Category: General

How Reading Can Improve Your Financial Well Being

Does being a reader make you more of a leader? Well that might be the case in life and the financial world.  When infamous Warren Buffett was asked about his success he pointed to a stack of books and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.” Most likely if you’re reading this article, you already see some value in the declaration and are here for affirmation. However, for those of you who still aren’t convinced and maybe even guffawed at the notion of fitting in that much reading into an already hectic schedule, let Raccoon Valley Bank give you some insight to consider.

 

It’s a Low Cost Investment

Instead of taking an expensive flight to an expensive conference, you might consider swinging by your nearest bookstore. Because there is no limit to where knowledge can take you, investing in books is a low investment, with an infinite ROI. You can learn from the best in your business field, or pick up a novel.  The jury is still out on whether memory or comprehension is better with print vs. digital, so get what works best for your lifestyle. Owning the book is preferred if you want to become more engaged by writing in the margins, but stopping at your local library another great option!

 

Makes You More Employable

You can make a great difference in your success by expanding your education. Generally, knowledge cannot be lost. What you learn from reading a few books will set you apart, in that you already know something that has taken others years to learn from experience. Unfortunately, only 42% of adults will read a book after they graduate from college-just think about how much of an advantage that can give you! You will be a great resource for your team and have a greater ability to think on your feet because of the reading vitamins you consume. This makes you more desirable to potential employers and encourages a higher salary because of the value you bring to the workplace.

 

Boosts Brain Power

You’ve heard it said, knowledge is power. Are you unhappy about your financial situation? Pick up the Wall Street Journal or the financial matters section in newspapers. You are sure to gain a wealth of information to help you out of your current situation. Some studies show reading will help strengthen your analytical skills, increase your vocabulary and help you to prioritize goals. Your knowledge of the world will be stronger, and you may just notice your financial skills sharpening as your mind is being refined. This is especially true when you read chapter books, as it encourages deep reading and assessment.

The majority of what you read will not only make you a more rounded individual, it will help you to make more sound, financial decisions. You will be a greater financial asset to your company, and yourself. So grab a book, a hot cup of coffee and settle into your next lesson!

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.

 

Community Banking: Why It’s a Wonderful Life

Community Banking

As the seasons begin to change, and the holidays approach, our team at Raccoon Valley Bank would like to share all the wonderful reasons we are grateful to be a community bank. Just like Mr. George Bailey, in the classic tale, It’s a Wonderful Life, we have found countless people and experiences that make our bank lucky to consider this community home:

 

It’s all About the People: Unlike the big banks of America, our small and locally-owned operation prides itself on putting our people first, making the success of our customers the bank’s number one priority. Just like the old Building and Loan, Raccoon Valley Bank strives to help our customers make their home ownership dreams become a reality.

 

Growth Engine for Small Business: We succeed when you succeed. Just as George Bailey invested funds in Mr. Martini’s home and business, Raccoon Valley Bank is here to offer advice and financing on your next home or commercial project. We want to help you and our hometown community grow, just like Bedford Falls.

 

Built on Long Lasting Relationships: The movie’s guardian Clarence, was a very wise man saying, “No man is a failure who has friends.” At Raccoon Valley Bank we pride ourselves on not only helping our customers with their finances, but also building relationships with them as well. If you have a question on how to budget, which retirement plans to look at, or other money management inquiries, consider us your friendly neighborhood adviser!

 

Community Backed: Instead of being underwritten by Mr. Potter, or other national big banks, our institution is built directly upon the needs and wants of our community’s citizens. With no higher ups attempting to monopolize the town, our dedicated team of officers works to build up the community, and the men and women who call it home.

 

Employees Local Citizens: Just like George and Uncle Billy, Raccoon Valley Bank is filled with fun and loveable characters. We take great pride in employing local citizens throughout our company, and helping them grow within the banking industry. If you’re looking for a new career, stop in and see if Raccoon Valley Bank is right for you!

 

Get to know all of us at Raccoon Valley Bank and discover how community banking can help you achieve a wonderful life. For everything from personal financing, to commercial lending, we have the perfect solution for you. Get started today and share your next financial goal with us, we’ll help you shoot for the moon!

