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Happy Thanksgiving! Here Are Some Facts To Be Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving (American readers)! However, if you’re an international reader, Thanksgiving in America is just a day where people are reminded to be thankful for everything we have and celebrate with eating lots of turkey and pie. Usually surrounded by friends and family.

However in this Thanksgiving post, I wanted to be reminded of how far I’ve come, and our readers, in understanding finance. Because it wasn’t long ago (only in 2015 I paid off $6,000 of credit card debt) that I knew NOTHING about finance and started learning. So I found some interesting finance facts to remind myself of how far I’ve come.

10 Fun Finance Facts

  1. Student Loans are in the trillions of dollars and two of five student loan accounts become delinquent within the first five years of making an attempt to pay student loan payments (source). I have auto-deduct on my student loans, it helps A LOT!
  2. Nearly 30% of Americans don’t have at least 3 months of money to get them by if something happens (source). Personally, my Emergency Fund has 3 months of cash I can tap before I start pulling from my investment accounts to get me by.
  3. In the days of the pilgrims (see thanksgiving themed fact) a US Dollar was called a “buck” because the pelt of a male deer was worth a dollar (source). I didn’t know this before!
  4. Did you know Walt Disney every year for the holidays gave his housekeeper stocks of Disney? By the time his housekeeper, Thelma Howard died, she amassed a $9.5 million dollar fortune (source). Be nice to housekeepers and thankful for everyone doing these thankless jobs!
  5. Don’t take investment advice from celebrities. I’m thankful I never have. The Rapper 50 Cent in 2011 started tweeting about H&H Imports (stock ticker HNHI), an investment he owns and told people to invest. Although his tweets are now taken down, he made $8.7 million from his comments on the penny stock (source). Can’t imagine his followers did as well.
  6. If you’re having a bad day, just remember Ronald Wayne. Ronald was a third co-founder of Apple along with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Ronald sold his 10% stake in Apple in 1976 for $800. That 10% stake is now worth more than $35 billion (source). I’m thankful not to have that guilt on my conscious. Remember buy/hold!
  7. I hate coins, but I’m thankful they add up! In 2015, the TSA (the people at airport security lines) collected $765,759.15 in loose change. This is the money people just left behind in those long lines and x-ray machine bins. They get to keep it all too (source)!
  8. Buy and hold stocks are a thing. As of January 2013, there were 16 people left in the world who were born in the 1800’s. If they invested (and held) in the stock market, US stocks had increased 28,000% during their lifetimes (source). I’m thankful to start buying and holding so young. I could totally live to be a hundred.
  9. 46.1% of Americans will die with less than $10,000 in assets (source). This factoid haunts my dreams. I’m thankful I  have more than this currently.
  10. In 2011, US charitable giving was $298 billion. That’s more than the GDP of all the countries in the world, except 33 of them (source). That’s pretty awesome and something to be thankful for!

Have a great day everyone!

Oh My Goodness I Hate Tipping, It Ruins My Budget and Anxiety

Let me preface that I used to be a waiter so I understand the value of tipping, but as a customer, tipping is the worst! It’s psychological warfare at the end of every meal that results in either anxiety that you haven’t paid enough or havoc on your wallet for paying too much.

Then exactly how much too much and too little for a tip? Common restaurant adequate says a tip should be 15%-20% pretax, but then why does every restaurant leave the anxiety for the customer to decide how much to tip?

Let’s face it, an extra 20% of a $60 check is still a lot on your budget. That’s $12 the menu doesn’t mention.

This history of tipping is murky

From what I found in the Business Insider and Washington Post (and it’s a murky origin story) tipping originated around 17t century England where the word T.I.P. meant “To Insure Promptitude”. The upper class provided extra “allowance” to servers (lower class) to be given faster service.

This practice made its way to America after the Civil War when wealthy Americans started traveling back and forth to Europe. So we can blame them, and I do.

Tipping Today just allows Restaurants to pay it’s servers poorly

Because waiters (I’m referring to both men and women) receive tips, the federal tipped minimum wage for tipped workers is as little as $2.13 an hour because they receive tips to supplement the difference (source).

That’s kind of ridiculous, right! Restaurants are allowed to only pay their servers $2.13 an hour and expect servers to get the rest of their income from tips. So when you pay your bill, your essentially paying for the food/environment with your bill and your tip pays the waiter’s salary.

If you’re a waiter, the customer is actually your boss since they’re the ones that pay you. So every day, every hour, you have a different boss. Yikes.

How much do you pay your server then?

According to Google, yes I googled “How Much Should I Tip”, you should be paying your server 15%-20% of your pre-tax bill.

