How-To Give Your Children a Financial Education with Their Allowance

Financial Literacy

Throughout the month of April, the United State of America celebrates Financial Literacy Month. In efforts to catapult our nation’s level of financial knowledge, April has become the catalyst to help children and adults alike, learn the ins and outs of the finances. With topics ranging from budgeting, lending, saving, and beyond, this month offers an incredible opportunity to better understand the potential your money holds.

An allowance, when treated as an educational opportunity, gives your child hands-on experience in budgeting, saving, spending, investing, earning, negotiating, and tracking their money. With these tactics, you and your child can make the most of their allowance while growing their financial literacy.

  • Shy away from weekly allowance. A bi-weekly or monthly allowance better reflects a real-world payment schedule than a weekly handout. Additionally, staggered money instead of a steady cash flow opens opportunities to practice budgeting for both spending and savings goals.
  • Pay financial, not household, chores. Paying your children for completing basic household duties can shift their helpfulness from intrinsic to monetary. Instead, link their allowance to financial chores, or spending responsibilities that they take off your hands. While you cover school lunch and back-to-school clothes, vacation souvenirs or sporting event concessions are up to their discretion, allowing them to make financial decisions from a young age.
  • Open a savings account. It’s never too early to start saving. Open a saving’s account with your child and explain the power of compound interest. Establish that they pull 10% of their total monthly allowance to funnel into savings, enabling them to budget the remaining 90% while teaching the discipline and value of saving.
  • Show them the options for their funds. Teach your children the potential their money has by creating four labeled jars for spending, saving, giving, investing. Each time your kids are given money via chores or other revenue sources, have them choose which jar to put the funds in. The spending jar can be used on small purchases like candy bars or little toys, and the saving jar can be put towards larger items that take more time to save.

With each dollar your children learn to save, they will continue to propel their education forward. If you’d like to get your little one’s financial education off to the right start stop by First Security State Bank today and enroll them in their very own checking or savings account.

Spring Home Renovations with a Home Equity Line of Credit

Home Equity

With warm weather approaching spring is the ideal time to shake off the dust and get your house back into shape! Get started on your next home renovation with a strategic Home Equity Line of Credit from First Security State Bank. Our custom financing allows you to withdraw only the funds you need along the course of your future project. Inspiration can be found everywhere when updating common areas such as the kitchen, bathrooms, basement, or outdoor living area. See what these average home renovations cost with this handy guide courtesy of First Security State Bank.

Kitchen Remodel: Creating your ideal culinary environment is more than just choosing cabinets and granite. With all the updates and finishing work, a typical Midwestern kitchen remodel can cost around $15,000 to complete. Carefully crafting the heart of your home takes concentrated decision making and long term planning. Consider updating your kitchen appliances to save you time and energy while preparing future meals. You may want to refinish or replace worn out flooring to match the new feel of your fresh remodel.

Bathroom Remodel: Giving your common space a much needed facelift can help you add value to your home. With updates as simple as new hardware and a tasteful backsplash you can bring some timeless style to a functional space. When undertaking a full renovation, features like a walk-in shower or a double vanity can bring a bold statement to the room. The average bathroom remodel in Iowa typically runs under $10,000 for a completely revamped space.

New Deck: Building a fun outdoor patio or deck can open up the area for countless fun family activities. Costing around $6000 for the average Midwestern deck, you can complete this exciting renovation in time and under budget. Spice up your new construction with added rails to hold beverages or food during grill outs and get-togethers.

Finishing a Basement: Depending on your foundation and other structural issues, most basement renovations center on adding dry wall, placing new flooring, and waterproofing the entirety of the room. Typically costing under $25,000, a finished basement can serve as additional space for an office or play room, increasing the livable square footage of your home.

There are endless projects to begin your spring to-do list this season. Let First Security State Bank help you get started on your next home renovation with a tailored Home Equity Line of Credit. Speak with one of our helpful lenders to get started today!

