News for YOU!
News for YOU! is a free, monthly newsletter provided by KS StateBank that offers tips and other information to help you make wise financial choices. Please feel free to sign up now to receive new editions of our newsletters each month, as well as other updates. You can also subscribe to our business newsletter, News for YOU! Business Edition.
We know that technology can help us do more in less time. But, did you know that you can use it to save time managing your money?
- Use Online and Mobile Banking. Enroll in Online and Mobile Banking to view your account activity — any time. With these convenient services, you can check balances, transfer funds, and even set account alerts to notify you about specific account activity.
- Pay bills and people electronically. You can make paying bills a whole lot easier by paying them electronically with online bill payment. You can even arrange to have recurring bill payments, such as your rent or mortgage paid automatically each month.
- Set up automatic debits. Need to pay your gym membership or your monthly phone bill? You can save time by having billers automatically debit your account each month. All you need to do is provide your account number and your routing and transit number.
- Shop with your debit card. Whether you're going to the store or on vacation, be sure to bring along your debit card for a fast, safe, and convenient way to pay for purchases. Using a debit card is faster than writing a check and a lot safer than carrying cash.
- Deposit checks from your mobile device. With Mobile Deposit found in the KS StateBank Mobile Banking app, you can deposit your check in seconds — right from your mobile device. You'll save a trip to the bank or ATM and will have faster access to your money. Just endorse the back of the check with your signature and "For mobile deposit only KS StateBank" before depositing your check.
- Sign up for E-Statements. You'll not only save valuable time storing and filing statements, it’s also a secure and convenient way to receive your statements.
- Set up transfers to savings. For a convenient and easy way to save, arrange to have funds from your checking account automatically deposited to your savings account each month.
- Sign up for direct deposit. When you sign up for direct deposit with your employer, your funds can be automatically deposited into your checking or savings account on payday, giving you immediate access to your money.
Check fraud scams continue to cheat consumers out of thousands of dollars, and complaints to government agencies and consumer advocacy groups have doubled over the last three years, the Better Business Bureau said in a recent report. These scams can take many forms including mystery shopper scams, check overpayment scams and nanny or caregiver scams.
Fake check scams often involve a scammer sending a bad check to a victim and then asking for some of the funds to be returned. Maybe you:
- Win a prize and are told to send back taxes and fees
- Get paid as a “secret shopper” and are told to wire back money
- Sold an item online and the buyer overpays
Banks have to make deposited funds available quickly. It’s the law. But the bank may not learn for days that the check was bad. By then, the scammer has your money and you have to repay the bank. Remember – just because the check has cleared does not mean it is good.
What to do:
- Be wary. Talk to someone you trust and contact your bank before you act.
- Selling online? Consider using an escrow or online payment service.
- Never take a check for more than your selling price.
- Never send money back to someone who sent you a check.
Spot a scam? Tell the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.
The fall season is a great time to be outdoors. It's also a great time to make improvements to one of your greatest assets — your home. There are a few quick home improvement projects you can take on to prepare your home for the winter ahead:
- Clean up your yard. The work you do in the fall will clear the path for a better yard in the spring. In addition to raking leaves, you can fertilize your grass, aerate your soil, and prune back overgrown or dead trees and shrubs.
- Check your roof. Try to do a visual inspection of your roof to look for damage. If you notice missing shingles or leaks, have a professional repair or seal them.
- Clean your gutters. Your gutters play an important role in helping keep water from getting into your home. Be sure to remove excess debris from them, such as leaves and branches.
- Power wash. Power washing can help remove grime and mold that may be built up on the exterior of your home
- Check for any seal leaks. Leaks can result in the loss of heat and energy — and ultimately, higher heating costs. Be sure to inspect common areas for leaks, such as your attic or windows, and to seal any you may find.
- Have your furnace inspected. A professional can ensure that your furnace is operating at maximum efficiency and that it will be ready for the cold winter ahead.
- Clean your fireplace. If you frequently use your fireplace, be sure to have a professional clean and inspect it every year.
- Winterize sprinklers. Turn off exterior faucets. If you have a sprinkler system, be sure to have a professional winterize lines to avoid freezing and bursting.
All KS StateBank branches and offices will be closed on Monday, October 8 in observance of Columbus Day. We will reopen at our regular times on Tuesday, October 9.
There are so many things to love about being in your 20's; you have ample time to explore new and exciting career opportunities, and to build independence. You also have valuable time to do something that will be very important when you get older — build your wealth. But, no matter your age, it's never too late to start saving.
Here are some important steps you can take today to start accumulating wealth for the future:
- Reduce and eliminate debt. With the high cost of education today, you may be carrying student loan debt. Be sure to make your payments on time and to pay extra principal when you can. It's also important to avoid accumulating other debt.
- Save for retirement. Does your company offer a retirement plan? Try to contribute as much as you can to it. Thanks to the power of compounding interest, you can accumulate funds faster if you save while you're young. If you don't have access to a company-sponsored retirement plan, open an Individual Retirement Account (consult your tax advisor).
