Category: Personal Finance

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.

 

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!

 

Money Magic Tricks

Magic is one type of entertainment that will never go out of style. Whether it’s David Blaine and his shocking stunts, or newly famous films such as Now You See Me, this classic art has proved to truly stand the test of time. While First Security State Bank may not be the best at slight of hand, we do have a few savings tricks up our sleeves! See if you can understand the steps to these financial stunts and make your fiscal success appear out of thin air.

Make your money disappear (into your savings!)

Before you’re tempted to spend those hard earned dollars, we’ll show you how to make them vanish, and then reappear! By logging into your online banking, you can set-up recurring monthly transfers for a set amount from your checking to your savings. This way, your funds will get tucked away before you even knew they were there! The extra money saved can contribute to your retirement, education, or even an exciting getaway.

Cut your debt in two.

Tired of paying pesky credit card debt, a mortgage, or student loans? This helpful hack can show you how to saw that number in half, and potentially make it disappear. Financial talk show host Dave Ramsey has a proven method called Snowballing Your Debt. By continuing your monthly minimum payments, and using extra funds to “attack” one debt at a time, you can then rollover extra money from the fully paid loans into paying off the next biggest debt and then the next. Before you know it you’ll be debt free, and looking for another financial trick to master!

See double dollars on your retirement plan.

If you’re like most Americans and need to play a little catch-up on your personal retirement savings, this trick is sure to impress! To really maximize your saved dollars, we recommend diversifying your retirement accounts, by allowing one to be maintained by your employer (401k) and creating a separate account for you to contribute to on your own (IRA.) By automatically withdrawing money from your paycheck through your 401k, you can potentially invest MORE while having it managed through your employer. In addition to this, creating a dedicated IRA to store personal savings dollars in allows you to explicitly manage the growth of your continued contributions. Know what’s better than one retirement savings account? Two!

Pull extra money out of a hat.

Just like magicians, a good budget can help you find things you never knew were there – like money! Whether you’re using traditional methods like the envelope system, or more digital options like the YNAB, the end goal is still the same. To help you save even faster, you can couple your budget with additional savings tips and tricks on common recurring expenditures such as groceries, and you’ll see the savings in no time!

7 Items Worth the Splurge

splurge

When you make your savings plan, you often don’t think about the things you should spend extra money on. While scrimping on other items such as groceries or kids clothes could help you in the long run, there are some expenditures that could cost you in the future if you don’t pony up for the better option. At First Security State Bank we suggest taking a second look at these seven products, and see if you need to upgrade the next time you buy:

Toilet Paper: You may not think it’s necessary, but let’s be honest; when you’re staying at a hotel that doesn’t have the good stuff, you notice. Household items such as toilet paper or garbage bags are bought to complete a task, and if they don’t complete it well or comfortably then it’s time to reconsider your options. We believe this product is worth the extra couple bucks, but we do recommend saving by buying in bulk!

Office Chair: If you’re like many Americans, you may spend a majority of your day sitting down. To avoid chronic back pain, and a slew of other ailments, we recommend investing in a comfortable and reliable office chair. If your employer is willing to pay for all or a portion of the chair, be sure to offer your measurements to be sure their options fit your height and weight specifications.

Mattress: Did you know you spend 33 percent of your life sleeping? For such a large portion of your time, you’ll want to be sure you’re getting the best sleep possible. Avoid those box store less costly options, and test out a few of the higher end options available in your budget. Not only can you sleep better, but you may find yourself spending less on coffee or energy drinks as well.

Pillows & Bed Sheets: While the mattress will make the biggest impact on the quality of your sleep, upgrading your thread count and purchasing the proper pillows can make a world of difference as well. Something as simple as changing the firmness of your pillow could help you sleep through the night more soundly.

Work Clothes: Sweats, shorts, and other home attire may not require the added expense, but the clothing that you wear to portray yourself at work should come across as professional while also remaining intact over time. We suggest finding one or two brands that fit both your budget and your style, and selecting key basic pieces to compile a wardrobe of endless combinations.

Garbage Bags: Do you enjoy it when you go to take the trash out in the early morning and just as you reach the bin, the bag breaks across your feet? No, neither do we. We agree that it is more than worth the extra dollar or two for the name brand bags that won’t break. Afterall, if the bag breaks, that means you’ll need to take a shower too!

