Which financial apps, products, and services should we review?

Every Monday morning, Tom and I have a Zoom call to discuss the coming week’s priorities for this site. For the past couple of months, we’ve been focused on behind-the-scenes stuff as we prepared to launch the redesign. (That, and I was working on my course for Audible.) Now that the redesign is (mostly) finished, we’ve begun talking about content. What sorts of articles do we want to write in coming weeks?

“You know,” Tom said this morning, “it wouldn’t kill you to write about the financial tools you use. You love your credit card, right? And you use Personal Capital? If you were to write about this stuff, we could make more money.”

As I’ve mentioned many times, Get Rich Slowly earns little compared to other sites its size — especially other financial sites its size. Expected earnings for GRS are probably on the order of $20,000 per month; we bring in about $5000. (And right now, because of the coronavirus, our revenue is lower than this even.)

Our low earnings are largely because there are certain things I refuse to do here. I’m okay with ads, but I’m not okay with video ads. (Even the “sticky” bottom banner ad bugs me. I hope one day to axe it.) I refuse to publish “paid posts”. I don’t like “listicles” that act as thinly-veiled money grabs. And I’ve been reluctant to run many reviews (aside from book reviews).

But for the past eighteen months, Tom has been patiently making the case that reviews of products and services don’t have to cross that thin green line. Done properly, they can be a win-win. They can provide readers with good info while also generating a little income. The key is to keep the reviews honest, to not praise and promote something simply because we get paid for sign-ups.

“People want reviews,” Tom says. “They find them helpful.”

As if to bolster Tom’s argument, we’ve been fielding a lot of questions lately about various products and services. Here, for instance, is a recent post from the Get Rich Slowly community on Facebook. One woman wants to know more about Acorns, an app designed to help you “invest your spare change”.

Request for Acorns review

Based on this — and other reader interactions — it’s clear that people do want to know about apps and tools and service. Avoiding these reviews doesn’t necessarily serve my audience the way I think it does.

One problem is that, so far, I haven’t actually used most modern apps. I’ve dabbled with YNAB. I do use Personal Capital, but only for a couple of specific things. But most of my money management is still done with Quicken 2007. I don’t use an app to invest. When I buy and sell stocks — which isn’t often — I do so directly through the Fidelity website. And while I do indeed love my credit card (and probably ought to publish a review of it), I can’t see myself applying for and reviewing a whole bunch of other cards.

Anyhow, I’ve accepted the premise that Get Rich Slowly should review more financial products and services. Done right, these reviews don’t have to be shady. I see now that they can be useful. While my own financial life might not be very modern, that doesn’t mean that yours has to be outdated too.

Here’s where I’m turning to you, my friends. I need your help.

  • What financial products and services do you currently use? Of these, which do you most recommend? And which do you use out of habit — or because you haven’t been able to find anything better?
  • What financial products and services are you curious about? What tools have you been wanting to learn about?
  • If you read other money sites, which ones do you trust for reviews — and why? Can you point to some examples of people who do reviews right?

Instead of being stuck in the past, it’s time for this old dog to learn some new tricks. When I started GRS, financial apps weren’t even a thing. The web was young(-ish). Smart phones were in their infancy. People didn’t manage their money online. Today is different.

Now, there’s a plethora of apps and sites and tools out there, and sometimes it’s tough to know which are useful — and which are not. While there’s no danger that Get Rich Slowly will ever turn into a review site, I concede that doing some reviews could help people sort the wheat from the chaff. And as we prepare to ramp up the publishing schedule around here — yay! — it’d be helpful to have a list of financial tools that readers want us to write about.

So, help us decide which products and services merit a closer look!

More about...Apps

Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others

Subscribe to the GRS Insider (FREE) and we’ll give you a copy of the Money Boss Manifesto (also FREE)

Yes! Sign up and get your free gift
Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others

There are 24 comments to "Which financial apps, products, and services should we review?".

  1. Sykotia says 20 April 2020 at 13:22

    I very much enjoy Tiller. I like that for relatively little per year ($59), I get my bank feeds downloaded into a google sheet and I can manipulate the data however I like. I’ve been using it for a couple of years now.

    • Doug Cramer says 04 May 2020 at 08:00

      Agreed. We’ve used Quicken, YNAB, Mvelopes, & Mint, but I’ve been the most pleased with Tiller. Probably because I’m pretty used to spreadsheets, but it simply makes the most sense to me while utilizing an envelope style budget.

