Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Yes - You CAN Save Money In 2017!

Almost everyone makes lofty plans to save money at the start of a New Year, but few people find that they are successful in their goals. Breaking old spending habits is challenging, but with a little bit of focused attention and effort on your part, it is possible. Our Lake of the Ozarks community bank is here to help you meet your goal of saving money in 2017. These quick tips can steer you in the right direction.

Make Plans (And Stick To Them).
In order to keep your spending in check, you need a plan. Without a weekly meal plan, for example, you may end up spending extra money on multiple dinners out or groceries (such as fresh produce) that expire before they are used. At the start of every week, set aside time to make a plan for some of your various expenses for the coming week, such as how many times you will treat yourself to coffee on your way to work or how many times you'll go out to lunch with your coworkers instead of bringing food from home. Making a plan and sticking with it will help you avoid spur-of-the-moment decisions, which typically result in greater spending.

Make Saving Automatic.
One of the easiest ways to save money is to eliminate the decision to save every month. If you haven’t already done so, connect your checking account to a savings account at your Lake of the Ozarks bank or to your retirement account. In most cases, you’ll be able to set up an automatic withdrawal from your bank account to coincide with your payroll deposits. That way, the money is moved out of your checking account and into the appropriate savings account before you ever see it, thus eliminating the temptation to spend it unnecessarily.

Don't Have Money To Save? Review Your Bills.
Just as saving is easier when it’s automatic, spending is also easier when it happens without effort. Many Americans put their monthly expenses on auto-pay via a bank account, credit card or debit card. This saves the monthly hassle of paying bills, but it might also put your relationships with service providers in the “out of sight, out of mind” category. While your monthly payments have been made automatically for phone, cable and other service providers, the initial promotional rates you might have once enjoyed on those accounts have possibly expired.

Take the time to review your expenses in each of these categories, and consider calling your service providers to ask for a better deal. Most service providers don't want to lose you as a customer and may offer you the “new customer” discounts or something similar to get you to stay. Once you successfully reset these relationships, you can add the total amount saved to your automated savings deposits each month. 

Still Don't Have Money To Save? Take Control Of Your Expenses.
If you still find that you're running out of money every month without setting anything aside, it may be time to drastically shake up your system so that you can take control of your expenses. Often, impulse purchases are the biggest hurdle that must be overcome in order to get spending in check. Consider the cash envelope system: 
  • Determine how much money you can afford to spend in certain categories every month.
  • Write the names of the categories on different envelopes.
  • Withdraw cash from your bank account and put the appropriate of cash for each category in its corresponding envelope.
  • Make all your purchases with the cash in the envelopes.
  • Once you run out of money in a certain envelope, stop spending money in that category.

Doing this on a monthly basis can be a valuable way to help you get control of your spending. If you are concerned about carrying cash with you everywhere you go, consider downloading a mobile app (such as Goodbudget) that allows you to track your expenses in a similar way while still using your debit card.

First Bank Of The Lake Is Here To Help!
Saving doesn’t necessarily require a drastic change in your lifestyle. Taking small but doable steps towards a goal is often the best way to achieve success in the long term. If you are looking for a safe place to save money - and get access to several great perks that can put you ahead in the long run - consider opening a bank account at First Bank of the Lake. Ask for Kasasa!

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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

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

How Do Rising Interest Rates Impact You?

For the second time in seven years, the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates. The recent raise in December, coupled with the Federal Reserve's hints that it intends to raise rates again in 2017, will have a definite impact on consumers like you. First Bank of the Lake is here to help you learn how you may be impacted and what steps you may want to take to prepare for the rising rates.

How Do Rising Rates Affect My Credit Card?

For many credit cards, the amount of interest you pay on balances carried over from month to month can be variable. This means that if the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, your credit card company may choose to raise its rates right along with them. If it is at all feasible, paying off your remaining credit card debt now is an important way to prevent yourself from racking up increased debt as a result of the new rates.

If paying off your credit all at once is not possible, you may instead want to determine if there are credit card options that offer lower rates or if you qualify for a fixed rate loan at a financial institution

What If I'm Thinking About Buying Or Selling A Home?

