Start a New Business in 5 Easy Steps

Business

Getting your business off the ground isn’t always as easy as it seems. With a laundry list of to-do items, it can be hard to prioritize which needs have to come first. Luckily, Raccoon Valley Bank is here to help! By following these key stepping stones, we’ll help you get on the path to success with your new business venture.

 

  1. Develop a business plan. Determine what it is you want your business to do, and how you want to do it.
  2. Capital. Capital. Capital. Make sure whether you’re working with investors, securing a business loan, or putting up the money yourself, you have all the funds you need in addition to a large cushion for overhead and operating expenses.
  3. Get it in writing. With options such as an L.L.C, Corporation, S Corporation, Nonprofit or Cooperative, you’ll want to protect your personal finances with a legal structure for your business.
  4. Make it official. After registering with state and local tax agencies, you’ll need to obtain the appropriate permits and licenses to make your business compliant with local laws and regulations.
  5. Get people in the door. Ensure you have an effective marketing strategy, or list of transferred clients to get your business off the ground. The old saying, “If you build it they will come,” no longer applies. Make sure everyone in your area knows you’re opening, and offer a valuable incentive to help encourage them to stop by!

 

Local businesses are the backbone of small town America. If you’re looking to set-up your own new shop, Raccoon Valley Bank is eager to help! Our experienced business lenders are here to find you the best business financing option for your needs!

How to Tip on Vacation

Vacation

Traveling the world is both adventurous and insightful. From climbing mountain peaks, to swimming among tropical fish, wherever your next vacation takes you, make sure you’re financially prepared. At Raccoon Valley Bank, were excited to help you get ready for your upcoming destination! Try these tipping tricks next time you’re out and about on your future getaway.

 

Bartenders: $1 per drink or, or 15-20 percent of the total bill.

 

Bellman/Porter: $1-2 per piece of luggage.

 

Casino Card Dealers:Tip a chip in the amount you are betting, staggered on your amount of win’s. If you are playing $5 chips and win a few then giving the dealer a $5 chip as well.

 

Concierge: $5 per request.

 

Hairdresser/Manicurist: An additional 10-20 percent for a good service.

 

Housekeeping: $2-3 per night up to $5 generally in more high end hotels.

 

Instructors: An additional $10-20 per quality lesson for various sport or leisure activities.

 

In suite dining: Service charge goes to the hotel not the waiter. If no gratuity added put on an additional 15-20 percent tip.

 

Scuba Diving: For an afternoon (or 2 tank dive) it is common to tip $20 per person, per day of the trip. These tips generally go to the deck hands and dive guides for equipment hauling and tank turnover.

 

Spa: Tip 10-20 percent if gratuity has not already been included.

 

Tour Guides: 15-20 percent or more depending on knowledge and quality of the outing.

 

Valet Parking: $2-5 when picking up car.

 

For all your vacation excursions and more, these helpful tips will aid you in all of your travel spending. To better manage your finances back home, be sure to give Sunset Bank & Savings a call! We’ll work with you to help boost your savings to make your next vacation a relaxing success.

Save $3,500 this Year by Removing These 6 Things

Savings

Saving money is no easy task! Only after dedication and determination, can you look successfully into your account to see the difference saving can make. At Raccoon Valley Bank, we’re excited to help you achieve your financial goals, and we can’t wait to get started! If you’re looking to tuck some funds away for an emergency savings, or vacation fund, these six tips can help you accumulate $3,500 in savings over the course of the next year.

 

  1. $720: Cut the cable – at $60+ each month this common expense eat up your budget in a hurry!
  2. $1400: Brew your own java – instead of grabbing a latte on your way to work make your own cup of joe and save that extra $4/day.
  3. $600: Plan Your Meals – instead of playing by ear each night for dinner, make a dedicated meal plan each week and stick to it. This will help cut costs on eating out and unused groceries. Remove one dining out meal each month and see the difference this can make!
  4. $468: Workout at home – the average gym membership runs $39/month which over the course of the year can add up quick. Try online workout videos and create a routine which uses various household items.
  5. $312: Pack your lunch – With most quick lunches running about $10/each, sneaking away for lunch could be costing you! Try packing a lunch from home to avoid these expensive dining options. Changing just three lunches each month could save you more than three-hundred dollars!

 

Learn how to open up your ideal savings account at Raccoon Valley Bank to get started on your savings dreams today!

