October 2016

Inside this Issue:

Top 3 Reasons E-Statements Make Your Life Easier

  1. You receive your statement as soon as it's ready.  No waiting for postal service delivery.
  2. Your statements are neatly archived on our secure website eliminating clutter and saving paper.
  3. Easily access up to two years of statements from anywhere, anytime.  (You can contact us for copies beyond the two year period).

Text and Email Alerts

Did you know that you can receive a text message or an email update on important account activity? A simple text message giving you a balance update every Friday, informing you when a check clears, or reminding you about a loan payment can make staying on top of your finances easy. Try it now by logging into online banking and setting up your alerts under the "Additional Services" tab.

Financial Tips for College Students

As college students are beginning to settle in with new class schedules, new living arrangements and, for many, a new sense of independence, it is a good time to be reminded that now is when your financial lives begin to take shape. Here are some basic reminders on how to avoid common financial pitfalls during the transition from high school to college and how to set yourself up for financial success.

Create a Budget

Establish what your income will be each month, whether that's from a work-study stipend, part time job, etc... Then, subtract all your debts, including what you'll need to spend on housing, food, gas (if you're driving), and loan payments. Once you have a good idea of how much you can spend each month, set aside a portion of that for an emergency fund. Be sure to update and adjust your budget monthly according to your actual spending. Your budget won't help you control your spending if you set aside $100 per month for groceries but regularly spend $200. Set yourself up for success with a realistic monthly budget based on your actual spending habits. Finance Works is a free service that we offer with online banking which tracks your spending and compares it to budget automatically.

Look for Student Perks

Take advantage of your status as a student! Many restaurants and stores have special discounts for students with a college ID. Leverage these extra opportunities to save money. Renting your textbooks or buying them used can also save you hundreds, and many booksellers offer discounts for college students. Most college and university campuses also offer free or inexpensive entertainment options, too. Look around and see what you can find to keep your monthly expenses down.

Use Credit Cards Wisely

Using a credit card regularly can help build a credit history. Without that evidence of on-time payments and available credit on your credit report, your credit history, or lack of, can hurt your credit score. However, paying off the full balance each month is critical. Never use the credit card to buy something you couldn't buy that same day with cash. That approach will keep you from using credit to live beyond your means while still helping you establish a good credit score.

Finally, make sure you protect yourself against fraud. One convenient way to monitor your accounts is to use online and mobile banking. Establishing sound financial habits now will make life after college that much easier.

Preparing Your Finances for Disaster: Having a Plan

Without warning, a flood, fire or other disaster could leave you with a severely damaged home, destroyed belongings and barriers to managing your finances.

Many people think of disaster preparedness as having a stockpile of water, canned food, and flashlights, but people also need access to cash and financial services. That's why it is important to include financial preparedness in your disaster plans. Here is our latest summary of important preparations.

Periodically review your insurance coverage. You should have enough insurance to cover the cost to replace or repair your home, car and other valuable property, as well as temporary housing if you are displaced from your home. Those who do not own a home should have renters insurance. Also, make sure that you have the right kind of coverage for the types of disasters likely to occur in your area. For example, homeowner's insurance does not typically cover events such as flooding or earthquakes, so you may want to consider whether you need additional coverage.

Build and maintain an emergency savings fund. While your personal hazard insurance should cover most or all of the damage to your home and property, an emergency savings fund can provide for immediate expenses and help fill the gaps.

Consider arranging for online and/or mobile banking. Your bank branch may be temporarily inaccessible after a disaster. Our online banking access enables you to pay bills online, deposit checks and conduct other transactions using your computer, smartphone or other mobile device.

Gather and organize important documentation. Here are suggestions for what to collect, followed by where to keep these items:

  • A list of phone numbers, web addresses and other contact information for the bank, your brokerage firm and insurance companies.
  • Originals and copies of identification documents such as your driver's license, passport, Social Security card and birth certificate.
  • Copies of credit and debit cards (front and back) and a check (front). During an emergency, you may need your account information from these documents to authorize payments over the phone.
  • Originals and copies of insurance cards and documentation of health, homeowner/renter, auto and life insurance coverage.
  • An inventory of valuable personal property. It's fairly easy to take a video of your property, but you should also separately document the value of the items by keeping receipts, written appraisals, and documentation of any home improvements.
  • Records of property ownership, such as a copy of your most recent property tax bill.

Think about what to keep where. The following are options to consider:

  • Digital storage: Many documents can be kept electronically. When deciding which documents to keep electronically, security and access are major considerations. Among other things, consider whether and how to access the documents using your smartphone or a computer. Be sure to encrypt the sensitive material and set your phone security to require a PIN, a password, your thumbprint or another option recommended by your phone manufacturer to unlock your screen.
  • A lease box or safe deposit box at the bank: This may be the best place for important documents that will be difficult or impossible to replace, and that you won't need to access. In case there's a flood or other water damage, seal these items in waterproof plastic bags or containers.
  • A waterproof emergency evacuation bag: In addition to personal safety items, it should include copies of some of the important documents discussed above (except perhaps a copy of your Social Security card or number in case your bag is lost or stolen) and a small amount of cash. Keep your evacuation bag in a safe and secure place in your home.

Conclusion: Having a plan in place and being prepared in the event that a disaster strikes can save you from severe financial hardship.

Three Reasons to Pay with a Credit Card

When used properly, there are many financial advantages to using credit cards to pay for day-to-day expenses. Here are three of the best reasons to prefer plastic:

Track Your Spending

Credit cards offer robust balance and purchase monitoring tools that are appealing because they're easier to use than the traditional check ledger and update automatically and in real-time. Online banking and mobile apps that allow you to pay with your phone, monitor your balance, and categorize your spending are all very helpful budgeting tools and can help prevent overspending.

Earn Rewards

By choosing your credit cards carefully, you can earn rewards for using them. We offer a cash back and a rewards card option, so whether you want to earn for your next vacation or just want more for your money we have you covered.

Build Your Credit

The length of your credit history is a significant factor in your credit score. Keeping your credit card open for a lengthy period of time can help boost your score by showing extended periods of on-time payments. Without a solid credit history, you may find it difficult to rent or buy a home, buy a car or make any other large purchase that requires financing. Another important factor in building your credit is your credit-to-debt ratio, which will shrink if you close a card.

The most important thing to remember is to use the credit available to you responsibly. Carefully consider your purchases, and never spend more than you can afford. Always pay your credit card bills on time and strive to pay off your complete balance each month.  For answers to your credit card questions and to learn which card would fit your lifestyle best, contact your personal banker today.