Financial Independence Tools
Lucky you! You’re here for my brief, easy, privileged journey to financial independence! And the greatest privilege of all, of course, is being able to share with you the Hero’s Toolbox! Inside, you will find all the resources I use or recommend using to achieve financial independence and a zen-like state of heroic awesomeness in your daily life.
Please note that several, but not all, of the following links are affiliate links. I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, for your use of a product or service offered below. Some links will pay you, as well. But be even more aware that these are resources that were sought out and tested for their merits, not for their affiliate programs – I would recommend them regardless!
Budgeting and Planning
A personal finance app and website that links to your bank accounts, loans, and investment accounts to automatically track your earning and spending. You can categorize each transaction and see the big picture of your finances as well as the smallest details. Incredibly useful for budgeting purposes and net worth calculation. Limited use in tracking investments, but it’s getting better with time in my opinion.
The most valuable source of aggregated investment information when you have substantial investments. Similar to Mint, but far superior in terms of tracking the progress of your investments. I haven’t really tried to use it for tracking income and expenses since Mint did such a phenomenal job for me, but from what I can tell it is reasonably useful there as well.
The Frustratingly Practical Vigilante Budget Template1 is a starting point for a household budget. It’s set up for two wage earners who split most expenses – but one is fine too! It automatically calculates approximate savings rates for use in financial independence/early retirement estimates. Best used in conjunction with the Millionaire-Maker Flow Chart of Freedom!
Want to save/invest, but confused about where to start? This flow chart can help you put every penny in it’s most efficient location, putting you on exactly the path required to become a millionaire through normal, everyday wage-earning jobs!
Thanks to Mr. Money Mustache, you can determine how long you’ll have to work at various savings rates and withdrawal rates to formulate an approximate plan and estimate your remaining working years. (Probably not advisable if you’re still in debt, as the answer will be incredibly depressing.)
Loan Repayment and Refinancing
A spreadsheet to effectively estimate your most efficient federal student loan payoff methods. Also handy for proving the math to people who doubt that Student Loan Forgiveness is Best Korea.
Laurel Road offers very competitive rates for student loan and personal loan refinancing through an easy online application process. When I encourage student loan borrowers to think twice about loan forgiveness and consider refinancing, Laurel Road is always my first suggestion.
Buy It For Life
What can I say? Everyone knows Corelle. Everyone’s grandmother knows Corelle. And there’s a good reason that Grandma used it – the stuff is nearly indestructible, doesn’t chip, is dishwasher and microwave safe, can take a lot of heat and cold (and even quick transfers between the two), and lasts for decades without losing its appearance at all. Oh, and it’s super cheap.
These knives are admittedly the first knife set I’ve ever owned – but not by a long shot are they the first I tried. After cooking for years with, ahem, sub-par tools, Mrs. Vigilante and I shopped around, tested knives, and we took a free knife skills class at Williams-Sonoma to try out the entirety of their selection before settling on the Wusthof Classic. These are made in Solingen, Germany, the “steel capital of the world.” And while that means pretty much nothing to me, they do live up to the high-quality reputation of the city! I was satisfied for a long time with much duller knives from discount distributors, but these knives have already more than paid for themselves in saved time since we cook nearly every meal ourselves. Our chef’s knife still cuts through any vegetable like butter after thousands of uses,2 and we have not used the sharpening service offered by Wusthof once!
I’ve been with several carriers, but I’ve never been as impressed as I was by Republic Wireless. They offer plans with unlimited talk and text starting at $5 per month, although I have always used a bit of data so I pay about $24/month (after tax) for the convenience of about 2 gigs of data. When I use less, they reimburse me for the difference. Their model is very different from most other carriers, but their service is great, and I have service everywhere I go.
Full disclosure, though: We’re going to be trying out Google Fi shortly, so stay tuned!
If you don’t already use Amazon for bulk food purchases, what have you been doing with your life?
Forums To Get Lost In
- The name comes from a groomsman of mine who, at a breakfast restaurant on my wedding day, insisted that I am “frustratingly practical” just because I said I’d rather have the complimentary hotel breakfast. Joke’s on him: That’s a compliment!
- Seriously, the thing is used several times a day. You know how you tell your child to put down the phone for a second? That’s me and Mrs. Vigilante with this beautiful knife.