Below is a short list of our favorite resources and tools for:
- Banking and investing.
- Saving time and money.
- Cooking delicious, healthy, low-cost meals.
Essential Finance Tools
Here are a few of the essential tools that we use to budget, plan, save, invest, and track our finances. Why track your saving, spending, and investing? Because the act of measurement increases awareness and changes behavior for the better.
After getting fed up with the fees and hassles of traditional banks, we switched to Simple and have never looked back. We love their elegantly designed app and website, the ability to quickly create as many savings and expense goals as we want (which we use like “digital envelopes” to parse out our money each month), a nifty “Safe-to-Spend” feature which shows you how much you have available after filling the above buckets, access to 40,000 free ATMs, and more.
Don’t waste your money on actively managed funds, overpriced financial advisors, or casino style individual stock investing. Instead, reap the rewards of the entire market through low-cost index funds.
[Index funds let you leverage] the magic of compounding investment returns [and avoid] the tyranny of compounding investment costs.John C. Bogle (1929 ― 2019), founder of Vanguard
There are many index funds to choose from, but we recommend the VTSAX (Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund).
Personal Capital offers a number of slick tools to track your spending, debts, savings, and investments. We use Simple for basic budgeting but love Personal Capital’s nifty charts that quickly show changes in cash, assets, liabilities, and investments over time (though we try not to look at our VTSAX too often since we’re playing the long game). The most exciting use of the app so far? Seeing our Liabilities go to zero when we made our last debt payment!
The “FI” in “Google FI” might as well as stand for “Financial Independence” given their wonderfully low mobile service rates. We have been following the service since its beta launch, but had to simply drool from the sidelines since you could only use Android devices (we both have iPhones and have no desire to switch to Android). But when they announced that you can now use Apple devices with Google FI in late 2018, we cancelled our account with T-Mobile and jumped over right away. In one fell swoop, we instantly cut our monthly cell phone bill in half, and have seen no loss in service quality. In fact, we much prefer their useful app, the ability to get transcripts of voicemail messages, free international roaming, flexible data fees, and more. Click below to get a $20 service credit.
Essential Grocery Tools
Here are a few ways to save both time and money sourcing groceries without sacrificing nutrition.
Getting enough high-quality protein and healthy animal fats is an essential part of optimal health. But not all meat is the same. When choosing what meat to buy, it’s important to consider how it was raised, what it ate, etc. Though many say that “You are what you eat,” a more accurate saying is, “You are what you eat eats.” Butcher Box takes quality and animal welfare seriously, and only sells 100% grass-fed beef, organic chicken, and heritage breed pork. You can choose from curated mixes or create your own custom assortment, and your order is then delivered for free with dry-ice in an insulated box right to your door. Click the button below to get $30 off your first box!
Instead of spending full price for produce (and spending the time, energy, and hassle to go out and buy them), Imperfect Produce brings delicious, in-season, organic fruits and vegetables right to your door for 30% less than buying them at the store. The catch? Some of the items may have somewhat unique shapes that picky consumer suckers might pass over (it turns out that 20 billion pounds of produce is wasted each year because it doesn’t meet the stringent cosmetic standards of grocery stores!). The fruits and veggies you get in your box might look different on the outside, but they are identical in flavor and nutrition on the inside, and that’s what counts, right!?
Essential Kitchen Tools
It’s really easy to go overboard on cooking equipment. Been there, done that. Instead of wasting your hard-earned cash on cool but optional kitchen tools, here are just a few core tools we use almost every day to prepare delicious, nutritious, low-cost meals.
What did we do with ourselves before we had this amazing machine? Waste lots of money and kitchen space on multiple tools, that’s what! The Instant Pot® Multi-Cooker combines seven different kitchen appliances into one single tool (a pressure cooker, a slow cooker, a rice cooker, a steamer, a sauté pan, a yogurt maker, and a food warmer). It also:
- Cuts cooking time (it’s up to 70% faster than other methods).
- Frees up kitchen space (since you only need one tool instead of the above seven).
- Reduces clean-up time (you only need to wash one pot).
- Saves you cash (which you can invest in your VTSAX account!).
Any sharp chef’s knife will do―never use a dull knife as they are actually more dangerous!―but the best bang for your buck is the Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife. It’s a good size and shape for nearly all prep needs. Like late night commercial promises of old, it “It slices, it dices!” The non-slip grip provides good control even when wet, and Victorinox has a lifetime guarantee against defects in material and workmanship.
Cast Iron Skillet
Sometimes the old ways are the best ways. Despite numerous technological advances in cookware materials, coatings, and design over the years, cast iron remains the best all-around option for sautéing, searing, frying, or finishing. Here are a few reasons we love cast iron:
- You can use it on the stove top, in the oven, or over a campfire (we will often start food on the stove and then finish in the oven).
- Once used a few times, it becomes wonderfully non-stick without use of harmful chemicals.
- If properly maintained, it will last through decades of continued use.
- It is easy to cook with thanks to iron’s excellent heat conduction and retention properties.
Wood Cutting Boards
We recommend getting at least two cutting boards, one for meat and fish, and one for fruit and vegetables. We prefer wood over plastic, and always choose a board with a “juice groove” to prevent liquids from spilling onto the counter. If you or someone in your family has a gluten sensitivity or allergy, it’s also a good idea to have a separate dedicated cutting board you use with gluten-containing ingredients.
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