Monthly Archives: February 2015

7 Steps to Start an Emergency Fund

An emergency fund is an important financial tool to help prepare you for the future.

An emergency fund is an important financial tool to help prepare you for the future.

There are many things that can rock the boat of your financial security. But you won’t need to worry about the unexpected expenses if you have an emergency fund to fall back on. These seven steps will help you get started:

1. Decide how much you want to save.

There are differing opinions about how much should be put into an emergency fund. Some say $1,000 and others say three to six month’s living expenses. Decide which plan is best for you by asking yourself how much you need to have saved in order to feel secure.

2. Calculate monthly expenses.

Write down all of your monthly expenses such as housing, insurance, food, utilities, loan payments, etc. Add up your monthly expenses and multiply the result by the number of months’ expenses you want to have saved.

3. Start an account.

When you know how much you need to save, decide where to keep your money. Your emergency fund should be fairly accessible so savings accounts, money market accounts or short-term CDs work best. All of these accounts will offer you liquidity while earning interest at the same time.

4. Decide how much you can save.

Building an emergency fund is a marathon, not a sprint. It will take time! Look over your finances and figure out how much you can afford to save each month.

5. Set up automatic deposits.

Scheduling automatic deposits into your emergency fund makes it easier to save because you don’t need to debate the amount each month.

6. Look for ways to boost savings.

When you find creative ways to save money, you will be able to contribute more to your emergency fund and reach your goal faster. Talk to an expert at Raccoon Valley Bank or check out some of our previous blog posts for ways you can save some extra cash!

We want you to feel secure in your finances and be prepared for any circumstance. To start a savings account or CD for your emergency fund, contact Raccoon Valley Bank.

For Richer or Poorer: 3 Ways Couples Manage Money Together

There are a few options that couples have for managing their finances after marriage.

There are a few options that couples have for managing their finances after marriage.

As the old saying goes, first comes love then comes marriage. When two people decide to unite their lives, they also unite their money. Talking about money with a significant other can be awkward. However, these talks need to be a priority because money matters cause problems for many couples. Be honest about financial matters and you will both be grateful in the long run. If you and your significant other are considering marriage, there are three main ways you can deal with your money as a couple. Each option has its own pros and cons that Raccoon Valley Bank will look at.

1. Each person manages their own account.

When you and your spouse manage separate accounts, you don’t need to worry about having compatible spending habits and can continue handling your finances independently. On the other hand, paying bills for things like rent, utilities and groceries can be more complicated. Honest communication is necessary to make this method work.

2. The couple merges their money halfway.

Merging half of your money allows couples to pay some expenses from a joint account while depositing individual paychecks into a separate account. This works well to ease from financial independence to a joint system. However, dividing up an equal percentage of the money and managing three accounts can be confusing and time-consuming.

3. Put all your money together.

Some couples choose to merge all of their money together when they get married. In this situation, all future paychecks are deposited and expenses are paid from the same account. This method makes budgeting easier and gives couples a sense of togetherness. But, in some cases, partners feel like they are being watched and judged for spending.

If you are married, how did you decide to organize your finances? If you are considering marriage, it is important to agree upon financial matters now to avoid future conflict. To find a savings plan that works for you and your significant other, contact Raccoon Valley Bank.

5 Unexpected Ways Cheaper Gas is Saving You Money

Lower gas prices not only save you dollars at the pump, but in other areas as well.

Lower gas prices not only save you dollars at the pump, but in other areas as well.

The New Year brought new gas prices that have drivers across the country celebrating. With prices well below $3 in most areas, drivers haven’t been able to fill their tanks for so little in a long time. The obvious benefit of lower gas prices is that you have more money you can spend elsewhere. But Raccoon Valley Bank has some other surprising benefits that cheaper gas will have on your wallet.

Cheaper food – If delivery companies are paying less for gas, the savings could be passed on to consumers.

More car for your money – Bigger families need bigger vehicles. With lower gas prices, the operating cost of a bigger vehicle is much more reasonable. But remember that gas prices won’t stay low forever so it is still important to drive the most fuel-efficient vehicle possible.

Affordable home improvements – Think of the paint, nylon carpeting, upholstery, caulking, plastic piping, and appliance parts that make up your home. These and many other things used to construct your home are made with petroleum and cost less now.

More fun money – The U.S. Commerce Department said that sales of sporting goods and items for hobbies rose by 1.2% in October. With some extra spending money, more Americans are investing in things they enjoy instead of just necessities.

Low-cost hygiene – If you start your day with a hot shower, you can expect lower costs to heat your water. Prices for shampoo, shaving cream, toothpaste, deodorant, and other products may also go down because they have petroleum-based ingredients.

As you can see, lower gas prices don’t just affect how much we pay at the pump. Cheap gas helps your wallet in all kinds of unexpected ways. Take advantage of the low prices and save or invest the extra cash. To talk about investments, savings accounts and more, stop in at Raccoon Valley Bank.

The Financial Facts of Valentine’s Day: The Cost of Love in 2015

Valentine's Day is all about love. But you might not be so in love with some of the spending that happens around this holiday each year.

Valentine’s Day is all about love. But you might not be so in love with some of the spending that happens around this holiday each year.

Valentine’s Day is synonymous with champagne, expensive chocolates and red roses. But have you ever considered how much love birds are really spending on their sweethearts each year? The National Retail Federation found that Americans spend over $17 billion on Valentine’s Day celebrations nationwide. Raccoon Valley Bank set out to find what Americans were spending on to share the love on February 14.

Who doesn’t love Valentine’s Day? Not many, according to the National Retail Federation. They found that at least 54 percent of Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day in some way. The average amount spent on candy, cards, dinner, and gifts is around $134. Men plan to spend almost twice as much on gifts alone as women, averaging $108.38 and $49.41 respectively.

Suppliers and retailers work in overdrive to meet the demand for this kind of purchasing. According to a Floral Trends Consumer Tracking Study, 257 million roses were grown for Valentine’s Day last year. The greeting card business booms as well, selling 190 million greeting cards, according to the US Greeting Card Association.

Since the debut of the Valentine’s Day chocolate box in 1868, candy has consistently been the most popular Valentine’s Day gift in America. Nearly half of all romantics will contribute to the $15 billion spent on chocolates and other sweets each Valentine’s Day.

As you can see, Valentine’s Day celebrations can add up! In order to accommodate to your budget, find alternative gift ideas to the typical chocolate, roses and jewelry. If you wait until a week or two after the special day has past, many of these items will be on sale. Surprise your loved one with a special gift in March!

Raccoon Valley Bank wants to wish you and your loved ones a Happy Valentine’s Day! Use this day to show your friends and family how special they are to you, not how much you can spend on them.

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