This is where the Anxiety starts

What the frack is it? Do I tip 15% or 20%?

What if the server was bad?

If my bill is $100, does the server get an extra $20 just because they played telephone with my order from the table to kitchen and walked the food back? What if they were awful? We’ve all had bad servers who ignored us. They chatted in the back or brought us the wrong items with a rude attitude. Is that when you tip them 15% instead of 20% or even less?

What about if the food was awesome but the service was terrible? ugh

Should I feel both angry at my server for bad service but feel guilty since they’re paid so poorly? How should I feel?

I recall a study conducted found that bad servers still received 15%-20% regardless of how good the service was because people felt it was the socially acceptable thing to do. No one wants to be a bad tipper, but should I tip poorly to save a bit of money and prove a point to the server?

What if the server was awesome?

You plan to spend a certain amount of money eating out and even account for a 20% tip. Do you exceed your budget further if your server was fantastic? Should your server’s awesomeness impact your planned budget? Should they be worthy of more than a 20% tip of that you’re still paying off student loans?

Damn it Janet, you were so great that now my tip for you exceeds my alotted food budget.

Are you a bad person if you don’t acknowledge their above and beyond service or will they quit trying harder if people don’t tip more for the great service?

What about tipping during group meals?

Now imagine eating out with a group of friends, each pays their own bills and it always ends with laying your bills on the table in sight of everyone. If you only tipped 10% or 15%, does that make you a jerk if everyone else tipped 20% – 25%?

On the other hand, are you a jerk for tipping more than everyone? Are you just flaunting money because you can spend more than everyone else or does it make you more generous or charitable?

This is why I hate Tipping!

Why does a nice meal out with friends have to end with awkward silences while everyone calculates percentages in their heads while they secretly judge the performance of the server? Ending in silent comparison of who tipped more, being more generous and charitable than the rest of the group.

I now tip 20% regardless of service

Tipping makes me so anxious that I’m just starting to tip 20% regardless of service (paying with my credit card). The server can refill my drink at the perfect time, every time or completely forget I exist. Tipping a regular 20% fits the socially acceptable tip amount to overcome the unnecessary anxiety at the cost of a few extra dollars on my budget. Sorry budget.

Except Subway “Sandwich Artists”, screw them. They literally walk 10 feet putting the ingredients I say onto bread. Why do they have a tip jar at the cash register? You’re a fast food restaurant.

If you also tip 20% regularly, here is a chart to help you decide what 20% would be when you’re looking over a menu because they don’t list the extra tipping cost on the menu.

20% Tip per Cost of your meal 

Check 20% Tip
$20 $4
$40 $8
$50 $10
$60 $12
$70 $14
$80 $16
$90 $18
$100 $20

If this seems like a lot, you can always stay in and eat a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich.

What do you tip your servers? There is obviously no right answer otherwise they wouldn’t leave the tip field on every check blank. I REALLY want to know. Do you judge your waiter everytime or give them a flat fee regardless like me?

The Perfect Blog Post Photo Size for Sharing on Social Media

Oh my goodness, blog post photo sizes were SO confusing before I wrote this post. If you look through our older posts, they were all over the place because we made what looked pretty at any size. Now we have the data on the perfect blog post photo size for sharing on social media.

The Perfect Blog Post Image Size

Forget burying the lead, the new dimensions we’re using for our future blog posts are:

  • Horizontal – 1,024 x 512 px
  • Vertical – 800 x 1,200 px

Quick article right? Keep reading if you want to know how we came to this perfect ratio of social media and blog magic.

Apparently, this is a pretty popular ratio that many social media companies (like Buffer) and social media agencies came to through their research. I’m focusing on the ideal image size for sharing articles and photos, but if you want the ideal image size for every social media photo spot like profile photos and cover images, check out Omnicore Agency’s infographic.

 

We Did the Math: Ideal Image Size by Social Platform

I’m focusing on the 4 major social media channels, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest. Yes, there are Instagram, Google+, Tumbler, etc. Yet most bloggers don’t use these because they’re not great platforms for sharing articles, images and posts. So we’ll focus on the big 4.

No matter what size you actually upload to any of these platforms, it’ll automatically be scaled to whatever social media platform you’re using. Here is what they scale to.

Facebook Shared Link – 1,200 x 628 px

Whenever you add a URL to Facebook, it will create a “shared link” post. This will add your message in the text box above and below use the URL you submitted to automatically a Facebook article that uses your featured image as the post image. It’ll look like this:

To get the most out image size (bigger is better) out of your shared article link, you’ll want your Facebook photos to be 1,200 x 628 px. If most people find you via Facebook, maybe it’s worth making all your blog post images this size to get the most image dimensions and Facebook real estate.

