Wednesday, March 30, 2016

5 No-Nonsense Tips For Building A Strong Emergency Fund

Life is unpredictable. While things may seem stable now, it is impossible to accurately predict what the future will bring. In order to be prepared, every household should ideally have an emergency fund in place to cover necessary expenses for about six months without any income. However, Market Watch states that 61% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. This is barely enough to cover one month without income, much less six. Market Watch goes on to reveal that 21% of Americans don't have any savings account whatsoever.

If you are one of the hundreds of Americans struggling to build an emergency savings fund, First Bank of the Lake is here to help. Here are a few no-nonsense tips for building an emergency fund.

1. Set Up A Budget
There's a reason why almost every blog that provides tips for improving your financial habits includes this suggestion. Tracking your finances with a budget or spending plan is the best way to see exactly where your money is going on a weekly or monthly basis and where you can afford to cut back. When you build your budget, include a monthly allotment to set aside in an emergency fund.

2. Treat Your Savings Account Like Another Bill To Pay
The biggest struggle people face when building an emergency fund is finding the will-power to set money aside instead of spending it. Changing your mindset may be helpful. Instead of thinking of your savings account as leftover money, treat it like another bill you have to pay - the only difference is that it will go into a different account in your name, rather than a third-party account.

3. ONLY Use Those Funds For Emergencies
Make your account live up its name by only using its funds for emergency expenses that arise without warning, such as a broken refrigerator or a blown transmission. Predictable expenses like insurance and utilities do not count as emergencies - and neither do limited-time offers at your favorite department store.

4. Start Small
Don't put off starting a savings account simply because you cannot afford to contribute much to it right now. Even if you set aside as little as $50 per month, you'll have $600 at the end of the year. Something is better than nothing. Start with whatever you can afford, and increase your amount as you can.

5. Save Excess Income
Every so often, you may come into an unexpected influx of cash, such as a tax refund or unusually large commission check. This is very exciting and has the potential to be enormously beneficial, but it won't be if you blow it in the first month. Any time you come into excess income, put that money into your emergency fund.

Set Up A Savings Account At First Bank Of The Lake
Many people find it helpful to open a separate bank account for an emergency fund. By keeping your emergency fund separate from the checking/savings accounts you use every day, you won't be able to see it as part of your available balance. If you are thinking about setting up a bank account at the Lake of the Ozarks, we hope you'll consider First Bank of the Lake. Visit our website for more information about our savings accounts 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, March 24, 2016

7 Secrets For Raising Financially-Savvy Kids

We have a greater impact on our children than we may ever know. Our kids look to us for everything, and the way we choose to parent will affect them well into their adult lives. In order to set our children up for success, we must be consciously aware of how our actions will impact them both in the present and in the future.

If we are to set the stage for our children's financial success, we must role model good financial behavior and give them opportunities to practice good money management skills. If you have young children (or are considering starting a family in the near future), First Bank of the Lake is here to provide you with a few tips to set your little ones up for success.

1. Talk To Your Kids About Money
In our culture, talking about money is considered taboo. While this rule may apply to the general public, it should never apply within your immediate family. Set the precedence that it is okay to talk to your children (and for them to talk to you) about finances. Talk to them about the difference between buying things you need (food, gas, etc) and things you want (a pair of shoes by the most popular brand, new TV, etc). Explain the concept of having to slowly save up over time to afford a big purchase. Most importantly, make sure they understand that once they spend money on something, that money is gone forever.

2. Role Model Money-Smart Behavior
As your children's primary caregiver, you are also their primary role model. Children are always more likely to do what you do (rather than what you say), so it is important to role model the behavior your would like your children to exhibit someday. Telling them that they should put a percentage of every paycheck in savings probably won't help if they watch you quickly go out and spend every penny you earn.

3. Give Your Child An Allowance
Believe it or not, an allowance can be a valuable teaching tool. Offering to pay your child an allowance in exchange for help with household chores teaches your child that in order to make money, he must be willing to put in some effort. If your child neglects to fulfill his duties one week, don't be afraid to withhold payment that week. Giving your child a source of income at an early age encourages them to learn how to manage their money and budget desired expenses accordingly.

4. Offer Your Child A Raise
Teach your child the relationship between the quality and quantity of work performed by corresponding her allowance amount with the type of work she does. For example, start with around $5 a week in exchange for feeding the dog every morning and night. If she picks up extra responsibilities (taking out the trash, doing the dishes, etc), increase her allowance accordingly. If she consistently exhibits excellent work, reward her behavior by giving her a small raise. When she eventually enters the workforce as a teenager or adult, she will be more likely to do well.

