue that prevents most home ownership is saving a substantial amount to put down on a home purchase. A high down payment can reduce interest rates and means homeowners pay less in interest overall.

    When you are thinking about budgeting for a mortgage you should think about two different periods:

    1. Saving up the mney for your downpaymnet before buying a home
    2. Budgeting each month to pay the mortgage payment

    Making sure you buy a house you can afford will make both of these easier. You should run number based on your income and ability to save. Do not let a realtor or friends and family talk you into a more expensive home that is beyond your budget.

    If you’re not sure what your mortgage payment will look like, check out this video where I break down our mortgage payment.

    Our Monthly Mortgage Statement

    Taking Advantage of Low Mortgage Rates

    Mortgage rates have been low for a while. Since they are expected to remain low for a while it might be the right time for buyers to make a move.

    Getting the best interest rates helps make a home more affordable which is why you might need to take advantage of low mortgage rates even if house prices are higher.

    Finding The Best Rate

    To find the best rate possible for your mortgage you need to shop around. Mortgage brokers are able to find and compare rates for buyers to ensure that the lowest rate possible. Using a mortgage broker is an easy way to compare home loan rates for the best results.

    Home loan rates are constantly fluctuating, and a rate that is temporarily low can skyrocket in a short period of time.

    Getting Prepared For Your Loan

    Buyers should be prepared to take advantage of a low rate as soon as it is available. In order to make sure that happens you should be prepared.

    You’ll want to get everything ready for the application including:

    • Gathering financial paperwork required by lenders including proof of income, bank statements, and tax documents
    • Finding a mortgage broker to check on rates
    • Interviewing some lenders on your own to double check rates and service

    Buyers can get too excited about making a home purchase without regard to current interest rates. This unfortunately means they do not get the best deals. It is important to be prepared and ready to go but not jump on the wrong deal.

    Read More

  • 10 Financial Goals For The New Year

    A new year is just around the corner. Do you have any financial goals in your New Year’s Resolutions? Are you hoping to clean up your money mess in the new year?

    Setting financial goals is a common tradition at the beginning of every new year.

    If you don’t know which money goals to choose, then this post will help you by sharing some money goals you may want to hit in the new year.

    Setting Smart Financial Goals

    Remember that goals without a plan are just dreams! You need to set smart goals and then create a plan to follow through with action.

    S.M.A.R.T goals are:

    • Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
    • Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
    • Assignable – specify who will do it.
    • Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
    • Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

    If you want a printable to help you set goals and get organized, try this goal setting planner from my Etsy shop.

    If you have big financial dreams you need to set goals for yourself and work toward achieving those goals. I share some time on both setting financial goals and working toward achieving those financial goals too. I know a lot of you watching this channel are dreaming of big things and hope to achieve them one day.

    Make sure you are giving yourself the best chance at doing this by setting measurable goals that you can track!

    setting money goals
    Setting Money Goals

    Money Goals For A New Year

    If you’re looking for financial goals to try out this new year, try some of the following.

    Here are a few financial goals you could set for the new year:

    Create A Financial Plan

    Creating a financial plan for your life is a great goal to tackle in the new year.

    With this goal you can work alone, with your partner, and with a financial planner if you choose.

    You should pull together all your current financial information and assess where you currently are financially. Then you can create a plan to get you from that place to where you want to be.

    This goal is great because it will take a long term and wide ranging view of your money situation. You can do this and use it to help with other goals on this list.

    Save For Emergencies

    Saving for emergencies is a critical step for any financial foundation. If you don’t have an emergency fund you are at the whim of any major unexpected expense that comes along.

    For the new year you can set a goal to save up an emergency fund. If you’ve never saved before you can start with $1,000 as a goal and then move to one month’s expenses. This first buffer will get you off needing to forever go back into debt during a smaller emergency. This should always be done before you pay off debt.

    You may also want to save up a larger emergency fund of 3 to 6 month’s expenses. If you have an unstable income that goal may need to be even higher.

    money goals counting money to pay for big goals
    Calculating Money Goals

    Create A Budget

    Budgets can have a bad reputation but you need to create some form of plan for your spending.

    The best budgets are goals focused that allow you to live life while also hitting your big financial goals. This tends to motivate most people to stick with it.

    In the new year while you are working on a budget you might want to try different methods like zero based budgeting, 50/30/20 budgeting, pay yourself first budgeting and more.

    You can also try out different apps to help you set up a budget. I like Personal Capital and Mint to make budgeting and tracking very simple.

    Pay Off Debt

    Paying off debt is a very common goal during the new year. Each year my posts about paying off debt get a huge jump in views in January when people are setting the goal to finally pay off debt.

    To make this your goal for the year you need to write out all of your debt and choose your method of paying it back. There are multiple debt payoff plans like the debt avalanche and debt snowball so feel free to pick whichever motivates you the most.

    Debt Payoff Planner, Debt Tracker Printable, Payoff Bundle, Debt Snowball, Debt Avalanche, Debt Free Charts Planner PDF Printable Inserts Active
    Debt Payoff Planner Bundle Printable

    If you have high interest debt like credit cards then this should be your number one goal for the year. Interest rates on debt over 15% need to be an emergency and credit cards almost always charge this much. Make it your priority to get rid of the high interest debt as fast as possible.

    Here are some helpful debt payoff resources to motivate you:

    Save For Retirement

    If you are not saving for retirement yet then you should likely start! This can be a great goal to work on for the new year. You can either start from scratch or increase your existing contributions.

    When saving for retirement you should always start with the place that gives you the best advantage.

    For most people this is a 401k with matching. If your company matches 4% of your 401k contributes then you need to contribute 4% of your salary. That is part of your compensation package or “free money” as people like to say.

    From there you can evaluate where to stash away money next depending on your income and tax situation.

    Not sure how much to save for retirement?

    Here are some retirement calculators that can help you make a plan:

    Those calculators can help you run the numbers and determine your goal for retirement savings.

    Start Investing

    You may also want to set a goal to invest beyond just retirement. Investing builds wealth and also protects your money against inflation.

