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6 Ways to Maximize Online Holiday Shopping

Posted on November 12th, 2017 in Savings, Seasonal by SSBblogger |

Let’s face it, Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren’t for everyone. You rise at the crack of dawn and either have to fight the crowds or hope you have faster Wi-Fi than other shoppers.

Luckily, these aren’t your only options when it comes to getting deals around the holidays. Security State Bank has compiled this list of online resources to help you stretch your gift-buying dollar:

1)            Use Coupon sites.

The most popular site is Groupon, but there are other online coupon sites that can save you money as well! Sites such as Couponcabin.com, coupons.com and RetailMeNot.com all have thousands of deals and coupons for online retailers.

2)            Buy discounted gift cards.

Places such as Sam’s Club have gift cards for restaurants that are up to 20 percent off, and can make great stocking stuffers. If you don’t have a membership, there are other places where you can buy retailers’ gift cards at a discount, such as Gift Card Granny and Card Cash.

3)            Free shipping offers.

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you’ll already be able to take advantage of this. But if you’re not a Prime member or are shopping elsewhere online, FreeShipping.org has coupon codes for free shipping at around 4,000 stores.

4)            Cash back.

If your credit card offers cash back, the holidays are a great time to rack up points. We would caution that you have enough cash on-hand to pay off everything you charge to the card, as you don’t want to start the New Year with debt.

Credit cards aren’t the only way to earn cash back. Sites like Ebates.com and Extrabux.com offer cash-back for online purchases at certain stores.

5)            Buy used.

Sometimes, a new iPad isn’t in the budget. If that’s the case, you can buy gently-used electronic equipment at Glyde.com. You can even set up price alerts for certain items. Another gently-used online retailer is Swap.com. Items such as toys, games and DVDs still in the original box can be purchased for a fraction of the original cost.

6)            Deals on electronics.

Online retailers such as NewEgg.com and Fry’s Electronic are well-known among I.T. and tech professionals for their steeply discounted prices on everything from laptops to component computer parts. If you’re looking for a reputable place to buy inexpensive electronics, these websites are worth checking out.

Remember, the holiday season doesn’t have to break the bank! Next year, you can start planning ahead by starting a Christmas club account. This special savings account makes it easy for you to put aside the money you need to check off everyone on your list!

Protecting Yourself While Shopping Online this Holiday Season

Posted on November 12th, 2017 in Seasonal, Security by SSBblogger |

As the holidays roll up, buying items online increases exponentially. Unfortunately, cyber attacks and identity theft also increases with that number. That’s why the professionals at Security State Bank have come up with some helpful tips and tricks to stay safe when shopping online this holiday season!

 

Don’t Use Unknown Wireless Networks

If you are in a coffee shop or airport and a network pops up for you to connect to, your chance of being hacked skyrockets. When the network you are on is not protected, hackers have a chance to get into your phone and locate passwords, account information, and more. Even though you want to check your email or see if there is a good deal somewhere, try to resist in order to protect yourself.

 

Use Different Passwords

Yes, it is hard to use a different password for each site when you are connected to 50 or 100 sites. However, if a hacker gets ahold of one password, they can instantly use that password with your email to log into all other sites that have the same one.

 

Don’t Store Credit Card Info on Sites

When online sites have you enter your credit or debit card information, many of them give you an option to save your card information. They say it’s secure and most of the time it is, but hackers are still able to get into their account and find your information. Even though it’s a little more work to type your information in each time, it’s more work to deal with getting your money back after someone has stolen your information and used it.

 

Avoid Clicking Links

When shopping online, there are millions of links connected to products or telling you they will bring you to the product you are looking for. These are easy ways for hackers to bring you to a site they created to give you malware. If you are on a trusted site, you can click the links there because they will only bring you to other places within their own site.

 

Shop Secure Sites

As mentioned above, it is okay to trust links within a secure site. However, if you are online searching for a certain gift to give someone and find a list that links to different sites, do not trust those sites. Search online about which sites are to be trusted before you go to them and give them your credit card information.

These tips will aid you in being a security savvy shopper when the holidays begin to hit. If you have any questions or concerns about your account, be sure to contact Security State Bank. Our team of professionals is here to help if a problem of stolen information does arise!

 

Using the Holidays to Teach Your Kids About Money

Posted on October 25th, 2017 in Budgeting, Cash, Holiday Shopping, Savings by SSBblogger |

When fall hits, that means that the holidays are approaching. During these special occasions, kids are exposed to a different setting where they get gifts, large meals, cards, and more. That’s why THIS BANK believes that this time of the year is a great opportunity to teach your children about money. Below are a few ideas on how to incorporate your children into the holiday financial mix!

