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.
KS StateBank Hero Program
Heroic service deserves heroic benefits! That’s why we are proud to offer the KS StateBank Hero Program to those who serve our communities making it a little easier for them to purchase the home they deserve.
If you are in K-12 education, work in local, state or federal law enforcement, are a firefighter or fire department employee, a veteran or a spouse of a veteran, this special home loan program is available to you. With the Hero Program you can benefit from having no lender fees and only pay third party closing costs. This program is available for owner occupied properties in 49 states. Qualifying loan programs include VA, FHA, Conventional, Jumbo and USDA.
What keeps you up at night? If it's worries about your finances, you're not alone. According to a poll by creditcards.com, approximately 65% of Americans stay up at night worrying about money. So what specifically is causing their sleepless nights?
Here are three of the most common worries and some proven remedies for putting them to rest.
Worry – managing debt. For all too many people, debt is a part of life. One of the biggest sources of debt is credit card debt. According to a recent Federal Reserve report, the average person in the United States has more than $4,000 in credit card debt.
Remedy: Make a concerted effort to pay off your debt. Be sure to pay more than your minimum monthly payment and to pay off higher-interest debt first. And of course, use your credit card only when you know you can pay off the balance each month
Worry – living paycheck to paycheck. With the high cost of living today, many people find it difficult to build savings, which is critical for managing life's expected and unexpected expenses.
Remedy: Set a budget. Take a careful look at your income and expenses to determine how much net income you have each month. Then, determine ways you can reduce expenses to increase the income you have to save. Once you determine how much you can save, arrange to have money automatically transferred to a savings account every pay period or month.
Worry – retirement savings. Not having enough money to fund retirement is one of the greatest worries for Americans.
Remedy: Remember that it's never too early or too late to save for retirement. If your employer offers a retirement plan, enroll in it and take advantage of any matching contributions. If you aren't able to join an employer's plan, you can open and contribute to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). The key is to make regular contributions over time.
By following these simple remedies, you can take control of your finances and most importantly… get back to sleep.
Daylight Savings Time Begins
Daylight Savings Time begins on Sunday, March 10 for much of the country. Remember to spring forward and move your clocks ahead one hour.
Changes in banking technology make managing your refund safer and easier than ever. The FDIC has provided the following tips to ensure that your refund arrives as quickly and safely as possible along with some ideas on how to get the most out of your money when it does.
The Refund Process
The fastest way to get your tax refund is to have it electronically deposited into your financial account through the IRS’s Direct Deposit Program. It’s free to consumers, and it allows you to deposit your refund into as many as three separate accounts.
While you can still receive your refund in the form of a paper check, there are several advantages to direct deposit. Not only is it faster, direct deposit is also more secure. Refund checks sent through the mail can be lost, stolen, or returned to the IRS, if undeliverable.
Another option is to have your refund deposited onto a prepaid card. If you use a prepaid card, read the fine print and make sure you know how to deposit money onto the card and any fees involved. Cards differ in the types of deposits allowed, the process for receiving government deposits, and the fees charged for certain transactions. If you set up a new prepaid card account for your refund, you may be required to provide information to validate your identity, such as your Social Security number and date of birth.
Protect Your Money from Tax Scams
Be wary of phone calls and emails from anyone claiming to be from the IRS. Identity thieves have been known to pose as IRS agents, providing a fake name and IRS badge number and even creating a fake phone number that appears on caller ID as coming from the IRS. These thieves often threaten people with audits, deportation, and other legal action or promise checks for unclaimed funds.
The IRS typically does not initiate emails to individuals asking for personal information. Before acting on any phone call or email purportedly from the IRS, call the agency at 800-829-1040. An agent will be able to verify whether the IRS is in fact trying to get in touch with you. If you are certain the contact was part of a scam, report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration by calling 800-366-4484. You can also report unsolicited emails by forwarding it to mail to: phishing@IRS.gov.
Some people use tax preparers to assist them with preparing their tax return. Be wary of tax preparers who advertise with fliers or posters promising large refunds or special inside knowledge of little known tax credits and rebates or those volunteering to come to your home to prepare your taxes. These scammers make money stealing your personal information for later use and collecting fees. If you aren’t sure, ask for the tax preparer’s PTIN, which is the IRS tax preparer identification number that all legitimate preparers must have. Also, ask the preparer for references.
What to Do with Your Refund
Once you have received your refund, you need to decide what to do with it. Many people use tax refunds to make large purchases they might not have the cash for at other times of the year. It can also provide a great opportunity to start a new savings option, contribute to your emergency fund, or reduce outstanding debt.
If you are getting a tax refund this year, remember to take steps to keep your refund safe, know the refund options available to you, and consider different ways to make your money work harder for you.
Read FDIC Consumer News for more about the FDIC’s tips for tax season.
