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Save Money with a No-Spend Challenge

Posted on July 23rd, 2014 in Savings by SSBblogger | No Comments
Save Money

Completing a No-Spend Challenge without stockpiling can teach you a lot about where your money normally goes. You might even find you don’t need (or really want!) half the expenses in your life.

With summer in full swing, there are many opportunities to splurge on entertainment, fairs and festivals, concerts, vacations and summer clothes and food. Even if you’ve already spent a little more than you’d planned, you can recover from a spending spree! Reel it in by completing a 30-day no-spend challenge. Sound impossible? Don’t worry, Security State Bank is here to show you how it’s done to help you save money this summer!

For 30 days, don’t purchase anything that isn’t essential to life. Food and medicine are basically it. If that sounds too scary, start with a 7-day no-spend challenge and work your way up to a month.

When it comes to food, only buy what you absolutely need to complete any recipes you can make with products you already have. If possible, don’t buy any new food at all. Your meals will be random and maybe not your favorite, but that’s the point. Use canned goods and non-perishables that have been sitting around in your cabinets for a while. Get creative with your lunches and use leftovers from dinner instead of just making sandwiches – that means you’ll run out of bread and cheese pretty quickly.

Make do with whatever travel samples and toiletries you already have around the house.

Even if you normally drive to work, look for public transportation you can use for the month. Use a bike or walk for trips around your neighborhood. Since you won’t be buying much, you won’t need transportation to the supermarket very often if at all.

See if you can cancel your Internet and cable for a month. It sounds scary, but if you have a smartphone, you can access the Internet from there or you can do any web work at a public library. You’d be surprised how much more time and money you have when you eliminate these things from your home. You might never turn them back on!

Find entertainment by reorganizing and de-cluttering. If you’re not watching old DVDs, donate them. If you’ve unearthed a goldmine of stuff you forgot about but still like, enjoy it. It’s free.

Focus on finishing projects you’ve started around the house, like scrapbooking, writing down recipes, creating art or reading. You can do all of these things with stuff you already have, and it will keep your mind off spending money.

The key to having a successful 30-day no-spend challenge is not stockpiling. You can’t prepare for the challenge – that just encourages you to spend a lot of money and defeats the purpose of using up what you already have.

A no-spend challenge can help you save money for a while, but eventually, you’ll have to spend. However, spending a month thinking about every purchase and limiting yourself can teach you a lot about what you really need. Security State Bank wants you to have fun with your no-spend challenge, learn about how to spend less in your household and save money this summer by changing up your spending habits!

7 Summer Beauty Hacks to Save Money

Posted on July 9th, 2014 in Savings by SSBblogger | No Comments
Save money on beauty

It’s easy to switch out expensive beauty products for low-cost items you can find in your kitchen! Adding oats to your bath to give you soft skin is just one easy change!

As we put on our shorts and tank-tops to bear the summer heat, we sometimes splurge on expensive lotions and beauty products to make our skin look smooth and flawless. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Sometimes the best beauty remedies are hiding in plain sight in your house. Security State Bank wants you to save money this summer, and these beauty hacks will help you stay on budget and still feel fabulous!

Firm up with a coffee ground wrap

Skip fancy anti-cellulite lotions and creams and use coffee grounds you would have thrown away! Mix one-fourth of a cup of warm coffee grounds and pour one tablespoon of olive oil on the grounds. Put the grounds on the areas of your skin you want to tighten, then wrap the areas in plastic wrap. Leave it on for about 12 minutes, then take off the wrap and shower off using warm water. The caffeine helps to tighten skin for a couple of hours.

Make a homemade body scrub

Mix your favorite body wash with brown sugar to create an exfoliator for cheap! This is a great way to get rid of scaly, dry summer skin.

Get soft skin with oats

Dry skin or sunburn? Calm it by adding oatmeal to your bath. It’s a natural skin-soother and makes for soft summer skin.

Whiten with baking soda

Add a little baking soda to your toothpaste to remove stains without the expensive whitening strips or gel.

De-puff with tea bags

Get rid of under-eye bags and puffiness by holding cold tea bags to them for six minutes. The caffeine de-puffs and tightens skin.

Skip toner, use apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a purifying agent and astringent, so it works the same as a costly toner.

Use spray starch as dry shampoo

Most dry shampoo contains starch to absorb oiliness, so skip the expensive product and use spray starch to de-grease your hair.

Security State Bank knows it’s fun to save money and still get what you want. Using these beauty hacks can help eliminate unnecessary costs every month, so instead of heading to the beauty aisle, look in your kitchen cabinets for these beauty hacks first!

Four Easy, Affordable Home Improvements for This Summer

Posted on June 25th, 2014 in Savings by SSBblogger | No Comments
Home improvement tips

A pop of fresh color in your home can completely transform the feel for little cost.

