How Reading Can Improve Your Financial Well Being

Does being a reader make you more of a leader? Well that might be the case in life and the financial world.  When infamous Warren Buffett was asked about his success he pointed to a stack of books and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.” Most likely if you’re reading this article, you already see some value in the declaration and are here for affirmation. However, for those of you who still aren’t convinced and maybe even guffawed at the notion of fitting in that much reading into an already hectic schedule, let First Security State Bank give you some insight to consider.

It’s a Low-Cost Investment

Instead of taking an expensive flight to a costly conference, you might consider swinging by your nearest bookstore. Because there is no limit to where knowledge can take you, investing in books is a low investment, with an infinite ROI. You can learn from the best in your business field, or pick up a novel.  The jury is still out on whether memory or comprehension is better with print vs. digital, so get what works best for your lifestyle. Owning the book is preferred if you want to become more engaged by writing in the margins, but stopping at your local library is another great option!

Makes You More Employable

You can make a great difference in your success by expanding your education. Generally, knowledge cannot be lost. What you learn from reading a few books will set you apart, in that you already know something that has taken others years to learn from experience. Unfortunately, only 42% of adults will read a book after they graduate from college-just think about how much of an advantage that can give you! You will be a great resource for your team and have greater ability to think on your feet because of the reading “vitamins” you consume. This makes you desirable to potential employers and encourages a higher salary because of the value you bring to the workplace.

Boosts Brain Power

You’ve heard it said, knowledge is power. Are you unhappy about your financial situation? Pick up the Wall Street Journal or the financial matters section in newspapers. You are sure to gain a wealth of information to help you out of your current situation. Some studies show reading will help strengthen your analytical skills, increase your vocabulary and help you to prioritize goals. Your knowledge of the world will be stronger, and you may just notice your financial skills sharpening as your mind is being refined. This is especially true when you read chapter books, as it encourages deep reading and assessment.

The majority of what you read will not only make you a more rounded individual, it will help you to make more sound, financial decisions. You will be a greater financial asset to your company, and yourself. So grab a book, a hot cup of coffee and settle into your next lesson!

 

Tips to Reduce Financial Stress – From Panic to Plan

If you are feeling overwhelmed and losing sleep at night because of your finances, you are not alone. There are many factors that can contribute to financial stress such as: kids, marriage, debt, pregnancy, job status and physical health.  According to the American Psychological Association’s 2015 survey, 64% of stress is attributed to money. If you are experiencing a creeping sense of panic over your finances, take a deep breath and exhale. We are going to walk you through a simple plan to get you back in control.

1). Identify Stressors

Take time to write out a list of everything that is weighing on you. This can be financial burdens or anything that adds to your anxieties. Maybe you are struggling to meet your mortgage payments or taking care of an aging parent. Maybe it’s an addiction to spending with a mountain of debt surrounding you. Everyone has a story and struggle. Listing out and identifying these is not only therapeutic, but will be the start to knowing what you can and cannot change. What are the problems, and what are your realistic goals? Take this financial stress test to get a better understanding of where you are at and where you would like to be.

2). Create a Budget

This will be the map to the end of your tunnel. Doubtless, you have heard the importance of budgeting. Now it is time to heed those words into your plan. There are many financial gurus out there with their preferred budgeting outlines. We would recommend speaking to one of our financial advisors at First Security State Bank, or learning more about people like Dave Ramsey and his program. When you are crafting your budget, keep in mind the goals you have created and the daily habits you want to develop. This is how you learn to make the most of your income. By adding a goal of establishing an Emergency Fund, you will help to eliminate future stressors should and when misfortune occurs.

3). Stay Positive & Get Help

The key to staying on track, is staying positive. Once you have your budget set, you are able to track your spending. You may fall off the wagon a time or two, but don’t let shame keep you from starting over. Reach out to a trusted friend or join an accountability group like Shopaholics Anonymous. Be sure to let them know your goals and your struggles. Having someone to keep you accountable will help you to not only relieve current stress but prevent future panic.

