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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 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.

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 to Start a Blog – When You Know Nothing About Blogging

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How To Start A Blog

Two of my friends want to learn How to Start a Blog. Justin wants to start a cooking blog and Emma is going to start a travel blog. Since I’ve created over a dozen websites/blogs, I wrote them a guide on How to Start A Blog When You Know Nothing About Blogging. They’ve never set up a blog before, so this is a complete guide (tons of screenshots) for setting up your first blog.

No matter if you want to set up a Finance, Fashion, Travel, Cooking or Photography blog. This guide will set you up with your own unique blog in 20 minutes.

Why Do People Start Blogs?

Both Justin and Emma want to learn how to start a blog so that they can do what they love, write! They want to write about topics they’re passionate about and knowledgeable on. Their goal is to make enough money with their blog, so eventually, they can quit their job and work from home blogging. It’s entirely possible and super easy.

Other popular reasons people start blogging are:

  • Make Money from blogging Anywhere – Many people make a great side income or full income from writing about what they love and know. Plus you can do it anywhere, at home, in a coffee shop or in an RV traveling the United States.
  • Self-Publish Writing – If you have a story you want to tell, but don’t have the resources to find publishers and print hundreds of books. Try starting a blog and share your story immediately. You can start to build an audience and become an expert in your field with a website.
  • Promote a Business – If your business isn’t online, it doesn’t exist. This is how people find if a company is open, what it does and how it affects the community. A blog is a simple and FAST way to get your business online and start reaching customers.

Save time, don’t use third-party blogging websites.

Save yourself so many future headaches when learning how to start a blog by NOT using a third party blogging site. Some people start blogging on these because they think it’s easier than setting up your own blog, but it’s not.

If you use a third party website like Blogger, you won’t have a custom domain (like WalletSquirrel.com, it’ll be something like www.blogger.walletsquirrel) which comes off odd, then you’ll pay tons for add-ons to get the look and feel you want and you’ll never have complete control over your own blog.

One of the biggest reasons to start your own blog is so you can later make money off of it. You just can’t easily monetize if you use a third-party website. Click here to start your own blog on WordPress.

WordPress is the most popular Blogging Platform, use it!

Most blogs use WordPress, in fact, 25% of the websites on the internet are run by WordPress. That’s the ENTIRE internet. Every website I’ve ever built runs on WordPress because it’s SUPER easy and convenient. If you learn the easiest way to start a blog, start your blog on WordPress.

Easy Steps on How To Start A Blog

Here is the basic overview on how to start a blog. It’s really simple to set up a blog in 20 minutes.

  1. Figure out what your blog is about
  2. Decide on a domain name
  3. Choose a web host (I use Bluehost because it’s one of the best, and cheap)
  4. Click 1-button install for WordPress
  5. Start writing for your blog & customize

Easy Step 1 – Figure out what you want to blog about

Whether you’re creating a finance, fashion, cooking, travel, photography or business blog. You want to have a solid idea of what you’re going to write about.

If you’re like Justin wanting to create a cooking blog, it helps if you niche down to a Gluten-Free Cooking Blog or Farm-To-Table Cooking Blog. If you don’t niche down, your blog will likely get lost in the sea of other cooking blogs. When you niche down to a specific cooking blog, your blog will stand out more and be recognized as THAT Gluten-Free Blog or whatever you want to write about.

Also when you’re thinking about “How to Start a Blog”, think about how your blog could grow and make money in the future. If you want to create a Gluten-Free Cooking Blog, start thinking about how you could incorporate affiliate links into your favorite recipe books and cooking tools or where advertisements may go in a sidebar.

The better you can visualize and plan what your blog may become, the easier it will be to come up with a name and direction for your new blog.

Easy Step 2 – Decide on a Domain Name

Domain names are what people will type into their website browser to find your website. It’s your online address.

Not going to lie, when I started Wallet Squirrel I had over 100 domain name ideas. I would daily write new domain name ideas on my phone like “MillennialRetirement.com” and search GoDaddy.com to see if they were available. It wasn’t….

I always use GoDaddy to see if a domain name is available because it has a nice and clean search option to find available domains. So think about different domain ideas that relate to your website and use GoDaddy to see if they’re available. A good domain can really help your website. However, don’t buy a domain through GoDaddy. When you sign up for web hosting through Bluehost later, you’ll get a free domain name.

I always chose a (.com) domain because those are the most trusted domain extensions. If I chose “MillennialRetirement.net” it would only sound cheesy and made up to me. People might be hesitant to click on it because most websites are (com). You could take a risk choosing a different extension like (.net) or (.co), but I wouldn’t.

Get creative and find a unique (.com) domain that’s:

  • short
  • easy to remember
  • easy to type
  • reflects what you want to write about

Before I settled on WalletSquirrel.com I went through TONS of different domain name possibilities. Here are a few.

