2017 News Archives
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, Business News for YOU!
With the holiday shopping season in full swing, it’s a good time to remind our debit card users that we utilize Falcon Fraud Manager (FFM) to help minimize the risk of fraud. As you’re out shopping, keep in mind that many holiday kiosks and temporary stores use Square terminals or other types of mobile payment technologies. Many of these use a set location that may not be the same location where the transaction takes place. For example, a transaction you make in Kansas City, MO at one of the kiosks may show up as a card present transaction in Houston, TX. Because of this you may be contacted by the Fraud Center for unusual shopping patterns.
FFM uses three methods to try to reach you to verify if a transaction is fraudulent; first by text, then email and finally by phone. You are given five minutes to respond before they try the next method. NOTE: They will never ask for any numbers off of your debit card. If any of these automated systems confirm fraud, you will be transferred to a live representative with FFM for further action. Text messages and emails are sent 24 hours a day, 7 days a week while calls are placed from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day based on the time zone in which your address on record is located.
To increase the chance that you can be reached, please be sure we have your current contact information (including home phone number, mobile phone number and email address). These changes can easily be submitted through an Online Banking Secure Message or at any of our branches.
Learn more about Falcon Fraud Manager and other measures we take to help protect your debit card.
How much do you really know about money? Sure, you know it's the key to realizing life's goals, such as purchasing a home or living out a secure retirement. What many people do not know, however, is that there are many misconceptions and myths about managing money. We've demystified a few of the most common ones below:
Myth #1: To save, you have to make a lot of money. Not true. Saving money isn't about how much you make, it's about discipline. To be a successful saver, you have to be committed to it. That means, paying yourself first. If possible, set aside a fixed amount for savings each pay period. As you make more money, increase that amount.
Myth #2: Credit is bad. Untrue again. Having debt is not good for your financial health, but having access to credit is essential for reaching your goals. After all, few people can afford to purchase a home without getting a mortgage. If you use credit cards, pay off the balances each month. This will allow you to maintain a good credit score, which will help you obtain the credit you may need to reach your goals later.
Myth #3: You're too young to save for retirement. Nope, not true. The fact is, the earlier you save for retirement the better off you'll be. That's due to the power of compounding interest.
Myth #4: Always pay with cash. Again, not always true. With credit card reward programs available today, it may make sense to pay with credit. However, if you do use credit, it's essential that you pay off the balance. Otherwise, you will end up paying interest, which will cost you significantly more. Many people pay with credit cards for another reason – to track their expenses more easily. It's not a bad idea, as long as you are disciplined to pay off your balances in full.
These are just a few of the many money myths circulating today. The best way to manage your money is to be prudent, committed, and informed.
During the holiday season, we think of giving gifts to make those we love feel good. But giving to others can actually make you feel good, too. Research has shown that giving can help boost your physical and mental health. What's more, giving doesn't have to cost money or be limited to those you love; you can spread joy by giving back to others in your community.
Here are a few ideas for how you can give back.
- Give blood. Every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood.
- Become a Big Brother or Big Sister to help an at-risk child.
- Visit an elderly person in a nursing home.
- Deliver groceries or meals to the elderly or provide transportation to appointments.
- Volunteer at an animal shelter.
- Adopt or foster a pet.
- Help cook or serve meals at a homeless shelter.
- Run a food drive for a local pantry.
- Send care packages or cards to the military.
- Volunteer at a school or library to read to children.
- Participate in a charity road race.
- Lend your business skills to a non-profit organization.
- Coach or referee a youth sport.
- Donate gently used clothing and household goods to a charity or homeless shelter.
- Donate holiday gifts to children in need.
- Get involved with a community clean up.
- Raise money to support your favorite charity.
- Volunteer with Special Olympics.
- Build a home with Habitat for Humanity.
- Volunteer at a hospital.
For even greater impact, recruit your family members and friends to join you in giving back. Together, you can make a world of difference.
Our branches and offices will be closed for Christmas on Monday, December 25. We'll also be closed on Monday, January 1 for New Year’s. Otherwise, our hours will remain the same over the holidays.
Best wishes for a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year from all of at KS StateBank!
Losing your wallet can be a scary thing. Even after you’ve covered your bases and contacted your bank, credit card company and possibly the Social Security Administration, you could still run into problems weeks later; you could receive past-due notices on bills for merchandise you never purchased, or your application for an auto loan gets rejected because someone has used your name and Social Security number to open new accounts and run up thousands of dollars in debt. So it’s important to stay vigilant and be prepared. Here are safety tips provided by FDIC Consumer News that can greatly reduce the chances of becoming a victim.
Limit the amount of confidential information in your wallet. Only carry the identification, checks, credit cards or debit/ATM cards you really need. The rest, including bank account numbers, personal identification numbers (PINs), passwords, and most importantly, Social Security cards, are best kept elsewhere in a safe place. Likewise, don't pre-print your Social Security number or driver's license number on your checks, because either one could help a thief apply for a loan, credit card or bank account in your name.
Keep good backup information about your bank and credit card accounts, just in case your wallet is lost or stolen. You'll want account numbers and phone numbers that can be used to report your losses or request new cards. You can also take advantage of SecureSwipe. SecureSwipe is a free service that helps reduce fraudulent transactions by allowing you to easily lock and unlock your debit card from our Mobile Banking app.