- Save regularly. You've probably heard your parents talk about the importance of "paying yourself first." Each pay period, set aside a fixed amount of money to go directly toward saving or investing. You'll be surprised how easy it is to build savings when you pay yourself first.
- Stick to a budget. Analyze your monthly expenses and income. Then, determine how much money you can afford to spend on fun and entertainment and stick to that budget. If you can live within your means when you're younger and have less expenses, it will be that much easier for you when you get older and have a mortgage and other expenses. Our financial management tool, My Money, is a great resource to help you set a budget and keep track of your finances. Just look for the My Money tab in your Online Banking account.
- Get a financial advisor. To determine the best ways to invest your money, consider turning to a financial advisor who can help you determine the options that meet your goals.
The internet continues to transform the lives of many users, revolutionizing the way we all shop, pay bills, and transfer money online. While we offer ways to make it easier for our clients to manage their money online, it’s important to take extra precautions in order to navigate the web safely and to avoid online crime.
The American Bankers Association has provided some guidance to help you safeguard your personal information and navigate the web safely:
- Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date. Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.
- Set strong passwords. A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from unfamiliar sources.
- Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at firstname.lastname@example.org – and to the company, bank or organization impersonated in the email.
- Keep personal information personal. Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc. Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.
- Secure your internet connection. Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it.
- Be careful in the cloud. While using the cloud makes it easier to store and share large amounts of files, understand that it also opens other avenues for attack.
- Shop safely. Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.
- Read the site’s privacy policies. Though long and complex, privacy policies tell you how the site protects the personal information it collects.
Be sure to report any suspected fraud immediately.
This is prime home buying time and it’s not uncommon to find yourself in a bidding war with other home buying hopefuls. You don’t have to go over your budget to win in a home buying bidding war. There are some (lesser known) tricks for competing with other buyers. It all starts with the right financing.
Check out these tips for competing with other home buyers:
Know how much you can afford. Buying a home is emotional, so it’s tempting to do whatever it takes to buy your dream home -- even if it means offering more than you intended. The best way to avoid getting sucked into spending too much is to know exactly how much you can afford. Your lender can go over the numbers and your mortgage options so you’ll have all the information you need to make a smart bid.
Here’s something else to think about: You don’t lose anything when you buy what you can afford to pay. Staying within your budget is a smart financial decision and a sign of a savvy home shopper.
Talk it over with the listing agent. Make sure your real estate agent is talking to the listing agent. All too often, we hear of stories where offers are sent in without a follow-up. And when the listing agent is sorting through multiple offers that look just about the same, it's easy for your bid to get overlooked. Ask your agent to contact the listing agent to make your offer personal and noticeable.
Suggest a shorter closing. Every seller has a motivation, and if you can find out your seller’s motivation, then you’ll be able to win them over without spending a penny more. If the seller needs to sell fast, for example, you can offer to close sooner than the typical 6-week closing period.
Rent the home back to the sellers. You might run into sellers that aren’t in a rush to move out of the house. Perhaps they are still working out the details of their next living arrangements and need a few months before they move out. In this case, you can offer to rent the home back to the seller in exchange for accepting your bid.
Submit an “as is” offer. Offers that have minimal conditions are the most attractive to sellers, and an easy way to do that is to give an “as-is” bid. For example, you can suggest to lessen the inspection period to two days or skip the inspection altogether. However, this is a risky move and may not always be allowed with certain home loans, but it’s something to explore when you're competing for your dream home.
Remember that your best chance at winning the bidding war starts with the home loan. Get started with your home loan by contacting our lending team.
Text Concierge – Now Use it Easily From Our Mobile Banking App
Do you have a question about your accounts? Send us a text. Our Text Concierge service offers another way for you to safely communicate with our Client Care team. Whether you have questions about opening a new account, want to inquire about your last automatic deposit, or need to know the hours for your nearest branch, we're just a text away.
NEW – Now you can text us straight from our Mobile Banking app. Just look for the Text Us Now button and our phone number populates on your text screen.
Our Client Care team can be reached by phone or text at 800-588-6805, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (CT) and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. (CT).
New Medicare cards began going out in May using a unique Medicare Number instead of a person’s Social Security number. New Medicare cards are mailing now to Kansas residents and the rollout across the United States will be completed by April 2019.
With the rollout of the new cards, Medicare has cautioned recipients to watch out for scams. Here are some important things to keep in mind to help protect your information:
- Medicare will not call you uninvited and ask you to give personal or private information to get your new Medicare Number and card.
- Scammers may try to get personal information by contacting you about your new card. If someone asks you for your information, for money, or threatens to cancel your health benefits if you don’t share your personal information, hang up and call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
- Medicare, or someone representing Medicare, will only call and ask for personal information in these situations:
- A Medicare health or drug plan can call you if you’re already a member of the plan. The agent who helped you join can also call you.
