For everything from personal finance tools, books, household stuff, passive income ideas, and “life-hack” software, there’s so much to choose from. And if you’re anything like us, having two kids and a budget very much affected by diapers and baby food, we want to be as intentional and smart with our time and money as we can.
What I’d like to do here on this page is share what’s worked for myself and our family. Since 2004, I’ve completed hundreds of freelance projects from home, using all kinds of word processing, financial, technical, or creative software. More recently, my wife and I have tried to build systems, habits, and routines in our house and work life as we’ve climbed out of a negative net worth to where we are today.
Some of the Projects I've done (if you're interested)

Personal / Freelance / Household Projects

  • Research and writing for government grants.
  • Producing and marketing my own music, receiving upwards of one million unique streams and downloads, being placed in dozens of national television commercials, and being used in scores of University and High School live sports events across the country.
  • Building six websites and designing a custom shipping price system to accurately account for weight, size, and quantity shipped across the world. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales flowing through one site in particular.
  • Designing and running a successful–albeit small–Kickstarter campaign.
  • Committing to drastic dietary changes for our household; Mrs. GtoG having to budget for increased food expenses and amount of time needed to prepare food.
  • Developing systems for our own personal finances, tracking and optimizing for the past ten years.
  • Creating custom spreadsheet calculators to assist our personal finance decision-making.

Day Job / Corporate Work

  • Monthly financial statement creation, analysis, recommendations, and forecasting.
  • Financial modeling to determine best course of action, timeline, and cashflow needed.
  • SQL querying to slice and analyze specific subsets of financial and medical data for action.
  • Deep-dive analysis of yearly health insurance and all other financial decisions for the company.
  • I’m really trying to avoid jargon and sleepy yawns, so let’s stop here…
I’ve tried many products, abandoned some, and kept using others. Below are some of the tools I currently use to run my home office, manage our household expenses, and organize business projects, as well as some more mundane or fun things that we have enjoyed using in our home.
Disclaimer Note: Some (not all!) of these links are affiliate links. I may receive some compensation as a result of a purchase of one of these products. However, note that I will never link to a product that I myself don’t actively use.
UPDATED 1/12/19
Financial – The cheapest way to easily calculate cryptocurrency capital gains and losses. Easy to import crypto trades from exchanges to calculate capital gains (and losses). The best crypto tax software I’ve found.

Debt Snowball Calculator – Created by Vertex42, this is the best free Debt Snowball calculator I’ve found. Great tool for organizing and paying off debt. 

Quickbooks Pro – Granted, this makes a bit more sense with my accounting background, but there aren’t a lot of options for desktop-based financial solutions, which is my preference. The wave of expense tracking apps is great, but I like to be able to dig into more of the details, while also having the benefits of account synchronization. I used Quicken for several years from 2012-2015 until having multiple issues with credit cards not syncing correctly. After having to fix these issues twice, I left Quicken for Quickbooks and it’s worked great ever since with no issues. Every week, I download all my credit card and bank activity into my local install of Quickbooks and assign to expense accounts. After doing this for a few months, the accounts are set to “remember” most expenses and so this process becomes very easy. Every month, I review all my investments and do a month-end journal entry to bring balances up to date (not for tax purposes, but for net worth tracking).


Internet and Networking 

Backblaze – Everyone knows that making backups is a good idea, but no one likes to set it up and keep checking to make sure it stays up to date. This software makes it easy. Just install it and let it run in the background. A graphic designer friend of mine had his hard drive crash in the middle of a project and he was able to easily recover everything and keep working.

Covenant Eyes – Unfortunately, a common thought is that porn-filtering software is “only needed for the kids.” This will certainly do that too; but in our house, we don’t allow internet on any device unless this is installed. This is the most sophisticated, yet “easy-to-use” software for internet filtering that exists. Install it on your phone, tablet, or PC. Blocks what’s necessary, reports what’s necessary.


Web design

Elegant ThemesI’ve used Elegant Themes for years, over six different websites (this is one of them). Tons of great themes to start from and then tweak from there. Sits on top of a WordPress installation. Purchasing the full bundle was one of the best investments I’ve ever made, as you also get Bloom and Monarch, a top-tier mailing list and social networking plugin. 

Godaddy– I’ve used them for years for web hosting and domain names and have always been impressed by their customer service.


Word / Number Processing
Libreoffice – Next best thing to the Office Suite. Handles the basics well. 
Microsoft Office – I use Excel constantly both at work and at home. Still have an old copy of Office 2010 that I’ll probably use forever. That sentence surely sums up the reason that Microsoft since moved to a subscription model.
Writing / Notes
Evernote – I use this for jotting down ideas when inspiration strikes. Usually where I begin writing blog posts. Syncs flawlessly between phone, PC, and tablet. 
Google Documents – Does anyone not know about this? I use this for more long-form writing. 

Financial Fitness by Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward – Great book for financial beginners looking to get started on the road to financial literacy. Focuses on getting out of debt, pursuing entrepreneurship, and “investing in yourself” as key themes to achieve financial independence, tying into Robert Kiyosaki’s passive income ideas in Rich Dad, Poor Dad. This differs from other Christian personal finance personalities like Dave Ramsey, whose advice does not really go into this arena in his “beginner” financial books. (I’m with you in thinking that the website design at the link leaves a little to be desired, but it most certainly works. A Kindle version is available on Amazon at the time of writing this).

Beyond Financial Fitness by Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward – This book is fantastic. I wish I had read it coming out of college instead of years later. Goes beyond their Financial Fitness book to cover additional topics like ETFs, REITs, commodities, and other topics in an easy-to-read format. Brady and Woodward are big on taking advantage of systems to multiply your time rather than trading time for money. Available in digital or physical format. (I’m with you in thinking that the website design at the link leaves a little to be desired, but it most certainly works. Currently also available on Amazon, but at twice the price).

The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing – Wonderful book about keeping investing and investments simple. John Bogle–founder of the Vanguard Group and the man for whom this book is named–is well known for his recommendations related to index funds, and this book doesn’t deviate. The book also has “before you invest” application too with good sections about getting out of consumer debt and changing your lifestyle from being too consumer focused.

GE PM dimmable LED low-blue lightbulb – Wait, a lightbulb?! Yep. Have trouble sleeping at night? I did for a while, and my work and motivation suffered for it. We’ve had this bulb in our bedroom for four years. This wasn’t the only solution to my sleep problem at the time, but it helped! Turn off all the lights except for this warm comfortable glow, and fall asleep reading a book. 

Financial Fitness Program by Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward – A self-study for financial beginners, guided by a book, textbook, and audio CDs. Great for families or individuals ready to get started on the road to financial literacy. As mentioned above, this program is geared more towards the individual who wants to become financially independent through starting one’s own business and developing passive sorts of income, but it still hits hard on getting out of debt and other important topics for “first-time” beginners. I’ve found that people sometimes balk at the price of kits like this, but putting these principles in place can change your financial life. No joke.

Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey – My wife and I went through this kit soon after we were married, and it gave us some great practical knowledge to start on the road to financial literacy. Whether or not you agree with everything he says, it can’t be denied that Ramsey is an incredible motivator and has helped a huge amount of people get out of debt and start saving and investing. You owe it to yourself to check out his youtube channel if you have not done so.