 

Web Security for Small Business Owners – What You Need to Know

It’s a typical day for a local real estate agent, until the click of an email threatens the entire business. Large corporations, small businesses and as shown in recent days, not even the government is immune to cyber attacks.

Why it’s Important

If you’re a small business owner, you may think you are too small for cybercriminals. However, the opposite is true as they don’t particularly care about the size of the data, but the value. If you have customer’s contact information, health data, credit card information or intellectual property- they want it now. Did you know that 43 percent of cyber attacks target small business, and that normal hacks to operations cost an average of $955,429 to recover? It’s of the utmost importance that your customers feel they can trust you with their information and that you follow through on that trust. Cybercrime is becoming the world’s largest business, and here is what you can do to protect your business -even if you don’t have a lot of room in your budget for security measures.

1). Tight Communication

You may not have the ability to provide each of your employees with their own technology devices, which means they may use personal devices for company use. This can open you up to many potential risks. You may want to create guidelines for using these devices and ensure that they are regularly updating passwords and following through on security updates. Fax is still the most secure form of communication in the business world-don’t be afraid to still utilize this!

2). An Action Plan

Create a simple security plan and share it with all of your employees, so they know that everyone is responsible for protecting data. It is worth the investment to hire an IT consultant to be monitoring your protocols, but if you cannot do that at this time, designate a current employee to oversee this. They should be informed, oversee basic security requirements and ensure the requirements are updated and used. Sixty percent of businesses don’t survive a security attack. For the longevity of your business, it is incredibly important to take this seriously. Use the FCC’s helpful Cyber Planner here.

3). Strong Passwords, Patching & Encryption Software

Most businesses stay ahead of the game by simply creating secure passwords and patching their systems. Patching fixes security vulnerabilities with bug fixes and improving performance. Hackers can easily crack into your business through a weak web or email server.  As a small business, setting up a Virtual Private Server would be a terrific option combined with encryption software. So even if a hacker was able to get into your system, they wouldn’t be able to decipher the material. An additional layer of security for clients would be to adopt PayPal or Square for protecting your customer’s financial information.

4). Educate

Unfortunately, most security breaches are due to a negligent employee or contractor. This reiterates how important it is to hire people you trust. Although you may not be able to thwart off every threat, educating your employees about cyber security either through weekly articles or full courses will help to better protect your growing small business. These practices should be integrated across all areas of your operations as well as having a response plan if this does occur. Remember, nobody is safe from Cybercrime.

 

Dreamin’ of Summer- Saving for Your Next Vacation

The monotony of the day to day can get you down in the season of cold and gray. However, that beach on your screensaver doesn’t have to be an esteemed fantasy if you are ready to take some action. You can turn your ideal vacation into a reality by starting to save and plan that getaway now, before travel season hits in full.

Create a Budget

If you are thinking about a vacation, you are definitely going to need to establish a budget to keep your spending in check. Some budgeters swear by the 50/30/20 rule. This is a simplified budget where you allot 50% of your after-tax income to necessities, 30% for wants and 20% for savings. Adjust this as you need. We all know that adding kids into the mixture of vacations increases prices exponentially, so you may want to increase savings, and see what you can go without.  See if you can even tap into a Grandparents Travel Grant.

Set Up an Account

Stop by First Security State Bank to speak with one of our specialists about options for savings accounts. We recommend setting up an automatic withdrawal to come from your account each month, or asking your employer to put a portion of your paycheck into a different account. For a majority of people, if the money is there, it will get spent, so having an automatic savings will keep you on track of your goals.

Decide How Much You Need

Get a grasp of how much your vacation will cost you. That means calculating hotels, food and flight. However, don’t forget the expenses you will still have while traveling. You will still have your normal bills and you may need to pay a local kid to get your mail or a business to board Fido. Divide this amount by the number of weeks until your desired vacation date.