Review your credit card bills and your checking account statements as soon as they arrive. Make sure that no fraudulent activity is taking place. Be sure to sign up for any online services as well, like Online Banking or Mobile Banking, to make it easier to review your transitions.
Periodically request your credit reports. Look for signs that someone may have obtained loans or tried to commit other fraud in your name. By federal law, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228 to order your free credit reports.
Experts often suggest that, to maximize your monitoring capability, you spread out your requests and receive a report from each of the three credit reporting agencies at separate times rather than all at once.
If you've already been victimized, take steps to limit your liability. Immediately call your bank (to report a lost debit/ATM card) and your credit card companies. And if you spot an unauthorized charge on your credit card, you must follow up on any phone calls to your card issuer with a letter disputing the transaction.
"Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, you must dispute unauthorized charges appearing on your credit card statement in writing within 60 days after it was sent to you," notes Joni Creamean, Chief of the FDIC's Consumer Response Center. "The letter also must be sent to the bank's designated address for billing inquiries, not to where you'd mail your payments."
Sometimes it's necessary to borrow money for major purchases like an education, a car, a house, or maybe even to meet unexpected expenses. Your ability to get a loan generally depends on your credit history, and that depends largely on your track record at repaying what you've borrowed in the past and paying your bills on time. So, be careful to keep your credit history strong.
Actions You Can Take
- Track your borrowing habits.
- Pay your bills on time.
- When you need to borrow, be sure to plan, understand and look for a loan with a low Annual Percentage Rate (APR).
- Learn about credit and how to use it effectively.
- Pay attention to your credit history, as reflected by your credit score and on your credit report.
Hints and Tips
- Borrowing money is a way to purchase something now and pay for it over time. But, you usually pay "interest" when you borrow money. The longer you take to pay back the money you borrowed, the more you will pay in interest.
- When repaying a loan, it may be better to pay more than the minimum amount due each month, so you will have to pay less in interest over the life of the loan.
- One of your most important aids when shopping for a loan is the APR — the Annual Percentage Rate. This is the total cost, including interest charges and fees, described as a yearly rate.
- Paying your bills on time will help increase your credit score. Even if you fell into trouble with borrowing in the past, you can get on solid footing and rebuild your credit history by making regular payments as agreed.
On Saturday, November 11 all KS StateBank branches and offices will be closed for Veterans Day as we honor those who have served our country. Thank you to the veterans of United States Armed Forces for your bravery and dedication.
We will also be closed on Thursday, November 23 so our employees can celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends. We’ll return to normal hours on Friday, November 24. We’re grateful for all of our clients and hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!
As millennials face unprecedented financial burdens such as student debt, the American Bankers Association has provided some tips to help them plan for a financially sound future.
Get a head start. Banks play a major role in helping customers prepare for major life events such as buying a house and planning for retirement. Ask your banker how you can get a head start on your first major purchase by establishing credit or starting a retirement account.
Don’t miss out on free money for your future. If your employer matches your 401(k) or other retirement contributions, contribute enough from day one to get the full match. It’s free money, and its value compounds over time.
Save without thinking about it. Make saving a part of your lifestyle with automatic payroll deductions or automatic transfers from checking to savings. Arrange to have a specific amount transferred to your savings account every pay period.
Tap into bank technology to make smarter decisions. By literally tapping into your bank’s mobile app, you can track your transactions and manage your finances.
Sign up for email or text alerts. Keeps tabs on your money by setting up automatic alerts through Online Banking or Mobile Banking so you know when your balance falls below a certain level, or to confirm when certain types of transactions occur. Along with alerts, KS StateBank offers SecureSwipe to help reduce fraudulent transactions by allowing you to easily lock and unlock your debit card from our mobile banking app.
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, so we thought it would be a good time to share some reminders about simple things we can do to help protect our computers and our money from online security threats.
Have computer security programs running and regularly updated to look for the latest threats. Install anti-virus software to protect against malware (malicious software) that can steal information such as account numbers and passwords, and use a firewall to prevent unauthorized access to your computer.
Be smart about where and how you connect to the Internet for banking or other communications involving sensitive personal information. Public Wi-Fi networks and computers at places such as libraries or hotel business centers can be risky if they don't have up-to-date security software.
Get to know standard Internet safety features. For example, when banking or shopping online, look for a padlock symbol on a page (that means it is secure) and "https://" at the beginning of the Web address (signifying that the website is authentic and encrypts data during transmission).
Ignore unsolicited emails asking you to open an attachment or click on a link if you're not sure it's who truly sent it and why. Cybercriminals are good at creating fake emails that look legitimate, but can install malware. Your best bet is to either ignore unsolicited requests to open attachments or files or to independently verify that the supposed source actually sent the email to you by making contact using a published email address or telephone number.
Be suspicious if someone contacts you unexpectedly online and asks for your personal information. A safe strategy is to ignore unsolicited requests for information, no matter how legitimate they appear, especially if they ask for information such as a Social Security number, bank account numbers and passwords.
Use the most secure process you can when logging into financial accounts. Create "strong" passwords that are hard to guess, change them regularly, and try not to use the same passwords or PINs for several accounts.
Be discreet when using social networking sites. Criminals comb those sites looking for information such as someone's place of birth, mother's maiden name or a pet's name, in case those details can help them guess or reset passwords for online accounts.
