Monday, August 22, 2016

Saving For Retirement In 5 Easy Steps

Almost every working American hopes to retire someday. After decades of working hard to support themselves and their families, retirees get to relax and dedicate more time to the things they truly care about. Of course, a successful retirement can only happen if you've properly prepared for it. If you are in the process of (or about to start) saving for retirement at the Lake of the Ozarks, we're here to help you help you plan for a financially comfortable retirement.

Step 1: Start Today
It doesn't matter whether you are a college graduate in your early twenties or an established executive in your late forties; if you have not already started, the best time to start saving for retirement is always right now. Even if you can only dedicate $50 or $100 per month to your retirement account for now, it can add up and make a big difference in the long run. You can always increase your monthly contributions when your budget allows.

Step 2: Set Up An Automatic Deposit
Simply having a retirement account won't do you much good if you don't ever contribute to it. Most retirement accounts offer a direct-deposit option that pulls a predetermined contribution from your bank account to your IRA on a set day every month. Most people appreciate this option, because it allows them to contribute to their IRA without having to think about it. If they have to consciously contribute to their IRA, they may try to justify putting the money elsewhere.

Step 3: Take Advantage Of Your Company's Retirement Plan
If you work for a company that offers a retiring savings benefit, we strongly encourage you to take advantage of it - especially if your company will match your contributions up to a certain amount. This contribution match is essentially free money. You may not get to use the money now, but it will make a big difference in your overall retirement portfolio.

Step 4: Guesstimate Your Retirement Needs
Working on a project is almost easier when you can work towards a specific goal rather than an abstract concept. Obviously, it's impossible to predict exactly how much you will need to save to support yourself in retirement, but you can get close by choosing what age you would like to retire and how long you hope to live, and then multiplying your total annual expenses by the approximate number of years you plan to be retired.

Step 5: Stick With Your Plan
Devising a savings plan is one thing - sticking to it is often a different matter entirely. Life is unpredictable, and unexpected circumstances may arise that make it difficult to put money aside for retirement. When it comes to saving for retirement, one of the most important things you can do is to continue setting money aside no matter what obstacles life presents. Remember, even if you have to decrease the amount you set aside for a little while, something is always better than nothing!

Ask Us About Our IRA Options
First Bank of the Lake is here to help you meet your retirement savings goals. We offer a variety of tax-advantaged IRA (Individual Retirement Account) options that can help yourself up for a successful retirement. Visit our website to learn more about our Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs, and SIMPLE IRA options at the Lake of the Ozarks.

First Bank of the Lake - Striving For Excellence
Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.

Located at the entrance to the Osage Beach Premium Outlets!

4558 Osage Beach Parkway
Suite 100
Osage Beach, MO 65065

(573) 348-2265

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

5 Tips To Achieve A Debt-Free Lifestyle

Do you feel buried under a mountain of debt? While some types of debt can be beneficial for building up a strong credit rating, too much debt can become overwhelming very quickly. Don't resign yourself to a life filled with debt - First Bank of the Lake is here to help you get on top of things with these tried-and-true tips for achieving a debt-free lifestyle.

1. Be Honest About Your Credit Card Habits
Many debt relief experts encourage people to use cash exclusively in order to avoid racking up credit card debt. However, credit cards aren't necessarily a bad thing; it just depends on how you use them. If you pay off your balance in full every month (or pay off individual transactions immediately), you can enjoy the convenience credit cards offer without building any unnecessary debt. If you do not trust yourself to manage your cards in this manner, however, you may be better off sticking with cash.

2. Apply For Scholarships
Many recent graduates are struggling to catch their breath under the weight of their student loans. According to, more than two-thirds of this year's college graduates have approximately $35,000 in student loan debt. Shouldering this type of debt can make it challenging for them to make important investments, such as buying a car or providing the down payment for a home. Before taking out student loans to cover your college education, research your scholarship options in depth. Even if you do not qualify for many scholarships from your school directly, you may be able to find some funded by independent third parties.

3. Focus On One Debt At A Time
Department store debt, credit card debt, student loan debt, car loans, mortgage loans... many people in our society are facing multiple types of debt at once, and getting out from underneath them can seem like a daunting prospect. By focusing on paying off one at a time, you can make the process more manageable. Some people choose to focus on the debt with the highest interest rate first, whereas others like to begin with the one with the smallest principal. Choose the strategy that most appeals to you, and stick with it. Put extra money towards the principal on your chosen debt, and only make required payments on your others. Once you have the first one paid off, take the money that was going towards it and add to the payments on your next chosen debt. By tackling them in this fashion, you can slowly but steadily make progress.

