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.
Home is where most people feel safe and comfortable. But sometimes when weather emergencies, fires, or other disasters strikes it’s safest to pack up and go to another location. When it comes to preparing for these kinds of emergencies, financial readiness is as important as a flashlight with fully charged batteries. Leaving your home can be stressful, but knowing that your financial documents are up-to-date, in one place, and portable can make a big difference at a difficult time.
Here are some tips for financial readiness in case of an emergency:
Conduct a household inventory. Make a list of your possessions and document it with photos or a video. This could help if you are filing insurance claims. Keep one copy of your inventory in your home on a shelf in a lockable, fireproof file box; keep another in a safe deposit box or other secure location.
Buy a lockable, fireproof file box. Place important documents in the box; keep the box in a secure, accessible location on a shelf in your home so that you can "grab it and go" if the need arises. Among the contents:
- your household inventory
- a list of emergency contacts, including family members who live outside your area
- copies of current prescriptions
- health insurance cards or information
- all insurance policy numbers and the telephone numbers for your insurance companies
- copies of other important financial and family records (or notes about where they are) including deeds, titles, wills, birth and marriage certificates, passports, and relevant employee benefit and retirement documents. Except for wills, keep originals in a safe deposit box or some other location. If you have a will, ask your attorney to keep the original document.
- a list of phone numbers or email addresses of your creditors, financial institutions, landlords, and utility companies
- a list of bank, loan, credit card, mortgage, lease, debit, and investment account numbers
- Social Security cards
- backups of financial data you keep on your computer
- an extra set of keys for your house and car
- the key to your safe deposit box
- a small amount of cash (financial institutions or ATMs may be closed)
Consider renting a safe deposit box for storage of important documents. Original documents to store in a safe deposit box might include:
- deeds, titles, and other ownership records for your home, autos, RVs, or boats
- credit, lease, and other financial and payment agreements
- birth certificates, naturalization papers, and Social Security cards
- marriage license/divorce papers and child custody papers
- passports and military papers (if you need these regularly, you could place the originals in your fireproof box and a copy in your safe deposit box)
- appraisals of expensive jewelry and heirlooms
- certificates for stocks, bonds, and other investments and retirement accounts trust agreements
- living wills, powers of attorney, and health care powers of attorney insurance policies
- home improvement records
- household inventory documentation
- a copy of your will
Contact your local KS StateBank branch or Client Care for safe deposit box locations and availability.
Choose an out-of-town contact. Ask an out-of-town friend or relative to be the point of contact for your family, and make sure everyone in your family has the information. After some emergencies, it can be easier to make a long distance call than a local one.
Update all your information. Review the contents of your household inventory, your fireproof box, safe deposit box, and the information for your out-of-town contact at least once a year.
Be on guard against phone calls from con artists 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.
If this happens to you, always check with another family member about whether your relative actually is in trouble and needs money and only wire money to people you know. Don't wire money to strangers who claim they are helping your family.
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.
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.
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. 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.
Information from this article was provided by FDIC Consumer News.
Your home is your castle – and more than likely, your most valuable asset. But as every homeowner knows, maintaining that castle – from landscaping to aesthetics to system maintenance – can be expensive. At least if you have to hire professionals.
Fortunately, there is one affordable way to maintain your home without breaking the bank – you can take on do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. Here are some easy DIY projects to help you improve the look and value of your home.
- Painting. Nothing freshens up the interior or exterior of a home like a new coat of paint on walls, trim, ceilings, and siding.
- Power wash. Make the outside of your home shine by using a power washer to remove grime, dust, and mold.
- Increase curb appeal. Your front door is the first impression people will have of your home. You can help make a positive impression by giving your door a fresh coat of paint and replacing old hardware, such as the door knob, house numbers, or mailbox.
- Re-grout tile. If you want to give your bathrooms a fresher appearance, re-grout and caulk tile on the walls and areas around your bathtubs and showers.
- Replace kitchen hardware. Kitchen remodel not in your budget? You can still give your kitchen a new and updated look simply by replacing knobs and handles on cabinets and drawers.
- Install ceiling fans. Consider replacing lights in your rooms with lighted ceiling fans. Fans provide cool relief in the hot summer and recirculate heat in winter.
- Refinish hardwood floors. Wood floors can add value to a home. If you have floors that could use some shining or that are hidden underneath carpets, give them a fresh finish.
All KS StateBank branches and offices will be closed on Monday, May 27 in observance of Memorial Day as we as we honor and remember those who have died serving in the United States Armed Forces. We will reopen during regular hours on Tuesday, May 28
Phishing is when you get emails, texts, or calls that seem to be from companies or people you know, but they are actually from scammer. They want you to click on a link or give personal information (like a password) so that they can steal your money or identity, and maybe get access to your computer.