- A customer service representative from 1-800-MEDICARE can call you if you’ve called and left a message or a representative said that someone would call you back.
- Only give your new Medicare Number to doctors, pharmacists, other health care providers, your insurers, or people you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf.
- Once you receive your new Medicare card, shred your old one.
For more information about the new Medicare cards visit medicare.gov/newcard.
*Information for this article was found at medicare.gov.
Telephone Banking Upgrade
We’re excited to announce that we have enhanced our Telephone Banking system! If you are a current Telephone Banking user, your PIN will not change and you can still enjoy all of the current features along with a new easy-to-use menu, voice recognition and more.
If you’re new to Telephone Banking, it provides another convenient way for you to stay connected to your KS StateBank accounts. You can use it to monitor deposits, withdrawals and purchases as well as transfer funds and make loan payments anytime, day or night. To get started and access Telephone Banking call 785-587-4040 or toll free at 866-587-4040.
Looking to leave behind the worries of work and responsibilities of home this summer? A fun and relaxing vacation getaway can provide the perfect opportunity to refresh and recharge your batteries. But with summer being the most popular time for vacation, affording a quality vacation can be a challenge. Rest assured, there are some steps you can take to save on your vacation, including:
- Be flexible. If you're open to visiting different locations on short notice, you may be able to find affordable vacation opportunities. You can search for travel deals on websites, such as Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz. You can even set travel alerts to notify you when deals arise.
- Stay close to home. You really don't have to go far to get away. Consider vacationing at a place that's close to home, so you can save on gas and airfare.
- Share vacations. Do you have other family members or friends who may want to vacation with you? If so, consider splitting the cost of renting a house for your vacation with other families.
- Travel off season. If at all possible, avoid popular summer vacation spots, which have peak rates in the summer. Instead, visit locations where summer is the off season, such as tropical islands or southern states, such as Florida.
- Eat in. One of the biggest expenses involved with vacationing is dining out. Consider renting a house or staying at a hotel with appliances so you can prepare your own meals. If you're going to be away during the day, pack lunches and snacks.
- Use your rewards points. Do you have rewards or loyalty points with a specific hotel chain or airline? Do you earn travel points from credit cards rewards? If you are a KS StateBank credit card holder, you should check to see how many travel points you’ve earned through ScoreCard Rewards. No matter how your earn rewards point, be sure to cash them in for your vacation.
- Sleep under the stars. If you can't afford a fancy hotel or summer rental, consider pitching a tent and camping. Camping is a great way to save money and to connect with nature.
With a little planning, creativity, and flexibility, you can get that much-needed savings break.
Before you leave town for your vacation, be sure to let us know you’ll be traveling so that we can expect out-of-state charges on your debit card. This will help prevent your card from being temporarily blocked if our fraud monitoring software detects suspicious transactions that are actually due to traveling. You can either stop by a branch, call our Client Care team at 800-588-6805 or use the Send a Travel Note option from our Mobile Banking app.
There's nothing like a refreshing plunge in a backyard pool to beat the summer heat. But while pools can provide hours of fun and exercise for children and families, they can also present serious safety risks. Here are some tips to ensure pool safety for you and your loved ones:
- Never leave children unattended in the pool. Even if there is a lifeguard present, make sure there is a watchful adult within arm's length of any children swimming in or playing near the pool.
- Teach kids to swim. Children should be knowledgeable about water safety and should be enrolled in swim lessons at an early age.
- Keep inflatables to a minimum. While it's fun to float on donuts, flamingoes, and giant slices of pizza, having too many inflatables in the pool can make it difficult to properly watch children and other swimmers.
- Don't swim alone. Even the best adult swimmers shouldn’t go it alone, as a cramp or medical emergency could result in drowning danger.
- Limit access to the pool. Your pool should be enclosed with a fence that has a lockable gate. In above ground pools, be sure to tie up and lock ladders to prevent children from climbing up into the pool.
- Avoid safety drains. Swimmers should be instructed to avoid pool drains, which can be like vacuums that suck up hair, swimsuits, and jewelry.
- Ensure water quality. To avoid infections and skin rashes, ensure that pool water is clean and regularly and properly filtered.
- Establish pool rules. It's important to establish and follow pool rules, including no diving and running by the pool. Diving can lead to serious head injuries.
- Have a first-aid kit handy. Be sure to have a fully stocked first-aid kid handy and always keep a telephone nearby to call for emergency help.
- Learn CPR. Learning CPR could possibly save a life. CPR classes are usually offered at local hospitals or at community centers.
For more information on pool safety tips or to obtain a free Pool Safety Toolkit, visit poolsafety.gov.
As consumer use of mobile devices continues to climb, cyber criminals are targeting those gadgets more frequently. According to a report by the Federal Reserve, 43 percent of smartphone users say they have used mobile banking in the past 12 months.
