Thursday, June 30, 2016

5 Tips To Reduce Your Everyday Spending

Where does your money go? If you're like most people, consistently large expenses aren't the culprit. Instead, countless "small" purchases continuously add up, resulting in a budget that becomes incredibly constricted. Since big expenses (new TVs, new cars, etc) are easy to recognize, they are relatively easy to avoid. Small purchases often seem harmless in the moment, however, and consequently can add up before we realize the extent of their impact. Our banking experts at the Lake of the Ozarks are here to help you cut back on these small expenses with these simple tips.

1. Dine At Home
When you cook your own meals at home, your primary costs are the ingredients you purchased at the store (plus the menial amount of energy you use to prepare it). When you dine at a restaurant, you are paying for the ingredients, the cooks to prepare the food, the waiter to bring it to you, the busser to clear the table, and the restaurant's profit on top of everything else. Even if a certain dish at a restaurant seems relatively cheap, you can always trust that dining out will cost you more than dining in.

2. Cut Out Soda
Many people in the United States (and around the rest of the country) suffer from what could almost be classified as a chronic addiction to soda, sweet tea, iced tea, or other beverages. However, consuming great quantities of these beverages is bad for both your budget and your health. While an individual soft drink may only cost you roughly $2.00, the cost of purchasing a soda every time you go out to a restaurant can add up quickly. The best thing to do is cut these types of beverages out of your diet altogether. At the very least, however, we recommend only purchasing these drinks at the grocery store (where the cost per ounce is significantly cheaper).

3. Build A Grocery List (And Stick To It)
Impulse purchases are often responsible for a vast majority of our spending, and many of us succumb to more impulse purchases at the grocery store than anywhere else. The best way to avoid impulse purchases at the grocery store is to put together a grocery list while still at home, when you can look through your kitchen and accurately identify which items you need to replenish. Once you are at the grocery store, stick to the list you compiled at home. Don't give in to the urge to add any "point of purchase" or other items to your cart!

4. Bring A Lunchbox To Work
Embrace your inner child - pack a lunchbox and bring your favorite goodies to work with you for lunch. Running out to the nearest restaurant or fast food establishment over your lunch break may seem incredibly convenient, but it can also become incredibly expensive. We already discussed the advantages of eating at home versus dining out - the same logic applies to your daily lunch during the workweek. Bringing lunch from home may help you save a great deal of money in the long run.

5. Only Sign Up For Memberships From Stores You Shop At Frequently
Do you get "daily deals" emails or other promotional emails in your inbox? If you are an avid shopper, these types of messages can make it incredibly tempting to treat yourself to a little shopping spree - after all, you're getting great deals! Even if the prices are discounted, however, you are still spending money that you probably wouldn't have spent otherwise. If it is hard for you to resist this type of temptation, your best bet may be to unsubscribe from these types of emails altogether. Only keep your subscriptions to the stores you shop at regularly, since these are the ones that may actually be able to help you save money.

Good Luck!
When it comes to reducing your everyday spending, these tips can help you get started - but don't stop your efforts there! There are several other strategies you can use as well. For example, you can...
  • Shop at thrift stores instead of department stores.
  • Walk or ride your bike instead of taking your car.
  • Turn off and unplug appliances when they are not in use.
  • Make your own coffee at home instead of splurging at coffee shops.
  • Cancel your gym membership and exercise at home or at the park instead.

Building a budget is also a great idea, so you can track where your money is going and identify the areas you can afford to cut back on. 

Remember First Bank Of The Lake For All Your Banking Needs!
Part of protecting your finances is finding a safe, secure place to store and/or invest them. If you are thinking about establishing a new savings account at the Lake of the Ozarks, stop by our branch for information about our banking services in Osage Beach. We offer personal savings account as well as retirement savings accounts at the Lake of the Ozarks. We would be happy to assist you 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, June 23, 2016

The Importance Of Your Credit Score

How your credit score is calculated and the impact it can have on your life is a mystery to many. However, credit scores and the ways in which they're used are actually pretty straightforward. It's smart to be aware of this information to ensure your credit score remains as high as possible, especially if you plan to make a large purchase in the near future. Below are a few basic tips and general information to help you get a better understanding of your credit score, courtesy of the team at our Lake of the Ozarks bank.

