How to Save for Retirement at Every Age

Retirement

How much do you need to retire? Will you continue working after age 65? Do you want to travel during your retirement? These are just a handful of questions that are important for retirement preparation. Unlike saving for a home or new vehicle, saving for retirement requires long-term commitment and goal oriented benchmarks. At Raccoon Valley Bank we want to help you succeed as you save, and offer these milestone marks:

 

Age 18-25: During this point in your life, you are discovering what you want to do, and how to get there. Focus on creating a solid foundation through a monthly budget, and designated emergency fund. If your employer offers a 401(k) option we highly recommend utilizing its potential by contributing the maximum amount your budget will allow. Always be sure to take advantage of a company matching policy if available.

 

Age 25-35: In addition to your 401(k), we also suggest opening an IRA. This enables you to continue to save without having your funds tied to an employer. Now is a great time to take advantage of other tax beneficial accounts, such as an H.S.A., 529, or Coverdell account. Both the 529 and Coverdell accounts aide you in saving for your child’s education without the burden taxes.

 

Age 35-45: One of the key aspects of retirement is making sure your money is where you need it when you need it. An experienced financial adviser can help you invest in appropriate stocks, bonds, and other financial strategies. Together you can construct a plan to ensure your risk decreases as you age, and be certain the funds you need are available upon retirement.

 

Age 45-55: Now is the time to examine your current career path, and determine the year at which you would like to retire. Although the average age of retirement is 66, this may not hold true for you. Whether you decide to retire later at 72, or earlier at 57, you’ll need to have this number available to help continue the development of your savings. To easily calculate your current savings projection, this tool can provide the most accurate information to help you make the most informed decision for your specific goal.

 

Age 55-66: During this time you may begin to qualify for distributions from your 401(k) and IRA. By postponing these distributions, you can continue to save, and work to build your retirement nest egg before you need it. Additionally, look into various employment options upon retirement. If you decide to work part-time for enjoyment, it could mean added savings to help you afford extra splurges in the future.

 

Age 66 and up: Once you have officially retired, you will begin to take distributions from your 401(k) and IRA. While both a 401(k) and Traditional IRA require you to accept funds after age 70 ½, a Roth IRA can remain untouched until you decide to use the money. For this reason, we recommend using a Roth IRA when your income levels allow.

 

We look forward to joining you on your journey to retirement. Whether it’s in 10 years or 50, it’s never too early to start saving!

10 Steps to Opening Your Own Business

Business Banking

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 Raccoon Valley 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 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.

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 Raccoon Valley 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, Raccoon Valley 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.

Community Banking: Why It’s a Wonderful Life

Community Banking

As the seasons begin to change, and the holidays approach, our team at Raccoon Valley 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, Raccoon Valley 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, Raccoon Valley 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 Raccoon Valley 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, Raccoon Valley Bank is filled with fun and loveable 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 Raccoon Valley Bank is right for you!

 

Get to know all of us at Raccoon Valley 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!

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Buy

Holiday Giving

The holiday season is filled with glad tidings, seasonal dishes, family get togethers, AND seemingly endless expenses. Don’t let the price of the holidays bog you down. Keep the holiday spirit alive by spending your money wisely throughout the winter season. Instead of purchasing unwanted gifts that may end up back at the store, Raccoon Valley Bank recommends asking yourself the following 3 questions before you buy:

 

  1. Why are you buying the present?

If it is for a family member or close friend, you may be purchasing it for your annual gift exchange. If it’s for a co-worker or continuous service provider, it may not necessarily be warranted. Often times if you give someone a gift who may not have been expecting one, the awkward condition of reciprocity may arise. Instead of gifting store bought goods, consider a card or homemade treat to say thank you.

 

  1. Is this gift appropriate?

While Aunt Lynda loves gourmet chocolates, a child’s chocolate baking set may not be the most compatible gift. Before you check out, take a minute to think how your loved one may use this gift. Try to remember any discussions you had about things they may need or want during the holiday season. Even if the gift comes at a great price, it may be wasted if the person whom you purchase it for, has no use for it.

