Thursday, April 28, 2016

Planning A Vacation On A Budget - 7 Tips

Everyone needs a vacation every now and then. A vacation offers a much-needed opportunity to relax, rejuvenate, and reconnect with the family and friends you care about the most. Unfortunately, escaping for a vacation can be a bit of a challenge. Even if securing time off from your job is doable, finding the money to fund your vacation is sometimes easier said than done. 

If you're feeling a little overwhelmed at the prospect of funding your summer vacation this year, First Bank of the Lake is here to help. Here are a few tips to help you keep your vacation costs down.

1. Go All-Inclusive
While they may not seem like it at first, all-inclusive resorts and cruises often offer incredibly affordable travel options. If you choose a simpler, cheaper room (at most all-inclusive resorts), you can still enjoy access to all the included restaurants, pools, and amenities without any additional cost. If you avoid paying for the optional extras (alcoholic beverages, special excursions and activities, etc), you can enjoy a great vacation for a fraction of the cost.

2. Travel During The Off-Season
Any Lake local can attest to the drastic difference between prices during the off-season and the peak vacation season. During the summer, everything is a little bit more expensive at the Lake of the Ozarks - even gasoline. During the fall, winter, and spring, however, costs are typically a bit lower. The same logic applies to other destinations. Traveling to your chosen destination during the off-season may be a great way to keep costs down.

3. Look For Places Off The Beaten Path
It's no surprise that the places that attract the most tourists are often much more expensive. While these may be enticing destinations, looking for alternatives that are off the beaten path may be a great way to save money. Lodging prices will probably be lower, even if you may have a short commute to nearby tourist attractions.

4. Book In Advance
When it comes to planning your vacation, the early bird truly does get the worm. Some destinations and travel companies offer discounts for booking early in advance, and many charge more for last-minute bookings. By making your plans well in advance of your actual travel dates, you will have more time to shop around for the best options.

5. Take A Road Trip
As the cost of air travel continues to rise higher and higher, opting for a road trip may be more cost-effective. In addition to being cheaper than flying, road trips offer several fun advantages. For example, you get to explore highlights that may be off the beaten path and legitimately experience every little town you pass.

6. Build A Vacation Budget
Determine how much you can afford to spend on your vacation, and restrict yourself to keeping within those limits. The first step is to identify the overall amount you can afford to spend on the entire trip. Once you have that number, you can begin breaking it down into smaller categories: travel, lodging, food, souvenirs, etc. If you have trouble controlling your spending, divide your spending money between the days you will be gone and put a cash allowance for each day in separate envelopes. Once you actually arrive, only spend the money in the envelope for any given day.

7. Put Away The Plastic
If you aren't careful, vacations are a prime opportunity to rack up credit card debt. Fully embracing the vacation mindset is great, but not if it it includes throwing frugality out the window. If you can't afford to make a purchase with cash or your debit card just as easily, don't make the purchase on your credit card. If you can't pay them off immediately, any expenses you put on your credit card will end up costing you a lot more in the long run.

Happy Planning!
Planning your vacation is often just as much fun as taking the trip itself. On behalf of everyone at our bank in Osage Beach MO, we hope you have a wonderful time both in the planning stage and on your actual trip! If you are looking for a safe place to save your vacation funds, contact us about setting up a savings account at the Lake of the Ozarks. We will be 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, April 21, 2016

5 Finance Tips Every College Grad Should Know

With the end of the school year quickly approaching, hundreds of collegians across the country are about to walk the across the stage and officially claim their status as college graduates. Hopefully, your college education has prepared you for everything life has in store - or at the very least, given you the skills you need to tackle each new challenge it presents.

5 Personal Finance Tips Every College Graduate Should Know

As your trusted financial resource at the Lake of the Ozarks, we are here to help you prepare for this exciting new chapter of your life. Here are a few quick tips all college graduates should know as they prepare to enter adulthood.

1. Start A Budget
First and foremost, it's time to set up a monthly budget. You will have a lot of financial obligations requiring attention once you are out on your own, and it's important to ensure that you properly allocate your income in order to cover your various expenses. Determine your net monthly income and divide it up among your expenses. Once you have a spending plan for your various expenses, stick with it. If you end up going over your budgeted allowance for one category, subtract money from a different category to compensate for it.

