The Most Common Phishing Scams and How to Avoid Them

PhishingScams

Phishing is a common term for the unfortunate schemes hackers and online criminals use to lure users into giving their personal information. Typically disguised as familiar online activity, these scam artists have cleverly found several distinctive ways to attempt to trick YOU into handing over your private details. Be on the lookout for these common phishing scams next time you’re roaming the web!

  1.   Foreign Lottery Scam

With this tactic you generally receive an email informing you that you have just won the lottery of some far-away land! To obtain these exorbitant funds you simply have to send a small fee to cover the transfer cost. A simple online search will show that this thrilling lottery is no more than phony website with a long distance phone number. Typically if the sending address doesn’t look familiar, or if you have not applied to any foreign lotteries, it will be a dead giveaway that this email is just an attempt to get your information and your money.

  1.   Survey Scam

Do you like supporting the humane society or other animal organizations? This scam takes advantage of your online history and sends you a survey to submit your opinion on issues that matter to you. Instead of using your responses on animal treatment, this system discovers your email address, and other relative personal information, to hack your account and send out further spam emails.

  1.   Online Banking Scam

Most phishing schemes disguise themselves as something familiar, often as PayPal or even your personal bank. This particular scam typically indicates that some type of immediate action is needed, and your financial account is at risk. Before sending any type of reply communication, check the source of the email, and call your personal contact at the organization to see if the email is legitimate. If you question the validity of any portion of the email, delete it and call the company this con artist is attempting to masquerade as ASAP.

  1.   Clickbait

Social media has a hacking arena all its own. With links scattered across newsfeeds, it’s often hard to determine what is genuine and what is clickbait. Clickbait is a link generated using common controversial issues to get you to click on it. Once clicked, the link may switch to a Facebook login, where you login again. Unfortunately this false login page is a common maneuver by cyber criminals to get your social media login. Having this information, online criminals can now access your account and spam the people you are connected with.
If you think you’ve been a victim of an online phishing scam and your personal banking information has been compromised, call First Security State Bank. We’ll help you watch for signs of identity theft within your personal bank accounts.

Money Lessons at Every Age

MoneyLessonsEveryAge

No matter what your age, there are always exciting new aspects to understand in the realm of money management. This year help your children get a head start on their financial education with these key lessons courtesy of First Security State Bank.

2-5 Years Old: The Three Jars Activity

In your child’s youngest years it is important to give them a basic financial understanding. You can help your little ones comprehend savings, spending, and donating through three simple jars. Each week give your child 50 cents or a dollar, all in quarters. It is then their decision whether they want to save it for a bigger toy or purchase, spend it on something smaller, or donate it to help others in need. This activity works to help create a general thought process of the three common ways to spend or accumulate funds.

5-13 Years Old: Budgeting Basics

For everything from buying groceries to new clothes for school, you can help your child learn how to budget by setting a spending limit for your various shopping trips. By allowing your little ones to participate in the purchase process, you can help educate them in the importance of staying on or under budget. Let them help you find bargain deals or clip coupons to reduce cost. When the expenditures come in under the budget, reward their efforts with a small treat.

14-18 Years Old: How to Build Your Financial Reputation

Correctly making payments is a pinnacle point in proper money management. Whether it’s purchasing your first car, home, or other personal purchase, learning how to correctly pay off your loan, can be the difference between good and bad credit. Get started on this important lesson with a quick tutorial on how you pay any monthly bills or debts. Show your child your system to give them an introduction into how the process will take place. Once they choose to purchase a car or other item through a personal loan, you can walk them through the payment process online, and help them make a calendar of when installments are due.

Whether your little one is two or twenty-two, there is always something new to learn. Stop by First Security State Bank and see how you and your family can improve your money management skills today!

What Your Teen Needs to Know About Money Management

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Throughout their teenage years, your children will begin to grow their personal money management style. Offer them some assistance by offering these four financial lessons from First Security State Bank.