As phishing becomes a top cyber threat, the American Bankers Association and the Federal Trade Commission have provided some tips on how to spot potential scams, how to protect ourselves against phishing attempts and how to notify the proper authorities.
Scammers use familiar company names or pretend to be someone you know. They ask you to click on a link or give passwords or bank account number. If you click on the link, they can install programs that lock you out of your computer and can steal your personal information.
Avoid the Hook
Check it out. Look up the website or phone number for the company or person who’s contacting you. Call that company or person directly and tell them about the message you received. Be sure to use a number that you know to be correct, not the number in the email or text.
Look for scam tip-offs. If you don’t have an account with the company, the message is missing your name, uses bad grammar and spelling, or if the person asks for personal information – including passwords – you should use caution. Some phishing schemes are sophisticated and look very real, so check it out and protect yourself.
Protect yourself. It’s important to keep your computer security up to date and back up your data often. Consider using multi-factor authentication – a second step to verify who you are, like a text with a code – for accounts that support it. If any of your passwords are compromised change them right away and don’t use them for any other accounts.
Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org and to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at email@example.com. Also
report it to the Federal Trade Commission on their website at ftc.gov/complaint.
For more information about phishing, visit ftc.gov/phishing.
Saving money is the most important step toward achieving a strong financial future. Yet for many American families who live paycheck to paycheck, finding the money to save can be a tremendous challenge.
What many people might not realize is that there are some small steps they can take to reduce monthly expenses and free up money to save. Here's how:
- Brown bag it. Buying lunch and coffee every day at work can really add up. Save money by brewing your own morning coffee and making your lunch.
- Put away your credit cards. Take your credit cards out of your wallet and hide them in a safe place to make them less accessible. Also, if you have high-interest credit card debt, focus on paying it off or transferring it to a card with a lower interest rate.
- Sign up for rewards programs. To encourage repeat business, most retailers offer rewards programs. Even though signing up can take a little longer at the register, it's worth it. You can earn valuable discounts, which could be used to get cash back, savings at the gas pump, or other money-saving benefits.
- Look at your bank fees. Are you paying high monthly fees on your checking account? Ask a banker to review your account to ensure you are in the right account for your balance level. Also avoid using foreign ATMs unless you have an account that offers reimbursements.
- Plan your meals in advance. To avoid the temptation to go out to eat or order in, plan your meals for the week. Even pre-cook and freeze some in advance, so that if you get home late or are too tired to cook, you can easily heat up a good meal.
- Shop for grocery deals. Planning ahead will also help you save money at the grocery store. Take a look at sales flyers and try to find the best deals on the foods you need.
- Reduce gas expense. Gas can be a big monthly expense. One way to conserve it is to run all your errands on one day, instead of making several trips a week. Also, if you have co-workers that live nearby, ask them to carpool.
- Use your library card. Reading is a great hobby, but if you purchase your books online or at the bookstore, it can be an expensive one. One easy way to avoid book expenses is to use your library card.
Following these steps will give you the extra money you need to pay your most important payee – you – making it easier to build your savings for things like retirement, college savings, or even an emergency fund.
April showers bring May flowers. And as many parents know, they can also bring restless children inside the house wondering what they can do when they can't play outside. Rest assured, there are some fun ways to keep the kids busy without breaking your budget.
- Set up camp. Get out those sleeping bags and pitch or make a tent indoors.
- Create a family photo album. Take out those boxes of photos and organize them into a family photo album.
- Create a recipe book. Ask your kids for their favorite recipes. Then have them write them down, and compile all their favorites into a family recipe book. Have them design the cover and inside pages.
- Design a family magazine. Encourage reading and writing and have some fun by having your children create their own magazine with stories about their favorite topics and interests. Ask them to select a clever name.
- Have a movie marathon. Ask each of your children to pick out their favorite movie and then have a marathon watching session. Don't forget the popcorn.
- Play board games. Board games are a great way to spend time with kids. You may even want to consider making your own board game together and then playing it.
- Play cards. Teach your kids how to play card games or maybe even make a card tower.
- Cook dinner together. Decide on a meal and assign everyone responsibilities to help prepare and serve it.
- Bake. Make some chocolate chip cookies or muffins together.
- Do a puzzle. It’s a great opportunity to relax and talk to your children.
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.
External Link Disclaimer
If you "Continue", the link will attempt to open a new window. If it is unable to, the link will open in the current window.×
NOTICE: Because there is a risk that information transmitted via internet email could fall into the wrong hands, KS StateBank recommends that confidential information, such as account numbers, social security numbers, or other identifying information, not be transmitted via email. Instead, please contact KS StateBank directly at your nearest bank branch, or use our secure KS StateBank message center. It is your responsibility to ensure that communications via internet email are virus free. No responsibility is accepted by KS StateBank for any adverse consequences, or violation of any law or regulation, resulting from your use of internet email.
If you "Continue", the link will open a new email message in your default email program.×