4 Easy Ways to Save Money
Sometimes financial issues can feel overwhelming. Whether you’re dealing with debt or simply trying to plan for your future, money matters can cause some serious anxiety. But you should know that, though you may not be exactly where you want to be today, establishing good financial habits now can help you get there.
Here are a few simple things you can do on a daily basis that will help you save serious money in the long run.
Piggy bank your change. For most of us, change doesn’t serve much of a purpose other than to weigh down our pockets or purse. But, if you use much cash at all during your daily life, those little fractions of a dollar can add up quickly over time. At the end of the day, empty your change into a large opaque vessel. That way, you won’t really think about it and the money will just add up over time. You might be surprised how much change you can save in a year.
Got clutter? Sell it. Another thing many of us have way more of than we tend to notice on a daily basis is STUFF. Let’s face it: most of us have way more stuff than we need, whether that’s in the form of clothes, electronics, sports equipment, or anything else that accumulates over time. Even if that stuff is not valuable, per se, it tends to be worth something. So instead of throwing it out, sell it online. At the very least, you can donate it and write off the donations on your taxes.
Sign up for rewards. If you like getting a little something back for every dollar you spend, you need to sign up for rewards programs wherever they are available. Many of the retailers you regularly visit likely feature their own reward programs. Here at SNB we offer UChoose Rewards as part of our Checking accounts. This program allows you to earn points for every transaction and eventually get free stuff that you would otherwise likely be paying for out of pocket. Learn more: https://www.snbconnect.com/Uchoose-Rewards
Be smart about utilities. Winter is approaching and that means that heating costs can easily put a hurt on your wallet. If you take a practical approach to utilities, you could end up saving some serious cash. If you can, get used to keeping your house a degree or two cooler. Just using a bit less energy during the most extreme weather periods can reduce your bills considerably.
These 4 steps are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to saving money on little things. Just look around you and consider how you spend money on a daily basis. You are likely to find plenty of other ways to “pinch pennies” that you can feel good about.
5 Financial Tips for College Students
Whether you’re getting set to enroll in your first semester of college classes or you’re going back for your Master’s degree, college students have a lot to consider when it comes to their finances. College can be one of the most exciting and rewarding periods in one’s life, but with many potential sources of stress, it can begin to feel like a burden, as well.
If you have a good hold on your finances, you will help alleviate some of that potential stress. You’ll also be better prepared for life after graduation. In hopes of helping you live your best life, we’ve put together five tips to help you maintain control of your finances while in college.
Budget, budget, budget. Whether you have $5 or $500 to spend, nothing is more important than staying within your means. It’s effectively what keeps your financial ship afloat as you traverse life’s uncertain seas. So learn how to budget early. Make sure you always know your regular income and expenses. In other words, keep a log of how much money you make and how much money you owe on a regular basis for things like bills and rent. Once you do this, you’ll begin to have an idea of how much spending money you have and how much you can afford to put in savings.
Show some restraint. College can be an incredibly fun and tempting time. However, it’s important that, once you make your budget, you stand by it. You may run into a friend or acquaintance that simply has a bigger budget than you. That’s okay. It’s important for you to learn how to resist the pressure of simply going along with what others do. Sometimes a group of people may decide to go to a restaurant that you know is too expensive for your budget. That’s okay. Learn how to show some restraint and you will certainly be better for it in the long run.
Use your credit card wisely. Not every college student needs a credit card, but opening one can be a wise choice. As you may have heard before, there is “bad credit” but there is also such a thing as “good credit,” and it’s actually very important for getting loans for a car or home down the line. The best way for you to start building credit is by using a credit card responsibly. That means staying well under your credit limit and making at least your minimum payment each month.
Know where you stand with financial aid. If you’ve taken out student loans or received financial aid from the institution you are attending, make sure you stay up to date on where those payments and disbursements stand. Even in the case of scholarships, it’s important not to take them for granted. As we have said before, there is no such thing as free money. Make your payments on time and/or know your timetables for repayment once you graduate.
Shop smart. Even when you’re in college and trying your best to be frugal, you can’t avoid spending money. Whether it’s food, clothing, or supplies for your apartment or dorm room, you would be wise to learn how to comparison shop, find discounts, and buy secondhand. Though you can’t avoid buying things, you can avoid buying things that are unnecessary or extravagant.
