Wednesday, February 22, 2017

5 Money "Tips" You Can Ignore

Magazines, blogs, books, pamphlets, news sources, websites, social media resources... there are countless resources that provide advice on how to manage your finances. These resources offer hundreds (if not thousands) of different tips, and wading through all of the advice can be a little daunting. With so many different resources saying different things, how can you be confident which tips are worth listening to? 

First Bank of the Lake is here to help clear up any confusion. This week, we're using our blog to identify some common money "tips" you can ignore.

#1: "Buy All Your Groceries In Bulk."
The general suggestion to buy your groceries in bulk stems from the assumption that many grocery stores offer discounts if you purchase large quantities of a particular item at one time. While this is often true, it is still best to be selective about which items you buy in bulk. If you buy extra and half of it goes unused, you will have wasted money on food that ended up needing to be thrown away.

#2: "You Should Never Go Into Debt."
Some sources claim that you should never take out a loan or go into debt of any kind, since you'll have to pay interest and put potentially yourself at risk for falling into a hole you may never be able to climb out of. While avoiding unnecessary debt is certainly smart, some types of debt may be able to help put you ahead in the long run. Business loans, new car loans, and mortgage loans are a few examples of what is often simply referred to as "good debt." "Bad debt," such as credit card debt, is the type you want to avoid.

#3: "Use Credit Cards To Tide You Over."
If you're like many people, you may pull out the plastic without giving it a second thought. If you don't have enough cash, your credit card may seem like an obvious alternative. However, it's important to realize that when you use your credit card, you will still have to make the payment eventually - with added interest. The moral of the story is, if you cannot afford to make a purchase without using your credit card, you shouldn't make the purchase.

#4: "If Money Is Tight This Month, Just Pay The Minimum Balance On Your Credit Cards."
Credit card statements often include three numbers: the total outstanding balance, the total amount of your current statement, and the minimum payment due. Even if your statement is several hundred dollars, the minimum payment required is often exceedingly low (such as $25). Making the minimum payment can be tempting, but it will end up costing you more in the long run because of interest and potential late fees.

#5: "Buying A House Is Always A Good Investment."
This tip is tricky, because in certain situations, homes are can prove to be incredibly valuable investments that can substantially increase household wealth. The "always," part of the statement can be a bit misleading, however. If you buy a house when you are not financially stable, you may find yourself in a compromising situation. The consequences from defaulting on a mortgage loan can be severe and long-lasting. We encourage you to buy a home, but only when you are confident you will be able to meet the financial obligations of homeownership.

We're Here For You
At our community bank at the Lake of the Ozarks, your success is our success. We are proud to provide the resources our clients need to manage their finances wisely. We offer savings accounts and checking accounts at the Lake of the Ozarks to help you address your day-to-day financing needs. For more information about our financial services in the Lake Area, visit our website at www.FirstBankLake.com or call us at 573-348-2265.

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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, February 14, 2017

Applying for an SBA Loan: 3 Tips

Starting your own business is a thrilling (not to mention a little nerve-wracking) process. Endless possibilities and opportunities lie ahead - all you have to do is go out and get them!

Of course, finding the funds to start your own business can be a little challenging. Fortunately, SBA loans are designed specifically for aspiring entrepreneurs who need a little boost to help them get started.


Preparing for an SBA Loan Application

If you are thinking about starting your own business at the Lake of the Ozarks, consider taking out an SBA loan from First Bank of the Lake. Here are a few tips to help you prepare.

1. Draft A Business Plan
If you plan to take out a loan, having a business plan will likely be non-negotiable. Your business plan will demonstrate to your lender how you to plan to handle various aspects of your business, from allocating your start-up costs to managing your cash flow (and everything in between). It could take some time to build a thorough and comprehensive business plan, so it may be wise to begin the process sooner than later.

2. Clean Up Your Credit Report
As a brand new business, your company won't have financial history for the lenders to review. As a result, they'll likely examine your own financial background instead. It may be worth taking the time to order a copy of your own credit report first, so you can examine it and identify any problem areas. If anything is reported incorrectly, fixing it before you officially submit your loan application may ward off unnecessary complications.

3. Think About Collateral
Clay Lindhorst
Vice President & SBA Loan Officer
Not all lenders will ask for collateral, but depending on your loan amount and the percentage you are able to put down, some may require it. As you organize your financial situation, examine your personal assets and determine what you are able/willing to offer as collateral. The type/value of collateral you can provide may impact the down payment required on your loan.

Advantages of an SBA Loan

SBA 7(a) loans offer several benefits that make them attractive options for small business owners:

1. Low Down Payments
The purpose of SBA loans is to provide much-needed funding to help new businesses get up and running. Consequently, SBA loans often offer loan down payment options to make them affordable to their target market.

2. Long Term Financing
Long-term financing options allow loans to be paid off gradually. This improves cash flow by keeping the monthly payments lower. In most cases, SBA loans are for fixed terms and will not have a balloon.