Securing Their First Job

No matter if it’s babysitting, lifeguarding, or bagging groceries, there are plenty of employment options for eager high school students. These opportunities typically start at minimum wage with zero benefits, but offer a foundation of experience and learning. Talk with your son or daughter, and help them select positions to apply for that resonate with them. Resources such as the Chamber of Commerce often list local job openings, and are a good place to comb for recent availabilities.

Managing Money

The younger you begin various habits, the better they stick with you. Teach your children the positive effect proper money management can have on their pocketbook. Start by opening both a savings and a checking account for your teen. Each pay period, help them figure ten percent of their earnings to put into their savings. You can also work with them one-on-one each month to help balance their checkbook and plan for any large expenditures.

Saving for College

Secondary education isn’t cheap. If your son or daughter plans on attending a college or trade school, the time to start saving is now! Work with your future student to determine an educational budget, providing an estimate of upcoming expenses. Once you know the amount needed you can set savings goals for both you and your teen to start tucking money away. The sooner you begin your savings journey the smoother the road will be to your target amount.

Making Payments

Whether it’s purchasing their first car or simply covering the cost of meals at school, learning how to maintain a payment plan is an important life lesson. Explain your personal bill paying system to your teen and see how they can tailor it to their needs. Once they have a grasp on the system itself, gradually add payments to your child’s list of responsibilities, even if you add the money to their account. This will help them learn to keep an updated payment calendar before they graduate high school.

Money management is a continual learning process. There are always new techniques or tricks to better arrange your finances. Don’t stop honing your teen’s money management after these four lessons – stop by First Security State Bank and see how you can keep growing your family’s financial skills today!

The True Cost of Owning a Pet

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Seasoned pet owners know Fido and Fluffy add a special element to your family as only a pet can. However, adding another member to your household does come with its costs. From daily kibble, to late night vet calls, be sure you’re financially prepared before purchasing your next pet. Try these five financial tips to keep both your pet and your wallet happy.

Consider Adopting

A purebred pet can easily run over $1,000, while also requiring a hefty deposit in addition to registration fees. Try visiting your local humane society or animal shelter to meet some love-deprived friends that could use your attention. With most adoption costs under $300 total, you can save some green while helping a loving animal in need.

Determine Appropriate Size and Breed

Both your residence and your budget factor into this one! With many apartments posing weight and breed restrictions, there may be additional external factors to consider. When it comes to your budget, be sure to make note of your designated pet spending. If you’re trying to feed a big dog on a little budget, you may be fighting an uphill battle.

Buy Generic

Food is food, and pets don’t care whether their daily dinner is from brand A or B. Choose food that maximizes your pet’s energy without minimizing your savings. Treats can be another tricky topic – find one type of treat to reward your pet with for a job well done. There are several pet stores where you can purchase treats in bulk, and as long as you store them properly, you can save plenty of dollars, without running out of prizes for your pet.

Avoid Frill Expenses

Items such as decorative bowls, pet clothes, and squeaky toys are all fun splurges, but unneeded purchases on a continual basis. Choose a timeline for additional pet items on either a quarterly or biannual basis. You can keep your pet happy and entertained by offering household items such as empty water bottles or old stuffed animals instead of dropping $15 for a new toy each month.

Groom Smart

Every pet is different, some shed, others molt, but no matter what type of animal you have grooming may be involved. Various pets can groom themselves, or require little maintenance, but for the majority of our furry friends, assistance may be required. If you’re up to the challenge, see if grooming is something you can do yourself. Activities such as bathing or brushing can be done at home – just be sure to stock up on towels! If your pet requires frequent haircuts, or other monthly grooming, find a local groomer instead of your veterinarian for a more affordable rate.

Give your pet all the love and affection you can while keeping your budget on a leash. If you want to learn more about managing your monthly budget give us a call at (319) 266-0474 or drop by the bank today. We’d love to help you and your furry family make the most of your spending!

