Tag Archives: Savings

Nature v. Nurture: The Psychology of Spending

Psychology of Spending

If you’ve ever taken Psychology 101, you’ve probably heard the argument for nature v. nurture. In this multi-century discussion, psychologists have debated whether a person’s genetics or environment make a greater impact their personal behavior. At Titonka Savings Bank we’re excited to share our take on this timeless debate, and share how nature and nurture affect your spending habits.

The financial traits which we see as more nature based are:

  • None

Are you surprised? Contrary to many personal opinions, financial lessons and preferences are 99.99 percent teachable. This concept is backed by an interesting study in which children were given one marshmallow immediately, but were given another if they could occupy themselves until the tester returned to the room. Researchers found that the kids who were able to wait to receive the second marshmallow went on to have more successful ACT scores and other measurably improved personal relationships. This information is particularly interesting due to the fact that delayed gratification is a skill, which can be taught from a young age.

Delayed gratification is one of the initial skills learned for financial education in the form of savings. For this reason, it is practical to begin a child’s understanding of finances with this particular task, however, there are many other aspects of managing your money that can be tied to these initial skill sets as well.

The financial traits which we see as more nurture based are:

  • Whether you prefer to save or spend.
  • The specific items you enjoy saving or spending for.
  • Your skillset for prioritizing tasks and expenses.
  • The desire you have to compare yourself to others.

While the list of nurtured traits could go on for miles, the important fact is that like any other skill, fiscal education can be learned through practice and continued repetition.

If you want to grow your personal financial skills set, we recommend starting with a household budget and saving plan. By committing to these two monthly activities you can start to build a foundation of learning to ensure you are adhering to the best financial practices.  As you grow your understanding of finances, adding in a retirement savings plan and debt repayment schedule can be valuable steps to gaining your financial freedom.

To start teaching your child these valuable lessons, we suggest great activities (like these) to help them understand the value of waiting. Simple games such as Mister Noodle can provide valuable comprehension for your child early in life.

Three Things to Look for in a Starter Home

Mortgages

If you’re in the market for your first home, congratulations! Becoming a homeowner is an exciting step on your financial journey. At Titonka Savings Bank, our dedicated mortgage lenders are here to help you find the best financing option for your new home. Remember to stop in and secure a pre-approval letter before you start your home search.

After speaking with a mortgage lender to help determine your family’s ideal price point, it’s time to start viewing potential homes. During this process you’re bound to find a home you’ll fall in love with, and others that may send you running for the hills. As you ride this rollercoaster of an experience, we recommend searching for the following three things in your family’s ideal new house:

  1. Good Bones. Starter homes are a great option to find a great house within an affordable budget. To ensure your investment lasts for the long-term, we recommend taking a hard look at any foundational cracks, leans, or other structural ailments. While the rest of the house could look fantastic, these three issues should be instant red flags signaling you to continue looking at other homes.
  2. Cohesive Neighborhood. The people you surround yourself could be the individuals you see at 6:00 AM taking the trash out, or the partiers you have to ask to turn down the music at 11:00 PM. As you tour properties, don’t be afraid to chat with any potential neighbors and see if there is any information they can give on families you’ll be living alongside.
  3. Suitable Layout. While some renovations are certainly possible when purchasing a starter home, obstacles such as load-bearing walls could limit your expectations. Consider the overall layout of the home at the showing, and see if you could picture yourself the ways it is. If the answer is no, then you may want to find a few backup options should the renovations not be available within your budget.

The perfect home will look different to everyone. If you’re ready to start searching for your family’s new house, our experienced mortgage lenders are here to help. We work with many successful local realtors, and we would be happy to refer you to the one that fits your needs best. Give us a call or stop by to begin the search for your home today.

The Argument for a Monthly Money Meeting

Money Management

Whether you’re recently married, or you’re approaching your 30th anniversary, you know that money can be a topic of controversy among couples and families. Even in the most perfect relationships hardships happen, and decisions have to be made. At Titonka Savings Bank, we think there is a helpful and long-term tool that can help you have less conflict and more compromises while contemplating both goals and solutions. The answer is relatively simple, talk it out, however, the complicated part is how.

The first thing you need for a successful money discussion is an agreement between all persons to refrain from defensiveness and accusation. With this mindset you can openly consider both positives and negatives of past and future financial decisions. Each month set a time where you and your spouse or family can get together and determine your current financial landscape. Discuss the highs as well as the lows, and gain perspective from each individual on where they feel the money is best spent or saved. Once the past month is discussed, start making a list of any suggested changes for the upcoming month.