Twitter Shared Link – 1,024 x 576

Twitter has over 313 Million active users a month. If you’re not on twitter you likely don’t exist. So if you want to exist on Twitter, you REALLY need to use images to convey your ideas and share your articles. Tweets with images get 2x more engagement than those without.

If your adding images to your tweets you want to use the right sized images to get the most real estate for your tweets because a regular tweet only last 18 minutes. Twitter uses a 2:1 ratio and 1,024 x 576 px is ideal. This is what the photo will look like when it’s selected otherwise, Twitter will minimize it to 506 x 253 px in the Twitter stream looking like this:

LinkedIn Shared Link – 552 x 368 px

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn will only allow you to add one image per post. So you can get creative having one image made up of multiple images or use one good image. Either way the ideal ratio for LinkedIn according to a moderator on LinkedIn’s help forum, the ideal size for image uploads is 522 x 368 px.

Anything larger than that will be automatically cropped for the image preview to fit their maximum width and height. Your actual image won’t be cropped if selected for full view, but most people only look at the image preview.

Pinterest Shared Link – 600 x 900 px

People are regularly raving how great Pinterest is for driving traffic to their website. I’m hoping to try this as stated in my recent income report because 90% of Pinterest pages are external links to people’s websites.

Pinterest has said that the best aspect ratio are images with a 2:3 ratio. This could be 600 pixels wide by 900 pixels tall or 800 pixels wide by 1,200 pixels tall. You get the idea. However, the actual Pinterest feed on the main page and on boards shows pins with a width of 236 px and adjustable height.

Conclusion

We’re going to start using the perfect blog post image size to help us get more real estate from social sharing, what image size do you use for your blog post images?

The PBJ Theory, Please Quit Complaining About Food Budgets

Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory

I’m about to save you thousands of dollars.

All the money you spend in your life, or even an average month. Chances are one of your largest expenses is food. It happens, literally to everyone.

Eating Out Is The Worst For Your Wallet

So when people start to track their budgets, they always come to the same conclusion. “I need to quit eating out more”. Get this, the average person eats out 4.5 times per week costing them $12.14 per meal on a national average according to a 2016 survey conducted by Zagat.

“the average person eats out 4.5 times per week costing them $12.14 per meal on a national average”

That means the average person spends $54.63 eating out a week or $218.52 a month on just eating out. Unless you earn lots of money, is the obvious answer to eat in?

What About Eating In?

Most people think they can quit going out to start having nice and relaxing meals in. Here’s the thing with eating in, the movies get it wrong.

It’s not always a romantic and soothing experience.

Often times it’s a “Crap, I need to eat. What should I cook?” experience that you pray to the food gods you have the right ingredients in your fridge and dishes are clean.

Let’s face it, we are busy in our lives and don’t have the time to visit the store every day buying new ingredients for a new recipe we found on the internet.

In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, researcher Eddie Yoon over two decades collected data as consultants for consumer packaged goods companies. He found that:

  • 15% of people say they LOVE to cook
  • 50% of people say they HATE to cook
  • 35% of people say they are ambivalent about cooking (mixed feelings)

If you’re one of the people that hate cooking, you should create a meal plan to make it as easy as possible. Plan a week in advance what you’re going to eat for each meal and know how to cook it. This way you’ll have the ingredients and can plan accordingly for time.

However, not all plans work out.

Introduce The Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory

When meal plans fail, let me introduce Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, otherwise known as a PBJ.

Let me first admit that I have an addiction to commenting on Finance forums, Facebook Groups, and Blogs. The mechanics of building wealth are simple and I’m always happy to remind people that things are often more simple than they appear. Like how I responded this comment and created “The Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory”.

I get it, you want to start saving money on food and you’re looking for suggestions from the personal finance community to help.

Answers ranged from getting a crockpot to make meals simple, cooking large meals on Sunday and eating leftovers throughout the week, to buying frozen meals that may not be great for you, but easy to prepare.

All of the responses skirted around the idea that a solid weekly meal plan is the best option to help you save money on food. However, sometimes these meals don’t work out for a number of reasons and one fall off the wagon can end up at the local McDonalds.

So I introduced the Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory. The cost-effective, quickest meal ever to keep your budget on track.

This is easily the most actionable thing you can do to start immediately saving on your food budget. In many cases when people eat out, it’s due to convenience because they don’t have anything at home that sounds appealing. That’s when the Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory comes in handy.

Stash emergency PB&J supplies in your kitchen. When hungry but have nothing else, eat a PB&J. If you’re not hungry for a PB&J, wait 2 hours until you’re hungry enough to eat a PB&J.