    For this goal you can learn about the various ways you can invest. There are many, many different ways to invest your money which often overwhelms people. Plan to look into investing options for a couple hours but don’t pursue every single option available.

    Personally I like investing in index funds and I do so through M1 Finance which is easy to use and focused on long term investing. Each year I set a new investing goal in January. I’ve previously set a goal to invest $1,000 for the year and also $12,000 for another year. This goal can adjust based on other financial needs!

    The biggest thing you can do with investing is to get started. There will be ups and downs but historically time in the market is the biggest key to success.

    Here are some great books to read if you feel overwhelmed by investing:

    Those books are classics that can help break down a very simple but effective investing strategy.

    Save For A Home Down Payment

    Saving for a home is a huge task but it’s a great goal to set with intention.

    It’s also a very easy goal to make specific and measurable.

    With this goal it is going to be about more than money. At the same time that you are saving you will also want to tackle other areas that will improve your chance to buy the right house.

    home sweet home buying house for new homeowners
    Buying A Home

    If saving for a home is your goal you also want to:

    • work on your credit
    • improve your debt to income ration by paying down debt
    • research home prices and neighborhoods
    • contact realtors and lenders you may want to work with

    For the actual savings aspect of this goal you will just need to create a sinking fund at a high yield savings bank. Then contribute to the savings goal throughout the year based on your numbers.

    Are you a first time home buyer? Check out these helpful posts:

    Start A Side Hustle

    New year, new money! Maybe this is the year you finally start your side hustle to bring in extra income for all of your financial goals.

    Side hustles can help you make more money which makes all your other goals easier.

    I started a YouTube side hustle and it helped me pay off $43,000 in debt in two years.

    You can start an online business or a side hustle online or you can do any number of in person side hustles like lawncare, walking dogs, tutoring, babysitting, and more.

    There are endless possibilities for side hustles and many can pay very well.

    You should pick something that works with your existing skills, available time, and your interests. This will make it less of a chore and something you are more likely to stick with for a longer period.

    Save For Your Kid’s Future

    Parents have the responsibility to provide for their children and this can include saving for their future needs. Those future needs can include things like cars and college.

    The great thing about saving for your child is that you can usually start when they are young and let the small amounts add up over time.

    There are many different account types where you can save for your child:

    • 529 Plan
    • UTMA
    • Custodial account
    • High Yield Savings Account
    • Taxable Brokerage Account

    If you haven’t started saving for your child’s future needs then set that goal to get started for this year.

    Invest In Yourself

    The final goal you should consider for your new year’s resolutions is to invest in yourself.

    Setting a goal to invest in your improvement in some way can be life changing this year. You can invest in yourself through education, your health, your business or other ways.

    There are many ways to make an investment in yourself:

    • buy a book for knowledge you need
    • take a course to learn a skill
    • sign up for mentorship to develop with professional guidance
    • join a group for peer feedback and growth
    • buy a gym membership to keep your body and mind sharp

    It’s popular to treat yourself and hopefully one day it will be just as popular to invest in yourself.

    All of these goals are great options to try out for the new year in order to improve your life financially. Often it can feel overwhelming to pick financial goals so I suggest beginners pick 1-3 main financial goals from the list. This gives you a good starting point of things you want to achieve in a year and you can always add more goals later!

    Goal Setting Tips

    Setting financial goals is very important to your long term financial success. Without the goals to build your plan you will be left without a guide for managing your money.

    In order to set goals you’ll actually achieve, try some of these goal setting tips:

    • Set specific goals that you can measure with numbers and dates
    • Write down your goals
    • Ideally put your written goals somewhere you can see them
    • Track your progress often toward the goals
    • Break each big goal into smaller goals and milestones
    • Find accountability with yourself or others

    If you do all that? You’re on your way to your most successful year yet!

    Read More

  • M1 Finance Sign Up Bonus

    If you want a jumpstart on your longterm investing then you should snag the current M1 Finance sign up bonus of $50.

    For people looking for an investment platform focused on long term investing M1 Finance is a great option.

    How To Open An M1 Finance Account

    Right now there is a M1 Finance sign up bonus of $50. It’s the highest sign up bonus they have ever offered for new accounts!

    You can use this referral link to get $50 free on M1 Finance when you open a new account and contribute the required amount after signing up.

    M1 Finance sign up bonus referral link for $50

    This M1 Finance sign up bonus only works with a referral link like

    That link will allow you to earn $50 for free when you sign up and contribute $100 to your account. This particular sign up bonus is available until September 7, 2021. After that the amount will likely change by going down.

    You can check back often to see what the sign up bonus amount is for M1 Finance when you use a referral link. The sign up bonus changed multiple times from $10 to $30 to $50 for funding new accounts.

    Whenever you see a sign up bonus above $10 it’s a good time to sign up for a new account with M1 Finance.

    M1 Finance Review

    M1 Finance is a financial app that offers investing, borrowing and spending in one easy-to-use platform. The started as a brokerage offering just investment accounts but they have slowly added many features and products to make it a comprehensive money management tool.

    M1 Finance Review Video or M1 Finance Review Article: Pros, Cons, Features

    The easy-to-use app makes investing simple through visually appealing organization and automation. You set up a portfolio using their pie functionality to invest via percentages to create the perfect portfolio to fit your needs.

    When you contribute money it automatically invests based on your portfolio. This is an ideal set up for most long term investors who want to pick an investing plan and then not worry about making changes frequently.

    Reasons why I like M1 Finance:

    • focused on long term investors not traders
    • you can buy fractional shares which is great when you have small amounts to invest
    • you can copy “expert” portfolios to get started
    • M1 is free to use and charges no fees
    • there is a sign up bonus when you open a new account
    • they keep adding new functions and features to make it a comprehensive solution
    • you can buy individual stocks and ETFs
    • M1 Finance is transparent about how they earn money

    Downsides to M1 Finance:

    • you can’t buy stocks immediately and have to wait for windows of time
    • there is a learning curve to use it successfully
    • accounts with less than $29 and no activity in 90 days are charged fees
    • there are no financial advisors on staff if you do need guidance

    While there are a could downsides to this financial institution, the upsides and functionality of the app make it a winner for any long term investor!