Go the Extra Mile

When calculating this all out, don’t be dismayed. This vacation can be attainable for you, as long as you stick to the process. It just may not be in the exact time frame you desire. Keep yourself motivated by listening to music, looking at pictures and eating food reminiscent of your destination. Go the extra mile to scrap for savings everywhere you can. Clean out your closets and post them for sale. Start a change jar or carpool to work. You will be surprised that by putting in the extra effort your savings can increase fairly quickly as your spending depletes and scrappiness grows. Best of luck, and please let us know how we can help you reach your goals at First Security State Bank!

Cyber Security 101 – Learning the Basics to Keep Yourself Protected

Welcome to Cyber Security 101. Grab your pen and paper, it’s time to take some notes about cyber security! While there won’t be a test at the end, there are real-world consequences to disregarding your online security. You wouldn’t want your personal information in the hands of the wrong person.

With so much to think about, you’re probably wondering where you’re supposed to start. Luckily for you, First Security State Bank is here to school you in all things cyber security.

Careful Clicking – Between social media, websites and emails, we’re clicking on things all the time. Sometimes these links can be associated with what’s called “phishing attacks.” This is a tactic used to gather your personal data, like passwords and credit card numbers. Most of the time this type of attack occurs within an email. That’s why it’s critical to verify email addresses from trusted entities you know. Never open documents from these unusual email senders.

Password Protection – Creating complex passwords may seem like a no-brainer but about 35 percent of users have weak passwords and about 65 percent of passwords could be cracked. The goal should be to make it something that’s unrelated to you, so not using your birthday, your dog’s name, etc. We suggest using a password generator, or even making your password a sentence.

We understand you log into numerous accounts daily, and you can’t possibly remember all of these unique passwords. Even though your password list could be three feet long, you should never write them on a sticky note and perch them on your computer screen. Check out password management apps to help you keep all of your passwords in order.

Savvy Shopping

Online shopping continues to grow and is more enticing with offers like free shipping, online exclusive products and sales. With such a shift in purchasing habits, our security habits should also be changing. You should only be shopping on secure sites, which can be identified by the “https” at the start of the web address. If there’s no “s”, the site is not encrypted and your information may not be secure.

Another way to protect yourself is to never give more information than required. If they don’t ask for your phone number or address, do not provide it. This information could fall into the wrong hands. Always be sure to read their privacy policy so you know where your information is going and how it’s being used.

Staying Up to Date

If you don’t already, now is the perfect time to get an antivirus or antimalware software program for your internet accessible devices. These programs work to protect your devices and help you stay ahead of any attempts to break security on your computer.

For those who have a security program in place, make sure you’re updating the software regularly. Software companies are constantly working to fight potential security risks, so whenever there’s an update available take the time to download it.

We hope you took some great notes and are ready to tackle all things cyber security. By taking these few steps you can help protect yourself from a world of trouble and inconvenience. If you have any more questions about cyber security, contact us today. We’d be happy to answer your questions. Class dismissed!

 

New Season. New You. New Financial Goals.

It’s a new season and a new month, making it the perfect time to set new financial goals! While money management may not be your strongest asset, we believe with a little goal setting, a little discipline and a little help from First Security State Bank, you can end up surprising yourself how much of a financial all-star you really are! Start with these quick tips and watch your money grow.

Create a budget and stick to it – Budgets don’t have to be hard. Write down your outgoing expenses and any incoming money. If you’re spending more than taking in, it’s time to eliminate some costs. If you need help with monitoring your spending, we can help you get on track.
The importance and purpose of a budget is to help you spend less than you earn so you can save money. So by not sticking with the budget, what’s the point of having one? Create it, use it, and stick to it.

Eliminate Wasteful Spending– Next round of bills you receive look at them closely. Do you need every service you’re paying for? Are you being charged unknown fees? Go through your bills with a fine tooth comb and raise any flags so you’re not nickel and dimed.

We live in a time of instant gratification, but that often leads to financial consequences. Before every purchase, ask yourself “Do I really need this?” If you find the answer is no, leave it behind and move forward.

