There are a million tools & companies out there desperate for your money.
When you do a quick Google Search, there's a good chance that what you find is sponsored or stuffed with affiliate links.
So I like to think of this article as a recommendation safe-haven.
I have no vested interest in any of these brands and I've filled & emptied my "finance" folder over the past few years testing apps & tools to see what works best.
This is a basic personal finance set up—and what I primarily use—in simple terms:
The foundation of finance.
Keeping it simple, I like to have one checking account and multiple high-yield savings accounts (for different goals). You may already have a checking account, but you want to use high-yield accounts for most of your cash.
Because they let you earn the most interest possible.
For example, my checking account earns .45% and my savings earns 3.90%. There's no reason to leave significant cash in your checking account and have it earning less.
Both banks have no minimums & no account fees and Schwab offers free foreign transactions & ATM fee refunds (this has saved me at least $75).
I haven't seen many reasons for making your banking more complex than these two tools.
Once you've got the basics taken care of and you're ready to invest, I like Fidelity. They've got a lot of account options, a great app, and low-cost investments.
I respect Vanguard as a company a little bit more, but they're a few years behind on the tech-side and I value user experience.
For picking the proper investment account, your personal financial situation reigns supreme. The most common options are:
Traditional or Roth IRA
Taxable brokerage account (like Robinhood's regular account)
If you're employed, you most likely won't get a choice for who your 401(k) is with. Use whatever investment tool they have to manage it, then connect it to the money app below for easier tracking (if it's available).
And if you'd like to learn more about the different account types and which one may be right for you, I wrote an in-depth breakdown here.
Rocket Money is best money tool I've used and it's not even close.
I wrote a review about it last year here (when it was still branded as Truebill), but a few highlights:
It's similar to a lot of the budgeting tools out there, but it actually works. The transactions are usually categorized right the first time and you can track your spending rather than budget it.
I never recommend Mint, YNAB, or any of those tools - I tell people to use a spreadsheet first.
But if you'd prefer not to use a separate monitoring tool at all, Marcus by Goldman Sachs (the savings account) has a great built-in option. After connecting your checking account and any credit cards, you can view your spending and see all of your accounts & their balances - like this:
I have a personal money rule "no more than two actively used credit cards".
A lot of people like to play the points game, but it's the opposite of simplicity. If I'm going on vacation, I don't want to think about what airline I may need to use to maximize my points or try to pick a hotel that matches the card.
It's not worth it in my opinion.
With one card, there's also only one bill to pay.
Right now, my go-to is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. It has a decent sign up bonus, good cash back, a $95 annual fee (worth it if you use it), and a solid app. I haven't had any issues with it and they've increased my credit limit when requested.
I also have the Apple Card and used it for years, but I accidentally suspended it a few months ago and haven't taken the time to reactivate it yet..
Credit cards can be a dangerous game, but a helpful tool if used correctly.
Whatever card you go with, make sure that you pay the statement balance each month before the due date so you don't get charged interest. If you need to carry a balance for whatever reason, be aware of the interest charges and work to pay it down as soon as possible.