Whether you’re a high school senior preparing for your first college experience, or a seasoned upperclassman, we hope you’ve found these tips helpful when it comes to managing your finances wisely. While you’ll no doubt learn a lot in the classes you’ll take, it’s possible that the most important thing you’ll take with you after college are the habits you establish.
Click HERE for additional Tips from the American Bankers Association!
Sharing is NOT always Caring - Be Mindful of "Romance Scams"
"Romance Scams" are one of the most common forms of financial fraud and can be the hardest to recognize. Often the fraudster just asks for a favor or needs a little help to get them through a tough time.
Please, do not give out your account information and do not send or accept money from someone you've met online. If you are asked to do so, please reach out to a banker at your branch and ask for help. We can help determine if it's part of a scam: 402-344-7300.
Common Red Flags:
- The friendship or relationship escalated very quickly.
- You've only talked to this person over the phone, text or email.
- Face-to-face meetings are postponed or not possible due to extreme distance.
- They don't always ask you for your money! A fraudster may ask you to accept money on their behalf and withdraw cash or transfer it on.
- When they ask for money or a favor, it is always an emergency or includes a sad story to 'tug at your heart strings'.
Remember - Fraudsters are good at what they do! Don't let your guard down. Contact us if you are experiencing any of these scenarios: 402-344-7300
Do You Have a Decumulation Plan? Many Don’t.
According to a recent research study developed and conducted by PIMCO Investments, many savvy investors may be unprepared for their decumulation stage (when one’s portfolio must support ongoing spending) as they transition into and through retirement. Owners of a large retirement nest egg are often lulled into a false sense of security, incorrectly believing successful accumulation automatically assures successful decumulation.
There is a high degree of complexity and unpredictability in retirement spending. Despite this, many affluent and high net worth retirees feel relatively secure, perhaps overly so. More than four out of five survey respondents are confident or highly confident about their ability to meet their retirement spending needs. And like the view that most drivers view themselves as “above average” (even though it only takes a few minutes of driving behind these people around town to know that can’t be true!), respondents are also highly confident in their investing knowledge and skill, with 89% rating themselves as above-average investors.
Yet, more than half the respondents (55%) seem to have unrealistic and likely overconfident retirement spending plans. Nearly 20% have no specific plan for withdrawing from their savings and investments in retirement; but these investors are just as confident about meeting their retirement spending needs as those who do have a plan.
Investors face a far greater threat of failure in decumulation versus accumulation. This is because the sequence of returns matters more when retirees are spending down their asset base in retirement, creating a gravitational pull downward in account balances over time.
With retirement spending expected to last about three decades for most retirees, a thoughtfully designed, behaviorally compatible plan is critically important to avoid common retirement pitfalls and ensure the longevity of one’s assets. If you would like to schedule time to discuss your plan for retirement, give our advisors a call at 402-221-0183 or meet the team.
Investment and Insurance products are: Not FDIC Insured. Not a Deposit. Not Insured by any Federal Government Agency. Not Guaranteed by the Bank. May Lose Value.
Documents to Keep in Order to Make Taxes Easier
It's tax season. For some us, it can to be confusing, frustrating and stressful time, but don’t worry, you’re not alone. The good news is that filing your taxes doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Keeping certain documents in order before tax season arrives can make your filing experience easier and less stressful.
Here’s what we recommend:
Maintain paper and electronic filing systems. The most important thing you can do to make tax time easier for yourself is to stay organized throughout the year. While you should also find a place on your computer for any financial documents to go, the majority of your financial information should exist in paper format, as well.
For the paper documents, The Motley Fool suggests a three folder system. One folder for all of your income-based documents (pay stubs, bank statements), one folder for expenses and deductions (work-related costs, medical bills, charitable donations), and one for any investments you may have.