Potential Website Names When I Started this Website (Wallet Squirrel)

  1. Dividend Student (.com)
  2. Millennial Dividends (.com)
  3. Get Dividends Monthly (.com)
  4. All Dividend Revenue (.com)
  5. The Dividend Experiment (.com)
  6. Perpetual Dividends (.com)
  7. Dividends Wanted (.com)
  8. Invest The Hustle (.com)
  9. Dividend Army (.com)
  10. Div Push (.com)
  11. Dividend Entrepreneur (.com)
  12. Div Effect (.com)
  13. Dividend Pursuit (.com)
  14. Test Earn Invest (.com)
  15. Dividend Invested (.com)
  16. Dividend Theory (.com)
  17. Div Rule (.com)
  18. Think Dividend (.com)
  19. Dividend Passive Income (.com)
  20. Wallet Squirrel (.com)

You may get the idea that I was pretty focused on Dividends. However, like I mentioned in Step One, think about the future of your site. I considered expanding beyond dividends and the stock market, so I went with Wallet Squirrel with the tag line “Save your nuts”. It was relatable to finance with the word “Wallet” but fun with “Squirrel” and the tag line “Save your nuts” is pretty memorable. This way I would have some flexibility on how I wanted to grow Wallet Squirrel.

When you’re planning how to start a blog, think about how your website may grow. I usually think of my websites like TV seasons. Where do I want my website to be in season 4? Does my domain name idea still make sense?

Easy Step 3 – Choose a Web Host (Important)

This is the virtual cloud that will host your blog. Think of it digital real estate that will house your blog on the internet. Your web host will affect how fast your site is, how much you pay and how good their tech support is.

 

I personally use Bluehost for all my websites (including Wallet Squirrel) because it’s the best price for how fast Bluehost runs my websites (Google ranks faster websites higher) and their tech support is amazing. I just shoot them a text on their website if I have a question and they solve any issue in minutes, it’s the best. You can even just chat with them before you sign up on how to start a blog.

For reading this post, you can use my referral code to get a great discount on hosting and start at $3.95 per month. Plus you’ll get a free website domain (your internet address), which normally costs $12.

 

Other reasons to use Bluehost for your first blog

  • WordPress through Bluehost is free!
  • There is a 1-click button to automatically set up WordPress on Bluehost (EASY & FAST)
  • Bluehost is faster than most web hosts, which will better your Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Hosting your own website on Bluehost looks more professional than a third party site like Blogger
  • Their Tech Support works with tons of new bloggers like you, and you can text them rather than calling (I love that!)
  • 30-Day Money Back Guarantee. No risk if you don’t like it.

Fill Out Some Info

Select the plan you like (you can upgrade/downgrade anytime) and fill out the general account and billing Info. This is what the General account information will ask you.

It’s really not that intrusive. You don’t have to fill out a social security number or anything too personal. Once you fill out the “account info” you scroll down for the package you want. The “package information” or hosting options seems really intimidating to someone who’s never signed up before, but only because you’ve never done it before. Here are the options.

Here is what I choose for my websites.

  • Account Plan – If you’re just starting off, keep it cheap and choose only 12 months. If you really like blogging, you won’t mind paying for a new plan in 12 months. If you don’t like it, you didn’t spend that much money and you always have your 30-day money back guarantee.
  • Domain Privacy Protection – The internet has a database for which websites are owned by who. Domain Privacy allows you to keep your name off that list so you don’t get bugged by salespeople who found your email as the owner of your new website. I usually order this.

Everything else is not really needed. I’d consider adding additional services only once you get more familiar with your website and find a need. There is no need to pay for things before you realize if you need them or not.

You’re Signed up!

That’s it! Once you sign up, you’ll get a confirmation email that will take you to your Bluehost menu. You can start right away, no 3-5 business day set up time.

Easy Step 4 – One Button Install For WordPress

So you planned what you want to write about, you picked a domain and signed up with Bluehost to host your new blog. Now you just need to install WordPress. This part is easy. The menu on Bluehost is called their cPanel. This is the main menu that you’ll be directed to once you click their confirmation email.

Select the “Install WordPress” button. It’s a one-click install button. Once you do that, you’re in the process of installing WordPress, you’ll just need to:

  1. Select your domain name, from the options to install WordPress on
  2. Select Advanced Options and choose a username and password. Remember that websites sometimes get attacked. So choose a username and password that’s long. The longer the password, the harder it is to break.
  3. Select “Install Now”.

At this point, you have a WordPress blog!

Easy Step 5 – Design and Start Writing for Your Blog

From now on, all you have to do is go to your new domain “yourwebsitename.com/admin”. To sign into your WordPress Blog. You no longer have to deal with Bluehost at all. Everything you do from here on out is all on your new WordPress blog.

