The Treasure Chest is my list of resources to help you save and manage your money.
*Full disclosure, this page contains affiliate links. This means I may get a commission (at no extra cost to you!) if you decide to purchase anything from one of these links.
Be aware that I only recommend products and systems that I use and love.*
Spending tracker and money manager:
I use Mint.com to track our spending and manage our bank accounts. Once you have linked all of your accounts and credit cards to Mint, you will see every transaction that involves those accounts/cards. I love it. Instead of having to check my balances through countless sites, it is all in one place. It also provides protection if someone were to steal my credit card number. The moment I logged into Mint, I would see a charge I didn’t make and I could call my bank to dispute it.
My favorite Mint feature is that if you pay for everything with an already linked credit card, all of your transactions come through automatically. Right now, because our Colombian bank account won’t link to Mint, we have to manually enter every transaction. It’s a pain, but it’s a great practice to make sure we are tracking our spending, and totally doable if you are a cash-only person.
Many people don’t like the thought of Mint having all of their account information, but as you will see on the site, Mint only has read-only access. So even if someone was able to hack into their site, they couldn’t mess with your accounts. Just a little bit of peace of mind, if you are concerned about that. Try Mint out, I’m sure you’ll love it!
Online savings account:
I have my online savings account with GS Bank (Goldman Sachs). Why do I have an online bank account, you might ask? Online bank accounts generally have much better interest rates than brick-and-mortar banks. This particular account, their Online Savings product, earns
1.05% (Now 1.20%!!!) APY, which is considerably better than the national average of 0.18%. More free money! Plus, because it’s online and separate from my other accounts, I’m less likely to touch it. This is where I put my emergency savings. My checking account is linked to it, so I can always transfer money from this account if I need to, or vice versa.
This account is backed by FDIC, there are no transaction fees, and no minimum deposit. However, they do limit you to 6 transfers out/withdrawals, so make sure you plan for that. This has not been an issue for me, because I have just been putting money in, not taking any out. And I suggest you do the same :).
Most of my investment accounts are with Vanguard. In my opinion, Vanguard is the best investment company. Every investor that invests with Vanguard owns part of the company. As they put it, “You own the funds and the funds own Vanguard, which makes you a client-owner.” This saves you money on fees, and ensures that they’ve got your back.
I am invested in the VTSAX Total Stock Market Index Fund Admiral Shares ($10,000 minimum) and the VTINX Target Retirement Income Fund for my smaller accounts ($1,000 minimum).
Cash back portal:
With Ebates, you can shop your favorite retailers like Amazon, Ebay, Walmart, etc. and earn cash back through the Ebates portal. Just install the Ebates plug-in (free!) to your web browser, and the icon will show when you are shopping at an Ebates eligible store. This is a super easy process, and Ebates will take you through it your first time. While shopping on your favorite sites, just click the little Ebates button in your browser to activate the allotted cash back for that site. You will automatically get cash back just from shopping through them! It’s very hassle-free and has been very lucrative for me. Use my link and get a $10 bonus after you spend $25 dollars in your first three months.
I just heard about Honey, and it looks pretty dang good! Honey is similar to RetailMeNot, except it has a browser extension just like Ebates that will do all of the work for you. It takes all of the coupon codes it can find on the internet that would be applicable to the store or item you are buying, then applies the best ones that have been proven to work. And just like that, money saved! Also, my favorite part is that it can be used in addition to Ebates. Double money!
Discount gift cards
Raise.com is a marketplace where people can buy or sell gift cards they won’t use. It’s a great way to make money if you have gift cards sitting around that you know you’ll never use. But I use it primarily to get discount gift cards for places I would already be spending money. For example, I can get a $100 gift card to a restaurant, but only pay $75. The discount varies with each card, and tends to be very minimal with popular gift cards. But hey, a discount is a discount!
Click here to learn how to Buy and Sell Gift Cards at Raise.com. Use code RAISE25AF to get $5 off your $25 purchase (sorry, new users only).