4. Avoid Temptation
What are your spending weaknesses? If you know you're prone to extravagant shopping sprees, unsubscribe from any mailings that advertise coupons or other special offers so you won't have to face the temptation appearing in your mail/inbox. If you know that you like to treat yourself to lunch at various restaurants on your lunch break, make it a point to bring food to the office so you don't have to leave. There really is no right or wrong way to approach this strategy; the important thing is to know your own spending habits and make adjustments accordingly so that you won't have to face unnecessary temptation.

5. Build A Large Savings
If you are struggling to get your feet underneath you, this particular tip may seem less than helpful. However, a solid savings account is your best defense against a debt-filled lifestyle. By having a strong emergency savings account, you are more likely to be able to cover the unexpected expenses that life may throw at you without going into additional debt. You can build your savings account by setting aside 20% of every paycheck. It may mean having fewer dinners out or fewer bottles of wine from the grocery store, but it's a small price to pay for financial security.

Set Up Your Savings Account At First Bank of the Lake!
As you begin to build your savings so you can work towards a debt-free lifestyle, you may want to consider establishing a separate savings account. Keeping your savings in a separate account allows your savings to be more "out of sight, out of mind," which can make it easier to resist the temptation to use your savings for non-emergencies. If you are looking for a place to set up a savings account at the Lake of the Ozarks, consider First Bank of the Lake. Our banking professionals would be more than happy to help you!

First Bank of the Lake - Striving For Excellence
Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.

Located at the entrance to the Osage Beach Premium Outlets!

4558 Osage Beach Parkway
Suite 100
Osage Beach, MO 65065

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Next 4 Things You Can Do For Financial Success

At First Bank of the Lake, we are dedicated to helping our clients achieve financial success in their personal and business lives. We make it a point to share relevant, interesting content designed to help people navigate the various situations they may face in their day-to-day lives. This week, we're continuing that tradition by offering some helpful suggestions for achieving financial success in all stages of life.

Whether you are a young adult just beginning your professional career, a middle-aged adult preparing for retirement, a single working professional, or a stay-at-home parent, there are certain things you should be doing to better position yourself financially. Here are a few steps you should take to improve your financial situation.

1. Build A Budget
First and foremost, you should put together a budget to keep track of your monthly expenses. There are countless different budgeting strategies you can use:
  • You can build a spreadsheet and plug all of your income/expenses in at the end of the month.
  • You can use a free budgeting app to track your income/expenses on your smartphone as you go.
  • You can make a cash withdrawal after every paycheck and divide the cash up into envelopes, each with a specific purpose.

No one strategy is better than the other; it's up to you to choose which one fits your needs and lifestyle best. What's important is that you stick with the budgeting strategy you choose so that you can continue to track your finances month after month.

2. Save For Retirement
Practically every working professional hopes to retire someday. The age at which people retire varies greatly from person to person, but the ultimate requirement is the same. In order for people to retire, they have to have enough money saved up to support them for the rest of their lives. The younger you are when you retire, then, the more money you will have to have saved up. No matter what stage of your career you are currently in, we strongly encourage you to begin saving for retirement at the Lake of the Ozarks. The sooner you start, the more you can save in the long run.

3. Set Aside An Emergency Fund
Life is impossible to predict, and even our best laid plans can (and often do) go awry. If unforeseen undesirable circumstances arise, it is important that you have the funds set aside to weather the storms. Most financial experts recommend having enough money in your savings account to cover at least 3-6 months of your living expenses without any additional money coming in. If you do not have the funds sitting around to currently designate as an emergency fund, build up to it by setting aside one hundred dollars every month.

4. Spend Less Than You Earn
This principle sounds obvious, but you might be surprised how many individuals often have trouble following this simple maxim. Spending more than you earn in any given month may not be terribly detrimental to your overall financial situation, but if it becomes a consistent pattern, it can become a major problem very quickly. It is important that you become brutally honest with yourself regarding how much you earn on a monthly basis and how much you can afford to spend. (Maintaining a budget can help you keep track of this.)

Let Us Know If We Can Help!
If there is any way we can help you on your road to financial success, don't be afraid to reach out! We offer retirement accounts, savings accounts, and personal checking accounts at the Lake of the Ozarks. If you are interested in setting up a new bank account, we would love to talk to you. Visit our website to learn more about our financial services:

First Bank of the Lake - Striving For Excellence
Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.

