4 Frugal Tips for Having Fun This Summer

Have fun and stay active this summer with these money-saving tips.

Have fun and stay active this summer with these money-saving tips.

 

Summer is host to a variety of events, vacations and activities that keep your family busy.  While these summer activities are lots of fun, they can wreak havoc on your bank account if you are not prepared.  At First Security State Bank, we want you to enjoy summer without breaking the bank.  Continue reading

Starting Your Own Business

Starting a business is a dream for many people, so here are some tips to consider when working to open up shop!

Starting a business is a dream for many people, so here are some tips to consider when working to open up shop!

 

Many people dream of starting their own business and selling a product or service that they truly believe in.  Main Street, Cedar Falls is a great example of those who are chasing this dream!

If you have this goal of starting your own business, there’s just something about the summer that makes it a great time to get the ball rolling.  Starting a new business is a huge undertaking, so here are a few tips to keep in mind as your start up your new business:

  1. Keep Costs Low. Furnish your business with lightly used equipment, such as lightly used office chairs or shelves. Often times, lightly used furniture is significantly cheaper than brand new.  Another way to keep costs low is to pay your vendors up front.  Paying up front increases leverage of negotiating, which could translate to acquiring materials at a cheaper cost.
  2. Get a Marketing Plan in Place. You can’t sell your good or services if people don’t know about them! Depending on your product, start marketing to those people who may have an appeal to your store.  Once you have leads, market, market, market! Good leads lead to good sales.  Also, try a variety of marketing outlets to see what works best for your store.
  3. Test and Measure. Just like the marketing plan, test for leads with your marketing plan and test for leads with your products. What is selling? What is not?  Keep records so you and your employees know what is working for your store and what is not.
  4. Learning Equals Earning. The more you can learn about sales, marketing, management, store operations, and anything business related, the more you will know what works and what does not. Similar to testing and measuring for leads, the more educated you are about your product, sales, and your market, the better you can sell your product.
  5. Add Value, Don’t Discount. Putting your product “on sale” or “on discount” so soon after starting a business can de-value your product. Instead of putting your product on sale, try adding value and marketing the quality of your product!  There is a time and place for putting items on sale, but try adding value first.

Starting your own business can be stressful and time consuming, but it can all be worth it if you put in the work!  First Security State Bank can offer you support from business startup loans to equipment loans.  Stop in today for more information!

 

First Security State Bank

Member FDIC

Equal Housing Lender

Budgeting 101

Getting your finances in order can help you build wealth, avoid debt and gain confidence with your finances.

Getting your finances in order can help you build wealth, avoid debt and gain confidence with your banking habits.

 

You may have been told to start getting your finances in order, but you aren’t quite sure where to start.  You may have also been told to start creating and following a budget.  Creating a budget can be a difficult and frustrating task, but First Security State Bank is here to help!

Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating your first budget.

  1. Create an emergency fund.  Uh oh! Your car broke down, now what?  This is where your emergency fund can help.  Set a small amount aside in a savings account or money market that you can use to help cushion the blow when unexpected events come along.  It may not seem like an exciting way to save, but when the time comes you’ll be thankful you did!
  2. Map out where your money is currently going. Identify your income and what you have to spend, identify what you currently spend your income on and what you need to spend your income on.  This may take you a while to figure out and can get frustrating, but stick with it. Thankfully, there are many checklists out there that can help you easily organize this part of the budget.
  3. Plan for both the long-term and short-term future. An example of planning for the long term future would be planning for retirement.  Although retirement is years away, the sooner you start saving the more time it has to grow.  Setting aside for those student loans that will kick in soon or for that new car you want to buy are both short term finances that you can also start to plan for.
  4. Stick with it!  Learning to stay on a budget is hard work, but it will help you to take control of your money so that you can begin to build wealth.  Keep this in mind: if you do the things you need to do when you need to do them, then later you can do the things you want to do when you want to do them.

Whether you are just getting started with your own finances or you are in need of a financial over haul, a budget is a great place to start.  First Security State Bank can help you by setting up any new accounts you may need and providing services you may need.  Don’t wait any longer, stop in today!

First Security State Bank

Member FDIC

Equal Housing Lender

Get the Best Home Value with These Improvements

A home improvement guide that can help you get the best bang for your buck when selling your home.

A home improvement guide that can help you get the best bang for your buck when selling your home.

 

Spring has sprung and houses are back on the market for a hot selling season! If your home is up for sale this year, you probably have a running list of the small improvements you need to make in order to increase your home’s value. To get the most value out of your home improvements, consider one or more of these updates:

Attic Bedroom

Adding an attic bedroom is one of the best home improvement projects you can do to increase your home’s value. Although this remodel can be expensive, you can expect to recoup almost 73 percent of the cost of adding the attic bedroom when you sell the home.

