After the TSP, I invest my money in Betterment and Vanguard. I track all of my investments with Personal Capital. I also wrote a short, 2 hour book summarizing this site. You can buy it here.
I’m a big fan of the Chase Freedom card, with its simple 1% cash back on everything and 5% on rotating categories. The sign up bonus is also excellent: $200 cash back with only $500 in purchases in the first 3 months.
In 2014, 6 months of the year will be 5% back on gas purchases, which is my primary credit card purchase. This is the same as last year. The other categories are not quite so exciting for me, but I’ll certainly use the card for my restaurant purchases in the 2nd quarter of the year. Also, 5% back on Amazon.com purchases in December will be nice for Christmas shopping, as it was this year.
Amazon Prime is also eligible for that 5% cash back, so I renew my Amazon Prime membership in the last quarter of every year.
2013 Chase Freedom 5% Cash Back Categories
Here are the 2013 Chase Freedom 5% Cash Back Categories in text format:
January – March (1st Quarter): Gas Stations, Movie Theaters, Starbucks stores
April – June (2nd Quarter): Restaurants, Lowe’s home improvement stores
July – September (3rd Quarter): Gas Stations, Kohl’s
October – December (4th Quarter): Zappos.com, Amazon.com, Select department stores
And here’s a handy graphic from Chase.com:
Note that in order to receive the 5% cash back bonus, you must activate your card. This is an incredibly simple, 1-click process. Chase reminds you to activate via email, text message, in your statement, and if you call their customer service department, they will ask if you want to activate as well. You can even retroactively activate for a quarter and still receive the extra points. Very easy, although one hoop to jump through, unlike the BarclayCard Arrival World Mastercard, which has no hoops to jump through and gets you 2.2% cash back everytime you use it.
2 Websites I Use to Achieve Financial Independence Faster
I have investment accounts all over the place. To keep track of all of them in one place I use Personal Capital. It combines all of my accounts, shows me where I may be overpaying in fees, and provides beautiful charts showing my overall asset allocation and performance.
I use Personal Capital to track my Roth and Traditional TSP, Vanguard IRAs, banking accounts, SDP, and my Betterment taxable account, all in one place. It's free, secure and presents me with a one-stop dashboard so I can see all my money on one site.
Read my full review of Personal Capital and see how easy it can be to manage your investments in one place. Trust me, once you try it, you'll love it.
P.S. - If you have over $100,000 of assets and a 401k, you really need to run the Personal Capital 401k Fee Analyzer.
The best way I know to achieve financial independence is to keep your investments simple, diversified, automatic, and low-cost. Costs eat into your returns like you wouldn't believe! A 1% difference in expense ratios can mean $100,000s lost to fees over a lifetime of investing.
Even if you're a DIY (do-it-yourself) investor like I am, you need to check out Betterment. You can read my full review here, but the bottom line is for only $250 per $100,000 invested (0.25% expense ratio) you get simple, diversified, and automated investing. In addition every account now gets free Tax Loss Harvesting+ features, which should increase returns for the average investor more than the minuscule management fee.
If you're not a DIY investor or are just getting started with investing, then you definitely need to check out Betterment. It's what I recommend to my family and friends who aren't strong investors or don't care to learn about asset allocations, diversification, or rebalancing.