10 Things Successful People Do

Successful People

Ever wonder how Mark Zuckerberg or Richard Branson got where they are today? Success doesn’t come easy, but it grows where it is watered. At Raccoon Valley Bank, we want to help you climb into success with these simple tactics! Learn how to begin your journey to the top with these 10 key actions:

 

  1. Have maker time. No matter how many meetings there are in a day, schedule time each and every day to create, produce, and whittle down your to-do list. Not only will you get more done, but you’ll get more completed within your structured time!
  2. Prioritize your tasks. Sometimes that to-do list can be a mile long. Start your day with one main priority, and three sub tasks. Once these core items have been completed you can move on to the other smaller agendas you have for the day.
  3. Keep your values. Whether it’s making it home for dinner, or keeping on top of an evening health regiment, realize there are other values outside of work that need your attention too. Designate your time at work to do the most you can, so once the clock hits five, you know you’re scheduled to be somewhere else.
  4. Strategize your meetings. Do you need to be in every one of your meetings? Perhaps not! Speak with meeting organizers to determine if your input is truly needed and if so, could that be communicated through email instead? Time is precious, so make the most of yours!
  5. Say no. No is a powerful word. While you may not be able to say “no” to a supervisor’s request, when being asked to participate in additional projects, be selective and only join the workload you can handle appropriately
  6. Know when to delegate. You can’t do everything yourself. Invest time in your peers and ensure that if you need a task completed, they are up to the challenge. A great leader utilizers their team’s strengths and weaknesses, so be sure you’re putting the best person on each task.
  7. Create a daily routine. Everything from your morning breakfast choices, the various times you check your emails, to your scheduled breaks, you need to have a routine, and stick to it!
  8. Treat failure as a lesson. There’s a learning experience in every failure. By taking this simple mindset to heart, you can embrace the good that comes with every thwarted attempt. This insight helps not only grow your current project, but also broadens your mind to potential possibilities for future endeavors.
  9. Choose a mentor. The day you stop learning is the day you stop growing. One of the most effective things successful people do is to continue to learn. By never boasting a full cup, you can continue to add valuable knowledge to your repertoire and learn from someone who’s navigated many experiences you’ll soon face.  
  10. Wake up early. The early bird gets the worm! Whether you start work at 4:00am, 8:00am, or 8:00pm arrive early to collect your thoughts before your co-workers swarm in. During rush hour you’ll also notice an easier drive if you leave an extra half hour or hour early.

The Real Cost of a Fixer Upper

Fixer Upper

The Real Cost of A Fixer Upper

Throughout your real estate search, you’ve probably asked yourself the infamous question, “What would Chip and Joanna do?” With HGTV’s Fixer Upper series gaining popularity, more and more families are looking to buy inexpensive fixer uppers to fulfill their home buying dreams. Filled with projects, setbacks, and endless design potentials, these diamonds in the rough come with their own unique set of pros and cons. Luckily, Raccoon Valley Bank is here to help you discover the true cost to working through your own fixer upper.

 

Every home has different needs, but these are some key expenses you’ll need to plan for when purchasing a fixer upper:

 

  • Realtor Fee: if you’re selling your current property, be prepared to fork over the 6 percent fee to have your home sold. Ideally you’re looking to sell your home for a higher dollar than you purchased it for, but this is not always the case. Be sure to have some funds in reserve just in case you have to cover the realtor fee out of your own pocket.
  • Construction Costs: Typically divided into two billing arenas, you can expect to either pay one lump sum, or a calculated cost of labor, materials, and an added profit margin. Expect to pay $100-$200 per square foot of intensive renovation work.
  • Materials: The more upgrades you want, the faster your price will climb. While simply getting the property up to speed is a task all its own, creating your own customized space inside will continue to add dollars and cents to your overall bill.
  • Furnishings: Depending on the format of your last home, you may be upgrading your furniture in this new abode. After various searches and bargain finds, you’ll still need to tuck away and extra some extra funds to ensure you can furnish the home once it is finished.
  • Landscaping: Now that the house is complete, it’s time get to work on the curb appeal – and it isn’t cheap! With an average price tag of $5,000, finishing your home with a completed landscape design can also add to the overall budget.