Located at the entrance to the Osage Beach Premium Outlets!

4558 Osage Beach Parkway
Suite 100
Osage Beach, MO 65065

(573) 348-2265

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Proud To Sponsor The Great Dam Duck Drop 2016

Ask any local, and they'll tell you that one of the best parts about living at the Lake of the Ozarks (besides getting year-round access to all of the great attractions our area has to offer) is being a part of such a generous, conscientious community. There are countless events held all year long designed to help locals in need, and community members go above and beyond to support these great events. This year, First Bank of the Lake is proud to be a sponsor of one of these awesome events: The Great Dam Duck Drop.

Photo Credit:
Great Dam Duck Drop 2016

The Great Dam Duck Drop is a two-part annual event held every year on the first Friday and Saturday of August. Friday's primary activity is a golf tournament featuring a wide variety of special contests and prizes designed to engage players with a wide range of skill levels. Saturday's activities include a Family Fun Zone perfect for families with children of all ages and, of course, the famous "Duck Drop" itself.

Proceeds from the Great Dam Duck Drop benefit a wide variety of local charity organizations that, in turn, help local kids in need. Specifically, proceeds will benefit:
  • Lake Area Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • Ozark Coast Kiwanis
  • Kids Harbor
  • Citizens Against Domestic Violence
  • The Food Pantry
  • Wonderland Camp
  • And More
Photo Credit:
Golf Tournament Event Details
  • Date: Friday, August 5th, 2016
  • Time: 1:30 PM Shotgun Start
  • Location: The Ridge Golf Course
  • Registration and lunch begin at noon
  • 4 person scramble with ladies' flight
  • Tournament contests / prizes:
    • Hole-in-one contests
    • $5,000 putting contest
    • 3 flights with top 3 teams in each flight receiving prizes + ladies' flight
    • Long drive contests
    • Closest to the pin contests
    • Other on-course contests and special events

Family Fun Zone Event Details
  • Date: Saturday, August 6th, 2016
  • Time: 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM
  • Location: Dam Bait Shop & Campground
  • Fun zone wristbands are free and include all of the games, events, and prizes
  • Duck drop tickets available for purchase until 11:00 AM ($5 each)
  • Ducks fly at noon - first 11 ducks to cross the finish line will receive prizes (you do not need to be present to win)!
  • Family fun zone activities:
    • Petting zoo
    • Martial arts demonstrations
    • Facial decorating
    • Games
    • Prizes
    • Dance demonstrations
    • Live DJ
    • Shaved ice
    • Dunk tank
    • Great food
    • Bounce houses

First Bank Is Proud To Sponsor This Event!

The Great Dam Duck Drop is an outstanding event for an even better cause, and our local bank in Osage Beach MO is honored to be a Gold Sponsor for this event. Specifically, we're helping to sponsor the Putting Contest on Friday - a chance for players to win $5,000! 

Whether you plan to attend the event or provide a cash donation in support of the cause, we hope you'll make Duck Drop 2016 a part of your plans for this weekend. We are proud to be a part of such a fantastic area, and are thrilled to have this opportunity to give back to our local community. We hope to see you there!

First Bank of the Lake - Striving For Excellence
Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.

Located at the entrance to the Osage Beach Premium Outlets!

4558 Osage Beach Parkway
Suite 100
Osage Beach, MO 65065

(573) 348-2265

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

5 Questions To Ask Before Taking Out A Car Loan

There are two kinds of debt - the kind that can be helpful to your overall financial picture, and the kind that can be detrimental. Helpful debts are those that allow you to make necessary purchases and build a strong credit rating. Detrimental debts are those that make your monthly budget so tight that you don't have room for essentials (causing you to miss payments) or debts that have outrageously high interest rates. We talk frequently about detrimental debts and you can get out from underneath their grasp, but this week, our banking experts at the Lake of the Ozarks are here to discuss a beneficial debt: auto loans.

Taking Out A Car Loan

Taking out a car loan can be a great way to fund the purchase of a new vehicle. Since buying a car often makes much more sense financially than leasing, an auto loan can be a great way to make this purchase a possibility. Before finalizing your new loan, however, it is important to make sure you are making the loan choice that makes the most sense for you. 

Questions To Ask Before Taking Out A Car Loan

First Bank of the Lake is here to help you make the right decision. Before taking out your next car loan, be sure to ask your lender the following questions.