The list should detail any adjustments that are going to be made, and the desired outcome they hope to generate. The meeting participants can then choose which, if any, changes are warranted and should be enacted.

This meeting not only keeps a continuous dialogue with you and your spouse or family, but also allows you to have a fresh look at your finances every month, ensuring all bills and saving initiatives have been completed before the meeting takes place.

Other great tips we suggest to continue improving your money management:

  • Calculate your net worth every six months. This will help you with the large scale view of your family’s financial well-being and see where you can find additional ways to continue to grow.
  • Set new goals when you surpass the old ones. The worst thing you can do for your finances is to do nothing. If you knock your latest goal out of the park, Titonka Savings Bank challenges you to make an even more challenging goal and find a way to make it happen.
  • For spouses, have joint and individual accounts. By structuring your finances together and apart you can ensure your joint account holds all the necessary funds for any household expenses, while each person’s private account can be used at their own discretion.
  • Designate a bill payer. Determine who in your house will be in charge of paying the monthly invoices and balancing the checking account throughout. By allowing one person to be responsible for this task you can ensure bill are not able to be missed due to misinterpreted communication.

Water Your Lawn & Your Wallet Too

Save Money

If you’d like to grow your landscape and your finances this season, Titonka Savings Bank has the perfect tips for you! To jumpstart this warmer weather, we’re excited to share our top tips and tricks to maintaining a healthy lawn and garden without digging too deep into your budget:

Seed your lawn early on. Get the growing season started right, and give your landscape some food to help it grow. By not only seeding your grass, but adding fertilizer as well, you can help ensure that your roots grow strong and healthy to fight off intermittent weather changes and pesky pets.

Automate your watering routine.  Keep your landscape looking green by maintaining a daily watering routine without all the fuss of hoses and watering cans. By setting up an automated system, you can make certain you’re not wasting water, while also saving additional funds from no longer needing to replace malnourished plants.

Utilize alternative landscaping options. Reduce your overall recurring costs by taking advantage of helpful products such as landscape fabric, river rock, and various xeriscaping plants. By using these tools to grow foliage other than grass you can cut down on your time and expenses associated with mowing and upkeep.

Other Outdoor Savings Tips: While the above tips can aid you in keeping a green and healthy landscape, saving money isn’t about maintenance only. To help continue your savings in other areas of lawn care, we wanted to share some further tricks in how to reduce other outdoor expenditures associated with your growing landscape.

  • Choose colorful perennials over less-timely annuals when planting flowers. While annuals can have prominent blooms that catch your eye, these flora varieties will need to be re-planted every year. Avoid paying for new seedlings each spring by utilizing returning perennials plants instead. These recurring blooms will hibernate underground each winter, and emerge where they were originally planted year after year.
  • Plant prosperous fruit trees for added shade and earning through plant production. By providing an escape from heated sunlight, shade producing trees can help decrease the cost of your home’s monthly cooling bill. If you choose a tree that also produces fruit you can typically accumulate $200 or more worth of produce that you have the potential to sell as well.

Make the most of this planting season, and create a garden that will give you both joy and savings. We can’t wait to see what you and your family create, be sure to post photos of your outdoor creations on our Facebook page. We’d love to see what ideas and hacks you use!

6 Steps to Scoring Your Savings Goal

Savings

Do your savings goals make you feel frozen? Get back on the ice this season, and let Titonka Savings Bank help you win your personal financial game. We’ll show you how to keep pushing forward with these strategic hockey tactics:

Find the 5-hole.

One of the first and most important ways to save is to keep your eyes open! Whether it’s taking advantage of grocery store specials, buying household items in bulk, or cutting spending from your monthly budget, the biggest opportunity you have while saving money is continually searching for new ways to save.

Complete the hat-trick.

Before you start saving for the short-term items, be sure you have the long-term set in place. Just as in hockey, there are three things you need, to make the best play of the game. Start by setting up an emergency savings account, to help guard your savings. Follow up by opening a personal retirement account such as IRA, to continually grow your savings. For the last trick of the play, we suggest creating a 529 or Coverdell account to help save for your child’s future education. These three accounts will help not only you score your savings goals but will assist you in winning your entire financial game as well.

Put your debt on the boards.