Data Plan: Every cell phone provider seems to come out with a brand new plan option as soon as a new phone is released. While the choice of phone is completely up to you, we think that the data plan should cover not only what you think you’ll use, but some buffer room too. Instead of paying the expensive overage fees every time to go over your data limit, we recommend purchasing a more comprehensive plan to ensure you have a little extra space when you need it.

These seven things will prove their worth in the long run, and many items only require a one-time investment. If you have any other items you think we should add to our list, let us know on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you!

Why Checking Your Credit Score Matters

Credit Score

Across television ads, online banners, and even chit-chat among relatives, the phrase, “Check your credit score,” seems to be popping up everywhere. If something so important needs constant reminders, why does it have such a key importance in your personal finances? Well, the truth is that it doesn’t, your financial actions do.

A credit score is comprised of five different measures which indicate how you as an individual are perceived in terms of repayment and risk. Individuals who pay their bills on time, have been utilizing loans and credit cards, and don’t maintain too much debt, typically have a higher score. While the score itself is seen by potential lenders as a positive or a negative, the true meaning it portrays is to showcase whether you as an individual are a promising person to repay any funds you are lent. This score can be changed for the better or the worse depending on the actions you take.

This is why checking the report itself can be beneficial for your personal financial reputation. By reviewing your history on a recurring basis you can quickly identify any mistakes or missed payments that need correcting and do so in a timely manner.

For those who do not check their score, scenarios such as the following could occur:

Say you accept a job in another town, and after moving, you realize you still need to forward your mail. After a week or two in the new place, you go online and make the switch. However, unknownst to you, there was one last utility bill that was mailed to your prior address after you moved away. Weeks go by, even months, only now you’re connected with a new utility company, and you have new bills to pay. Behind the scenes, however, your credit score could be declining, because that one last bill has now been reported to collections. Your credit history will now note that a payment has been missed, and the longer it is missed the more it could damage your credit score.

Situations like this happen to many Americans, and while sometimes they can’t be prevented, the damage they cause can be minimized by checking your credit score on a monthly basis. Instead of allowing a payment like this to retain a balance for over 120 days, you can catch it in under 90 and minimize any potential negative effect on your score.

This is just one example of how checking your credit score can impact your financial health for the better. Other benefits include fraud prevention, better financial negotiation, and more accurate personal financial records.

If you’re ready to get started checking your credit score, we recommend Capital One’s FREE Credit Wise service, available for current and noncurrent Capital One customers. Our team at First Security State Bank would be happy to walk you through the information from this service and we are always available to answer any questions you may have.

 

The Latte Factor 101

Financial Education

Making your way through the drive through every morning before 7:30 may give you a refreshing start to your day, but at what cost? The ideology that coffee shops and other retailers capitalize on is the notion that these small expenditures add a little excitement to your day without a hefty bill. However, when you enjoy perks like these on a daily basis, they add up, and quick!

Financial author, David Bach, is the mastermind behind the Latte Factor. This helpful calculator enables shoppers to see not only the cost of an individual purchase but the lost value it could cause for further investment as well.

For example:

If you purchase a $4.45 grande latte from Starbucks every weekday for the next thirty years, the total cost of your daily coffee is $34,786.29. However, if you had put that weekly $22.25 expenditure into an investment with an average earnings rate of eight percent or more, you could have made $109,225.02 in earned interest during that time. This showcases the true cost of a daily latte as the overall product expense ($34,786.29) + the lost interest ($109,225.02) = ($144,011.30)

While less than $5.00 a day may seem like chump change, compounding these expenses on a long-term level can showcase helpful savings opportunities to maximize your retirement savings efforts and limit unnecessary spending.

This equation doesn’t work just for coffee either! If you find yourself splurging for a fast-food lunch break, buying extra sodas at work, or even paying for a magazine you hardly read, you’ll soon find that all of those little expenses can make a big impact.

To help break some common splurging habits First Security State Bank recommends the following:

  • Before making a purchase, ask yourself, “Should I spend these funds or should I invest them?”
  • Use free services like our Online Banking or Mint to visualize your spending and see areas where you can cut excess.
  • Remember the rule of 7. On average, invested funds will double every seven years, without any added contributions.
  • Utilize accounts like IRA, HSA, and 401(k) to maximize the dollars you invest and save.

If you have any questions on how to get started, or want to learn more about how to make your money work for you, our trusted personal lenders are here to help. Just stop by or drop us a line to set-up an appointment today.