Auto Financing 101: Saving For Your Vehicle

Auto Financing

Purchasing a new vehicle is always an exciting venture. At First Security State Bank we want to help you maximize your buying experience with a trusted and affordable auto loan. Before you start roaming the car lots, glance at our easy auto check list to see what type of vehicle both you and your budget are searching for.

Determine if you want a new or used vehicle.

Many auto dealers today offer both new and used. While new can offer updated technology and the assurance of no prior owners, choosing a used vehicle can drastically diminish cost and offers a comparable quality with moderate mileage.

Decide on a budget and a timeline.

When choosing the right vehicle to purchase, there are many questions to help you research which option may be best on your pocket book in the long run.

-How long do you want to drive this vehicle?

-What does your budget allow you to spend for the down payment and installments?

-When do you need your vehicle by?

-What type of MPG do you need to keep gas costs within your overall budget?

-How long do you want to be paying the loan off? (0-5 years)

With these questions in mind you can better view the credentials needed in the ideal vehicle for you and your family.

Save your down payment.

Speak with one of our experienced lenders to discuss your auto financing needs. It’s great to start saving now, to help secure some money down for your new purchase. When estimating the total cost of your new vehicle be sure to include any maintenance work, tires, or other repairs a car may need.

Talk to us!

If you have any questions or want to begin the process of auto financing, call First Security State Bank at (319) 266-0474 or stop by today. We’re happy to help, and look forward to making your next auto buying dream a reality.

The Miracle on Ice: If You Believe It You Can Achieve It

Miracle On Ice

Sometimes there are stories so inspiring they give you chills, make you want to go out and accomplish something spectacular simply because you now know the impossible can occur. In the financial realm of 2016 we believe anything is possible, and if you dream it, we want to help you achieve it.  So today if you’re a little short on motivation, enjoy this tale of the incredible feat by the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team, known as the Miracle on Ice.

In the summer of 1979 U.S. hockey coach Herb Brooks held auditions for the 1980 U.S. Winter Olympic Hockey Team. With a final roster of 20 young men, averaging an age of 21, the U.S. had its youngest team in history. Brooks decided to retain only one player from the prior Olympic team, Buzz Schnieder. Brooks knew that the U.S. was to be considered an underdog, and during the exhibition games he insisted the players learn a more European style of play to build strength and cohesiveness. In their final exhibition game on February 9, the U.S. played their future opponent, the Soviet Union National Team. They lost in an agonizing defeat of 10-3.

Once the Olympic Games began, the Soviet team paved their way to the top, scoring large leads against the majority of their opponents. During their first game, the U.S. team tied Sweden with a 2-2 game, pushing both teams forward. After several close games, the U.S. found themselves in the semi-finals playing against the Soviet Union National Team, which had defeated them less than two weeks prior.

In the first period of the game, the Soviets managed to sink a puck and gain the first lead. The U.S. managed to gain a goal, keeping toe-to-toe with the Soviets after another goal, eventually ending the period in a 2-2 tie with a last second goal by the U.S. In the second period the Soviets again took the lead gaining one culminating goal. After only eight minutes in the final period, the U.S. found its momentum. Through an incredible power play the U.S. earned a goal, and then another only minutes later. The Soviets began to panic, yet Brooks kept his players calm. He continued to keep the U.S. on offense making several other attempts on goal, repeating to his players, “Play your game! Play your game!”

As the seconds of the final period counted down, the sportscaster for ABC, Al Michaels joined in, famously saying, “Do you believe in miracles?! YES!!!!” When the final buzzer rang the field house was filled with exclamations from the U.S. fans as the players stormed the ice, cementing the moment as one of the best sports moments in the 20th Century.

After the game, sports anchor Jim McKay shared a comparison of the game as a group of Canadian college football players defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Against all odds and predictions, the 1980 U.S. Winter Olympic hockey became a real life David and Goliath, knocking down the Soviet Union National Team and making hockey history. The U.S. later went on to defeat Finland in the finals to gain the gold medal.