What Is A Credit Score?

A credit score is a number that reflects your credit risk level, with a high number indicating a lower risk. It is generated through statistical models using elements from your credit report. The three national credit reporting bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—keep reports based on information they receive from companies that have extended credit to you. These reports include information such as your payment history, the length of your credit history, the types of credit you have, and the amounts you owe. They derive your credit score from this information. Credit scores range from 300 to a perfect 850. The higher your score, the better interest rates you’ll receive. Consumers with a credit score above 700 generally receive lower interest rates, and those with a credit score of 760 or higher will receive the lowest interest rates. A score of 660 or below is considered “subprime” and may disqualify you from bank credit. If you’re thinking about buying a car or purchasing a home, your three-digit credit score will play a large part in determining your interest rate.

How Is A Credit Score Calculated?

Your credit score is calculated using this formula:
  • 35% is based on your payment history. Do you pay your bills on time? Do you have any bankruptcies, liens, or foreclosures on your record?
  • 30% is based on your amount of debt, meaning the amount owed on available credit cards and installment loans.
  • 15% is based on the length of time using credit, known as your credit history.
  • 10% is based on the types of credit in use, including credit cards and installment loans.
  • 10% is based on the number of new credit accounts or recent credit inquiries.

What Are Some Ways A Credit Score Is Used?

Banks, mortgage lenders, auto dealers, credit card companies, retail stores, and most any other lender will use a credit score to quickly summarize a consumer's credit history, saving the need to manually review an applicant's credit report as well as providing a better, faster risk decision. Depending on the amount of credit needed, additional factors such as an applicant's income vs. the size of the loan are also used. However, your credit score is the leading indicator of creditworthiness.

Your credit score can also play a role in situations you might not expect. These include utility companies assessing whether they will require a deposit and if so, how much; landlords determining how much will be required as a security deposit; cell phone companies potentially offering a flexible payment plan; and insurance companies reviewing whether to provide coverage, how much, and at what cost.

How Can You Improve Your Credit Score?
  • Pay your bills on time. This is the single most important contributor to a good credit score.
  • Be sure you don’t have too much credit. Too many credit cards and installment accounts can negatively affect your credit score. Keep in mind that too little credit, or a complete lack thereof, can also negatively impact your score.
  • Don’t max out your credit cards and keep balances on your credit cards low. Experts suggest you keep your debt ratio on your credit cards under 50 percent.  
  • Don’t open a lot of credit cards you don’t need. Applications for credit show up as inquiries on your credit report, indicating to lenders that you may be taking on new debt. Instead, use the credit you already have to prove your ability to manage credit responsibly.
  • Pay down those credit cards with the highest interest rates first.
  • Carefully review your credit report and correct any errors immediately. You’re entitled to a free credit report annually from the three major credit reporting agencies and can access these reports by using
  • Time is your ally in improving credit so if you have a low score, get and stay on track to improve it.

Remember First Bank Of The Lake As Your Financial Resource!

If you are looking for a new bank at the Lake of the Ozarks, we hope you'll remember First Bank of the Lake. We offer a wide variety of financial services in Osage Beach MO, and we would be honored to assist you in any way we can. 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

Thursday, June 16, 2016

5 Biggest Money Mistakes College Grads Make

College graduation marks a major turning point in any young adult's life. It's the end of a big chapter and the start of a entirely new one filled with its own ups, downs, challenges, and successes. Many young people (even those in their early twenties) do not feel like "adults" until after they graduate from college, at which point they may feel suddenly thrust into adulthood and all of the financial perils it may bring. 

First Bank of the Lake is here to help ease this transition for new graduates. If you have recently graduated from college, keep reading to learn about some of the common mistakes recent graduates make and how you can avoid falling victim to them.