Identify the costs of the holiday season.

Gifts are a big cost, and children never realize how much it adds up. By putting a monetary limit on the gifts each child and family member gets, your kids we be able to see the value of each gift. Wrapping paper and gift bags are also a cost you need to identify to your child along with the supplies needed such as tape and tissue paper. Cards and letters to family members can add up too, especially if you’re using postage. By allowing your child to understand that the cards they receive and send actually cost money, they will appreciate them more and try to find a way to save, possibly by making their own. Finally, the meals made for each holiday add up quite a bit, so this is another helpful way to teach your child about finances.

Limit gift giving outside of immediate family with homemade gifts.

This is another way you can cut costs if you have people outside of your immediate family you’d like to give gifts to. Ideas for these easy and efficient gifts include:

  • Cookies
  • Cake in a mug or other mug mixes
  • Spice rubs
  • Trail mixes
  • Brownies
  • Tea & hot chocolate

The ingredients for these gifts can all be bought in bulk, making them inexpensive options.

Take your children shopping with you.

When you bring your child with you shopping, tell them what the budget is. Then, let them look for items that are on sale or have special deals.

Use your receipts to create a tally of your expenses.

Not only does this help you keep track of what you’ve spent, but it also shows your kids how small costs can add up over time.

Teaching your children the value of money will help them grow to be financially responsible. So when you go to get groceries for a holiday dinner or gifts for a family member, have your child be involved in the process. You can also set up a savings account with Security State Bank to teach your kids the value of saving!

 

How to Financially Prepare for Natural Disasters

Posted on October 11th, 2017 in Financial Mangement, Savings, Security by SSBblogger |

When it comes to preparing your finances for certain occasions, natural disasters usually aren’t one of the events that come to mind. However, not creating an emergency fund for the unexpected could hurt you immensely since Mother Nature doesn’t care whether you’re prepared or not. That’s why Security State Bank has put together a few tips on how you can ready yourself for a natural disaster.

Make Your Fund a Priority

While some disasters come with a warning, others do not. If you try to prepare too quickly and scramble to figure out what the best strategy for saving your emergency fund is, things will fall apart. Adding to your fund by taking a little out of each paycheck will help you to begin saving quickly. For example, an emergency fund of $500 would be able to pay for a small family’s hotel, transportation, or food if a disaster occurred.

Have Cash On Hand

When being forced to evacuate, ATMs may be overrun or go down, meaning there is no way for you to get cash. Power can go out, leaving debit and credit cards useless. By having cash on hand, you will be able to know that you can purchase necessities when an event occurs.

Document

Be sure to have a fireproof and waterproof box with documents you will need to pick up the pieces after a disaster. You will need documents that have numbers and information to your bank, creditors, health insurance, and property insurance. By having your personal, legal, health, and financial documents together, moving through the disaster will be a much smoother process. Other documents to include would be passports, birth certificates, health records, social security cards, bank routing numbers, deeds, income tax information, and more.

Take Inventory

Be sure to take videos and photos of your belongings. Photograph the interior and exterior of your home along with your vehicle. By documenting all of your belongings and the state they were in, you can be sure that your insurance company won’t shortchange you.

We don’t ever hope a natural disaster will strike, but it’s better to be prepared if something does occur. By having some cash on hand when disaster strikes, you will have a foolproof plan to help aid in your recovery. Contact Security State Bank to set up an emergency fund or to understand what more you can do in order to be prepared financially!

How NOT to Get Hacked

Posted on September 19th, 2017 in Security by SSBblogger |

Every day you hear tips and tricks to ensuring the safety behind your personal information. While many of these offers and promotions are advertising a safety service, at Security State Bank, we believe you can handle the majority of these precautions yourself! See what steps you’ll need to take in order to best prepare for your financial future. We’ll be there to help you every step of the way.

DO: Store your passwords in a secure app like LastPass.

DON’T: Write your passwords on post-its which you keep around your desk.

Remembering your passwords is important, but leaving them unattended for hackers could be dangerous. Ensure you keep your details out of plain site by utilizing secure password storage apps such as LastPass or Dashlane. Not only will this help you forget your passwords less often, but it helps you create more complicated passwords to help keep unwanted hackers at bay.

DO: Use social media to connect with friends and family.

DON’T: Connect with people you don’t know or share personal account information.

Even though social media can be a great way to interact with people you know, many users become choose to become connected with individuals they’ve never met. If you find yourself with a friend request from someone you don’t recognize, always decline it, to keep you and your contact safe. If for some reason you’re unsure if you know the individual or not, you can always message them to see how you’re connected instead.

DO: Shop online and find great deals.

DON’T: Use your debit card when shopping online.