Altogether, purchasing a fixer upper may cost about the same as a newer home purchase after the cost of renovations. The advantage to these love-needing homes however, is their potential for customization, and creating the ideal home for you and your family. If you’re looking to repair or update your next home, consider financing through one of our structured Home Equity Lines of Credit. Our experienced mortgage lenders are here to help you every step of the way!

The Most Common Phishing Scams and How to Avoid Them

Scams

The Most Common Phishing Scams

Phishing is a common term for the unfortunate schemes hackers and online criminals use to lure users into giving their personal information. Typically disguised as familiar online activity, these scam artists have cleverly found several distinctive ways to attempt to trick YOU into handing over your private details. Be on the lookout for these common phishing scams next time you’re roaming the web!

 

  1.   Foreign Lottery Scam

With this tactic you generally receive an email informing you that you have just won the lottery of some far-away land! To obtain these exorbitant funds you simply have to send a small fee to cover the transfer cost. A simple online search will show that this thrilling lottery is no more than phony website with a long distance phone number. Typically if the sending address doesn’t look familiar, or if you have not applied to any foreign lotteries, it will be a dead giveaway that this email is just an attempt to get your information and your money.

 

  1.   Survey Scam

Do you like supporting the humane society or other animal organizations? This scam takes advantage of your online history and sends you a survey to submit your opinion on issues that matter to you. Instead of using your responses on animal treatment, this system discovers your email address, and other relative personal information, to hack your account and send out further spam emails.

 

  1.   Online Banking Scam

Most phishing schemes disguise themselves as something familiar, often as PayPal or even your personal bank. This particular scam typically indicates that some type of immediate action is needed, and your financial account is at risk. Before sending any type of reply communication, check the source of the email, and call your personal contact at the organization to see if the email is legitimate. If you question the validity of any portion of the email, delete it and call the company this con artist is attempting to masquerade as ASAP.

 

  1.   Clickbait

Social media has a hacking arena all its own. With links scattered across newsfeeds, it’s often hard to determine what is genuine and what is clickbait. Clickbait is a link generated using common controversial issues to get you to click on it. Once clicked, the link may switch to a Facebook login, where you login again. Unfortunately this false login page is a common maneuver by cyber criminals to get your social media login. Having this information, online criminals can now access your account and spam the people you are connected with.

 

If you think you’ve been a victim of an online phishing scam and your personal banking information has been compromised, call Raccoon Valley Bank. We’ll help you watch for signs of identity theft within your personal bank accounts.

What’s Your Spending Style?

Spending Style

What’s Your Spending Style

Everyone spends and saves differently. There are spending personalities on all ends of the spectrum that range from extreme spenders to tireless penny pinchers. Discover what type of spender you are with this helpful quiz courtesy of Raccoon Valley Bank.

 

What’s your typical lunch during the workweek?

A: A packed lunch, typically leftovers from the night before.

B: A variety of prepared lunches from home and a handful of take out meals throughout the month.

C: I usually grab something from one of the local restaurants during my lunch break, occasionally I’ll bring something from home if it was really good.

D: I can’t get through the day without my latte in the morning, and a solid lunch out of the office in the afternoon.

 

How important is your credit score to you personally?

A: I live and breathe by this number, it influences almost all of my buying decisions.

B: I check my credit every month, it’s important to know where you stand.

C: I have a general idea where I’m at, but it’s not the first thing on my mind.

D: What’s a credit score?

 

If you want something that is $3,000 but you only have $1,500 available funds in your account what would you do?

A: Wait until I can save the additional $1,500 I need before purchasing it.

B: Compromise on a similar item that only costs the $1,500 I currently have.

C: Purchase the $3,000 item, paying $1,500 up front, and putting the rest on credit.

D: Purchase the $3,000 item and put it all on credit.

 

What does retirement savings mean to you?

A: Roth IRA, 401(k), stocks, bonds, and personal savings.

B: Using my work benefits along with personal savings.

C: I think I get something for retirement through my place of employment.

D: Something I don’t have to worry about until I’m older.

 

When you see an exciting impulse buy, how do you manage the situation?