If you're thinking about selling your home, rising interest rates may actually be beneficial, as buyers who anticipate rising interest rates may make it a point to purchase a home sooner than later. Of course, the same logic applies to you if you are the one thinking about buying a home - the longer you wait to purchase, the more likely you are to get stuck with a higher interest rate on your mortgage loan. Also, if you've been thinking about refinancing your home but haven't gotten around to it yet, now may be your last chance to take advantage of these historically low interest rates.

What About Student Loans?

Federal student loans have fixed interest rates, so they shouldn't be affected by rising interest rates. If you have a private student loan, however, you may want to contact your lender to find out if your interest rate is fixed or variable. Note that the increase in interest rates isn't expected to be immediate or drastic, so even if your rate is variable, you should have a little bit of time to pursue some refinancing options.

What Is The Big Picture Of Rising Interest Rates?

When banks make loans or pay interest for deposits in a savings account, they determine the interest rate by using the Federal Reserve rate as a baseline. Therefore, when the Federal Reserve’s interest rates go up or down, the amount that banks charge for a loan or pay on deposits can go up or down as well.  

With interest rates at or near 0% over the last several years, those looking to save money have received very little interest for their savings. Meanwhile, those who have borrowed money have been able to do so relatively inexpensively.  

Rising rates will make it more attractive to save money because banks will pay a higher interest rate on savings deposits (although rates will likely stay at historic lows in the short term). Those looking to borrow money should expect to pay more than they have in recent history. Therefore, if you’re looking at financing consumer purchases like automobiles, furniture or appliances, you’ll want to do so soon to get ahead of additional interest rate increases.

Rising Interest Rates Are Good News For The Economy!

While rising interest rates signal an overall positive turn in the economy, they do have definite impacts on consumers. For consumers who have entered the workforce in the last seven years, the shift to a rising rate environment can be hard to understand. But, with a little foresight and planning, you’ll be positioned to insulate yourself from the hardest impacts of rising rates. Hopefully, you’ll be able to enjoy some of their benefits with greater interest on your hard earned savings. 

For more information about how the rising interest rates may impact you, or to shop debt consolidation loan options at your local bank at the Lake of the Ozarks, contact us today.

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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, January 4, 2017

New Year, New You: How To Take Control Of Your Debt

It is surprisingly - perhaps almost frighteningly - easy to get into debt. Statistics show that 8 out of every 10 Americans are in debt of some kind. Some types of debt are helpful and can help you strengthen your overall financial position (such as mortgage debt), whereas other kinds can be extremely detrimental. Credit card debt is an example of a detrimental debt, as it racks up unnecessarily high fees and interest rates and lowers your credit score.

The New Year is the start of a new chapter. If you are buried under multiple types of detrimental debt (or even if you are only saddled with one kind), it's time to make a plan of action for getting out from underneath it. First Bank of the Lake is here to help you devise a strategy to help you succeed.

Stop Building More Debt
This may seem a bit obvious, but it's the first (and possibly the most important) step you can take. Avoid taking out new loans for big-ticket items for the time being. If credit cards are a problem, switch to paying with cash so you can avoid racking up more debt.

Make A List Of Your Current Debts
The next step is to make a comprehensive list of your current debts. Rather than looking at the total outstanding balances, arrange them in order of the highest interest rate to the lowest. Dedicate your full attention to paying off the debt with the highest interest rate first (though you should still make payments on your other debts in the meantime). Once high-interest debt is satisfied, you can begin putting that extra money towards the debt with the second-highest interest rate.

Build A Budget
Next, it's important to get an accurate understanding of where your money is going. For one month, keep track of every dollar you spend. At the end of the month, total your expenses and divide them into different categories so you can see where most of your spending takes place. This will allow you to see where you have room to cut back, which will give you more money to put towards your debts.

Don't Spend More Than You Earn
The other important benefit of tracking your monthly expenses is that it allows you to see how much you are spending in relation to how much you are earning on a month-to-month basis. If you are spending more than you're bringing in, it's time to change that pattern. Examine your budget carefully so you can determine where you can afford to cut back. Don't be afraid to be ruthless about it!

Boost Your Income
If necessary, you may want to consider options that would enable you to boost your income. If you are having trouble living within your means, you can consider taking a part-time job in addition to your primary position. If you receive money from an additional source, such as a gift or a tax refund, resist the temptation to spend it and instead put the funds towards paying off your debts.

