Category: Personal Finance

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.

Teaching Your Children the Meaning of Giving

Seasonal Giving

The holiday season is all about giving. Whether it’s through time, labor, or funds, philanthropy is the spirit of the season. This December, help your little one’s understand the power of giving with these three lessons, courtesy of First Security State Bank:

 

  1. Help Yourself by Helping Others

Did you know that every time you participate in “gift-giving behaviors,” your body releases positive chemicals in the brain? Referred to as a “Helper’s high,” these chemicals are released into the body while participating in perceived good deeds. The release of dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin is the body’s way of physically boosting your spirits during these activities.  While helping others has great benefits for the recipients, one of the most impactful things you can do to boost your mood, is to lend a hand!

 

  1. The Gift of Time is the Most Precious

Throughout the winter months, try offering a gift more precious than presents, by helping a neighbor in need. Whether it’s shoveling the walkway or blowing snow from the driveway, these gestures can make a world of difference. If you know of a family struggling during the holidays, offer to bring home cooked meals to help them along the way. Sometimes we overlook the kindness in a small act, so this season, see what you can do instead of what you can give.

 

  1. Financial Education is Key

To better understand how much to give, you first need to understand how much you have. If you give your child a weekly allowance, create three jars for them to store it in. One marked save, one marked spend, the last marked give. (You can practice this same exercise using envelopes for your monthly budget.) Each “payday,” you and your child can deposit the amount you would like in each. Be sure to let your little one know that the save and give categories allow them to continually accumulate funds for bigger items, but the spend category is specifically to use that week. At the end of a month see where you both stand. If there are funds for the save and give jars, help them choose a great organization or purchase to make it worthwhile.

 

Sharing the love of giving with your child is the perfect way to teach them about many life lessons, including finances! For everything from balancing a budget, to automating savings, there are many financial lessons that can prepare you to give more. If you’d like to grow your giving potential, stop in today and we’ll help you make it happen!

 

The DO’s and DON’TS of Debit and Credit Cards

Payment Options

This week we are excited to dive into the Do’s and Don’ts of Credit and Debit cards! Offering two very similar, but uniquely different services for your financial needs, these cards can help you to reign in your finances and grow your credit score when used properly. Learn all about these tips and tricks courtesy of First Security State Bank.

Debit Card: A card issued by the bank, that is tied directly to a checking or savings account, which allows money to be electronically transferred from one bank account to another when making a purchase.

DO

  1. Use for daily transactions. It’s always great to have a paper trail reminding you of your purchases.
  2. Use for repeated expenses such as gas, groceries, and other costs you can plan for.
  3. Balance your check book. Sometimes charges such as gas or dining can take several days to run through so be sure to keep track of your spending by balancing your checkbook weekly.

DON’T

  1. Use your debit card online unless you absolutely have to. Having your credit card information stolen is one thing, having your bank information stolen is another.
  2. Spend more than you have in your account. Overdraft fees are no fun for anyone!
  3. Give out your PIN # or other banking information.

Credit Card: A small plastic card that is offered by the bank or other financial institution, allowing the card owner to purchase goods and services on credit.

DO

  1. Use for online expenses through secured vendors. Many discounts may be offered online only and can save you and your family a bundle.
  2. Pay your bill in full each and every month. You can avoid hefty interest rates and other timely fees, by not extending your balance over to the next month.
  3. Utilize points to help you earn while you spend. These points are great for supplementing costs of family trips or other extra activities.

DON’T

  1. Spend more than you have allocated for the month. Paying more for interest and other fees is money wasted.
  2. Open too many credit card accounts. Keep one or two cards that you use and payoff each month to help boost your score.
  3. Max out your balance, even if you pay it off each month this can potentially damage your credit score and serve as a red flag to potential lenders.

Get started on your finances today with a secure credit or debit card from First Security State Bank! We’ll help you understand the ups and downs of each and find the best solution for you and your needs.

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!

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.

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.

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!