The Real Cost of a Fixer Upper

Fixer Upper

The Real Cost of A Fixer Upper

Throughout your real estate search, you’ve probably asked yourself the infamous question, “What would Chip and Joanna do?” With HGTV’s Fixer Upper series gaining popularity, more and more families are looking to buy inexpensive fixer uppers to fulfill their home buying dreams. Filled with projects, setbacks, and endless design potentials, these diamonds in the rough come with their own unique set of pros and cons. Luckily, Raccoon Valley Bank is here to help you discover the true cost to working through your own fixer upper.

 

Every home has different needs, but these are some key expenses you’ll need to plan for when purchasing a fixer upper:

 

  • Realtor Fee: if you’re selling your current property, be prepared to fork over the 6 percent fee to have your home sold. Ideally you’re looking to sell your home for a higher dollar than you purchased it for, but this is not always the case. Be sure to have some funds in reserve just in case you have to cover the realtor fee out of your own pocket.
  • Construction Costs: Typically divided into two billing arenas, you can expect to either pay one lump sum, or a calculated cost of labor, materials, and an added profit margin. Expect to pay $100-$200 per square foot of intensive renovation work.
  • Materials: The more upgrades you want, the faster your price will climb. While simply getting the property up to speed is a task all its own, creating your own customized space inside will continue to add dollars and cents to your overall bill.
  • Furnishings: Depending on the format of your last home, you may be upgrading your furniture in this new abode. After various searches and bargain finds, you’ll still need to tuck away and extra some extra funds to ensure you can furnish the home once it is finished.
  • Landscaping: Now that the house is complete, it’s time get to work on the curb appeal – and it isn’t cheap! With an average price tag of $5,000, finishing your home with a completed landscape design can also add to the overall budget.

Altogether, purchasing a fixer upper may cost about the same as a newer home purchase after the cost of renovations. The advantage to these love-needing homes however, is their potential for customization, and creating the ideal home for you and your family. If you’re looking to repair or update your next home, consider financing through one of our structured Home Equity Lines of Credit. Our experienced mortgage lenders are here to help you every step of the way!

The Most Common Phishing Scams and How to Avoid Them

Scams

The Most Common Phishing Scams

Phishing is a common term for the unfortunate schemes hackers and online criminals use to lure users into giving their personal information. Typically disguised as familiar online activity, these scam artists have cleverly found several distinctive ways to attempt to trick YOU into handing over your private details. Be on the lookout for these common phishing scams next time you’re roaming the web!

 

  1.   Foreign Lottery Scam

With this tactic you generally receive an email informing you that you have just won the lottery of some far-away land! To obtain these exorbitant funds you simply have to send a small fee to cover the transfer cost. A simple online search will show that this thrilling lottery is no more than phony website with a long distance phone number. Typically if the sending address doesn’t look familiar, or if you have not applied to any foreign lotteries, it will be a dead giveaway that this email is just an attempt to get your information and your money.

 

  1.   Survey Scam

Do you like supporting the humane society or other animal organizations? This scam takes advantage of your online history and sends you a survey to submit your opinion on issues that matter to you. Instead of using your responses on animal treatment, this system discovers your email address, and other relative personal information, to hack your account and send out further spam emails.

 

  1.   Online Banking Scam

Most phishing schemes disguise themselves as something familiar, often as PayPal or even your personal bank. This particular scam typically indicates that some type of immediate action is needed, and your financial account is at risk. Before sending any type of reply communication, check the source of the email, and call your personal contact at the organization to see if the email is legitimate. If you question the validity of any portion of the email, delete it and call the company this con artist is attempting to masquerade as ASAP.

 

  1.   Clickbait

Social media has a hacking arena all its own. With links scattered across newsfeeds, it’s often hard to determine what is genuine and what is clickbait. Clickbait is a link generated using common controversial issues to get you to click on it. Once clicked, the link may switch to a Facebook login, where you login again. Unfortunately this false login page is a common maneuver by cyber criminals to get your social media login. Having this information, online criminals can now access your account and spam the people you are connected with.

 

If you think you’ve been a victim of an online phishing scam and your personal banking information has been compromised, call Raccoon Valley Bank. We’ll help you watch for signs of identity theft within your personal bank accounts.

What’s Your Spending Style?

Spending Style

What’s Your Spending Style

Everyone spends and saves differently. There are spending personalities on all ends of the spectrum that range from extreme spenders to tireless penny pinchers. Discover what type of spender you are with this helpful quiz courtesy of Raccoon Valley Bank.

 

What’s your typical lunch during the workweek?

A: A packed lunch, typically leftovers from the night before.

B: A variety of prepared lunches from home and a handful of take out meals throughout the month.

C: I usually grab something from one of the local restaurants during my lunch break, occasionally I’ll bring something from home if it was really good.