Show your debt whose boss, and push them against the glass. By aggressively paying off your outstanding debt, you make additional funds available to further your monthly savings. We recommend paying the minimum payment on each debt, and then using any surplus funds to add extra payments to help pay it off sooner. Once you have paid off a debt, use the funds from that allocation to help erase the next obstacle, one payment at a time.

Place your spending in the penalty box.

While working on your savings goals, look into your monthly spending to see where you can cut costs. Consider reducing your funds for eating out and entertainment. The extra money can go towards your debt, or once paid off, can help you achieve your savings goal sooner!

To help, there are some innovative apps available that can you visualize your various expenses.

Beat the buzzer.

Saving for retirement is a marathon, not a sprint. Like hockey, if you don’t play until the end, you may lose the game in the last five minutes. To help prevent this, we recommend working with a personal financial adviser, ensuring your funds are in the right place at the right time. If you make a pass and transfer them to stocks too late, you could lose money and valuable time. We suggest creating a strategic and well-coordinated retirement plan to make certain all your savings get time on the ice, and your key players continue to stay in the game.

Drop your gloves for additional fees.

Whether it’s big banks searching for unnecessary add-ons, or potential financial advisers looking for a percentage of earnings, don’t be afraid to negotiate fees you deem excessive. The business is certain to have referees to let you know if you’re asking too much. However, it never hurts to ask!

With our affordable deposit accounts and expert financial coaching, we look forward to helping you sink your upcoming goal in the back of the net! Stop by and meet our dedicated team today!

How to Plan Spring Break on a Budget

Travel

Spring break is a magical time of the year when school is out, the beaches are calling, and wanderlust seems to finally hit at full force. Before you jet-set to your next destinations, make sure you’ve saved enough to enjoy this vacation, without the addition of debt. To help cut the costs, but not the fun, Titonka Savings Bank offers these proven money saving tips:

  1. Split Costs – Make the most of your money, and divide the cost of a room between you and your fellow friends. Paying $150 a night may be a high price tag, but by splitting the cost, you can stay twice as long!
  2. Drive Instead of Fly – If your traveling troop decides to book a trip abroad, then this tip may not apply, but for eager spring breakers traveling south, driving instead of flying could save you hundreds!
  3. Try Alternate Accommodations – Who says a hotel is the only appropriate place to stay. With innovative new offerings on VRBO and AirBnb, you can find deals that not only save you money but offer a unique setting as well.
  4. Get Groceries – One of the most expensive parts of a vacation is the food. Cut down on this cost by hitting up the local grocery store when you arrive. You can grab breakfast items, and other easy foods to prepare to avoid exorbitant dining fees.
  5. Maximize Free Activities – Things, like going to the beach or relaxing by the pool, can be both enjoyable and cost effective. Since there are typically no entry fees, you can enjoy this fun-filled relaxation again and again.
  6. Bring Your Own- Everything is more expensive on the beach. Food, drink, shade, you name it! Instead of purchasing everything ala carte, pack a reliable beach kit, with everything you need for the day. Don’t forget sunscreen!
  7. Utilize Your Rewards – What’s the point of having travel rewards if you never use them? By putting those points to work, you can cover the cost of your flight and/or room, and reserve your money for food and fun.

Student Loan PSA: What Student Debt Really Looks Like

Mobile Banking

Obtaining your secondary education can be a landmark goal on your journey to success. By opening up opportunities, and enhancing your capabilities, the study of a discipline gives you the skills you need to conquer your future ambitions. More often than not, student loans offer a helpful supplement when financing this experience. However, many students are able to obtain these financial aids without having to budget or offer a credit history, causing a higher likelihood of default among student borrowers. To help avoid this, Titonka Savings Bank suggests answering the following questions before choosing how to pay for your collegiate participation:

 

What are you starting with?

The first question you should ask yourself is, ‘What money do I have to begin my education?’ If you have applied for and received scholarships, those should first count towards tuition and books. Additionally, if you have any financial support from relatives, these funds may be allocated best at the base of your budget during your college planning. By totaling the sum of these two amounts, you can determine the support outside your own savings that will be contributed towards your future learning efforts. Knowing whether or not this amount will be offered on a recurring basis can help you then decide what financial steps you need to take in order to save, earn, and/or borrow the remaining funds necessary.

 

How much and how often can you contribute?

