Budget

Most people fail to achieve early financial independence because they don’t put a realistic plan in place, or they fail to follow the plan, particularly in times of turmoil. Below are some resources to help you succeed.

Investing Basics

Learn to Invest in 7 Steps – An Introductory Investment Course – J. David Stein (free course with email registration)

7 Investing Principles – Charles Schwab

Principles for successful long-term investing – J.P. Morgan

The Stock Series – Jim Collins

Portfolio Building Tools For Do It Yourselfers

Paul Merriman’s Site (free) – This free site is filled many useful investing resources, including model portfolios with specific ETF recommendations for Vanguard, Fidelity, Schwab, and TD Ameritrade.  It also includes model portfolios with mutual fund recommendations for Vanguard, Fidelity, and T. Rowe Price.  Here you will also find useful investing e-books, articles, and videos.  Paul Merriman is “retired” from the investment advisory firm he founded, and he has no difficulty calling BS on much of what goes on in the investment industry.

Money for the Rest of us Hub (subscription)  – As noted in this review of J.D. Stein’s Money for the Rest Us, J.D.’s Hub premium service fills a niche between going solo, and paying a financial advisor on an ongoing basis.  The Hub includes planning tools to help you set your own long-term portfolio allocation, resources to stay up to day, a member’s forum, and bonus “extra” podcast shows.  J.D. likewise gives solid no-nonsense advice that focuses primarily on investing in asset classes through ETFs.

Morningstar (free & premium) Morningstar is one of the best investing resources available, and should be part of every do-it-yourselfer’s toolbox.  Much of the information is free, and the premium services have a lot to offer.  Morningstar also offers several newsletters for an extra fee.

The Motley Fool (free & premium) – Motley Fool focuses on individual stocks, which is certainly not for everyone.  Indeed many convincingly argue individual investors should avoid individual stocks.  But if you like the idea of owning a piece of a company, and building a portfolio of solid companies to own for the long term, the Motley Fool provides education and recommendations to help start your own research.

American Association of Individual Investors (free & premium) –  AAII’s mission is to provide unbiased, actionable investment education, information and research to help you grow your investment wealth.  There are also local chapters where like-minded investors meet up.

Bogleheads.org – Investing advice inspired by Jack Bogle

 I want a Robot!

For those who do not want to be bothered with managing their own FIDough, a so-called robo advisor may be the best solution.  Three popular “robo” advisors are Personal Capital, Betterment, and the Schwab Intelligent Portfolios.  Vanguard, Future Advisor, Wealthfront also offer services in this area.  As with everything else, do your own homework before investing.

Personal Capital (some free services) – Personal Capital provides free software to track investments and expenses.  Personal Capital’s free portfolio tools are among the best.  Unlike most “robo advisors,” Personal Capital provides access to an investment advisor who serves as a fiduciary.  The expenses are higher than some of the other robo advisors, but they do things a little differently so it may be worth it depending on the type of help you want.

Betterment  – For folks looking to have someone else manage their portfolio at a low cost, Betterment may be what you are looking for.  It has some of the lowest fees, and offers a wide variety of asset classes.

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios  – Schwab has some of the cheapest ETF offerings, and their intelligent portfolios are super low cost (basically free).  Schwab also uses a wide variety of asset classes.  Their models portfolios, however, seem to use a higher cash percentage than others.  Nevertheless, definitely worth checking out.

Portfolio Backtesting/Screening Tools

Portfolio Visualizer (free)

Finviz – Financial Visualizations

Other Resources

CEF Connect – Provides a variety of data on closed end funds.

The Investor’s Field Guide – Patrick O’Shaughnessy’s investment website which investigates “stocks, markets, investing strategies, and ways of thinking.”  Site includes a podcast and other materials.

I want more help

For those looking for even more help and prefer even more flexibility that is available with the so-called robo services, you may want to consider hiring a financial planner to either help guide you with your own investing, or to manage your money.  Check out How to Find a Financial Advisor for resources to help with this process.