Anything is possible if you plan and work to achieve your goals. We are happy to share this incredible tale to inspire you to reach for the stars. Share you financial aspirations with us, and we will work to help you do what perhaps you never thought was possible.

A Little Goes a Long Way: 11 Random Acts of Kindness

Random Acts of Kindness

At First Security State Bank we pride ourselves in going the extra mile for our customers. Each and every day we are fortunate enough to work with the most amazing people, our customers! We challenge you today to take the extra step with us, and see how you can help one another, together.

There are so many small and valuable things we can do to impact the life of someone else. While some kind acts are financially bound, others can be simple tasks, such as opening a door. Here are 11 simple acts of kindness that you can do to brighten the day of a stranger, courtesy of First Security State Bank.

  1. Pay for the person’s food or beverage behind you in line.
  2. Write a letter to a soldier.
  3. Donate new and used toys to daycares or children’s hospitals.
  4. Cook a meal for a family who may be without.
  5. Give a good server the largest tip you can afford.
  6. Scoop snow or do other yard work for your neighbor.
  7. Pick up trash at an area park.
  8. Offer assistance to a charitable organization with your time and skills.
  9. Bake treats for your area school’s teachers.
  10. Visit a nursing home and spend time with the residents.
  11. During hunting season donate your deer to the Iowa HUSH program to feed Iowa citizens in need.

In addition to being kinder in 2016 you may find yourself becoming happier as well! With so many opportunities to make a difference, this list will help you get started! Add your own acts of kindness and see what you can do to better the lives of others this year.

If you’d like to contribute to others in a financial avenue let us know, we’d love to help! We can assist you in remaining anonymous in donations, arrange monthly transfers, dispense cash for personal giving, and more!

Winning with Basketball Budgeting

Basketball Budgeting

Basketball season is in full swing and there are many comparisons to the sport that can apply to building your own personal budget. From knowing when to pass an expense, to hitting a three with an unexpected bonus, budgeting is a lot like basketball. Learn how to win at structuring your finances with this helpful game plan.

Brush up on your coaching.

Every team is built around the choices of its coach, just as your budget is. The coach selects the players based off merit, potential, and cohesiveness to create a well-rounded team structure. This coach represents you, you decide what direction your budget will take you, and if one piece isn’t working the way you desire it is your responsibility to make the change.

Recruit your team.

Every team has three key player types, centers, forwards, and guards. The center is going to be your all-around player, in the middle of all the action, just like your income. In your budget, this income is going to be after both taxes and your designated savings, this is your center player. Now those savings, giving you a financial buffer, are acting as your guard. Whether it’s a retirement savings, emergency fund, or personal investments, your guard player covers it all. Something has to be driving your budget to financial success, and that is where your forward comes in. Spending is the determining factor in the success of your budget. Just as in basketball, if no one takes the ball up the court there is no potential to score. By managing your spending, you create momentum through your forward player to move your money in a positive direction.

Keep your elbows in.

Every game comes with rules to keep the players safe, staying within these guidelines helps to protect you from receiving any unwanted fouls in the realms of finances.

Foul 1: Spending more than you earn.    Penalty: Paying Interest and losing savings capabilities.

Foul 2: Not having a savings plan.              Penalty: No structure for emergencies or retirement.

Foul 3: Carrying bad credit.                          Penalty: Added obstacles in gaining financial freedom.

Just as in basketball, practicing the fundamentals will push you to better your skills. If you work to create a successful budget based on what you can afford, your consistent monthly expenses, moderated spending, and a sound investment plan, you will be a winning coach in no time.

Basketball Budget

If you have in questions in how to begin a savings or checking account to help get the ball going, give us a call today!

Teaching Kids to Save

Child

Building a successful financial future for your little one starts with a strong foundation. At First Security State Bank we offer financial opportunities for all ages! Grow the building blocks of fiscal understanding with your kiddos using these fun and easy lessons.

