Nature v. Nurture: The Psychology of Spending

Psychology of Spending

If you’ve ever taken Psychology 101, you’ve probably heard the argument for nature v. nurture. In this multi-century discussion, psychologists have debated whether a person’s genetics or environment make a greater impact on their personal behavior. At Raccoon Valley Bank we’re excited to share our take on this timeless debate, and share how nature and nurture affect your spending habits.

 

The financial traits which we see as more nature based are:

  • None

Are you surprised? Contrary to many personal opinions, financial lessons and preferences are 99.99 percent teachable. This concept is backed by an interesting study in which children were given one marshmallow immediately, but were given another if they could occupy themselves until the tester returned to the room. Researchers found that the kids who were able to wait to receive the second marshmallow went on to have more successful ACT scores and other measurably improved personal relationships. This information is particularly interesting due to the fact that delayed gratification is a skill, which can be taught from a young age.

 

Delayed gratification is one of the initial skills learnt for financial education in the form of savings. For this reason, it is practical to begin a child’s understanding of finances with this particular task, however, there are many other aspects of managing your money that can be tied to these initial skill sets as well.

 

The financial traits which we see as more nurture based are:

  • Whether you prefer to save or spend.
  • The specific items you enjoy saving or spending for.
  • Your skillset for prioritizing tasks and expenses.
  • The desire you have to compare yourself to others.

 

While the list of nurtured traits could go on for miles, the important fact is that like any other skill, fiscal education can be learnt through practice and continued repetition.

 

If you want to grow your personal financial skills set, we recommend starting with a household budget and saving plan. By committing to these two monthly activities you can start to build a foundation of learning to ensure you are adhering to the best financial practices.  As you grow your understanding of finances, adding in a retirement savings plan and debt repayment schedule can be valuable steps to gaining your financial freedom.

 

To start teaching your child these valuable lessons, we suggest great activities (like these) to help them understand the value of waiting. Simple games such as Mister Noodle can provide valuable comprehension for your child early in life.

Three Things to Look for in a Starter Home

Start Home

If you’re in the market for your first home, congratulations! Becoming a homeowner is an exciting step on your financial journey. At Raccoon Valley Bank, our dedicated mortgage lenders are here to help you find the best financing option for your new home. Remember to stop in and secure a pre-approval letter before you start your home search.

 

After speaking with a mortgage lender to help determine your family’s ideal price point, it’s time to start viewing potential homes. During this process you’re bound to find a home you’ll fall in love with, and others that may send you running for the hills. As you ride this rollercoaster of an experience, we recommend searching for the following three things in your family’s ideal new house:

 

  1. Good Bones. Starter homes are a great option to find a great house within an affordable budget. To ensure your investment lasts for the long-term, we recommend taking a hard look at any foundational cracks, leans, or other structural ailments. While the rest of the house could look fantastic, these three issues should be instant red flags signaling you to continue looking at other homes.
  2. Cohesive Neighborhood. The people you surround yourself could be the individuals you see at 6:00 AM taking the trash out, or the partiers you have to ask to turn down the music at 11:00 PM. As you tour properties, don’t be afraid to chat with any potential neighbors and see if there is any information they can give on families you’ll be living alongside.
  3. Suitable Layout. While some renovations are certainly possible when purchasing a starter home, obstacles such as load-bearing walls could limit your expectations. Consider the overall layout of the home at the showing, and see if you could picture yourself the way it is. If the answer is no, then you may want to find a few backup options should the renovations not be available within your budget.

 

The perfect home will look different to everyone. If you’re ready to start searching for your family’s new house, our experienced mortgage lenders are here to help. We work with many successful local realtors, and we would be happy to refer you to the one that fits your needs best. Give us a call or stop by to begin the search for your home today.

