My Top Tools for Income Investors
As an investor since 1990, I've used my fair share of tools and resources. It's nuts how the technology and tools have evolved. What used to have to be done manually (if at all) can now be done with a few mouse clicks! It has never been easier to invest.
As awesome as it is, it can also be confusing to wade through all the products, tools, and services that are available.
This page is a fully curated and tested list of those tools and resources that I personally recommend. Some are free and some are paid. Check out the list and see if there's a solution that can help you be the best investor you can be!
Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a commission when you purchase. There is no additional cost to you. My promise to you, however, is that I only recommend those products that I use personally and have fully vetted. I also encourage you to do your research and not make a purchase until you feel that solution is what you need and will help you grow your portfolio.
Online Brokerages and Stock Trading Platforms
Fidelity is my main online brokerage platform. I have several IRA accounts there that hold the bulk of my public income, growth, and value portfolios. They charge a flat $4.95 commission for online trades. You can trade in an individual account or IRA (Roth or Traditional). You can also trade options and OTC (penny) stocks. Minimum deposit is $2,500.
Schwab is my secondary online brokerage platform. I have an individual account there that I use for short term trades such as income options. They charge a flat $4.95 commission for online trades. You can trade in an individual account like I have or in an IRA (Roth or Traditional). You can also trade options and OTC (penny) stocks. Minimum deposit is $1,000.
Robinhood is a stock trading app that offers commission-free trading of stocks, ETFs, cryptocurrency, and options. There is no minimum deposit. The drawback? The app doesn't feature all stocks. I personally can't use it because many of my small cap, growth stocks that trade on the OTC are not available to buy and sell on the app. If you're just getting started and want to buy a few established stocks, this may be a good choice. When you sign up through this link, you'll get a free share of stock!
Fundrise is my favorite crowdfunding platform specializing in commercial real estate. They offer private, off-market investments and real estate investment trusts. They currently offer 10 proprietary eREITs and eFunds categorized by geographic area and investment style. They also offer a "Starter Portfolio" with just a $500 minimum investment for newbies wanting to try it out. I'm invested in the Income eREIT currently paying 8.25% annualized dividends and the Heartland eREIT currently paying 5.7% annualized dividends.
RealtyMogul is a crowdfunding platform specializing in commercial real estate. They offer private, off-market investments and real estate investment trusts. The REITs have a minimum investment of $1,000 and the private placements typically have $25,000 minimums. I'm invested in MogulREIT I currently paying 8% annualized dividends.
Wefunder is one of the largest Reg CF platforms and offers a very wide selection of investment choices (with low minimums), though unlike some other investment platforms does not approve or curate companies on offer. Wefunder also has excellent investor education resources and a novel investor club model.
SeedInvest accepts just 1% of the startups that apply, yet still manages to offer a very broad selection of investment offerings spanning industries and company stage, most open to any investor. Excellent documentation, a generous cancellation policy, and a low-minimum automated investment feature make SeedInvest an outstanding platform to consider for those looking at investment crowdfunding in startups.
Republic is an investment crowdfunding using Reg CF to offer investments in startups to anyone. Most offerings match with a clear affinity audience (eg veterans, parents, pet owners). Republic is the one of the newest investment crowdfunding sites, launched in July 2016. The founders include alums from both Uber and AngelList, bringing strong startup credibility and experience to the table. Republic is distinguishing themselves among Title III funding portals with a standout social user interface, including neat features like investment groups, as well as ultra-low minimums (as low as $10 for some investments), which is quite low even among crowdfunding portals.
Groundfloor is a real estate crowdfunding platform. They offer a way to invest in short-term real estate fix & flip loans. Groundfloor investments return over 10% annually on average and the loans are available at different grades, returning 5% to 25%. You're in control and get to choose the specific loans you want to invest in. Groundfloor loans typically have just a 6-12 month term, so you're not locked in for years. These loans are secured by the underlying real estate asset which makes it pretty secure. Groundfloor is open to everyone, not just accredited investors, and the minimum investment is just $10!
