Unroll Me Review

Unroll.Me Review – The Best 5 Minutes for Your Email’s Inbox

Unroll Me Review

Unroll.Me Review – The Best 5 Minutes for Your Email’s Inbox

This Unroll.Me Review is going to show you why you should spend 5 minutes every month using this tool to clean up your email’s inbox. At the end of each month, your inbox will be writing you a thank you letter.

I wonder if it will send the thank you via email or snail mail?

In last weeks post, How to Pay Off Your Car Loan Faster – How I paid off $7K in 3 Months, I mentioned that I used Unroll.Me to remove advertisement distractions from my email.

Well, today we will talk about Unroll.Me and really just how easy it is to use!

What is Unroll.Me

To start off this Unroll.Me review, let’s answer a couple questions as to what the tool does and who the company behind the tool is.

Unroll.Me is a free service that allows you to easily (an understatement) unsubscribe from all of those pesky email subscriptions.

After signing in, the algorithm scans throughout your inbox looking for e-commerce emails. Once found, the application lists them out allowing you to decide what to do with the subscription.

Who Is Unroll.Me

Slice Technologies is the parent company that owns Unroll.Me. They are able to make Unroll.Me a free service because they collect data on the e-commerce emails you get. They use this data to, “build an anonymized market research products that analyze and track consumer trends.”

Slice says they strip all of the personal information (name, email, address, or anything else that could identify you) from the data collected. The technology behind Unroll.Me is designed to determine if the email is personal or e-commerce. The algorithm completely ignores the personal emails as it searches your inbox.

You can read their blog for more information to see what the data is used for. Some of the research they post is actually pretty fascinating but I am a nerd when it comes to data.

How to Use Unroll.Me

It literally took me five steps and less than five minutes of my life to unsubscribe from 74 subscriptions. I really could not believe that I was done already!

I will walk you through the steps…

  1. Go to Unroll.Me and click on ‘Get started now’.
  2. Choose your email provider and click through the prompts.
  3. The algorithm will run. It searches through your inbox for subscriptions then spits out a list of them.
  4. Click either ‘Keep in Inbox’, ‘Unsubscribe’, or ‘Add to Rollup’ (I’ll explain that later) for each subscription on the list.
  5. Success!

Was that not super easy? I know! Right?!?!

Oh! I mentioned I would talk about what  ‘Add to Rollup’ is. The Rollup is a single email that Unroll.Me will send to you at the end of the day. This email will consist all the content from every email that is apart of the Rollup from that day. I have not personally tried this yet but they say the Rollup email is very digestible and easy to read.

One final tip. You can have Unroll.Me notify you on a particular schedule to check for more subscriptions that were not in your inbox at the time. I decided to do the monthly reminder.

Why Unsubscribe?

We now live in a world where we are completely submerged by advertisements. The design of these advertisements is to tempt us to spend our hard earned money on materialistic items.

These ads do not stop with commercials, billboards, or temporarily tattooed to the back of that guy’s head on the bus. Subscription emails also drown us every day with more temptation.

Using the ease of Unroll.Me to unsubscribe from these emails trying derail us from our financial goals allows us to stay focused. This is why you should unsubscribe to these emails.

Also, they are just annoying. Unsubscribing will also help keep your blood pressure down.

Final Take

To wrap up this Unroll.Me review I must say that I really enjoyed my experience with this tool to free me from those spammy email subscriptions.

Look, I understand if you are skeptical because of the data collection. You are entitled to have those feelings! Especially after the latest Equifax data breach.

The algorithm design to strip out my personal information is what sold me to try out Unroll.Me. I understand if you are still skeptical after hearing that. But hey! As a data guy myself, I do know this technology exists and it is pretty amazing.

Overall, this is a great free service. If you can get over the data collection thing, then I think you will enjoy it just like I did.

5 Simple Ways – How to Sell Photos Online

5 Simple Ways – How to Sell Photos Online

Alright, before we get started. Let me say I’m excited about this article! I really enjoy bringing a personal touch and felt this article “How To Sell Photos Online” allowed me to bring in some personal experiences on what really works for selling photos. I’ve done most of these.

As many of you already know from other posts, I love photography. This hobby is one of my true passions in life though, sadly, I do not get to play with my camera much anymore. Thankfully, before this downturn in production, I was able to gather a lot of different experiences that taught me how to sell photos online for extra income.

Over the years, I have been fortunate to shoot my photos all over the U.S. and the world. It took a lot of honesty with myself, patience, and persistence to build my skills to create some decent photographs. Many of my photos have sold to people around the world using several different platforms of selling. It is a very fun and addicting experience to have someone purchase a photograph that you created from scratch.