Sometimes a PBJ isn’t exactly what you’re craving and your favorite restaurant sounds better, or your “husband would not be happy about that” (see comment). Well suck it up, you’ll soon be out of debt and you can buy your husband a jet ski. Everyone loves a jet ski.

Try the Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory

If you want to save THOUSANDS on food budgets, you should try the Peanut Butter and Jelly Theory! Meals cost less than $1 to make, you’ll save time and money. Most importantly, you’ll have a secret stash of PBJs to make when you get those cravings to go out and spend money.

You’re welcome.

Disclaimer: Wallet Squirrel did not invent the Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich, just an advocate of saving money. Wallet Squirrel was not sponsored by big PBJ corporations to promote their superior and delicious product.

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.

Top 22 Warren Buffett Quotes the Internet Can’t Get Enough Of

Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, has a net worth of over $78.2 billion and is known as one of the greatest investors of all time. So when he speaks, people take notes. Here are some of the top 22 Warren Buffett Quotes the internet can’t get enough of.

Warren Buffett Quotes Infographic

Top 22 Warren Buffett Quotes the Internet Can’t Get Enough Of

Here are some of the top Warren Buffet quotes found on every list of Warren Buffet quotes around the internet. These quotes range in wisdom on investing to regular life. I try to live by these quotes on my own investment portfolio.

Warren Buffett Quotes

1. Rule #1: Never lose money. Rule #2: Never forget rule #1

One of my favorite Warren Buffet Quotes. The fastest way to grow your money is to never lose it in the first place. This applies from saving on your groceries to focusing on less risky stocks of well established companies.

2. It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently

Think about the Wells Fargo or Equifax scandals. It takes years to build enough trust for someone to have brand loyalty. Warren Buffet quotes it takes 20 years, but it takes 5 minutes or less to destroy all that goodwill you’ve built. People are quick to revolt if you’ve done anything to betray their trust.

It is infinitely harder to build trust than destroy it.

3. Diversification is a protection against ignorance. It makes very little sense for those who know what they’re doing.

Multiple studies show that diversification in the stock market will help protect you against market falls. Or it could be summarized in the old proverb “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. Unless you have insider information that a stock is going do really well, maintain a diversified portfolio to protect you. No one knows what they’re doing all the time.

4. If you aren’t willing to own a stock for ten years, don’t even think about owning it for ten minutes. Put together a portfolio of companies whose aggregate earnings march upward over the years, and so also will the portfolio’s market value.

Unless you’re a day trader (I will never be), you should only be investing in the stock market with the intention to hold those stocks for a long time. You can do really well as a beginner if you’re buying stocks and not planning on selling till you retire. Those are where you get the best returns. Warren Buffett is infamously known for rarely selling stocks.

5. It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.

When you buy a stock, you should think of it as owning a piece of that company. You should be looking at wonderful companies that have a competitive advantage in the industry. Those are the companies that will do well over the long run. You may find a wonderful price on a mediocre company, but really what are you getting? A mediocre company that will likely be edged out of the market by a better company.

Many of the famous Warren Buffett quotes are about investing in strong companies with a competitive advantage and strong brand loyalty rather than cheap companies where you think you can make a quick buck. Warren Buffett is never into buying a company for a quick buck.

6. Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful.

During the 2008 financial crisis when investors were all exiting the market, Warren Buffett invested in a few large companies even though their stock prices were falling. Those deals made Warren Buffett over $10 billion dollars when the market stabilized and it’s continuing to show dividends. When the market goes upside down during world events, politics, market forecasts, those are the times when everyone else is fearful, that Warren Buffet sees an advantage when the markets crash.

Think about it this way, the New York Stock Exchange has been around since 1817, it has always recovered. Chances are, minus a world apocalypse, that the market will always bounce back. Those who capitalize on those downturns are usually rewarded.

7. The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.

One of my favorite Warren Buffett quotes because it has so many applications. You will see many opportunities in your life and you may want to jump on everyone, but it’s ok to be selective and say no. You’ll burn yourself out if you say “yes” to everything. This also applies to going out on a Saturday night with friends drinking. It’s ok to say “no” to save a few dollars or have a night to yourself to finish your article on Warren Buffett quotes. =)

This also applies to going out on a Saturday night with friends drinking. It’s ok to say “no” to save a few dollars or have a night to yourself to finish your article on Warren Buffett quotes. =)

8. Develop and build the habits you admire in others.

Remember all those times that your parents wanted you to hang out with those “good kids”. The habits of the people you surround yourself with rub off you on, consciously or unconsciously. When you find people like Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, who is one of the greatest investors of all time. You should find out what makes him so successful and learn those traits to improve yourself.