3. Several Different Loan Options
SBA loans are not "one-size-fits-all." In fact, there are several different types of these loans you can choose from. Your SBA lender at the Lake of the Ozarks will be able to help you determine which is best for your situation.

Contact Us for More Information on SBA Loans!

If you are in the process of starting your own business and would like more information about affordable SBA loan options at the Lake of the Ozarks, contact First Bank of the Lake. The Small Business Administration will guarantee part of the loan, but the funding will be provided by our community bank in Osage Beach MO.

With a dedicated SBA lending officer on staff, our local bank is an excellent resource for local entrepreneurs. For more information, visit our website or give us a call 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, February 8, 2017

Protecting Yourself From Cybercrime: 5 Common-Sense Reminders

What is your most valuable possession? 

Your home, automobiles, priceless antiques, jewelry or some other expensive item may come to mind when asked this question. While these items certainly do hold significant value, First Bank of the Lake is here to suggest that they are not, in fact, your most valuable possession. Your most valuable possession is not something tangible. In our opinion, the most valuable financial things in your life are your personal information and your identity.


Being Victimized By Cybercrime

Cybercrime is quickly becoming one of the most rampant criminal offenses in the States. Tech-savvy criminals are able to hack into e-commerce websites, email accounts, and protected networks to gain access to sensitive information that they can use for their own personal gain. 

Being the victim of cybercrime can turn your life upside down. Depending on the information the hacker stole, he could use it to file an insurance claim under your name, steal your tax return, make unauthorized purchases on your credit card, or perform any number of other criminal activities. While it is possible to recover from identity theft, its effects can be far-reaching and long-lasting. 

Protecting Yourself From Cybercrime

Since recovering from cybercrime poses such a challenge, it is wise to do everything you can to prevent your personal information from falling into the wrong hands. Our community bank at the Lake of the Ozarks is here to help you protect your sensitive information with these simple, common-sense reminders.

1. Update Your Passwords Regularly
Remembering your login information for so many online accounts can be frustrating and challenging, but updating your passwords regularly is a smart practice. This way, if someone does get access to your account information, he won't be able to use the information he has for long. It is also wise to use different passwords for each of your different accounts.

2. Avoid Questionable Websites
People who live in big cities know that there are certain areas where crime is more likely to occur, and they wisely avoid those areas as they go about their day-to-day lives. The same logic applies to the internet. Visiting scam websites or sites with adult content or hacker information may put your computer at risk of contracting a virus, so it is best to only visit reputable sites.

3. Verify Requests For Personal Information
Have you ever received an email from your bank, credit card company, or insurance provider asking to confirm certain sensitive information? The truth is that these companies will rarely (if ever) send these types of emails. If you get this type of email, avoid clicking on the links included in the email as they may redirect you to an unsafe website. It is always best to open a new browser and go to your provider's website directly - if the request is legitimate, you will be able to address the issue just as easily by logging in directly.

4. Be Cautious When Shopping Online
Though convenient, shopping online may put your sensitive information at risk. If you enter your credit card information into an unsecured website, you risk it falling into the hands of a cybercriminal. Before entering in your credit card information to make a purchase, make sure your browser displays a symbol of a padlock or an unbroken key to indicate a secure site. The web address for secure sites will also start with "https," instead of simply "http."

5. Consider Help From An Outside Source
Sometimes, the best strategy is to simply ask for help. Consider seeking assistance from a reputable source. Kasasa Protect® is an affordable, comprehensive solution that offers round-the-clock monitoring of your personal information. If fraud should occur, you will get access to immediate hands-on assistance to help restore your personal information. 

Kasasa Protect is available at First Bank of the Lake to anyone who is interested in pursuing different options to protect their personal information. Kasasa account holders get discounted rates on this already affordable product. If you would like more information about Kasasa Protect, visit our website or call us at 573-348-2265. We would be honored to help you protect your information!

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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

Thursday, February 2, 2017

4 Example Budgeting Strategies That Actually Work

When it comes to budgeting, taking the first step is usually the hardest part. If you've never budgeted before, the task can seem overwhelming and confusing. There are so many different ways to go about it - how can you decide which strategy to adopt?

As your trusted community bank at the Lake of the Ozarks, we are here to help you take the first step. We have compiled a few different tried-and-true budgeting strategies for you to consider. There is no need to stress yourself out by trying to reinvent the wheel - feel free to adopt any of these sample strategies.


1. The "Pay Yourself" Method

Some people refer to this as the two-bank method. The premise of this strategy is simple: you direct your employer to deposit your paycheck into an account at a certain bank, and then you essentially pay yourself by directing your bank to transfer a portion of your paycheck into a checking account at a different bank. The key is to not transfer the full amount, leaving something behind ($100-$200 is a good place to start) in the original account.

You then use the money that has been transferred into the new account to support yourself throughout the month. The money that gets left behind gradually accumulates, enabling you to build a comfortable emergency fund. You can use any of the other sample strategies below to determine how to budget the amount that you "pay yourself" - just replace the total income in each of the proposed methods with the amount that you have transferred to your second account.