Be careful when using smartphones and tablets. Don't leave your mobile device unattended and use a device password or other method to control access if it's stolen or lost.
Parents and caregivers should include children in their cybersecurity planning. Talk with your child about being safe online, including the risks of sharing personal information with people they don't know, and make sure the devices they use to connect to the Internet have up-to-date security.
Columbus Day is October 9, 2017
All KS StateBank branches and offices will be closed on Monday, October 9 in observance of Columbus Day. We will reopen at our regular times on Tuesday, October 10.
Same day Automated Clearing House (ACH) debits will become effective on Friday, September 15, 2017. This means virtually all types of electronic payments (excluding debit card transactions), for both credits and debits, will be eligible to be processed on the same day that they are originated.
How does this affect me? Previously, you may have seen debits posted to your KS StateBank checking or savings account once per day. As of September 15, transactions such as check clearing (only checks to ACH) and bill payments will post multiple times throughout the business day. It’s important to remember to make sure funds are available in your account for payments you make online or via telephone to avoid incurring NSF fees.
Will my direct deposit be affected? No. Your direct deposit will continue to be credited to your account on the correct posting date.
If you have any questions about the upcoming change, give us a call at 800-588-6805.
We have become more connected than ever before. A little over ten years ago, we only accessed the Internet through a laptop or a desktop computer. Then, we added phones and tablets to our list of connected devices. Today, we have even smaller connected devices, such as fitness trackers and smart watches. The list of Internet connected devices, or “things”, keeps growing. Kevin Ashton, cofounder and executive director of the Auto-ID Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), first mentioned the term Internet of Things (IoT) in 1999. Basically, if it is not a computer, smartphone or tablet, and it connects to the Internet, it can be called an IoT device.
Many people know they should install anti-virus (AV) software on their computers and be careful of what websites they visit or software they download. Unfortunately, most people probably do not consider their IoT devices to be a security threat. These devices are more accessible and make our lives more integrated, but many of the companies behind these new devices are not designing them with security in mind. For example, many IoT devices have default passwords that are well known and cannot be changed, or cannot be changed easily. They also can be difficult or impossible to update to mitigate known vulnerabilities, or have no settings to customize security.
Our dependence on Internet-connected devices has grown faster than the means, and/or awareness, to secure them. Leaving IoT devices unsecured, as with any Internet connected device, is like leaving the back door to your house unlocked. It gives attackers access to your personal information and the potential to further compromise other devices on your network. It also gives attackers the means to propagate their attacks onto others by using your insecure devices to attack other networks and devices.
So, what can you do to enjoy the functionality of IoT devices and remain more secure at the same time? The following tips may help you in these endeavors:
- Know what IoT devices are connected to your network. It is possible that there are devices connected to your network that you do not know about.
- Consider only purchasing devices that you need to use. Some Internet-capable devices may be nice to have, but provide limited benefit and reduce your security.
- Isolate IoT devices from other devices on your network by creating a separate Wi-Fi network just for them. This protects your other devices if your connected IoT devices are compromised.
- Update the device’s software, if possible. If you update your device regularly, this will reduce the chances of a successful attack.
- Replace default passwords with unique and strong ones of your choosing. Passwords should have upper and lower case characters, numbers, and special characters, with at least 10 total characters.
- Configure security and privacy options, such as enabling encryption and limiting the information your devices share.
- Replace insecure IoT devices with more secure ones. Seek out reviews on these devices that address security features and patching support to determine which ones may have a reasonable baseline of security.
This article was provided by the Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center.
KS StateBank is growing! If you or someone you know would like to work for a successful, forward-thinking and growing bank, we have opportunities available in a variety of departments including Commercial Lending and Retail Banking. See what positions we’re hiring for and apply online.
More than 70 percent of college graduates began their career owing more than $37,000 in student loans in 2016. Considering this debt load and other living expenses that lead young adults to delay major life events like getting married or buying a home, it’s critical for new college graduates to focus on their financial future. The American Bankers Association has highlighted six traps new college graduates should avoid to position themselves for financial success as they transition from the dorm room to the office.
Not having a budget. Supporting yourself can be expensive, and you can quickly find yourself struggling financially if you don’t take time to create a budget and live within your means. Calculate the amount of money you’re taking home after taxes, then figure out how much money you can afford to spend each month while contributing to your savings. Be sure to factor in recurring expenses such as student loans, monthly rent, utilities, groceries, transportation expenses and car loans.
Racking up debt. Understand the responsibilities and benefits of credit. Shop around for a card that best suits your needs, and spend only what you can afford to pay back. Credit is a great tool, but only if you use it responsibly and live within your means.
Not thinking about retirement. It may seem odd since you’re just beginning your career, but now is the best time to start planning for your retirement. Contribute to retirement accounts like a Roth IRA or your employer’s 401(k), especially if there is a company match. Invest enough to qualify for your company’s full match – it’s free money that adds up to a significant chunk of change over the years.
Thinking you’re invincible. Hardships can happen in a split second. Start an emergency fund and do your best to set aside the equivalent of three to six months’ worth of living expenses. Make saving a part of your lifestyle with automatic payroll deductions or automatic transfers from checking to savings.
Putting off paying bills. Each missed payment can hurt your credit history for up to seven years and can affect your ability to get loans, the interest rates you pay and your ability to get a job or rent an apartment. Consider setting up automatic payments for regular expenses like student loans, car payments and phone bills.