Once you log into your new WordPress Blog, Your Admin Menu will look like this.

How To Start A Blog - WordPress Admin Panel

This is close to what every WordPress Blog looks like, the main options for every WordPress blog are:

  • Posts – These are where you write you daily, weekly, monthly articles for your blog. These are your cooking articles or travel adventures. This is the “blog” portion of the blog.
  • Media – Every image/video you upload to your blog, all those media files live here. You can add images within your actual posts and pages, but all your media content can be viewed here.
  • Pages – These are the “About Me“, “Contact Us“, “Ways to Make Money” pages. These are usually static pages that aren’t your daily, weekly, monthly posts.

Customize the look of your blog

If you want to want to change the look of your blog, you can change the theme under “Appearance”. Themes are like costumes for your blog. Different themes will change the colors, fonts, and style of blog. I personally use the Enfold theme, bought from Themeforest. It’s very user-friendly (plug and play) with tons of documentation.

*Bonus* – Make money with your blog

Don’t come off cheezy placing ads everywhere, instead install a plugin like Viglink for affiliate marketing. Now, anytime you reference a blender (my personal blender) on Amazon, Viglink will automatically track clicks on that link and you’ll receive a commission if someone buys. Viglink is partnered with over 2,000 online merchants (including Amazon), chances are your favorite websites are included. So once you learn how to start a blog, your blog can start making a little money.

Done, You have a blog!

I ran through this (while talking) with Justin and Emma to set up their blog in under 20 minutes. They took it from there and immediately started writing and designing. Again, I set up their blog through Bluehost, which made it a lot easier. You could probably set up a blog on your own (not talking) even faster.

Let me know if you have any questions on how to start a blog! I’d love to help or share more of my experiences!

*Disclosure – I host all my websites on Bluehost and we receive a commission if you sign up using our referral links.

Are You Considering an MBA? Answer these 2 Questions First!

At the end of last year, I was in a career funk. So I considered going back to school to get my Master’s of Business Administration (MBA). With an MBA, you can advance in your current field or make a switch to a new field, everyone values an MBA.

I was stoked! I considered the possibility of getting an MBA in the past and it was a great time in my life to do night classes. So I began picturing myself adding the letters “MBA” behind my name on business cards and looking up schools.

However, I quickly hit the brakes!

Ask These 2 Questions before You pursue an MBA

Many of my friends are going back to school or currently in school, and I ALWAYS ask them these 2 simple questions that BLOW THEIR MIND. So I decided to test myself to see if I passed my own “Should You Get An MBA” test.

1. What is the EXACT dream Company and Job Title you want after graduation?

You should know this. Most people will get an MBA because they want to do something in business. They think they need MBA to for future promotions and career growth.

However, you should FIRST figure out what your dream job is. You can’t just say “something in business”. If you are going to spend $80,000+ on an MBA and years of your life. You should identify the exact company and job title you want before you even start school. Come on, it’s your DREAM job.

This is a role you will potentially be doing for the rest of your life. You should have a clear idea of what it should be. This will guide every future decision you make while in your MBA program, affect the electives you take and the networking events you attend.

What’s the point of getting an MBA if you don’t know what you’ll do with it? Seriously? So write down your dream job title and company.

2. Have you reached out to your dream company yet?

Once you can identify the exact company and job title you want, you should reach out to that company and ask what they look for. This should be less intimidating than looking at a future $80,000+ student debt bill.

Usually a company’s Human Resources department would be willing to meet with you if you share with them that you’re considering going back to school to gain the skills necessary to work at their company.

When you meet with your dream company’s Human Resources Department, you should ask them some of these questions.

My dream job at your company is a Marketing Manager (or whatever it is), what is the salary range they get paid?

You should ABSOLUTELY know how much your future job pays because that’ll tell you how long it’ll take you to pay off your newly acquired student debt. Plus it’ll give you an idea of what lifestyle you can expect once you graduate with an MBA.

It’s not all about money, but you should be aware if all your hard work in school will result in nightly ramen noodles once you graduate. Are you OK with that?

What degrees or education do your current Marketing Managers have? (or whatever your dream job is)

This will give you an idea of the education level of their current employees. Some of their employees may have MBAs and some may not. You should probe deeper to what the HR team looks for in your dream position. Perhaps you don’t need an MBA and you have the necessary experience to apply today.

If you need to get an MBA for that position, ask if they have a preferred school or partner with any specific schools. If your dream job regularly partners with a local university and hires pretty exclusively from there, that university may need to be on your radar for potential schools.

Does your dream company offer internships?

