You can tell a lot about a person based on the financial products they hold.

Our lives are inundated with financial products, many of which are cheap and ineffective. But the tools you use to build your financial life speak to your attention to detail and your commitment to making your life easier as you get older. These products/tools range from various types of loans to a range of Individual Retirement Account plans. Some are cringeworthy, while others amuse me.

A good financial product is one that takes care of business now, but the benefit of the product increases over time. It must make a lot of sense now and substantially more sense later.

In no particular order, my three favorite financial products are: a 15-year mortgage, a Health Savings Account (HSA) and a Roth IRA. Each of these financial tools is not only efficient, but does a great deal to set a person up for a healthy financial future.

15-year mortgages

I prefer 15-year mortgages for two very distinct reasons. The obvious reason is that a 15-year mortgage results in a significant difference in interest payments over the course of the loan. For example, on a 15-year $200,000 loan at 3.25%, a person would save nearly $100,000 in interest expense compared to the more commonly taken alternative of a 30-year loan at 4%.

The other, better reason for securing a 15-year mortgage is it will likely force you to buy less house. Despite the Great Recession of 2008, Americans are still pushing the limits of housing affordability, and banks are right there encouraging the behavior.

Somehow getting the biggest bang for your buck has been misconstrued as buying as much house as a lender will let you buy. Outside of some select ridiculously high real estate markets of San Francisco, New York…