    How to Get The M1 Finance Sign Up Bonus

    Getting the $50 bonus when you sign up for M1 Finance is easy but there are a few requirements. This step-by-step tutorial shows you how to redeem the $50 M1 Finance sign up bonus in 2021.

    The following instructions will show you:

    • how to use a referral link for M1Finance
    • steps to open an account on M1 finance
    • how to hit all the requirements to get your bonus money

    Sign Up For M1 Finance

    The steps you need to take to get the referral money for the M1 Finance bonus:

    1. Click on this referral link to open the M1 Finance website
    2. Enter your email and password and then click “Sign up now”
    3. Follow the sign up instructions to open the account type of your choice

    Account Funding Requirements

    You must contribute this amount per account type to successfully fund your account for the referral bonus:

    • Individual brokerage – $100
    • Joint brokerage- $100
    • Custodial account – $100
    • Trust account – $5,000
    • Retirement (Traditional, Roth, or SEP IRA) account – $500

    M1 Account Notes

    • You must fund the account after opening it to get the bonus. As of writing this post it requires funding a certain amount as shown above but double check to make sure the requirement hasn’t changed.
    • The bonus can take a couple days to show up in your account. When it’s ready it will automatically drop into your investment account. If you have auto invest on then it will automatically invest into your investment pies.
    M1 Finance sign up bonus image for giving $50 and getting $50

    M1 Finance Sign Up Bonus

    How much will you get as a sign up bonus when you join M1 Finance with a referral link?

    The standard sign up bonus with a M1 Finance referral link is currently $50.

    You can only get this bonus if you are referred to M1 Finance. If you just go to the website without a referral link you will not get it.

    The referral has changed multiple times. It has been $10, $30, and $50. The have periods where the amount changes and increases.

    The same is accurate for how much you can earn by referring people with your own referral link within the app. The amount can range from $10-$50 for what you can earn when you refer your own friends.

    M1 Finance Sign Up Bonus FAQ

    Below are some of the questions I often get asked on videos about the M1 Finance sign up bonus you get from the referral program.

    What’s the M1 Finance referral link and bonus?

    Each person that uses M1 Finance has their own individual link they can use to refer friends that looks like this:

    When you use a referral link to start an M1 Finance account you will get a bonus. The person that referred you will also get a bonus.

    You can find your own referral link inside your account. After you locate your M1 Finance referral link you can share it with others to get a sign up bonus for both yourself and the new user.

    What is the M1 Finance promo code for a bonus?

    There is not a specific code to enter with M1 Finance because they use a referral link system instead.

    The referral link will have unique numbers and letters at the end that identifies you for the bonus. It will look like this

    Using this type of referral link is the only way to get the sign up bonus. There is no code.

    Can you still get the $50 bonus after signing up? 

    Unfortunately the M1 Finance referral program only applies to new users who sign up with a referral link from an existing customer.

    If you already signed up for an account without using a referral link then you will not be able to get the bonus added later.

    Make sure you use the link to guarantee you will receive the bonus.

    How long does it take to get the bonus money on M1?

    You will receive a $50 sign up bonus in your Payment Account within 14 business days.

    This will only occur after successfully opening an M1 account and funding it for the full 30 day period.

    Where will my sign up bonus be deposited?

    M1 Finance will be deposited into your designated “Payment Account”.

    A Payment Account is either your individual or joint brokerage account.

    They will not put the referral bonus into a retirement account if you have chosen to open one. You will need to have a brokerage account to act as your “Payment Account” to receive the bonus.

    What restrictions are there for the M1 Finance sign up bonus?

    This referral program is valid only for new M1 account users. You can not get the bonus more than once.

    Why did I not receive the referral bonus money?

    Unfortunately if you didn’t receive your referral credit, it’s possible that something went wrong with the link or you did not properly fund the account.

    You can use this M1 Finance referral link when you sign up to get $50 as a free bonus!

    Read More

  • Coinbase Sign Up Bonus ($10)

    Bitcoin is volatile but the price is currently rising. If you’re trying to get into buying Bitcoin (BTC), then you should take advantage of the Coinbase sign up bonus. This bonus gives you $10 worth of Bitcoin for free.

    You can use this referral link to get $10 of free Bitcoin on Coinbase when you buy or sell $100 in any crypto.

    When you sign up for Coinbase this referral link will allow you to earn $10 of Bitcoin when you sign up and then buy or sell $100 in any crypto.

    The typical sign up bonus for Coinbase is $5 for new accounts but with the referral link you can double it and immediately get $10 in Bitcoin.

    As Bitcoin prices rise that $10 is likely to be worth more and more. To understand Bitcoin better if you are new, I highly recommend the book The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking.

    How to Get The Coinbase Sign Up Bonus

    Unlike some other investing apps like Cash App where you can also buy Bitcoin, Coinbase has a referral link system instead of using a code for the sign up bonus.

    This means to get the bonus you need to click through a referral link and immediately sign up to avoid missing the bonus for signing up.

    In the step-by-step video tutorial below you will see how to sign up for Coinbase via a referral link and get the free $10 Bitcoin bonus.

    The instructions will show you:

    • how to open your account on Coinbase
    • the referral link for signing up on Coinbase
    • how to buy Bitcoin on Coinbase
    • how to hit all the requirements for the Bitcoin bonus on Coinbase
    • what a referral looks like inside your account

    The steps you need to get the referral bonus with Coinbase:

    1. Click on the referral link here which will take you to a sign up screen
    2. Enter your personal info (name, email, and state), and choose a password, and confirm you are 18 and agree to the terms
    3. Click the blue “Create Account” button
    4. Once your account is created, you will want to buy $100 of any cryptocurrencies you want to invest in or trade

    Important!! To get your bonus Bitcoin you must do all the steps including buying or selling $100 worth of Crypto.

    Coinbase Review

    Coinbase is one of the most established and largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the United States. The company actually went public in 2021 and you can buy stock in Coinbase itself.

    Coinbase has over 50 cryptocurrencies available for purchase and trading on the platform. The easy to use platform allows regular people to buy and sell cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The app is very easy to use and navigate making it easy for regular people to get involved with cryptocurrencies.