9. Passive investing will make you more money than active trading

Oh my goodness, fees are the WORST! Active trading requires more work and more fees, so more of your money will be paid to your broker. Yet studies have shown over and over that passive investing where you set your money and forget it are far more successful for growing wealth. I don’t plan to ever touch my stocks currently making dividends.

10. There seems to be some perverse human characteristic that likes to make easy things difficult.

Great quote, people always imagine things are more difficult than they really are. When I first considered starting investing, I thought there were so many hurdles and financial experts I would have to pay. Yet, when I finally decided I wanted to start investing in the stock market, I just downloaded the Robinhood App and started investing. It took 10 minutes to sign up and buy my first stock when I worried about investing in the stock market for over 5 years. Things are often more simple than you think they are.

11. Tell me who your heroes are and I’ll tell you who you’ll turn out to be.

This is similar to the Warren Buffett quote “Develop and build the habits you admire in others”. If you want to be an entrepreneur, start joining local meetups of entrepreneurs. You learn SO MUCH MORE when you surround yourself with the people you want to be like. You can learn A LOT in a book, but you’ll learn even more by surrounding yourself with people you admire.

12. We have long felt that the only value of stock forecasters is to make fortune-tellers look good.

No one can predict the stock market, no one. Not even Warren Buffett. Anyone who says they know exactly how the market works is trying to sell you something. You can lump stock forecasters being as accurate as the carnival fortune-tellers. You know the ones with 3 teeth, crystal ball and you’re going to die in 2083.

13. When we own portions of outstanding businesses with outstanding managements, our favorite holding period is forever.

If you invest in an outstanding company, even if the stock price goes up, why would you ever sell it? No matter when you sell it, outstanding companies will continually do better and better. Don’t sell until you absolutely have to, otherwise, you’ll just be losing money in the long run. Many of Warren Buffett Quotes are like this, they are all very Anti-Day Trader.

14. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist. Investing is not a game where the guy with the 160 IQ beats the guy with 130 IQ.

If you follow the basic principals of Warren Buffett and buy outstanding companies with strong competitive advantages like Apple (AAPL). You don’t have to be a genius. Just buy and hold forever, you literally don’t have to do anything until you sell.

Many Warren Buffett quotes are similar to this because he stresses that anyone can invest in the stock market. The simplest way is just to invest in index funds that follow the market. Set it and forget it. The market sees an average increase of 7% per year and that’s WAY better than a savings account.

15. I try to buy stock in businesses that are so wonderful that an idiot can run them. Because sooner or later, one will.

Look for companies to invest in that are so strong that they can weather any storm because soon enough they will have to. Think about Apple (AAPL), as long as they keep pushing out iPhones it doesn’t matter who runs the company, they’ll continue to do well. People were worried when Steve Jobs passed because they didn’t know the future of the company, but Tim Cook stepped in and maintained the same Apple legacy. As long as Tim Cook sticks to the secret Apple recipe, they’ll be in good shape.

16. Buy into a company because you want to own it, not because you want the stock to go up.

If you see a company that you think is going to do well or heard will do well, don’t buy it unless you’re willing to hold it for awhile. If something goes wrong and the stock dives, you’re stuck with a company you don’t believe in and will likely sell at a lower price to get rid of it, ruining the reason you bought it in the first place.

17. Wall Street is the only place that people ride to work in a Rolls Royce to get advice from those who take the subway.

This is just a funny Warren Buffet quote.

18. Charlie and I have not learned how to solve difficult business problems. What we have learned is to avoid them.

I’m sure Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger have learned how to solve difficult business problems, but the best way to navigate murky waters is to avoid them all together. The more problems your business can avoid, the better shape you’ll be. You can avoid a lot of problems from being proactive instead of reactive.

19. Long ago, Ben Graham taught me that “Price is what you pay; value is what you get.”

Ben Graham, Warren Buffett’s mentor had this popular quote. I always think about it simply. Price is what you buy a stock for and Value is what you sell that same stock for.

20. It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.

If you can’t tell, Warren Buffett believes in surrounding yourself with the right people. He credits much of his success from surrounding himself with smart, good people.

21. If past history was all there was to the game, the richest people would be librarians.

When you analyze a stock based on its historical performance, it’s called technical analysis. Yet past performance does not necessarily mean future performance. Just because you know what the stock has done in the past doesn’t mean it’s going to follow that same trend.