Here’s a quick checklist of applicable documents that you’ll want to have filed away:
• Pay stubs and bank statements
• Big ticket receipts
• Proof of a major life change (birth, death, new home, new job)
• Previous year’s tax statements
• Copies of W-2, 1099 forms
It’s not over once your taxes are all filed and your returns show up in the mail. To be really safe, you should hang on to your filing history for 7 to 10 years. It may seem excessive, and in the vast majority of cases, it is. But the IRS can audit any individual as far back as they like if they have reason to suspect fraud. To make sure you’re covered in the rare instance of an audit, it’s best to have your documentation readily available.
The best way to make tax season less stressful is to stay on top of it throughout the year. If you don’t already have a filing system, start one today. Get organized in a way that works for you and add relevant documents to the bunch whenever you encounter one. Taking these steps will ensure that, filling out your taxes will be quicker and easier than ever before.
5 Scams to Look Out For
Though you shouldn’t be living in fear, it’s important to be aware of all the potential dangers that lurk out there in the world. Scammers are out there, and they’ll try anything to steal your money or precious information. The best way to combat them is simply to be prepared.
When you educate yourself about the ways that scammers are most likely to strike, you know what to look out for and are less likely to fall victim to their scams. Below are 5 types of scams that you should be aware of this year.
Identity theft. This is one of the most prominent forms of financial fraud today. With a few key pieces of information, thieves can assume a person’s identity and do massive amounts of damage to their finances. The most important thing you can do to combat identity theft is to keep your personal information completely safe at all times! Never give out your social security number or other personal financial information to anyone. Always keep important financial documents in a safe, locked location.
Impersonating an institution. With the rise of digital communication, it’s not always easy for people to tell who is on the other end of the phone or email. Scammers will take advantage of this fact by pretending to be someone (or something) they are not. And many of them can be quite convincing, telling you that they need some piece of your personal financial information or some bad thing will happen to you. Government organizations like the IRS will never contact you via telephone or email. Disregard and report anyone claiming to represent them needing your financials.
Impersonating a family member. This type of scam happens most frequently to seniors. Often a scammer will call an elderly person claiming to be a relative in need of money. They will say that there has been an emergency or they are in jail and need some amount of money wired right away. Many people get tricked into sending the money because of the urgency of the call and the fear they feel for their loved one. Make sure your elderly family members are educated about this type of scam and tell them to contact you first if they ever receive this kind of call.
Phishing. Phishing is a type of scam where scammers will send out an email attempting to get you to click on a link. That link will then access your information without your knowledge, implant malware on your computer, or take some other harmful action against you. These emails are often very well disguised so your best bet is to maintain a vigilant attitude when reading through your emails. Double check the address of the sender to make sure it is from who you think it is from. And never click a link that you have even the slightest suspicion about.
Credit card magnetic strip fraud. This is a newer example of scamming tactics. Some scammers have figured out a way to place a device in certain credit card readers (especially at gas stations or big box stores) that automatically store your credit card information when the magnetic strip is swiped through. Though it may be nearly impossible to identify a credit card machine that has been tampered with, you can always avoid credit card machines that are unattended, pay for certain things like gas in cash, or upgrade to a new EMV chip card.
You can’t spend your entire life being worried about scammers and being distrustful of every email or phone call. But what you can do is protect yourself with knowledge. We hope these tips have been able to help you do that.
Your Emergency Fund: How Much Should You Have and For What?
Recently, we published a article about what to do when you receive your federal and state tax refunds in the mail. One of the most financially responsible things you can do with that tax return is to start your emergency fund. Because not everyone has an emergency fund or knows where to start with creating one, and why, we’ve put together this guide that should help you on your way.
Here’s what you need to know.
How much you ought to have in your emergency fund depends on your situation. Generally, the rule of thumb is 3 to 6 months of living expenses. So, in order to figure that out, add up your major living expenses for one month: rent, bills, groceries, and leisure spending. If the “6 month” number seems exorbitantly large, don’t worry too much. Getting started is better than doing nothing.
As for where to store your emergency fund, your grandparents may have chosen a shoebox, but these days that is just plain unsafe! Though there are other options, a savings account makes the most sense as the place to store your emergency fund. It’s safe, it accrues a bit of interest, and of course you can withdraw it anytime you need.
Depositing either your federal or state tax refund into a new savings account that you open specifically for your fund is a great way to get your emergency fund started. In order to keep up the momentum and keep your emergency fund growing, there are a few more things you could do, as well.