    Coinbase has a very low minimum to start funding an account. With the generous referral bonus you add $10 to your account when you start with buying just $100 of any crypto.

    Coinbase has other functions like cryptocurrency services for businesses and institutions, but for this review I’m focused on the crypto brokerage side. This is what you will be using as an investor when you buy Bitcoin or other crypto.

    Reasons why I like Coinbase:

    • easy to use for buying and selling major cryptocurrencies
    • cryptocurrency is privately insured in case the site is hacked
    • get $10 in Bitcoin upon creating an account with a referral link
    • can transfer your crypto to your own hardware wallet
    • low minimum to fund your account (just $2)

    Downsides to Coinbase:

    • higher fees than some other platforms (0.5% to 4.5% depending on payment method, cryptocurrency type, transaction size and platform)
    • fees and other information can be confusing or hard to find
    • customer service is limited to mostly just email support

    Coinbase has made crypto accessible and mainstream especially in the US. However, it is important to remember that while cryptocurrency is a new asset class it also has extreme volatility. Trading cryptocurrency is a highly volatile way to earn money and risks must be considered with Coinbase or any platform.

    If you are ready to use Coinbase to buy cryptocurrency, sign up using this referral link for $10 in Bitcoin.

    Coinbase Sign Up Bonus

    How much will you get as a sign up bonus when you join Coinbase with a referral link?

    The standard sign up bonus with Coinbase is $5 but a referral link will double it to $10. This incentivizes many Coinbase users like myself to share our links and invite new people to the platform.

    If you sign up on the Coinbase site without a referral link you will get half of the amount ($5). Doubling this makes using and then sharing your own referral link so attractive. Everyone likes to get a larger Coinbase sign up bonus!

    When you refer people using your referral link, you will get the same amount as the sign up bonus. You can learn how to refer friends to Coinbase here.

    Either way you win when you use a referral link to sign up for Coinbase.

    Coinbase Sign Up Bonus Problems

    There are times when referral links do not work for the sign up bonus. Here are a few of the common reasons why your bonus has not been applied to your account.

    1. You’ve not made a purchase or trade large enough to qualify. You need to make sure it is $100 to get the bonus.
    2. You are not in a country currently supported so you will not receive the new account bonus. Check the Coinbase website to make sure your country is supported.
    3. You did not sign up through a referral link. Unfortunately you need to sign up immediately after clicking a referral link because otherwise you might not get the bonus. If you went to the site directly or through Google you will not get the Coinbase sign up bonus.
    4. You’ve waited too long to buy or sell $100 in crypto so the bonus from the referral link has expired. Make sure you do this within the first 7 days to get the Coinbase sign up bonus.

    Coinbase Sign Up Questions

    Is the Coinbase referral bonus always $10?

    While the bonus is currently $10 at the time of writing this, the Coinbase sign up bonus does change.

    In the past Coinbase has had different sign up promo bonus amounts.

    In fact, in 2017 the referral bonus was $75 as they were trying to grow their platform. This was an incredible opportunity to get a huge jump on your account with that level of sign up bonus.

    Will it ever change again? Only Coinbase knows.

    Is there anything else to know?

    Be patient if things are taking a couple days when you sign up or put in an order. At times Coinbase has explosive growth and it can take a couple days to verify new accounts or process orders.

    Coinbase retains the right to make changes to their referral program at any time in the future. You should always make sure to check their website or app for the most up to date information. The sign up bonus and referral link can be changed at any time.

    Use this referral link to get $10 of free Bitcoin on Coinbase when you buy or sell $100 in any crypto.


    With Coinbase this referral link will allow you to earn $10 of Bitcoin when you sign up and then buy or sell $100 in any crypto. It does not have to be Bitcoin that you buy or sell but the $10 sign up bonus will be in Bitcoin.

    Read More

  • Where To Open A Roth IRA

    Do you want to know where to open a Roth IRA? Are you curious why you should be using a Roth IRA?

    When I started talking more about Roth IRAs on my personal finance YouTube channel, my subscribers had many questions. Those questions ranged from

    • why should you open a Roth IRA?
    • where you should open a Roth IRA?
    • what are the benefits of a Roth IRA?
    • why choose the Roth IRA over other accounts?

    I received all those questions and more. Some wanted to understand why they should have this account and others wanted to know how to open one.

    I recently started maxing out my Roth IRA contribution each year in order to grow my tax free retirement accounts. My goal is to reach over a million dollars in my Roth IRA.

    I love my Roth IRA and all of the benefits it offers. If eligible I think everyone should start one for retirement savings. It’s the number one thing people should do after they’ve maxed out employer match benefits from a 401k.

    And if you don’t have access to a 401k at all? Then you should start a Roth IRA today. I started mine years ago when I was earning income but did not have access to a 401k. Over time the account has built up and I’m on track for a comfortable retirement.

    Why Open A Roth IRA

    Roth IRAs are amazing because they allow you to create tax free growth with your money.

    Yep, tax free growth!

    You can do this because when you invest in a Roth IRA you are using post tax income. You fund your account with money that has already been taxed. Then you let that money grow tax free inside your Roth IRA and withdraw the money tax free. 

    It’s truly a miraculous type of account.

    This account type is compared to a traditional IRA where the money you deposit today is tax deductible now. With that account the earnings grow tax free but then you have to pay taxes when you withdraw the money.

    Personally the Roth IRA has made a lot of sense for our situation. We are already investing in 401ks which will be taxed later during withdrawals, so also having some money growing for the future that won’t be taxed will be very helpful when it is time to live off of our investments.

    Roth IRA accounts have a couple other awesome benefits:

    • You can withdraw the money you saved later without a penalty. However, you can’t withdraw any earnings on your money without penalty but the actual money you put into the account can be take out later if needed as long as you wait 5 years. 
    • You also have an option to withdraw money for special life events like buying a home. This can lower the amount your money compounds over time but it’s very helpful for many who need the money in the moment.

    With so many amazing benefits to the Roth IRA, what is the catch?

    There are limits to how much money you can put in a Roth IRA.