1. What Is The Loan Term?
The average term for car loans has been steadily increasing over the years. While short-term loans are still available, car loans are now offered for as long as 60, 72, or even 84 months. Before officially signing your new loan, find out what the term is and make sure you are comfortable with it.

2. Is This A Fixed Interest Rate?
Some car loans offer fixed interest rates, which means that the rate will stay the same throughout the duration of the loan. Other loans offer variable interest rates, which means that the rate may change during the course of the loan. In order to ensure your financial security, a fixed rate loan may be the better bet.

3. When It's All Said And Done, How Much Will I Have Spent On My Car?
In order to determine which loan option is the cheapest, it is wise to ask this question; the cheapest loan is not always determined by the lowest interest rate. For example, a loan with a higher rate may still be cheaper in the long run if it has a shorter term.

4. Is My Monthly Payment A Fixed Amount?
Most people find it much easier to plan their monthly budgets when they know exactly how much certain payments will cost them each month. Before officially signing on your new loan, find out if the projected payment about will remain constant on a monthly basis. If you have a variable interest rate or a balloon payment at the end, for instance, this payment amount will likely change.

5. Can I Pay Off My Balance Early?
It can be impossible to predict where your financial future is headed. Once you get your principal balance down to a manageable amount, or if your financial situation should improve significantly before then, you may want to pay off your remaining balance in full. Some lenders charge a penalty fee for this. Ask your lender to see if they allow this an option and if you will be penalized for it.

First Bank Of The Lake Can Finance Your Auto Loan!

If you are considering taking out a car loan at the Lake of the Ozarks, contact our local bank in Osage Beach MO. We offer a variety of personal loans at the Lake of the Ozarks to help you finance the purchase of your new car quickly and easily. For more information about our auto loan options, visit our website or call us at 573-348-2265.

First Bank of the Lake - Striving For Excellence
Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.

Located at the entrance to the Osage Beach Premium Outlets!

4558 Osage Beach Parkway
Suite 100
Osage Beach, MO 65065

(573) 348-2265

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Today's Debt Dilemma: Department Store Debt

Consumer debt is on the rise. Mortgages, car loans, and student loans make up a significant portion of the overall debt hanging over American households, but they aren't the only factors. Credit card debt is becoming an increasingly prominent burden for many Americans, and one specific type of credit card debt is on a particularly rapid rise. Our Lake of the Ozarks banking experts are here to examine this particular sector of credit card debt: department store debt.

Department Store Debt

"Would you like to open a [insert store name here] today and save 10% off your purchase?"

We have all heard this offer countless times. After waiting in line at our favorite store, we finally approach the checkout counter to pay for our items. The opportunity to save 10% (or more) off our total purchase often seems too good to pass up - but is it, really?

Kohl's, JC Penny, Macy's, Banana Republic, Target... Almost all of today's big brands offer a corporate credit card. When consumers use their credit card to pay for their items, they receive exclusive discounts. However, it is critical consumers realize that though they are store-specific, they are still credit cards in every traditional sense of the word. A purchase made on a department store credit card today will still need to be paid off tomorrow, and debt, interest, and associated fees can rack up quickly if the cards are not used strategically.

Advantages Of Department Store Credit Cards

Before delving too deeply into the danger of department store credit cards, it is worth acknowledging that these cards do offer some benefits when they are used correctly.

Exclusive Discounts
The most obvious (and possibly the most enticing) advantage department store credit cards offer is that they allow shoppers to save money on their purchases. If you frequent a particular store, it may be advantageous to take advantage of this opportunity to save.

Opportunity To Build Credit
If department store credit cards are used correctly, they offer the same opportunity to build your credit score as any other credit card does. By keeping your outstanding balance at 30% (or less) of your credit limit and paying off your balances completely, you can show the credit bureau that you are a responsible buyer. It is often easier to get approved for a department store credit card than by major credit card companies, so this can be especially valuable for consumers who are looking for ways to rebuild their credit ratings.

Disadvantages Of Department Store Credit Cards

In spite of the benefits they offer, department store credit cards can do more harm than good if they are used incorrectly.

Spending Temptation
It's hard to resist a good deal. The knowledge that you could save off your total purchase (or whatever other special offer the store decides to extend) can make it incredibly challenging not to go shopping, even if you would not have otherwise gone. In these instances, you may be spending less than you would have without the discount - but you're spending more than what you would have spent if you hadn't been coerced into going in the first place.

