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I created this recommendations page to share with you the services, products, and companies I personally use, have benefited from, and/or recommend. I only share those things that I genuinely feel will add value to your life and those that are worth your time and/or money. I do periodically add the list so be sure to check back for updates.
Cell Phone Providers
Ting: I switched our entire family over to Ting in February 2019 and honestly wish I’d done it sooner. Switching from our previous carriers was the easiest and quickest process I’ve ever had with a cell phone provider and their customer service has been top-notch. I love that you only pay for what you use – our average bill for 4 lines is just $65 – and it’s super easy to set limits on things like data or texting. (Plus, if you sign up with them using my link you’ll receive a $25 credit!)
Cell Phone Buying/Selling
Swappa: First, Swappa isn’t just for cell phones. It’s actually an online marketplace that brings together buyers and sellers of all kinds of lightly used tech – cell phones, tablets, laptops, video games and consoles, cameras and more. Swappa has strict seller requirements, a “no junk” promise and they offer Paypal buyer protection as well as free shipping. One of the things I like best about Swappa is that cell phones must have clean IMEI/serial numbers in order to be listed. That means there’s no chance that your new purchase is a stolen item or otherwise locked – a risk you take when buying used elsewhere. Importantly, Swappa has thousands of exceptional reviews – 9.2/10 on TrustPilot and 4.7/5 on SiteJabber (as of this writing).
Bluehost: This is my #1 choice for WordPress hosting for new (and veteran) bloggers. Bluehost is currently one of the top web hosting companies available on the market – it’s very easy to recommend them based on their pricing, features, security, and support. They make it incredibly simple to get started and the set-up process is straightforward (they even offer a 30-day money back guarantee). Plus, you get a free domain for an entire year. If you use my link you can get hosting for as low as $3.95 per month – that’s less than a cup of coffee!
ConvertKit: I recently made the switch to ConvertKit from MailChimp (a super simple process!) and am so glad I did. I love everything about ConvertKit, especially the fact that it’s intuitive and incredibly easy to use – as a new blogger, I felt MailChimp was more difficult to set up that it needed to be. ConvertKit is truly a great choice for new and advanced bloggers. While it’s not free, there is a 14-day free trial which I highly recommend you take advantage of. Once you have hosting and a theme in place, a subscription to ConvertKit should be next up on a new blogger’s list of must-haves.
Budgeting & Tracking Tools
Mint: I’ve had an account with Mint for years and literally use it daily. It’s a completely free app that connects to all of your banking, credit, and financial accounts so that you can easily track your income and expenses all in one place. You can set budgets and goals and monitor your net worth over time. It gets bonus points from me because it’s very user friendly.
Lemome Notebook: I really like this notebook for keeping track of blogging post ideas and as a general planning tool. I literally take it with me everywhere I go so I’m always able to jot down notes as they come to me. It’s sleek and super durable and includes 2 bookmark ribbons to easily keep track of different sections. It also comes in several styles in case you prefer one over another: dotted bullet grid, blank, and grid.
The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy (Thomas J. Stanley)
The classics are classics for a reason, and this book is listed first because it truly is my #1 recommendation for those wanting to change their relationship with money. The premise is that the people around us who we perceive to be “rich” often don’t have real wealth and may even be living paycheck-to-paycheck behind closed doors. Conversely, it’s entirely possible for “ordinary” people to become wealthy through, what the author calls “a lifestyle of hard work, perseverance, planning and, most of all, self-discipline.” Further, income is not the deciding factor between the so-called haves and have nots – instead, there are 7 common denominators among those who accumulate wealth. A fantastic source for getting your mind right when it comes to money.
This is one of the most thorough personal finance books I’ve ever read (and I’ve read a lot of pf books!). Beth does an awesome job of making managing money relatable and understandable and she covers a wide variety of topics, from basics like banking, to more complex topics – investments, retirement, taxes and even military benefits. Although it’s totally possible to read from cover to cover, the book is organized in such a way that you can skip from one chapter to the next if you prefer. Great for anyone of any age who is starting their financial journey or who is looking to increase their financial literacy and learn actionable strategies for managing their money. (I recently bought this one for my college bound son – it makes a great gift.)
This book is a must-read for anyone pursuing financial freedom or wanting to retire well. Like the title suggests, the author outlines a simple process for building wealth, primarily focusing on 1) avoiding debt, 2) saving half your income, 3) investing in low-cost index funds, and 4) ignoring distracting financial news. He provides easy-to-follow advice for starting and managing your own investments – something that too many people are intimidated to do because of its perceived complexity – and writes in such a way that anyone can grasp the concepts and begin to implement the ideas he presents.
Financial Freedom: A Proven Path to All the Money You Will Ever Need (Grant Sabatier)
This is a fantastic book, written by the author of MillennialMoney.com. Grant provides a new and modern take on getting control of your finances, focusing primarily on actionable strategies for making more money in order to build wealth quickly. And he knows a thing or two about how to make that happen – in 2010 he had $2.26 to his name and only 5 years later his net worth was more than $1.25M. This isn’t a book that offers basic ways to save money; rather, it is an in-depth look at how to transform your financial life and achieve financial freedom.
This book is a favorite of mine regarding kids and finances. One of the criticisms is that this is written by/for wealthy families, however, spoiled kids don’t strictly come from privileged backgrounds so while some examples may not be relevant to everyone, I absolutely think that its lessons are worthwhile across all income levels. I especially agree with and appreciate the author’s take on chores and the use of an allowance as a teaching tool – this is something that we do as a family and it has worked out beautifully for our children. This is an important read for parents wanting to raise money smart kids of all ages.
Other Awesome Books
This book is one of my top 5 favorites of all time. Really. James Clear is an incredibly readable author. His writing style is clear and concise and he offers simple to follow, practical advice for implementing new habits without any fluff. This is a heavily researched book that you can use to build better habits and ditch bad ones. No matter what your goals are – workout daily, eat healthy, be more productive, stop smoking – this book provides the tools that can help you get there. “If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. “