Yes, you’re getting an MBA but knowing if your dream company has an internship program is huge. Many companies will hire interns who are working towards their degree and help them grow into the position. There is no reason to wait till after you get your MBA to apply to your dream company. You should use every opportunity you can to start making connections.

What does career growth look like at that company?

If your dream job is to be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), they won’t just hire you out of school. What entry level roles will you need to start off with and how does one become a CEO? How did the current CEO get his role and what did they do before that? Some jobs aren’t attainable right out of school, even with an MBA. You need to understand what your career path would look like moving up to your dream position. You should understand what this looks like.

When I considered an MBA, I failed this checklist

Last year when I considered getting my MBA, I went full-throttle and visited 3 different universities. I dropped in classes and met with professors. I received all the brochures, met with all their “advisors” and compared costs ($39,000 – $80,000). I did soft applications and confirmed I would be accepted to each of them. So I was freaking close to full out applying.

I knew I wanted do something in finance because I LOVED writing about finance. So I figured I’d get an MBA with a focus in finance (hence why I write for Wallet Squirrel). This is how most people start the MBA journey. They love the idea of a degree, get an education THEN figure out where they want to work.

I did that when I choose my college degree. I went into Landscape Architecture without actually knowing if it was my dream job. I just thought it would be fun to draw and select plants. I didn’t learn till after internships and after graduation that they spend most of their time looking at a computer, drawing parking lots. UGH, so NEVER again.

So I asked myself these two questions and I failed.

There were some finance positions like Financial Planner, Mutual Fund Manager, Financial Analyst that sounded interesting but I wasn’t drawn to them with such vigor that I could stomach another $80,000 in student loan debt.

One position DID sound fun, but they earned even less than I was making now. So I had to ask myself if I would be willing to gain more debt for lower paying, nicer job? I didn’t like it that much.

Do the Math on your Future Tuition

According to Investatopia, the average MBA program costs $140,000, with higher ranking school costing more. They’re factoring in tuition, living arrangements, books (use ebates to save) and peripheral expenditures. That’s more than the evening only MBA programs I was looking at.

Now factor that $140,000 student debt at 6.8% interest which is the average Subsidized Federal Stafford Loan according to Federal Student Aid. Having that kind of student loan debt is similar to buying a house.

However the common response to seeing these numbers is that you’ll be paid more after your MBA. That is likely true. The average salary of MBA graduates in a full-time program was $126,919. This was taken from US News when they interviewed companies mainly on the east/west coasts which usually provide a higher salary than the Mountain States and Midwest.

Conclusion

Most people like me had to make an insane decision in High school to pick a college major before entering college. So at the same time I was focused on rehearsing for the school musical and wondering if the homecoming queen, Val liked me (she didn’t). I had to choose a degree that would affect the rest of my life. I was not ready.

Going back to school for your MBA doesn’t have to be like that. There isn’t any timetable, no matter what the college recruiters tell you about the deadline for an upcoming semester. You have all the time in the world to choose if an MBA is right for you.

So if you’re considering going back to school for an MBA to improve your future, you should have an idea of what your future will look like by identifying your dream job at your dream company. This is your opportunity to do WHATEVER you want in the world, have a plan that extends after graduation.

Self Improvement – Get Rid of Your Distractions Right Now – Part 1/4

Self Improvement – Get Rid of Your Distractions Right Now – Part 1/4

I am going to try something new for a self improvement article that has not been done here on Wallet Squirrel yet. Starting this week I am going to do a little mini series about getting rid of distractions within my own personal life. This series will go for the next 3 months with an article being released at the beginning of each month. It will be during the same week when Andrew releases one of his awesome income reports.

This will not be one of your typical self improvement articles where I list off a bunch of things for you to try. No, this is a list of items for me to go out to personally experience it for you! Over the years I have been reading article over article about self improvement, and do not get me wrong, there are some good tips out there. The issue is most of the writers have never tried these “self improvement” tips themselves so how do we know if they work?

Getting rid of distractions is key to self improvement. Without those distractions you can work on what you truly love.

Getting rid of distractions is key to self improvement. Without those distractions you can work on what you truly love.

One of my favorite writers about self improvement is Z from Zero to Skill. He often writes about his own personal experiences on becoming a better and more productive person. One article I loved was his Ultimate Guide For Waking Up Early. He walks through what helps him and what did not work out to help him get up in the morning after years of trial and error.

This personal touch is what I want to bring to this mini-series. My goal is to give you several ideas throughout the series on decluttering your life to for self improvement and increase your productivity.

The Beginning – Part 1 of 4

Today we will talk about the foundation as to why and what I plan on doing over the next three months. Today we will talk why we should all get rid of distractions in our lives. Then I will lay out some goals that I want to accomplish. Then I will set out for a month using several techniques I have researched about over the years. Part 2 of the mini-series will talk more about those techniques and what did or did not work out.