Summer has arrived! Now is the perfect time to make the home improvements you have been thinking about all winter. Whether big or small, summer is the perfect opportunity to implement any and all changes you want. We encourage you to stay motivated and accomplish all your goals for 2014. You may have lost sight of your New Year’s resolutions but it is never too late to start again! Security State Bank is here to help you stay on track financially. Here we have provided 4 ideas for home improvements on a budget.

Adopt a Plant

Indoor plants have been proven to lift moods, improve focus, and increase oxygen. Add a plant to your dining room, entry way, or front porch for a touch of color and fresh feel. You can grow your own plant or visit your local flower shop for a wide selection!

Add Some Color

What better way to show personality than through the front door? For an afternoon activity you can take your house from ordinary to extraordinary. Whether you choose pink, blue, yellow, or gray, be sure it compliments your house and neighborhood. Don’t be afraid to add a pop of color to your shutters or shades as well!

Find a New Light Fixture

A lamp or light can change the feel of any room. Your local antique store is sure to carry a one-of-a-kind chandelier or lamp for your home.

Care for Your Floor

Frequently caring for the floors in your home can prevent long term damage. Sweep at least three times a week to capture any dirt and dust that may leave scratches. Well cared for floors can improve the overall appearance of your home.

Working with a budget can make tasks seem impossible, but they don’t have to be. With a little extra thought and consideration you can make adaptations to your home more affordable. Security State Bank is here to offer you financial assistance from mortgage loans to personal savings accounts. Contact us today for any and all financial concerns. Have a safe summer and remember to save!

Five Tips to Save on Food This Summer

Posted on June 11th, 2014 in Savings by SSBblogger | No Comments
Food saving tips

Gardening is just one way you can eat healthy while staying within your budget.

There are countless expenses in life that cannot be avoided. Home care, car repairs, clothing, insurance, and food must be consistently worked into any budget. While there are ways to lower expenses, they will never disappear. Security State Bank is here to offer you advice for saving on food this summer. The average American spends $151 on food every week. Young adults spend $173 a week compared to older Americans who spend less. Those with incomes above $75,000 per year spend an average of $180 on food every week. Men spend slightly more than women and people in the Midwest spend slightly less than those in other areas of the country. Whatever lifestyle you have, we believe there are ways you can save today!

Farmer’s markets offer an opportunity to buy local and reduce packaging and transportation. While saving money, you are also benefitting the economy and environment. Make marketing a fun activity this summer and find fresh produce that will benefit your health and pocket.

Gardening is a great way to spend time outdoors and cook directly from your backyard! This time of year, corn, squash, cucumbers, green beans, and melons grow well. Try planting in a raised container for easier weeding and harvesting.

Couponing is a great habit to start now. Pay attention to ads in your local paper and online to find deals in stores near you. Saving one dollar may seem like no big deal, however, over time, small savings make big differences.

Package size and portions can change and charge more. Companies can reduce portions without reducing prices. If you notice a change, look for a cheaper brand or decide if the product is worth the price.

Meat tends to be one of the pricier items in the grocery store. Substitute expensive fish like salmon and lobster for a less expensive option, tilapia. Ground beef is a cheap meat that can be used in many different ways. If you want to skimp on meat but not protein, eggs and beans offer substantial amounts of protein at a relatively low price.

Summer can be a season of savings and we hope you find these ideas helpful when planning your next meal. Don’t hesitate to call Security State Bank for your financial questions and advice today! We hope you have a financially safe and fun summer!

Posted on May 21st, 2014 in Community by SSBblogger | No Comments

Why you should buy local from SSB

There’s no doubt that local businesses and agriculture help keep the economies of our communities going. Not only are they helping pump money into our community, but local businesses keep our families, friends and neighbors employed.

 

As a community bank serving Independence, Urbana and Dysart, Security State Bank works to support our local businesses to help our communities continue to grow and thrive. However, there’s no better way for that to happen than for you to shop local.

 

However, we understand if you need some further proof that shopping at local businesses helps out the entire community more than making your purchases from large box chain stores. We’ve dug up some facts and figures on shopping locally conducted by people far better at research than us. Take a look, and then head to your favorite local business or restaurant!

 

Reasons to Buy Locally

  • Twice the money you spend at local farmer’s markets or community growing programs stays in the economy than if you had bought the same produce at a big box supermarket.
  • Local businesses create 70 percent more activity in the local economy over big box chain stores.
  • The difference in annual returns- local businesses: $326 per 1,000 sq. ft.; big box stores: negative $468 per 1,000 sq. ft.
  • Quicker money circulation- since money used at local businesses stays within the community, it circulates through the local economy faster. This results in more people getting the benefits of using that money.