22. You only have to do a very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.

It’s ok to mess up, focus on learning from those mistakes for the next time. It just sounds cooler when Warren Buffett quotes it. Or you can take this as no matter how many mistakes you’ve made in the past, you always have a chance to do more good. It’s one of those life quotes that can go many ways.

Ultimate Lottery Guide – What to do if you Win the Lottery

What To Do If You Win The Lottery Header Image

Ultimate Lottery Guide – What to do if you Win the Lottery

After the recent big lottery wins, people have been searching for what to do if you win the lottery. The odds are only 1 in 175 million, but it has to happen to someone right. Everyone imagines it and it’s fun to think about, but if it actually happens, here’s what to do according to the Ultimate Lottery Guide.

1. Sign your Ticket

Many people buy Lottery Tickets and stash them in their wallet or purse knowing that it’s their lottery ticket. However, a Lottery Ticket is only owned by whoever has signed the actual ticket. So ALWAYS sign your tickets when you get them. It confirms ownership and the ticket must be signed in order to claim the lottery winnings anyways.

2. Tell No One

It’s big and wonderful news, but you need to think ahead to all the potential long lost relatives, friends and random people that may soon be sitting in your front yard wanting to be your best friend. You don’t want to be the bad person telling everyone “no” so avoid the awkwardness and tell no one. In 1984, Lottery Winner Mike Wittkowski received more than 1,000 letters at his home from strangers trying to tug at his heartstrings to receive money.

It might be fun initially to have 15 minutes of fame, but you may regret it months or years later when people you never met are ringing your doorbell. Stay quiet about it and don’t tell anyone until you come up with a plan with your financial team. The plan should deal with how to handle friends/family/strangers request for money and how to deal with the sudden fame/money.

3. Take Your Time

There is no rush to turn in your ticket during all the hype, you have between 90 days to 1 year from the day of the drawing to turn in your ticket. Each state is a bit different so check them out. You have some time to take a breath, let the hype die down, and get your team of financial experts together before you claim your prize.

  • Powerball, you have 90 days to 1 year to claim your prize depending on the state via Powerball’s website.
  • Mega Millions, you have 180 days to 1 year to claim your prize depending on the state via Mega Millions website.

4. Seek Financial Advice & Hire Finance Professionals

Hiring the right professionals will help you collect the most money from your lottery winnings, help understand tax rules and take care of the gritty details so you don’t have to. Like will you take the lump sum of cash or 30-year annuity? Consider these financial professionals for your finance team.

  • Financial Planner – They will help you set up a plan for your new wealth. They’ll help you understand the benefits of taking the lump sum versus annuity and they will work with you to set up your goals, analyze your assets and set up a budget so you can make the most out of your money and not blow it. A study of lottery winners in Florida found 70% of winners spent all of their lottery winners within 5 years of winning. Don’t be one of these people, consult with a financial planner. To find a good Financial Planner check out the CFP (Certified Financial Planner) Board for a list of Certified Financial Planners in your area.
  • Tax Attorney -There will be a lot of tax (state taxes/federal taxes/gift taxes/corporate taxes and other taxes) issues that come up about Lottery Winnings. Hire a good lawyer to help you with this. To find a good lawyer, check out the reviews on LegalZoom, RocketLawyer, LawTrades and Avvo for lawyers in your area that are highly recommended and have experience handling large sums of money.

    To give you an idea, the government will withhold 25% of your winnings before you even touch it. Then, of course, you’ll have to pay State Taxes as well. Maybe even Municipal Taxes depending where you live. The rest is paid at tax time where the IRS will tax you in the top income bracket at 39.6% (source). In the end, you’ll be taxed nearly 40% on those initial winnings depending on your state.

  • Accountant – This is the person who will have a good idea how much of the lottery winnings you’ll need to set aside to pay off all the taxes. They will help plan throughout the year on the best ways to mitigate taxes and keep the most of your money. Plus with that amount of money, you’ll want someone handling all your taxes for you. To find a good Accountant, check your local Society of Certified Public Accountants directory to find a certified Accountant to help with your needs.
  • Estate Attorney – They will help you with structuring and protecting your assets. They assist people in drafting and implementing legal documents, such as wills and trusts. It’s good to have a plan for your assets in the event of your death. Who will your money go to and/or should a trust be set up for your heirs. As mentioned with finding a good Tax Attorney, check out the reviews on LegalZoom, RocketLawyer, LawTrades and Avvo for lawyers experienced with wills, trusts and large sums of money.

5. Claim your Prize – Anonymously

Here’s the deal, Big Lottery wants to promote you and share with the world that a real, regular person won the lottery. Often times state law mandates sharing your name with the public. However, you can claim your prize anonymously a couple of different ways.