10 Things Successful People Do

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Ever wonder how Mark Zuckerberg or Richard Branson got where they are today? Success doesn’t come easy, but it grows where it is watered. At First Security State Bank, we want to help you climb into success with these simple tactics! Learn how to begin your journey to the top with these 10 key actions:

  1. Have maker time. No matter how many meetings there are in a day, schedule time each and every day to create, produce, and whittle down your to-do list. Not only will you get more done, but you’ll get more completed within your structured time!
  2. Prioritize your tasks. Sometimes that to-do list can be a mile long. Start your day with one main priority, and three sub tasks. Once these core items have been completed you can move on to the other smaller agendas you have for the day.
  3. Keep your values. Whether it’s making it home for dinner, or keeping on top of an evening health regiment, realize there are other values outside of work that need your attention too. Designate your time at work to do the most you can, so once the clock hits five, you know you’re scheduled to be somewhere else.
  4. Strategize your meetings. Do you need to be in every one of your meetings? Perhaps not! Speak with meeting organizers to determine if your input is truly needed and if so, could that be communicated through email instead? Time is precious, so make the most of yours!
  5. Say no. No is a powerful word. While you may not be able to say “no” to a supervisor’s request, when being asked to participate in additional projects, be selective and only join the workload you can handle appropriately
  6. Know when to delegate. You can’t do everything yourself. Invest time in your peers and ensure that if you need a task completed, they are up to the challenge. A great leader utilizers their team’s strengths and weaknesses, so be sure you’re putting the best person on each task.
  7. Create a daily routine. Everything from your morning breakfast choices, the various times you check your emails, to your scheduled breaks, you need to have a routine, and stick to it!
  8. Treat failure as a lesson. There’s a learning experience in every failure. By taking this simple mindset to heart, you can embrace the good that comes with every thwarted attempt. This insight helps not only grow your current project, but also broadens your mind to potential possibilities for future endeavors.
  9. Choose a mentor. The day you stop learning is the day you stop growing. One of the most effective things successful people do is to continue to learn. By never boasting a full cup, you can continue to add valuable knowledge to your repertoire and learn from someone who’s navigated many experiences you’ll soon face.  
  10. Wake up early. The early bird gets the worm! Whether you start work at 4:00am, 8:00am, or 8:00pm arrive early to collect your thoughts before your co-workers swarm in. During rush hour you’ll also notice an easier drive if you leave an extra half hour or hour early.

What Your Birth Order Says About Your Money Management

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Every family knows there’s a difference between the various siblings, but why is that? Many psychologists agree, birth order plays a large role! Each member of your family is generally rooted in one of four personality types which help define their core behaviors and beliefs. Discover how these traits can translate to your money management style at First Security State Bank.

First Born: Typically the leader of the family, first borns are strong minded and organized with a heavy protective tendency. Many of those born first err on the side of caution, creating savings accounts for emergencies and unexpected situations. This sibling tends to enjoy being in charge and knowing all the variables. Any expenses, debts, or other monthly bills will be allocated and prepared accordingly. First borns tend to work towards their dreams, and may have the downfall of taking a financial risk to do so.

Middle Child: Always the people pleaser, middle children are most known for helping others. If you need an extra buck or two for lunch, this sibling will be the first to lend a hand. Often on the rebellious side, the middle child may be more apt to invest in some riskier stocks, but depending if they pan out, it could make financial sense in the long run. Typically talkative and social, many middle children challenge the norm and create new versions of savings schemes. This sibling will be the first to try the next and best retirement plan before storing away long term savings.

Last Born: Optimism, attention, and organization generally drive the youngest of the siblings. After learning from the mistakes of the older members of the family, this child typically has most financial questions answered before ever needing to ask. This sibling will be the guru of rewards points, always finding the best perks and benefits for various programs. Always looking on the bright side, the last born is compelled to live the best of their life now, assured the future will work itself out later.