Ask Your Creditors For Lower Interest Rates
If you have been making consistent payments on your debt, you may be able to negotiate lower interest rates with your creditors. They may be willing to negotiate with you if you have a good payment history. Getting a lower interest rate can make a huge difference in the long run - and it never hurts to ask!

Be Patient
Last but certainly not least, be patient with yourself and with the process. Getting out of debt cannot happen overnight. Don't expect to jump straight to the top of the mountain; go slow and take things one step at a time. You'll get there!

First Bank Of The Lake Is Here To Support You
Our local bank at the Lake of the Ozarks is here to encourage and support you along your journey towards a debt-free lifestyle. We offer a variety of services designed to help young adults make the most of their finances so they can be successful. Call us today to learn you can get rewarded for banking basics that you use everyday - ask about Kasasa Banking and how it can work for you!

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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

Friday, December 23, 2016

Ways To Set Yourself Up For Success In 2017

2016 is drawing to a close. It’s been a good year filled with successes, learning opportunities, and things we can use to grow and improve as we move forward into 2017. The New Year holds a lot of great potential, and the team at First Bank of the Lake wishes you nothing but success in 2017. With New Year’s Day literally right around the corner, we want to take this opportunity to share with you some strategies to set yourself up for financial success in 2017. We hope you find your suggestions helpful!

Prioritize Paying Off One Debt At A Time
Getting out from underneath a pile of debt often seems like an insurmountable task, but it can be possible if you create a strategy and stick to it. In addition to making the required payments on all of your debts, we recommend choosing a certain one (either the one with the highest interest rate or the one with the lowest principal balance) to devote extra attention to. Pay a little bit extra towards the principal every month – even as little as $25 or $50 will make a big difference! Once you have paid it off, take the amount you were paying towards it every month and add it to payments on the next loan of your choice.

Go On A “Spending Strike”
In her book “The Spending Strike,” Sarah R. Baker suggests a unique strategy of going on a spending strike for a month – that is, not spending any money for an entire 30- or 31-day period. This may seem a bit extreme (and unattainable), but the point is a good one. Why not shrink it down to make it a bit more doable? Pick a two-week period and vow not to spend any money during that time. Doing this a couple of times per year could be a great way to reduce some of your extra (and probably unnecessary) spending habits.

Don’t Spend Money You Don’t Have
This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but an alarming number of people routinely spend hundreds of dollars they don’t have. Credit cards are all too easy (and often extremely tempting) to swipe, especially when they allow us to purchase something that we would otherwise not be able to afford. Credit card interest and fees rack up quickly, however, and the reality is that by charging extra expenses to your credit card, they will ultimately end up costing far more than the sticker price. A good rule of thumb is to only use credit cards for purchases you would just as easily be able to afford with your debit card or cash.

Build A Budget (And Stick To It)
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: sticking to a budget is the single most effective way to improve your financial standing. In its most basic sense, a budget is simply a plan outlining your total income and your total expenses. You can make it as elaborate and as detailed as you want it to be, but your goal should always be to make your total expenses less – ideally MUCH less – than your total income.

Remember First Bank Of The Lake As Your Financial Resource
Our local bank at the Lake of the Ozarks is here to help you move forward into a financially successful, stable New Year. We offer competitive interest rates on personal loans, CDs, and interest-bearing checking accounts. We also offer free checking and savings accounts to help you and your family with your everyday financial needs. For more information about our bank in Osage Beach MO, visit our website: www.FirstBankLake.com

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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, December 21, 2016

Protect Your Sensitive Information Online With Kasasa Protect®

Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the U.S. Cybercriminals are using any means necessary to hack and access personal accounts, stealing sensitive information so they can use it for their own nefarious means. If someone gains access to your personal information, you can be the victim of identity theft, credit card fraud, tax fraud, or any number of other cybercrimes.

First Bank of the Lake is here to help you protect your sensitive information. Keep reading to learn more about Kasasa Protect and how it can benefit you.

Kasasa Protect®

Think of Kasasa Protect as invisible armor for your sensitive information. No matter where you are or what you're doing, it offers round-the-clock protection for your personal information and financial data to help you avoid being victimized by fraud or identity theft. 

Kasasa Protect begins working immediately upon enrollment, so you can rest assured that your sensitive information will be protected within a matter of minutes.

