Category: Personal Finances

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.

 

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!

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 NOT to Get Hacked

not hacked

Every day you hear tips and tricks to ensuring the safety behind your personal information. While many of these offers and promotions are advertising a safety service, at First Security State Bank, we believe you can handle the majority of these precautions yourself! See what steps you’ll need to take in order to best prepare for your financial future. We’ll be there to help you every step of the way.

DO: Store your passwords in a secure app like LastPass.

DON’T: Write your passwords on post-it’s which you keep around your desk.

Remembering your passwords is important, but leaving them unattended for hackers could be dangerous. Ensure you keep your details out of plain site by utilizing secure password storage apps such as LastPass or Dashlane. Not only will this help you forget your passwords less often, but it helps you create more complicated passwords to help keep unwanted hackers at bay.

DO: Use social media to connect with friends and family.

DON’T: Connect with people you don’t know or share personal account information.

Even though social media can be a great way to interact with people you know, many users become choose to become connected with individuals they’ve never met. If you find yourself with a friend request from someone you don’t recognize, always decline it, to keep you and your contact safe. If for some reason you’re unsure if you know the individual or not, you can always message them to see how you’re connected instead.

DO: Shop online and find great deals.

DON’T: Use your debit card when shopping online.

Both your debit and credit card can be used online, however, only your credit card offers a zero fraud liability with no strings attached. Should your debit card become compromised you will need to act more swiftly, and you may even have to wait weeks or months before you see any stolen funds returned to your checking or savings account. Always be proactive and use your credit card if you plan to purchase online!

While these three strategies will help to keep your personal information safe, there are always new tips and tricks to learn! Check back on our blog each month to see how you can continue to improve your personal cyber security, courtesy of First Security State Bank.

Red Flags to Look for on Your Credit Score

Personal Finance

Everyone and their brother seems to be sharing the importance of checking your credit score, but once you have the information, how do you actually know what it means? At First Security State Bank, we want you to not only have the information about your personal finances but be able to understand and act upon it as well. If you see any of the following red flags while viewing your report, you may want to look into the appropriate remedies as quickly as possible.

Missed or Late Payments

Your credit report should accurately showcase your current repayment history, which accounts for approximately 35 percent of your credit score. This area of the report should indicate if any payments have been missed and have been reported to the bureau as late. If you see a payment that you were unaware of, be sure to reach out to the company listed and contact them to pay off the bill in question.

Fraudulent Activity

It is possible to view your credit report and find bills or inquiries that you did not initiate. In this instance, it is important to take the appropriate steps to report identity theft and begin recovering your financial reputation. The sooner you alert the authorities and lending organizations to this unfortunate dilemma, the less likely you are to suffer any long-term side effects.

Excessive New Accounts

While having more than one account open can positively affect your credit score, attempting to open too many in a short time period can cause a negative reaction. If you see more than two accounts opened in the last three months, you may want to wait before attempting to apply for a credit card or other lending option.

Active Collections Accounts

If you haven’t checked your credit score in a few years, any potential missed or late payments may now have spiraled into active collection attempts. In this instance, the best practice is to contact the companies listed and discuss repayment options. Many times if you are actively working to pay down an account receivable, the company will work with you to structure monthly installments that fit within your personal budget.

At First Security State Bank, we recommend checking your credit score each month. Tools such as Capital One’s CreditWise make it affordable to see your score without having to pay any associated fees. If you’d like more information on how to increase your credit score, stop in today. One of our trusted personal bankers would be happy to answer any questions or curiosities that you have.

10 Steps to Opening Your Own Business

Creating the foundation of your next enterprise can be a challenging process. For everything from ideas to permits, it takes a lot to get a new business up and running. At First Security State Bank we would like to help you make your dream a reality, and offer these ten steps to opening your avant-garde operation:

  1. Write a business plan. Creating the sound reasoning behind what you want to do and how you want to do it, represents the building blocks to a good business. There are many tutorials to help you develop a plan and to accompany them, we recommend researching information for each section of the document.
  2. Select the best location. Location can make or break a business. In conjunction with your plan’s market research, we suggest scouting out the best potential locations. Adding this element to your proposal can help you create the optimal visualization when describing your concept.
  3. Build a marketing strategy. Great service and great promotion go hand in hand. Unfortunately the old adage, “If you build it they will come,” no longer applies. Now, in order to get clients through the door, you’ll need a structured and continual marketing plan to ensure customers in your area are aware of your business.
  4. Plan your finances. These not only refer to the funds you need to open your business but also the additional costs to help support the initial years of operation. This extra capital will help ensure your business doesn’t topple while building its ongoing customer base.
  5. Meet with a commercial lender. Once you have the core of your business planned and calculated, it’s time to meet with a small business lender to evaluate your risk. He or she may require a percentage down, or that certain criteria are met before loan signing.
  6. Fulfill any requirements. Whether it’s saving additional funds, offering up collateral, or obtaining designated permits, it is best practice to meet and exceed the requirements that your lender has suggested, in order to maximize your lending potential.
  7. Close on a business loan. After securing the funds for your business, be certain they’re placed within a business account, instead of a personal one. To help ensure your funds are separated, we also recommend creating an LLC for your business prior to opening.
  8. Purchase or lease the space. Using the money you’ve budgeted, move forward with purchasing or leasing the space for your new enterprise. After space has been secured you’ll need to acquire equipment and supplies from another portion of your predetermined budget.
  9. Structure and hire your team. Another old saying goes, “If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers.” This is a great adage to stick by, as more often than not, people are what makes a business successful. Decide your role within the company, and then craft detailed job descriptions for the rest of your potential employees. Start building your team with the best people for the job, and add further help as needed.
  10. Open and continually promote. The big day has arrived and the doors are officially open. Continue to keep them open through constant and innovative marketing efforts. By pushing your products and services to the public you can ensure that they’re aware of your offerings and consider your business a valued option.

We look forward to meeting with you about your next corporate venture. If you have any questions on how to complete the steps above or have additional inquiries on commercial lending, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

5 Financially Savvy Ways to Use Your Tax Refund

Taxes

Getting your taxes done early not only takes one more thing off your to-do list but further allows you to start planning for the future. Working with your tax professional, determine how much your family may receive this year from a tax refund. No matter the amount, we recommend putting it towards your financial goals for the year. Here are some great strategies we’ve tried to get the best bang for our buck:

  1. Max out your 401(k) or Traditional IRA contributions. If you aren’t taking advantage of one of these two accounts, we highly suggest opening one! These tax-beneficial accounts help holders accumulate and grow their funds without the burden of tax at the time of deposit. Each account, however, is limited by how much you can contribute. By allocating funds into these account types it may not only help you save for retirement, but also allow your money to mature throughout the years, with no additional effort.
  2. Make an extra payment on your mortgage or student loan. Paying down your loan is always a great option when selecting financial goals. In the case of a mortgage, you earn more equity as you pay, while with student loans, you gain more momentum towards financial freedom. Instead of adding money to each monthly installment, we recommend creating one lump payment. By doing this you can create a single but large decrease in your principal amount owed, drastically reducing your associated interest as well.
  3. Save for the 2017 holiday season. While holiday events, family gatherings, and memories are held dear, the burden of the season can pose potential problems for your personal finances. If you struggled saving last year, now is the perfect time to set aside funds for the holidays. Determine how much you need to pay for each aspect of your seasonal activities, and save as much as possible in a separate account from your tax refund. If additional funds are needed, automate your savings to transfer a specific dollar amount into this account each month.
  4. Pay off outstanding credit card debt. With one of the highest interest rates, credit cards are notorious for taking years to pay off. If you want to make a dent in your debt, we recommend tackling one card at a time.  Using your tax refund, see if you can eliminate smaller debts first, then with the remaining funds, begin paying down each additional credit card. By paying off the card with the least amount of debt first, you can begin to snowball your way to financial freedom!
  5. Start saving for a vacation. Whether it’s a spring break, a summer adventure, or a fall festival, it’s never too early to start saving. Once you have determined a destination, you can then create a rough budget of the expected expenses. Depending on your refund you may be able to pay for the whole trip outright, or you may need to supplement the funds with some additional monthly savings. No matter how you choose to save, we recommend keeping your vacation funds in a separate deposit account so you’re not tempted to use them throughout the year.

If you still have questions on how to best use your tax refund, our personal bankers would love to help. At First Security State Bank, we can assist you in coordinating all your accounts to help make the most of your money. Stop in and see us today!

 

Community Banking: Why It’s a Wonderful Life

Community Banking

As the seasons begin to change, and the holidays approach, our team at First Security State Bank, would like to share all the wonderful reasons we are grateful to be a community bank. Just like Mr. George Bailey, in the classic tale, It’s a Wonderful Life, we have found countless people and experiences that make our bank lucky to consider this community home:

It’s all About the People: Unlike the big banks of America, our small and locally-owned operation prides itself on putting our people first, making the success of our customers the bank’s number one priority. Just like the old Building and Loan, First Security State Bank strives to help our customers make their home ownership dreams become a reality.