2. Start Saving For Retirement With Your Very First Paycheck
As we just discussed, you probably have several expenses on your plate as a recent graduate. As you juggle rent, car payments, phone bills, student loan payments, grocery bills, and more, saving for retirement may seem like a distant dream at best. However, beginning to save for retirement now will drastically increase the amount of wealth you can accumulate in the long run. Even if it's as little as $25 or $50 per month for now, you should still start making regular contributions to your IRA account at the Lake of the Ozarks as soon as you find employment.

3. Get A Credit Card (But Be Smart About It)
As an adult, you will quickly realize that a strong credit history is one of your most valuable assets. You will need it to apply for auto loans, mortgage loans, insurance, and countless other things. Credit histories take time to build, so it's better to get started sooner than later. Opening a credit card and using it for small purchases can be a great way to start building your credit history, but it's important to be smart about how you use your plastic. Treat it like cash; don't make any payments you couldn't afford to make with cash or a check, and be sure to pay off your balance in full every single month.

4. Pay Off Debts With The Highest Interest Rates First
All debts come with a different interest rate. This interest rate will determine how much the debt costs you; the higher the rate, the more money you will probably end up spending on interest in the long run. If you have several different debts, determine which one has the highest interest rate and start taking steps to pay it off before any of the rest. Once you get it paid off, you can take the money from its monthly payments and start applying it towards your other debts to pay them off faster.

5. Start Saving Now
There is never an excuse not to save at least a small percentage of your paycheck. Make it a point to direct at least 10% of your paycheck into a savings account or individual retirement account at the Lake of the Ozarks so you can start to build an emergency fund. Ideally, your emergency fund should be large enough to support you for three to six months without any income whatsoever. Life is unpredictable at best; it's important to always be prepared for whatever situation may arise.

First Bank of the Lake Is Here To Help!

If there is anything you need that First Bank of the Lake may be able to help with, please don't hesitate to let us know! Our banking professionals in Osage Beach MO have the tools and resources you need to set yourself up for a bright, successful financial future. Visit our website to learn more about what we can offer you:

Congratulations on your graduation, and good luck!

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, April 14, 2016

11 Smart Uses For Your Tax Refund

It's refund season! Since the deadline to file taxes is upon us, most of you have hopefully already submitted your taxes for 2016. Some of you may have even already received your refunds. This sudden influx of cash is incredibly exciting, and it's also an excellent opportunity to improve your overall financial standing. Don't waste this opportunity on a spur-of-the-moment purchase! First Bank of the Lake is here to help you brainstorm some better uses for your tax refund.

Smart Ways To Use Your Tax Refund:

11. Fund Your Retirement
Investing your tax return in your retirement accounts can be a great way to maximize its value. If you have an IRA at the Lake of the Ozarks, you can contribute up to $5,500 to it in a single year (or $6,500 if you are over the age of fifty).

2. Apply It Towards Your Mortgage
By putting additional funds towards your mortgage principal, you can significantly reduce the total amount of interest you will pay on the loan. It also builds equity in your property, which is a valuable financial resource.

3. Improve Your Property
While your refund won't be big enough to cover an entire bathroom or kitchen remodel, you can use it to perform other home improvements. A fresh coat of paint or a new backsplash in the kitchen can be a great way to improve your property's value a little bit at a time.

4. Pay Off Your Car Faster
Putting the funds from your tax return towards the principal on your auto loan can reduce your total amount of interest paid and help you pay off the loan more quickly. Once your loan is paid off completely, you'll have much more room in your monthly budget.

5. Improve Your Insurance Coverage
When is the last time you took a critical look at your current insurance coverage? There may be gaps in your policies that could result in significantly more money out of pocket in the event of a claim. Now could be a good time to fill in these gaps.

6. Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt
If you aren't careful, credit card debt has a way of racking up very quickly. If you've been struggling to catch up with your credit card debt, your tax refund may finally offer the chance you need to overcome it.

7. Build Your College Savings
If you have children, saving for their higher educations may be a big concern. This sudden influx of cash could be a great way to boost your savings account for your children's college educations.

8. Upgrade An Appliance
Older appliances tend to use significantly more electricity than newer models do. If you have old appliances in your kitchen that may be contributing to your high electric bill, this could be a good opportunity to upgrade to a more recent model.

9. Grow Your Emergency Fund
We have talked at length about the importance of building a strong emergency fund. Most experts recommend keeping enough saved aside to survive for three to six months without income, but very few Americans meet this goal. Consider using your tax refund to boost your emergency savings.