Here are some of the different ways you can sell photos online.

1. Stock Photography

Okay, everyone knows about this method on how to sell photos online already so let’s get it out of the way. Using Shutterstock or iStock Photo is probably the easiest way to earn extra money online selling your photos. All you have to do is head over to one of these sites, sign up, upload, get accepted, then sit and wait to get paid.

I have used stock photography to make true passive income for the past four years.

About five years ago I was in St. Louis. While there we visited a high vantage point in a hotel that over looked the St Louis Arch. I snapped a quick shot (this article’s featured image) through the glass window not thinking anything about it. Later on I decided to add it to Shutterstock and iStock Photo. To be honest, compared to the other photos I was uploading, I was not too excited about the one of the arch. To my surprise though, it has been a best seller for me. Between the two hosting services I have made over $1,000 off of the photograph.

Why did this photo do so well? My theory is because it is from a different angle than your typical St. Louis Arch photograph. Go ahead and take a look at the top St Louis Arch photos on ShutterStock and compare to mine above. Notice how it is completely different from the other top sellers. This is what you should do for your stock photography. Find a topic on one of the stock photography sites that is selling well. Then analyze the competition figure out how you can do your photo better bringing fresh content to the topic.

For some more great advice on stock photography check out Andrew’s experience on Selling Stock Photography.

2. Direct Sells

A few years back I was very active at marketing my photographs. I was blogging every day, creating conversations on Twitter, and gaining visitors like crazy. This is when I had a few people directly contact me to use my photos. One client was a hospital in Iowa looking for photos to use on their website. The second client was a marketing company out of Sweden looking to use my Portland Headlight photo for one of their clients.

Overall, I only made $75 off of these two deals but I was still very excited. One thing I learned was to only work with clients who have a budget. The hospital did not so I gave them a one year license for free as long as they gave me credit for my work on the site. I thought this would give me exposure. It did not.

I learned from this mistake when the Swedish deal came up. Here I made sure that I was going to get some money out of them. We came up with a deal for $75, they signed the license, then I sent them a digital copy of the image. It was essentially a direct stock photography deal.

3. Etsy

If you read my 8 Extremely Flexible Part Time Jobs for Us Grown Ups article, you know I once started an Etsy shop a while back. I did not spend much time on my shop to get it going but did sell a couple of photographs there. I have heard that if you work fairly consistently on your own shop for about a year that it can become pretty lucrative.

Like I said, I did not really work very hard on my shop so nothing huge ever materialized with Etsy. Out of the photographs I did sell, I made around $100.

Hopefully in the near future I can get back into my Etsy shop. I think this could be a really nice way to make some extra income.

Etsy allows you to sell your own crafts as a part time gig.

4. Magazines

One time, I had the editor of a digital magazine contact me to take some photographs around the Denver area. They were doing a spotlight on the city and wanted me to take photos of local landmarks, things to-do, and my favorite, food! I went around taking these photos, signed a contract with them, and then got paid a couple hundred bucks. Later on, the article was published which was an incredible feeling!

To start your own freelance journey on how to sell your photos online, I recommend you to contact editors of any magazine around the country. This will let them know you exist and that you are hungry for some work. Do not get discouraged if they say no right away. If they turn you away, remember to follow up ever couple months or so.

Also, I am sure there are freelance websites around the internet to help you find new gigs. I do not have any personal experiences with these websites though. Oh! Article idea!

5. Consignment Shops

Alright, this idea is not about how to sell photos online but rather at a physical store. It is very similar to Etsy and Direct Sells so I wanted to include it for you. Here you can find locally owned gift stores that sell items from local artists. Most of these stores sell items like a consignment shop would. They give your item space in the store for a certain amount of time. Once it sells then they take a cut of the income and you get the rest. Pretty sweet!

Selling at a local store is also one method I do not have personal experience with yet. I have been wrestling with the idea for a while now but have not pulled the trigger yet. Once I do, I will let you know how it goes.

Wrapping it All Up

Here are five fantastic and very probable ways on how to sell photos online. Most of which I have done myself. Some of these methods take more time than others. Some are truly passive while others require you to reach out and find work. If you are ambitious it is possible to do all five of these methods to sell photos online. I would recommend starting with only one at a time instead of trying to start with all five at the same time.

