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.
With cyber-attacks becoming more and more sophisticated and common, and as we all become more active online, we must take steps to protect our information from cyber thieves. February 11 is Safer Internet Day, so this is a good opportunity to review some ways to keep your information safe.
- 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.
- Establish strong passwords. A strong password is at least 8 to 12 characters and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. Avoid using passwords based on personal or easily accessible information, such as names, birthdays and common phrases (such as “1234” or “Password”) and never share passwords with coworkers, family or friends. Use different passwords for each account and change them regularly.
- 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 sources you are not familiar with. Also, look for common red flags such as misspellings, grammatical errors, requests marked as “Urgent!” or “sensitive”, and/or emails from personal email addresses rather than a business email account.
- Recognize and avoid bogus website links. Cybercriminals embed malicious links to download malware onto devices and/or route users to bogus websites. Hover over suspicious links to view the actual URL that you are being routed to. Fraudulent links are often disguised by simple changes in the URL. For example: www.ABC-Bank.com vs. ABC_Bank.com.
- 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.
- 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.
Taking care of elderly loved ones has become a pressing responsibility for many individuals and families today. In fact, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, about 17% of adult children will care for their parents at some point. If you find yourself in this situation now – or in the future – there are some things you can do to help your aging loved one:
- Be compassionate. The most important thing you can offer is empathy. For some families, this can be extraordinarily challenging as their aging loved ones can be having a difficult time dealing with the challenges of growing older, including failing health, financial insecurity, loss of loved ones, loneliness, and increased dependence.
- Stay connected. This is especially important if you have a parent living on their own. Carving out time for regular phone calls and visits is a great way to show them you care.
- Ask for help. Caring for your parent is likely not your only responsibility. If you need assistance, don't be afraid to call on other siblings or family members to share in the caregiving.
- Keep your parent active. Helping your aging parent stay active is important for their mental health and wellbeing and for yours as well. Find resources and activities that may be available to your parent and help them get involved.
- Attend medical appointments. As your parent ages, their health concerns may become more pressing. Accompanying them on medical appointments will ensure that their healthcare concerns are being heard, they understand options available to them, and that they are following medication and treatment instructions.
- Assist with financial and other tasks. As we age, everyday tasks, such as keeping up with the mail, paying bills, and going shopping can be difficult. Offer to bring in some help or to do some of the work for your parent.
- Practice self-care. Make sure you carve out time for yourself to de-stress and do the things you like to do. You'll be a better caregiver for it.
Join Our Team at KS StateBank!
Join our growing team and expand your career in banking. We have positions available in Commercial Lending, Mortgage Lending, Training and Retail Banking and we offer competitive pay and benefits. To learn more about these opportunities and apply, visit our Careers page.
All KS StateBank branches and offices will be closed on Monday, February 17 in observance of Presidents Day. We will reopen during regular hours on Tuesday,
With the start of the new year, it’s a good opportunity to take a look at your finances and work on any potential trouble spots. For many of us – between student loan payments, car loans and mortgages – living with and managing debt has become part of our normal lives. For others though, debt can be a serious problem that can cause financial stress, insomnia, and relationship problems.
One of the biggest problems for those living with the burden of debt is that they fail to recognize they have a problem – until it's too late. There are, however, some clear signs that indicate when debt is a problem. These warning signs include:
- You can afford only minimum monthly payments. Paying only the minimum on revolving debt, such as your credit cards, will result in substantial interest fees – and could take you years to pay off the debt.
- You can't meet your regular expenses. If you need to borrow from your friends or family members or take cash advances on your credit cards to pay your phone bill or your car payment, you have a debt problem.
- Your debt is growing. Are you aware of the amount of money you owe? Take the time to add up your debt. Then, determine if you're debt is staying the same or increasing each month. If you're not paying down debt, you have a problem.
- Your credit score is declining. If you have a high percentage of debt and you are late or delinquent on your payments, your credit score will reflect that.
- You have no money to save. From car repairs to medical bills, life is full of unexpected expenses. That is why it's essential to have an emergency fund to help pay for them. If you have to use credit to pay for unexpected expenses, you will end up accumulating additional debt.
- Bill collectors call you. Do you find yourself screening your phone calls for debt collectors? If you're receiving calls, it means that you've fallen behind on your payments. Ignoring the calls won't make them or your debt problem go away.
- Have you applied for a new credit card, mortgage, or car loan and been denied? A denial means that a lender does not believe you have the capacity to pay back your loan.
- You frequently overdraw your bank account. If you have an overdrawn account, it means you are spending more money than you have. Take a look at your spending to uncover ways to cut expenses.
- You're losing sleep. If you're staying up at night worrying about how you're going to pay your bills, you definitely have a problem.
- You hide your debt. Neglecting to tell your partner or other family members about the debt you have is a sure sign you have a problem.
If you are exhibiting these signs of debt, it's important to act immediately. Speak with a nonprofit credit counselor or an experienced financial advisor. Don't delay as ignoring your debt problem will only cost you more.
We also offer My Money, a free online financial management tool found in your KS StateBank Online Banking account. My Money can help you stay on track, set goals and maintain your finances.
The holidays may be over, but many of us are still making lists. Only instead of writing down what we want to buy, we're thinking about what we want to change about ourselves with our annual New Year's resolutions. Despite our high hopes and big plans, many of us usually don't get very far into the year before we break those resolutions.
It's never a bad idea to think about ways to improve your life, but instead of making resolutions, make a fresh start by taking these important steps:
- Reflect. Life is always moving, but take some time to stop and reflect on the past year. What were you most proud of? What was most difficult for you? What would you like to change?
- Set priorities. As you reflect on your life, think about what matters most to you. Is it your family? Your career? A passion you have for something? Once you assign your priorities, start allocating your time accordingly. Then, you can spend more time on what's important to you and less time on things that aren't.
- Set goals and work toward them. Is there something you would like to accomplish in the New Year? For example, do you want to write a book? Or make a career change? Once you determine your goal, list some small steps you can take to work toward it.
- Simplify. If you feel you don't have enough time, cut back on some of your lesser responsibilities. You can also simplify your life by getting rid of material things you don't need.
- Be positive. Instead of focusing on the things you can't or didn't do, focus on the things you've done well. Destructive emotions, such as guilt or anger won't help you improve your life. By being positive, you'll attract other positive people.
- Enjoy life. We all have responsibilities, but life is very precious and short. Make sure you carve out time to do the things you love to do and spend time with the people who mean the most to you.
So go ahead ... make a fresh start in the New Year by following these simple steps. You'll be glad you did.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
All KS StateBank branches and offices will be closed on Monday, January 20 in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We will reopen during regular hours on Tuesday, January 21.
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