5. Turn Everyday Tasks Into Teaching Opportunities
Don't be afraid to get your children involved in adult responsibilities that provide opportunities for a financial education. For example, tell your child you have $150 to spend on groceries for the week and invite them to help you organize a meal plan that will fit the budget accordingly. Encourage them to make decisions, such as whether or not it is smarter to buy 20 ounces of a particular food item for $10 or 40 ounces for $15. When it comes time to check out, hand them cash and let them pay the cashier. This practice will benefit them well in the long run.

6. Let Your Child Hear Your Conversations About Your Own Finances
If you are married, you and your spouse probably have frequent conversations about your financial standing. Are you saving up for a big purchase, such as a new car or a family vacation? How much of your budget is going towards fixed expenses, such as utilities, insurance, and the mortgage? Let your children hear how you must actively manage your finances in order to stay on top of things. If they only ever see you making big, fun purchases, they may not realize you spent months preparing for them.

7. Encourage Your Children To Give Back
Your child's relationship with money is a delicate thing. It's important to teach them the value of holding onto their funds and avoiding reckless spending, but you don't want your children to become so fixated on money that they become greedy. Teach your children that if you have enough to support yourself, giving some of your surplus to others who are less fortunate is kind and valuable. Let them see you providing donations to local charities, and encourage them to do the same. (This is a great opportunity to do volunteer activities together as well, such as walking dogs at the local animal shelter.)

Remember First Bank Of The Lake As Your Financial Resource!
Parenting is an endless journey, but it is one of the most rewarding roles you will ever fulfill. First Bank of the Lake wishes you the best of luck! As your children get older and you want to give them the opportunity to set up their own bank account at the Lake of the Ozarks, remember our local bank in Osage Beach MO. We would be more than happy to assist 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, March 17, 2016

Steps To Getting A Mortgage Loan

Are you dreaming of homeownership? Owning your own home has several great advantages, from a unique sense of pride and position in your local community to unbeatable financial benefits. If you have been thinking about buying a home, First Bank of the Lake would be happy to answer any questions you may have about mortgage loans and their application process. We provide both in-house and secondary market mortgage loans. For those of you considering taking the homeownership plunge, here is a quick overview of the mortgage application process.

Prequalification is the first step towards getting a mortgage loan. Prequalification is generally very informal - you will meet with your lender to provide some general information on your household income, current debts, and other assets, but the lender will not seek external verification. Based on the information you provide, your lender will provide you with a rough estimate of how much money you should be able to borrow for your home purchase.

The lender does not verify the information you provide, nor does he/she commit to lending you any money. Though nothing is set in stone at the end of the prequalification process, it is an important step because it allows buyers to get a general idea of how much home they can afford. For this reason, we encourage prospective buyers to get prequalified before they begin shopping for homes in earnest.

The next step is pre-approval. Pre-approval is much more formal, as this is the time when the lender will carefully verify all of the information you provided verbally during prequalification. In order to get an accurate understanding of your financial situation, you will have to provide your lender with official copies of several financial documents, including:
  • Most recent pay stub (showing year-to-date earnings)
  • W-2s for the last two years
  • Tax returns for the last two years
  • Names and contact information for all employers in the last two years
  • Bank statements for the last two months

You will also need to provide your birth date and social security number. Your lender will verify all the documentation you provided and pull an official copy of your credit report to determine your creditworthiness as a buyer. Armed with this in-depth information, your lender will provide you with paperwork outlining what amount you should be able to borrow and what interest rate you can get. Buyers with pre-approval often carry much greater weight in the home negotiation process, because they are clearly serious about their purchase.

Finally, the time will come to close on your mortgage loan. Closing (sometimes referred to as "settlement") is the process where all funds are transferred to the appropriate parties, all documents are signed, and everything is finalized. You will be required to sign your name on a seemingly endless list of documents, and it is important to make sure you understand what each document covers and what you are agreeing to. Your lender should walk you through each document to ensure you are comfortable with its purpose before signing. If circumstances allow, closings are sometimes conducted with both the buyers and sellers in the same room. If this is not possible, however, the buyers and sellers can sign their documents separately. 

First Bank Of The Lake Can Help With Your Mortgage!
If you are considering buying a house and are looking for a mortgage loan at the Lake of the Ozarks, we would love to talk to you. Our experienced lending officers would be more than happy to walk you through the process. Our goal is to ensure that our clients feel comfortable and confident with all aspects of their mortgage loan. For more information, visit our branch or call us directly at 573-348-2265.

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

Located at the entrance to the Osage Beach Premium Outlets!
4558 Osage Beach Parkway
Suite 100
Osage Beach, MO 65065

(573) 348-2265

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Meet Linda Allen, Senior Vice President & Loan Officer at First Bank of the Lake

First Bank of the Lake is proud to be staffed and lead by an outstanding team of talented, experienced, dedicated individuals. Last month we introduced you to our President & CEO, Michael Anderson. This month, we want to continue the introductions with Ms. Linda Allen, our Senior Vice President & Loan Officer. Linda is hardworking, fun, and a wonderful asset to our team. We hope you enjoy getting to know her!