Dedicate a small portion of every paycheck you receive to your emergency fund. Whether that’s just $5, $10, or $20, every little bit adds up over time and you’ll feel good knowing you’re positively contributing to your emergency savings on a regular basis.
Another way you can save a little bit at a time is by saving your change and/or one dollar bills. Most of those single dollars and coins won’t make a huge difference in your ability to accomplish the necessary tasks of your daily life, but you could be pleasantly surprised at how much builds up after just a few months.
If you’re planning to take this opportunity to start your emergency fund, congratulations! That is a financially responsible decision that, in time, could pay you back many times over. Just remember, it’s called an emergency fund for a reason. You should ignore the temptation to take money out for any reason that cannot safely be called an emergency. You will be much better off in the long run.
5 Smart Ways to Use Your Tax Return
It’s that time of the year again where many people are starting to get their tax refunds back. That means you have an important choice to make. Some folks tend to make the unwise choice to view their federal and state returns as “free money” but it’s important to remember, that is not the case! You worked hard all year for that money and you should be careful about how you choose to use it.
Depending on how much your refund is for and what your current financial situation is, we’ve put together a brief list of things that would generally be smart ways to use your tax return.
Deposit into savings. It’s always a wise choice to add a little cushion to your savings. Whether you’re thinking about a big vacation somewhere down the line or you have a goal in mind that you’d like your savings to reach, a nice healthy deposit into your savings account can help put you at ease with your finances.
Pay down some debt. No matter what kind of interest you are paying on your credit card, student loan, or other debt, using some of your tax refund to pay some of that debt down is always a smart idea. It means that, not only do you reduce the height of the mountain you need to climb, but you also reduce the amount of work it takes to get there.
Start your emergency fund. If you haven’t had a chance to establish your emergency fund yet, the receipt of your tax refund is a great opportunity to do so. Generally, it is advisable to start with around 3 months’ worth of living expenses, so that you will be able to take care of your basic needs were you to get injured, lose your job, or have some other unforeseen circumstance.
Make an improvement to your home. Not every home improvement project has to cost thousands of dollars. Look around your home and you will probably find several things you could do that will not only improve your quality of daily life, it could also improve your property value in the long run.
Treat yourself. Are you debt free with a comfortable emergency fund? Been particularly financially responsible this year? Good for you! You ought to use some of your tax refund to treat yourself to something nice. Whether that’s a nice evening out with your significant other or some other small extravagance, it’s nice to be able to remind yourself that you are worth it and that responsible behavior pays off in the end!
Remember, when your state and federal returns arrive in the mail, they aren’t free money! They are small portions of the money you worked hard for all year long. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to something small, but instead of blowing it all on something frivolous, make a smart choice and invest in your future.
How To Help Your Child Build Credit
We all want the best for our kids. And in order to teach them well, it takes a mix of leading by example and letting them discover by doing. This is especially true when it comes to teaching them good financial habits. Having good credit as an adult is made all the easier when we establish good financial habits as a child.
Although every family is different and it’s up to you to determine what is right for your family, we’ve made 3 basic recommendations that should help enforce good financial habits in your child.
Get them a checking account and a debit card. The first thing you can do is wean them off the piggy bank and introduce them to what money looks like in real life. At its most basic level, this is a checking account and a debit card. This will teach them that managing your money isn’t as simple as counting your pennies. Though maintaining a checking account won’t start building credit in the child’s name, it lets them take that important first step of accepting accountability.
Open a savings account. Once they’ve got the basics of balancing a checking account, you could open a savings account in their name. This will introduce them to the idea of interest and get them thinking about saving for their future, what their goals are and how they will get there.
Talk to them about good financial habits. Finances are complicated. Especially for kids, they can be overwhelming. Take the time to explain complicated financial concepts to them. Talk to them about expenses. Take them to the bank with you. Encourage them to get a job. Explain what all the numbers on their paycheck mean. You probably have an opportunity every day to increase your child’s financial literacy. Even the smallest experience helps inform their future.
If you want to set your child up for financial success in adulthood, do what you can to give them a solid foundation. Good credit starts with a good understanding of financial responsibility. Set a good example by being financially responsible yourself and by sharing some of your knowledge and experience with them. Then, when they’re ready, make them accountable for their own finances with checking and savings accounts.