  1. See the value of savings: Before they understand the concept of retirement, help them see the advantage of long term savings. Just as companies offer to match their employee’s savings plan contributions, offer to match your child’s investment in a purchase. If they save for half the amount, you’ll contribute the other half.
  2. Create a goal chart: Saving for a car, a college degree, or a home takes years of planning. Let your child see the value of long term savings by helping them visually track progress in their own investment. Choose a purchase such as a new tech device or a day trip to an amusement park. Based on their allowance and other sources of income, draw a column of boxes to represent the number of weeks of savings it will require, then draw an X or place a sticker in each box once they save the weekly amount.
  3. Open a savings account: An interest-bearing savings account can help your child track their money as it expands through simple deposits and compound interest. Open an account for your child early on to educate them on the concept of finances, and have them deposit a percentage of their allowance each month to see their own wealth grow.
  4. Demonstrate checking: When your child is comfortable with complex addition and subtraction, have them assist you as you track your deposits and purchases while balancing your checkbook. Show them a bank statement and explain the different components, identifying which numbers help you balance your checking account. Take this opportunity to explain the relationship between savings and checking accounts and give examples of why and when you would use each.
  5. Set an example: Your children look to you to set a precedent, so if you save, they save, and if you spend, they spend. Set up a savings jar at home for extra change and designate these additional funds to fun family events such as ice cream trips, movie nights, and more. Show them the power of saving one coin at a time!

First Security State Bank wants to see you and your little ones succeed. Stop in today to learn about our children’s savings account options!

Home Buying

Home Buying

Buying a new home is an exciting and thrilling new venture in your financial history. Navigating these uncharted waters can be tricky, but First Security State Bank is here to help you along the way. Stick to these home buying do’s and don’ts and you’ll be set for smooth sailing in purchasing your new home.

Do:

  • Secure a loan before a home: While the hunt for the first house is exciting, your final decision will depend on the mortgage you can secure. Your first step in the home buying search should take place with a loan officer who can assess whether you qualify for a mortgage, and if so, at what price. This provides a framework guiding the search so you don’t expend time and money on houses outside your means.
  • Take your time: The average homeowner occupies their house for nine years before relocating, so additional time spent thoroughly searching for homes can reap a decade of benefit. Track trends in the housing market to buy during the most cost-effective season. Weigh personal, important factors beyond price listing, such as neighborhood quality, length of commute, and potential for expansion and home improvement.
  • Consult the professionals: The listing agent represents the interests of the seller, not the buyer. As a first-time home buyer, you’ll need as much trusted, unbiased advice as you can garner. Ask friends and family to recommend their real estate agents so you receive counsel from a professional with a track-record of success.

Don’t:

  • Look at homes well over your budget: You set a budget for a reason. Stick to it! Paying more than you designated for a home can financially limit you to update and repair as needed. By spending within your originally determined limit, you’ll avoid heftier mortgages and continue to withhold extra funds for any household incidentals.
  • Empty savings into a down payment: Securing your mortgage requires a down payment. Putting down less than 20% requires you to buy mortgage insurance. To avoid this added expense, some home buyers drain their savings to cover the down payment upfront. Liquidating your account, however, leaves you without a safety net in the event of job loss or medical emergency. The expense of mortgage insurance is worth the financial cushion you can leave in your account, and you can always eliminate the insurance once you’ve paid off 20% and opt to refinance your mortgage.
  • Speed through the closing: The end is in sight, but don’t let the glow of the finish line obscure your view of the paperwork. Review documents with a fine-tooth comb, double check that nothing has been altered in your agreement, and ensure that it describes your understanding of the transaction to a “T”. A day or two of extra analyzing can save you years of headaches!

At First Security State Bank, we offer a number of mortgage options to make securing your home as feasible as possible. To schedule your first meeting with one of our knowledgeable mortgage bankers, give us a call at (319) 266-0474.

Holiday Season Traditions for Your Family to Try

holiday traditions

Decorating the tree, singing carols, playing in the snow… it may not feel like the holidays without participating in these time-tested traditions. Make the season even more memorable with a new tradition or two that uniquely brings your family together, courtesy of First Security State Bank!