 

The Basics Behind New Business

Commercial Lending

A mouthwatering dish your grandmother made you, a leaf falling across the park, or one of the endless questions your preschooler has begun to ask you; the truth is great ideas can come from anywhere. If you have a concept you are itching to turn into a reality, there are some key components you’ll need to make it happen. At Raccoon Valley Bank, we were founded upon our commitment to small and medium sized business, and we are thrilled to help you transform your inspiration into a live entity.

 

To complete the process from conceptualization to implementation, there are ten key components to ensure your business has all the legal qualifications necessary. Simply follow these helpful prompts, and if there are any components you’d like further clarification on, never hesitate to reach out! Our experienced team of commercial lenders is here to answer any questions or inquiries you or your business partners may have.

 

  1. Write a business plan. Your company’s business plan should detail the purpose and differentiators associated with your business. SBA.gov is an informative resource to help you determine all the required components for your proposed document.
  2. Register as an LLC or Corporation. An LLC is the most common choice for new business because the Corporation classification does mandate a $10,000,000 revenue requirement.
  3. Finance your new business. There are a variety of ways to finance your business. Whether debt or equity based, our dedicated team can help you determine which route is best suited for your business.
  4. Determine your business location.  Keeping your budget in mind, purchase or lease the space you’ll be using for your location. If you’ll be working from home be sure to take advantage of the associated tax benefits.
  5. Register for EIN and determine payroll structure. Before you hire any employees,  you’ll need to register for your Employer Identification Number for federal taxation purposes.
  6. Register your business name. You can choose to register your business as a DBA, or Doing Business As, or you can choose to register your company name and/or logo as a trademark. Both options will allow you to operate under your desired business name.
  7. Open a designated banking and credit card account. Separating your personal finances from your business is imperative in keeping accurate accounting records. Additional tools such as Quickbooks Self Employed can help you manage all aspects of your finances at home or on the go.
  8. Complete registration for state and local taxes. Business taxes are set up differently than your personal taxes. Be sure you’re accounting for all the variables before you open the doors.
  9. Receive business licenses and applicable permits. If you plan to sell alcohol or firearms, you may need federal licenses in addition to the various state requirements.
  10. Structure and start a marketing campaign. Marketing is an ongoing effort, but to get customers in the door, they’ll need to know you’re an option. Get the word out with a strategic marketing initiative, and make a yearly plan on to keep new clients coming in.

Teaching Your Children the Basics of Online Security

Financial Education

If you’re like many parents in the United States, your preteens and teenagers may be running circles around you when it comes to utilizing the latest technology. Whether that’s Facebook’s latest updates, new iPhone technology, or the latest app hitting the scene, the amount of new knowledge and innovation seems endless. For your growing adults, this may look more like an endless playground than a minefield, but at times it can be both. To help your children use technology while still remaining safe we recommend these simple suggestions:

 

Passwords are important. Instead of defaulting to the same password for every account, explain to your son or daughter why they should have a complex password for each separate account. Leary cyber criminals are able to gain access to all your accounts instead of only one when they discover the passwords are all the same. The strongest passwords contain lowercase and uppercase letters, symbols, and numbers. Great apps like LastPass can help to store all current passwords in addition to creating stronger password options.

 

Privacy matters. On Facebook and most other social media outlets, there are always options to make your profile private or public. For children, and adults, we strongly recommend keeping your personal online profile private. While you and your children can connect with friends and other known acquaintances, it can become dangerous to push your information out to anyone who wants to read it. For instance, if you post about leaving for a family vacation, and the profile is set to public, potential thieves could now view your home as an easy target while you’re away.

 

Don’t talk to strangers. Just as you had the “Stranger danger,” discussion with your son or daughter when they were younger, this message follows a similar point, but within the chat rooms and friend requests online. While in an ideal world, we wouldn’t face issues like catfishing or cyberbullying, the truth is that these actions can cause real world issues and aren’t always left online. To keep promote in-person communication, remind them of the importance of speaking with friends and family outside of the web, and if they ever do need someone to talk to you and your family are always there to listen.