Cyber Security 101: Reducing Your Risk of Identity Theft
Identity theft is a growing concern. As people do more of their personal business online, cybercriminals are becoming more resourceful in order to steal their valuable personal information. SNB takes every possible measure to protect you and your identity, but you may want to know what other steps you can take to safeguard your activity online.
Below are a few things you can do to protect your identity from cybercriminals.
Pay attention to your accounts. One of the worst things you could do is take a “set it and forget it” approach to your finances. In a world of direct deposit and auto-pay, it can be easy to do that. But ignoring your bank statements could leave the door open for unauthorized activity to go unnoticed. The best way to stay on top of all of your financial activity is to make a habit of checking in on all of your accounts on a regular basis. Our SNB mobile app makes it easy to keep tabs on your finances. Our banking app makes it easy for you to monitor your accounts wherever you are. Additionally, we also recommend utilizing our Account eAlerts service, available in online banking. eAlerts can be setup to send messages to your mobile device or email when a transaction posts to your account. You can find eAlerts by logging into online banking and clicking on the Alerts menu item at the top of the online banking landing page. Remember eAlerts must be setup using our full site and, at this time, cannot be setup using our mobile app.
Vary your passwords. When it comes to deterring cybercriminals, you have to make it difficult for them. Don’t make it easier by using the exact same password for everything you need to access online. If you make them all the same and your password for one site gets compromised, the cybercriminal immediately has access to all of your passwords. Though it may seem like a hassle, this potentially very bad situation could be avoided if you create unique passwords for each site you use. Changing your passwords on a regular basis is also a good idea.
Be wary of suspicious emails. Some scammers accomplish their crimes by fooling people into thinking they are legitimate, or someone they actually are not. Be vigilant when reading emails and don’t be afraid to disregard or report anything that seems suspicious. Most important of all, never send money to anyone who asks through email. Know that the IRS and other government organizations will never contact you via email requesting personal or account information, nor will SNB. Do not respond to anyone claiming to need your personal information.
Identity theft is a real concern. But with a little vigilance you can help reduce your chances of becoming a victim.
If you feel you have fallen victim to online fraud theft, follow these recommended steps immediately.
Have you been affected by the recent Equifax Data Breach? Check out the Federal Trade Commission’s recommendations on what to do:
Honoring Black History Month
Security National Bank Announces Ground Breaking of New Location at Jordan Creek in West Des Moines
OMAHA, Neb., August 21, 2019 – Security National Bank is breaking ground on a new full-service retail location in the Jordan Creek area of West Des Moines to meet the growing needs of its Des Moines clients. The bank plans to expand its footprint in Iowa when the new location at 200 S. Jordan Creek Parkway opens in early 2020.
“Des Moines and central Iowa continue to provide tremendous opportunities for Security National Bank,” says James E. Landen, chairman and C.E.O. “Our team at the new Jordan Creek location is dedicated to providing a high level of service catering to commercial and consumer banking, trust services and mortgage needs.” Key team Security National Bank members at Jordan Creek location are Dylan Dinkla, J.D., wealth management trust officer, and Erik Moen, vice president and relationship manager.
Iowa Lt. Governor Adam Gregg, Iowa House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow and Iowa Senate President Charles Schneider joined Developer Hurd Realty, Simonson & Associates Architects, and the general contractor, OnSite Solutions, along the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce and area business leaders to help the Security National Bank team celebrate at a ground breaking ceremony and reception held August 20, 2019.
The new retail location joins the Bank’s existing Wealth Management and Loan Production Office on the fifteenth floor of The Financial Center at 666 Walnut Street. The Bank opened its first Iowa location in 2000 as a loan production office in Council Bluffs. The Des Moines Wealth Management office opened in June 2015.
Security National Bank is one of the Midwest’s largest privately-held community banks with nearly $850 million in assets and 12 retail banking locations in the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metro Area. For more than 54 years, the Bank has offered comprehensive financial solutions for business and private banking, cash management, wealth management, employee benefits, consumer, and mortgage needs. More information about the bank can be found at SNBconnect.com.