Both your debit and credit card can be used online, however, only your credit card offers a zero fraud liability with no strings attached. Should your debit card become compromised you will need to act more swiftly, and you may even have to wait weeks or months before you see any stolen funds returned to your checking or savings account. Always be proactive and use your credit card if you plan to purchase online!

While these three strategies will help to keep your personal information safe, there are always new tips and tricks to learn! Check back on our blog each month to see how you can continue to improve your personal cyber security, courtesy of Security State Bank.

5 Strategies to Shrink Debt

Posted on September 14th, 2017 in Budgeting, Financial Management, Savings by SSBblogger |

Minimizing your debt can always seem like a mountain of to-do lists. With various recurring payments, differing interest rates, and due dates that never seem to end, if you feel overwhelmed, you’re not alone.

While having credit card, or other outstanding debt, isn’t a situation anyone wants to find themselves in, a surprising 38.1% of American households carry credit card debt.Couple that with a total household debt average of $134,643.00 and the idea of debt starts to seem more common than you’d think!

While we know that having debt isn’t always the best solution, but Security State Bank is here to help you conquer it. We’ve found five proven ways to reduce your debt, and stop your spending process from adding more! Take a look at the five tools below, and see if they help you become debt free!

Whether it’s reducing your grocery bill, finding more affordable clothing options, or simply turning to the cash-only budget. There are numerous ways you can save. In fact, we recommend blogs such as The Simple Dollar, Making Sense of Cents, and Penny Hoarder to continue bolstering your savings knowledge.

This is by far our favorite way to reduce your overall debts. While you may need to start with finding some new ways to save, once you can allocate some extra dollars, you can put this effective method in action, eliminating your debts. Simply pay the minimum amounts on all outstanding balances, and then using the surplus funds, add to your smallest payment to help pay it off sooner. Once your smallest debt is completely paid, you can rollover the funds being used for that into your next largest debt and so on. Repeat this process until all the debts have been paid off.

The snowball method will help you erase debts one by one, however, using this other strategy you can see about reducing those payments in one quick action. Speak with one of our dedicated lenders to see if your home mortgage or personal loan can be refinanced at a lower rate to save on monthly payments. This may make a small dent, but every little bit counts!

In order to proactively prevent yourself from overspending, freeze all credit cards you currently have in your possession. This step helps you to force yourself to spend only what you have. If you decide to use cash only, the envelope system may help you save even further!

This one simple trick can save you hundreds each and every year! By using your online banking as a resource, you can create an automation to ensure you are never tempted to spend those extra dollars. Instead of of waiting for them to be spend, allocate them in your savings plan, and tuck them away for paying down debt or building your emergency fund to eliminate emergency debts.

However you and your family decide to decrease your household’s debt, Security State Bank is behind you! We’d love to talk about your family’s financial goals and help you identify the best tools to help you get there. Give us a call, or stop by your nearest branch to get started today.

How to Create Better Habits

Posted on August 31st, 2017 in Budgeting, General, Savings by SSBblogger |

If you’re like us, starting a new diet, or working to exercise more often is more difficult than we initially planned. The same is true with many financial goals you may have. Saving for retirement, eliminating credit card debt, increasing your credit score; these are all things that take time and dedication to complete, but sometimes it’s hard to stay on track.

Luckily, Business Insider recently released an article that showcases just how it takes for your brain to form a habit. Surprisingly, it’s less than you’d think! It takes approximately 66 days for a consistent behavior to be added to your brain’s list of automatic actions. Thankfully, those 66 days do allow for some error. We’re all human, so there’s no need to be perfect during your trial practice. However, by committing to your new habit for 66 days or more, you can ensure that this new beneficial behavior sticks with you well into the future.

This new habit can be as simple as remembering to take the trash out, or as complex as maintaining a specified number of calories in a day. At Security State Bank we want to inspire you with some important financial habits to help you progress down the path of financial success. Take a look at these three examples, and don’t hesitate to ask our dedicated team members for help if you’re ready to begin your next 66-day practice round!