  • 6 States allow you to remain anonymous – Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina.
  • 4 States allow a trust to claim your prize – Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont will allow a trust, usually, a trustee (typically a lawyer) to claim the prize without disclosing the name of the lottery winner.
  • 2 States allow you to remain anonymous IF – Illinois and Oregon have made exceptions to making lottery winners names public if the winners demonstrate a high risk of harm by revealing their name.

If you’re not in one of these states that allow you to claim your lottery winnings anonymously. Do what this guy did and hold the check over your head when you receive the lottery winnings.

What To Do If You Win The Lottery - Cover Your Face

You can also sign your first name with your first initial to make it harder for people to track you down.

You may also want to get off social media like shut down all your accounts if you win the lottery. This may sound extreme, but keep in mind that people will start searching for you online, going through all photos, friends, where you work and personal details. They may try to stake out at your favorite bar or harass your friends to meet you.

6. Create a middle man for money request

If people hear about your new winnings, you’ll likely have people from all over asking for money. Addressing all of these can be overwhelming and potentially depressing. Consider setting up a middle man to say “no” for you.

When a long lost friend comes out of the blue asking for money, or with a really great investment idea. Send them to your “middle man”, usually a lawyer, who could review all potential investments for you. You can say that they are better at investing than you, which may be true. So they can say “no” and you don’t have to feel bad telling your friend or anyone no. This will save your sanity and emotions from being the bad guy and help not waste your time/money on bad investments.

7. Pay Off All Your Debt

If you do anything with your money first, it should be paying off all your debt. You are entering a new phase of your life and it should be started off debt free.

Even if you go broke in a couple years, you’ll least have all your debt paid off to pick up your life where you started off.

8. Avoid Sudden Lifestyle Changes

While you shouldn’t be doing anything until you can physically hold the money, even after that you should avoid sudden lifestyle changes for the first 6 months. Buying that Ferrari or Land Rover, second house for your entire family, extravagant vacations can all feel like a nice reward for all your hard work, but these impulse buys could quickly deplete your lottery winnings.

Consider instead renting an apartment in that cool neighborhood you want to live in or doing an exotic car rental for a day to try different sports cars. It’ll take you awhile to understand what you want. Find out what really makes you happy before you go on a spending spree and work with your financial planner to set a budget for frivolous things to buy so that you’re still maintaining a nice nest egg for your family in the future.

9. Live within a budget

Ideally, you should only be spending the interest you’ve made off the lottery winnings. If you do this, you’ll never run out of money. The annual interest of a $100M or more lottery winnings will be more than enough to live off of the rest of your life. Especially with a good financial planner.

Otherwise, work with your Financial Planner to set up a budget live within and understand how long your money will last with your current spending habits.

10. Protect your Assets

Consider getting Liability Insurance to help with potential lawsuits against you. With your newfound money, you will be a target for anyone wanting your money. Liability insurance will help for trip-and-fall lawsuits, personal injury claims against you like libel and slander, and freak accidents. This provides an additional layer of security.

How We Reached 500 Twitter Followers and Lessons Learned

Growing Twitter followers organically is NOT easy. It is a hard, grueling process, where we just reached 500 Twitter Followers but we could have done it so much easier and faster. Here is how we reached 500 twitter followers and lessons learned for the next 500.

First, 500 Followers isn’t THAT impressive

I’m not saying reaching 500 twitter followers is the best you can ever do. It’s just a nice milestone I would like to highlight as I tweak my Twitter strategy. Some of the top Twitter stars have MILLIONS of followers on Twitter.

For example, some of the top Twitter Influencers like Katy Perry has some 99.5 million, Justin Bieber at 96 million and Barack Obama closes in on third at 89 million (source).

Obviously, I am not an ex-president or pop singer, so I’ll stay within the Personal Finance world. Which among them, most Personal Finance Bloggers I’ve seen on average have around 1,500 Twitter Followers. Wallet Squirrel is 1/3 way there!

What I learned getting to 500 Twitter Followers

I am still fairly new to Twitter, so I did a lot of research to understand what Twitter was about and how people are gaining mass followings. Here are the top 20 things I learned from research and experience.

1. Get a Schedule Tool like Buffer or HootSuite to schedule tweets when you’re not around. Tweeting consistently will tell your audience that you’re engaged and visible. I use Buffer and love it.

2. Start following other people in your niche, or who you’re interested in. People feel obligated to follow you if you follow them. Following someone is providing value to them, and people typically want return that value to you. However if you’re following someone Katy Perry, she’ll likely not follow you back. I’m still waiting on Taylor Swift…

3. Regularly Retweet others content. For the same reason as above, people typically feel appreciative when you Retweet their content and will likely follow you since you have similar tastes.