While we hold a high standard to protect our clients’ information at KS StateBank, it is important for users to keep safety measures in place to prevent sensitive data from being compromised. We’ve highlighted 12 ways consumers can take extra precaution to protect the data on their mobile device.
- Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen.
- Log out completely when you finish a mobile banking session.
- Protect your phone from viruses and malicious software, or malware, just like you do for your computer by installing mobile security software.
- Use caution when downloading apps. Apps can contain malicious software, worms, and viruses. Beware of apps that ask for unnecessary “permissions.”
- Download the updates for your phone and mobile apps.
- Avoid storing sensitive information like passwords or a social security number on your mobile device.
- Tell your bank immediately if you change your phone number or lose your mobile device.
- Be aware of shoulder surfers. The most basic form of information theft is observation. Be aware of your surroundings especially when you’re punching in sensitive information.
- Wipe your mobile device before you donate, sell or trade it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen.
- Beware of mobile phishing. Avoid opening links and attachments in emails and texts, especially from senders you don’t know. And be wary of ads (not from your security provider) claiming that your device is infected.
- Watch out for public Wi-Fi. Public connections aren't very secure, so don’t perform banking transactions on a public network. If you need to access your account, try disabling the Wi-Fi and switching to your mobile network. Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) app to secure and encrypt your communications when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network. (See the Federal Trade Commission’s tips for selecting a VPN app.)
- Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.
June is American Housing Month and the American Bankers Association has offered some recommendations to help you get settled into your new home.
Create a budget. The key to a good budget is including as much information as you can, so that you can adequately prepare and plan. It's important to keep accurate records of your spending so you can spot places to save money and know how much you can reasonably spend. The My Money financial management tool found in your KS StateBank Online Banking account is a great resource for creating and tracking your budget.
Protect your property. Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, you need insurance to protect your belongings. Also, find out if you’re in a flood zone. If you’re concerned about flooding, you will need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy. Learn more at floodsmart.gov.
Protect your safety. Make sure all of the locks on your doors and windows work properly. If it makes you more comfortable, look into having an alarm system installed. Also, check your fire and carbon monoxide alarms once a month to be sure they’re working. If you have a dryer, clean the lint from the entire system, from the dryer to the exterior vent cap. Lint is extremely flammable and poses a fire risk.
Make your house – or apartment – your home. Decorating your space will make it more comfortable and personal. If you’re a tenant, check with your landlord before making major changes like painting the walls or changing the appliances. Renters should take photos of the rental space before moving in to document the existing condition and insist on a final walk-through with the landlord. If you own your home, be smart about where you invest your money on improvements to ensure you’re building equity in your home. For example, updates in the kitchen and bathroom usually provide the best return on investment.
Save up for a rainy day. Although life may be sunny now, it’s a good idea to create a rainy day fund. The fund should have at least three to six months of living expenses in case you or someone in your household loses a job or becomes ill and unable to work.
Conserving energy. Reducing landfills and pollution. Protecting the environment. Chances are, you already know the impact that recycling can have on sustaining our planet. What you may not know, however, is the impact recycling can have on your home – and on your budget.
Here are some easy ways you can reuse and recycle to save money and the environment:
- Buy items that can be easily recycled. This includes canned and glass items.
- Buy products made from recyclable materials. Just look for the recycling symbol.
- Use cloth bags every time you shop at the grocery store.
- Recycle electronic items, such as your old cellphone or computer.
- Recycle ink and toner cartridges.
- Buy rechargeable batteries.
- Purchase a water bottle and refill it versus buying bottled water.
- Use cloth napkins and dishcloths instead of paper napkins and paper towels.
- Donate unused appliances and clothes.
- Sign up to receive your bank statements and account notices electronically.
- Pay and receive bills electronically.
- Start your own garden.
- Set aside a recycling bin in your kitchen.
- Buy CFL lightbulbs.
Ready…set…recycle more at home today. It’s easy!
We are excited to announce that we recently upgraded our online financial management tool. My Money is a new and improved way to track your everyday expenses, set goals, and maintain your finances easily from your KS StateBank Online Banking account. You can create a budget, organize your personal finances, manage your cash flow and save for things like vacations and retirement.
With My Money you can:
- Get a more complete financial picture with the ability to sync your accounts from more than 17,000 financial institutions
- Easily tag and categorize transactions so you can better understand your spending habits
- Visually track your progress and reach your financial goals quicker and easier
- Build a cash flow calendar that shows what is coming in and going out
- Monitor your activity with alerts
Give it a try! Log in to your Online Banking account and look for the My Money tab to learn more and get started.
There are many numbers associated with homeownership. Luckily, you don’t have to be a master memorizer to be a master homeowner—there are just a few numbers you should have in mind in order to keep your home in tip-top shape. They’ll help you with everything from emergencies, to right-now maintenance and future planning.
4 times a year. Your air filters should be replaced at least every three months. Clean air is important for those with allergies and it helps your systems run better.