After learning your total amount of support, it is now possible to create a plan of action to facilitate the rest. Depending on your length and type of education, your costs may vary drastically. When selecting both a field and institution of study, the factor of price is an important one to consider. By thinking of your education as an investment, you can ensure that you choose both a rewarding and promising career path to help you repay any debt you do incur during this time. To help decrease overall expenditures, many students take on a part-time job to supplement the costs of their education, along with the associated room and board. Utilizing this choice can decrease the overall amount of your anticipated loan, and help you avoid the additional expense of interest. Should the cost of your education still be more than you can currently cover, the option of a student loan may be a viable solution.

 

What is student debt?

While obtaining an education has potential and opportunities, the accompanying debt can often be overbearing. In order to minimize this, we recommend borrowing only the minimum amount needed. By opting for a lesser sum, you are able to save your future-self hundreds or thousands of dollars on interest alone. For example, the average debt for a United States student is approximately $37,172. With borrowers averaging ten years for repayment, the potential cost of interest alone can add up to over $9,000.

 

Choosing the best option to finance your education can affect your life well past college. To help you make the most informed decisions, our team at Titonka Savings Bank offers sound financial advice and information. To learn more, stop by one of our locations, we’d love to get to know you and your education aspirations.

The Cost of Kids: How to Plan for Your Growing Family

Savings

At Titonka Savings Bank we understand that adding to your family may not only be an emotional decision but a financial one as well. With the growing costs of childcare alone, it’s important to have a well-rounded plan for covering the expenses of your expanding household. In order to plan most effectively, we recommend structuring your budgeting into these three stages:

 

Beginning or Before Pregnancy: Examine your current health insurance to determine an estimate of cost for both prenatal care and delivery expenses. While many insurers offer prenatal care at no or little additional cost, the price for delivery can be complex. Study your monthly premium, annual deductible, and out-of-pocket limits for the calendar year to help establish these costs before the baby is delivered.

 

After Birth: Once the baby is born, there will be traditional costs such as health care, food, diapers, clothing, and more. However, many new parents also spend more on take-out meals to help lessen their time cooking. These expenses, along with a decrease in income for parents on maternity leave, can cause many parents to slide into debt. To help alleviate the burden of these growing figures, we recommend creating a monthly budget to designate every dollar to a purpose. By allocating a specific dollar amount to each area of your spending, you can ensure that all of your costs are covered while also planning for the future.

 

During the First Year: As your child continues to grow, the costs for new clothes and equipment will continue to grow with them. Many expectant parents can spend upwards of $16,000 during the first year of their child’s life, and variables such as location, number of children, and other factors can contribute to the overall costs as well. When possible we recommend saving for each step in your child’s growth. From birth to three month’s they’ll need many one-time purchases, but during the later stages, you may have had adequate time to save for each time period’s necessities.

 

Continue to grow your finances as you grow your family using Titonka Savings Bank’s trusted deposit services. We’ll help you organize your funds, and make the most of your savings.

 

7 Financial Goals to Make 2017 a Success

Financial Goals

Titonka Savings Bank challenges you to make 2017 the year of financial prosperity. Complete with an emergency fund, sound credit, and a monthly budget, you can conquer any fiscal goal so long as you keep moving towards it. To optimize your money management potential, we recommend these seven goals:

 