    For 2020 and 2021 that number is $6,000. To qualify for a Roth IRA you have to have an earned income in order to contribute.

    Roth IRAs are great vehicles to stash away money for your future. And while it might seem complicated there are only three steps to getting started:

    1. Open your Roth IRA at a financial institution
    2. Contribute money to your Roth IRA
    3. Choose the investments that money buys inside your Roth IRA

     How To Choose A Financial Institution

    Once you’ve decided to open a Roth IRA you need to figure out where to open one. After picking an institution you then learn how to go through the process.

    This can be overwhelming because almost every financial institution offers Roth IRAs now from banks and credit unions to investment platforms to mutual fund companies. You have hundreds of options for where to open a Roth IRA.

    My favorite options for a Roth IRA are online brokerages that are low cost and easy to manage on your own. These accounts are easy to manage either through your own choices or a robo-advisor. Some people prefer managed accounts, but I think you and I are smart enough to do it on your own. You can make good choices and consistent contributions on our own, so that’s what I’ll talk about here.

    I also like online brokerages for Roth IRA accounts because they save you money. You won’t be paying those hefty management fees or commissions with the free trades and lower account minimums.

    Online brokerages are also easier to access for more people. Some of these accounts allow you to start with just $1 which makes investing much easier to start and more accessible for everyone. 

    Where To Open Roth IRA Accounts

    There are literally thousands of places to open up roth IRA accounts so I’m just going to cover a few of my favorites that offer the best value and experience.

    Some of these are affiliate links which means I will make a commission if you sign up but not all of them are. 

    First, the newer platform I love:

    M1 Finance

    M1 Finance is my current favorite for Roth IRA accounts because it gives you the best of a robo-advisor combined with the control of a traditional brokerage which means you have more options for what to include in your Roth IRA.

    You can watch the M1 Finance Review video above or read the full review about M1 Finance. I’ve used M1 Finance as a brokerage for over a year and love the app which makes me recommend it highly to anyone wanting to start a Roth IRA.

    It also charges zero commissions or management fees and the starting balance for brokerage accounts is $100 and retirement accounts just $500.

    Next, the traditional brokerages I’ve used and recommend often:


    Fidelity is a great platform for opening a Roth IRA and a huge provider of mutual funds. Many people already have 401ks with Fidelty and for that reason it can make a lot of sense to use them also for a Roth IRA since they offer lost cost options and an easy to use platform. It’s also very beginner friendly. There are benefits to having all your accounts in one place to make it easier to see at a glance how you are doing.


    I personally have my Roth IRA with Vanguard and love it for the  low cost, set it and forget it funds. I also love that they don’t spend money on things that don’t matter like advertising so they keep expenses low on funds and don’t charge commissions.

    However, until the last couple years they haven’t been the most user friendly platform. I recommend them and use them personally but the reason why is because their funds have very, very low expense ratios so if you can buy Vanguard funds on any platform they are usually a great option. They have been getting better over the last few years which I appreciate and they also offer a ton of educational tools.

    Other options for Roth IRAs:

    There are a ton of other good ones in this realm like Charles Scwab and TD Ameritrade, but I just don’t personally have much experience with them. When looking for a place to open your Roth IRA you should always look at reviews of the company.

    How To Choose Your Retirement Investments

    Opening an account is not the final step of your Roth IRA. Next you’ll have to contribute money and then you’ll have to choose your investments.

    You Must CHOOSE Investments

    A Roth IRA is just a type of account that is protected from taxes. You have to fill it with money and then buy specific investments with that money.

    If you don’t choose an investment and buy it inside your Roth account then your money may end up just sitting in cash and not earning any interest. (It’s not a common mistake but I’ve sadly seen it happen to people!)

    Robo-Advisor Help

    If you chose a robo-advisor based platform then you will simply choose a style of investing like how aggressive or conservative you want to be. The robo advisor automates what you invest in.

    Creating Your Own Portfolio

    If you choose a traditional online brokerage then you will get to select what you want inside your Roth IRA in order to create a portfolio. Generally this will be a mix of stocks and bonds to create a balanced and diversified portfolio.

    A lot of people can get super stuck here because there are thousands or options for your portfolio. It can feel overwhelming but don’t let it stop you.

    You can start with a portfolio created by experts or a general total stock index fund and then do more research on stocks and funds so you can make different choices or rebalance as you go.

    Learn About Investment Types

    Many platforms offer educational content about what to choose inside your Roth IRA and many also offer meetings with investment advisors if you really do feel too overwhelmed. The point here is to do your own research but don’t fall into inaction – get started and invest consistently.

    Getting Started With Your Roth IRA

    There really is no better time to get started with a Roth IRA than right now. The earlier you start investing for retirement the better off your life will be. You can budget investing in your Roth IRA in your budget every month in order to max out your account. 

    Remember that there are income limits on who is eligible for contributing to Roth IRAs, so double check the current year’s guidelines to see if you qualify for one of these amazing retirement investing tools.

    Also double check to see what the contribution limit is for the current year. Each year there is a max amount you can invest in a Roth IRA. When I first started investing in my Roth IRA you could only contribute $4,000 per year and now in 2020 when I’m writing this post you can now contribute $6,000 per year. 

    Remember that maxing a Roth IRA is no different than any other financial goal you may have. You need to set the goal, write it down, and then work toward achieving it. This likely means consistent contributions each time you get paid. 

    How To Track Your Roth IRA Contributions

    There are a couple different ways to track your Roth IRA contributions. I highly recommend you keep track of the money that you contribute over the year. Doing so will help you maximize this account.

    First, you can track contributions within your Roth IRA at most brokerages. Some offer cool features to help you stay on track and get motivated.

    Some of these show your percentage to 100% for the year. Others just keep a tally of your contributions to compare against that year’s maximum amount. Either way, almost every account will offer some form of internal tracking feature so you can see how much you’ve contributed for the year and how much you have left to go.

    Personal Capital

    Secondly, you can use an app like Personal Capital to track your Roth IRA contributions for the year along with your whole financial picture.