Let us begin!

Why Getting Rid of Distractions is Beneficial to Self Improvement?

Just this past weekend my pastor at church talked about work during his sermon. One thing he mentioned really resonated with me. He talked about what if everyone would cut back on all extra clutter in life (ie. Playing on the Xbox, watching Netflix, looking at Facebook, etc)? Then he asked, what if everyone took that time/energy and put it into their passions instead? Think about how much more productive and successful those individuals would be.

Now this is not the first time I have heard these questions about people spending more energy on their passion rather than only being consumers of unhealthy distractions. Sadly, I cannot remember those other examples but this is my most recent encounter with the thought.

The Fear

The thought of removing all of this extra clutter in my life seems really scary at first. I think, “What if a better video game such as COD: WWII comes out?” Or, “What if I miss some big important message or video of a cat saving a dog’s life on my Facebook feed?” This fear is FOMO, the fear of missing out. Just recently, I have only begun to understand that this stuff does not really matter in life. What I should be worrying about is my family, my friends, hiking in the Colorado mountains, along with other passions such as working on websites.

After coming to this realization I was able to clearly see that there are so many materialistic items in my house that I really did not use anymore. The only reason I am holding on to them is because of that “What if” moment. For the first time, I was free to let go of those items.

Question: Go ahead, take a look around your house. Do you have any of these items in your house? What is your goal by getting rid of distractions for self improvement?

For me, it is all about getting rid or minimizing these distractions so I can become more financially free from debt. This will be accomplished by replacing Facebook, the Xbox, as well as reducing Netflix to spend more time on Wallet Squirrel, Adam Olson Photography, and other side hustles. This will all lend me to enjoy my family and friends more.

Ugh! Facebook…..

My Story

Getting distracted is very easy for me. Especially when I have something in front of me such as an Xbox, Netflix, or Facebook to distract me.

There is something that Marc from Surviving Prepper said that really caught my attention.

“If you eliminate items in your life that are not needed, you have room for items that are needed”

For me, I see this as I need to remove the distractions in my life so I can really focus on what is important to me (God, family, friends, fitness, and yes…Wallet Squirrel).

I tend to be a very materialistic person. These fun but worthless items keep me distracted on what really matters, my family, life goals, health, and so on. It is time to make the sacrifice by selling a bunch of items in our house that seem to add more value to my life but really do not. Some of these items include an extra 42 inch TV, an Xbox, a couple old laptops, an old camera, and whatever else I find.

I also like to watch a lot of Netflix on my own while working on tasks. It really slows down my productivity. Netflix will not get canceled because I also enjoy sitting down with my wife to watch a show or movie. Instead, I will set a rule that Netflix watching is only when I am with her.

Social media and Netflix are major distractions for me.

Social media and Netflix are major distractions for me.

The biggest step self improvement will be dropping social media sites such as Facebook. I have tried many ways to avoid this evil distraction but I cannot get away from it. Because I use Facebook messenger to communicate with my best friends and some are too stubborn to switch services **Cough**Cough** Andrew **Cough**Cough** I cannot get rid of Facebook altogether. So I will use Cold Turkey to block the site on my personal and Home computers as well as my phone.

Side Note: If you do not know what Cold Turkey is, I highly recommend you check it out. It allows you to block any distracting website on your computer or application on your phone. You can set up custom schedules to when and when you cannot access these websites or applications. It is really helpful!

Self Improvement Goals in the Next Four Weeks

I have a lot to accomplish in the next four weeks till the June follow up article comes out. Below is a set of goals I plan on accomplishing before the next follow up.

  1. Sell extra items that can be a distraction. I will sell the items just like Andrew did in his article How to Sell Something on Craigslist and Make Money. This extra money will go towards paying off our car loan quicker.
  2. Finish our backyard renovation. This project has been a HUGE distraction the past couple of weeks. We completely tore up the backyard and are starting all over with a blank slate. In a future article, I will write about this experience and save over $4,000 in costs! Stay tuned!
  3. Start waking up earlier, 5:00 AM, to work out. Using Z’s method, mentioned above, I will try to wake up earlier to work out on a consistent basis. It is well known that people who work out in the morning tend to be more productive during the day. My wants are there but the will is not so this is going to be a challenge.
  4. Stay focused on achieving my goals one percent at a time. There is nothing wrong with having big goals but trying to accomplish them all in one big chunk is setting yourself for failure. Instead, it is better to divide those large goals into smaller goals and accomplish those. I will focus on to only complete smaller tasks each day that get me one percent closer to completing my overall goals.
  5. Set up my next day the day before. Each night before bed I want to layout my plan of attack for the next day. This will not require much time, maybe 10 to 15 min. Here I will plan out the smaller tasks that I want to conquer.