How did you get started in the banking industry?  
I started at First National Bank in Camdenton as a loan processor in 1978. In 1980 I went to work at Camden County Bank and trained in all areas of banking.

What is your position at the bank? What are some of your key responsibilities?  
I am Sr. Vice President and Loan Officer. I process and approve consumer, residential, commercial and construction loans.

Four generations
What brought you to the Lake of the Ozarks?
I was born and raised in Chicago but after taking a family vacation to Missouri to visit friends, we ended up buying a farm. It was soon after that I wanted to sell the tractor and buy a boat! I enjoy living at the Lake of the Ozarks!

Where Did You Attend School?
I graduated from Lockport West and just down the road was the Joliet Penitentiary - no connection! I have taken many banking courses throughout the years and continue to attend training to keep up with all the new banking regulations.

What Do You Enjoy The Most About Your Job?
I enjoy helping customers obtain the goal of homeownership, purchase a new vehicle, or expand or purchase a new business. I will do all I can to get a loan approved and closed.

GiGi's Winery
How Do You Enjoy Spending Time When Not At Work?
I love spending time with my friends and family. I also enjoy boating, four-wheeling, and spending time on my patio. I've nicknamed my patio "GiGi's Winery."

When You Were Young, What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up?
I always wanted to do some type of office work. When I was seven years old, my favorite Christmas gift was a toy typewriter... and I am still typing away!

What Is Your Dream Vacation Destination? Why?
My dream vacation is to spend time at the beach with family or friends. My husband's Uncle Bill provided several family beach vacations that were some of the best times of my life, and I try to get to the beach as often as I can with family or friends!

What Is Something Very Few People Know About You?
I am a great-grandmother. My husband and I have a total of 14 grandchildren (2 are great-grandchildren).

If You Won The Lottery, What Would You Do?
With 14 grandchildren, it won't take long to figure out what to do with lottery winnings!

Family vacation in Destin
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, March 2, 2016

5 Quick Money Tips For Young Adults

It's easy to get overwhelmed by finances when you're first starting out. Car payments, student loans, rent and/or mortgage payments, utilities, gas, groceries... they all have a way of racking up quickly. Once kids enter the picture, things can get even more daunting. It doesn't have to be unmanageable, though! First Bank of the Lake is here to help make your life easier with these quick money tips.

1. Pay Off Your Debt With The Highest Interest Rate First
It's time to take a close look at your outstanding debts and their corresponding interest rates. If one loan has a rate of 5% and another has a rate of 9%, the latter will end up costing you significantly more in interest. If you have room in your budget to put extra money towards the principal, do this for your higher-interest loans. Getting these paid off sooner than later will save you a great deal of money in the long run.

2. Go Easy On Your Credit Card
Credit cards make it incredibly convenient (and tempting) to spend large amounts of money. However, that $500 television you couldn't afford to buy with cash will get even more expensive when you tack on your credit card company's interest rates and possibly additional late fees. Using a credit card can be a great way to build up your credit rating, but it's critical that you use it wisely. We recommend treating your cards like cash - only use it to purchase things you could just as easily afford to buy with cash or a check.

3. Look Carefully At Your Chosen Partner's Spending Habits
Many people choose their life partners in early adulthood. This is healthy and normal, but we recommend that you evaluate your chosen partner's financial habits before you say "I do." Once you become married, your credit score and overall financial situation will be significantly affected by your partner's. 
Be honest with each other about your financial values and priorities so you can devise a strategy that will work for both of you.

4. Begin Saving For Retirement With Your Very First Job
With so many other financial obligations, setting aside money for retirement is the last thing on many millennials' minds. However, our finance experts in Missouri strongly believe that the early twenties is actually the best possible time to begin saving for retirement. By starting early, you allow compound interest the time it needs to drastically increase your wealth. (See our blog about the power of compound interest.)

5. Save At Least 20-30% Of Every Paycheck
While putting a significant portion of your paycheck into your savings account may seem challenging, it is absolutely critical - especially during this transitional time. However, building up a savings account is the only way to weather life's inevitable difficulties, such as unexpected repairs or layoffs. Saving extra money upfront may mean skipping a dinner out here and there, but it will be well worth it if something happens.

Set Up Your Savings Account At First Bank Of The Lake!
If you are in need of a new financial resource at the Lake of the Ozarks, we hope you'll consider our bank in Osage Beach MO. We offer plenty of checking and savings accounts options to help you manage your finances easily and effectively. Visit our website to learn more!

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