Add a Bathroom

According to the National Association of Home Builders, the addition of a half bathroom can add up to 10.5 percent to a home’s value. A full bathroom can add 20 percent! If it is not possible to add a bathroom, think about giving your current bathrooms an update with fresh paint, new fixtures and new flooring.

Indoor Systems

Before you make any cosmetic improvements, make all needed repairs or replacements to the home’s plumbing, heating, electrical and sewer systems. Prospective buyers will offer less or pass on your home completely if they know they will need to replace these basic systems in the near future.

Additional Storage

While most new homes offer a lot of storage, older homes tend to lack options like coat closets. If you don’t have the space to expand or build new closets, consider redesigning the spaces you do have to offer more storage options.

If you are looking for a home this spring or summer, talk to a Loan Officer at FSSB. We are a great source for mortgages and want to find the best solutions for you. Contact us today!

Watch Out for These Financial Scams

Learn more about financial scams and how you can protect yourself and your family.

Learn more about financial scams and how you can protect yourself and your family.

 

We are all at risk for financial fraud. Corrupt individuals prey on people who have accumulated wealth and use a variety of methods to steal what others have worked hard for. Older individuals who may not be as savvy as they once were are especially susceptible. We want to help keep you and your loved ones from falling victim to these crimes.

The best way to defend yourself from fraud is to know what tricks are being used by thieves. Here are a few red flags to look for:

You’re offered “free” advice – Many scammers get you to listen to their sales pitch by inviting you to a free dinner or financial seminar. You may attend these events if you wish, but be aware that the ultimate goal is probably to sell you something. If you are interested in their services, do some research on your own to make sure that it is as beneficial as they say it is.

You’re confused about the product being sold – If you don’t understand the product or service you are being pitched, don’t buy it! You need to understand the risks, benefits and costs of your purchase. Look at the fine print to make sure that you understand the details. If you need help with this, talk to a financial expert at FSSB.

The advisor has a lot of useless credentials – Anyone can add some fancy credentials to the end of their name and call themselves a financial adviser. Titles such as “Certified Financial Planner” and “Certified Financial Analyst” are given to individuals who have received training. However, other titles require little expertise and are essentially meaningless. Do a bit of research into your advisor’s credentials to make sure they are legitimate.

As a community bank, we want to do everything we can to protect the people of the Cedar Falls and Evansdale communities. If you are leery of offers that you or your loved one is receiving, talk to someone you can trust at FSSB.

Teaching Your Kids the Dollars and Cents of Financial Literacy

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It is never too early to start teaching your children about wise money habits. These are important skills that they will need throughout their life. But sometimes parents are uncomfortable teaching their children good money skills because they don’t feel financially literate themselves. First Security State Bank is here to help you gain confidence in your financial wisdom with these simple lessons to teach your kids about money.

Lesson One: Money isn’t free

While an allowance is a good way to teach children how to handle money, it does not teach them that people need to work for money. Instead of dishing out a weekly allowance, create a chores list for your children. Assign each chore a monetary value and pay them once a week for the chores that were completed.

Lesson Two: Saving and giving

When your child has earned some money, create three categories: One for saving, one to spend, and the last to give to a charity that your child chooses. This will teach your kids how to sort their money and not spend everything they earn. These habits will follow your children into adulthood and help them think through financial decisions wisely.

Lesson Three: Saving for things we want

As your child saves up their earnings, have them earn something that he or she really wants. Help them set a goal and offer them extra jobs to earn more.

It is important to remember that the number one place your children are learning about money and wise spending is from you. Be a good example of money management to show them what it really means to take care of your finances. There are many more lessons that you will need to teach your child as they grow up. These are simple lessons that can start your child on a smart path of money management.

April is Financial Literacy Month and First Security State Bank wants to help our customers get a firmer grasp on what it means to be wise with your money. Please contact us with any questions or concerns you have.

Foundations of Financial Literacy

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Do you remember when you were learning how to read? It took a lot of practice in order to make the transition from being illiterate to literate. Just like learning to read was important as a child, learning to be financially literate is important to ensure your future success as an adult. In order to become financial literate, you must understand some principles of financial literacy. First Security State Bank will talk about four foundational principles in today’s blog.

The Difference between an Asset and a Liability

An asset is anything that puts money in your pocket. A liability is anything that takes money out of your pocket. We will use your home as an example. Many people think of their house as an asset. This isn’t really true because your home takes money out of your pocket each month in the form of taxes, maintenance, etc. If you own rental properties, tenants pay rent, maintenance costs, taxes, and more. This is money going into your pocket each month, making these properties an asset.

Cash Flow versus Capital Gains

Most people invest for capital gains. Just like at the casino, you invest your money and hope that the price goes up.  The problem is that investing for capital gains is a gamble. You don’t have any control over whether the price goes up or down. Investing for cash flow gives you control over your income. For instance, you could buy investment real estate, have tenants to pay the expenses, and collect rent each month. This makes it an asset. If there are capital gains in the end, that is a bonus.

