Thursday, December 31, 2015

Financial New Year's Resolutions For 2016

With the dawn of a new year upon us, now is the time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the new year that lies ahead. What went well in 2015? What are you hoping to improve in 2016? 

As your trusted bank at the Lake of the Ozarks, it seems only fitting that we take this opportunity to discuss some of the ways you can set yourself up for financial success in the new year. Here are a few New Year's Resolutions you may want to consider for 2016.

New Year's Resolution Ideas:

1. Develop A Budget.
If you don't have one already, now is the time to make budgeting a daily, weekly, or monthly habit. Calculate your total monthly income and divide your expenses into categories. Tally how much you actually spend by keeping your receipts and making notes of any expenses you make/bills you pay that do not give you a receipt. At the end of the week or month, add up your expenses and subtract the total from your income. This will allow you to see how much money you're actually spending, where your money is going, and how much you have left over.

2. Make All Mandatory Expenses First
With a budget in place, it will be easy for you to identify your fixed monthly expenses. "Fixed" expenses are the ones that are considered non-negotiable: utility bills, phone/cable/internet, loan payments, child support/alimony, etc. Since failing to make these payments typically results in unpleasant consequences, it's important to allocate funds towards these expenses first.

3. Start Saving For Retirement
Retirement may seem like a distant dream, but the truth is that it is never too early to begin saving for retirement. Because of the power of compound interest, starting to invest while you're still in your early-to-mid twenties can be an incredibly lucrative move. Check out our website to learn how First Bank of the Lake can help you plan for retirement at the Lake of the Ozarks.

4. Build An Emergency Fund
Life is unpredictable. You can never know when something will happen and you will need access to emergency funds. Be prepared by setting aside $100 every month until you have built up an emergency fund that could last you for 3-6 months without income. Hopefully you won't need it, but it's always better to be safe than sorry.

5. Pay Off Debts More Quickly
Some debt can be a good thing, but being stuck under a mountain of debt for years on end can be disheartening (and straining on your monthly finances). Let's make 2016 the year to make serious headway on your debts by putting an extra $50, $100, or $150 towards your payments each month. (Make sure you specify that this extra be applied to principal, not interest.) Once you get one debt paid off, put the extra money in your budget towards another loan.

Hint: Set Measurable, Achievable Goals

No matter what New Year's Resolution you choose, be sure to define it in clear, measurable terms. Rather than saying "I resolve to spend less," for example, say "I resolve to cut $50 of unnecessary spending each month." (Unnecessary spending refers to anything that is not necessary to support yourself or your family, such as movie tickets or dinner out at a restaurant.) "Spending less" is vague and hard to track progress against, but cutting $50 is tangible, measurable, and (consequently) easier to achieve.

Happy New Year's From First Bank of the Lake!
If you're looking for a new financial resource for 2016, we hope you'll remember First Bank of the Lake. In the meantime, we wish you a happy and successful 2016!

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 23, 2015

Protecting Your Personal Information OFFLINE - 5 Tips

Last week, we explored the importance of protecting your personal information online and some simple suggestions to help you do so. As the number of internet users continues to skyrocket, protecting your information online is becoming increasingly important. However, this increased emphasis on protecting your information online does not mean that protecting your information offline is any less critical. This week, First Bank of the Lake is bringing it back to the basics with these simple (but crucial) tips to protect your personal information in the physical realm,.

5 Tips To Protect Your Personal Information OFFLINE

1. Limit What You Carry
Anything you carry with you on a daily basis is potentially at risk of being stolen. We encourage you to only bring your driver's license and credit or debit cards with you when you go out. If you must bring your social security card with you, be sure that it is safely returned to a secure location as quickly as possible. Additionally, don't forget to protect your online information by never carrying any login information in your wallet.

2. Shred And Wipe
Once you no longer need them, we recommend that you shred all credit card offers and applications, insurance forms, bank statements, expired charge cards, checks, physician statements, receipts, and similar documents. Destroying the prescription information on any medication bottles before throwing them out may also be a good idea. If and when you dispose of a computer, phone, or other device, be sure to have the hard drive and memory wiped first.

3. Secure Your Mailbox
If your mailbox doesn't have a lock, remove mail immediately when it arrives. If you order new checks or a credit/debit card, do not have it mailed to your home unless your mailbox has a lock. If you're sending mail, drop it in a locked outgoing mailbox or at the post office directly. If you will be out of town for several days, request a vacation hold on your mail.