Proactive Advantages of Kasasa Protect®

Kasasa Protect offers multiple advantages to protect consumers like you from cybercrime. Here is a brief summary of the benefits it includes:
  • Comprehensive identity protection and restoration solution
  • Immediate alerts of any suspicious activity
  • Monitors multiple aspects of your credit report round-the-clock, including changes in:
    • Loan data
    • Inquiries
    • Liens
    • Judgments
    • New accounts
    • And more
  • Access and insight into your credit report, including:
    • Annual credit report
    • Regular review of your credit score
    • Insight into what's impacting your score

Kasasa Protect also includes Dark Web Monitoring, a service that constantly scans millions of international websites to quickly find stolen data that may be able to identify you, such as medical identification numbers or social security numbers.

Reactive Advantages Of Kasasa Protect®
If fraud should occur, Kasasa Protect offers a quick, hands-on process for restoring your information. For example:

  • Helpful advice and resolution services the minute fraud occurs
  • One point of contact in the event of a lost or stolen wallet, so you can easily handle cancellation and replacement of:
    • Credit cards
    • Licenses
    • Passports
    • Insurance cards
    • Social security cards
    • Military IDs
    • Travelers Checks
  • Certified Specialists to resolve, dispute, and refute credit issues, including:
    • Placing credit freezes at different bureaus
    • Filing fraud alerts
    • Notifying authorities

Enrolling In Kasasa Protect® Is Easy AND Affordable

We all hope that identify theft won't happen to us, but unfortunately there is no way to truly predict when cybercriminals may strike. It is always best to be prepared in the event of an attack. Its attractive prices and easy usage makes Kasasa Protect is an excellent option for young adults who wish to protect their sensitive information.

Kasasa Protect is available for just $12.99 per month - or just $7.99 a month for Kasasa account holders! If you have (or open) a Kasasa Cash, Kasasa Cash Back, or Kasasa Savings account, you'll have the opportunity to sign up for Kasasa Protect for only $7.99 per month.

Contact Us For More Information About Kasasa Protect®!

Interested in signing up for Kasasa Protect or learning more about its services? Contact one of the specialists at our Lake of the Ozarks community bank by calling (573) 348-2265. We look forward to working with you!

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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

Friday, December 16, 2016

Banking Basics Can EARN YOU REWARDS

First Bank of the Lake is excited to announce a new line of products designed to help young adults (like you!) manage their finances easily, efficiently, and successfully. Kasasa is an elite line of banking products designed specifically for Millennials who are diving headlong into the world of adult finances and responsibilities. Kasasa products are exclusively available at community banks like our local bank in Osage Beach MO. Keep reading to learn more about these exciting products and the benefits they offer.

Free Kasasa Cash® Checking

When you open a Kasasa Cash® checking account, we'll basically pay you to bank with us. This free checking account offers two primary benefits: it yields high interest rates and offers refunds on ATM withdrawals nationwide. Here is a quick glance at the advantages this account type offers:
  • 2.00% APY* on balances up to $10,000
  • 2.00% to 0.41% APY* on balances over $10,000 (depending on balance amount)
  • 0.05% APY* if qualifications aren't met
  • Refunds on ATM fees nationwide (up to $25 monthly)
  • Minimum $25 balance to open (NO minimum balance to earn rewards)

What's more, this awesome account offers free e-statements, free online banking, free debit card, and NO monthly service fee. The only thing you have to do to qualify for the awards is be enrolled and log into our online banking portal and have at least 12 debit card purchases post and settle every month. If for some reason you don't meet these requirements one month, you'll still have a free account - and you can get straight back to earning your rewards next month.

Shopping just got more fun! Our new Kasasa Cash Back® checking account offers a lot of the same benefits as the Kasasa Cash® account, but with one awesome perk: you'll get cash back on your debit card purchases! There aren't any category restrictions, so you have endless opportunities to earn big:
  • Earn 4.00% cashback on your everyday debit card purchases, up to $250 in purchases monthly.
  • That means you can earn up to $120 cash back per year ($10 per month)!

This account also offers many of the benefits offered by the Kasasa Cash® account, including no monthly service fees, free e-statements, free debit card, $25 minimum deposit to open, and - of course - refunds on ATM fees nationwide.

