Resources

This is the Frug Resources Page. Originally this page contained just books, and that list is still available here. I’m expanding the list beyond books and share some great and (often) free online tools for managing your finances, running a business, traveling, getting healthy, and reaching financial independence.

I’ve also included a list of fantastic blogs and podcasts that have helped me along the way. I’ll update this list regularly and mix things up a bit. I’m a big believer in things that stand the test of time, so I won’t be sharing resources unless I’ve used and tested them for at least a year. Most of what you find here can be read, used or listened to for free on a smartphone, tablet, or a laptop. You won’t find a lot of “stuff” here, just great resources for living lean, working lean, and traveling lean.

Personal Finance – Resources for keeping it simple

The journey to financial independence can be a long one but it all starts with knowing how you spend and invest every dollar. These tools will help you get there.

Personal Capital. You probably have more than one bank account, credit card account, 401(k) or investment account. Personal Capital is hands-down the best free tool I’ve come across to track all of these in one place, with one very slick interface. They have some excellent tools for evaluating fees in mutual funds and retirement accounts as well as asset allocation tools. Personal Capital also offers asset management services but they are not required for you to set up and use the account. Once you’ve linked your accounts, you can quickly analyze all of your mutual funds and spot those that are overcharging you. Some funds charge as much as 30 times the fees you pay with low-cost index funds from Fidelity or Vanguard. You’ll instantly see how much you would save over your investing timeline.

Fidelity Investments. Fidelity was one of the first to offer discount trading and mutual fund supermarkets, allowing you to purchase from other firms like Vanguard and T. Rowe Price. I’ve been able to rollover and manage all of my accounts in one place which makes things much easier to track and less of a headache during tax time. They consistently make upgrades to their mobile app and online interface. Recently Fidelity has matched Vanguard’s very low mutual fund management fees with their own set of Premium Class Index funds that have fees as low as 0.045%. Vanguard, the other investment firm I recommend, has an outstanding lineup of very low fee index funds. Take a look at my short guide to lean investing for more detail.

Quicken. Over the years I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Quicken. This is understandable since I’ve been using it since 1993. Some versions have been great, but many suffered from software bloat and bugs. The good news is the most recent version of Quicken 2017 is the best I’ve used. I spend about an hour a week updating and reconciling all of our financial accounts in Quicken. Quicken offers something that many of the online apps don’t have which is integration with free bill pay systems like the one I use at Bank of America. So, when I reconcile a credit card statement I can just simply pay the bill directly from Quicken. Another big advantage is I can schedule the bill payment to arrive just before it’s due to avoid any interest charges. By downloading and reconciling all of your accounts into Quicken, you get a good picture of your cash flow and budgeting, not only compared to the past, but also how upcoming bills impact your balance. Many of my transactions are set up as automated so they show up in Quicken when I do my once per week download. Over time you also see excellent historical data. For instance, I can see how my account balances fluctuated during the 2008 financial crisis and compare my spending to that period, or any other since I’ve been using the software.

Apps and Free Stuff on the Web to help you work lean

Evernote. I can’t say enough about Evernote. Imagine instantly saving anything that’s important to you, including blog posts, photos, scans, presentations, PDFs all types of invoices and statements outlines and to do lists. Then imagine having it all in one place linked to your own fast search engine. That’s Evernote. It is one product that has truly changed the way I work. When I put together presentations I can tag related information and have it all at my fingertips when I’m ready to start laying things out. The basic version should last you a few years until you’re ready to upgrade to a few features in the premium version. Lately I’ve been using the free iPhone app to take quick photos of important papers that immediately get saved into Evernote and become searchable. I’ve been using it since 2011.

Filethis. Automatically scans and directly deposits copies of statements directly in an app like Evernote from up to six connections. I’ve been using their forever free plan now for several years. I get copies of all of credit card statements, mobile phone bills, cable bills, insurance documents, Amazon receipts and others delivered directly into Evernote via Filethis. You can also choose local or cloud storage. By saving my bills into Evernote I can instantly search nearly any charge that shows up from a provider like Amazon or Verizon. So, imagine you want to twist your cable company’s arm about a recent price increase. You have every cable bill instantly searchable at your fingertips. It’s also very helpful for researching something you may have purchased on Amazon or with PayPal. They’ll even remind you when bills are due once you setup your connected vendors.

Google G-Suite. Including Drive, Calendar, Docs, Gmail. I’ve been using Google’s online suite of apps for years. It always amazes me that I can create or find something much faster online in my browser than I can waiting for slow apps from Microsoft and Apple to grind through their bloated routines. After 6 years, I am currently using about eight gigs of the 15 free gigs of storage Google includes with my suite of apps. If you’re worried about security, you can even add two factor authentication. You’ll get a code sent to your mobile device if you try to login to your documents from another browser. You can also sync and backup your docs to your computer using Google Drive for your desktop.

Unrollme. I don’t have to ask most people if their email boxes fill up with crap. But there some things that are not necessarily spam but that you occasionally would like to look at. You just don’t want them filling up your inbox when you’re trying to get something done. Unrollme is a fantastic free product that lets you manage all of your subscribes and unsubscribes in one place. Once you set it up, you can quickly unsubscribe from anyone you’re no longer interested in hearing from. For the others, you can also choose to keep them in your inbox or roll them up into a concise daily summary that allows you to quickly scan all the others. Since I’ve started using it, I’ve unsubscribed from over 900 email lists, most of which I never signed up for. I go into a bit more detail here on the best ways to use unroll me, you can thank me later.

Blogs and Podcasts

Years ago I decided to put myself on a high quality low information diet. Just like a traditional diet, I wanted to read less crap and consume smaller quantities of very high quality content.

Mr. Money Mustache has a cult following in the financial independence or (FI) community. He achieved financial independence in his 30s and has shared a wealth of great financial information for anyone looking to break away from the rat race and achieve financial independance.

The Mad Fientist. The name says it all. The Mad Fientist website is full of great tips for those looking to achieve financial independence at an early age. Lots of great tax tips, innovative financial strategy and links to many cool calculators. The websites also home to a great podcast.

Jeremy and Winnie retired from traditional work in their 30s and now travel the world full-time. They share their adventures, ideas and even their taxes on their blog Go Curry Cracker. If you’re interested in financial independence combined with long-term travel, this blog is a great resource. There are some especially good resources regarding living overseas and paying US taxes.

JL Collins. Jim is the perfect (and free) financial advisor for those looking to achieve financial independence. His stock series is considered essential reading in the (FIRE) Financial Independence, Retire Early, community. He’s also the author of The Simple Path to Wealth. A book I also recommend.

I started following Tim Ferriss’ blog and later podcast after reading his book the 4 Hour Workweek. Many of the ideas in the book are explored deeper in his blog posts and on his podcast all available here.

I was hooked on James Altuchure’s writing after reading his book Choose Yourself. He takes you through mistakes that he’s made and how to avoid them. James has a completely unique take on most things and shares his ideas on his blog and podcast.

 

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