Peer to Peer (p2p) Lending Platforms
Lending Club is the world leader in p2p lending having issued over $9 billion dollars in loans since they began in 2007. They provide pretty good returns for investors and offer a variety of consumer loans you can fund in $25 increments or portions. I have a note portfolio of 100+ notes here that is currently returning 6%.
Prosper was the first p2p lending platform in the U.S. when it launched back in 2006. It has been a trailblazing company and after some hiccups in the early days has established itself as one of the two main players in the industry with Lending Club. I had an account here but closed it after a customer service kerfuffle and moved my funds to Upstart.
Upstart is a relatively new player in the p2p lending industry and was founded by a group of ex-Google employees in 2012. Since they began originating loans in May 2014, they have issued over $100 million across 7,000 loans, which makes them one of the up and comers in this industry. They focus on borrowers who are millennials that tend to have a thinner credit file, but might be otherwise a good candidate for a loan. Interestingly, their underwriting is done by algorithm and one of the factors is the college the borrower graduated from. The platform is currently only open to accredited investors but it's not only my favorite platform, it's the one we're seeing the highest net return from at 8%.
Yahoo Finance is arguably the best free financial research site. The best part is they have a pretty good free portfolio tracker. You can easily create one (or more) portfolios and add "lots" to specify the date you purchased a security, the price you paid, and number of shares. Yahoo will then track your portfolio for you by each individual holding and nice summary of your daily and total gain/loss. Be sure to add the app to your phone so you have access on the go!
SigFig (formerly Wikinvest)
SigFig is a robo-advisor. Basically it's an algorithm that manages your money. I tested a robo-advisor (not SigFig) a few years ago and the results sucked. The robot got me -3.6% in a major bull market year. #NotImpressed. What IS impressive is their free portfolio tracker. Add all of your holdings and SigFig will track them online and send you an email every Sunday letting you know how your performing against several benchmarks. I love seeing how I'm crushing the S&P 500 every week.
Excel used to be the gold standard for do it yourself portfolio trackers. And why not? It's ubiquitous software that everyone and their grandmother knows how to use. Unfortunately, there's no direct stock market integration unless you're on Office 365 so you have to either update your spreadsheet manually (boo) or get an add in. The free add in is called "Stock Connector by Michael Saunders" but all it returns is share price. There are other add ins that will get more financial data (best one is at yCharts.com) but they can be pricy.
I'm a Mac girl and have been for many years. Unfortunately, I didn't start using Apple Numbers (Mac's spreadsheet software) until a few months ago when I purchased a new Mac Pro. WHY DID I WAIT THIS LONG?! If you're on Mac, Numbers is by FAR the best portfolio tracking software out there. The software has a native "stock quote" feature that pulls in tons of financial data including annual dividend and dividend yield which makes tracking my income portfolio simple and automatic. The data refreshes every night. This is my go to spreadsheet software.
Personal Finance Apps
Mint is a personal budgeting, bill tracking, and investment tracking app. You link all of your accounts and it will track your spending and your credit score for free. The two best features are budgets and goals. You can set up budgets in all sorts of categories such as Restaurants and Groceries and it will automatically track spending in those categories letting you know when you're under or over your budget. There are many goals you can set up, too such as debt reduction, college savings, etc. If you tell Mint you want to pay off your credit card debt, all you have to do is enter a target date and the amount you will allocate toward your debt monthly and the app will tell you exactly how much to pay to each credit card monthly. Pretty slick.
Personal Capital is an app similar to Mint, but it is better for tracking investments in my opinion. Link all your accounts for free to see a clear real-time view of your entire financial life including your net worth and an analysis of your investments. It will show all of your holdings and allocations and has a great tool called the You Index which is a one day summary of your total portfolio. There's also a cool feature called the Investment Checkup which will analyze your portfolio and provide reports on target allocation, historical performance, future projections, risk & return, and a comparison of your current allocation against your target allocation. If I wanted to get these insights before Personal Capital, I had to log into several accounts and crunch the numbers myself. I frigging love this app. And it's free.