Financial guidance for financial independence

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Friday Top Five (Website Edition)

Today I'm coming to you with another edition of the Friday Top Five, where I post a top 5 list, following a quick and easy set of rules:

  • Items listed must be financial in nature
  • I must utilize the resources myself
  • Each post will focus on a different topic/category

The intent is to highlight some items that add value to my world, in hopes that you discover one or two of these resources might also provide you some benefit.

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Today's top 5 will be a bit unique, as I will touch on a variety of websites that provide a financial benefit over a number of different areas.  Each one may not be to your exact liking, but I have a feeling at least one will strike your fancy.  Here goes.

  1. Missing Money - This may be one of my favorite websites of all time.  Through a simple search, you are able to easily view any lost or unclaimed money that might be yours for the taking.  Sometimes past employers, credit agencies, banks, etc. have a hard time finding you when you move, and so that unclaimed money goes to the government (boo!).  Take 1 minute of your time today to see if there is some cash out there that needs to find its way back into your pocket.
  2. Portfolio Visualizer - This might be a little more advance for the beginning investor, but I have to include it here because of my excitement over (and use of) this site.  Want to evaluate your current investment portfolio, or look to see how your potential 401(k) plan allocation might be expected to perform?  This site allows you to evaluate all of this, at a comprehensive and sophisticated level, and for free!
  3. BiggerPockets (REI Tools and Resources) - Yes, I've reference BiggerPockets before, but this portion of their site features a quick and easy reference to numerous resources that can assist in making you a savvy real estate investor.  For newbies, check out "The BiggerPockets Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing."  For vets, the "Real Estate Analysis Software" will never let you down.
  4. Maximize My Social Security - One of the more important financial decisions we will all have to make in our lives is when to take social security.  So many people do not put the proper time and analysis into this decision before applying for their benefit.  Although this site is not free to use, a small $40 fee could mean the different of potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement income.  Likely worth the investment, wouldn't you say?
  5. Morningstar - Also likely not a true beginners website, but you would be hard pressed to find a better resource for free analysis of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs.  Want to see which companies (or countries) that mutual fund in your retirement plan is invested in?  Morningstar can show you this, and a whole, whole heck of a lot more.

BonusUSAFacts - Want some insight into how the U.S. government is operating in easy-to-understand graphs and terms?  USAFacts, started by Microsoft's former CEO Steve Ballmer, gives you an unbiased dive under the hood of our government's spending and its impact on our society.  Even if you're not really into this stuff, just 5 minutes on the site can arm you with enough numerical ammunition to quickly hush that know-it-all uncle at your upcoming Thanksgiving Day get-together.

Are there any websites you frequent on a regular basis that provide fuel to your finances?  Please share!