1 master shut-off valve. While all of your plumbing-related items will have their own shut-off valves, such as your toilets and sinks, there is also a master shut-off valve that turns off all water to your home. Be sure to know where yours is so you aren’t scrambling for it in an emergency.
Every 6 months. That’s how often you should wash your windows, both inside and outside. You don’t need any fancy cleaning materials; soap and water work fine, as does vinegar and newsprint.
2 insurance policies to consider. Homeowners insurance is a must for any homeowner, but policies don’t always cover damages caused by flood or fire. Check yours to see if these two items are addressed, and if they are not, consider getting separate policies or riders. Even if you don’t live in a flood zone or an area with a lot of wildfires, these issues happen much more often than you would expect.
25 years. That’s the life span of your average roof. Make a note of how old your roof is, so you know when you should expect to replace it.
Every 12 months. Every spring or fall (your preference), clean out your gutters so they run cleanly and properly direct water away from your house.\
Every 30 days. To keep bad odor from infiltrating your kitchen, clean your garbage disposal once a month. Put a handful of ice cubes into the disposal, splash with lemon juice or vinegar and run the disposal until it’s clear. You can also throw orange or lemon peels down the disposal, or purchase cleaning products specific to this task.
120 degrees. The perfect temperature for your water heater is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything below can be too chilly for your taste; anything above has the potential to scald you in the shower. Higher temperatures will also make your energy bill go up, so even a minor adjustment can save you big money.
By knowing the numbers of your home, you’ll be able to keep all aspects of your home in great shape.
Come Work With Us at KS StateBank!
We’re looking for hard-working people who aspire to succeed with a professional organization to join our growing team. If you or someone you know would like to expand their career in banking, we have positions available in the following areas:
- Retail Banking
- Commercial Loan Production
- Mortgage Loan Production
- Training and Education
Learn more about the career opportunities we have available and apply.
Memorial Day is May 28, 2018
On Memorial Day, we remember those who died serving in the United States Armed Forces. All KS StateBank branches and offices will be closed on Monday, May 28 in observance of this holiday, and we give our sincere thanks to those who have lost loved ones defending our country.
Buying a home. It's the American dream and one you may hope to realize soon. You may have even begun looking at homes online or canvassing neighborhoods to find the home that's right for you. But before you set out on your home buying journey, there are some important steps you should take to be mortgage ready:
- Determine how much you can afford. It's important to know how much you can afford before you start looking for a home. You can ask one of our lenders to do a mortgage prequalification or use pre-qualification tools online. A prequalification is an estimate that will let you know much you can afford by factoring in your income and savings.
- Start your home search. Once you have a general idea of how much you can afford, you can narrow your home search and start looking for homes in your price range. You can use real estate websites, such as realtor.com or Zillow.com to get a sense for housing prices. You can also look at trends to see what houses are selling for in your target area.
- Check your credit. Good credit is essential to getting a mortgage and saving money. Before you apply for a mortgage, get a copy of your credit report. If your credit score needs improvement, try to pay down any outstanding balances and avoid taking out any additional credit before you apply for a mortgage.
- Save for your down payment and expenses. A down payment can be as little as 3%t of the price of a home. Of course, the more cash you put down on the home, the less you'll need to borrow. You will also need to ensure you have funds to pay for closing costs and to cover any unexpected expenses you might encounter, such as home repairs.
- Go mortgage shopping. Just as you need to shop for the right home, you need to look for the right mortgage. At KS StateBank we pride ourselves in low rates while still providing the customer service you deserve. We encourage you to compare rates and fees by using all the online tools available.
The best thing you can do is be informed about the home buying process. Use all the tools and resources available to you. Knowledge is power and can very well be the key to opening the door to your perfect home. To learn more about KS StateBank home loans, visit homeloans.ksstate.bank
We want to help the ones we love anyway we can, but there are a few things to keep in mind when helping your family with their finances. We’ve got a list of tips for those wanting to help out their relatives.
Be on guard against phone calls from scammers who target seniors. A common scam involves an imposter pretending to be a relative in trouble. ("My wallet was stolen" or "I'm in jail.") These callers do enough homework to mention the name of the relative or other people the senior citizen knows. And by "crying," it is difficult to recognize the voice. The scammer usually pleads for money to be sent immediately by wire transfer and to not tell any family members for fear of upsetting them. In one variation, the caller may instead claim to be a lawyer, police officer or someone else trying to "help" your relative. Always check with another family member about whether your relative actually is in trouble and needs money.
Understand the potential pitfalls of co-signing a loan for a relative. It's tempting to help a loved one borrow money for that first car, credit card or student loan, but by doing so you will be liable for the full amount of the debt, plus interest, if he or she doesn't pay what's due. Remember, when you co-sign a loan or otherwise sign up as a "guarantor," you are agreeing to become just as liable to pay the loan as the other borrower.