 

Only use secure wifi. After school, your teen may head to a part-time job or extracurricular. If they’ll be going away from your home or school, be sure to encourage them to steer clear of unsecure wifi. While many afterschool hotspots offer free wifi for customers, often there may be potential cybercriminals broadcasting a false signal. These unsecure signals can give them access to your child’s computer if the wifi is accepted. The criminal could then access personal information, passwords, or hold the computer access for ransom. To avoid situations like this, instruct your teen or preteen to only use wifi at home and at school unless you have approved of an additional location such as the library.

 

Teach your children how to use the internet responsibly, and perhaps they can show you how to capitalize on the creative and efficiency tools it offers. At Raccoon Valley Bank, we think that family is one of the most valuable parts of life and we want to help your family grow. If you’d like to start a checking or saving account for your teen or preteen, stop in today, we’d love to help you get started.

7 Items Worth the Splurge

Save Money

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Planning Your Spring Garden for the Best Return

Savings

Spring is still just out of sight, but for prospective spring gardeners, the time to start seed germination is almost here! With seeds for some summer produce taking up to three months to prepare for planting, planning ahead of time can truly make or break both personal and commercial growers. Before you start organizing your garden for the season, we offer these helpful tips to help you make the most of your agricultural investment:

 

Grow Heirloom: Tomatoes are a staple of countless summer gardens, but what will differentiate your juicy produce from other countless selections at the market? Variety! With new strains of tomatoes being discovered each year, blue, striped, and white fruits can offer your family and customers a unique and delicious twist on a summertime classic. The basic large red tomato has an average price point of approximately $3.50 per pound, but smaller heirloom varieties often go for more than $5.00 per pound. With one plant typically producing over 20 pounds of fruit, you could easily make $100 off of one heirloom plant!

 

Learn to Preserve: Once you’ve harvested the tomatoes grown above, you can continue to tack on the savings by processing those fruits into recipes that can be canned. Packaged goods like salsa and pasta sauce can run about $3.00 a piece, however, you can create a pantry full for the low cost of the plants and reusable mason jars.

 

Add Some Flavor: Personal herb gardens have continued to grow in popularity over the past several years, and 2017 is no different. With many urban gardeners opting to plant their own seedlings, you’d think the retail need would decrease. However, the opposite may be occurring. With an influx of gardening comes an influx of use. Many home cooks are beginning to learn the benefits of using fresh herbs, and they’re not always cheap. Generally, a small bunch of herbs can run between $1-3. This in mind, most healthy plants are able to produce a consistent amount of bunches throughout the summer, and even into fall. If you have one plant that offers 50 bunches at $2 apiece, that’s a simple $100 earned for just one plant.

 

With so many incredible plant varieties to choose from, we’re sure your next garden will be a success! Whether you’re planning to sell your crops at the weekend farmer’s market, or stock a pantry your grandmother would be proud of, the practice of gardening has proven to be a money saver for you and your family. If you have any other great gardening tips, be sure to share them with us on our Facebook page.

Water Your Lawn & Your Wallet Too

Savings

If you’d like to grow your landscape and your finances this season, Raccoon Valley Bank has the perfect tips for you! To jumpstart this warmer weather, we’re excited to share our top tips and tricks to maintaining a healthy lawn and garden without digging to deep into your budget:

 

Seed your lawn early on. Get the growing season started right, and give your landscape some food to help it grow. By not only seeding your grass, but adding fertilizer as well, you can help ensure that your roots grow strong and healthy to fight off intermittent weather changes and pesky pets.

 

Automate your watering routine.  Keep your landscape looking green by maintaining a daily watering routine without all the fuss of hoses and watering cans. By setting up an automated system, you can make certain you’re not wasting water, while also saving additional funds from no longer needing to replace malnourished plants.