 

Wakey! Wakey! Time for eggs and bakey!

What to Expect in the Follow Up

I will go over if I accomplish these goals or not and the techniques/tips used for each goal. There will be a detailed review of what I did to accomplish each one and what you can do for yourself. If I fail, I will go over what did not work and adjustments to be made.

Stay tuned for the remainder of this raw adventure giving yourself real life tips and tricks to getting rid of distractions for self improvement.

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Ebates Review – I wish I started this 2 years ago

Ebates Review Blog Post Image

Three weeks ago, I received a message from my buddy Cameron over at SquirrelBox suggesting to do an Ebates Review. I initially scoffed because I DON’T NEED ANOTHER APP!

You, like me, have seen “Ebates” pop up on your social media and thought the same thing. So let me explain what Ebates is.

SPOILER: It’s awesome, and not just another app.

Ebates Review – What is it?

Ebates is an online company who partners with over 2,000+ stores (many popular stores you regularly shop at). Whenever you go to one of your favorite stores, like Amazon, from the Ebates platform and make a purchase. Amazon assumes you would have only visited their site because of Ebates and gives Ebates a 4% commission. Then Ebates passes on those savings to you, and gives you 3% cash back for your purchase.

Ebates is essentially an affiliate company that pays you to visit their site first before you start shopping.

My Experience Making Cashback with Ebates

I’m running the Bolder Boulder in 5 weeks and I need new shoes. I’ve used the same running shoes (type & size) the last 7 years, so I’m going to buy them online.

Here’s my process.

I go to Ebates.com and search for ASICS since I’m going to buy a new pair of ASICS from their online store. Sure enough, the ASICS store pops up and Ebates tells me right away that their partnership provides me 1.5% cash back on purchases. Cool!

Ebates Review - Asics Page

 

In addition, Ebates also has all of ASICS best deals right now. Also Cool!

Ebates Asics Page Deals

 

It doesn’t matter which deal you select, these are all just notifications. Any of them you select “Shop Now” will just send you over to the actual ASICS Homepage. You’ll see a loading screen like this.

Ebates Review - Sending Page

This entire process takes 30 seconds, now you’ll be on the ASICS page and anything you buy, you will make 1.5% cash back. Plus if you have the Ebates Chrome Extension like me, you’ll be reminded in the top right, how much you’ll save.

So as I look at my costly shoes, I’ll be reminded to of my 1.5% cash back on my $109 running shoe. So I’ll make $1.64 through Ebates on this purchase. I’ll make more since it’s my first purchase through Ebates and I used Cameron’s affiliate code (we’ll get to that in a second).

Asics Shoe Purchase

 

Remember, I use my 2% cash back credit card for everything, so I’ll gain an additional 2% off the purchase + plus the 1.5% from Ebates. Wahoo!

When does Ebates pay me?

Every time you make a purchase (like a new pair of ASICS), Ebates will hold onto your cashback rewards. The companies, like Amazon, ASICS, Walmart, pay Ebates and Ebates pays you, quarterly. So 4 times a year, you’ll receive a check from Ebates. This can also be PayPal or you can donate it to a charity or organization.

Here is their quarterly payout schedule:

Ebates Payout Schedule

If your account is less than $5.01, Ebates will roll that balance into next quarter’s payout. It just a lot of processing fees for them, so they do $5.01 minimum payouts. I can’t blame them for that.

 

If you’re thinking that my $1.64 is too small for a payout, I’m actually at $11.64 because I used a friend’s affiliate code and earned $10 extra dollars. Use my affiliate code for your $10 extra dollars.

PLUS any cashback you recieve from Ebates isn’t taxed because the IRS considers “cashback” as a “discount” to your purchase like coupons. That’s why when you sign up for Ebates, all you need is a email, password and address for them to send your “big fat check” (their phrasing), not tax forms for you to fill now.

How do YOU sign up for Ebates?

It’s easy, go to Ebates here and enter a quick email and password. No more info than that. It takes less than 30 seconds and you can start looking around their marketplace and checking out all their partnerships. You’ll only have to add your address once you’re ready to cash out.

Use my Affiliate Code!!!

If I’ve educated you enough about Ebates to at least check it out. PLEASE use my affiliate code. This way YOU will earn an extra $10 at payout and it gives us at Wallet Squirrel an extra $5 through their affiliate program, so we can pay for things like internet and electricity.

I would never recommend something unless I REALLY like it and I’m a fan of after this Ebates review. In fact, wish I started using it 2 years ago when I first started to really get into Online Shopping.

I would have $68 if I started using Ebates 2 years ago.