Do you want to get ahead in your career? It takes more than just proper training and education. There are some essential skills for professional success that can't be gleaned from a book or taught in a classroom. They are called "soft skills" and here are five key ones that can help you climb the corporate ladder:
- Communication. Good communication skills are vital to helping others form a positive opinion of you. In the workplace, you need to be able to communicate well in writing (emails, reports, etc.) and in person (meetings, presentations, sales opportunities). It's also important to perfect another type of communication – non-verbal communication. This includes your body language and facial expressions, which project your attitude to others.
- Leadership. If you want to elevate your career, you'll need to demonstrate leadership skills. Leaders motivate, empower, and inspire others. You can be a leader among your peers by taking responsibility for projects, and providing assistance to others.
- Collaboration. Individually, you can do a lot for your company and your career, but collectively teaming up with your co-workers, you can accomplish and learn more. Take advantage of opportunities to collaborate with others on projects, leverage their strengths, assist them with their challenges, and listen to and learn from their ideas and insights.
- Problem solving. Problems exist in every workplace and position. What's not as common is having problem solvers who don't just report problems, but develop solutions for them. Before reporting a problem to your manager, prepare possible solutions to resolve it.
- Interpersonal skills. You could be the smartest person in your company, but if you can't get along with others and build relationships, you likely will not advance.
At this point in your career, you may not have mastered all these soft skills, but with more time and experience, you'll learn that developing them is not all that hard.
All KS StateBank branches and offices will be closed on Monday, February 18 in observance of Presidents Day. We will reopen during regular hours on Tuesday, February 19.
Don't just set savings goals for the new year, achieve them! After some well-deserved indulgence over the holidays, it's time to refocus on all that you want to do in 2019 and set yourself up for healthy financial goals.
According to website MagnifyMoney, a third of holiday spenders said it will take them more than three months to pay off their holiday bills. And much of that is because instead of socking away a little at a time over the course of the year, most people put everything on credit cards at the last minute.
Try something different this year.
Use our online financial management tool, My Money, to make your spending and savings resolutions easier. You may not hit all the targets, but at least setting them allows you to get an idea of what's in store, so you don't get caught by surprise next January. And it's really easy with My Money. Plus, you can also set savings targets for your summer vacation, back to school, or whatever savings goals you have before the next holiday season!
Look for the My Money tab in your Online Banking account to get started or visit the My Money page to learn more!
Is it less expensive to buy or build a house? That's a question that many homebuyers have – whether they're first-time buyers or looking toward their next move. Here's what you need to know about buying an existing home versus building a custom home.
The Upfront Costs
Existing Home: The price of a home vary widely as it depends on the area, the square footage, the condition, the amenities, as well as many other factors.
Building a New Home: All things being equal and generally speaking, building a new home costs about $60-$70k more than buying an existing home with similar attributes. But that is not always the case. There are some instances where the cost per square foot comes out significantly less in a custom built home than in an existing home.
Existing Home: Older homes require more maintenance because they have more wear and tear. Some homes may even need a big-time overhaul. As with any home purchase, never skip the home inspection and understand that even with well-maintained homes, repairs are inevitable.
Building a New Home: Maintenance on a new home is very little, and it's one of the central benefits of building a new home. Since everything from appliances to the HVAC system is new and under warranty, you'll enjoy several years of worry-free living. Some contractors even offer a whole home warranty that protects the house for up to 10 years!
Existing Home: A mature garden with large trees and well-established landscaping is a big plus of buying an existing home. Mature trees and landscaping not only add value to the property but can even help to reduce energy costs by providing shade and efficient drainage.
Building a New Home: Professional landscaping can cost thousands plus many years to come to fruition. The benefit, however, is that you'll be able to design your outdoor space precisely to your liking and in very little time. Depending on the project, you can have a custom-designed yard in two weeks or less.
Existing Home: Older homes that have had little to no updating use more energy. Appliances that are older than ten years, single-pane windows, and poor insulation are some updates you'll want to consider if you buy an existing home.
Building a New Home: On average, new homes use about 21% less energy than older homes. However, this saving comes mostly from high-efficiency appliances. Meaning that if you purchase new high-efficiency appliances for an existing home, you can save just as much money on energy with an existing home as you would with new construction.
Existing Home: With an existing home you can see the home's previous sale prices, the cost of similar homes in the area, and have a good idea of what the market value of your home will be in the future.
Building a New Home: New homes, especially those in up-and-coming neighborhoods, can be more of a gamble. Without any sale history or comparable to reference, you have very little to go on when thinking about the future value of your home. Of course, if this is your forever home, which is often the case with custom-built homes, then not having a history to predict the future may not matter.
Whether you're buying an existing home or building a new one, our team of experienced mortgage lenders can help you through the process. To get started visit our Home Loans website, homeloans.ksstate.bank.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
All KS StateBank branches and offices will be closed on Monday, January 21 in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We will reopen during regular hours on Tuesday, January 22.
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