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Financial Planning

The Best Personal-Finance Products and Services of 2015

Here are our top picks for investments, money-management tools, credit cards, budget-friendly travel, and more.

My nominee for our annual "best list" is the staff of our magazine. With their breadth of knowledge and depth of expertise, they're second to none in giving readers savvy and timely financial advice. At no time is that more impressive than when we compile our list of favorites among financial products and services, gadgets and what have you—everything from stocks and mutual funds to phone plans, cars, and cruises).

When we put out the annual call for ideas, we're usually overwhelmed. As a bonus this year, I asked our staff for some of the go-to resources they use in their work or find personally valuable that they can recommend for you, too. Here's a sampling:

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Best Deals in Banking For readers in search of higher returns on their savings, contributing editor Lisa Gerstner, our expert on banking and credit, nominates DepositAccounts.com. "It's my source for finding the highest interest rates on checking accounts, savings accounts and CDs," says Lisa. "It includes rate information for both banks and credit unions, and you can filter for accounts that are available locally or nationally." See all our picks for best bank accounts.

Best Resources for Buying and Selling a Home In the market for a new home? Associate editor Pat Mertz Esswein, who covers housing, recommends that you consider hiring a member of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents, who represent only buyers and don't list homes for sale. "They are fonts of well-grounded, strategic advice and among my best sources," says Pat.

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On the other side of the housing transaction, Pat suggests that home sellers who want to save on agents' sales commissions visit www.owners.com. For a flat fee, you can purchase an a la carte package of services -- from preparing a for-sale listing to negotiating an offer and closing the deal -- and choose which parts of the process you'd prefer to handle on your own.

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Best Source of Inspiring Personal-Finance StoriesStaff writer Miriam Cross opens "The Billfold" to draw inspiration from personal essays about money -- everything from how someone financed a dream vacation to why a writer's expensive trapeze hobby is worth the money. "The stories are honest, relatable and non-judgmental," says Miriam.

Best Careers Blog If you're considering a job switch, reporter Ryan Ermey recommends "Ask a Manager", an "engaging career blog that offers straightforward advice."

Best Cruises, Airlines and Booking Sites for Your Travel Dollar When she gets a free minute, Lisa Gerstner heads to Travelzoo to find deals on vacation packages. "I eagerly await Travelzoo's 'Top 20' email every Wednesday," she says. "Even if I'm not planning a vacation, it's fun to daydream about the next trip."

These are just a few of our favorite things. For more, click into any of the Best List links in the box to the left.

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