Two words: Zenni Optical. Zenni has glasses that start from $6.95!!! What’s the catch? There’s not one. I can get my crazy high prescription glasses for as low as $6.95 + tax and shipping. All you need is your prescription from an eye doctor and you can get a super cute pair of glasses for next to nothing! They have add-ons and upgrades like anti-glare, transition lenses, UV protection, and more for very reasonable prices. I elect all of the free options and I have been very happy with the results. Once you’ve ordered, Zenni will save your prescription so the next time you sit on your glasses or leave them at the pool, you can order new ones with a few clicks! Zenni is hands down my #1 recommended website.
Don’t forget to use your Ebates plug-in to get cash back from your Zenni purchase!
Travel Hacking Course:
Brad Barrett and Alexi Zemsky have set up a free online course for beginner travel hackers. What is travel hacking? Travel hacking is signing up for credit cards for the miles or point bonuses and using those miles/points to book hotels or flights for next-to-nothing! Sounds pretty good, right? Unfortunately, it can be a little bit complicated. But that’s where this course comes in! They send you 15 daily emails which include links to informative blog posts or videos. It is very in-depth and can get you started within a few days of the first email. You will also get access to their Facebook group after you sign up. There is a lot of troubleshooting and clarification in the Facebook group, so it’s another great resource. A word of caution…you should only begin travel hacking if you plan on paying your credit card bill in full, every single month. These credit cards should not be used to delay payment; they are only used to rack up points or miles.
Do you want to start your own website? Bluehost makes it so easy! Plus, they are from my native Utah County, so I enjoy supporting them. You can start your own website for just $5.95 a month! And they’ll throw in a free domain name. What more could you ask for?
Evernote houses my collection of notes, recipes, pictures, websites, and blog posts. With their handy app, I can save and organize virtually anything I find on my phone. They also have a browser plug-in that can save screenshots, articles, and even PDFs. I feel like after I die, my Evernote will be my legacy. Or proof that I was crazy…you know, either/or.
Talk about a life changer…have you downloaded Overdrive yet? Free books, people, free books! Overdrive links to your library, and you are able to “check out” audio books and ebooks. Although I still love having physical books to read, this is so convenient that I read/listen to a large majority of my books this way. It works just like it would at the actual library: you check out a book for a period of 14 days, and then you can renew it as long as there are no holds. Now you can read even more!
Speaking of reading…I have an older model Kobo, and I love it! No more sand in my pages at the beach! Plus 100 free preloaded classics, and a website full of free downloadable books. Use my link to Get a $5 credit Today.
Of course, as a former Utah resident, I scrapbook. But I find myself walking down the aisles of Michaels and Hobby Lobby and staggering at the prices of scrapbooking stuff. Even at the dollar store, it adds up really fast!
That’s why I scrapbook online with Shutterfly. It takes so little time to create a beautiful, quality photobook. The process is all online, so you don’t have to worry about printing photos, or cutting cutsy phrases with your Cricut. You create it on your computer, Shutterfly prints a high-quality photo book and ships straight to your door!
Plus, they regularly have coupon codes for free shipping. And you know how much I hate paying for shipping! Click here to Customize a Photo Book the way you want it with Custom Path on Shutterfly.com.
Reusable water bottle:
I know, it’s a strange thing to promote, but I have been getting HEAVY use out of my Brita Filtered Water Bottle and have been feeling very grateful for it lately. Our normal water filter here in Colombia stopped working recently, and you’d better believe I’m not drinking the tap water here. Brita bottle to the rescue! It’s so nice that I don’t have to resort to buying water bottles from the store for safe water, or for convenience.
I’ve had my Brita bottle for years and I have learned to REALLY appreciate it when we are in Mexico or Colombia. While I can’t vouch for the total safety of this, I have never had problems drinking tap water in either of these countries, as long as I use the Brita bottle! It filters the water as you drink it (yes, at normal speed) and you just pop in new replacement filters a few times a year. Highly recommended for world travelers!