It takes time, patience, and persistence to sell your photos online. Do not give up if you have not sold anything in the first week. Keep pushing forward analyzing your work to make sure that it actually looks good compared to others. If not, learn how you can make your work better. Remember that failure is okay and if you learn from your mistakes you will come out ahead.

Website Performance – Decrease Your Page Load Time Now

Website Performance – Decrease Your Page Load Time Now

When I joined Wallet Squirrel a few months ago, I came in with several goals to complete for the website. My first goal was to improve the SEO with a formalized SEO Strategy, read about our Ultimate SEO Guide for 2017. Secondly, I wanted to increase the value of the website by creating a ton more excellent content on top of Andrew’s. Lastly, I wanted to improve the overall website performance by decreasing our page load time.

After a lot of work, this last goal has been completed! In this article I, Adam, will talk through what Andrew and I have been working on to increase Wallet Squirrel’s overall website performance.

A Special Thanks To Ross!

Firstly, I want to thank Ross over at Paid Insights, who gave us some great advice on helping us speed up Wallet Squirrel. Though I did not use every plugin he recommended, he did point me in the right direction. For this advice we are very grateful for.

If you have not checked out his site, please do. He is an expert in paid search campaigns. Whether you are looking to get started on your first or 50th campaign I would look into his services. Plus, he has an awesome podcast so you can learn more about the PPC (Pay Per Click) and AdWords world.

New Hosting

We used to host Wallet Squirrel on iPage but were tired of the poor performance of their servers. The lack of website performance and slow page load times helped us make the decision to move over to Bluehost. The new hosting service provided a great package that took care of several items on our list.

Bluehost is our choice for website hosting. You should check them out too!

Firstly, they offered high performance servers that would help improve our overall page load time. Improving those load times, improves user experience. With the short attention spans of our society, your website needs to load quickly. If the page load time is high then you are most likely to lose visitors not willing to deal with the poor website performance.

Secondly, the Bluehost package we chose, the Pro Package, came with a SSL certificate. Now, the SSL certificate does not help out with the overall website performance. What it does do, is increase the our SEO rankings with Google.

Thirdly, we were also able to get a dedicated IP address. This is another item that does not decrease the page load time of Wallet Squirrel. But Google does look fondly on dedicated IP addresses. I am not fully sure why but it is nice to have that helping us out with rankings as well.

Compressing Images

Even with high performance servers having poorly compressed images will slow down the page load time of any website. We had about 3,500 images that were bogging down the website performance of Wallet Squirrel.

Use TinyPNG for compressing your images.

To compress all of these images required an awesome plugin and we found one thanks to Ross. He pointed us in the direction of TinyPNG. The plugin was able to compress the images by 62.8% taking them from an initial size of 415.91 MB to just 154.92 MB. After the compression our server response time went from 4 seconds to an extremely fast .21 of a second.

If you are looking for a good image compression plugin for WordPress, I highly recommend TinyPNG. The interface is clean and simple. The compression process does take some time but performs amazingly well in the background letting you work on other tasks.

Caching

Caching allows the website’s page load time to decrease significantly. This is because caching temporary stores the content on a user’s computer. This allows the page to load a lot faster the next time someone visits the website.

W3 Total Cache is a lot more robust versus WP Super Cache.

Right now we are WP Super Cache. This is a very basic and easy cache plugin for WordPress. I am in the process of testing out a new plugin called W3 Total Cache. This plugin is a lot more complicated but handles a lot more responsibility. When using it, I felt like the website performance increased dramatically. I had to disable it because the caching is a lot more firm compared to WP Super Cache. I should be able to get it working with some more testing.

Cache Control Header

Cache control helps with telling the user’s browser to load previous content or not. Because websites are getting more and more complex, telling the user’s browser this information is crucial. With more JavaScript and CSS on websites it takes more and more time for the user’s computer to retrieve and download all of this information each time. If this information is stored on the user’s computer then the website can load that much quicker.

With the Cache Control plugin you can control the expiration dates as to when certain aspects of the site redownload on a user’s computer. Some items on the site you will want to have a shorter expiration date and others to have a long expiration date.

Cache Control helps you decide when your site refreshes its content for your viewers.

For example, take the three little number counters on Wallet Squirrel’s home page. Each one of those takes some JavaScript to load on the backend. If they had to be retrieved and downloaded each time, it would add on some significant time to load the webpage. Because they are only updated once a month, we can increase their cache expiration date compared to the blog page that updates twice a week.

Hopefully this makes sense. If not let me know in the comments and I can answer those questions.

