Wednesday, September 30, 2015

5 Quick Facts About Business Loans

"You have to spend money to make money!"

Starting a business can be very financially rewarding, but it's probably going to cost a lot of money upfront to get it up and running. Most entrepreneurs don't have enough cash available in liquid assets, so they take out business loans to get the start-up funds they need.

First Bank of the Lake is proud to offer affordable business loans at the Lake of the Ozarks for anyone thinking about starting a local business. Here are a few quick facts about business loans to help you better understand the process.

1. You Have To Have A Business Plan.

When you're applying for a personal loan, you have to submit pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns, and other information that indicates are financially stable and responsible. When you apply for a business loan, you have to submit a complete business plan. Among many other things, this plan will outline estimated costs, estimated profits, and detailed descriptions of how your services will be rendered. Your lender will use this plan to evaluate the chance your business has for success (i.e., the likelihood that their loan will be paid back). Without a proper business plan, you may have difficulty getting approved for a loan.

2. Your Personal Credit History Still Matters.

Your personal credit rating won't be the only factor banks consider when evaluating business loan applications, but it still matters. Your personal credit report is a number designed to indicate your trustworthiness as a buyer - the higher your number is, the more likely you are to pay back your loan in a timely fashion. Before applying for a business loan, you should find out what your current score is and, if necessary, take steps to improve it. Paying all of your bills in full and on time is the best way to raise your score, but little things like keeping the outstanding balances on your credit cards low can help as well.

3. Your Other Debts Will Be Considered.

Lenders are looking for ways to ensure that you will pay back your loan in a timely manner. If you currently have several sizable personal loans, that may impact your ability to get a business loan. These personal loans can be in any form - auto loans, student loans, mortgage loans, etc. Other forms of debt, such as credit card debt, may also be considered. If you want to increase your chances of getting approved for a business loan, you may want to dedicate some time to paying off any outstanding loans first.

4. Your Company Should Have A Comfortable Cash Flow.

In some cases, business owners take out loans to help them expand their companies (rather than getting them off the ground). In these cases, it is crucial that you can demonstrate a healthy cash flow. This is best indicated by the average amount of money you have in your bank account at any given time. Higher balances mean that you will be able to recover from any minor setbacks your company may experience along the way, such as a building repairs or a client who does not pay their bill.

5. You Should Be An Expert In Your New Field.

When they extend a business loan, your lender is making an investment in your company. Consequently, you may have trouble getting a loan to start a company in a field you know nothing about (as your lender would probably view it as a risky investment). Instead, you should set yourself up for success by only starting companies within fields you know well. Not only will this increase your chances of securing an affordable loan; you will be in better position to run a successful, profitable business.

First Bank Of The Lake Can Help With Your Business Loans!
If you are thinking about applying for a business loan at the Lake of the Ozarks, let us know! Our trusted Lake of the Ozarks business lender would be happy to sit down and discuss your options with you. We have a dedicated SBA lender that would love to talk with you about how a small business loan could help your company. Stop by and see us or give us a call to get started.

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, September 23, 2015

It's Never Too Soon (Or Too Late) To Start Retirement Planning!

Have you ever noticed the way that there is always an excuse to avoid retirement planning? We either convince ourselves that we're too young for it to be relevant, or that we're too old and that it's too late for us to save anything worthwhile. This week, your friends at First Bank of the Lake are here to remind you that while it's certainly best to start investing and planning for retirement at the Lake of the Ozarks sooner than later, it's never too late! Here are a few quick tips to help you plan for your retirement (no matter how old you are).

1. Live Below Your Means - And Your Budget!
We often talk about the dangers of spending beyond your means, but we don't spend enough time addressing the benefits of spending below your means. Think about it - if you live paycheck to paycheck every month, how are you going to be able to put any money aside for retirement? Starting a budget will be your first step towards learning how to live below your means. In your budget, you can designate a certain amount to set aside for retirement every month. (See our earlier blog for simple budgeting solutions.)

2. Invest Salary Raises & Other New Sources Of Income
There are few things quite as exciting as getting a raise, bonus, or other new surplus of money. While it can certainly be tempting to put these funds towards that brand-new TV you've been eyeing, the smart financial move is to invest your surplus into your retirement account. Since you didn't have this extra money before, you shouldn't miss it - and every little bit you add to your monthly contribution to your retirement accounts can have exponential effects over time.

3. Set A Goal
Think about your last New Year's Resolution. Did you simply say, "I'm going to exercise more?" If so, you might have had trouble sticking to it. If, on the other hand, you said, "I'm going to walk one mile three times per week," you might have seen more success. If you want to set your retirement plan up for success, set a goal and monitor your progress. In addition to setting a long-term goal, we suggest setting benchmarks along the way. This will help the ultimate goal seem more attainable and can give you reason to celebrate little successes along the way.

