Monthly Archives: October 2014

Skills Academy: 4 Ways to Kick Your Senseless Spending

Stop your wasteful spending with these tips from Raccoon Valley Bank
If you asked a room full of people who wanted to earn more money, chances are everyone in that room would raise their hand. But raises and getting a second job are not always easy. However, there is a way to “earn” more money without actually making more.
 
In today’s Raccoon Valley Bank Skills Academy post, we’ll show you how to eliminate your senseless spending so it will feel like you have more income. All it takes is a little responsibility, planning and delayed gratification to get you on track.
 
Tip #1- Make a Budget
If it sounds like we talk about creating a budget a lot, that’s because it is a very basic, but vitally important part of financial management.
 
Do this: collect receipts for everything you purchase for a month spending like you normally would. After the month, compile your receipts and categorize your spending. Where can you make cuts? From there, establish your budget and stick to it.
 
Tip #2- Be Smart About Sales
Who doesn’t love a good sale? Even the most experienced shoppers need to be smart about sales. If a shirt is normally $40, but is marked down to $10, don’t purchase four of them. The point is to save money, not spend the same amount.
 
Do this: Keep this saying in your head: “If you don’t need it, don’t buy it.” In the above situation, spending the same amount as you would’ve without the sale invalidates the sale. Buy one or two of the shirts and save the rest of the money you would’ve spent for something else.
 
Tip #3- Use Cash when Possible
Cash is still king; in a pinch, it is still the only form of payment accepted everywhere. It can also help keep you from spending more than you should because you can actually see it leave your hand when you use it, as opposed to using a debit card.
 
Do this: Based on the budget you made, take out a lump sum of cash to be used for your expenses (except for high bills such as rent, car payments, etc.). Watching hundreds of dollars dwindle away over the course of the month can shock you into spending smarter.
 
Tip #4- Stop and Think Before Checking Out
One of the largest recurring expenses we have is buying groceries. However, Americans waste 40 percent of the food they buy, so there may be room to cut down on the grocery bill.
 
Do this: Set your list and a limit for your grocery shopping before heading to the store. While at the store, don’t cruise up and down aisles; grab only what is on your list. Before checking out, look at your cart and for each item ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” If you come in under your spending limit, stick the remainder in your savings account. By doing this each week, you can save quite a lot over the course of a year.
 
It’s time to stop wondering where your money went. By using a budget, shopping sales smartly, using cash and stopping to think before making a purchase, you can curb your senseless spending and do more with the same income.

Skills Academy: When to Use Your Debit and Credit Cards

Do you know the best time to use your debit or credit card?
“Debit or credit?”
 
You’re probably asked this question multiple times every day, whether from a cashier or as two options to choose from at the gas pump. But do you really know the best situation to use your debit or credit cards?
 
At Raccoon Valley Bank, we see benefits to using both, though the appropriate time to use them is vastly different. As part of today’s Skills Academy post, let’s take a look at some of these benefits to identify the best times to use your debit card and your credit card.
 
Debit Cards
Your Raccoon Valley Bank debit card is linked to your personal checking account, meaning it is the most immediate path to cash for you. Here’s a few things to use your debit card for:

  • Exercising control over your spending- since your debit card is linked to your checking account, monitoring your spending is easy. You can either review your monthly statements, or if you are an Online Banking user, you can track your spending by logging into your account and looking at your eStatements or transaction history.
  • Quick access to cash– in a pinch and need some cash? Your debit card can get you the cash you need at an ATM or by selecting the cash back option in the checkout line at certain retailers. Just don’t get carried away; only take out the amount of cash you need.
  • No interest charges- when you use your debit card, the cost of what your purchasing comes directly out of your checking account at the moment of purchase. That way you don’t have to worry about not making a payment and the high interest charges that come with that.

 
Credit Cards
Credit cards often get a bad rap because so many people use them irresponsibly. However, when used correctly, your Raccoon Valley Bank credit card can be a great financial tool. You should use it for:

  • Establishing a credit history- in order to get a better credit score – and therefore better interest rates on loans, mortgages, other credit cards – you need to show lenders you can manage debt. By using a credit card and paying the balance on time every month you are demonstrating your responsibility.
  • Online shopping- not only can you use your credit card to shop online, but many credit cards come with online payment protection. This gives you the flexibility to ask your credit card provider to withhold payment if you don’t receive a package on time or if it is damaged.
  • Score points- who doesn’t love points? You can use them for all sorts of rewards, but don’t get carried away. Using your card to gain points without paying your balance doesn’t do you any good.