D: I can’t get through the day without my latte in the morning, and a solid lunch out of the office in the afternoon.

 

How important is your credit score to you personally?

A: I live and breathe by this number, it influences almost all of my buying decisions.

B: I check my credit every month, it’s important to know where you stand.

C: I have a general idea where I’m at, but it’s not the first thing on my mind.

D: What’s a credit score?

 

If you want something that is $3,000 but you only have $1,500 available funds in your account what would you do?

A: Wait until I can save the additional $1,500 I need before purchasing it.

B: Compromise on a similar item that only costs the $1,500 I currently have.

C: Purchase the $3,000 item, paying $1,500 up front, and putting the rest on credit.

D: Purchase the $3,000 item and put it all on credit.

 

What does retirement savings mean to you?

A: Roth IRA, 401(k), stocks, bonds, and personal savings.

B: Using my work benefits along with personal savings.

C: I think I get something for retirement through my place of employment.

D: Something I don’t have to worry about until I’m older.

 

When you see an exciting impulse buy, how do you manage the situation?

A: I remind myself I’m here for these 5 items and nothing else.

B: I remember I already bought a small impulse buy yesterday, so this one could potentially harm my budget.

C: I made it through the work day today, I deserve this.

D: I already have 4 other things I wasn’t expecting to buy, what’s one more?

 

If most of your answers were [A] then you are a Penny Pincher: For you, finances are the key to your existence. All aspects of your financials are crafted into a strategic plan to make the most out of your various savings accounts. You’re the first to suggest a restaurant based on cost, and the last to splurge on a large purchase. Typically you’re also the person other family members typically ask for well-rounded financial advice.

 

If most of your answers were [B] then you are a Balanced Budgeter: In your world, the life of a budget doesn’t have to centered around a hunker down mentality. A budget is a fluid medium that is meant to be customizable to you and your needs. Occasionally an added expenses or unforeseen purchase is needed or warranted, but overall, you ensure you and your family stay on track with a well thought out financial plan.

 

If most of your answers were [C] then you are a Cautious Creditor: Although much of your financial expertise is based on credit card rewards, and other point benefits, you do care about your money management. While not all your choices are made to help boost your savings, there are certain measures you take on a continual basis to help push your financial goals forward.

 

If most of your answers were [D] then you are a Debt Developer: Often times you spend more than you intend. Between check-out line snacks, and lunch time splurges, your bank account just tries to keep up. Understanding your financials isn’t necessarily first on your list of priorities, but there are certainly some things you know you could improve. You appreciate the things you purchase and genuinely enjoy the experience of shopping.

 

No matter what type of spender you are, Raccoon Valley Bank is here to help you succeed. For everything from setting up savings accounts, to consulting on wealth management, we have everything you need to continue your financial success. Give us a call at (515) 993-4581 or stop by today to get started!

Money Lessons at Every Age

Money Lessons

Money Lessons At Every Age

No matter what your age, there are always exciting new aspects to understand in the realm of money management. This year help your children get a head start on their financial education with these key lessons courtesy of Raccoon Valley Bank.

 

2-5 Years Old: The Three Jars Activity
In your child’s youngest years it is important to give them a basic financial understanding. You can help your little ones comprehend savings, spending, and donating through three simple jars. Each week give your child 50 cents or a dollar, all in quarters. It is then their decision whether they want to save it for a bigger toy or purchase, spend it on something smaller, or donate it to help others in need. This activity works to help create a general thought process of the three common ways to spend or accumulate funds.

 

5-13 Years Old: Budgeting Basics
For everything from buying groceries to new clothes for school, you can help your child learn how to budget by setting a spending limit for your various shopping trips. By allowing your little ones to participate in the purchase process, you can help educate them in the importance of staying on or under budget. Let them help you find bargain deals or clip coupons to reduce cost. When the expenditures come in under the budget, reward their efforts with a small treat.

 

14-18 Years Old: How to Build Your Financial Reputation
Correctly making payments is a pinnacle point in proper money management. Whether it’s purchasing your first car, home, or other personal purchase, learning how to correctly pay off your loan, can be the difference between good and bad credit. Get started on this important lesson with a quick tutorial on how you pay any monthly bills or debts. Show your child your system to give them an introduction into how the process will take place. Once they choose to purchase a car or other item through a personal loan, you can walk them through the payment process online, and help them make a calendar of when installments are due.

 

Whether your little one is two or twenty-two, there is always something new to learn. Stop by Raccoon Valley Bank and see how you and your family can improve your money management skills today!