    I love being able to quickly see my overall financial picture in one clean dashboard. I have many accounts in various places but Personal Capital pulls it all together.

    Personal Capital makes it quick to see everything at a glance and check your progress.

    Visual Trackers

    Retirement Savings Tracker Printables Bundle | 401K Roth IRA Trackers

    Finally, you can use a visual tracker like this Roth IRA tracker or other retirement savings trackers.

    These visual trackers give you an old school method of tracking. This can be motivating for keeping you on track to max out this investment account. I highly recommend you keep a visual tracker of some sort in a place where you can see it often.

    Read More

  • Novo Bank Review | Is It The Best Business Bank Account?

    It’s hard to know where to store hard earned cash from a small business or side hustle but in this Novo bank review we will look at what might be the perfect business bank choice… especially for anyone earning an income online.

    Novo bank offers business checking with a focus on digital banking geared toward small businesses, freelancers, and startups.

    In my opinion it’s perfect for content creators, digital product sellers and online business owners who mainly earn income from multiple sources online. I know because that’s me and I’m currently using Novo as my bank for YouTube & Etsy income.

    In this Novo bank review we will cover who will benefit from using Novo and the pros and cons of Novo.

    Novo is perfect for anyone starting out small who needs to separate their business checking from their personal checking (believe me, you need to do this as soon as possible to make things easier). 

    They offer some amazing features but they also have some downsides too so let’s review whether Novo Bank is the right business checking account for you.

    About Novo Business Banking

    Like many new cool digital focused banks Novo has been around since 2016 and is actually not a bank at all but a technology company that has partnered with a bank. 

    They partnered with Middlesex Federal Savings in order to provide FDIC insurance and deposit account services through a traditional bank. You might have never heard of Middlesex Federal Savings but they are a bank that has been around for over 100 years. 

    Novo Bank is completely digital and since it is a technology company they are offering some great integrations and perks for account holders. There are many direct integrations with companies like Quickbooks, Shopify, Zapier, Stripe, and Slack. Personally I use many of these tools in my own business so having those direct integrations was one of the first things that drew me to Novo Bank.

    Novo has targeted this business banking account toward people who want a free business checking account who prefer to manage finances online, integrate with tools they already use and don’t need to deposit cash regularly. (Hint, it’s me.)

    Novo Pros

    Let’s talk about some of the things that make Novo Bank pretty great and why I’m a fan of their services.

    Low opening balance to start

    You only need $50 to open an account at Novo which makes it accessible to people just starting out. When I was looking for a new business checking account many required a balance of thousands just to start and qualify for the “free” checking with no monthly fee.

    No fees

    Novo’s business checking account has no monthly fees, no minimum balance requirements, no transaction fees and no incoming wire fees.

    In addition, there are no fees for incoming or outgoing ACH transfers, stop payments, debit card replacements or paper statements.

    Novo business checking also includes free mobile check deposit, free bill pay with physical checks (which are mailed out from the mobile app) and free bank checks. There are two exceptions to the no fee policy: insufficient funds and uncollected funds returned which results in a $27 fee.

    Free ATM access

    Novo allows you to use any ATM in the U.S. or abroad, without charging you any fees. They also will reimburse all fees that you face from those banks for using their ATMs, depositing the refund directly into your account at the end of each month.

    Online and mobile banking

    Novo business checking is designed to be online only and the digital focus helps avoid the hassle of visiting a physical bank. You can deposit checks, make payments, send money and do almost everything you need from their website or app.

    Sinking funds

    Novo has a built in tool for setting aside “Reserves” which is a sinking fund style budgeting tool. You can set aside funds within your checking account to budget for different types of expenses like taxes or new equipment.


    Novo has integrated invoicing features that allow you to create, send and manage unlimited invoices right from your bank account. This would be a fantastic tool for freelancers or content creators working with brands frequently.

    novo integrations

    Tool integrations

    Novo has focused on integrations with the tools that help get small business paid. They have direct account integrations with QuickBooks, Xero, Stripe, Shopify, TransferWise, Zapier and Slack. They also allow you to connect your business checking account to Square, PayPal and Wave too though there is not a direct integration.

    Since I personally use many of these tools it was a huge benefit to have an easily integrated system. These were all tools I already used before opening my Novo account so the transition to using Novo Bank was pretty flawless.


    Opening an account at Novo gives you access to discounts on many of thos business softwares and services. Novo partners with providers including Stripe, QuickBooks, Gusto, Google, HubSpot and others to offer savings opportunities for account holders.

    For example, the Stripe integration will save you up to $500 with $20,000 in fee-free card processing. This can be a huge win when you first start selling digital products on your own website for example. 

    Ease of use

    This pro doesn’t matter to everyone, but the website and app are so easy to use and beautifully designed. After I’ve dealt with local banks for a couple years for business checking this is a breath of fresh air.

    Everything within the Novo website and app is easy to learn and use. They clearly put the design of the user experience above everything else.

    novo bank features

    Novo Cons

    Now let’s talk about the negatives from using business banking at Novo.

    No cash deposits

    If you are someone that likes to use cash or you take cash for your small business then Novo will fall short for you because they do not accommodate cash deposits.

    No recurring bill pay

    Unfortunately while you can pay bills through Novo you can’t set up automatic recurring bill payments. You can save the info for the bill to be paid but you still have to go in and manually do it which means you have to keep an eye on bill due dates.

    Those are a couple of the negatives that come with using Novo. If these are important things to your business then you would likely not want to use Novo.

    No easy to find address or phone number

    Novo doesn’t show their address or phone number on their website clearly. You won’t be able to find a Novo bank address because there are not physical locations to contact. Same thing with a Novo bank phone number.

    You have to contact their service via email at or through the app. They respond quickly but you do have to use these.

    They do share their partner bank Middlesex Federal Savings address: Middlesex Federal Savings, 1 College Avenue, Somerville, MA 02144. However, they will not provide in service banking for your account so you need to contact Novo customer support via the web and mobile apps.

    novo bank review

    Novo Bank Reviews

    Clearly I believe Novo has more pros and than cons so my Novo bank review is positive and I’ve chosen to personally use them as my business banking option.