Minify

Typically a lot of WordPress themes will have tons of CSS and JavaScript code running on the backend. This code can take a lot of resources and time to load a page. Using a minify plugin will reduce this code allowing page load times to decrease.

We are using Fast Velocity Minify to improve our website performance. This plugin is working swimmingly but will be replaced once I get W3 Total Cache working properly. W3 Total Cache does support minifying as well. Being able to move to one plugin that handles multiple tasks should improve website performance as well.

Minifying your code is crucial for a fast web page load.

Website Speed Testing

We use two websites to help grade the website performance of Wallet Squirrel. The first one is Google’s website speed tester. I like using this site the most because you are getting a speed grade by the company that is ranking your website in its search results. My thought is, if you can impress them, you should rank high in their results.

Secondly, we use Page Speed Grader. This site was recommended by Bluehost and has been very beneficial so far. This is because it ranks a lot of the same items Google looks at but it looks at other important items as well.

I used both of these website speed testing to figure out what we needed to work on to improve the website. I recommend you to use these tools to get a blueprint as to where you need to improve your own site.

Conclusion

Overall, this process has increased our speed grades with Google and Page Speed Grader significantly. Our score has jumped up nearly 30 points according to Google. And just over 20 points on Page Speed Grader. I am very pleased with the results after some serious work on the backend of our website.

Have questions?

Feel free to contact us and we might be able to help you out.

7 Ways on How to Save Money on Groceries

7 Ways on How to Save Money on Groceries

This is probably nothing new to you. Food is expensive! Outside of my families mortgage payment, it is our second biggest monthly expense. That is why I wanted to explore this week on how to save money on groceries.

Typically my wife and I will spend around $100 a week. And that’s just for the two of us! I would like to get that down to $75 a week or a 25% reduction which is a pretty significant cut! Especially when we are trying to eat healthy.

This week I want to take a deeper look into saving opportunities to save money on groceries. This means by looking past the typical tips you hear such as never going to the grocery store on an empty stomach or always go with a list. The seven tips below are sure to help anyone reduce their overall grocery bill.

Loyalty Cards

My wife and I tend to do all of our shopping at King Soopers on a weekly basis. In the Denver area they tend to have fairly good prices with a great loyalty program.

One perk of King Soopers loyalty program is the gas savings. For every $100 you spend they will give you 10 cents off a gallon of gas. Since we currently spend about $100 a week on groceries, those savings start to really add up over the course of the year.

Just like every other company does now a days, they track what you purchase . With this knowledge King Soopers will give you customized coupons every month. These because they are items that we really want to purchase. I hate the coupons that print out after checking out because they are never relevant to what I want or need to purchase.

I recommend going doing research in your region to find who has the best prices along with a good loyalty card program. Then head over to those stores to get signed up.

Plan your Meals for the Week

My wife and I have found that we save money on groceries a lot better when we go into the week with a plan for what we are going to eat for the week. During the week we can chose what we eat depending on how we are feeling that day from those seven meals. We try to pick two to three meals that are super easy to make (30min or less) and the rest are a little more complex that take more time (an hour or more).

I like the application called Mealime to help me out with planning our meals for the week. They allow you to select several dietary restrictions, foods you like/do not like, and then it gives you a several meal for the week. The application even gives you a nice grocery list based on those recipes.

Meatless Mondays

This is a tough one for me as I like to have a meat protein with every meal. I have always thought that you need a traditional protein every meal. Then I met Tristan, one of my best friends, who is a vegetarian. Over the years he has showed me great ways to get that protein from other sources rather than only meat. The nice thing about this is that these alternatives are usually much cheaper than most meat.

Making one or two vegetarian meals a week can help save money on groceries by cutting some major costs that come with purchasing meats.

Coupon Apps

Typically most major companies will have a mobile application which makes it easy to find their coupons. I would not hesitate to download the applications for the stores that you shop the most at. They make it easy to find the coupons you need. That way they can get you into their store to buy more things. What they do not know though, is you are coming into the store with plan (from above) so you will not buy any extra items.

Outside of using major retailers applications there are many awesome third party applications. Some of these include SavingStar, SnipSnap, Grocery IQ, and Grocery Smarts. I personally do not have any experience with these applications but they are now on my list to help my wife and I cut 25% off of our grocery bill.

What couponing application do you use to save money on groceries?

Ibotta

This is another application I do not have any experience with Ibotta but it sounds pretty amazing. This couponing/rebates company, based out of Denver, allows you to save money on everyday items that you actually use. I must say, this is really appealing to me.