How to Shave Thousands of Dollars off Your Mortgage

Congratulations on purchasing your home. You are now privileged to enjoy the thrills of home repair, maintenance, and occasional renovation. Depending on your mortgage structure, you may be paying off your home for up to thirty years. Luckily First Security State Bank has some tips and tricks to help you reduce your repayment time. Using these three strategies, we’ll show you how to pay off more of your principal to decrease the term of your loan, and lessen your overall interest costs.

Method 1: Making Additional Payments

In addition to your regularly scheduled payments, making extra installments can help you knock down your principal and associated interest. These additional amounts can be paid on the same day as your scheduled portion, or they can be more frequent throughout the month as funds become available. If you find yourself having a surplus in your budget, a great option would be to use those dollars as an additional mortgage payment.

Method 2: Increasing Your Monthly Payments

As you make your mortgage payments each month, create a plan for how much you can add on top of your regular installments. Similar to method one, these subsequent funds will continue to help you pay down your principal amount, and lessen the amount of interest owed for the life of the loan.

Method 3: Making One Lump Payment

Sometimes if you’re refinancing or purchasing a home, you may be trading an old mortgage for a new one. In this case, we recommend making one large installment after closing. This not only pays off a large portion of your loan but brings your overall interest accumulation down as well.

Owning a home is an exciting and well-earned milestone, however, the additional costs of ownership can raise questions. If you’re curious about the most efficient way to pay down your mortgage, stop in and speak with one of our experienced lenders today.

The Cost of Kids: How to Plan for Your Growing Family

Managing Money

At First Security State Bank we understand that adding to your family may not only be an emotional decision but a financial one as well. With the growing costs of childcare alone, it’s important to have a well-rounded plan for covering the expenses of your expanding household. In order to plan most effectively, we recommend structuring your budgeting into these three stages:

 

Beginning or Before Pregnancy: Examine your current health insurance to determine an estimate of cost for both prenatal care and delivery expenses. While many insurers offer prenatal care at no or little additional cost, the price for delivery can be complex. Study your monthly premium, annual deductible, and out-of-pocket limits for the calendar year to help establish these costs before the baby is delivered.

 

After Birth: Once the baby is born, there will be traditional costs such as health care, food, diapers, clothing, and more. However, many new parents also spend more on take-out meals to help lessen their time cooking. These expenses, along with a decrease in income for parents on maternity leave, can cause many parents to slide into debt. To help alleviate the burden of these growing figures, we recommend creating a monthly budget to designate every dollar to a purpose. By allocating a specific dollar amount to each area of your spending, you can ensure that all of your costs are covered while also planning for the future.

 

During the First Year: As your child continues to grow, the costs for new clothes and equipment will continue to grow with them. Many expectant parents can spend upwards of $16,000 during the first year of their child’s life, and variables such as location, number of children, and other factors can contribute to the overall costs as well. When possible we recommend saving for each step in your child’s growth. From birth to three month’s they’ll need many one-time purchases, but during the later stages, you may have adequate time to save for each time period’s necessities.
Continue to grow your finances as you grow your family using First Security State Bank’s trusted deposit services. We’ll help you organize your funds, and make the most of your savings.

The Best Deal for Your Drive

Consumer Lending

Purchasing a new vehicle is an exciting milestone in your personal finances. Filled with countless decisions, finding the perfect price can at times feel like an uphill battle. Luckily First Security State Bank is here to help you find the ideal drive while staying between the lines of your budget.

 

If you’re looking for a used vehicle:

There are four things to take into account when purchasing a car or truck that has been previously owned. In most instances, you can request a full history report on the car to help answer the following prompts.

  • Miles v. Year
    • While purchasing a car that is over four years old can be economical, it can often times come with high mileage as well. For the best return on investment, we recommend finding a car with a comfortable number of miles that is still equipped with the functionalities and safety features you desire from newer models.
  • History of Repairs
    • A full report of a used vehicle is a must! This important document will cover the car’s history and allow you to identify potential warning signs. If reported collisions appear frequently it may result in additional monthly maintenance fees. However, if the previous owner had a consistent service history, your vehicle should last you well into the future.
  • Budget Friendly
    • Used cars will typically have a lower price point than many new makes and models. This can be a valuable money-saver, however, it’s still paramount to find a cost-effective vehicle to fit your needs. We suggest working with dealers to find an option that meets your basic criteria and comes in under budget. By having some cushion with the cost, you can ensure there are funds still available, in the event of possible maintenance or repairs.

