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Making Your Money Last

Personal-Finance Writers Reveal Their Favorite Products and Services to Save and Manage Their Money

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

As I'm writing this, I can look up at my assistant's desk outside my office and see a mail-order box of scrumptious-looking chocolate-chip cookies. Our staff is testing them to see whether they live up to their billing as the "most perfect" chocolate-chip cookie. It’s one perk of the research we do to compile our annual list of top financial and consumer products and services. To come up with our picks, we do our best to be objective, but sometimes you just have to use your judgment (or taste buds). And I have such faith in the judgment of our staff that I asked them to supplement our official list by nominating their personal favorite products and services. Here's a sampling:

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"I'm digging Personal Capital to keep track of my investments," says senior associate editor Nellie Huang. Columnist Kathy Kristof is also a fan of this free online "robo-style" service that "has you download both bank and brokerage information to get a full picture of income, expenses and investments."

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Senior editor Jeff Kosnett nominates his recent refinancing experience with Quicken Loans. "It was all done online and by phone—except for a 30-minute visit to my house to sign forms—with flawless execution and easy and prompt billing and services. Exceeded my expectations."

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ThePointsGuy.com rates two thumbs up from staff writer Miriam Cross and contributing editor Lisa Gerstner. "It is the place to go if you're in the game of maximizing points and miles earned with credit cards or through travel loyalty programs," says Lisa.

Miriam also gives a nod to T-Mobile's "incredible service" for travelers abroad—"even in random patches of Chile's Atacama Desert with its local network partner."

"How about Houzz.com for best site to get home remodeling ideas?" says associate editor Daren Fonda. "I'm using it avidly myself now." (Note: You can also find content from Houzz on Kiplinger.com.)

Senior reporter Ryan Ermey is a "huge fan" of Warby Parker and Indochino, companies that sell customized items—eyeglasses and men's suits, respectively—at a fraction of what you'd pay elsewhere by cutting out the middleman. "I was so delighted with my Indochino suit—made-to-measure for $400—that I ordered five pairs of pants that are sure to fit like a glove on my newly trimmer waistline." (Ryan owes his waistline success to his mixed martial arts gym, for which, he says, "I frankly don't think I could pay enough.")

After 25 years of marriage, associate editor Pat Esswein still loves her husband, Mark—and the USAA membership that came with him as a wedding gift because his father was a Navy doctor. "USAA always impresses me with its customer service," says Pat. As for those cookies—we're not sure we'd say they were the most perfect, but they sure disappeared fast.

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