Building a strong savings account just got easier. You can link your Kasasa checking account to this savings account, enabling your savings to build up effortlessly. With high interest rates earned monthly, you can let your money work for you!
  • Earn up to 0.75% APY* on balances up to $25,000
  • 0.75% to 0.35% APY* on balances over $25,000 (depending on balance amount)
  • 0.05% APY* if qualifications are not met on Kasasa Cash or Kasasa Cash Back
  • Automatic transfers of Kasasa Cash or Kasasa Cash Back checking
  • NO minimum monthly balance
  • NO monthly service fee
  • $25 minimum deposit to open account

Like the other Kasasa accounts, the Kasasa Saver® savings account offers free online banking, free e-statements, and a free debit card. 

Save Big With Kasasa At First Bank Of The Lake!

Learning to manage your successfully finances can be a little overwhelming at first, but with Kasasa at First Bank of the Lake, it doesn't have to be hard. Our local bank at the Lake of the Ozarks is here to help you make sense of banking and position yourself for financial success. Check for our blog next week to learn more about Kasasa Protect®, which is like an invisible shield of armor for your sensitive information. In the meantime, check out our website or give us a call at (573) 348-2265 to learn more about what Kasasa can do for you!

Qualifications and rewards may vary by account.  Account approval, conditions, qualifications, limits, time frames, enrollments, log-ons and other requirements apply.  
Contact institution’s service representative for additional information, details, restrictions, rate calculations, processing limitations and enrollment instructions.

* APY = Annual Percentage Yield      Member FDIC

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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

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Help Us Raise Money For Christmas For Kids!

How do you plan to celebrate this Christmas season? In addition to office Christmas parties and family celebrations, many people at the Lake of the Ozarks extend the Christmas spirit to those less fortunate by participating in charity events and/or donating to non-profit organizations. First Bank of the Lake is proud to join in the Christmas spirit by donating money to local kids this year, but we need your help to make it happen!

Lake Area Christmas For Kids ~ Event Information

Lake Area Christmas For Kids is a huge annual fundraiser hosted by Ozark Coast Kiwanis and several local businesses. It is designed to help kids directly within the Lake of the Ozarks community. Without the dedication of the people who host and support the event, Christmas would not be possible for 1,600 children in our area. 

The event features a cocktail party, dinner, silent auction, hors d'oeuvres, cash bar, and live entertainment from talented entertainers Shawn C, Elite Lighting & Sound, and KC Groove Therapy! This year's party is scheduled for Saturday, December 10th. Here is a sneak peek at the schedule of events:
  • 5:30 PM ~ Cocktail Party
  • 6:30 PM ~ Dinner 
  • 7:30 PM ~ General Admission

The cocktail party and dinner require reservations, but the general admission does not require any advance notice. The event is open to everyone ages 21 and up. General admission is a $20 donation plus a brand new, unwrapped toy. (If you choose not to bring a toy, admission is $40.)

For more information about this year's event, visit LakeAreaChristmasForKids.com.

Lake Area Christmas For Kids ~ Recipients

The toys and money raised at Lake Area Christmas For Kids will benefit 1,600 children right here at the Lake of the Ozarks. The children aren't the only planned recipients, however. In addition to the kids, funds raised at this event will benefit Wonderland Camp, Hope House, Big Brothers Big Sisters, LOSA, Share The Harvest Food Pantry, Kids' Harbor, Lake Regional Pediatrics, and the YMCA.

Help First Bank Of The Lake Raise Money For Christmas For Kids!

Our local bank at the Lake of the Ozarks is proud to support this fantastic event and all of the local children and organizations it benefits. In honor of the giving season, we are calling upon you to help us raise funds for Christmas For Kids 2016. For every new newsletter subscriber we get in December, we will donate $1 to Lake Area Christmas For Kids. You don't have to donate any of your personal funds or time to make a difference - simply sign up for our newsletter on our website, and we will make sure your act is represented in our donation check at the end of the month.

Great Financial Tips ~ Even Greater Cause

At the start of the new year, our bank in Osage Beach MO will be introducing a new e-newsletter campaign which will offer a myriad of financial tips, advice, and other helpful information for anyone looking to set themselves up for financial success. Better yet, you'll get access to this insider information while knowing that your subscription made a difference in a local child's life.

Subscribe on our website today!

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