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.
You can't control everything in life. We've all learned that lesson during the global pandemic. But even though we can't predict the challenges or even opportunities we might encounter on the road of life, we can take some steps to remain in the driver's seat, particularly with our finances.
One way to accomplish that is by getting financially organized. Organizing your finances can help you stay focused on your goals, increase productivity and success, save time, and of course, reduce stress. So how can you get started? Here are some tips:
- Bring together your finances. There are many aspects to your financial life; you have your credit accounts, bank accounts, insurance, and retirement accounts. Gather all your financial information and create files either on your computer or in a filing cabinet. You can also create a spreadsheet that documents all your assets and liabilities. If you receive paper statements, put them into binders organized by date and type of information.
- Create a budget. Budgeting is the key to saving. To create your budget, make a list of your monthly income and expenses. Be sure to include all expenses, such as your rent or mortgage, credit card payments, utilities, monthly subscriptions, and fun and entertainment costs. Also, include monthly savings in your budget.
- Track your spending. A budget is only effective if you follow it. Use a spreadsheet or budgeting app to track your actual spending each month. If you're over budget, you'll have to find ways to decrease your spending. For example, can you save money by eating at home versus dining out? Make adjustments in your app or spreadsheet as needed.
- Save automatically. They say you should always pay yourself first. Automating savings makes accomplishing that even easier. You can specify the amount you wish to save, the frequency, and the date you want funds deposited.
- Organize your bills. Bills are just a part of life. The most important thing is to stay on top of them since late or missed payments can result in costly fees and negatively impact your credit. Make a list of your monthly bills and due dates. To simplify bill payment, consider using online bill payment and setting up recurring payments.
- Check your accounts regularly. Thanks to technology, monitoring your accounts is easier than ever. With online and mobile banking, you can set and receive alerts to notify you about specific account transactions or balance levels. Monitoring your accounts can also help you avoid overdrafts, stay on track for your goals, and even spot fraudulent transactions.
- Set and document your financial goals. Think about what you'd like to accomplish in the short and long term and then write those goals down. Then, determine what you'll need to do to achieve them. For example, if you want to buy a home in five years, how much money will you need to save each month for the down payment? When you determine that, add it to your budget and track your progress.
Our free online financial management tool, My Money, makes it easier to stay on track, set goals, and maintain your finances. You can create a budget, organize your personal finances, and set savings goals. Look for the My Money tab in your KS StateBank Online Banking to get started.
By taking these steps, you'll be better prepared financially for the road of life – no matter where it leads you.
If you're a parent, you want to help your children make the right decisions. That includes one of the most important decisions they may make – choosing the right college. As part of that decision-making process, students and parents will often take advantage of a valuable opportunity – college visits. However, due to travel, financial, or safety concerns, an in-person visit may not be a viable option today.
Fortunately, there are some convenient ways you and your child can get the information you need to make a decision – without even leaving your home. These include:
- Visiting college websites. If you want to learn more about the programs and activities offered at a particular college, start by visiting the school's website. You can read about degree programs offered, admissions requirements, student population, as well as facilities and activities offered.
- Taking online tours. Thanks to technology, you can bring the campus right to you with a virtual tour offered by many colleges and universities. A virtual tour will allow you and your child to go inside campus facilities, including dorm rooms, dining areas, and classrooms. You can usually find the tour right on the college's website. Or you can visit sites such as CampusTours.com, which feature tours for colleges throughout the country.
- Getting social. If you want to get a sense for the culture or student population of a particular college, visit the school's social media sites, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. You can read about and see events on campus to get a sense for campus and academic life.
- Interview current students or alumni. What better way to find out about campus life or a particular academic program than to ask a student who's experienced it? Use your social networks, including LinkedIn to connect with others who have attended the college. For example, you may ask a current student if kids stay around on the weekends or go home. Or you could ask alumni about the career opportunities they had post-graduation.
- Setting up a virtual meeting with Admissions. To help students learn more about financial aid, housing, or admission deadlines, many colleges offer virtual interviews via programs like Zoom. Make sure your child dresses professionally and prepares questions in advance to make the most of the meeting.
By doing a little homework even before they get to school, your child can take an important step toward a brighter future.
All KS StateBank branches and offices will be closed on Monday, February 15 in observance of Presidents Day. We will reopen during regular hours on Tuesday, February 16.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued two emergency use authorizations for COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. While this is encouraging news, it unfortunately means there is potential for fraud or other similar criminal activity related to the vaccines and their distribution.
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has warned, “COVID-19 vaccine fraud may include the sale of unapproved and illegally marketed vaccines, the sale of counterfeit versions of the approved vaccines, and illegal diversion of legitimate vaccines. Already, fraudsters have offered, for a fee, to provide potential victims the vaccine sooner than permitted under the applicable vaccine distribution plan.”
Here’s what you need to know to avoid a vaccine-related scam:
- You likely will not need to pay anything out of pocket to get the vaccine during this public health emergency.
- You can’t pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine.
- You can’t pay to get early access to the vaccine.
- No one from a vaccine distribution site or health care payer, like a private insurance company, will call you asking for your Social Security number or your credit card or bank account information to sign you up to get the vaccine.
- Beware of providers offering other products, treatments, or medicines to prevent the virus. Check with your health care provider before paying for or receiving any COVID-19-related treatment.
If you get a call, text, email — or even someone knocking on your door — claiming they can get you early access to the vaccine, STOP. That’s a scam. Don’t pay for a promise of vaccine access or share personal information. Instead, report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov or file a complaint with your state or territory attorney general through consumerresources.org, the consumer website of the National Association of Attorneys General.
Learn more about coronavirus related scams at ftc.gov/coronavirus/scams.
Information for this article was provided by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and the Federal Trade Commission.
It's a holiday leftover many of us carry around for months. It's not Aunt Edna's fruitcake or even those few extra pounds amassed from all the holiday treats. It's the excess credit card debt that comes from spending more than you can afford during the holiday season. Unfortunately, for many Americans, a few festive days of the year can result in mounds of depressing debt that can take months to shed.
If you find yourself with leftover holiday debt, here are some steps you can take:
Stop the credit storm. If you can't purchase something with cash or your debit card, don't buy it. While it's important to have credit cards for emergencies, it's a good idea to put them on ice until you pay down your debt.
Start digging out. On your credit card statement is the minimum payment amount you must make each month to cover finance charges. Always pay more than that amount. The more you pay, the faster you will pay down your balance. If you have multiple credit card accounts, focus on paying off the ones with the highest interest rates first.
Consolidate higher-interest debt. Many credit card companies offer attractive balance transfer offers that come with low teaser rates, allowing you to transfer higher-interest balances to save on interest. Be sure to read the fine print so you know when the introductory rate expires and what the prevailing rate will be. It's also critical to close the accounts from which you transferred the debt. Many people make the mistake of keeping those cards and running up new balances, creating even more debt.
Minimize your other spending. Take a close look at your monthly budget and see if you can cut your spending in other areas in order to pay more on your credit card debt. If you have the opportunity to make more money, either by picking up more hours at work or getting a second job, consider putting excess funds on your credit card debt.
Stay the course. While it can be overwhelming to look at the debt you owe, the most important thing you can do is keep making payments. If you keep digging, you're sure to see a clear path toward credit card debt freedom.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
All KS StateBank branches and offices will be closed on Monday, January 18 in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We will reopen during regular hours on Tuesday, January 19.
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