 

Thinking about what is available locally and what isn’t can also lead to new business ideas, for you or for someone who has a better chance of making it happen. Is there a certain product or category of products that you always have to purchase a larger retail stores on online? Would it be possible for you or another business in town to capitalize on this opportunity?

 

When you boil it down to the basics, shopping local keeps the doors of local businesses open, which means people stay employed. It’s a win-win situation, which is why Security State Bank encourages you to buy local whenever possible. Happy shopping, and we look forward to seeing you soon!

Posted on May 7th, 2014 in Financial Management by SSBblogger | No Comments

financial tips for graduates

May is a month full of excitement: spring is in full bloom, the weather is consistently nice and the growing seasons have gotten underway.  There is also another reason to get excited this month: graduations. High school and college seniors will be donning their caps and gowns and taking that famous walk across the stage to get their diplomas.

 

Whether the graduate in your life is moving on to college or into the real world, being financial responsible is as important as ever. That’s why your friends at Security State Bank have put together a little graduation present of our own: seven lucky tips to help your graduate be financially successful!

 

A Few Financial Tips for our Graduates

  • Be cautious with credit cards- they can be tempting, as can the numerous offers you will get from credit card companies targeting college students and young adults. If you use a credit card, save it for emergencies or small purchases that you know you can pay off quickly.
  • Student loans and other loans- “borrow only as much as you need.” While having a little extra spending money seems nice, you’ll have to pay it back plus interest.
  • Be smart during your grace period- you get six months from the graduation to when you have to begin paying back your student loans. Make the most of it by saving up your money and creating a budget that can handle loan payments every month.
  • Save for emergencies-things happen: you can get sick or injured, you can get in an accident or you could lose your job. Having a financial cushion to fall back on is crucial in these situations.
  • Create good credit habits- this means paying off the full balance of your credit card every month and not missing payments, two things that can kill your credit score if you don’t do them.
  • Don’t fly by the seat of your pants- create a budget. It will allow you to see where your money is going every month, preventing a “Where did my money go?” situation.
  • Invest in your future- yes, retirement is a long way away. However, Social Security benefits may not even exist by the time you hit retirement, so take advantage of the power of compound interest by saving today.

 

Following these steps may not make you a millionaire, but we can say with pretty high certainty that they will make your financial life less stressful. If there is any way Security State Bank can help you along your way whether you’re on campus or in the real world, we are more than happy to help! Come see us any time!

The Importance of Teaching Financial Literacy in Schools

Posted on April 30th, 2014 in Financial Management by SSBblogger | No Comments

There’s a number out there that every American should know: $11.52 trillion. That’s how much Americans – old, young, male, female, single and married – are in debt.  From mortgages to student loans to credit cards, Americans owe $11.52 trillion, and it’s because we don’t know how to deal with money.

 

Think about how you learned your financial habits. Most of us learned from our parents unless we were taught otherwise, either through our own self-education or in a class. While the State of Iowa requires school districts to implement standards in both economics and personal finance, high school courses are not required to be offered or taken in either of these subjects.

 

This isn’t surprising; only 16 states plus the District of Columbia require testing for economics, and only 6 states plus the District of Columbia require testing for personal finance. However, the benefits of personal finance education in high school were shown in the “Pathway to Financial Success” Study done by credit card company Discover:

  • 93 percent of students who have taken a personal finance class save money vs. 84 percent of those who have not
  • 60 percent of those who have taken a class use a budget vs. 46 percent of those who have not
  • 32 percent of those who have taken a class have invested money vs. 17 percent  of those who have not

 

Saving, investing and budgeting are all basic money skills that personal finance classes have been shown to encourage. Some other interesting findings of the report include:

  • High school seniors ranked personal finance/money management as the most critical skill for future success.
  • However, only 34 percent of them feel “very confident” in their ability to manage their own finances.
  • 83 percent of high school seniors said they would be interesting in learning more about managing their personal finances.
  • To sum up: high school seniors recognize the importance of learning about personal finance, that it is a weakness for most of them and want to learn more about it, BUT aren’t being taught about it in school.

 

So, what can you do as a Security State Bank customer? First, talk to your kids about responsible money management, and don’t be afraid to start young. You can find some great resources for this at The Mint or by searching on Google. You can also look at MyMoney.gov and Wisebread.com for some great tips. You can also bring the idea of personal finance classes to the your local and state school board if you would like to see personal finance taught in schools.

 

Whatever you do, Security State Bank hopes you help to work toward a better financial future for yourself, your family and our country as a whole.