 

  1. Does this fit into my budget?

Keeping an accurate monthly budget is helpful in many aspects of your personal finances. The same applies when planning your holiday spending. After allocating a specific dollar amount to each person on your list, stick within these guidelines to remain in budget. If you happen to find the perfect shade of lipstick for your sister-in-law, but it’s $20 more than you want to spend, it may be time to consider other gift options.

 

Whether you’re searching for the perfect holiday gift, or just a simple thank you, these 3 questions can help you find the best present for your person! Remember to get started with a holiday budget, and if you have questions on how to begin planning for your holiday expenses, stop in and see us today!

4 Ways New Homeowners Can Save on Their Taxes

Mortgage

Becoming a homeowner is an exciting and trying time in your life. Once all the papers are signed, and the keys turned over, it all seems worth it. That is until a pipe bursts, lightning knocks out a tree, or your dog decides to burst through the screen door. Not all hope is lost however. In return for your endless work, and commitment to a never ending to-do list, the U.S. Government has provided four tax-based ways to reward you for your new home ownership. See how to take advantage of these four tax breaks, and make the most of your home purchase:

 

  • Early IRA Withdrawal: For many new homeowners, securing the initial down payment can be the first hurdle in their real estate journey. If you’re a first-time home buyer and have an IRA, or Roth IRA, the IRS will allow you to withdraw up to $10,000, penalty-free, to aide in the cost of your new dwelling!
  • Valuable Deductions: Between your mortgage interest, mortgage insurance, and real estate taxes, your home deductions could make a big dent in your taxable income. When preparing your taxes as a new homeowner, be sure to bring any mortgage documents, and escrow account information, to your tax professional to gain the full benefit of the deductions.
  • Renewable-Energy Tax Credit: Did you upgrade your home appliances to more efficient and environmentally-friendly options? Did you install a geothermal system in your home? If so, this helpful tax credit may be able to take a portion of that improvement cost out of your deductible income!
  • Tax-Free Profit on Sale: When you go to sell your home, the IRS allows you to avoid the capital gains tax on the profits you generate from the sale. This means that if your home’s value goes up $35,000 in the two or more years you live there, you are then able to retain the additional $35,000 your home is sold for without having to pay any taxes on those funds. One other major stipulation of this benefit is that in order to avoid the capital gains tax, you must purchase a new home as your primary residence within the next two years.

With these key homeowner tax breaks, the next thing to put on your to-do list is to make a plan for those tax refunds! If you have questions on how to best budget for your new home, don’t hesitate to stop in. We’d love to talk taxes, financing, or other improvement ideas you have for your home!

10 Tips for a Great Holiday Party

Seasonal Get Togethers

No matter which holiday you are prepping for, there are some essential party essentials you should always plan for! Throughout this holiday season, try these top 10 planning tips, courtesy of Raccoon Valley Bank:

 

  1. Pick the best date. Saturday’s are always the prime time for holiday parties. Be sure to book venues ahead of time to ensure you can capture the best date for your gathering.
  1. Choose a simple theme. Don’t oversimplify it, but make sure it’s something that will click well with your guests. Simple things such as color coordinating, can help continue your theme throughout the event.
  1. Send invites at least six weeks before. People want time to plan, but not too much time to forget. Let your guests know about this holiday party six weeks prior to ensure they have plenty of time to plan. If you ask them to RSVP this can help you gain an accurate head count for food and beverage purposes.
  1. Email a reminder the week of. Sometimes people forget, ensure that all your guests who are available can attend, with a simple email reminder one week out from the party.
  1. Keep food fun yet familiar. A little twist here and there keeps things interesting, however, going too far can turn guests off to food altogether. Work with your caterer to determine what the best
  1. Set-up a good flow of traffic. Create a space that allows hungry guests to move through the food on both sides, well out of the way of your more conversational area.
  1. Create a timeline. Every party has activities, whether it’s dancing, trivia, or a simple informational slideshow, planning ahead of time can save you a headache later. Create a schedule for the evening to share with your guests. This will help them plan their time accordingly as well!
  1. Play festive music. Create a simple playlist full of upbeat and festive songs, but also be sure to include some current music selections as well! This will keep the holiday tone, without being overwhelmingly so.
  1. Give away or donate leftovers. Leftovers are a given at any holiday event, be sure you send your guests home with some goodies to help avoid discarding surplus food. If doggie bags are not an option, stop by your local food bank that night, or the next day to see if it can be used.
  1. Have a clean-up crew. Cleaning up is the worst part of event coordinating. Make this task easier on yourself, and recruit a team of guests and friends to help clean after the event, or the next day. Offer to provide a meal and beverages as thanks, in addition to a free ticket or gift at the party.