A: I remind myself I’m here for these 5 items and nothing else.

B: I remember I already bought a small impulse buy yesterday, so this one could potentially harm my budget.

C: I made it through the work day today, I deserve this.

D: I already have 4 other things I wasn’t expecting to buy, what’s one more?

 

If most of your answers were [A] then you are a Penny Pincher: For you, finances are the key to your existence. All aspects of your financials are crafted into a strategic plan to make the most out of your various savings accounts. You’re the first to suggest a restaurant based on cost, and the last to splurge on a large purchase. Typically you’re also the person other family members typically ask for well-rounded financial advice.

 

If most of your answers were [B] then you are a Balanced Budgeter: In your world, the life of a budget doesn’t have to centered around a hunker down mentality. A budget is a fluid medium that is meant to be customizable to you and your needs. Occasionally an added expenses or unforeseen purchase is needed or warranted, but overall, you ensure you and your family stay on track with a well thought out financial plan.

 

If most of your answers were [C] then you are a Cautious Creditor: Although much of your financial expertise is based on credit card rewards, and other point benefits, you do care about your money management. While not all your choices are made to help boost your savings, there are certain measures you take on a continual basis to help push your financial goals forward.

 

If most of your answers were [D] then you are a Debt Developer: Often times you spend more than you intend. Between check-out line snacks, and lunch time splurges, your bank account just tries to keep up. Understanding your financials isn’t necessarily first on your list of priorities, but there are certainly some things you know you could improve. You appreciate the things you purchase and genuinely enjoy the experience of shopping.

 

No matter what type of spender you are, Raccoon Valley Bank is here to help you succeed. For everything from setting up savings accounts, to consulting on wealth management, we have everything you need to continue your financial success. Give us a call at (515) 993-4581 or stop by today to get started!

Money Lessons at Every Age

Money Lessons

Money Lessons At Every Age

No matter what your age, there are always exciting new aspects to understand in the realm of money management. This year help your children get a head start on their financial education with these key lessons courtesy of Raccoon Valley Bank.

 

2-5 Years Old: The Three Jars Activity
In your child’s youngest years it is important to give them a basic financial understanding. You can help your little ones comprehend savings, spending, and donating through three simple jars. Each week give your child 50 cents or a dollar, all in quarters. It is then their decision whether they want to save it for a bigger toy or purchase, spend it on something smaller, or donate it to help others in need. This activity works to help create a general thought process of the three common ways to spend or accumulate funds.

 

5-13 Years Old: Budgeting Basics
For everything from buying groceries to new clothes for school, you can help your child learn how to budget by setting a spending limit for your various shopping trips. By allowing your little ones to participate in the purchase process, you can help educate them in the importance of staying on or under budget. Let them help you find bargain deals or clip coupons to reduce cost. When the expenditures come in under the budget, reward their efforts with a small treat.

 

14-18 Years Old: How to Build Your Financial Reputation
Correctly making payments is a pinnacle point in proper money management. Whether it’s purchasing your first car, home, or other personal purchase, learning how to correctly pay off your loan, can be the difference between good and bad credit. Get started on this important lesson with a quick tutorial on how you pay any monthly bills or debts. Show your child your system to give them an introduction into how the process will take place. Once they choose to purchase a car or other item through a personal loan, you can walk them through the payment process online, and help them make a calendar of when installments are due.

 

Whether your little one is two or twenty-two, there is always something new to learn. Stop by Raccoon Valley Bank and see how you and your family can improve your money management skills today!

5 Simple Ways to Save for Your Next Vacation

Savings

Whether it’s skiing in the mountains, scuba diving among the reefs, or exploring history throughout famous museums, your ideal vacation can be anything you make it. Wherever you dream of traveling to, price is sure to be a factor in your decision. Make the trip of your dreams into a reality with these smart saving tricks to help fund your travels wherever they may lead.