4. ALWAYS add photos in your tweets, it’s regularly proven that tweets with photos are engaged by more readers than plain text. People like photos, use a gif and get even more engagement. I personally don’t always use gifs, I’ve learned photos work just as well. I just make sure to use some type of graphic.

5. Use the Hashtags! That’s the point of Twitter, people can follow certain keywords and your tweet may be among them. Twitter shows you the popular keywords if you want to hop on a current event, otherwise sometimes making up funny hashtags reaches a more engaged audience.

6. Sometimes just ask for a Retweet, it seems silly but people who enjoy your content are happy to help you out if you ask.

7. Don’t use a logo as your profile image. Twitter is a conversation platform, people engage more with people’s faces as profile photos rather than faceless logos. I just updated my Twitter Profile Pic.

8. Promote your Twitter account on your other social media platforms and blog. While Wallet Squirrel’s Twitter is 500 Followers, Facebook actually brings in the most traffic for us monthly. So we can ask our Facebook users to follow us on Twitter every once in awhile.

9. Reference people/companies from your blog posts in your Tweets. We get way more engagement when we specifically reference people in our Tweets. Usually when I comment on other people’s blogs, I’ll send out a Tweet referencing them saying nice article. I did this in “What I Learned from Commenting on 30 Blogs in a Week“.

10. Use Follow Buttons on your website so people can share your content. So far NO ONE has done this through our page buttons, but maybe in the future. I’m on the fence about this one, but maybe when we get more traffic.

11. Tweet Inspirational Quotes from Warren Buffett or your favorite philosophers. It seems silly, but sometimes it hits someone right when they’re feeling down. I need to do this more.

12. Pin your best tweets to the top of your Twitter Profile. When new users look at your Twitter Profile, they’re going to look at your top tweets to see what kind of personal tone you use. Pin your best tweets up top to give the best impression. I’m going to try to pin my monthly Income Reports up top.

13. Ask your email list to follow you on Twitter. This can be a simple “PS please follow me on Twitter so I can have more follower than my mother” comment.

14. Tweet the same content multiple times. Each Tweet last 15 seconds on average and then disappears forever. What if your perfect audience wasn’t reading at that time? Retweet messages that you think are beneficial. Some of the top Twitter influences do this all the time.

15. Always reply to tweets that reference your or direct messages. If someone takes the time to mention you then you should give them some kind of thank you or recognition. It’s polite and really well received in the community. I try to thank everyone publically who retweets my tweets.

16. Always thank users for Retweeting your content. I mentioned it above, but it deserves its own line item.

17. Don’t send a massive amount of tweets in a short period. If your tweets are filling up people’s entire screens over and over, they’ll get aggravated and unfollow you. You should constantly be tweeting but spread them out.

18. Don’t stop Tweeting. People who regularly tweet are considered to be more engaged and get more followers than those who tweet once every two weeks.

19. Tweet snippets of your articles. Instead of tweeting “5 Ways Millennials Waste Money”, you should break it into 5 different tweets each sharing 1 of the reasons. Giving value in your tweets is better than taglines any day.

20. Be a real person. Don’t spam your Twitter account with “READ THIS” and all of your stuff to read/sell. Remember that you’re talking to real people. Use words and tones as if you were talking to a group of your friends. People WILL notice.

My Short Failed Twitter Experiment

In February I told myself that I would tweet 16 tweets a day for a month to see what would happen. In February I had previously sent 111 tweets, had 338 Twitter Followers and was following only 29 people.

I did 2 weeks of it until I was exhausted. I only sent out my own tweets and it was all promotions garbage. I hated every second of it. So I cut back to 5ish tweets a day and started a mixture of retweets, some promotional content and new content. I told myself I would do this until I got to 500 Twitter Followers and reevaluate if Twitter is worth it.

It took 4 months, ugh. Growing Twitter Followers is hella hard.

Today I’m at 513 Twitter Followers (151% increase) having sent 646 Tweets (581% increase) and now following 184 Twitter Followers (634% increase). Calculating the math to it, it seems like the increase in people who I follow had a significant impact, related to lesson #2.

Conclusion

While I originally went into this experiment hating Twitter, I’ll admit it’s grown on me. It’s an effective communication tool for short concise messages. I can’t knock that.

During the last 4 months of focusing on Twitter, I’ve learned a lot. So I’m daring myself to get to 1,000 followers in the next 4 months. Think it’s possible?

Lol Not with my current stats. I’ll have to up my game and stick to these 20 lessons learned. Any additional suggestions?

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.