Ignoring free help from your bank. Take advantage of the free digital banking tools that let you check balances, pay bills, deposit checks, monitor transaction history and track your budget.
Stay in control of your debit card with SecureSwipe. Have you lost your card or been a victim of debit card fraud in the past? SecureSwipe allows you to easily turn your debit card off from the KS StateBank Mobile Banking app until you’re ready to use it. It’s easy to enroll and get started with SecureSwipe from our Mobile Banking app. Stop by a branch or click here to learn more.
Save on Your Terms: Certificates of Deposit
Retirement, your next home, your kids’ college education… there are many reasons why it’s important to save. Certificates of Deposit are one of the savings options you have to choose from at KS StateBank. No matter how much you have to invest we have a savings option that can help. Check out our deposit rates and choose the CD term that’s best for you.
Take a look at an article published recently by Bankrate highlighting our competitive CD rates.
With opportunities to get great exercise, spend time outdoors, and enjoy quality time with friends and loved ones, there's a lot to love about bicycling. But just like most outdoor recreational activities, cycling does come with risk and responsibility. You can reduce your risk of getting injured by always making bicycle safety a priority. Here are some tips to get you and your family on the road to safe cycling:
- Wear a properly fitted helmet. It's especially important that young children be outfitted with a proper-fitting helmet.
- Adhere to the rules of the road. Cyclists have the same obligations as automobile drivers and must always drive in the same direction as traffic and obey all signs and rules of the road.
- Watch the road. Roadways are filled with potholes and slippery substances, which is why it's important to always be focused on the road ahead.
- Use hand signals. If you're making a turn or need to stop, always use your hand signals to let drivers know your intentions. Similarly, if you are approaching pedestrians, be sure to tell them you are behind them by ringing a bell or announcing your approach.
- Don't assume drivers will stop. Approach intersections and crosswalks with caution. Never assume that drivers will stop because they have a stop sign or red light.
- Avoid distractions. Never talk on your cellphone or wear headphones to play music. Be 100% alert at all times.
- Stand out. There's a reason cycling clothing is bright; it makes it easier for cyclists to be seen. Avoid riding after dark or in poor weather when visibility is low.
Identity fraud has become a big problem for consumers with millions of Americans becoming victims each year. By being cautious about what information you share and who you share it with you can help protect yourself.
Here are a few things to keep in mind to help protect your information and avoid becoming a victim.
Don’t share your secrets. Don’t provide your Social Security number or account information to anyone who contacts you online or over the phone. Protect your PINs and passwords and do not share them with anyone. Use a combination of letters and numbers for your passwords and change them periodically. Do not reveal sensitive or personal information on social networking sites.
Shred sensitive papers. Shred receipts, banks statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
Keep an eye out for missing mail. Fraudsters look for monthly bank or credit card statements and other mail containing your financial information. Consider enrolling in Online Banking and sign up for E-Statements to reduce the likelihood of your paper statements being stolen. Also, don’t mail bills from your own mailbox with the flag up.
Use online banking to protect yourself. Monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions. Sign up for Text Banking and receive text alerts for certain types of transactions, such as online purchases or transactions of more than $500.
Protect your computer. Make sure the virus protection software on your computer is active and up to date. When conducting business online, make sure your browser’s padlock or key icon is active. Also, look for an “s” after the “http” to be sure the website is secure.
Protect your mobile device. Using a passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen. Before you donate, sell or trade your mobile device, be sure to wipe 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. Use caution when downloading apps, as they may contain malware and avoid opening links and attachments – especially for senders you don’t know.
Be sure to report any suspected fraud to your bank and your local police department immediately.
Military families face unique financial challenges, particularly when a service member is deployed or relocates. Here are some things military families can do to help reduce the stress of managing money.
Contribute automatically to a Thrift Savings Plan. Military members have access to the Federal Thrift Savings Program which offers the lowest-cost retirement savings plan available.
Plan for deployment. Before deployment, have a family conversation about managing the household budget. Consider granting power of attorney to your spouse, should they need to make any urgent financial decisions while you are gone. Check with your bank to see if they have pre-printed forms you can use for bank accounts. Military personnel also receive additional funds while deployed. Decide on the best use for that extra cash, whether it is paying off debt or increasing Thrift Savings Plan contributions.
Meet with your banker before active duty. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act offers all military personnel entering active duty a variety of financial protections. The SCRA covers issues ranging from interest rate reductions to limits on debt accrual. Ask your banker about the key provisions of this law and how they can help you.
Set up automatic Bill Payment. Whether you’re stationed stateside or overseas, automatic Bill Payment will give you and your family one less thing to worry about each month.
Consider housing options. At KS StateBank we’ve helped thousands of military families finance their homes and we were even included in LendingTree's list of Top VA Lenders for 2017. With mortgage rates at notably low levels, homeownership may seem like a no-brainer. However, we understand that frequent relocations and deployments can make owning a home challenging and expensive so renting may be a smart option for short-term assignments. Decide what’s best for your family and your finances.
Consult a financial advisor. Schedule a visit at a Personal Financial Management Program (PFMP) office, located in your military and family support centers. They offer free one-on-one counseling, as well as other financial education resources.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also provides tips and resources for service members at consumerfinance.gov/servicemembers.