Talk with your younger relatives about how to manage money and use banking services responsibly. Research indicates that parents or other family members regularly talking with a child about basic financial concepts — starting early and into adulthood — is an effective and lasting way to help develop sound money-management skills. Teaching self-control, the ability to delay gratification, and basic math skills early on can lay a foundation for years later, when you are teaching the youngster concepts such as the benefits of saving money for a sizable purchase, perhaps a car or bicycle, and how to wisely manage credit.
Explore ways to save money for a child. If you want to help pay for a younger relative's education expenses, such as tuition for college, you may want to open a tax-advantaged 529 Account or Coverdell Education Savings Account. As long as all funds are used for qualified educational purposes, the money earned will not be taxed. Another aspect of 529 accounts is that you determine how the funds are spent.
Its spring, the time to get out your cleaners and yard tools, and start cleaning up your home. It's also a great time to polish up something that's even more valuable than your home – your life. Here are some small tasks that can go a long way in helping you grow this spring:
- Straighten up your finances. Do you want to grow your savings? Or do you have credit card or other debt you would like to clear out? Stop and review your budget to determine how you can save more, and do it. The extra money you find can be used to invest or pay down debt
- Clean out and declutter. Less is more. So, if you have clothes, shoes, or other items in your closet you never wear, clear them out. Consider donating gently used clothes and other items to a local charity to help those in need. If you have a desktop or workstation that's overflowing with papers and mail, purchase folders and organizers to make your work life a little less complicated.
- Hang up social media distractions. Social media is a great way to connect with others, but it can also be a distraction that takes you away from the things important to you. Consider turning off notifications, so you won't be constantly distracted or interrupted by people who comment on your photos or like your posts.
- Get outdoors. Spring is a great time to be outside. Think about taking up a new outdoor exercise, such as bike riding, tennis, or walking. If you really want to challenge yourself, train to compete in a road or bike race.
- Mix in some laughter. Laughter is one of the best ways to manage stress and connect with others. Try to bring laughter in your life by watching your favorite sitcom or attending a comedy show.
The short spring season will be gone before you know it; so start freshening up your life today.
Social media networks and dating websites have become increasingly popular tools for meeting and communicating. Unfortunately, fraudsters have capitalized on this trend and often create fake profiles to lure in victims, establish romantic relationships and eventually, extort money. Older Americans in particular have been targeted by this type of scam. According to the FBI, over $220 million was lost in 2016 to online romance scam artists.
While online dating can open doors to loving, happy relationships, we are receiving more and more reports of criminals using these platforms to take advantage of unsuspecting users. Approach these relationships with caution so you don’t end up with a broken heart and an empty wallet.
What are the signs of a scam?
- Professes love quickly
- Claims to be from the U.S., but is overseas for business or military service
- Asks for money, and lures you off the dating site
- Claims to need money for emergencies, hospital bills, or travel
If you’re concerned that you or a loved one is being scammed, we recommend taking the following precautions:
- Slow down – and talk to someone you trust. Don’t let a scammer rush you
- Never wire money, put money on a gift or cash reload card, or send cash to an online love interest. You won’t get it back
- Contact your bank right away if you think you’ve sent money to a scammer
- Report your experience to:
According to the Internal Revenue Service, more than 70 percent of the nation’s taxpayers received a tax refund averaging nearly $3,000 in 2017 and will get a similar amount this year. As Americans receive their refunds along with additional benefits coming from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in December, we’ve highlighted some tips to help you make the most out of your money.
- Save for emergencies. You can prepare for unexpected expenses by opening or adding to a savings account that serves as an “emergency fund.” Ideally, it should hold about three to six months of living expenses in case of sudden financial hardships like losing your job or having to replace your car.
- Pay off debt. Pay down existing balances either by chipping away at loans with the highest interest rates or eliminating smaller debt first.
- Save for retirement. Open or increase contributions to a tax-deferred savings plan like a 401(k) or an IRA. While a 401(k) is employer-sponsored, we can help you set up an IRA. If you have questions about your current IRAs or want to open a new one, don’t hesitate to call us at 800-588-6805 or stop into one of our branches.
- Save for your child’s education. Look into opening a tax-advantaged 529 education savings plan to ensure school expenses will be covered when your child reaches college age.
- Pay down your mortgage or student loans. Make an extra payment on your mortgage or student loans each year to save money on interest while reducing the term of your loans. Be sure to inform your lender that your extra payments should be applied to principal, not interest.
- Invest in your current home. Use your refund to invest in home improvements that will pay you back in the long run by increasing the value of your home. This can include small, cost-effective upgrades like energy-efficient appliances that will pay off in both the short and long term – and with tax credits (as long as Congress continues to renew the program).
- Donate to charity. Giving to charity will make a difference in your community, and you can also claim the tax deduction, if you itemize.
Tax season is the perfect time to hit the reset button on your finances and your refund can help put you on the right path towards reaching your financial goals.