Build Your Savings – Every time you’re paid, the first deposit should be into your savings account. Essentially, you’re paying your future self for emergencies and retirement.
If you haven’t done so already, now is the perfect time to set up your 401k or 403(b). Generally, companies match their employees to a certain percentage and that’s free money you should be taking advantage of today.

Leave money you’re saving alone. There are penalties for withdrawing money early from certain accounts. Why pay a penalty for money you worked hard to put in there? Let it sit tight and watch it grow!

We hope these tips help you work to your financial goals this month or season. We are available to help you with your financial management if you need it. Just call or stop by to get your goals underway.

Habits of People Who Live Debt-Free.

If you’re an adult living in America, chances are you’re living with debt. According to Pew Charitable Trusts, roughly 80% of American adults are in financial debt. You can see how it happens, between student loan payments, mortgage payments, car payments and credit card use, it’s easy to get yourself into debt and it can be tough to climb out.

 

But, how can you help yourself live debt-free? It is possible, and First Security State Bank has some tips that you can use. Some are tips that you can do right away, while others will require a dedicated approach over an extended period of time.

 

Create a Plan for the Future

It’s easier to implement money saving strategies when you have a goal in mind. Whether you’re looking to save for a purchase or to pay down debt, you need to set a budget to follow every month, and then stick to it. It’s also crucial for you to closely monitor your finances by checking your statements and reviewing your account balances so you can note any abnormalities from the budget you’ve set.

 

Trim the Fat

The best way to make sure you can keep yourself out of debt is to limit your spending. This is easier said than done. Whether it’s limiting your credit card use to emergencies or saying no to a friend who wants to go out for a night on the town, cutting back on spending is the best way to keep yourself out of debt. If you choose to live on less than you make, you’ll save long-term.

 

Cash is Your Friend

While your credit and debit card make it incredibly easy to make purchases, carrying cash can actually help you spend less in the long run. If you limit yourself to carrying cash, you know exactly how much money you have (or don’t have). This allows you to be more careful with your money and more diligent about your purchase decisions.

Living debt-free takes hard work and dedication. But, just like anything that requires patience, the payoff once you’ve reached your goal is worth all the work. Let First Security State Bank help you develop the habits to live debt-free so you can live with less stress.

 

Organizing Your Finances for the Holiday Rush

The holidays are a time where we surround ourselves with family, friends and the people we love most. Whether you’re staying close to home or traveling across the country, the holiday season means you’ll be eating good food and spending plenty of time shopping.

And while all that food may mean your clothes fit a little tighter, the shopping can have a similar impact on your wallet. It’s important to make sure your finances are organized before the real holiday rush is upon us. Not only will you be better prepared, but you’ll be less stressed so you can enjoy the holidays with your loved ones.

Make your holiday season more enjoyable by using these tips from First Security State Bank.

Technology Is Your Friend

It’s easier than ever to use technology to organize your finances. Take advantage of online and mobile banking to get a real-time look at your account balances. Utilize the mobile deposit feature of your mobile banking app to deposit personal checks to your account so the funds are available sooner. There are also several financial management tools available online that will help you with setting a budget and establishing saving goals.

Set Alerts

You already know that your bills are due at different times throughout the month, but it’s important to remember that the holidays may cause changes in those due dates. Verify any upcoming due dates and make note of any changes from your regular monthly payment schedule. Utilize the bill pay features of your online banking account to make sure payments are scheduled well in advance, and set up alerts to make sure you’re reminded of your payment and to verify that the payment went through.

Hold On To Your Statements

This is hard to remember throughout the year, but keeping all of your statements organized is important. Something as simple as keeping separate manila folders for your savings and checking account statements, IRA statements, 401(k) records and other financial documents can go a long way and won’t cost you much.

Get Rid of High Interest Debt

It can seem easier to use your credit card when holiday shopping. To make sure you can use your credit during the holidays, make sure you’ve paid down anything you owe.