Using Debt and Taxes to get Richer                

Debt and taxes are typically viewed as bad, but both of these can also be used to create wealth. There are basically two kinds of debt – good and bad. Bad debt comes from borrowing money for liabilities like using credit cards to buy big TVs or borrowing a line of credit on your home. You want to stay out of bad debt. Good debt is used to purchase assets. Think back to the earlier example of purchasing rental property. When you purchase that property using the money from a loan, you can collect money from your tenant to pay off debt and then pocket the profit.

Learn How to Make Your Own Financial Decisions

When you aren’t confident in your financial knowledge, always ask experts for help. But learning how to make financially intelligent decisions will help you think for yourself and make wise decisions every day. The wisdom needed to be financially literate only comes from the desire to learn about what courses of action are best.

April is Financial Literacy Month and First Security State Bank is using this as an opportunity to help our customers become wise money managers. If you have any questions, please contact us!

 

3 Easy Improvements to Get Your Home Ready to Sell

Getting your house ready to go on the market doesn't need to be a huge task. Small improvements go a long ways.

Getting your house ready to go on the market doesn’t need to be a huge task. Small improvements go a long ways.

It is almost spring! This means that houses will be popping up on the market left and right. Will yours be one of them? If so, you are probably trying to get your place up to snuff and ready for listing. When you start looking for all of your home’s small inconveniences, it can seem overwhelming. But we have a few easy and inexpensive improvements that you can make to get your home ready!

Scrub your appliances

You may not think that your refrigerator is too dirty. After all, you keep the food you plan to eat in there, right? Start moving food around and you will probably find a lot of drips and spills that have created a sticky mess. Take all the food out of your fridge and freezer and scrub it down with an all-purpose cleaner. While you are at it, clean the oven and dishwasher filter too. Your kitchen appliances will look like new again!

Repurpose

We all have that “catch-all” closet that is constantly getting one more piece of junk shoved in. Go through the clutter and figure out what you want to keep, toss or donate. Come up with a new purpose for the space so it doesn’t become the junk closet again. When you give your empty spaces a job to do, you will maximize your living spaces.

Follow the 5-10 minute rule

Once you get your house looking its best, it is just a matter of keeping it clean and tidy. Easier said than done right? We suggest that you follow the 5-10 minute rule. If you can pick up, clean, or fix something in 5-10 minutes or less, do the job right away. Create a running list for the bigger weekend projects.

Getting your home ready to sell can seem overwhelming but tackling all the little projects adds up to a big difference! Even if you aren’t selling your home, motivate yourself to complete some spring cleaning projects!

If you are looking to purchase a new home or refinance your current home, First Security State Bank’s mortgage lenders are ready to help! Contact Robert Manning and Ronald Andresen for assistance.

Are You Ready to Retire? Take Our Quiz to Find Out!

Have you thought about retirement? Take our quiz to find out how much you know!

Have you thought about retirement? Take our quiz to find out how much you know!

If you are 50 or older, it is time to start thinking about your exit from the working world. The sooner that you start planning your retirement strategy, the more time you will have to explore all the different options you have and take the necessary actions. The question is “Are you really ready to retire?” Ask yourself these questions to find out!

  1. If you were born between 1943 and 1954, what percentage of your full Social Security benefit will you lose if you collect at 62 when you are eligible, rather than at the normal retirement age of 66?
    1. 10%
    2. 25%
    3. 50%
  2. If you retire at 66 and inflation over the next 25 years averages 3 percent, how much buying power would you lose by the time you are 91, without inflation-adjusted cost of living increases?
    1. One third of your buying power
    2. More than half
    3. 80%
  3. Retirement savings must last the rest of your life. What are the chances that at least one member of a 65-year-old married couple will live to be over 92?
    1. 10%
    2. 25%
    3. 50%
  4. To make sure that you don’t outlive your savings, what’s a good rule of thumb for annual withdrawals?
    1. Don’t touch the money until you really need it
    2. Restrict your withdrawals to 4 percent of your savings during the first year of retirement. Increase withdrawals to keep pace with inflation in the future.
    3. Withdraw the money only in case of emergencies.
  5. How much should a 65-year-old couple retiring today expect to spend on out-of-pocket healthcare costs throughout their retirement years?
    1. $40,000
    2. $140,000
    3. $240,000
  6. The average cost of a private room in a nursing home is around $81,000 a year. Who covers that cost if you need care?
    1. Your health insurance
    2. Medicare
    3. You do, unless you have special long-term care insurance

So how did you do? If you got most of the questions right, way to go! You are off to a good start toward your retirement goals. If you think you have some work to do, let First Security State Bank help! We offer an online retirement calculator to help you figure out what it will take to create a secure retirement. We want to help you feel confident and secure in your later years. Contact us today!