Technology has connected us in ways we never thought possible. But while it can bring us closer to people around the world, it can often prevent us from connecting with those who are the closest to us — our children. Between social media sites, online games, and streaming music, movies, and TV shows, it's hard for modern parents to compete for the attention of their children.
Here are simple and fun ways to reconnect with your children. The best part is no batteries or chargers are even required.
- Come to the kitchen table. Busy schedules can make it hard for families to sit down at the same time to share a meal. Try to schedule family dinners or breakfasts a few times a week and encourage everyone to keep their electronic devices from the table and to talk about their days.
- Cook a meal together. Decide what you will make and plan to go shopping together for ingredients. When you cook the meal, you'll have valuable time to talk.
- Exercise. You can make it as simple as arranging to go on a long walk or play basketball in your driveway. It doesn't matter what activity you choose; the important thing is that you pick a healthy way to spend time together.
- Volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to connect with your children and to make a difference in the life of someone in need. Consider volunteering with your child at a food pantry or delivering meals to the elderly.
- Try something new. Is there something you and your child have never done that you would both like to try? Maybe you'd like to learn how to sail, to make pottery, or to try yoga?
- Play a game. Dust off your Monopoly game or checkerboard and show your children that there's another way to play games besides playing them on the computer. Maybe even do a puzzle together.
- Take on a home improvement project. Does your child want to change the color of their room or build shelves? Plan to do a project together and involve your child every step of the way.
It really doesn't matter what activity you choose. The important thing is that you've taken your child away from electronics and reminded them about the most important connection of all — family.
Daylight Savings Time Begins
It’s time to spring forward! Daylight Savings Time begins on Sunday, March 11, so don’t forget to move your clocks ahead one hour.
Based on what we're hearing will happen in 2018, this upcoming year has the potential to be yet another good year for homeowners and those who wish to become homeowners. We've put together a list of the three biggest things experts are predicting for 2018...and what they'll mean for those who currently own a home or are looking to in the future.
More lenders will offer financing options to borrowers who fall outside the "qualified mortgage rule." The qualified mortgage rule, also known as the Ability to Repay (ATR), is a standard that was adopted when the Dodd-Frank act came into play. It's a basic standard that borrowers must meet in order to qualify for a mortgage loan. However, there are many potential borrowers in the marketplace who don't meet traditional qualifications (although they would be excellent and responsible borrowers nonetheless), and thus are unable to secure financing.
Ever since Dodd-Frank, lenders have started looking for ways to lend to borrowers who fall outside this qualified mortgage rule. Now that mortgage rates are rising (meaning that refinance applications are slowing down) and risk management and compliance processes become more streamlined, some lenders, including us will start offering financing to these "non-traditional" borrowers.
What does this mean for you? If you've attempted to get mortgage financing in the past but haven't been able to jump that ATR hurdle, 2018 may make it easier for you to secure a loan—and achieve your dream of homeownership.
New technology initiatives from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will improve the borrowing experience. The two big mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have new technology-based initiatives that will be unveiled in 2018. These have been designed to make the borrowing experience more efficient and less frustrating for borrowers. This will also help lenders qualify even more borrowers because the technology helps more individuals fit inside the "credit box", aka the mortgage credit standards.
What does this mean for you? Streamlining the borrowing experience will help drive down costs and create better ways to finance homes—both of which will result in savings for your pocketbook. It also potentially means a faster loan origination process.
Technology and automation will become more integrated into in the mortgage process. These days, customers are demanding efficiency and transparency in just about everything they do, and that includes the mortgage process. In the past, all parts of the mortgage process have been handled by human beings, but as technology continues to improve more parts of the mortgage process will be able to be automated.
What does this mean for you? A better experience. Self-service options will continue to expand, processes will become much easier to navigate and the overall experience will become better and faster.
If buying a home is one of your goals for this upcoming year, contact a KS StateBank mortgage lender. With our competitive rates, low fees, and our focus on creating positive client experiences, we're in a great position to help you in 2018...and for years to come.
As the 2018 tax season gets underway, KS StateBank is urging all of our clients to take extra precaution when filing their return to prevent their exposure to tax fraud.
Tax identity fraud takes place when a criminal files a false tax return using a stolen Social Security number in order to fraudulently claim the refund. Identity thieves generally file false claims early in the year and victims are unaware until they file a return and learn one has already been filed in their name.
Here are a few tips to follow to help keep your information safe during tax season:
- File early. File your tax return as soon as you’re able giving criminals less time to use your information to file a false return.
- File on a protected Wi-Fi network. If you’re using an online service to file your return, be sure you’re connected to a password-protected personal network. Avoid using public networks like a Wi-Fi hotspot at a coffee shop.
- Use a secure mailbox. If you’re filing by mail, drop your tax return at the post office or an official postal box instead of your mailbox at home. Some criminals look for completed tax return forms in home mailboxes during tax season.