Only Child: Frequently told they’re mature for their age, the only child is known for their leadership, sophistication, and drive towards perfection. The typical only child will have a detailed account record with meticulous payment upkeep. These individuals strive to be the best, and are determined to achieve their goals. Expect them to have a strategic savings plan, retirement investing, and a well-rounded home improvement fund. Always up for a challenge, only children can often be great investors seeking out the best stock options for their needs.

No matter your place within the family tree, you’ll always have a financial partner with First Security State Bank. Whichever goal you’re aiming to tackle next, we’ll help you achieve it!

The DO’s and DON’TS of Debit and Credit Cards

Payment Options

This week we are excited to dive into the Do’s and Don’ts of Credit and Debit cards! Offering two very similar, but uniquely different services for your financial needs, these cards can help you to reign in your finances and grow your credit score when used properly. Learn all about these tips and tricks courtesy of First Security State Bank.

Debit Card: A card issued by the bank, that is tied directly to a checking or savings account, which allows money to be electronically transferred from one bank account to another when making a purchase.

DO

  1. Use for daily transactions. It’s always great to have a paper trail reminding you of your purchases.
  2. Use for repeated expenses such as gas, groceries, and other costs you can plan for.
  3. Balance your check book. Sometimes charges such as gas or dining can take several days to run through so be sure to keep track of your spending by balancing your checkbook weekly.

DON’T

  1. Use your debit card online unless you absolutely have to. Having your credit card information stolen is one thing, having your bank information stolen is another.
  2. Spend more than you have in your account. Overdraft fees are no fun for anyone!
  3. Give out your PIN # or other banking information.

Credit Card: A small plastic card that is offered by the bank or other financial institution, allowing the card owner to purchase goods and services on credit.

DO

  1. Use for online expenses through secured vendors. Many discounts may be offered online only and can save you and your family a bundle.
  2. Pay your bill in full each and every month. You can avoid hefty interest rates and other timely fees, by not extending your balance over to the next month.
  3. Utilize points to help you earn while you spend. These points are great for supplementing costs of family trips or other extra activities.

DON’T

  1. Spend more than you have allocated for the month. Paying more for interest and other fees is money wasted.
  2. Open too many credit card accounts. Keep one or two cards that you use and payoff each month to help boost your score.
  3. Max out your balance, even if you pay it off each month this can potentially damage your credit score and serve as a red flag to potential lenders.

Get started on your finances today with a secure credit or debit card from First Security State Bank! We’ll help you understand the ups and downs of each and find the best solution for you and your needs.

How to Create your Emergency Fund and When to Use It

Savings

Creating a structured savings plan is one thing that can set apart the financial dreamers from the financial doers! By setting strict guidelines to your goal, and ensuring the correct follow through with a backed up savings plan, you can be certain of your success in accomplishing your future achievement! One of the biggest obstacles in these plans is the unforeseen, and there is a way to manage even that. Using a well-rounded emergency fund can ensure that you don’t dip into saved funds for unexpected costs such as auto repairs, or medical emergencies. Want to get started setting up your emergency fund today? Follow these simple steps and you’ll be on your way to financial success!

  1. Open a dedicated savings account.
  2. Deposit Funds each month without withdrawing anything.
  3. Start by saving $1000.

– Next save 3 months’ worth of income and expenses.

– Finally maintain 6 months’ worth of income and expenses.

The reason you have this fund is simple, to prepare for the unprepareable. Whether it’s an unanticipated job loss, a costly home repair, or other unplanned expenses, your emergency fund can help you stay afloat when the waters get rough.

The main objective of this account is to have it work for you and your needs! By specifically determining what you define as an emergency (job loss, vet bills, auto repairs) and what doesn’t (last minute birthday gift, broken TV, new clothes) you can generate a structured list to know when you feel safe using those funds, and when perhaps its best to leave them untouched. The idea of the emergency fund is to have it when you need it. By gaining access easily via checkbook or debit card, you can make use of the account more quickly when the unexpected strikes.