4. Contribute To A 401k Or Other Retirement Plan
In addition to opening an IRA at the Lake of the Ozarks, we recommend contributing to other retirement plans as well. If you are lucky enough to work for an employer who offers a workplace retirement plan, take advantage of it - especially if your employer offers a 401k plan match. The money invested in your 401k actually reduces your taxable income. Ultimately, you should plan to take advantage of any investment opportunity available to you.

5. Start Today
Once you have used your budget to identify how much to put towards retirement every month, it's time to actually make it happen. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can let compound interest start working in your favor. In other words, the sooner you get started, the more money you will have saved in the long run.

Contact First Bank Of The Lake For Help!
If you have questions about retirement planning at the Lake of the Ozarks or if you would like to get started, stop by and see us or give us a call at 573-348-2265. We would be happy to help!

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, September 16, 2015

10 Budgeting Tricks That Will Simplify Your Life

If you're like most people, the idea of budgeting makes your eyes glaze over. However, successfully managing your business and/or your personal budget is an essential stepping stone on the pathway to success. Because they serve different purposes, business budgets and personal budgets should be handled a little differently. Today, the team at First Bank of the Lake is here to help you with these personal budgeting tips. We hope you find them helpful!

1. Start At The Beginning
A very good place to start! Before you can begin successfully budgeting, you have to decide what method works best for you. Would you like to build a spreadsheet that adds and subtracts everything for you? Would you rather cash every paycheck so you can physically see how many dollars you have at your disposal? There's no right or wrong answer; it's simply a matter of finding what works best for you.

2. Don't Be Afraid To Start Over.
There are a million different ways to budget. If you start one but find that you are unable to stick with it, don't feel obligated to stick it out. There is no harm in switching to a new strategy! Keep exploring different options until you find a system that helps simplify your process without causing additional stress.

3. Update Your Budget Periodically
You may have found a system that works for you, but that does not mean that you won't still have to update your budget every once in a while. There are a lot of normal life changes that can require you to update your budget, such as getting a raise (or a pay cut), going back to school, having a baby, and getting married or divorced.

4. Know Your Income
As any working man or woman can tell you, your "before tax" income and your "after tax" income are two very different things. When creating a budget, you have to know how much money you have coming in. Look carefully at your paycheck to see how much is actually deposited into your bank account - don't base your budget on the before-tax numbers!

5. Budget The Necessities First
Some things in your budget will be non-negotiable, such as rent, insurance, and utility bills. Before you can successfully divide up your spending money, you have to know how much money is going towards these fixed expenses. Once you have determined your fixed expenses, budget your other necessities, such as groceries. Save your fun expenses for last!

6. Focus On Your Debt
Between student loans, credit cards, cars, and mortgages, many of us accumulate a decent amount of debt over the years. If you have debt hanging over the shoulders, make sure to give it some extra attention in your budget. At a bare minimum, you should make sure you always have enough set aside to cover the monthly payments. If you have some wiggle room, you may want to consider putting some extra dollars towards your debt to pay it off faster.

7. Keep Your Receipts
Successful budgeting requires you to be able to track your expenses. By keeping all of your receipts, you will be able to tally up your expenses at the end of the day, week, or month and see exactly where your money went. However, remember that some purchases (such as those at garage sales or farmers' markets) won't come with receipts. You'll need to develop a system for tracking those expenses as well, even if it's something as simple as taking notes in your phone.

8. Minimize Unnecessary Spending
This tip may be easier or more challenging for you, depending your financial habits, but unnecessary spending is the quickest way to ruin a budget. Starbucks may sound like a great idea, but you could probably make a fun coffee drink at home for less than half the price. The latest cell phone model may sound enticing, but do you really need it if your old phone is still working well? Identifying your priorities will allow you to identify what counts as "unnecessary" spending and adjust your spending accordingly.

9. Think About Your Purchases.
This tip goes hand-in-hand with the last one. In order to minimize unnecessary spending (and the associated buyer's remorse) give yourself around twenty-four hours to think about your purchases before you make them. This is especially important for miscellaneous items. If you still want to buy them after twenty-four hours (and if it fits in your budget, of course), you will be able to make your purchase with confidence.

10. Give Yourself Some "Fun Money"
Budgets are kind of like diets; if you keep to a strict regime all the time, one slight slip-up can be completely disheartening. You can set yourself up for success by allowing yourself some room in your budget for the fun purchases, like a trip to the movies, a new pair of shoes, or frozen custard.

First Bank of the Lake is Here to Help!
Some people find that they find it helpful to establish different bank accounts for different purposes. For example, they may set up a savings account to hold the money that will be designated for fixed expenses and a checking account to handle all the miscellaneous expenses. If you would like more information about establishing a savings or a checking account at the Lake of the Ozarks, give us a call!