5 Financial Mistakes Recent Grads Make

1. Taking On Too Much Debt
As a recent graduate, you have a lot of potential expenses ahead of you. You may want to buy a car, buy a house, or go to graduate school. These can all be rather expensive endeavors, and you may be tempted to take out loans to help you cover these costs. However, you will want to be cautious about taking on so much debt that you become weighed down by your monthly payments and unable to cover your day-to-day expenses.

2. Not Taking On Enough Debt
While it's important to be realistic about the debt you can shoulder and should avoid taking on too much, it is also important not to avoid debt altogether. Manageable debt is good, because it allows you to strengthen your credit rating and show creditors that you are a trustworthy borrower. The key is to limit your debt so that you can be sure you will be able to make your monthly payments in full and on time every single month.

3. Spending Too Much
Depending on your financial situation in college, you may have been able to treat yourself to happy hour every weekend, takeout several nights per week, and new clothes whenever your heart desired. However, you may not have been covering car payments, rent payments, utilities, and other living expenses at the same time. Now that you are on your own, your fixed living expenses will significantly increase. Take a close look at your old spending habits and be honest with yourself about whether or not they may need to be scaled back.

4. Waiting To Invest
With your potentially limited income and your significantly increased living expenses, the idea of saving for retirement and making other financial investments may seem like a distant dream. However, our finance experts at the Lake of the Ozarks strongly encourage you to begin investing in your future as soon as you can - even if your initial investments are as small as $50 per month. Anything you invest now will make a big difference in the long run, and you can always increase your monthly contributions as your budget allows.

5. Neglecting To Set Up A Budget
As you navigate unfamiliar financial territory, your budget will serve as a valuable compass and guide. As soon as you take on your first job, we recommend breaking down your monthly income (after taxes) into various categories - rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries, phone bill, car payment, fuel, student loan payment, retirement, etc. Once you allocate funds for your fixed expenses, you can see how much you have left over for fun expenses such as dining out or shopping for new clothes. It is imperative that you don't go over-budget in these "just for fun" categories so that can comfortably meet all your required payments.

First Bank Of The Lake Is Here To Be Your Financial Resource
If you have moved to the Lake Area after graduation, we hope you'll consider our bank in Osage Beach MO as your trusted financial resource. As a local bank, we are well-equipped to meet our clients' unique needs. Contact us for information about setting up a checking account or savings account at the Lake of the Ozarks.

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, June 7, 2016

Are Your Prepared For A Natural Disaster?

Natural disasters can strike anywhere, even in areas that are less prone to the massive natural disasters that usually come to mind (such as hurricanes and wildfires). While it is impossible to truly predict when a natural disaster may occur, you can minimize damage and risk of harm by being prepared. The following tips from our Lake of the Ozarks bank discuss preparedness for any natural disaster and explore insurance coverage in this unfortunate situation.

Safeguard Documents
Prepare a vital records kit with copies of important documents to store in a waterproof and fireproof container in a safe place in your home. Another option is to scan and store these documents in a cloud-based application so that it will be protected even if your home is destroyed. Yet another good option is a safe deposit box at your local community bank. Documents and items for this kit include copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records, proof of vaccinations for pets, mortgages, birth and marriage certificates, and irreplaceable photos.

Disaster Supply Kit
Every household should have an emergency supply kit ready and easily accessible in case of a disaster. This kit should include a flashlight with extra batteries, a first aid kit, a crank or battery operated radio with NOAA weather radio capabilities, necessary prescription medications, an emergency whistle to signal for help, a gallon of water per person and pet for at least three days, and several days’ worth of nonperishable food. Other items to consider including are pet food, a list of emergency phone numbers, and a cell phone with a battery powered charger. If possible, it’s also helpful to include three to five days’ worth of cash in the instance that ATMs are either unavailable or damaged.

Family Emergency Plan
Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, and this can cause increased panic if you haven’t prepared for this situation. A family disaster plan that includes how you will contact each other and where you will meet and identifies a safe place to gather as an alternative to your home is extremely important. This plan will ensure your children know what to do, where they can go, and who they can stay with in the event of an emergency. 