By generating your own emergency fund you can continue to save for milestones and pay bills, without worrying about the what if’s that lie along the road to the future. Get started with your emergency account today at First Security State Bank, we’ll help you get to your next savings goal!

How to Save $1,000,000 by Retirement

How to Save $1,000,000 By Retirement

Retirement may seem an eternity away; however, even if it’s a dream 20 years down the road, saving for retirement shouldn’t wait until the goal is in sight. Rule of thumb says you’ll need $1,000,000 in savings to retire comfortably. Our experts at First Security State Bank recommend taking the following steps to save with the future in mind:

  • Determine when you want your $1 million. The typical age of retirement is 65, but you may be shooting for a few years earlier or later. Whatever the age affects how much you need to save each month, so calculate years left to save based on current age and breakdown monthly savings requirements thereafter.
  • Start saving ASAP. Compound interest rewards those that begin saving earlier rather than later. A $10,000 investment at age 25 could yield tens of thousands of dollars more by 65 than if that same $10,000 were invested at 35.
  • Spend less than you save. It’s basic math. You’ll have money left over only if income exceeds expenses. Buying a home within your range, purchasing cars secondhand, and paying for vacations out of savings and not on credit protects you from dipping into debt.
  • Opt for automatic. Research your employer’s 401k or retirement-based plans and determine what percent you’d like funneled from your paycheck and into your savings. If your employer matches contributions up to a limit, work to reach their maximum to maximize your savings.
  • Save beyond your 401k. Expect the unexpected. A flooded basement or dying car engine can send you spiraling out of your financial plan if you haven’t budgeted for rainy days. Set up a $1,000 emergency fund as soon as possible, and work to expand it to anywhere from 6-12 months of income to protect you from larger surprises, like medical issues or unemployment.

The road to a million takes time and discipline, but it’s exceedingly possible. For further savings strategies and investment options, make an appointment today to meet with one of our trained financial advisers.

7 Tips to Decrease Your Gardening Costs

Gardening Costs

Gardening season is upon us! Whether you’ve been gardening for decades or are flexing your green thumbs for the first time, save some green as you grow it this spring with these helpful tips from First Security State Bank:

  1. Study the sun. You can burn hundreds of dollars by accidentally placing plants in areas that receive too much or too little sunlight. Take time before planting to make notes on the sun’s path across your yard, scoping out key sunny and shady spots along the way.
  2. Invest in mulch. A layer of fresh mulch aids in protecting against soil erosion while cutting the costs of weed killer.
  3. Reuse newspapers. Before you lay down protective mulch, spread layers of old newspapers directly onto the soil to block weeds and lock in moisture. Eventually the newspaper decomposes while saving on water costs in the long-run.
  4. Try natural bug protection. Instead of buying pricey pesticides and bug zappers, place fabric softener sheets next to outdoor light fixtures to deter flying insects.
  5. Make your own weed killer. Eco-friendly and inexpensive, you can create your own weed killer by mixing 1 gallon of white vinegar with 1 ounce of liquid dish soap. Put this mixture in a spray bottle and directly apply to weeds for the maximum effect.
  6. Start composting. Create nature’s best fertilizer in your own backyard by forming a small compost pile of kitchen and yard waste. Not only do you reduce your footprint by saving space in a landfill, but your homemade compost saves you money and increases the yield of your plants.
  7. Plant the pricier edibles. To save money, time, and precious garden real estate, invest in planting herbs and vegetables that would normally cost you a bundle at the grocery store. Grow pricier crops such as raspberries, shallots, and basil yourself and buy cheaper produce like lettuce, carrots, and parsley at your local farmers markets.

At First Security State Bank, it’s always growing season when it comes to building your wealth. If you’re looking to prosper you financial gains stop by and give us a call at 319-266-0474 today!