Category: General Blog

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!

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!

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!

Donating and Giving this Holiday

Donating during the Holiday

Caroling, gift wrapping, holiday parties, hot chocolate, tinsel and trimming, volunteering… is one of these things not like the other when you start daydreaming about your holidays?

 

Nearly 47 million Americans living in poverty will be approaching the most wonderful time of year empty-handed, set to experience a much different celebration season than you and your family. Giving truly is better than receiving, and what better time to put this into practice than the holidays?

 

First Security State Bank encourages you and your loved ones to roll up your sleeves to spread cheer in these next weeks, making your community a little brighter for all. Take a look at this list to get the wheels turning:

 

  1. Make food and dish it out- cookies and casseroles can be great gifts this time of year. You can provide them for those who don’t have the means or are short on food, as well firefighters, police officers and other public servants.
  2. Pack stockings for the homeless- pick out some cheap stockings and fill them with practical items. These can range from food and drink (granola bars, bottles of water, etc.) to gloves, socks and hygiene items.
  3. Donate old toys- kids’ toys and games can get pricey in a hurry. Purge your kids’ toys to donate to kids who aren’t as fortunate.
  4. Pay a visit to a local nursing home- the holidays can be tough times for elderly people living in nursing homes. A small visit or gift from a stranger could brighten their day, or even make their entire week.
  5. “Adopt” a family- there are many ways you can support families in our community. A food pantry would be a good place to start to find out about families in need and support them throughout the winter, the toughest time for families in need.
  6. Donate to a food bank- winter, especially in our area, is a difficult part of the year; it is far worse if you don’t have enough food. Food banks and food pantries could put your donation to good use.
  7. Have family members make a donation in your name- replace one thing on your Christmas list with the wish that in lieu of a present, a donation is made in your name to the charity of your choice.

 

Don’t let the holidays turn into a celebration of self-interest. A strong community is made with strong neighbors that lift each other up, so flex your compassion this season to make the holidays merry and bright for all.

 

First Security State Bank, Equal Housing Lender, Member FDIC

 

Teaching Holiday Budgeting to Kids

Kids Budgeting

Between the gift wrap and the endless treats and the presents stuffed under the tree, the holiday season can create more fear than cheer when it comes to your budget. If you have little ones at home, this fear can multiply as you seek to give them the happiest of holidays. Use this month as the perfect opportunity to teach them about tracking, spending, saving, and giving money with these pointers from First Security State Bank.

 

  • Create a budget: Squeeze the most magic out of the holidays by creating a battle plan. Let the kids listen as you and your partner settle on a budget for the month, breaking it down into categories like food, gifts, parties, and decorations. Once they understand how their parents create a budget, turn them loose to make one of their own, allotting a dollar amount on gifts for each person on their list.
  • Get crafty with gifts: If you haven’t been accumulating gifts as they’re on sale throughout the year, your wallet can take a serious hit when prices spike during the holidays. Try your hand at homemade gifts, ranging from thoughtful cards to favorite family recipes, most of which can be created with supplies lying around the home or purchased for cheap. Your kids benefit when they unleash their creativity and see the thoughtful effort of a gift crafted by hand.
  • Shop smarter: Don’t leave your kids in the dark with the money you plan to spend. When you head to the store, be upfront about how much you plan to spend on what purchases and why. With that knowledge in mind, they can help you spot sales as you cruise the aisles. Turn your shopping adventure into a game by challenging them to find the best deal or most creative alternative, and pay with cash to give them practice counting money and deducting coupons.
  • Give, give, give: It’s better to give than to receive, and the holidays are the perfect opportunity to show your kids this principle in action. Explain that other families may not be in the same financial boat as you, and build on this lesson in empathy by choosing an organization like Toys for Tots or Operation Christmas Child to purchase gifts for a child in need. Have your child help pick out and deliver the purchase to experience the joy of giving firsthand.

Keep your holidays merry and bright with budgeting help from the kiddos. First Security State Bank offers a number of financial planning services to help you and your family make the most of your month. Give us a call at (319)266-0474 to see what other ways we can lend a hand. Have a happy holiday!

 

First Security State Bank, Equal Housing Lender, Member FDIC

 

How Football Boosts Your Finances

How Football Boosts Your Finances

The grills are fired, the crowds are roaring, and the television is primed and ready for Saturday action. There’s only one explanation: it’s football season, baby. You can strategize fantasy football teams with the best of them, but do you know how to strategize your financial game plan? Let First Security State Bank help you tackle debt with these financial planning tips. (That victory dance is all you, though.)

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