  2. Sharon says 20 April 2020 at 13:24

    Not sure this is a financial product, but my recent experience trying to figure out if it was OK to switch to a lower cost but less well known to me insurance company made me wish for a reliable method of comparing insurance companies

    • Eileen says 24 April 2020 at 12:52

      I would very much like some info on Insurance comparisons as well. I have been with State Farm (for everything) since the first day I had a car in my name (back in the 80s). I have been happy with their service (including 2 not small home owner’s claims), but I believe we are paying a lot more than other offerings. Who knows, perhaps I’d come to the conclusion that our quality of service is worth paying a little more compared to an unknown after 40 years, but I have to compare to make an educated decision.

  3. Jonathan Bennett says 20 April 2020 at 15:50

    It’d be cool for you to check out Lunch Money: https://www.lunchmoney.app

    Here is the creator’s personal blog with updates. She is very transparent with the business: http://lunchbag.ca/

  4. David says 20 April 2020 at 16:46

    Online bank reviews are useful. Switching banks is a big investment and is hard to justify unless there are compelling reasons, including better rates on CDs, savings, and checking, as well as high quality apps that make things easier. I had been enjoying Capital One, but they seem intent on simplifying things to the point that some of the automated things I used to do are no longer accessible from either their app or their website.

    Similarly, is there a reason to use any other investment company than Vanguard? Fidelity charges higher fees and seems to obfuscate the performance of their funds by restarting them after major financial resets (like the Great Recession).

    What are the security risks of using services like Personal Capital or Mynt? Why should I trust these companies with access to so much of my financial data?

  5. Jim says 20 April 2020 at 18:30

    I understand why you still use Quicken. I’ve read many reviews and comparisons that say Personal Capital is the best personal finance option out there. I don’t dislike Personal Capital (some of their free features and advice are great), but they do not do what programs like Quicken and others do. You can’t (very easily) balance your checking account using PC. And PC doesn’t categorize spending nearly as accurately and easily as real money management programs. I used Quicken for 25+ years before recently switching to CountAbout. I checked into several others (YNAB, Tiller, Mint, …), but landed on CountABout for its simplicity, excellent bank connections (their data aggregator is MX) and focus on personal finance. They also don’t try to cover all of the bases with investment transactions – they support “balance only” links to banks, which is all I need for investments. It’s not the most revolutionary product, but it’s all online (AWS), secure, cheap and it just works. Anyway, it’d be good to see real reviews that consider basic personal finance needs beyond pretty dashboards and investing advice.

  6. Claude says 21 April 2020 at 01:25

    I just started using eToro. What do you think about it?

  7. Frankie says 21 April 2020 at 02:33

    so I know that I am most likely not your typical reader as I am from Europe (Germany to be exact) but it would be great if you could include in your reviews whether the service is available worldwide or US specific 🙂 I will probably read them anyway but it would spare me the hassle of finding out myself.

  8. Angela says 21 April 2020 at 04:26

    I appreciate your discernment. Many of the blogs that do the things you mentioned I had to stop reading. Not necessarily because of the advertising itself, but because the content and personality suffered so badly to accommodate it. Happy you are giving this so much careful consideration!

    I really like the way I Will Teach You to Be Rich handles reviews. They feel honest, weigh both sides, and are typically products one of the writers has used themselves for a while and is very familiar with, so it feels like more nuanced and trustworthy jumping off point for research. They usually include a few options in each article as well (e.g. best cash back credit card, best high interest bank accounts) so it feels less like a heavy push for a certain company.

    For products I use and love, that would be the Citi Double Cash Credit card, Chase Sapphire Reserve (would love to really dig into how to strategically use those points) and Ally bank. I am maybe a little more modern with you in my banking, but not by much. 🙂

  9. Michael Clark says 21 April 2020 at 11:49

    I’m probably not your average investor/saver/reader. I do most things by hand, Google Sheets, LibreOffice, manual download of monthly statements. I use my local credit union, one online only bank for the emergency fund, a couple of online investment houses for retirement.

    I personally dislike the reviews of apps, or most web sites or tools, and skip them whenever I see them on some site’s RSS feed. But I do understand the lure of earning an extra $15K per MONTH on the site.

  10. Louise Butler says 21 April 2020 at 13:50

    Please review Prism and Digit!

  11. Mark says 21 April 2020 at 14:57

    I would like to see something on Acorns as well. Personally I’ve been using it for a couple of years and we’ve had a good year in the market and a bad one so far and I’m completely underwhelmed by the results of it’s investments and strategies. Would love to see how others feel about it. Betterment on the other hand has been a great choice, clear and concise investing and oh how do I love their Tax Loss Harvesting. I’m testing out Stash as well this year and I think it needs something, but not sure what it is yet.

  12. Jared says 21 April 2020 at 16:28

    YNAB user here. Life-changing and well worth the investment.