When we think about summer break, we think about kids off from school or families heading out for vacation retreats. But there is another break you can take this summer — a break from stress.
Try some of these fun and easy ideas to help you take a break from stress:
- Play hooky for a day. Take some time off from work and go to the beach, the lake, or anyplace else where you can escape from your daily responsibilities.
- Go for a swim. Cooler minds will prevail in cool and refreshing water. Take a jump in the pool or your local swimming hole.
- Listen to music. Music can soothe your soul. Instead of doing household chores in silence, put on some soft, relaxing music. Or, put on dance music and groove with your vacuum. Summer is also a great time to find a relaxing concert in the park.
- Eat healthy. The foods you eat have a lot to do with how you feel. Take advantage of summer's fresh fruits and vegetables for healthy eating.
- Exercise. Go for a long walk, take a bike ride, or do outdoor yoga. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which help reduce stress and pain.
- Read a book. Enjoy a good and relaxing book on a hammock or in a lounge chair outside.
- Go out with friends. Take your mind away from your house and the responsibilities that come with managing it by going out to dinner or a movie with friends.
- Take a break from electronics. Even though you may have to stay connected to your phone and computer during work hours, you don't have to after quitting time. Put those devices away and enjoy the short summer season.
Get up and out, and send that stress packing this summer!
Since June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we wanted to highlight some of the red flags for elder financial abuse. The key to spotting financial abuse is noticing a change in a person’s established financial patterns. Whether it's your parents, grandparents, a neighbor or a friend, it's important to help watch out for warning signs.
- Unusual activity in an older person’s bank accounts, including large, frequent or unexplained withdrawals
- Changing from a basic account to one that offers more complicated services they do not fully understand or need
- Withdrawals from bank accounts or transfers between accounts they cannot explain
- A new “best friend” accompanying an older person to the bank
- Sudden non-sufficient fund activity or unpaid bills
- Closing CDs or accounts without regard to penalties
- Uncharacteristic attempts to wire large sums of money
- Suspicious signatures on checks, or outright forgery
- Confusion, fear or lack of awareness of what is going on with their finances
- Checks written as “loans” or “gifts”
- Bank statements that no longer go to the person’s home
- New powers of attorney the person does not understand
- A caretaker, relative or friend who suddenly begins conducting financial transactions on behalf of an older person without proper documentation
- Altered wills and trusts
NEW! Text Concierge
Have a question about your accounts? Now you can text us. Our new 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.
Our Client Care team can be reached by phone or via 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).
It comes as no surprise that summer is a great time to get in shape, but it’s also a great time to get your finances into shape. You can accomplish that fairly easily by doing one simple activity — trimming your monthly expenses.
Here are some suggestions for losing that extra financial baggage this summer:
Refinance your mortgage. With mortgage rates still low, you may be able to refinance your higher-interest mortgage and reduce your monthly payments substantially. That simple step could possibly save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. Talk to one of our lenders to see if refinancing makes sense for you.
Lower your cellphone bill. Most of us can't live without our cellphones. We can, however, do without those expensive monthly bills, which can be budget busters. Take some time to review your bill to determine your usage and to see if you can move to a less expensive plan. Or if that's not possible, shop around with other carriers.
Share the ride. Gasoline and car maintenance can take a big portion out of your budget. One way to reduce your automobile expense is to carpool with others. Or, if you live close to work, consider walking or riding your bike.
Dine in. There is a lot to love about dining out. You don't have to worry about what to cook or spend your valuable time cleaning up. But, dining out frequently can be very expensive. By preparing and eating your meals at home, you may be able to save hundreds of dollars each month.
Save energy at home. Put some energy into reducing your utility costs by using energy-efficient light bulbs, turning off lights, and conserving water.
Reduce your cable bill. Spending too much on cable? Examine your bill and see if you can get rid of premium channels. Or consider, eliminating cable altogether and using subscription services.
Get rid of your gym/club memberships. If you belong to a gym and don't get there often, cancel your membership. It's only worth it if you use it.
Review your insurance coverage. If you have home and auto insurance, you may be able to reduce your premiums by raising your deductibles. Also, see about having your auto and home insurance bundled to take advantage of discounts.
The best method for determining ways to save is to record and review your monthly expenses. Then, once you cut your expenses, take that extra money and put it in a savings account. In no time at all, you'll see that you look a whole lot better with trimmer expenses.
Father’s Day is Sunday, June 18
Be sure to celebrate the fathers in your life and all they’ve done for you. Happy Father’s Day from all of us at KS StateBank!
Celebrate America! All KS StateBank branches and offices will be closed on Tuesday, July 4. Have a safe and happy Independence Day.
Why save? It may be to realize the plans we have for our lives — to own a home or pay for our child's education in the future. Or maybe it's to gain greater control of the unplanned things of today, such as emergency medical expenses or car or home repairs.
Finding a good reason to save is easy. What's not as easy is actually doing the saving. But successful savers know that saving money isn't all that difficult; at least when they follow these common saving secrets:
Start early. The younger you start, the easier it is to become a successful saver. So even if you're just starting your career, it's never too early to start saving for retirement.
Save even a little. Even if you have a tight budget, you can still get in the habit of saving. Take any extra change you have and put it in a large jar, where it's difficult to get at the funds. You'll be surprised by how quickly the money will add up if you keep adding to it.