 

  1. Open a dedicated savings account. To keep your goal clearly in sight and prevent overspending, establish a dedicated savings account for family vacations. You can use these funds throughout the vacation planning stages to book hotels and tickets. During your trip, easily track your designated spending while preventing unneeded dips into a primary savings account.
  2. Trust the change jar. The nickels and dimes that collect at the bottom of your pockets may seem insignificant, but a mere $1.25 saved every day in spare change adds up to just under $500 in only one year. Establish a large lidded container for your trip funds, for gas or gifts. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for loose change both at home and during your work day.
  3. Designate a pantry week. In the months leading up to your vacation, pick one week each month to skip the grocery store and eat out of personal food storage. By eating meals such as spaghetti, soup, or rice, you’ll par down the grocery bill while consuming pre-purchased food before it goes bad.
  4. Repurpose gift cards. Instead of letting that plastic currency go to waste speak with friends and family members to see if any of them are interested in a trade. If there is no trade to be had, selling the gift card for slightly less than the card’s value may create a better incentive for buyers while still allowing you to receive the best benefit.
  5. Save energy. Cut down on your monthly utility bill by creating a list of action items to save on energy costs. Running the dishwasher for extreme loads only, switching to cold instead of hot water for laundry, setting a time limit for showers, and only turning on essential lights can lower your utility bill piece by piece. Take the difference saved and funnel it into your travel savings account.

 At Raccoon Valley Bank, we love seeing you accomplish your financial goals and enjoy all of the incredible places they can take you. If a vacation is on your horizon, make an appointment with one of our financial advisors today and learn how to make the most of your savings.

10 Must-Try Tips for Every Spring Cleaner

Household hacks

You’ve decluttered your closets, rearranged the furniture, and thrown open the windows, and yet – you know your spring cleaning can go even deeper. With just a couple of simple tools you already have around your house, you can take your cleaning to the next level. Get your spring cleaning on with these easy hacks courtesy of Raccoon Valley Bank.

 

  1. Dust blinds in a jiffy. To remove a winter’s build-up of dust and grime that’s settled on horizontal blinds, roll an old tube sock over your hand and spray it with a blast of vinegar before running it over the surface.
  2. Get streak-free windows. Clean smudged windows inside and out with an even mixture of vinegar, water, and dish soap. After scrubbing with a soft cloth, buff and remove streaks in a final once-over with a wadded piece of newspaper.
  3. Banish hard water build-up. To prevent unsightly water streaks on glass shower doors, rub a teaspoon of lemon oil over the surface twice a month and watch drops roll right off.
  4. Remove scratches naturally. To repair dinged or scratched wooden furniture, remove a walnut from its shell and rub it along the scratch. After rubbing the nut’s oils into the wood with your finger, let it sit for five minutes and buff it over with a soft cloth.
  5. De-gunk kitchen cabinets. Remove oil splatters and grime accumulation on kitchen cabinets with a simple scrub of one part vegetable oil to two parts baking soda. Scrub with an old tooth brush to reach extra-fine lines that make cabinetry look dark and dull.
  6. Sterilize Toys. By throwing fabric toys in a mesh laundry bag, you can disinfect and shine armfuls of plush toys in just one spin through the washing machine. Try this same trick in your dishwasher with those tough plastic toys!
  7. Remove pet hair. Grossed out by pet hair in the carpet the vacuum can’t seem to pick up? Run a window squeegee over your carpet by hand – the rubberized edge will pull up and collect hair in one easy-to-grab clump.
  8. Revamp your garbage disposal. Fill an ice cube tray with a mixture that’s eight parts water and one part vinegar, and drop a sliver of lemon rind in each slot. Drop a few frozen cubes down the drain to clean, deodorize, and sharpen your garbage disposal in one fell swoop.
  9. Rid grout of scum. With ¾ cup of baking soda and ¼ cup bleach, create a paste that you can apply between mildewed tile on showers and oven backsplashes. After 10 minutes, gently scrub off with a toothbrush and a damp rag to reveal clean and clear grout.
  10. Sanitize everything. From windows to tubs, hit areas in need of deep disinfectant easily by screwing a spray bottle head onto a bottle of hydrogen peroxide for an instant, even spray. Hydrogen peroxide is the perfect remedy to get tough stains out.

Is your spending plan in need of some spring cleaning? Our financial experts can help you clean up your expenses and make the most of your budget. Give us a call at (515) 993-4581 and learn how today!

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