- Find a tax preparer you trust. If you’re planning to hire someone to do your taxes, get recommendations and research a tax preparer thoroughly before handing over all of your financial information.
- Shred what you don’t need. Once you’ve completed your tax return, shred the sensitive documents that you no longer need and safely file away the ones you do.
- Beware of phishing scams by email, text or phone. Scammers may try to solicit sensitive information by impersonating the IRS. Know that the IRS will not contact you by email, text or social media. If the IRS needs information, they will contact you by mail first.
- Keep an eye out for missing mail. Fraudsters look for W-2s, tax refunds or other mail containing your financial information. If you don’t receive your W-2s, and your employer indicates they’ve been mailed, or it looks like it has been previously opened upon delivery, contact the IRS immediately.
If you believe you’re a victim of tax identity theft or if the IRS denies your tax return because one has previously been filed under your name, alert the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490. In addition, you should:
- Respond immediately to any IRS notice and complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit.
- Contact your bank immediately, and close any accounts opened without your permission or tampered with.
- Contact the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit records:
- Equifax, www.Equifax.com, 1-800-525-6285
- Experian, www.Experian.com, 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion, www.TransUnion.com, 1-800-680-7289
- Continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must do so by paper.
All KS StateBank branches and offices will be closed on Monday, February 19 in observance of Presidents Day. We will reopen during regular hours on Tuesday, February 20.
If you've ever had the unfortunate experience of losing your wallet, having it stolen, or even temporarily misplacing it, you know how scary that can be, especially if your wallet ended up in the wrong hands.
One of the best ways to protect yourself is to know exactly what you have in your wallet and include only what you need. There are only a few things you actually do need, including:
- Driver's License. You need a driver's license to operate a motor vehicle, board a flight, or simply to provide identification, so make sure you have it with you at all times.
- Cash. Although it seems like we are moving toward a cashless society, it's important to always have cash with you in case you can't find an ATM or need to purchase something from an establishment that does not accept credit cards.
- Debit card. Your debit card allows you to get cash at the ATM, but also can be used to make purchases. Plus, when you carry your debit card, you won't need to carry large amounts of cash in your wallet, which can make you more vulnerable to theft. If your KS StateBank debit card is ever lost or stolen be sure to contact us right away.
- Credit card. You may also need a credit card in the event of an emergency or unexpected expense, such as car repairs when you are away from home.
- Insurance card. If you experience a medical emergency or even have to go to the doctor, you'll need to present your insurance card.
There are some things you should NEVER carry in your wallet, including:
- Social Security card. In the wrong hands, your Social Security number could allow an identity thief to open accounts in your name.
- A house key. A thief will not only be able to figure out where your home is, but also get into it.
- Blank checks. A thief could forge your signature and steal money from your bank account.
- Your Debit Card PIN or other security passwords. We strongly encourage you not to write down your PIN numbers and security passwords at all. However, if you do have to write that information down, leave it at home in a secure place where others can’t see it.
- Multiple department store cards. If you have department store credit cards that allow you to save, don't carry them all with you. Bring only the card you need to shop.
Check what’s in your wallet today. It might save you a whole lot of money and aggravation down the road.
Email manners matter. Every email you send out — for some of us, that could be hundreds a week — is a reflection on you. That's why it's important to carefully review what you’re sending and to adhere to these Do's and Don'ts of email etiquette:
- Include a friendly or professional greeting and closing with every email. You can greet the person with "Dear" or "Hello" and sign off with "Best" or "Thank you." Without these elements, your email could come off as abrupt.
- Spell check every email you send. Typos in an email can give the impression that you are careless or lazy.
- Be brief and to the point. If you can say it in fewer words, do so. People today are so flooded with emails that they don't have a lot of time to read.
- Review your email for tone and grammar.
- Make sure to write in complete sentences.
- Avoid using emojis or excessive exclamation marks.
- Make sure your subject line is concise and accurately reflects what your email is about.
- Review the audience for the email. Have you included everyone you need to include? Are you including people who don't need to know about the content of your email?
- Understand that sarcasm and humor may not be perceived as easily via email, so try to avoid them, especially in business communications.
- Include a signature in every email that identifies who you are and how you can be reached.
- Avoid acronyms often used with texting, such as BTW — by the way, or TTYL — talk to you later.
- Type in all caps. The person receiving your email may think you are YELLING AT THEM!
- Use multiple colors or patterns in your emails, which can make your content harder to read.
- Send large attachments without warning the recipient about them beforehand.
- Send large attachments without compressing them.
- Forward jokes, chain letters, or other unnecessary emails to others.
- Select "Reply All" without verifying that all recipients need to see your response.
- Send sensitive or personal information in your emails. When sending sensitive or personal information to us at KS StateBank, be sure to use our Confidential Email system.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
All KS StateBank branches and offices will be closed on Monday, January 15 in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. We will reopen during regular hours on Tuesday, January 16.
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