How to Save $1,000,000 by Retirement

Saving for Retirement

Retirement may seem an eternity away; however, even if it’s a dream 20 years down the road, saving for retirement shouldn’t wait until the goal is in sight. Rule of thumb says you’ll need $1,000,000 in savings to retire comfortably. Our experts at Raccoon Valley Bank recommend taking the following steps to save with the future in mind:

 

  • Determine when you want your $1 million. The typical age of retirement is 65, but you may be shooting for a few years earlier or later. Whatever the age affects how much you need to save each month, so calculate years left to save based on current age and breakdown monthly savings requirements thereafter.
  • Start saving ASAP. Compound interest rewards those that begin saving earlier rather than later. A $10,000 investment at age 25 could yield tens of thousands of dollars more by 65 than if that same $10,000 were invested at 35.
  • Spend less than you save. It’s basic math. You’ll have money left to save only if income exceeds expenses. Buying a home within your range, purchasing cars secondhand, and paying for vacations out of savings and not on credit protects you from dipping into debt.
  • Opt for automatic. Research your employer’s 401k or retirement-based plans and determine what percent you’d like funneled from your paycheck and into your savings. If your employer matches contributions up to a limit, work to reach their maximum to make the most out of your savings.
  • Set-Up an Emergency Fund. Expect the unexpected. A flooded basement or dying car engine can send you spiraling out of your savings plan if you haven’t budgeted for rainy days. Set up a $1,000 emergency fund as soon as possible, and work to expand it to anywhere from 6-12 months of income to protect you from larger surprises, like medical issues or unemployment.

The road to a million takes time and discipline, but it’s exceedingly possible. For further savings strategies, make an appointment today to meet with one of our trained financial experts today.

7 Tips to Decrease Your Gardening Costs This Season

Saving Money on Gardening

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 this spring with these helpful tips from Raccoon Valley 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 Raccoon Valley Bank, it’s always growing season when it comes to building your wealth. If you’re looking to prosper your financial gains stop by and give us a call at (515) 993-4581 today!

Renting v. Buying a Home

Purchasing a Home

Jumping into the ring of homeownership is an exciting milestone! There are many ways owning a home can impact you and your family. How do you know when to rent and when to make the move to purchasing your home? Raccoon Valley Bank is here to help with our handy guide to the pros and cons of renting or owning a home.

 

Renting

Cons:

  1. No wealth creation. As your payments go directly to your landlord and not the specific property, you are unable to build equity and reap the return on investments from the home’s growing value.
  2. No tax benefits. While homeowners can deduct property taxes and mortgage interest payments from their federal income tax, renters can’t claim deductions for housing costs.
  3. Dependent on the landlord. For everything ranging from utilities, to paint, to the rent dollars themselves, your landlord makes the majority of the decisions when it comes to renting a home. Depending on your lease, your landlord can increase the rent increase each year, or month!

Pros:

  1. Accommodates flexible lifestyles. If you travel frequently for work, leisure, or medical care, you may not have the time or availability to take care of a home. Renting allows an affordable accommodation without any hassle of renovations or repairs.
  2. Freedom in allocating finances. For renters, expenses such as mortgage insurance, real estate taxes, and home maintenance costs, can instead be funneled into savings, stocks or discretionary funds after the monthly rent and utilities are paid.
  3. Reduced insurance costs. Apart from renters insurance that covers the interior of a home, costly homeowners insurance and unexpected repairs belongs to the landlord, not the tenant.

Buying

Cons:

  1. Unexpected costs. Leaky roofs, backed-up pipes, and cracking foundations create thousands of dollars worth of unplanned repairs that stretch your budget to accommodate.
  2. You’re locked in. Once you sign on the dotted line the house is yours, and so are the payments.
  3. Fluctuating home value. Despite your best efforts, your home can become less marketable based on circumstances out of your control. A declining neighborhood, housing surplus, or unstable market can decrease the value of your home despite well done renovations.

Pros:

  1. Fixed monthly payments. Homeowners with fixed-rate mortgages can trust that their mortgage payment will stay consistent each month, enabling the creation of a stable monthly budget.
  2. Financial gains. From tax credits to equity building, home ownership offers buyers a number of monetary perks and freedoms they wouldn’t receive as tenants.
  3. Freedom in expression. A kitchen remodel, a four-season porch addition, and other decorative transformations are all up to a homeowner’s discretion with no strings attached to a lease agreement.

Still on the fence? Our experts at Raccoon Valley Bank can sit down with you to help make a guided decision that suits both your lifestyle and your financials. Call and set up an appointment with us today!

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