Organizing your finances before the holidays hit will make the season more enjoyable so you can focus on the things that matter most. Contact First Security State Bank to make sure your finances are set up for a happy holiday season.

 

 

How to Financially Prepare for Natural Disasters

When it comes to preparing your finances for certain occasions, natural disasters usually aren’t one of the events that come to mind. However, not creating an emergency fund for the unexpected could hurt you immensely since Mother Nature doesn’t care whether you’re prepared or not. That’s why First Security Bank has put together a few tips on how you can ready yourself for a natural disaster.

Make Your Fund A Priority

While some disasters come with a warning, others do not. If you try to prepare too quickly and scramble to figure out what the best strategy for saving your emergency fund is, things will fall apart. Adding to your fund by taking a little out of each paycheck will help you to begin saving quickly. For example, an emergency fund of $500 would be able to pay for a small family’s hotel, transportation, or food if a disaster occurred.

Have Cash On Hand

When being forced to evacuate, ATMs may be overrun or go down, meaning there is no way for you to get cash. Power can go out, leaving debit and credit cards useless. By having cash on hand, you will be able to know that you can purchase necessities when an event occurs.

Document

Be sure to have a fireproof and waterproof box with documents you will need to pick up the pieces after a disaster. You will need documents that have numbers and information to your bank, creditors, health insurance, and property insurance. By having your personal, legal, health, and financial documents together, moving through the disaster will be a much smoother process. Other documents to include would be passports, birth certificates, health records, social security cards, bank routing numbers, deeds, income tax information, and more.

Take Inventory

Be sure to take videos and photos of your belongings. Photograph the interior and exterior of your home along with your vehicle. By documenting all of your belongings and the state they were in, you can be sure that your insurance company won’t shortchange you.

We don’t ever hope a natural disaster will strike, but it’s better to be prepared if something does occur. By having some cash on hand when disaster strikes, you will have a foolproof plan to help aid in your recovery. Contact THIS BANK to set up an emergency fund or to understand what more you can do in order to be prepared financially!

 

Tips for Cyber-Security When it comes to Your Mobile Device

Odds are, you’re probably reading this blog post on your cell phone, which you found through an app on your smartphone and then used it to get directions to First Security State Bank. Seventy-seven percent of Americans now own a smartphone and use it on a daily basis. With so many people accessing, searching and downloading things on their cell phones, are we really using the same caution and protection we would use when it comes to our computers? Odds also are, you’re not. With a few tips, you can start better protecting your smartphone from things like data theft, malware and privacy invasion.

Needed Protection: You may be wondering what exactly needs to be protected when it comes to your smart phone. Luckily, they can be broken down into three categories.

  1. Device Protection – In case your phone was ever stolen, this kind of protection would wipe all information and data from your phone, which is beneficial if you utilize mobile or online banking.
  2. Data Protection – This protection was designed to keep work information from place of employment from being spread to your personal apps.
  3. App-Management Security – Having login information, credit card information and other personal information within apps should be protected from falling into the wrong hands. App-management security does just that.

Trusted Apps: Not all apps are created equal. Since it’s becoming increasingly easier for third-parties to create apps this means there are more apps out there than there’s ever been. One way to help protect yourself is to only download apps from the trusted app store. You should also review existing apps’ privacy policies and settings for permissions.

Public Wi-Fi: One thing you should know is public Wi-Fi is generally not secure. Hackers can get in-between you and the Wi-Fi connection point and when you’re submitting information on your phone you’re actually sending it to the hacker. It’s recommended to protect yourself using a VPN, which encrypts your data, essentially scrambling the information.

Jailbreaking Phones: While it may seem like the cool thing to do to format your phone without the factory standards, you’re actually setting your phone for several security risks. One of those risks is Malware and loss of personal information.

We hope these tips can better protect you and your smartphone. There are several companies that can protect your mobile devices, including Norton Mobile Security and McAfee Mobile Security. If you have any questions or concerns about you protecting yourself, we encourage you to contact us. Our team would love to assist you.