2. The 50/20/30 Method

Also referred to as "proportional budgeting," this method involves allocating percentages of your income to certain broad categories. Traditionally, people who use this budget allocate 50% of their income towards fixed expenses (utilities, mortgage/rent, groceries, etc). 20% of the their income goes towards their long-term financial goals (emergency fund, retirement accounts, etc). The remaining 30% can be used for discretionary purchases. Depending on your specific needs, you can adjust the percentages slightly or perhaps reallocate them. You can read more about the 50/20/30 rule here.

3. The Basic Subtraction Method

The basic subtraction method is about as simple as it gets. It's perfect for individuals who want to begin budgeting, but who don't want to wrestle with complicated formulas or time-consuming setup. In this method, you take your total monthly income and subtract from it your total monthly bills (or "fixed" payments). Then you subtract from that how much you want to set aside into savings each month (we recommend at least $100-$200). The remaining number is how much you can spend on discretionary purchases throughout the month.

4. The Cash-Envelope Method

Sometimes simply called "cash budgeting" or "envelope budgeting," this is the method that most people are most familiar with. It involves cashing each of your paychecks and physically dividing the dollar and cents into separate envelopes with various categories written on them (gas, groceries, utilities, etc). You then use the cash in those envelopes to make your purchases throughout the month. If you run out of money in a certain envelope, stop making purchases in that category. If a purchase in that category is non-negotiable (such as your electric bill), you can move money over from a different envelope that may be reserved for more discretionary purchases.

Trust First Bank Of The Lake To Help With Your Finances

Budgeting in and of itself isn't particularly difficult - the challenge lies in finding the strategy that works for you. Once you have identified your favorite strategy, you can incorporate it into your daily routine with relative ease. We hope that these suggestions offer you the inspiration you need to successfully incorporate a budget into your financial lifestyle.

If you are looking for a Lake of the Ozarks bank to assist you with the process, consider setting up a checking or savings account in Osage Beach with First Bank of the Lake. Our new Kasasa products can help you further improve your financial situation by earning interest and/or cash back on purchases you make every day. For more information about how Kasasa can help you, visit our website or call us at 573-348-2265.

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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 24, 2017

Evaluate Your Financial Situation: 4 Questions To Ask Yourself

January has officially been designated National Financial Wellness Month. As the first month of a new calendar year, it is the perfect time to take an honest look at your financial situation to determine if you will be on track for your financial goals in the coming year. As January draws to a close, First Bank of the Lake is here to help you evaluate your financial situation to identify what aspects may still have room for improvement. By asking yourself these four questions, you'll be able conduct a comprehensive assessment that you can use to plan for the future.


Question #1: Do I Know How Much I'm Spending Each Month?
Before you can make a realistic plan to improve your financial situation, you must know exactly what that situation looks like. With multiple household bills and the potential for dozens of online or virtual subscriptions (many of which can be set up to be paid automatically), it can be hard to keep track of where your money is going. When assessing your finances, the first step is to identify exactly how much you are spending each month and where that money is going.

Question #2: What Is The Last Financial Mistake I Made?
It can be hard to own up to ourselves about the mistakes we make, but it's important that you are able to be honest with yourself about your financial habits. For our purposes, let's define a financial "mistake" as something that goes against your long-term financial goals. Once you determine what your last mistake was, take it one step further by examining what prompted you to make that mistake. By identifying the underlying cause, you will be better equipped to avoid making the same mistake again.


Question #3: Do I Have An Emergency Fund?
The only predictable fact in life is that life is unpredictable. Things happen - jobs are lost, natural disasters strike, and family members become injured or ill. It's wise to have an emergency fund to fall back on in unexpected emergencies such as these. Financial experts recommend you have enough money saved to support yourself for at least 3-6 months without any additional income. At a minimum, we encourage you to set aside at least $1,000 in your emergency fund.

Question #4: What Big Expenses Are On The Horizon?
It goes without saying that in order to plan for the future, you must look forward. Think about the large expenses you may have on your horizon in 2017, such as insurance premiums and property taxes. Do you have enough money in your bank account to cover these costs? Next, take your assessment a step further by thinking a little farther down the road. Do you plan to buy a car in the next couple of years, or perhaps buy your first home? While you're at it, why not look even further into the future - hold old do you want to be when you retire, and how much money do you need to have saved by then to support yourself? By identifying your financial goals, you can devise a strategy that will help you achieve them.

2017: Your Year To Get On Top Of Your Finances!
As the first month of the new year, January provides the perfect opportunity to conduct an honest assessment of your financial situation. Since January is almost over, take the time now to look back over the month and evaluate how you handled your finances. Did your behavior align with your long-term financial goals? If not, what steps can you take to improve your situation in February?

Our community bank at the Lake of the Ozarks is here to help you achieve your financial goals. Ask us about our interest bearing savings accounts to help you save money and simultaneously grow your investments. Visit our website for more information about our services, or you can always call us at (573) 348-2265. We look forward to serving 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

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