 

Utilize alternative landscaping options. Reduce your overall recurring costs by taking advantage of helpful products such as landscape fabric, river rock, and various xeriscaping plants. By using these tools to grow foliage other than grass you can cut down on your time and expenses associated with mowing and upkeep.

 

Other Outdoor Savings Tips: While the above tips can aid you in keeping a green and healthy landscape, saving money isn’t  about maintenance only. To help continue your savings in other areas of lawn care, we wanted to share some further tricks in how to reduce other outdoor expenditures associated with your growing landscape.

 

  • Choose colorful perennials over less-timely annuals when planting flowers. While annuals can have prominent blooms that catch your eye, these flora varieties will need to be re-planted every year. Avoid paying for new seedlings each spring by utilizing returning perennials plants instead. These recurring blooms will hibernate underground each winter, and emerge where they were originally planted year after year.
  • Plant prosperous fruit trees for added shade and earning through plant production. By providing an escape from heated sunlight, shade producing trees can help decrease the cost of your home’s monthly cooling bill. If you choose a tree that also produces fruit you can typically accumulate $200 or more worth of produce that you have the potential to sell as well.

Make the most of this planting season, and create a garden that will give you both joy and savings. We can’t wait to see what you and your family create, be sure to post photos of your outdoor creations on our Facebook page. We’d love to see what ideas and hacks you use!

The Best Financial Quotes and How to Use Them

Quotes

There are endless famous quotes amongst Facebook newsfeeds and Reddit threads, however, time and time again people seem to hold fast to their favored stand-bys. For topics ranging on everything from love to education, the wise words of others seem to implement a perspective in our lives that may be left vacant otherwise. To help you achieve your financial aspirations this year, Raccoon Valley Bank would like to share the quotations we hold dear, to help encourage you along the way.

 

“Of this be sure: you do not find the happy life… You make it.” -Thomas S. Monson

 

The meaning of this phrase can be as simple or as complex as you see it. For us, it is a calming and reassuring reminder that the emergency fund, retirement plan, and vacation fund are all worth the effort. Unfortunately, no one will offer us a trip to Mexico for free, but with dedicated work and savings, WE can make it happen for ourselves and our loved ones.

 

“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” -Weil

 

This quote can be applied to both personal and business relationships. The more time you invest in a person, the more value they hold for you or your company. Whether it’s taking the time to answer customer questions, making it to your child’s basketball game, or simply being willing to pick up a phone call from a frazzled friend, giving someone your time is the ultimate connection to others. If you’re looking to improve a relationship, budget, or business, investing your time into it is the best place to start.

 

“If you define the problem correctly, you almost have the solution.” -Steve Jobs

 

Whether you’re working on restructuring your personal finances or trying to determine your most profitable product, the first step in finding a remedy is identifying the ailment. In the example of a budget, knowing what you’re spending, earning, and saving offers a visual into potential issues, so you can further adjust those efforts into a constructed monthly plan. This is the same with many things in life. By speaking with others, and getting all the cards on the table, you can ensure that problem is first made clear before the appropriate solution is determined.

 

“Never be afraid to try. Remember, amateurs built the Ark, professionals built the Titanic.” -Unknown

 

The worst action you can take is no action at all. No matter what challenge you are facing, always remember that the failure to act is the only true defeat. If you’re looking to start saving for retirement, expand your business, or tackle your debt, the first thing you have to do is start. No matter how you start, the biggest obstacle of your task will be committing to your end objective.

 

At Raccoon Valley Bank, we want to help you succeed in both your personal and financial life. If you need a helping hand with your next venture, stop by our nearest office, and we’d be happy to lend an ear.

 

6 Steps to Scoring Your Savings Goal

Hockey Savings

Do your savings goals make you feel frozen? Get back on the ice this season, and let Raccoon Valley Bank help you win your personal financial game. We’ll show you how to keep pushing forward with these strategic hockey tactics:

 

Find the 5-hole.