High Interest Rates
It's true that it is often easier to get approved for a department store credit card, but the flip side is that these credit cards often have the highest interest rates of all credit cards. If you fail to pay off your balance completely or on time, you may rack up expensive payments (and large amounts of debt) very quickly.

Department store debt is one of the fastest-growing types of debt in our country today. Before jumping at the chance to save money on today's purchase, think about the impact the new credit card could have on your finances tomorrow. If you don't trust yourself to handle the card responsibly, paying full price today could be far less costly in the long run.

First Bank Of The Lake Is Here For Your Banking Needs

At First Bank of the Lake, we offer a variety of banking services to meet our clients' unique and varied needs. We are proud to offer personal checking and savings accounts, business checking and savings accounts, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), money market accounts, certificates of deposit, small business loans, and personal loans. For more information about our banking services at the Lake of the Ozarks, visit our website at We look forward to serving you!

First Bank of the Lake - Striving For Excellence
Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.

Located at the entrance to the Osage Beach Premium Outlets!

4558 Osage Beach Parkway
Suite 100
Osage Beach, MO 65065

(573) 348-2265

Thursday, July 14, 2016

9 Ways To Cut Your Summer Energy Costs

Homeowners often view utility costs as a necessary evil. No one likes paying their monthly utility bills, but we nonetheless rely heavily on our standard utilities such as water, electricity, gas, internet, TV, trash, etc. During the peak temperature extremes of summer and winter, certain utility bills (such as gas and electricity) can increase substantially. First Bank of the Lake is here to help you save some money this summer with these strategies for cutting back on energy costs.

1. Open Windows When Appropriate
If the temperatures are dropping to the upper sixties at night, consider turning off your central air and opening windows before going to sleep. As long as you close the windows and turn the air back on before it heats up again the next day, this can be a great way to reduce energy costs. 

2. Rotate Your Fans Correctly
Ceiling fans can be a massive energy-saver when they are used correctly. During the summer months, make sure your ceiling fans are rotating counter-clockwise. This will enable them to push air straight down, creating a cool breeze throughout your home.

3. Avoid Hot Appliances
When in use, your oven and stove can warm up your home and make your air conditioning have to work harder to cool it down. On especially hot days, save yourself this extra energy pull by cooking on the grill outside or using the microwave - or sticking with foods that don't need to be cooked at all.

4. Turn Off Lights When Not In Use
If you aren't in a room (or if there is still daylight outside), there is no reason to use the extra electricity required to keep the houselights burning. Switching to more energy-efficient light bulbs can be a smart move, too, but simply keeping your lights off when not in use may make a difference.

5. Set Your Thermostat As High As Comfortably Possible
If you find yourself sleeping under a pile of blankets at night or wearing a sweatshirt around your house in the evening, chances are good that you've got your thermostat set unnecessarily low. Set your thermostat as high as comfortable during the summer, and increase it by a few degrees during the afternoons when your family is away at work or school. There's no point in paying for colder air than necessary.

6. Lower The Blinds
If there is a lot of sunlight pouring into your home, your AC will have to work much harder to keep it cool. Lowering/closing the blinds or closing the curtains can make your air conditioning's job much easier (thus reducing your energy bill).

7. Replace The Air Filters
When is the last time you replaced the air filter in your HVAC system? Most heating and cooling experts recommend replacing your filter once per month during summer. If your filter is clogged or dirty, your system will have to work harder to pull air through it. This can raise your energy costs.

8. Unplug Electronics When Not In Use
Even if the power is off, certain appliances and electronics pull electricity and can contribute to a higher electric bill. Television sets, cable boxes, DVD players, phone chargers, modems, and computers are prime examples of electronic devices that pull electricity even when the power is off.

9. Set Your Hot Water Heater To 120°F
What is the thermostat in your hot water heater set to? If it's set higher than 120°F, you may want to consider lowering it. Most people rarely use water hotter than 120° - in fact, higher temperatures can result in scalding. There is no point in paying to heat your water to temperatures you cannot use.

Happy Saving!
By incorporating these energy-saving strategies into your daily life, you should be able to help lower your summer energy costs. Smaller energy bills in the summer mean more money leftover to dedicate towards retirement savings, summer vacations, education, or anything else you can imagine. If you are looking for a safe place to set up a savings account at the Lake of the Ozarks, we hope you'll consider First Bank of the Lake. We look forward to serving you!

First Bank of the Lake - Striving For Excellence
Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.

Located at the entrance to the Osage Beach Premium Outlets!

4558 Osage Beach Parkway
Suite 100
Osage Beach, MO 65065