 

If you follow these holiday hacks, your event could be the best gift of the season! Show us your favorite holiday get together by sharing a photo on our Facebook page. We can’t wait to see all the different themes!

Thanksgiving Costs Through History

Holiday

Filled with laughter, good food, and heart-warming conversation, Thanksgiving is a holiday centered on all things family. Dating all the way back to 1621, this festive celebration originally began to signify a successful and fruitful fall harvest. Today we enjoy this day of thanks to remember all the blessings and loved ones in our life.

 

Many things have changed since 1621, or even since 1916! We wanted to see what this holiday may have looked like over the past century, to visualize how traditions and costs have changed through the years.

 

There are several factors when determining the cost of a Thanksgiving celebration. Today the average feast runs approximately $49. This includes a 16-pound turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, carrots, celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee with milk. However, back in 1916 this meal cost approximately $6.81, but keep in mind, the turkey then cost $4.48, or $99.23 in today’s standards.

 

Take a look and see how the various costs of Thanksgiving have changed over the last 100 years. You’ll be surprised at the difference!

 

Cost of Today’s Feast                      Cost of Past Century’s Feast

1916 – $2.21                                        1916 – $6.81

1926 – $3.59                                        1926 – $11.06

1936 – $2.82                                        1936 – $8.68

1946 – $3.96                                        1946 – $12.18

1956 – $5.52                                        1956 – $16.99

1966 – $6.58                                        1966 – $20.24

1976 – $11.55                                      1976 – $35.55

1986 – $22.24                                      1986 – $68.47

1996 – $31.84                                      1996 – $98.03

2006 – $40.92                                      2006 – $125.95

2016 – $49.00                                      2016 – $150.84

 

At Raccoon Valley Bank, we love learning about holidays and their history. It’s easy to see now how $6.81 can really add up! If you put those dollars in today’s standards, food costs would be astronomical! Can you imagine paying over $100 for just your turkey? This year the average cost per pound is about 93 cents, so for a 16-pound turkey, you should expect to pay around $15. Now that’s something to be thankful for!

 

The 10 Most Affordable Winter Destinations

Savings

The snowbirds seem have the right idea! Just as winter becomes too chilly and snow-filled, they flee to warmer weather! It just so happens that this is the ideal time to visit a variety of areas, while their prices remain low during their slower season. See how you can capture the best deals on your getaway from the colder weather, along with other popular snow-covered destinations.

 

Panama City, Panama: This amazing city is a must-see for those with a case of wanderlust. Filled with old history, and new innovation, the town of Panama City continues to surprise your senses. Explore the Casco Viejo area, and make your way to the Manolo Caracol restaurant. With this deliciously simple meal in your belly, you’ll be able to take on any adventure you find in Panama.

 

Singer Island, Florida: For this tropical getaway you don’t even need a passport! Tucked along Florida’s southeast coast, this local paradise offers the best of the beach life along with luxurious city activities in the neighboring West Palm Beach. If you’re looking for adventure, scuba shop Pura Vida Divers can help you fulfill all your scuba dreams! With diving, snorkeling, and surfing services, this family-run business will make sure your time with them is the best memory of your trip.

 

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: Filled with luxurious all-inclusive resorts, this Caribbean getaway will help maximize any budget! There are hundreds of resorts to choose from, and most offer packages which include meals, beverages, and on-site hotel activities. Be sure to also catch a round or two of golf at their renowned clubs across the island!