One of the first and most important ways to save is to keep your eyes open! Whether it’s taking advantage of grocery store specials, buying household items in bulk, or cutting spending from your monthly budget, the biggest opportunity you have while saving money is continually searching for new ways to save.

 

Complete the hat-trick.

Before you start saving for the short-term items, be sure you have the long-term set in place. Just as in hockey, there are three things you need, to make the best play of the game. Start by setting up an emergency savings account, to help guard your savings. Follow up by opening a personal retirement account such as IRA, to continually grow your savings. For the last trick of the play, we suggest creating a 529 or Coverdell account to help save for your child’s future education. These three accounts will help not only you score your savings goals but will assist you in winning your entire financial game as well.

 

Put your debt on the boards.

Show your debt whose boss, and push them against the glass. By aggressively paying off your outstanding debt, you make additional funds available to further your monthly savings. We recommend paying the minimum payment on each debt, and then using any surplus funds to add extra payments to help pay it off sooner. Once you have paid off a debt, use the funds from that allocation to help erase the next obstacle, one payment at a time.

 

Place your spending in the penalty box.

While working on your savings goals, look into your monthly spending to see where you can cut costs. Consider reducing your funds for eating out and entertainment. The extra money can go towards your debt, or once paid off, can help you achieve your savings goal sooner!

To help, there are some innovative apps available that can you visualize your various expenses.

 

Beat the buzzer.

Saving for retirement is a marathon, not a sprint. Like hockey, if you don’t play until the end, you may lose the game in the last five minutes. To help prevent this, we recommend working with a personal financial adviser, ensuring your funds are in the right place at the right time. If you make a pass and transfer them to stocks too late, you could lose money and valuable time. We suggest creating a strategic and well-coordinated retirement plan to make certain all your savings get time on the ice, and your key players continue to stay in the game.

 

Drop your gloves for additional fees.

Whether it’s big banks searching for unnecessary add-ons, or potential financial advisers looking for a percentage of earnings, don’t be afraid to negotiate fees you deem excessive. The business is certain to have referees to let you know if you’re asking too much. However, it never hurts to ask!

 

With our affordable deposit accounts and expert financial coaching, we look forward to helping you sink your upcoming goal in the back of the net! Stop by and meet our dedicated team today!

How to Plan Spring Break on a Budget

Vacation

Spring break is a magical time of the year when school is out, the beaches are calling, and wanderlust seems to finally hit at full force. Before you jet-set to your next destinations, make sure you’ve saved enough to enjoy this vacation, without the addition of debt. To help cut the costs, but not the fun, Raccoon Valley Bank offers these proven money saving tips:

 

  1. Split Costs – Make the most of your money, and divide the cost of a room between you and your fellow friends. Paying $150 a night may be a high price tag, but by splitting the cost, you can stay twice as long!
  2. Drive Instead of Fly – If your traveling troop decides to book a trip abroad, then this tip may not apply, but for eager spring breakers traveling south, driving instead of flying could save you hundreds!
  3. Try Alternate Accommodations – Who says a hotel is the only appropriate place to stay. With innovative new offerings on VRBO and AirBnb, you can find deals that not only save you money but offer a unique setting as well.
  4. Get Groceries – One of the most expensive parts of a vacation is the food. Cut down on this cost by hitting up the local grocery store when you arrive. You can grab breakfast items, and other easy foods to prepare to avoid exorbitant dining fees.
  5. Maximize Free Activities – Things, like going to the beach or relaxing by the pool, can be both enjoyable and cost effective. Since there are typically no entry fees, you can enjoy this fun-filled relaxation again and again.
  6. Bring Your Own- Everything is more expensive on the beach. Food, drink, shade, you name it! Instead of purchasing everything ala carte, pack a reliable beach kit, with everything you need for the day. Don’t forget sunscreen!
  7. Utilize Your Rewards – What’s the point of having travel rewards if you never use them? By putting those points to work, you can cover the cost of your flight and/or room, and reserve your money for food and fun.
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