I wish I did this Ebates Review 2 years ago when I first started Online Shopping. I know I’m a late bloomer. My parents told me that hackers would steal ALL my info and identity, so I was terrified. Since then I’ve learned how security works, feel more secure against Nigerian Princes and now LOVE online shopping!

In the last 2 years, on Amazon alone, I have spent $1,145.64 according to my purchasing history. So since Ebates has 3% cashback on Amazon.com. I could have made $34.36 from Ebates in the last 2 years!

Plus I spent nearly that much through Non-Amazon purchases. So if we apply the same 3% (it’s about average for Ebates), I easily could have made $68.73 in the last 2 years using Ebates.

I missed out on all this cash that I could have used to invest. Why didn’t I? Because I didn’t know how awesome saving money was, nor what Ebates was.

Conclusion

In the last week, I have realized what exactly Ebates is and their tons of partnership stores. This site is quite large and trustworthy at this point! Now with their Ebates Chrome Extension, I’m told how much cashback I can make at my favorite stores without even visiting the Ebates website.

I just wish I started this Ebates Review sooner and started making more cashback to start investing with.

To all my investor friends. It’s definitely worth a shot to earn some extra cash to start investing with.

Do you use Ebates?

What I Learned from Commenting on 30 Blogs in a week

I regularly comment on other blogs. I wanted to share why I do this, why others should do this and what I learned after commenting on 30 blogs in a week.

I’ll admit, I originally wanted to comment on 100 blogs in a week, but not only was that impossible with a full work schedule, I don’t know that many good blogs. Suggestions?

So Why Do I Comment On Other Blogs?

When I first started blogging. I searched specifically for personal finance blogs because that’s the niche I’m in. I wanted to learn what they were doing, what made their blogs “special” and better than mine?

I later expanded to travel and lifestyle blogs.

Blogs usually are the personal journeys, a combination of lessons learned and personal achievements that transcend their niches of “Finance”, “Fashion”, “lifestyle”, etc. When I find a story that resonates with me, I usually comment a similar struggle or congratulate them on their win. As a blogger, I know these words of encouragement help as much as an extra 1,000 page views.

Andrew-Commenting-On-Blogs

When Do I Comment On Other Blogs?

Personally, I like to start after the end of each month. Many of the blogs I follow release Monthly Income Reports (here’s my March Income Report). These usually summarize their highlights on the month as well as their income from investments. It’s really cool to see their investments grow!

Wallet Squirrel is no exception. Our Income Reports continue to be our most popular post for commenting. I think most finance bloggers would agree with this.

The only exception is when bloggers publish a new post, there seems to always be a mad rush to be the first one to comment. I see this on popular blogs like Mr. Money Mustache. Some people set alerts for new blog posts because when they’re the first to comment, they’re higher up on the page for more backlink views. We’ll get to that in a sec.

What Blogs Do I Comment On?

I have a list of about 80 blogs (let me know if you want to be added in the comments below) that I keep in an excel sheet. It’s nice because all the blog names hyperlinked, so 1-click sends me to straight to their site. I also include their Twitter handle because it’s appreciated to send a tweet after every comment, if it’s a good article.

Personally, I track each time I comment on each blog so I’m not leaving duplicate comments or ruining relationships with other bloggers because I haven’t been to their site in 4 months. I try to visit my top 30 blogs every month.

You’ll notice I also added Moz’s “Domain Authority” and SimilarWeb’s “6 Month Visitor Count” but this is more for me to track how these sites are growing and compare to Wallet Squirrel. You’ll see I don’t only comment on popular sites, I focus on the ones I enjoy!

WS Blog Comment Excel List

My Excel List for Blogs I Follow

What Makes A Good Comment?

Honestly, I don’t know what makes a good comment. Usually they’re supportive, grammatically legible and entertaining. If you disagree with something, be respectful. There have been a couple times I learned from a mistake through comments pointing it out. I’m incredibly thankful someone took the time to point it out.

My favorite is when Adam wrote his Ask for Raise article “A lawyer could state that if they when a particular number of cases.” our friend Trist pointed this out “did you mean win?” (not in the comments). After 10 minutes of laughing, we appreciated the comment.

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In my personal experience, bloggers love comments regardless of grammar. It’s a great way to show support without giving them money.

Where Did I Leave Comments Last Week?

This list is made up of some of my favorite blogs and a few blogs I’ve been wanting to check out for awhile. I’m glad I did. I hope my comments helped, they were genuine thoughtful comments totaling over 2,558 words or an average of 85 words per blog in a week.

Here are the 30 blogs I commented on this last week. All very awesome.

What I Learned After Commenting On 30 Blogs In A Week?