 

Agricultural Banking: Helping Plant the Best Seed

Posted on April 16th, 2014 in Community by SSBblogger | No Comments

There’s no denying the fact that agriculture has been the backbone of Iowa’s economy since people began settling and raising crops here in the “Land of Opportunity.” The presence of agriculture in the blood of every Iowan, especially in our communities, means everyone knows the importance of this time of year. Late April and early May mean it’s time to plant corn and soybean crops for the season, the first step in a process that creates billions of dollars in revenue across the state of Iowa.

 

It’s this financial impact and the importance of corn and soybeans on the economic lives of local farmers that make having a knowledgeable banking and lending partner vital. Security State Bank has our roots in working with local farm families to ensure they have everything they need to succeed. We know the challenges of working with the earth and weather for your living, and our ag lenders and banking specialists work with farmers every day on their diverse needs.

 

Whether you have a large or small farm operation, or are beginning farmer, there is a solution for you. Security State Bank’s ag specialists know no two farm operations are exactly the same. That’s why they take the time to talk to you and understand your needs in order to recommend the best financing solution available.

 

We can talk about all the specific programs we have available for our local farmers, but the only thing that matters is this: we care about and are invested in your success. In our eyes, working with local farm families goes beyond simple banking. It’s trying to help our family, friends and neighbors succeed to help build and maintain a strong local economy.

 

A genuine relationship that offers you exactly what you need at a fair price; that’s what we offer at Security State Bank. You can talk to one of our ag banking specialists by contacting any of our locations today. Good luck to all our farm families during the upcoming planting and growing seasons, and here’s to beautiful weather for a bountiful yield!

The 5 Mortgage Types & Programs You Need to Know

Posted on March 19th, 2014 in Mortgages by SSBblogger | No Comments

When looking for a mortgage, it’s best to know all the options available to you.

It may be hard to believe, but spring is almost here. And with spring comes warmer weather, brighter colors and the beginning of “home season.” Despite all the freshness and excitement in the air, spring can also be a time of great stress and confusion for those looking for a new home and needing a mortgage.

One common question we get at Security State Bank when it comes to mortgages is “Which mortgage is best for me?” There isn’t a real answer, as each person and family’s situation is different. However, we can give you a brief overview of some of the most popular mortgages and describe which type of person best fit this loan.

Fixed-rate loan- this type of loan locks your interest rate in for the life of your loan. This can be beneficial if you get your mortgage at a time when interest rates are low.

Adjustable-rate loan- the interest rate in this type of mortgage fluctuates based on market conditions.

FHA loans- these mortgages are focused on helping those with less than perfect credit, and require only 3.5 percent of a home’s value for down payment.

VA Guaranteed Loans- these mortgages are available to veterans of the United States Armed Forces. They help veterans (or their spouses, provided they did not remarry) purchase a home without a down payment.

USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Program- these loans help low to moderate income families purchase a home through 30-year fixed-rate financing.

Security State Bank also offers mortgages through the First-Time Home Buyer Program, as well as new construction to permanent financing, home equity loans, home equity lines of credit and bridge loans. If you’re looking to move to a new home in the area this spring or summer, get started by visiting the friendly mortgage experts at Security State Bank today!

Are You Asking the 8 Most Important Questions Before Buying a Home?

Posted on March 12th, 2014 in Mortgages by SSBblogger | No Comments
Mortgage questions answered at Security State Bank

There are many questions you need to ask yourself when considering purchasing a new home and getting a mortgage.

“Home season” will be coming along with the warm weather this spring. If you’re looking to purchase a home, you may have started getting together all the paperwork needed for mortgage preapproval and sought out the services of a real estate agent.

But have you asked yourself these eight important questions? If not, now is the time to ask them and find the answers.

How much home do we need? This all depends on your current and future family size. Also, do you or a spouse work from home or want a workout area? Think along these lines.

How much home can we afford? Once you have an idea of how much space you need, see how much home you can afford. Too many people got in trouble when the housing bubble burst with mortgages they couldn’t afford.

How much stress will this put on us and our kids? Purchasing a home can unravel even the coolest of customers, as can moving.

Have we been improving our credit score? Simply put, the higher your score, the lower your interest rate and down payment will be. A score of 720 or higher is the benchmark you should shoot for.

Will we be able to avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI)? PMI is just another cost associated with purchasing a home.

Have we saved enough for a good size down payment? In general, making a down payment of 20 percent of your home’s value or higher allows you to forego PMI.

Have we saved enough for closing costs? On average, closing costs run between $2,300 and $4,000, so having this cash on hand makes you all the more prepared.

Are we ready to commit to living in one place for awhile? Short-term ownership is an expensive proposition, so be sure that purchasing this home is the best choice for your family.

The last thing Security State Bank wants is for our customers to be stuck with a home they are unsatisfied with or can’t pay for. Think hard about these questions, then call or come by Security State Bank today for help with your mortgage needs.