    But what do others think? Are the Novo reviews positive or negative?

    All of these reviews generated from trusted websites have Novo rated highly with varying levels from Great to Excellent.

    Some of the things that stand out from these sites when looking at the Novo reviews:

    • “Simple interface and responsive team. Easy to get started and use.”
    • “As a small business, Novo has helped me manage my money and find loans flawlessly. It has immensely helped me be more productive and grow my business.”
    • “Great customer service when needed. Easy to use, clean web UI, and a solid, fast iOS app.”
    • “I love NOVO! Why? No fees.”
    • “Novo has made banking so easy & efficient. I thought Novo convenience would end at “easy banking,” but they also actively look out for their costumers. They sent me notices for SBA loans when my business met the requirements. Then, they helped me get a loan by sending me easy, electronic forms to fill out…and then, they helped me get loan forgiveness. Amazing experience so far.”
    • “Novo went out of their way to make sure I applied for the PPP loan, like OUT OF THEIR WAY. I got $10,000 for free because of their diligence and customer care.”
    • “Novo Bank was very helpful through the entire PPP loan process. Highly recommend.”
    • “Great support. Especially in times of need.”

    One thing that stands out in each Novo bank review was the variety of experiences.

    One thing I did not have personal experience with was how helpful Novo was during 2020. Novo was very helpful during this hard year when businesses were working through getting PPP loans and other SBA loans. After reading reviews I learned that Novo worked very hard to help customers navigate the difficult and unprecedented times.

    Novo bank review - the best business bank account for online businesses

    My Novo Bank Review

    For my Novo bank review, I’d give them a 5 out of 5 stars for my experience using the business checking account.

    Based on who they are targeting I’m actually their ideal customer for multiple reasons:

    • I prefer to manage money online and already use many of the tools they have partnered with.
    • I also never use cash or pay many bills for my business.
    • The cons for some people did not directly affect my banking needs.

    Novo seems perfect for anyone doing business mainly online. I think it is an ideal fit for both content creators and freelancers.

    Considering the rise of the creator economy in recent years, I think Novo is focused on a growing section of online business owners. These people make money online and want seamless business banking options without fees and extra hassle.

    It’s perfect for digital product sellers who never deal with physical products or cash sales and need a place to send all their passive income. 

    With all of the things Novo offers from the perks and integrations to the great designed site, I’m happy to recommend it to others from small business owners to digital product sellers to those just starting a new side hustle. 

    If you found this video helpful please leave a like and if you’ve used Novo for yourself let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear about your experience!

    If this business bank account sounds right for you, click here to try out Novo now!

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  • Why Millions Of People Are Quitting Their Jobs In The Great Resignation

    It’s being called The Great Resignation as people quit their jobs after companies roll out their “back to the office” policies. More than 40% of Americans want to quit their jobs and millions already have done so.

    Employers are experiencing a massive amount of employees quitting just one year after the highest unemployment rates since the great depression.

    So what is the #GreatResignation, what does this mean for you as an employee? Why are people quitting jobs? Should I have quit my job? Should you quit YOUR job?

    This video explains some of the reasons why people are quitting their jobs and why I personally quit my own job as well.

    What Is The Great Resignation?

    Workers are quitting in record numbers as employers call people back to work and new job opportunities open up.

    A record 4 million people quit their jobs in April alone, according to the Labor Department. Since then millions more have quit over the summer of 2021.

    People are leaving for a number of different reasons.

    Some of those people left for new jobs and others quit with no plan. Others quit for better jobs. Some quit because they had to get vaccinated or others wouldn’t get vaccinated. And some parents quit to care for kids and homeschool again as a new variant causes problems among schools.

    The amount of resignations has dramatically increased since the spring when offices opened back up and mask mandates were lifted.

    Why People Are Quitting Their Jobs

    The pandemic began over a year ago. As things go “back to normal” people are heading to the office as employers demand their return.

    However from the employee side, the pandemic changed the game for people and many are now quitting their jobs.

    Why do people want to quit? 2020 made a lot of us step back and re-evaluate both our lifestyles and the jobs we were working. 

    Remote Work

    A lot of us discovered our jobs could be done remotely just as well as they could in an office.

    Now Covid is less of a threat and employers are demanding people come back to the office. They want you to sit in traffic for hours each week to do the same job you already proved you could do at home. You were doing the same job with less stress, less time getting ready, less time commuting, and less costs.

    I totally relate to all of this. Before the pandemic I was told that my company would never allow us to work remotely but we did and honestly it was fine. I did my job and coworkers didn’t even know I was at home vs in my office. Now? My manager demands we are in the office even though technically we are working remotely from our main location.

    It doesn’t make sense at all for many people to be in the office.

    The lack of remote work options and the additional hour of driving per day in stressful rush hour traffic is making me join those people wanting to quit their jobs. 

    Job Flexibility and Work/Life Balance

    The Great Resignation has forced people to evaluate their work/life balance. After a year spent in less stressful situations many people realized they need more flexibility with work.

    Working remotely full time or in a hybrid situation gives you more of your life back. It cuts out commuting and a lot of the distractions of being in the office.

    Remote work and job flexibility allows people to control their lives better and be more productive.

    It’s not for everyone. Some extroverts or certain jobs can’t be remote, but when it is a possibility and works just as well? It’s really a win win.

    Employees are realizing they can get job flexibility via remote work from certain companies, but others do offer it. This means it is time to leave behind the jobs that refuse to give an inch.

    Why wouldn’t you want to be more comfortable, have more time, and still be able to do your job? 

    Job Security

    Another thing people learned on 2020: my job isn’t as safe as I thought.

    Many people lost their jobs for months at no fault of their own. This made people think more critically about their jobs.

    Is any job really that secure?

    The past year also gave people time to learn new skills and train for new jobs or even create new businesses. We learned to build new levels of security after learning that having one stable job wasn’t as secure as we thought.

    Jobs aren’t that safe and they aren’t guaranteed so many people took advantage of this realization.

    People decided to quit an unsafe industry that laid them off and find better job security in new industries or their own businesses and side hustles.