Automate your savings. With today's convenient banking services, such as Online and Mobile Banking and direct deposit, it's easier than ever to save money. You can arrange to set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account each month. Or arrange to have a portion of your paycheck automatically deposited to your savings or retirement account.
Pay yourself first. Saving money should always be a priority. So each pay period, pay yourself first by putting aside funds to save. And if you're fortunate enough to get a raise at work put the extra money in your savings account and live as though you never got the raise.
Develop a budget — and stick to it. Successful savers know how much money they have to save. To determine this, track your income and monthly expenses. If you have money left over, save it.
Avoid unnecessary debt. One of the biggest barriers for savers is debt accumulation. Try to minimize debt, particularly high-interest credit card debt. Remember a simple rule: if you can't afford to pay for something in cash, don't buy it.
Determine "wants" versus "needs." We all like to have new things. But while you may want a shiny new car with all the bells and whistles, you may find your old reliable car can still get you where you need to be. When making a purchase, particularly a major purchase, think about if you really need it.
The most important thing successful savers know is that saving money won't just help you realize your future plans; it also will help you sleep a whole lot better.
It may be small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, but the part it plays in your daily life is huge. It's your smartphone — and your connection to your prized photos, important calendar dates, and the phone numbers of nearly everyone you know. Most of us don't realize how vital our smartphones are to our lives until we lose them or they are no longer functioning. That's why it's so important to make protecting your smartphone, and the personal information it holds, a priority. Here are some tips:
Use a Password or PIN. Your smartphone is great in your hands, but in someone else's hands, it could be dangerous, especially if you have personal or financial information easily accessible. To protect yourself, set a PIN or password on your phone.
Regularly update your operating system. Although downloading updates on your operating system may be inconvenient at times, it's an easy way to ensure you have the latest security features on your device.
Buy safe apps. Be sure to purchase apps from companies you know and trust.
Avoid public charging stations. Connecting your phone to public ports like those found in airports and malls can put your phone at risk for a data breach from a hacker. It's much safer to invest in a portable battery charger or charge using a standard wall outlet instead of USB port.
Watch your wireless and Bluetooth connections. Public wireless networks can present a serious security risk. One way to protect yourself is to switch off a wireless connection if you are not using it. You should do the same with your Bluetooth connection. You'll not only protect yourself, but also conserve your battery.
One of the smartest moves you can make to protect the information on your device is to regularly back up your data. That way if the unthinkable happens – you get separated from your smartphone — you'll still have access to the information you need.
Mother’s Day is May 14!
On Mother’s Day we take time to honor our moms and show gratitude for the influence they’ve had in our lives. Whether it’s buying flowers, taking her to dinner or just spending time with her, be sure to show your appreciation.
Happy Mother’s Day from your friends at KS StateBank!
April is Financial Literacy Month and teaching children about money management early on can help instill good habits that will benefit them later in life. So, how soon is too soon to talk to your kids or grandkids about money? If they are old enough to ask for a toy or a bike, they are old enough to start learning financial lessons that will last a lifetime.
The best financial lessons are part of everyday experiences. Look for opportunities to talk about money, read books aloud and play games that center around spending money wisely. Be open and honest when you discuss your financial experiences—good or bad.
Here are some examples of teachable moments to help you get started:
At the bank - When you go to the bank, bring your children with you and show them how transactions work. Ask the manager to explain how the bank operates, how money generates interest and how an ATM works. It would also be a good time to start a savings account for your child.
On payday - Discuss how your pay is budgeted to pay for housing, food and clothing, and how a portion is saved for future expenses such as college tuition and retirement.
At the market - It’s easy to give clear examples of “needs” and “wants” when you’re out shopping. Explain the benefits of comparison shopping, coupons and store brands.
Chores and allowances - Assign chores and give them a monetary value. Discuss ways to budget and divide allowances. Encourage children to set a financial goal, such as saving for a bike, and figure out how to achieve it.
Paying bills - Explain the many ways that bills can be paid: over the phone, check, electronic check or online. Discuss how each method of bill pay takes money out of your account. Be sure to cover late penalties, emphasizing the importance of paying bills on time.
Using credit cards - Explain that credit cards are a loan and need to be repaid. Share how each month a credit card statement comes in the mail with a bill. Go over the features of different types of cards, such as ATM, debit and credit cards.
Planning a vacation - Whether you are planning an outing to a local amusement park or a once-in-a-lifetime trip, emphasize the value of saving as a family. Set a family savings goal that involves your children. Figure out the cost and discuss ways everyone can help to reach the goal.
Always encourage your children to ask questions about money. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a great educational website that you can use as a resource to help your children learn more about money.
Hardwood floors. Sleek new appliances. Back yard landscaping. If you own a home, chances are you have a pretty good idea about the steps you can take to improve it. But did you realize you can freshen and improve another aspect of your home? You can make over your mortgage by refinancing.
There are some very good reasons why a mortgage makeover may be a smart move for you. Here are a few:
Reduce interest costs. With rates still relatively low, now may be a good time to refinance your mortgage to a lower rate. A lower rate can translate into tens of thousands of dollars in savings over the life of your loan.
Shorten the term of your mortgage. Looking to enjoy the comforts of mortgage-free living earlier in your life? You may be able to refinance a longer-term loan, such as a 30-year-mortgage to a 15-year mortgage. You'll not only own your home sooner, but will also save considerably on interest. And with rates still low, you may be able to shorten the term of your loan without increasing your monthly payments too dramatically.