4. Ask Why Before Sharing Information
You should never feel obligated to share personal information without understanding why it is required. Always feel free to ask why your information is needed and how it will be protected before providing personal information at your workplace, your child's school, or a doctor's office. Finally, never give out any personal information to anyone you do not know either in person or on the phone (unless you initiated the contact).

5. Lock Up Important Documents
Keep financial documents and records secure by storing them in a safe place at home and locking your purse or wallet in a safe place while at work. If you carry a purse or computer at a restaurant or other public place, always keep it close to you. Only keep financial information on your laptop when necessary, and never allow your computer or mobile device to store your login information automatically. We also recommend keeping your phone and computer password-protected at all times.

First Bank of the Lake - Your Trusted Banking Resource
At First Bank of the Lake, we solemnly promise to never share your personal information. Our customers' trust is very important to us, and we do everything in our power to be worthy of the dedication and loyalty they have shown to us. If you ever find yourself in need of financial services at the Lake of the Ozarks, we hope you will remember our local bank in Osage Beach, MO.

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, December 17, 2015

Protecting Your Personal Information ONLINE - 6 Tips

With identify theft and cyber crime the fastest growing crimes in the U.S., it's more important than ever to make sure your personal information is protected. First bank of the Lake is here to help with these simple offline and online strategies to ensure that your confidential information remains safe and secure. By being educated and prepared, you will be less likely to fall victim to the scams of con artists and thieves.

We're starting the conversation this week by looking closely at some of the things you can do to protect your information online. Be sure to check back next week to learn how to protect your information in the physical world.

Protecting Your Personal Information Online

Tip #1: Don't Reuse Passwords
Using the same password for everything may be easier to remember, but it can make it entirely too easy for criminals. If you have the same password to all of your accounts, a criminal will have access to everything as soon as he has access to one. Try to use a different password for every account. Don't forget to take advantage of the optional security questions for an extra layer of protection.

Tip #2: Be Cautious When Using Public Computers
If you are using a public computer, make sure you never allow the computer to save any of your private information. Always log out completely when you are finished with your accounts, and make sure your login information has not been saved.

Tip #3: Order Your Credit Report Annually
Many people do not realize this, but every major credit bureau (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) will provide consumers with free copies of their credit reports every year. Your credit reports will be able to indicate whether or not any suspicious activity occurred in your name and if your identity may have been compromised.

Tip #4: Only Make Purchases On Trusted Sites
Online shopping can be a great convenience, but it can also be a potential danger. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you make a purchase on a website that is not secure, you could easily become a victim of identity theft. To protect your information, stick with trusted, well-known retailers. If you are shopping on smaller sites, make sure they use reputable payment processors.

Tip #5: Beware Of Phishing And Spam
If not carefully avoided, phishing and spam attempts can expose your computer to dangerous viruses and spyware that can capture your personal information. Do not open files, click on links, or download programs you receive from unknown email addresses. To be extra safe, do not open emails from friends that only contain links - these are often viruses as well. You must also beware of phishing schemes in which you think you are signing into your online bank account, but it's actually a false webpage designed to steal your personal information. To be sure you are logging into a secure portal, always go directly to your bank's website. 

Tip #6: Use Anti-Virus Software
Anti-virus and anti-spyware software is your computer's best defense against hidden dangers. Make sure all of your computers are equipped with current software, and set your preferences to update these protections often. If you operate on a wireless network at home or at work, make sure that your it is secured.

Stay Safe!

Your identity and your personal information is your most valuable asset. Use extra caution and lots of common sense when doing anything online that could expose your private information to nefarious sources. If you have any questions about online banking at the Lake of the Ozarks or other financial security, don't hesitate to reach out to First Bank of the Lake. We would be happy to help in any way we can.

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, December 10, 2015

The Power Of Compound Interest

When it comes to investment accounts, compound interest can be an incredible financial asset. When you have an investment account that earns compound interest, your money can grow at a rapid rate. First Bank of the Lake is here to help you get a better understanding of what compound interest is and how it can help you grow your investments.

An Overview Of Compound Interest

Essentially, compound interest is interest that "compounds" itself. Your principal investment amount will accrue interest for the term (one year, for example), and then the accrued interest will be added to the original principal amount to create a new "principal" amount. Interest will then accrue for this new principal amount for the next term, at which point it will be added to the principal. The pattern continues from there.

This is in stark difference to "simple interest," when the principal amount earning interest will remain the same no matter how much interest is accrued. Simple interest can also help you grow your investment, but the growth will be much slower than with compound interest.

Compound Interest In Action

The concept of compound interest can be difficult to fully wrap your brain around, so the best bank at the Lake of the Ozarks is here to help put it in perspective for you. Th following examples can help you recognize the growth potential that compound interest presents.