    Location Independence

    People realized with the opportunity to remote work that they didn’t like where they lived. Without the need to go into an office every day many people moved to new locations and picked their homes based on the life they wanted to live outside of commuting to work.

    A lot of people realized they didn’t even like living in the state they were in and they were now free to be location independent.

    They discovered that with the rise of remote job offerings they could go ahead and get a remote job in a different state and then live wherever they wanted.

    Location independence is the dream of millions of people and one that can be yours with remote work options.

    If your company doesn’t offer remote work options, then you could apply for a different job to work remotely. With a remote job or your own online business you can move and live wherever you wanted.

    Better Pay

    Another thing that people are realizing in this Great Resignation is that they likely are not getting paid enough.

    Companies are not keeping up with the rate of inflation and the true cost of living. Wages have stagnated but the cost of living continues to rise.

    Does it make sense to stay with a company that won’t give you a pay raise or only 2-3% when inflation is near 5%? If you do that means you’re working for less pay. Without a raise the money you earn won’t go as far when you spend it. You are literally making less money to do the same job.

    People have decided to quit jobs for better paying work.

    People are learning that their jobs should be better paid. They are not willing to take it during a phenomenal job market so they are quitting for better paying jobs or opportunities.

    When there are a lot of job openings and not enough candidates, people realize they have more options. Right now the job market is very strong and people are realizing they can get jobs with much better pay.

    People are moving to companies that pay better because the companies that pay well attract the best workers.

    Values Alignment

    The past year has also caused many of us to look at our life goals and values more closely.

    We have had to decide if our jobs line up with those values. For many of us they do not.

    Sometimes you have to just get a job to pay the bills. That is 100% ok. You can’t always demand everything you need from a job. You can’t always expect a job to align with your values when you need to put food on the table.

    But when times changes? It is always a good idea to evaluate if that job you took and stuck with actually makes sense for what you want out of life.

    Many of us have had time for reflection and we have been able to ask ourselves bigger questions:

    • Is this job really what I want to be doing?
    • Does this align with my values?
    • Do I feel like I’m making the world better here?
    • Is this even what I want to do for the next five years?
    • Will I regret spending more of my life in this position?

    These are heavy questions that we often ignore when we are just grinding away at work. But when we have time for reflection these are important questions to ask ourselves.

    We only get one life. Many of us we don’t need to waste that life in toxic jobs that don’t align with our values.

    My Experience Quitting My Job

    I graduated college directly into the Great Recession so I’m not one to miss any millennial trend, including quitting my job during the Great Resignation.

    After years of working a job that made me miserable to pay off my debt, I finally had enough and quit my job.

    I struggled with the decision because I was happy there to start. I also like the company at large and the owners of the company are amazing… but ultimately it’s the best choice for me to leave.

    Life is too short to be miserable because of your job.

    People are quitting jobs now because 2020 taught us many lessons about how we want to live our lives.

    In my case I realized my manager had a vision for his department that did not match what I wanted from work. The Gallup research that shows people leave bosses, not companies is right because an inflexible manager can push people out the door.

    Many of us realized after the past year that life is too short to stay in situations that don’t serve us well This includes jobs that don’t fit what we need in life.

    If you’ve been thinking about quitting your job, then I encourage you to look at job openings available right now. There are many new opportunities and it is a great time to potentially quit your job and start something new.

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  • What Is Transfer Tuesday?

    Transfer Tuesday is the personal finance movement where each Tuesday we send money from any source we can towards our financial goals.

    Transfer Tuesday is all about being consistent and making progress financially. No matter how small an amount transferred feels, it all adds up.

    How Transfer Tuesday Started

    I started Transfer Tuesday to help me pay off my debt faster and improve my motivation.

    I was very demotivated waiting for the one time a month where I could make a debt payment.

    So one week I decided I would simple send whatever money I could to the debt instead. Even just $5 if I could find it would be transferred as a debt payment.

    I’ve felt very demotivated the weeks before since I wasn’t making much progress on our financial goals, so I took action and created a new way to feel motivated for myself.

    That first Transfer Tuesday video in October 2019 was a turning point in both my own debt payoff and what has become the Transfer Tuesday movement.

    I spent the next two years continuing my weekly Tuesday videos where I would transfer saved money and extra money toward whatever financial goal I was working on at the time.

    I eventually paid off all my debt, saved an emergency fund, bought a car in cash, and built up several investing accounts. The weekly habit of moving money toward financial goals made my personal progress skyrocket.

    What Is Transfer Tuesday?

    Transfer Tuesday is now something many other people have decided to participate in as well.

    I started the Transfer Tuesday movement to motivate myself on my debt free journey it is amazing to see others taking it up and paying off their own debt.

    Transfer Tuesday is just the name of the day where we use whatever extra money we have to make progress on our goals and celebrate the smaller wins throughout the month.

    Each week I commit to doing SOMETHING no matter how small to move me closer to reaching my financial goals.

    It started with $5 in a week and sometimes I’m doing $500 or even $5,000. It’s truly about forward progress each week.

    Every single week I’m committed to working on my financial goals even as those goals change. Making consistent progress every week is helping us get closer to our big dreams.

    Transfer Tuesday is the day of the week where I share our financial moves to stay on track and ti has motivated many others too. It has been amazing to see this series become something that is generating hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of positive financial progress.

    How To Participate In Transfer Tuesday

    You can follow along with Transfer Tuesday in a few ways:

    You can also participate and use Tuesdays to get closer to your own financial goals.

    Here are a few ways you can participate in Transfer Tuesday:

    • create your debt snowball or financial goal plan
    • find ways to earn extra money or save budgeted money throughout the week
    • on Tuesday, calculate that extra money and make a transfer toward your goal
    • share your money move and financial progress using the #TransferTuesday hashtag and tag @penniesnotperfection too!

    That’s it! There aren’t really any rule and the main goals are simple:

    • consistency
    • motivation
    • progress

    It’s exciting to see this community growing. It is so motivating to me to watch people pay off debt and make big financial progress beyond what I could have imagined!

    Every single week I’m committed to working on my own financial goals with Transfer Tuesday and I can’t wait to have you join me!

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