  1. Check Your Credit Score. There are many websites available which allow you to view your current credit score across the three reporting bureaus. However, the only federally authorized FREE site is annualcreditreport.com. This site gives users one free report from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian every year. By keeping regular track of your score, you can ensure that no fraudulent inquiries have been made, and no outstanding debts are currently being held against you. After all, a higher credit score could mean potential savings elsewhere.
  2. Make a Monthly Budget. This tool is invaluable when building your personal financial success. By creating a plan for each dollar you earn you are no longer reacting to your spending, but proactively telling your money where it should go. Adding this transparency to your spending can often showcase areas where you may be spending more than desired. After adjusting your monthly allocations you can then reassign some of those dollars to help build your personal savings and other areas of improvement.
  3. Automate Your Savings. “Out of sight, out of mind,” or so the saying goes. Adding processes to your budget, such as automated savings, can help you to accumulate money before you miss it. Before you start planning your spending for the month, determine how much you want to save. So long as your fixed monthly expenses are covered, you can then create an automatic monthly transfer from your checking to your savings. By doing this the same day you are paid, the funds will be gone before you even know to miss them. You can then budget the rest of your spending to cover flexible categories like groceries, entertainment, and more.
  4. Start an Emergency Fund. In order to safeguard your savings, you’ll need to create an emergency fund. This particular account offers protection against unexpected expenses or dilemmas that could otherwise infringe upon your diligent accrual of funds. It is often recommended to begin by saving $1,000, and then gradually work up to three or six months worth of income. By adding this cushion to your personal finances, you ensure that you are financially stable enough to weather storms both big and small.
  5. Submit Your Taxes Early. Tax fraud is an increasingly relevant issue, posing many problems for both the IRS and tax paying citizens. To help avoid potential criminals from using your information to their benefit, we suggest completing your tax return as soon as possible. Additionally, if you have a potential tax refund, the earlier you file your return, the sooner you are able to receive it.
  6. Maximize Your 401(k). To make the most of your diligent savings, we recommend revisiting your HR materials, to find out the specifics of your company’s 401(k) plan. If they will match up to ten percent, and you’re only contributing six, you could be missing out on free funds! Additionally, if you want to retire by a certain age, you may need to adjust your contributions to maximize the years you still have during your employment.
  7. Pay Down Your Credit Cards. Interest rates on credit cards are infamous for being consistently high. If you have multiple credit cards which carry a balance, we recommend paying down the account that has the least amount on it. By continuing to pay the minimum installment on each card, you can then assign any additional funds to the card with the lowest value, to help pay it off sooner. Once the first card is no longer carrying a balance, you can then utilize the monthly installment and the additional funds to put toward the next card, and continue through the accounts.

Tax Beneficial Accounts You Need to Use

Personal Finance

One of the most proactive ways you can protect your personal finances is to take advantage of tax beneficial accounts such an HSA, 401(k) and IRA. Though these accounts are typically tied to retirement savings, this is not always the case. At Titonka Savings Bank we want to help you make the most of your money, by offering these three account options:

Health Savings Account (HSA): Currently tied to your insurance provider, this account allows you to save pre-tax income into an interest bearing account. The funds within this account can be rolled over yearly, and are meant to help supplement the cost of various medical and childcare needs. However, there are limits on how much you can save for this account, the 2017 limit for an individual is $3,400 a year, and $6,750 for a family. You can typically access these funds using a debit card or written check to cover qualifying expenses outside of your insurance offerings. Another great perk of this account is that it can be invested. To further grow your funds you can work with a financial adviser to invest in mutual funds, stock, and bonds to help your money mature.

Work Sponsored Retirement Account (401k): Many companies now offer this account as a corporate benefit. By automatically withdrawing pre-tax dollars from your monthly income, you are able to save for retirement before you even receive your paycheck. The funds you contribute, along with those matched by the company, can then be invested into a variety of options, pushing your money to continue multiplying. Since these funds are meant to act as retirement savings, any early withdrawals have a 10 percent penalty in addition to the income taxes due. However, once you reach age 59 ½, you can start taking regular distributions from this employer-sponsored plan.

Individual Retirement Account (IRA): This is a great example of a non-work sponsored retirement account. Generally offered in two versions, the Roth IRA, and the Traditional IRA, both offer various tax incentives so you get the best bang for your buck. Each account has a contribution limit of $5,500 a year, or $6,500 for those age 50 or better.

In a Traditional IRA, you contribute pre-tax dollars into an interest-bearing account, which can then be invested into an array of opportunities to expand growth. If you want to remove funds from this account prior to age 59 ½ however, you will incur 10 percent early-withdrawal penalty along with paying State and Federal taxes. At age 70 ½, the account requires you to begin taking minimum distributions. This retirement savings option is open to anyone, with no immediate requirements.

With a Roth IRA there is no age requirement for distributions, and after five years, you can withdraw as much as you like up to the total amount of contributions. The only amount you cannot withdraw is the added interest earned after contribution. The main tax benefit with a Roth IRA, opposed to the Traditional IRA, is that contributions are post-tax dollars, but distributions bear no tax. This means if you are in a higher tax bracket upon retirement, you do not have to pay additional taxes to withdraw those funds, potentially keeping more of your savings. This account option does have an income limit, which disqualifies single filers whose adjusted gross income is more than $132,000 or $194,000 for joint filers.

Start maximizing your money and look into your account options today! Stop by Titonka Savings Bank and our team can answer any questions you have. With our experienced lenders, we can help you choose the best accounts to get the most value out of your long-term savings.