 

Ambergris Caye, Belize: Feel the heat year round in this island paradise! With activities on both the island and inland, you’ll never have a dull moment at this destination. If you’re searching for some adventure, be sure to stop by Amigo’s to book your next cave tubing, zip lining, or ruin climbing tour! After your day you can enjoy an unwinding meal at the island’s best ceviche restaurant, Hurricane’s, but watch out for their signature hurricane cocktail!

 

Vancouver, Canada: Home to the famous Whistler Blackcomb mountain, this chilly destination is filled with plenty of activities and beautiful snow-covered trees! Extend your trip into the city of Vancouver itself to discover the Granville Island market and delicious local delicacies such as poutine and the JapaDog.

 

Big Sky, Montana: Avoid the chaos of Winter Park, and venture to the less populous, but immaculate slopes of Big Sky. With affordable packages to ski and stay, you and your family can enjoy your days on the slopes, and your evenings at the lodge. If you feel like venturing into town, you can warm up with some deliciously spicy food from the local favorite, Alberto’s.

 

New York City, New York: This iconic destination definitely makes its mark on your traveling memories, and during the winter, it becomes more affordable than ever! With inspiring sights such as the Rockefeller Center, and the Ground Zero Memorial, this city will inspire you throughout your vacation. Share a laugh with your family and get tickets to the Tony Award-winning Best Musical, Book of Mormon. This trip will surely be one to remember!

 

For every adventure you plan, there should always be a budget behind it! If you want to learn how to best save and budget for your next getaway drop us a line or stop by today!

True or False: Catch Me if You Can

Check Fraud

Starting in 1963, Frank Abagnale began his criminal career. Made famous from the film, Catch Me if You Can, this mastermind of forgery made a name for himself at a young age by impersonating pilots, lawyers, and doctors. Throughout these impersonations, Frank found new and inventive ways to defraud the United States and at least eight other countries. When he was  captured at age 21, he had defrauded multiple nations upwards of $1.3 million dollars. After serving five years of his twelve year federal sentencing, he agreed to work with the FBI to help investigate and proactively protect the United States from further check fraud.

 

As Frank’s history with the FBI began to grow, he started to share the distinctive patterns and signatures behind the best of check fraud criminals. See if you can determine which of these check fraud facts are true and which are just cinematic magic:

 

True or False? Big corporations such as Pan Am had a much higher risk of check fraud than small mom and pop shops.

 

FALSE:  Although Pan Am was depicted as the start of Frank’s larger check fraud scheme, large scale business models face less risk than most small businesses. Did you know one in four businesses have fell victim to fraud? While larger companies have internal security and protective insurances for such instances, most local businesses rely on their employees and their customers to ensure an honest and accurate transaction.

 

True or False? Paper check forgery still is prominent today.

 

TRUE: With small businesses as the largest targets, paper check fraud is still a relevant issue, even today. Often times, the culprit can be employees who write a business check to themselves. Other instances can be a vendor who is able to alter the ink on the check to reflect an amount that they would prefer. While there are many additional cyber fraud crimes possible today, the threat of a paper check fraud is still imminent.

 

True or False? This movie largely encourages check fraud and teaches criminals how to hone their craft.

 

FALSE: While this movie does display many techniques in producing fraudulent checks, the premier intention of the film is to educate both banks and businesses in what to look for concerning false checks. There are many simple markers and signs that a check may be a fake, and while the storyline depicts the various lifestyle choices of a criminal, it reveals in the end, that Frank Abagnale began to help the FBI identify these markers to prevent future check fraud.

 

What to look for in fraudulent checks straight from Frank Abagnale:

 

  • Keep any checks, deposit slips, or check re-orders under lock and key in a secure location. Many times those close to your business are the culprits in a check fraud crime.
  • Use Remote Deposit Capture from Raccoon Valley Bank. This service ensures that the check is treated just like a debit. If there are no funds in this account or it represents a false account, you will know as soon as the transaction completes.
  • When receiving a check in a transaction, scan the check to make sure it has a perforated edge, marking where it was torn from the checkbook.
  • Never cash a check you are unsure of. If something does not seem right, it is always safer to ask for further identity verification, or simply deny their request to cash the check.

If you’re curious how to keep your small business secure against check fraud, come by Raccoon Valley Bank today and speak with one of our local commercial lenders.

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