  1. Use the Envelope System: To help train your brain to only spend what you budget for, withdraw your total flex spending budget for the month. Then, divvy it up amongst your budget categories like food, entertainment, transportation, etc. After it’s been segmented, stick to your dollars, and only spend what you have in the envelope. No credit or debit cards to spend extra. If you can successfully make this a habit, you could see a large amount of extra savings which can then be used for vacations, retirement, or other savings ventures.
  2. Pay All the Bills Before They’re Due: Many habits appear easier than they truly are. In order to process this behavior into a habit, there are several steps you’ll need to repeat each month. To get started, make a calendar at the beginning of every month to mark the dates bills are due and for how much. Then, as the bills arrive, structure your payments to pay one at a time, leaving anextra cushion in your account, should an unexpected expense arise. Using this recurring schedule, you can help yourself to get each expense paid before the designated due date. As an added bonus, an ongoing history of on-time payments may benefit your credit score too!
  3. Save for Retirement: This one is often a habit that takes longer than 66 days because there is no immediate reward for the effort you put forward. Later in life, your future self will thank you, for putting the time and savings away early on. The first step in this process to research your options. If your company offers a 401(k) and a match, that may be the first place you want to start. By automating payments from your paycheck, you can use pre or post-tax dollars to bolster your savings without the temptation of spending. Then, when you save extra money with your envelope system, remember to add those surplus funds into your retirement savings account to give it an added boost.

We love the three goals listed above, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own unique financial habits! If you’d like to get started on a new financial behavior, stop into your nearest branch today and speak with one our personal bankers. Our team at Security State Bank would love to help kick off your next 66-day habit!

7 Absolutely FREE Activities for the Kids

Posted on August 29th, 2017 in Budgeting, Community by SSBblogger |

Whether it’s during the summer or after school, keeping your children occupied takes a truly creative mind! This season, Security State Bank is excited to share some of our favorite and affordable activities for all of your little ones to enjoy!

We love getting children involved in personal finance at an early age. If you’re searching for more affordable activities for your little one to enjoy, consider some of these fun-filled games to help them understand the basics of personal finance! Everything from mobile apps to hands-on activities can help them grow their own financial education.

What’s the Best Money Lesson Your Parents Taught You?

Posted on July 19th, 2017 in Being Thankful, Budgeting, Community, Savings by vgmforbin |

Helping your little one understand the intricacies of personal finance can often seem like an uphill battle. Luckily, our team at Security State Bank has a wealth of knowledge from the lessons our parents instilled in us! We’re excited to share our family’s words of wisdom in today’s blog, and implore you to try their key points when working with your children.

 

Jan Scott: My parents always told me that in our household, money doesn’t grow on trees; if you don’t have the money, then you can’t buy it until you save money for it. 

Help your kiddo understand why they need cash to purchase that new toy or trinket. Simple lessons such as this can add a consistent support to their ongoing financial education as they age. Once they’re old enough to have an allowance help them take this concept one step further by making a rule that they must save 20 percent of their allowance; ten percent for college or other education and ten percent for personal savings.

 

Brian Meyer:  1. It’s not what you make, it’s what you spend that determines how much you save. 2. A day of work is better for your health than a day of play. 3. Family is more important than your bank account and lessons are learned and money is earned.

The main point these sayings drive home is that if you’re smart with your money you can use it as a tool to help build the best life for you and your family. Whether it’s finding better ways to work, learning from your mistakes, or always ensuring your family is a priority; each of these messages showcases what it means to have money enable your personal aspirations instead of burdening your or your loved ones with debt.

 

Craig Coffman:  This may not be a money lesson; however, leads to this in the end.  My parents taught me to never ‘Burn my Bridges’ and never leave a job unless you have another job to go to.

Sometimes the lessons our parents teach us at a young age can continue to help us later in life. This simple saying shows how you can help your children prepare for their eventual work life, and ensure they never go without employment, income, or healthcare for that matter too!

 

Zach Boss: Save everything you can:  Every year when I sold my fair animals at the 4-H livestock auction, my parents encouraged me that this money needs to go into my savings account for college! I’m glad I did because college was expensive and I wouldn’t be where I was today if I disregarded that advice! I think I owe a big thank you for all the buyers of my fair animals over the years for helping me fund my college education! If the former buyers of my livestock over the years saw this, I would hope they would think they got a great return on their investment as I continue to work hard professionally and give back to the local community. Last week was the first time where I was able to bid on some of our local 4-H/FFA exhibitor’s livestock project and give back just like those buyers did for me several years prior!

The lessons we learn don’t always come from our parents, but other community members too! We love this example of paying it forward, and would encourage you to help your child determine where their 4-H winnings should be saved! Who knows, if a scholarship can help with school, perhaps the funds can also be used to help them start a small side business instead.

 

We’d love to hear how you and your family educate on personal finance! Be sure to post your tips, tricks, and words of wisdom on our Facebook page today! After all, raising a child takes a village, and we couldn’t be happier to help!

Fourth of July Statistics from Security State Bank

Posted on July 3rd, 2017 in General by SSBblogger |

Happy 242nd birthday, America!

As you celebrate the birth of our nation, Security State Bank breaks down eight Independence Day stats to give you a little more background into how much is spent, consumed, watched, and driven during this spectacular American holiday.  Enjoy and stay safe, friends!

2017 Fourth of July Statistics Infographic