Get cash out. Do you have unexpected expenses or higher interest debt? Depending on the value of your home, you may be able to take cash out when you refinance your mortgage. That could give you the money you need and help you take advantage of potential tax savings that come with home borrowing (consult your tax advisor).
Let us help you spruce up your mortgage. To learn more about whether a mortgage makeover is a good move for you, contact one of our experienced lenders.
KS StateBank is growing! If you or someone you know would like to work for a successful, forward-thinking and growing bank, we have opportunities available in a variety of departments including Mortgage Lending, Commercial Lending and Retail Banking. See what positions we’re hiring for and apply online at ksstate.bank/careers.
Ever wonder how you can keep better track of your spending? Save money more easily? Bank more efficiently? Eliminate late-fee charges on your bills?
The solution for all of that is in your hands — with Mobile and Online Banking.
These free services give you the power to connect with your money anytime, anywhere, and offer tools and features to help you manage your money more easily. You can:
Monitor your accounts, 24/7. Keeping track of your money is key to successful financial management. And with the growth in identity theft, it's also essential for ensuring the security of your accounts. With Online and Mobile Banking, you can review your accounts any time to get up-to-the-minute account balances and view transactions.
Keep track of your spending. Wondering how much money you spend each month? With Online Banking, you can view cleared checks, debit card transactions, automatic deductions, bill payments, monthly fees, and other transactions to help you see where your money is going.
Save automatically. Most of us would like to be able to save more money. With Online Banking, you can set up regular, automatic transfers from your checking account to a savings account, helping you save more easily.
Pay bills on time and avoid late fees. If you've made the mistake of missing a credit card or other loan payment, you know that late fees can be costly and detrimental to your credit. With Online Bill Pay, you can pay your bills electronically and even arrange to have recurring payments, such as your rent or mortgage paid automatically each month. That way if you're away from home, you'll never have to worry about missing a payment.
Download account activity. You can download your bank account transactions from Online Banking and upload your activity to financial management programs, making it easier for you to monitor your income and expenses. You can also sign up for E-Statements.
Deposit checks on the go. With the Mobile Deposit feature within Mobile Banking you can deposit checks quickly and safely in just a few easy steps.
Of course, one of the biggest benefits of managing your money online is that it allows you to save time. You can take care of your finances without having to make a special trip to the bank.
Learn more about Online Banking and Mobile Banking with KS StateBank or any of our other convenient services.
Daylight Savings Time Begins
It’s time to spring forward! Daylight Savings Time begins on Sunday, March 12, so don’t forget to move your clocks ahead one hour.
Spring is in the air, and that means longer days, warmer temperatures, and precious time in the great outdoors. And since you'll be spending more time outside, spring is a great time to give your home's exterior a boost. It just takes a few simple and inexpensive changes to improve the appearance of your home.
Spruce up your front door. After a long winter, front entryways and doorways can become tired and worn. A smart way to awaken them is to apply a fresh coat of paint. Be sure to paint the trim around the doorway. You can also dress up your front door with a nice craft or decoration, such as a spring wreath.
Buy a new mat. It's the start of a new season, so replace your welcome mat with a fresh clean one.
Replace doorknobs, knockers, and other hardware. You can freshen up a dull entryway with shiny new fixtures, such as doorknobs and knockers. Changing fixtures can make your door seem new.
Get new house numbers. Over time, house numbers can get rusty and old. Replacing them with shiny new numbers is a very inexpensive way to freshen up your home.
Replace door lighting. Everything looks better in the right light. That holds true of your front entryway. Consider replacing old rusty lights with fresh lights.
Freshen your mailbox. Don't forget your mailbox; it's part of your house, too. Consider repainting it or purchasing a new one. If it's in your budget, add a fancy wooden or granite post.
Paint shutters and railings. You'll be surprised the difference a fresh coat of paint can make, but you don't need a complete paint job to make your house pop. To save money, simply take down your shutters and paint them. With a can of spray paint, you can also give new life to tired old metal railings. If you have wooden railings, give them a fresh coat of paint or stain.
Add some new greenery. Do you have shrubs and bushes that are overgrown or damaged? Consider replacing them with new shrubbery. At the very least, trim your shrubs and clean up the area or beds where they lie.
By taking these simple steps, you'll improve your home's curb appeal and make your neighbors happy, too.
With tax season in full swing, here are some things to keep in mind that will help you save money and avoid a variety of problems.
Guard against tax-related frauds. Examples include scam emails falsely claiming to come from the IRS. Many of these are intended to trick taxpayers into revealing Social Security numbers and other personal information that can be used by criminals to steal victims' identity and money, including tax refunds. Others involve phone callers saying the taxpayer owes money to the IRS that must be paid promptly by wire transfer (that actually goes to the crook) or by loading funds onto a prepaid debit card and then sharing the number. The scammer may try to intimidate a targeted victim who refuses to cooperate, such as by threatening arrest or suspension of a business or driver's license.
For information from the IRS about tax frauds targeting consumers, visit www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Scams-Consumer-Alerts.