10. Save For A Big Purchase
What are you saving for? A family vacation? A bathroom remodel? A new car? Whatever it is, big purchases often require a significant amount of planning and diligent saving ahead of time. Your refund may be a great way to gain some ground towards your savings goal.

11. Donate To A Charity
Perhaps you're in a comfortable financial position already and don't need to use your refund for yourself. If that's the case, you may wish to consider donating your refund dollars to your favorite charity. (Don't forget that you can deduct this donation from next year's taxes!)

First Bank Of The Lake Offers A Safe Place To Keep Your Refund!
It's up to you to decide how to spend your tax refund, but these ideas should get your creative juices flowing. If you are in need of a safe place to secure your refund in the meantime (or a new place to set up an emergency fund), consider setting up a checking or savings account at our Lake of the Ozarks bank. We offer a great range of financial services in Osage Beach MO, and we would be honored to help you in your financial endeavors. Visit our website to learn more about First Bank of the Lake:

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, April 8, 2016

Small Business Loans - FAQ

If you are seriously considering starting a business in Osage Beach MO or any of the surrounding areas, you are probably neck-deep in the throes of business planning. There are so many decisions to be made. Where do you want to set up shop? How will you incorporate your business? What financing structure do you want to use? The list of questions you must face goes on and on.

If you're like most small business owners, you are probably realizing that you don't have the funds in your savings accounts to cover all of the necessary expenses that come with starting a new business. Fortunately, the Small Business Administration offers a special line of loans designed specifically for new small businesses. First Bank of the Lake is proud to offer small business loans at the Lake of the Ozarks. Here are the answers to some of the commonly asked questions about these unique types of loans.

What Are The Advantages Of A Small Business Loan?
Depending on the type of loan you qualify for, small business loans offer several unique advantages. For example, SBA loans offer low down payments, long-term financing with low monthly payments, and low interest rates for qualified buyers. Most SBA loans also offer fixed monthly payments, so you won't have to worry about your monthly cost increasing in the future. However, it always depends on which program you go with.

Who Funds SBA Loans?
SBA loans are guaranteed by the Small Business Administration, but they are funded by your local financial institution - like First Bank of the Lake

What Kind Of Down Payment Will I Need?
Typically, SBA loans require a down payment and some form of collateral. Depending on the type of collateral you are able to provide, your down payment amount will typically be somewhere in the 10-30% range of your total loan amount.

How Can I Come Up With My Down Payment?
Depending on your financial situations, you may have a couple of different options when it comes to finding the funds for your down payment. Some entrepreneurs use the equity in their home, and others ask for loans from wealthier family members.

How Important Is My Credit Score?
Some people mistakenly assume that their credit score only matters when applying for personal loans, but the truth is that your credit score will play a big role in the interest rate you can get for your business loan as well. It's never too soon to start taking steps to improve your credit score.

What Types Of Expenses Will My SBA Loan Cover?
Small business loans can typically be used to cover both fixed costs and soft costs. Fixed costs are the ones associated with buying land or a pre-existing business, utilities, machinery, renovation construction, etc. Soft costs are the expenses associated with rezoning, appraisals, environmental studies, legal fees, etc.

What Documents Will I Need To Apply?
Primarily, lenders will want to see your cost estimates, personal tax return, and business plan. The business plan is a particularly important document that outlines all financial aspects of your business, as well as your plans for operating the company. Organizing your plans into a written document will help prepare you for the challenges of running a company and demonstrate to the lender that you are prepared and ready to take on the responsibility.

What's The First Step?
After you have put together your business plan and gathered the other necessary documentation, your first step is to call your bank at the Lake of the Ozarks. Your lender will need to know what the expected costs are going to be (based on your research), what of amount of loan you want, and what the purpose of the loan will be.

The first thing you should do is talk with your lender to get pre-approved for a business loan (just as you would for a mortgage loan). Having a pre-approval letter in your hand will give you a significant advantage in the purchasing negotiations you'll face in the future, and give you a realistic look at how much you can afford to spend on your new business.

Bring Your Other Questions To First Bank Of The Lake!
If you have other questions about business loans in Osage Beach MO, don't hesitate to reach out to the team at First Bank of the Lake. Clay Lindhorst, our resident Vice President & SBA Loan Officer, would be more than happy to work with you to find the loan solution that will work best for your business. We look forward to working 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