Growth Engine for Small Business: We succeed when you succeed. Just as George Bailey invested funds in Mr. Martini’s home and business, First Security State Bank is here to offer advice and financing on your next home or commercial project. We want to help you and our hometown community grow, just like Bedford Falls.

Built on Long Lasting Relationships: The movie’s guardian Clarence, was a very wise man saying, “No man is a failure who has friends.” At First Security State Bank we pride ourselves on not only helping our customers with their finances, but also building relationships with them as well. If you have a question on how to budget, which retirement plans to look at, or other money management inquiries, consider us your friendly neighborhood adviser!

Community Backed: Instead of being underwritten by Mr. Potter, or other national big banks, our institution is built directly upon the needs and wants of our community’s citizens. With no higher ups attempting to monopolize the town, our dedicated team of officers works to build up the community, and the men and women who call it home.

Employees Local Citizens: Just like George and Uncle Billy, First Security State Bank is filled with fun and lovable characters. We take great pride in employing local citizens throughout our company, and helping them grow within the banking industry. If you’re looking for a new career, stop in and see if First Security State Bank is right for you!

Get to know all of us at First Security State Bank and discover how community banking can help you achieve a wonderful life. For everything from personal financing, to commercial lending, we have the perfect solution for you. Get started today and share your next financial goal with us, we’ll help you shoot for the moon!

Low-Cost New Business Ideas

Small Business

Creating a new business is an exciting journey filled with a constant flow of ups and downs. When deciding which industry to invest your time and money, consider these cost-effective options, courtesy of First Security State Bank:

Virtual Assistant: Needing a basic set-up of only a desk, computer, and phone, this affordable opportunity allows you to work from home, and establish your own hours. Start slow with one or two clients, and work your way up to a full-time schedule.

Medical Reporter: Quick typing skills and a high accuracy is all you need in this quick start-up. Speak with area hospitals and gain contracts for their on-location reporting. The higher your words per minute, the better!

Pet Groomer: Keeping dogs squeaky clean may sound like a lot of fun, but it can be tough work! With minimal startup costs, you can start your own service straight from home. By focusing your business on smaller dog breeds, you can minimize your cost, and maximize the number of clients you can maintain!

Freelance Writer or Photographer: Put your skills to use in this nomadic and highly flexible field. With an increasingly high amount of online publications, many magazines are searching for additional content and imagery to accompany them. Search the web for opportunities, and begin to build your digital content portfolio.

Event Planner: If arranging holiday parties and birthday celebrations sounds like fun to you, this could be your ideal career! Get started planning events for families and friends, and begin building your network of clients at each function. Once people start to see what you can do, you can begin to build your client list, and slowly fill your calendar with events and your pocketbook with revenue.

Wherever your passions take you, First Security State Bank will help you arrive safely! With our trusted business financing, we can help you and your budget stay on track. Stop by today to speak with one of our commercial lenders, and discover how to create your ideal cash flow.

How to Create your Emergency Fund and When to Use It

Savings

Creating a structured savings plan is one thing that can set apart the financial dreamers from the financial doers! By setting strict guidelines to your goal, and ensuring the correct follow through with a backed up savings plan, you can be certain of your success in accomplishing your future achievement! One of the biggest obstacles in these plans is the unforeseen, and there is a way to manage even that. Using a well-rounded emergency fund can ensure that you don’t dip into saved funds for unexpected costs such as auto repairs, or medical emergencies. Want to get started setting up your emergency fund today? Follow these simple steps and you’ll be on your way to financial success!

  1. Open a dedicated savings account.
  2. Deposit Funds each month without withdrawing anything.
  3. Start by saving $1000.

– Next save 3 months’ worth of income and expenses.

– Finally maintain 6 months’ worth of income and expenses.

The reason you have this fund is simple, to prepare for the unprepareable. Whether it’s an unanticipated job loss, a costly home repair, or other unplanned expenses, your emergency fund can help you stay afloat when the waters get rough.

The main objective of this account is to have it work for you and your needs! By specifically determining what you define as an emergency (job loss, vet bills, auto repairs) and what doesn’t (last minute birthday gift, broken TV, new clothes) you can generate a structured list to know when you feel safe using those funds, and when perhaps its best to leave them untouched. The idea of the emergency fund is to have it when you need it. By gaining access easily via checkbook or debit card, you can make use of the account more quickly when the unexpected strikes.

By generating your own emergency fund you can continue to save for milestones and pay bills, without worrying about the what if’s that lie along the road to the future. Get started with your emergency account today at First Security State Bank, we’ll help you get to your next savings goal!