Carefully choose how to prepare your taxes. At tax time, you gather and submit a substantial amount of sensitive information that, if misused, could cause you significant problems. If you are using a computer program to prepare your return, make sure that your computer has an up-to-date security package. If you plan to hire a tax preparer, consider factors such as the preparer's professional background and the likelihood that the preparer will be around to help you answer questions the IRS may ask months after your return has been filed.
For tips from the IRS on how to choose a tax preparer, including red flags to avoid, go to www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc254.html.
Be cautious with offers by tax preparers to handle your refund. These include suggestions that they can somehow get your money faster or that you should direct deposit your refund into any bank account other than your own. These services can be costly and perhaps even put you at additional risk for fraud. Keep in mind that the IRS issues refunds to taxpayers in less than 21 days in most cases.
Direct deposit your tax refund into your bank account. This is generally the fastest and safest way to get your refund.
Put some of your refund into savings or toward paying down debt. If you're expecting a refund, consider deciding how much of it you can save toward a goal or for a "rainy day fund" for unplanned expenses. You can direct deposit your tax refund into up to three different accounts at three different U.S. financial institutions, including savings accounts.
If you owe money on your taxes, consider the best way to pay it. You can have your payment withdrawn electronically from your bank account on a date you specify, such as April 15, but make sure you have enough money in your account. If you don't have money to pay your tax balance, you have several choices, including an IRS monthly installment plan.
Plan for next year's tax return. If you're expecting to receive a significant tax refund or owe money, consider filling out a new W-4 form with your employer to adjust your "personal allowances." This adjustment will reduce or increase the taxes withheld each pay period.
Presidents Day is February 20, 2017
All KS StateBank branches and offices will be closed on Monday, February 20 in observance of Presidents Day. We will reopen during regular hours on Tuesday, February 21.
With the tasty treats of the holiday season behind, the beginning of the year is a great time to focus on diet and fitness. Yet, with less daylight hours, long hours at the office and inclement weather outside, finding time to be healthy can seem like a challenge.
But what if you could bring healthy eating and fitness to your office? It's a lot easier than you think. Here's how:
Take frequent breaks. If you have a job that requires you to sit at your computer, it's important to get up and exercise. Set a reminder to get up and take a brief walk every hour.
Stretch your muscles. You don't have to leave your desk to exercise. You can stretch your neck muscles, legs, and arms without leaving your chair.
Walk when possible. If you work in an office building with several floors, try taking the stairs versus riding on the elevator. Or maybe organize a group of co-workers and go for a daily walk outside your office. The last thing you want to do is spend your lunch hour eating at your desk.
Hit the gym. Consider joining a nearby gym with a co-worker to exercise during lunch. Exercise is a great way to reduce workplace stress, and clear your head.
Drink water. The water cooler is not just for chatting with co-workers. It's a great place to ensure you stay hydrated. Consider replacing that afternoon cup of coffee or can of soda with a big tall glass of water. Water helps you stay healthy and fills you up.
Eat healthy. The office is often a place for unhealthy eating. Stock up on healthy snacks to keep at work, such as vegetables, fruits, or almonds.
You may find that following these simple steps will give you an even bigger advantage when you get home — more energy to play and do the things you really want to do.
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 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.
If you have a KS StateBank Credit Card you can conveniently check your balances, statements, and make payments online at mycardstatement.com by logging in from the Login menu on our website. You can even set up recurring payments that fit into your budget, so you never miss a payment and stay on top of paying off your debt.
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.
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 is January 16, 2017
All KS StateBank branches and offices will be closed on Monday, January 16 in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. We will reopen during regular hours on Tuesday, January 17.
For some, it comes when all the torn wrapping paper or empty champagne bottles have been put out with the recycling. For others, it's the day after Super Bowl Sunday. It's the arrival of the winter doldrums. The seemingly endless wait for spring can wear on anyone. But here are a few tricks that can help you to keep midwinter melancholy at bay.
Release those endorphins. The natural feel-good chemical that our bodies produce during exercise is a great elixir for the winter blahs. By making a commitment to raising your heart rate you can also lift your spirits. Find activities that will reduce the boredom of the season while getting your adrenaline and blood pumping.
Surround yourself with friends. Now that the hubbub of the holidays are over your calendar suddenly looks wide open. Nothing makes you feel better about the cold and desolation than laughter and good times. Reconnect with pals and inject some fun into your winter weeks.
Allow a small splurge or pamper yourself. A little retail therapy or a spa session can go a long way in brightening your day. But remember that if one of your New Year's resolutions involved fiscal responsibility, over-spending will only add to your stress. So whether it's that small item you saw while shopping that made you think "I wouldn't mind having that myself" or the "no-special-occasion" manicure or pedicure, go for it — but be frugal as well as frivolous and keep it guilt-free.
Learn something new. Break free from the monotony and lethargy of the post-holiday winter months and find a new hobby or passion. Get out of the house and sign up for a class — cooking, yoga, martial arts — anything that may have piqued your interest in the past (before you put it on the back shelf).
Embrace the light and color. Grasp every opportunity to let the sun shine in. Throw open the curtains and blinds. Brighten up your home with colorful flowers or houseplants. Ditch the drab and add splashes of vibrant color to your wardrobe. Bundle up and get outside for a brisk walk in the crisp air with the sun glistening on the fresh snowfall.
Above all, be positive. Studies have shown that optimists live longer and healthier lives. Keep an upbeat attitude and you'll get through these ho-hum winter months and be welcoming the crocuses before you know it.
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