Let's say you have an investment account with a principal amount of $10,000 that earns compound interest at a rate of 5% annually. After the first year, it would have accrued $500 in interest (10,000 x 0.05), bringing the total value of your account to $10,500. After the second year, the interest accrued would be $525 (10,500 x 0.05), bringing the total value to $11,025. The third year, the accrued interest would be $551.25 (11,025 x 0.05), which would bring the account's total value to $11,576.25.

In only three years, your investment would have grown from $10,000 to $11,576.25 - an increase of $1,576.25!

To put this in perspective, let's compare it to a different account that only accrues simple interest at the rate of 5%. With an initial investment of $10,000, the account would accrue $500 per year. After three years, the total value of this account would be $11,500 (10,000 + 500 + 500 + 500). 

After the same amount of time, the account with compound interest would have earned $76.25 more than the account with simple interest. (Note: these examples assume that the account holder is not continuing to make additional deposits into the account.)

Give Compound Interest Time To Work For You

While $76.25 may not sound like a lot, we are only talking about a three-year time frame. As the years pass, compound interest will continue to increase exponentially. Consider the same hypothetical accounts we just discussed. After thirty-five years, the account with compound interest would grow from an initial investment of $10,000 to $55,160. In contrast, the account with simple interest would only grow to $27,500 - half the amount of the other account.

Compound interest can be powerful, but it has to be given the time to become so. This is why experts encourage you to begin planning for retirement as soon as you can (even while you're still in your early twenties). The earlier you begin investing, the more time your money will have to grow.

Investing at the Lake of the Ozarks

If you are looking for a safe place to invest your capital, look no further than First Bank of the Lake. With our wide variety of accounts and services, we are sure to provide something for everyone. If you would like more information about our trusted bank in Osage Beach, give us a call at (573) 348-2265 or visit our website.

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 2, 2015

HOMEOWNERS: 4 Tips To Help You Save Money

Owning a house is a big financial responsibility. As the owner of your own home, you and you alone are responsible for ensuring that all necessary repairs are made in a timely manner, any desired upgrades are performed correctly, and that your mortgage payments are made in full every month. Your home is one of (if not the) biggest financial asset you will ever own, and it's important to make sure you take care of it. Keeping care of your home does not have to empty your wallet, however! This week, the team at our Lake of the Ozarks bank is here to help homeowners (like you) save money with these simple tips.

4 Ways To Save Money As A Homeowner

1. Make Sure Your Ceiling Fans Are Rotating The Right Way
Ceiling fans do more than create a pleasant breeze - they can also help to keep energy costs down. During the warm summer months, your ceiling fans should (typically) rotate counterclockwise and on the highest setting, as this will allow them to push air back down to the ground and create a cool breeze. During the cold winter months, your fans should rotate clockwise on a low setting. This allows them to pull the air up to the ceiling and push it back down again by the walls. Mixing up the air in this way can help to ease your heating costs.

2. Lower Your Hot Water Heater Setting To 120° F
When considering our electric bill, most of us don't even think about our hot water heaters. However, it requires a great deal of energy to heat several gallons of water to your desired temperature - and an additional amount of energy to maintain it at that heat level. Most experts recommend lowering your temperature setting to 120° F (or 55° C). You probably will never use water at a hotter temperature than this (and if you do, you risk scalding yourself), so lowering to this setting can help protect both you and your wallet.

3. Upgrade To LED Light Bulbs
Until relatively recently, all homes had incandescent light bulbs. With the introduction of LED bulbs, however, many homeowners are slowly upgrading their homes to these new light bulbs. LED bulbs cost a little bit more up front, but they are much more energy-efficient, resulting in lower electric bills. Not only that, but the lifespan of these bulbs is much greater than that of an incandescent bulb, so you won't have to replace them as frequently. The cost of LEDs has lowered over the past few years, so your original investment may not be as much as you might expect!

4. Install A Programmable Thermostat
For some people, their HVAC systems use more energy than anything else in their homes. You can use your programmable thermostat to set specific temperatures for specific times of day, such as 70° during mornings and evenings when you're home and 65° in the afternoons when you're away at work/school and a night when you're asleep. This way, you can avoid paying for warm or cool air that you won't be around to use, while still having a comfortable home to come home (or wake up) to.

Happy Savings!

We hope you find these suggestions helpful! If you are looking for a full-service bank at the Lake of the Ozarks, look no further than First Bank of the Lake. We offer a great selection of checking accounts, savings accounts, personal loans, CDs, and business loans at the Lake of the Ozarks. We would be honored to be your trusted financial resource!

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