  13. Karen L says 22 April 2020 at 06:50

    Kristen of The Frugal Girl has a very different type of blog, but I love the way she handles reviews. I really trust her and value her opinions. I find that reviews from a trusted voice are very valuable.

    • J.D. says 22 April 2020 at 09:03

      Thanks for pointing this out. Kristen is awesome! But I’d never read any of her reviews. I love the way she starts her Dollar Shave Club review, and if/when we do more reviews, I’ll try to adopt a similar approach.

      (To save a click, here’s her opening disclaimer: “This Dollar Shave Club review is not sponsored. I pay for my own subscription to Dollar Shave Club, and they have no idea I exist except as a paying customer. This post contains referral links, which earn credit for this site at no extra cost to you. See my disclosure policy here.”)

  14. Tina says 22 April 2020 at 09:46

    No input about reviews; I’m unlikely to read any unless specifically in the market for that kind of product already. Feedback about the site design: on mobile, the words on the landing page run across J.D.’s photo and I don’t think it works. Can’t see his face, can’t really read. Suggest not having the overlay, and making it quicker to click into the blog. Best regards.

  15. Paige says 22 April 2020 at 18:07

    I started YNAB at the beginning of the year and am absolutely hooked. I also use Robinhood, Acorns (meh), undebt.it (great for for figuring out debt repayment plans). I have seen undebt.it mentioned but never really reviewed on the main blogs I follow.

    I like reading reviews from FinancialPanther.com. He does quite a few side hustle reviews but also different accounts, credit cards etc that he uses. I really like that you can tell he personally uses them for a while before reviewing and is transparent in the short comings and alternatives.

    I like when reviews add more personal thoughts/feelings and are not just a regurgitation of information that in on the product’s website.

  16. JoDi says 22 April 2020 at 18:54

    The integrity with which you approach everything you do here has always been admirable and is one of the reasons I would trust any review you post. I can’t think of anything specific I’d like to see reviewed. I always enjoy book reviews, but I borrow from the library and only buy if it’s a book I want to own for future reference so that won’t help your bottom line much! I’m an Excel nerd so I don’t use apps to track expenses because I prefer the custom spreadsheet system I created to exactly fit my needs. I can recommend a site that I think does reviews right – Moneysavingmom.com. Crystal does very honest reviews and is always upfront about the pros and cons of everything she reviews.

    Just want to add that the reappearance of time stamps on the comments is much appreciated!

  17. JC Webber III says 23 April 2020 at 10:30

    Congrats on putting up the new site. Now for a couple of critics…
    Many sites that offer the side-bar for ‘sharing’ with Facebook, Twitter, and others, offer a way to push it off the screen. I welcome that feature.
    Second, I would prefer a more consistent font, both in boldness and in size. This comment box I am currently filling out is using a greyed out color and a tiny font. Also, although the posted comments are a nice bold black, the font size is reduced compared to the rest of the post. I would prefer they be closer to the same size. Makes reading easier.


  18. Wesley says 23 April 2020 at 10:53

    Man, I wouldn’t sweat writing product reviews. If you can make something off of them, and keep GRS going, do it! Just because you review something doesn’t mean I’m going to run out and use that thing, but the information will likely be useful, and I’d enjoy reading your take on it. Heck, you could even tag it as a “paid promotion” thing or somesuch, to differentiate, if it makes a difference. I definitely don’t mind. Just my $0.02. Love the new site design!

  19. Deb says 24 April 2020 at 11:25

    I don’t use apps for financial stuff. I use them for my daily life like the weather, eBay (shopping/selling), renting a car (Turo). I use websites for financial stuff – my bank and Vanguard for buying/selling financials. I keep things pretty simplified so it doesn’t stress me out. Also, I don’t like others having access to all my accounts info if I was to have a program pull it all together. LOL, so probably i’m not giving you the info you want!

  20. Brian says 24 April 2020 at 23:59


  21. Sandi Kay says 25 April 2020 at 13:07

    A couple site notes first, and then reply:

    1) There should be a “Leave a Reply” link at the end of the comments stream.

    2) When I click from the into teaser page to the full article, it should take me to the next paragraph in the article, not up to the top of the article page, leaving me to scroll down and find my place again.

    3) Agree that the grey-on-grey comments box is hard to read; higher contrast would be appreciated.

    Reply to the article:

    – Yes! Product reviews are very useful, if they’re personal and honest. You have years of credibility. So don’t lose that.

    – If you do start reviews, it would be great if there was an amalgamation page, perhaps alphabetical or grouped and alphabetical. So if I come across a product elsewhere, I can come to GRS, go to the Review page, and see very quickly if you’ve reviewed it.

    So glad to have you back in the blogging space in the GRS format – I like it much better than MB. 😀

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*