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, September 9, 2015

Business Bank Accounts: We Can Help!

This might seem like common knowledge, but it's absolutely essential to establish separate bank accounts for your business. Even if you are the owner of your business, your company's finances and your personal finances should be kept distinctly separate for several different reasons.

Reasons To Have Separate Business Bank Accounts:
  • Simplify Taxes. At tax time, you have to be able to show a clear record of all your incomes and deductions. If your personal and your business accounts are mixed together, it becomes very easy to miss things.
  • Establish Professionalism. Business checking accounts are so common nowadays that using a personal account for your business transactions can cause some raised eyebrows. If you don't have a business account established, will your clients trust that you are a reputable company?
  • Track Your Company's Profitability. Your company's success will depend on its ability to make money even after all expenses and salaries have been paid - including yours. Keeping your accounts separate enable you to distinguish between your profitability and the company's.
As you can see, keeping your business bank accounts separate from your personal accounts makes sense for a number of reasons. If you are starting a new company and are ready to establish business bank accounts at the Lake of the Ozarks (or if you are unhappy with your current bank and looking for a fresh alternative), you've come to the right place.

First Bank of the Lake Can Help With All Your Business Banking Needs!

As the best bank at the Lake of the Ozarks, we take great pride in providing quality banking services to both our personal and business account holders alike. For our business account holders, we go above and beyond to ensure that their unique needs are met.

Business Checking
Let us help you simplify the profess of tracking your income and your expenses. Our business checking accounts come with free direct deposit capabilities, a debit card, and a monthly statement. Merchant credit card accounts are also available for qualified companies.

Business Savings
Our business savings accounts at the Lake of the Ozarks enable business owners to safely protect their capital - and earn interest at the same time! These accounts also offer free direct deposit capabilities and a monthly statement. Money Market Accounts are also a great option - see our earlier blog to learn more about Money Market Accounts at First Bank of the Lake.

Payroll Account
Managing your employees' payrolls can be tricky, but it doesn't have to be. Give us a call to learn more about how First Bank of the Lake can help take some of the weight off of your shoulders.

Give Us A Call To Get Started!
If you would like to get some more information about how First Bank of the Lake can help with all of your business banking needs, check out our website or give us a call at 573-348-2265. We would love to work with 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

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

3 "Get Rich Quick" Schemes That Will Get You Nowhere

"Earn money FAST!"
"Become a millionaire in just six months!"
"Try this, and you'll never have to work another day in your life!"

We've all heard a sell message like this at least once in our lives. People or businesses promise us incredible wealth for little to no work, and we, blinded by our desires for financial success, often fall right into their traps. Aside from perhaps winning the lottery, there really isn't any such thing as a successful "get rich quick" scheme. As dedicated supporters of our clients' financial success, the team at First Bank of the Lake is here to shed some light on some these popular get rich schemes that may not be as effective as you thought.

1. Pyramid Schemes

From medicinal mushrooms to weight loss programs and even essential oils, multi-level marketing programs are a dime a dozen. They each promise the same thing; incredible wealth to anyone who wants to jump on the bandwagon and sell their product. What they don't tell you, however, is that the only real way to make any legitimate money in a pyramid scheme is to bring on other people to work underneath you. This requires time and effort, which rules out the "get rich quick" part of the promise. Not only that, but you chance alienating friendships with those who you recruit to sell underneath you. Is it worth the risk?

2. Penny Stocks

Penny stocks are shares in various companies that can be purchased for "pennies." Generally, anything that costs less than a dollar qualifies as a penny stock. Companies that sell penny stocks promise enormous return on investment and amazing subsequent wealth for anyone who wants to get involved. What they don't tell you is that these shares are for companies that have to undergo several investigations and are frequently shut down from trading. While there could be an incredibly minute chance of making money off of your penny stocks, you can probably count on never seeing any of the money you invest ever again.

3. Anything That Requires You To Pay Upfront

Unless you are starting your own business, you should never have to pay money upfront to make money later. Many of the get-rich-quick schemes advertised on TV or on the radio require participants to pay for a starter kit, training, or some other upfront cost. What the ad does not tell you, however, is that by paying this money upfront, you are the one they are getting rich off of! Do yourself a favor and put your money where it will be more beneficial: a savings account at a trusted Lake of the Ozarks bank.

If These Schemes Don't Work, What Does?
Striving for great financial success is part of the classic American Dream; it's understandable that people sometimes let their desires for wealth cloud their judgment and cause them to fall for these enticing schemes. Remember, however, that real wealth comes from hard work, dedication, and carefully managing your finances. By allocating your resources effectively and not spending beyond your means, you can watch your wealth grow over time. If you would like to learn more about retirement accounts or other investment opportunities, such as money markets or CDs at the Lake of the Ozarks, give First Bank of the Lake a call!

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