 

If you’re looking for a new vehicle:

There’s nothing like that new car smell. Purchasing a vehicle with no prior owners certainly has its benefits. From new industry updates, upgraded entertainment options, and advanced safety options, there are a variety of things to focus on when selecting your new ride. However, we recommend taking the following points into account:

  • Safety and Technology Features
    • Things like a rearview camera and four-wheel drive can make a big impact on your personal safety. In addition to the ever-changing technological features, these advancements can help make you and your family feel more secure. We recommend making a list of the vehicle features that are important to you. Be sure to bring it along whenever you browse for potential matches.
  • Room to Grow
    • New vehicles have the potential for a long lifespan. When purchasing your next ride, be sure to plan for future milestones along the way. If you plan on growing your family or venturing across the states, keep those goals in mind when choosing the best vehicle for you.
  • Affordable Payment Options
    • Many dealers work with trusted local lenders, like First Security State Bank to help their customers secure the financing they need for both new and used vehicles. When purchasing a car or truck, remember to select payment options that fit into your monthly budget, while still allowing room for flexible spending.

Whether you’re searching for a new pickup or a used hybrid, First Security State Bank is excited to help make your car buying dreams a reality. Stop by today to speak with one of our experienced consumer lenders, and see what type of vehicle can fit into your monthly budget.

Which Subscription Service is Worth Your Money?

Savings

The concept of subscription packages aren’t going away anytime soon! Offering the convenience of shipping, and the added surprise of finding out what’s inside, these clever subscription services keep you wanting more. With so many to choose from, how do you know which box is a worthwhile spend for your family? At First Security State Bank, we’re excited to share our favorite options, and how they can help improve your budget:

Blue Apron: Out of all the make your own meal plans, this one by far stands apart! With plans as low as $8.74 per serving, these step-by-step culinary creations can not only help you eat better, but spend better as well! Reduce wasted money and food with their pre-portioned delivery system – and shipping is always free!

Bark Box: For all your furry friends, this box will have them waiting for the mailman every month! At $20 a month for a year long subscription, these fun-filled packages are stocked with nutritious treats and toys for your pup to enjoy. Check out their BarkShop page too, and see if your dog is a fit perfect for their Destroyer’s Club!

Dollar Shave Club: This popular grooming subscription is the perfect fit for men and women seeking a smooth shave. With options starting as low as $3 a month, this offer makes it simple to always have a fresh blade when you need one. If you do choose to upgrade, your product ships for free! Give it a try for a month, and adjust your shipments as needed, depending on how quickly you use the razors.

Birchbox: A traveling beauty bar for both men and women, this monthly subscription provides samples straight to your door for $10-20 each month. Complete with added membership pricing, and special offers, these little boxes pack a punch! If you discover products you simply cannot live without, simply go to their website, and select the full size version to purchase.

Raw Spice Bar: Eager cooks unite behind this affordable and delicious small batch spice subscription. Each month, they send professional and home cooks alike a mix of three regional spice blends. See how much you can grow your palette for only $8 a month!

Graze: Staying healthy can sometimes feel like a chore, especially while you’re working. Take the struggle out of hunting down those nutritious nibbles, and let graze do the shopping for you. For the low cost of $11.99 a month, you will receive 8 pre chosen snacks delivered straight to your home or office, and shipping is already included!

Gamefly: Video game addicts rejoice! Finally, there is a monthly subscription that allows you to play video games and rent movies at a low monthly cost! Starting at $15.95 you can rent one game each month with the option to return it at any time for a new game to rent. There are no late fees, and you can cancel at any time! Or for only $10 a month, you can live stream games straight to your home, 24/7!

Texture: No more magazine racks to clutter up your home, get the newest and latest news straight on your device with Texture’s digital monthly subscription. Offering the hottest magazines in every industry, this convenient service allows you to read the latest issue without the clutter of pages.

LootCrate: Allow your inner geek to celebrate for these gamer and movie centric crates! At a bargain of only $13.95 a month plus shipping and handling, these bountiful boxes offer one wearable item, a t-shirt, vinyl figure, comic book, household item, and utility item in every shipment! What are you waiting for? Sign up today.

Tasting Room: Nothing says relaxation like a satisfying glass of wine. Enjoy a bottle of your favorite flavors each month, through this interactive monthly tasting subscription. After the initial $9.95 tasting assessment of six personal-sized bottles, users are able to order wines to fit their personal tastes for approximately $15 a bottle.

Whichever box has begun to peak your interest, be sure to evaluate your family’s monthly budget to determine if it’s the perfect match for you.