According to the steps on Ibotta’s site, the whole process seems fairly easy. You sign up. You unlock cash rewards on the items you plan to purchase before heading to the store. You buy those products. You scan the product barcodes and submit a photo of the receipt. Then you get paid!

Have you used Ibotta? I will be trying this tool out soon so I can write a full review for everyone.

Bonus Points: There are several other apps that are similar to Ibotta. These include Checkout 51 and Ebates (See Andrew’s Review).

Buy Generic

As mentioned earlier, my wife and I usually shop at King Soopers unless there are good deals going on at another store such as Sprouts. King Soopers has a great generic brand, Kroger, their parent company. This brand can help us save a lot of money each week.

Most of the time these generic brands have similar (if not better) quality as the name brand. If this is true, why spend an extra dollar or two for that name? Going generic for most or all of the items on your list can cut down that final bill to save money on groceries.

Do you have any favorite generic brands to save money on groceries? Mine is Kirkland at Costco!

Make Your Own

Buying items that are pre-made is super convenient and easy on a busy night after work. Sadly, these pre-made items are costing you a lot of money each week. This is because you are paying for the labor that goes into prepping that item.

Instead of buying these items, you should opt to make your own. In all honesty buying pre-made items do not save you much time unless you are buying a whole cake.

I recently had an experience where I bought a pre-chopped bag of cauliflower rice at Costco. This bag was about $5.50 and came with WAY too much chopped up cauliflower. I decided to buy this bag because I was nervous how much time needed to go into making cauliflower rice. Just this past week I had another recipe call for the rice. I did not have the time to go to Costco to get another bag. Plus, I did not need that much that came in the Costco bag.

So instead, I bought one head of cauliflower, put it into our food processor, and within a few minutes had my own cauliflower rice. The whole head of cauliflower was only 98 cents allowing me to save $4.52 just for an extra three minutes of work.

Each week I can easily create a few savings by prepping my own food instead of buy pre-prepped food. The savings would really start to add up quickly then!

Now Go Save!

Adding these tips on top of the general rules, listed above, of grocery shopping will help you save tons of money every week. Now let’s go out an save money on groceries!

What are you doing to save money on groceries each week?

New And Better Things Are Coming

We are taking a week off because Wallet Squirrel is in the middle of moving hosts. Because of poor performance, it has been decided to move over to Bluehost from iPage. Soon you will be able to get to our pages even quicker.

We apologize for the inconvenience but promise the wait will be worth it!

Thanks,

Andrew and Adam
Team Squirrel

HCP down 32% two days after buy, WTF

I knew this would happen, but why so soon? Last Monday I finally decided to pull the trigger on HCP, a healthcare REIT that has a diversity of healthcare facilities in its portfolio including senior housing, life science facilities, medical office buildings, hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. Essentially HCP owns the facilities and healthcare organizations pay rent to use these facilities. I love REITs so it seemed like a great investment.

Here’s why I bought 12 shares of HCP at $34.52:

  1. I think healthcare facilities are a solid investment with the amount of growing population we have and soon to be baby boomers.
  2. With the upcoming baby boomers, HCP has a large variety of senior living facilities that will benefit from this population
  3. HCP also has a good diversity of other healthcare facilities including Medical Office Buildings which will benefit from the rise of outpatient services.
  4. HCP has a 31 year consectutive record of raising dividneds, it’s the only REIT in the S&P 500 Dividend Arstocrats Index

In 2 days it declined to $26.13 because:

  1. HCP’s largest tenant HCR ManorCare (23% of portfolio) are under federal investigation over fraud for their Medicare Reimbursements (that’s never good)
  2. HCP with their largest tentant under investigation, their 2016 outlook looks poor.
  3. The post-acute/skilled nursing industry is getting heavily saturated right now with everyone prepping for the baby boomers.

What I am now going to do:

I could sell these shares and use the remaining cash to get a bigger stake into something else, but I don’t know what would spike to make up for the money I lost. I follow Warren Buffet’s ideology when it’s better not to lose any money than gain some. Yet in this case, I lost money. Luckily some of my other positions have been doing well so I’m not in a negative portfolio, yay!

I know better than to make an emotional decision with stocks so I am going to continue to hold onto HCP. I do think that they are making strides to remove themselves from HCR ManorCare by selling non-strategic HCR facilities to reduce their portfolio . I also think with a portfolio of over 1,100 healthcare facilities they have room to come back. I’m currently $99 in the hole with this stock after only owning it for 2 days. Damn. There really is nothing I can do about that timing except do more even more research into each stock I purchase. So for now, I wait.