With April being Financial Literacy Month, now may be a good time for a personal assessment of savings. A new survey shows that most Americans — almost 70 percent — worry about their personal finances, and 28 percent are concerned that they don’t save enough. Here’s a guide for those who want to do more or who are trying to start stashing away some cash each month.
- Make a budget. If you don’t already have a budget, now is the time to set one up. Start with a list of expenses, making sure to include everything from mortgage and car payments to credit card bills, utilities, food and entertainment. As you go through account statements, notice where you may be spending superfluously, including daily runs to pricey coffee shops or lunch spots. Sketch out a “hit list” of things to cut back.
Make a plan to start shifting any extra funds you’ve identified toward the future. Having a clear vision of what your savings goals are will help you stay on track. Divvy up what you can save into separate categories for each goal. At the end of each month, check what you’ve saved and spent against your budget, and adjust as necessary over the next month.
- Find the right account. There are several types of accounts available to support savings goals. At the top of everyone’s priority list should be one for retirement savings. After that, ensure you have an emergency fund, ideally with enough money to cover three to six months’ worth of living expenses. Other goal-oriented accounts might be for your children’s college costs, a vacation or holiday gift-giving.
Certificates of deposit, or CDs, may offer a better way to save for long-term goals, as they earn a higher yield in exchange for agreeing to not touch the funds for a certain amount of time. Just keep priorities straight—saving for retirement should always trump funding a vacation.
- Seek support. Never be afraid to ask for help. Three out of four Americans admit to needing a bit of extra guidance when it comes to finances. If you’re feeling a little bewildered, ask for a hand from a financial professional at an institution like Raccoon Valley Bank. They’ll be happy to help.
This spring, clean out bad financial habits and bring in new ones that support saving. Let this be the month that you start setting aside money for the future.
Cait Klein, NerdWallet
Raccoon Valley Bank, member FDIC
When you are trying to manage your money, it is important to reach into your “financial toolbox” to use what is available to you. One of the major tools you will use most frequently is your checking account. The features available in your checking account can help to simplify your finances. Check out these tips to make sure that you get the most out of your checking account.
- Use a debit card
Debit cards allow you to securely access money directly from your checking account. They are accepted at locations across the globe and can be used at ATMs to withdraw cash.
- Track spending with Online Banking
With Online Banking, you can monitor your accounts, transfer funds, re-order checks and more. You can do all of this from your smartphone or tablet using our Mobile Banking. We also offer Mobile Deposit, which allows you to deposit checks using your smartphone.
- Set up a direct deposit
You don’t need to lift a finger and your earnings will be deposited directly into your checking account.
- Manage overdraft fees
If you spend more money than what you have in your checking account, you will be charged with an overdraft fee. Be mindful of both your account balance and the money you plan to spend.
- Take advantage of Online Bill Pay
Setting up automatic payments for recurring bills can be a helpful way to make sure that your bills get paid on time. Enrolling in Online Banking makes this easy!
Checking accounts make it easy to manage your finances. It is one of the financial tools that you will use the most so it is important to use the right one. Raccoon Valley Bank offers a variety of different options so you can find the account that fits your needs best. Contact us about setting up a checking account to add to your financial toolbox today!
It is never too early to start teaching your children about wise money habits. These are important skills that they will need throughout their life. But sometimes parents are hesitant to teach their children about good money handling because they don’t feel financially literate themselves. Raccoon Valley Bank is here to help you with these simple lessons to teach your kids about money.
Lesson One: Money is earned
Many parents choose to give their kids an allowance in order to introduce them to managing their own money. This is a good teaching tool. However, it does not teach kids that people must work for their money. Instead of giving a weekly allowance, create a chores list with a monetary value assigned to each item. At the end of the week, award your child with the money they earned for completed chores.
Lesson Two: Saving and giving
When your child has earned a little bit of money, help them sort it into three piles: One for saving, one to spend, and the last to give to a charity. This will teach your kids how to save instead of spending all of their earnings right away. These habits will follow your children into adulthood and help them think through future financial decisions wisely.
Lesson Three: Saving for things we want
As your child saves up their earnings, have them earn something that they really want. Help him or her set a goal and offer them extra jobs to earn more.
It is important to remember that the number one place your children are learning about money and wise spending is from you. Be a good example! Teaching your kids about money management is an ongoing lesson. These are some simple starting lessons that can set your child on a path of wise money management.
April is Financial Literacy Month and Raccoon Valley Bank wants to help our customers get a firmer grasp on what it means to be wise with your money. Please contact us with any questions or concerns you have.
We have all heard them. The horror stories of homes sitting on the market for over a year, deceitful real estate agents and deals that fall through. We don’t want you to have a story like this! Raccoon Valley Bank can help you avoid the common mistakes that people make when they are trying to sell their house. Take a look to make sure that your home selling story is a happy one!
Going with the cheapest real estate agent you can find – Your real estate agent plays a large role in the success or failure of selling your home. Use common sense. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Don’t price too high – Instead of looking at what you paid for your home, do some research to find out what is being paid for other homes in your neighborhood. You can also go to different areas to see what the pricing is on homes that are comparable to yours.
No stalking allowed – Don’t suffocate prospective buyers by following them around and giving every detail as they walk through your home. Allow them to walk through the home themselves so they can get a better image of themselves living in it.
Invest in improvements – Spend the time and money needed to make small changes that can have a large impact. This means eliminating odors, getting rid of stains, and maintaining the exterior of the home to keep up its curb appeal.
Pack up the knick knacks – When a prospective buyer is walking through your home, they want to imagine themselves living there. This means that your stuff needs to go. Take down personal photos, toiletries, and anything that is cluttering up the space.
Any of the loan officers at Raccoon Valley Bank can help with your home selling concerns and help prevent your home selling story from turning into a tale of terror. Start a conversation with them today!
Celebrate Financial Literacy Month with Raccoon Valley Bank as we take this opportunity to help our members become smarter consumers. We want to teach our customers how to handle their money and establish healthy financial habits.
Take our quiz to test your basic knowledge about managing finances.
- How much of your income should you spend on monthly housing expenses?
- The color of your car is a factor that affects your auto insurance rates.
- Contributions to a Roth IRA are not tax-deductible.
- Never buy a house that costs more than 2.5 times your annual income.
- How much money should you keep in your emergency fund?
- Six months of living expenses
- Four months of rent or mortgage payments
- By adjusting your tax withholdings on a new Form W-4 you can increase your paycheck.
- Which of the following items is not part of your credit report?
- Your income
- Your current credit card balance
- Your payment history
- You only need life insurance if you have someone depending on you financially (spouse, children, etc.).
- Closing a credit card account you no longer use will lower the amount of credit you have available, and that can put a black mark on your record, resulting in a lower credit score.
Key: 1=3, 2=b, 3=a, 4=b, 5=b, 6=a, 7=a, 8=a, 9=a
How did you do? If you answered most of them correct, congratulations! You are pretty financially literate. But if you missed some, don’t worry, Raccoon Valley Bank is here to offer a helping hand and answer any questions you may have.
Need a home loan? Try these tips to make sure yo get the financing you need!
Home buying can be a daunting task. Between hunting for a house and securing a mortgage, it can be easy to get lost in the loan procedure. But the more prepared you are from the beginning, the easier the entire process will be. As lending experts, we have some tips to help you make sure you get the home loan you want.