Invent a crazy dinner: Enjoy some time away from cooking in the kitchen this holiday season. Start a new tradition and bring the whole family to the grocery store to choose a $3-$5 item each, to be a part of this exciting family dinner. Kids can choose delicious treats not normally found in a household dinner, and siblings can join together to purchase larger more delectable items. Bring your goodies home and create a one of a kind feast that encompasses each of the relatives’ ingredients. This will be a dinner to be remembered and will turn into a story that continues to be shared until the next family holiday!

Decorate the tree skirt: Purchase a simple single color tree skirt from your nearest dollar store or big box depo.  Trace your child’s hand on the outside with a black sharpie, writing in their name and age until they are able to do so. Track their growth each year as you add an annual handprint underneath the tree.

Update the holiday memory book: Find a scrapbook around the house or at your nearest craft store. Pull a blank page from the book and write down your family’s highs and lows for the past year, below it attach your family’s holiday card. During your annual holiday gathering pass the book to your guests, asking them to do the same. Now you have a treasured book with the year’s celebrations showcasing each of your extended family.

Tour the town: Snuggle up in comfy pajamas, coats, and soft blankets all while piling into the family vehicle. Tour around town to discover the best light displays and exhibits. Read your local paper ahead of time to find the best illuminated neighborhoods and businesses. Take a tally as you go, and vote at the end of the trip which light show was the fan favorite. Bonus points for piping hot cocoa and a stowaway of holiday treats to share.

Write keepsake letters: Each year on this special holiday, take several minutes to write a letter to each of your kids sharing stories of gifts, reactions, and excitements that made this occasion special for them. Detail the silly stories and include your aspirations for them in the coming year. Keep these letters in a small keepsake box to share with each child upon their eighteenth birthday.

Operation Holiday Cheer: It’s better to give than to receive! Find ways to lift up your neighbors, friends, and members of the community this season through simple kind gestures. Lead by example in showing your children how to give back to others through shoveling snow, hanging lights, or baking treats, all for the betterment of another person. They will get to experience the joy of giving to others with no expectations or strings attached.

We wish you and your family a happy holidays from your friends at First Security State Bank!

Top Questions on Tax Deductible Holiday Giving

tax deductible giving

During the season of giving, Americans dig into their pockets to give back to their favorite charities. You can give and receive this holiday season with tax deductions on charitable donations, minimizing taxable income and lowering the total amount you owe come April 15. Check out charitable giving FAQs from First Security State Bank to help you make the most of your generosity.

Where does my gift need to go to make it tax deductible?

Score a deduction by itemizing and filing a 1040 form when you donate to a qualified organization. Non-profit institutions like religious groups, public government causes, nonprofit schools and hospitals, public parks and recreation areas, and war veterans’ groups fall under the qualified category, whereas for-profit entities, individuals, or political candidates for public office, don’t make the cut.

What’s with itemizing?

There are two types of deductions: standard and itemized. Standard is a fixed amount that reduces the income you’re taxed based on your filing status and age. Itemized lets you list your deductions on a schedule, which includes filings like property taxes and charitable donations. If you claim standard instead of itemized on gifts, you may not receive the deduction you deserve.

How much can I deduct from charitable donations?

If your cash benefits a public organization, deduct up to 50 percent from that year’s Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). That means that a $25,000 donation from your $40,000 AGI will only let you claim $20,000 on your charitable gift in the year that you give it. You can, however, roll over that extra $5,000 up to five years after donating. For contributions to private donations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations, use the same rules but swap 50 percent with 30.

I donated stuff, not cash. Does that count?

Yep! Household goods (clothing, furniture, certain appliances, etc.) and other personal property can be claimed based on fair market value. However, it must be in good or better shape that when it was first purchased for the IRS to count it as a deduction. Regardless of the item, keep track of receipts from your donated items, which is especially required for donations of more than $250.

More questions about how your charitable giving plays out on your tax forms? Our financial advisors would love to lend a hand. Give us a call at First Security State Bank, (319) 266 – 0474, and have a happy holidays!