 
So, the next time you are faced with a debit or credit situation, remember the above benefits of each. Feel free to get in touch with Raccoon Valley Bank today for more information about the debit and credit cards we offer.

Fall: The Best Time of Year in Iowa

Fall is a busy time of year in Iowa with harvest season being the main activity for thousands of farm families.
Fall and October mean a couple of certainties in Iowa: football on weekends, a return of your jacket to your wardrobe and harvest season. Agriculture has always been the backbone of Iowa’s agriculture since people first came to the Fields of Opportunities. The might of Iowa’s agricultural production is obvious; the state is the number one producer of corn, soybeans and hogs for slaughter.
 
However, contrary to popular knowledge, Iowa produces a lot more than just corn and soybeans. It would be an understatement to say that Iowa’s economy would be dismal without the impact of agriculture:

  • Total number of farms: 92,200
  • Corn value production: $13.5 billion
  • Soybean value of production: $5.92 billion
  • Cash receipts for cattle and calves: $3.84 billion
  • Cash receipts for hogs: $6.98 billion
  • Cash receipts for dairy: $849.1 million
  • Value of egg production: $990.5 million

*All values from 2012 as reported by the Iowa Department of Agriculture
 
Iowa’s farm families produce food and feed products that make it into the homes of millions of people not just in our state, but across the Midwest and throughout the nation. Their tireless work ethic and commitment to getting the most out of their crops and animals no matter what Mother Nature throws at them make us proud to serve so many of their families.
 
From personal banking needs to financing for equipment, land, real estate and machinery, Raccoon Valley Bank has and will always support our local farm families. Taking care of our farm families is about more than just money, too. It’s about helping them grow over time, whether that means an expanding family, a new home, new farming equipment or helping a teen driver get their first car. All of these things go into building a lasting, mutually beneficial relationship.
 
Raccoon Valley Bank wants to send out a huge thank you to all of our farm families during this harvest month. Thank you for your commitment, dedication and strong work ethic. If you have a financial need, large or small, the staff at Raccoon Valley Bank would be glad to help.
 
We hope to see you soon!

Skills Academy: Setting Up a Savings Plan

Use these tips to help get your savings plan created
Saving money is one of life’s most essential skills. It helps you stay financially balanced, allows you to stay on your feet in the event of an emergency and live more comfortably. Unfortunately, many Americans are awful at saving.
 
According to a 2012 financial literacy survey conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and the Network Branded Prepaid Card Association, 40 percent of American adults are saving less now than before, and nearly the same number have no savings outside of what they have stashed away for retirement.
 
So why is saving so hard? Most often it is because there is no planning involved; you say “I’m going to try and save more money” and that’s it. What you really need is a savings plan. It details where you’re going to be putting your savings, what goal you are shooting for, how much you’re going to save each pay period and other important aspects that will help you build your savings account balance. Let’s take a look.
 
Open a savings account- this may seem like a “duh” thing to say, but you would be surprised how many adults only have a checking account. Raccoon Valley Bank can help you choose the savings account that is best for you.
 
Create a savings goal- your first savings goal should be to create an emergency fund. This is an amount equal to three to six months of living expenses in the event of job loss, hospitalization, etc. Once you have that in place then you can start saving for a new car, TV or whatever else you need.
 
Pick an amount to save from your income- but don’t overdo it. Most people pick a high amount because they want some instant gratification. But saving is a process repeated over time, so pick an amount that doesn’t kill your budget but still allows you to make progress.
 
Set up automatic savings- one of the beautiful things about Online Banking from Raccoon Valley Bank is that you can set up automatic recurring transfers. You won’t miss money you don’t have, so set your recurring transfers for your paydays. That way you are…
 
Paying yourself first- by that we mean before you spend any of your paycheck on anything else, you’re putting some of it away in your savings account. You are essentially paying yourself money you can use in the future.
 
Whatever you’re saving for, these tips for creating a savings will undoubtedly help. For more ways Raccoon Valley Bank can help you save, just call or come by any of our offices today!

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