  1. It’s important to look over an entire blog. I saw on one blog that they were featured on Rockstar Finance through their sidebar. I ended up reaching out to Rockstar Finance and they added me to their membership directory! Plus I’m currently working with them to feature a Wallet Squirrel Article. I didn’t even know about Rockstar Finance before finding it on a new blog I now follow.
  2. Don’t comment only to create backlinks/traffic to your site, it not effective. I used to think this was a great way to create tons of traffic back to my website. It’s not. After commenting through the week on 30 blogs, I only received 30 new visitors from those backlinks. Commenting is great if you’re genuine, but if you’re only trying to create backlinks and traffic back to your site, there are better ways to do it.
  3. Always subscribe to be notified of follow-up comments by email. Bloggers like myself leave REALLY good responses to good questions. We sometimes write paragraphs in a response to a good comment because we’re appreciative you read our article and left a good comment. Don’t miss out on a great follow up comment by not subscribing to follow up comments.
  4. Read the whole article! Bloggers (and me) hate it when people leave comments that ask questions clearly answered in the article. It just shows you didn’t read the article and you’re only there to create backlinks.

Am I leaving any blogs out, any I should add?

Student Loan Debt is a Crisis – Just Look at the Stats

The following is a guest post by Erica Butler, a freelance writer from Nevada working to pay off her student loan debt.

Welcome to 2017. It is a year full of change from a new presidency down to the debt that students have taken on, thanks to student loans. You have probably heard many of the current statistics about how Americans owe something like $1.4 trillion in student loan debt. This debt is owed by a rough estimate of about 44 million borrowers. When the most recent graduates from 2015 have a whopping $28,000 or more in student loan debt. This number is concerning because it is actually up an entire six percent since last year.

But, what does this actually mean for you? When you take a look at the big picture, it can be difficult to make the numbers feel personal, so we are going to break it down a bit more for you to ensure you can better understand what the student loan debt situation looks like and what it can mean for you.

Okay, let’s go ahead and take a look below.

Overall Statistics for Student Loan Debt

We talk about the total student loan debt, which is at $1.4 trillion spread across a total of 44 million borrowers. Out of those 44 million borrowers, 70 percent of them are current college students.

There is a total default rate of about 11.3 percent and a delinquency rate of 5.41 percent. Each borrower carries a rough estimate of $27,857 in debt. Some borrowers will owe much more and some will owe much less. Remember, the estimate student loan debt per borrower from 2015 is $28,000.

Overall Statistics for Federal Student Loan Debt

These statistics below are for federal student loan debt ONLY. Remember, there is a difference between federal and private student loans. Federal loans are the most common types of loans that students receive since private student loans are harder to obtain.

The total amount of outstanding federal student loan debt is equal to $1.29 trillion with direct loans equaling about $949 billion of that. There are over 40 million borrowers who have federal student loan debt. The total number of borrowers with federal direct loans is 31 million.

Interesting and Shocking Student Loan Debt Statistics

Below, you will find some additional student loan debt statistics that are both interesting and shocking. We believe that these stats are good to know because they help to put the entire situation into perspective.

  • There are more Americans that hold student loan debt than there is in population in over 200 countries
  • Over 60 percent of borrowers have had to wait to purchase a vehicle due to their debt
  • Student loan debt is the second highest form of debt. It is second to mortgage debt
  • 90 percent of private student loans are co-signed
  • Over 40 percent of borrowers wait to have a family because of their debt
  • Over 70 percent of borrowers have put off saving for retirement due to their debt
  • 30 percent of borrowers have waited to get married because of student loan debt
  • 71 percent of borrowers have delayed the purchase of a home because of student loan debt
  • Student loan debt increases by about $2,667 per second
  • 37 percent of borrowers currently are paying down their debt

Students Who Incur the Most Debt

Unfortunately, student loan debt hurts certain types of students more than it does other types of students. While it may not seem fair, it is just the way things work out and it means that you need to be that much more cautious as you start to borrow student loans.

The first type of student that suffers the most is the graduate student. This is because the cost of graduate student loans is more than that of an undergraduate loan. In addition, depending on the type of graduate degree you choose, you may incur much more debt. For example, a law degree can require you to borrow up to $150,000 or more. A medical degree can cost up to $160,000 or more.

The second type of student that suffers is the student that heads off to a for-profit school. This is because the cost of classes is much higher because the school wants to make a profit. The debt here is often heftier and students cannot always keep up with the amount.

The last type of student that suffers the most is the student who drops out of college and does not complete a degree. Uncompleted degrees account for about 59 percent of student loan borrowers.

Get Your Financial Future into Perspective

The student loan debt statistics that have been provided above are shocking and they may even scare you a bit. There is a serious student loan debt problem and it does not seem to be getting better at all. If you want to secure your financial future, you need to make sure that you are careful when it comes to how much you borrow and you should always learn the most you can about your student loans before you sign the contract.