Monthly Archives: November 2014

Putting the “Thank” Back in Thanksgiving

Take a moment to step back think about the real meaning behind the Thanksgiving

The original Thanksgiving, the one we’re taught about in school, was a celebration of a good harvest. The Pilgrims risked everything to sail across the ocean and arrive here, so they had a lot to be thankful. They had their fair share of problems: illness, a lack of food and harsh weather nearly wiped them out. Still, they found things to be thankful for in the face of this adversity.


Today, our lives are far more comfortable than the life of your average Pilgrim. We have heated homes, more food than we know what to do with and advanced healthcare to help us fight illnesses and recover from injuries.


But it seems sometimes that we take these simple things for granted. Life gets busy and hectic; it’s easy to get caught up thinking about what we don’t have and how those things would make our lives easier or better. There’s no doubt that life isn’t perfect. However, by thinking about all the small things we have, it turns out to be far better than we think it is:


  • Our family- whether they are nearby or far away, our family is always within a short car ride, text or phone call. These are the people we lean on the most in bad times and good.
  • Our friends- sometimes they are almost like family in that we can go to them for support when we need it. They are also there to celebrate the good times and make memories with us.
  • Our jobs- even if it’s not the job we’ve always dreamed of, it allows us to make a living and directly or indirectly help others.
  • Living in Iowa- our state has a lot to offer. There are jobs to be had, great places to live and entertainment opportunities available throughout the year.


Think about all the little things in your life. While they may seem ordinary to you, remember that a lot of people in our country and around the world don’t have these simple luxuries. Let’s put the “thanks” back in Thanksgiving this year by taking a step back and being truly grateful for what we have.


We hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving, and we look forward to seeing you soon!

Holiday Credit Card Use: Keep Your Spending Under Control


As we’ve already touched on earlier this month in our blog, the holidays can be a dangerous time for your budget. In order to fulfill all your expenses – groceries, rent/mortgage, utilities, gifts, etc. – you may need to fall back on using your credit card. This can be both a good and bad thing.


Credit cards are great financial tools that provide you with some flexibility when used correctly. When used incorrectly, however, they can lead to mountains of debt that will take you months to recover from and that will kill your credit score.


Let’s take a look at a few ways you can use your credit card responsibly this holiday season:


Plan your spending- this means you need to know what you have in your budget for spending. Plan out what you will use cash or your debit card for so you can have a better idea of how much you will be putting on your credit card before you use it.


Use only one card- here’s why: if you’re maxing out your card, you’re using it too much. Also, it can be hard to juggle exactly what you owe on multiple cards.


Don’t fall for the bait- credit card companies like to make special offers at this time of year, such as skipping a payment or two. Don’t go for it; you’ll just end up paying more for it in the long run. Also, just say no when the cashier at the register asks, “Would you like to sign up for our rewards card and save 20 percent on today’s purchase?”


Ask “Do I really need this?”- if you’re purchasing something over $20, you need to ask yourself this question.  If you don’t have the cash on hand to make the purchase, putting it on your credit card may not be the best idea either.


Remember: your credit card is your backup, not your primary source of purchasing power. Using it responsibly allows you to get what you need without crippling you with a load of debt that will take forever to pay off. This bodes well for your sanity and your credit score. If you don’t have a credit card, but are interested in using one for the holidays, grab an application from our website, print it and fill it out, and then stop by any Raccoon Valley Bank location to get started.


We look forward to seeing you soon!

Skills Academy: Navigate the Holidays on a Limited Budget

Giving giving tips to keep your budget balanced during the holidays

It may be the beginning of November, but as retailers have shown, it’s never too early to get excited about the holidays. While we all get excited about the holiday season, the same probably can’t be said for the money we know we’re going to have to spend on gifts.

As part of our Raccoon Valley Bank Skills Academy series of posts, today we’re focusing on how to make it through the holidays without ruining the budget you’ve so carefully put in place. Be sure to try out these tips as your making your way through the stores and malls this holiday season.

#1 – It’s the thought that counts

Do you really need to buy some trendy gift that, while amazing, may not be as practical? Figure out a deep passion of the person or people you’re shopping for and find something that can further that passion. For example, if your brother loves painting miniature cars, new brushes or other supplies would be a great gift that shows them you took the time to understand what they love.

#2 – Find the deals

This may require some shopping around, but you may find something unexpected that fits your budget AND the wants or needs of the person you’re shopping for.

#3 – Time is money

Shopping takes time, and there’s no worse feeling than having spent a couple of hours out shopping only to come up with nothing. If you know what you’re looking for and have done the research, you’ll be able to make your shopping trip worth it.

#4 – Making the VIP list

It would be nice to get something for everyone that you know. However, it’s nearly impossible to be a total people pleaser. Set your list, and stick to it. If you feel the need to do something for others, some baked cookies or a card will suffice.

The holidays aren’t out to get you, but if you’re not careful they will wreak havoc on your finances. Just be sure to think about the passions of people on your list, find the deals, do your research to prevent time wasting and make a strict list.

To see how Raccoon Valley Bank can help you with your financial needs at the end of this year and into next year come by your nearest office today.



How to Create (AND STICK TO) a Holiday Budget

Tips for creating a holiday budget from Raccoon Valley Bank

The great thing about budgets is that they’re meant to get you into a financial groove so that you don’t have to think about your finances all the time, yet know that you’re under control. However, certain expenses can come along and really upset that groove. The holiday season is definitely one of those times.

Between gifts, groceries, travel and other costs, there’s a lot to consider. Our second entry in our Raccoon Valley Bank Skills Academy for the month focuses on making a budget for the holiday season, as well as how to stick to it.

Think about your income

Whether you’re single and have only your income to consider, married with a spouse’s income in the mix or have additional income, you need to know what money you have coming in.

Take your expenses into account

While you have to know what cash is coming in, you also need to have a handle on what is going out. Loan payments and credit card payments don’t stop just because it’s the holiday season. be sure to plan around these monthly expenses to avoid surprises.

Try to guess your holiday expenses

It may be hard to predict your expenses, but by estimating your expenses on the high side, you build yourself a little wiggle room. Gifts, decorations, travel and food are just a few of the expenses you need to keep in mind.

Revisit and revise

A budget is a working document that is always changing, so your holiday budget should be the same. If you overspend in one area, then you need to cut back into another.

Treat yourself

Everyone deserves to be rewarded for doing a good job. If you have a little room left after you get done with your shopping, reward yourself with a little treat for the savvy shopping you’ve done.

By knowing what you have to work with, figuring your expenses and revising your budget as you go, you can find success during the holiday season. For more resources regarding budgeting, take a look back at our previous blog posts. You can also come in to your nearest Raccoon Valley Bank office to see how we can help.

We're Centered Around You