Home Insurance
While it’s difficult to think about losing your home due to a natural disaster, it’s important to understand what your homeowners insurance policy does & does not cover. Since policies vary by insurance company, you shouldn’t make any assumptions as to what may or may not be covered. Most basic homeowners policies cover fire and lightning, explosion, smoke, and damage caused by the weight of ice, snow or sleet. Perils of hail, windstorm, vandalism, theft, and water damage may be restricted or even excluded by many policies. In coastal regions or in areas prone to windstorm or hail, it’s likely that your policy will have specific conditions, restrictions or full exclusions regarding coverage. Flood is always excluded and must be purchased through the Federal Flood Insurance Program. Other perils that are likely excluded include earthquake, water damage if related to flood or an otherwise excluded peril, sewer back-up, and nuclear accidents.

All policies have exclusions, even if you have an “all risk” policy.  If your policy contains an exclusion of coverage, ask your insurance agent to provide an option for the coverage through another carrier or specialty policy.

While putting together your disaster kit, family plan and other preparations, it’s helpful to know the available resources. The FEMA website ( and the American Red Cross website ( are good resources. Being prepared will help you and your family remain calm and rational when a disaster strikes, which can also save lives. Being educated about your specific homeowners insurance, what is covered and what isn’t, will help you make an informed decision about any additional coverage to purchase before a disaster hits. The bottom line is that being prepared for a natural disaster, on several fronts, will help ensure your family recovers and gets back to normal life as quickly as possible.

First Bank Of The Lake Is Here To Help
If you are looking for a safe place to store your funds, consider opening a savings account with First Bank of the Lake. As FDIC members, we are federally insured and can guarantee that your funds will be protected. We also offer safe deposit boxes at the Lake of the Ozarks as a secure place to store your important documents. For more information about our services, 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

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Effective Ways To Get MORE Out Of Your Money

Have you ever heard someone talk about "stretching" money or dollars? This typically refers to carefully developing a strict budget, using coupons whenever possible, and incorporating other strategies to make your money last longer. While these are certainly laudable goals, they aren't the only way to get more out of your money. First Bank of the Lake is here to shed some light on a few other ways you may be able to effectively stretch your dollars.

Put Extra Towards Your Mortgage Principal
If you own a house, your mortgage payment probably takes up a good portion of your monthly budget. While applying additional funds to your mortgage payment may not seem particularly desirable, it can be enormously beneficial in the long run. By putting extra towards your principal balance, you can significantly decrease the amount you will pay in interest in the long run. Thus, spending a little bit extra now (even as little as $50 as a month) could save you significantly more in the long run.

Pay Off Debts Faster
Just as applying extra money towards your mortgage principal can be beneficial, putting extra funds towards the principal balances on your other debts (auto loans, credit card debt, student loans, etc) can have a similar effect. Finance guru Dave Ramsey recommends focusing all your attention on your debt with the smallest outstanding balance first. Once that debt has been paid off, you can take the money you were spending on that debt and apply it to the one with the next smallest balance, and so on. He calls this the "Debt Snowball Plan." Again, paying off these debts ahead of schedule can save you a great deal in interest in the long run.

Invest In An Interest-Paying Bank Account
Don't make the mistake of putting your money in a bank account or a pickle jar that doesn't give you anything in return. Our bank at the Lake of the Ozarks offers interest bearing savings accounts and checking accounts in Osage Beach MO. These accounts provide a safe, no-frills way of investing your funds while still keeping them easily accessible for your day-to-day expenses. The only difference is that the money that sits in the account accumulates interest, as opposed to money in other accounts that never grows.

First Bank Of The Lake Is Here To Help
Don't play a passive role in your finances; staying actively involved on a daily basis can help ensure you make wise decisions with your funds. Whether you choose to save money by cutting back on your spending or to stretch your dollars by investing, carefully thinking through your financial decisions is always a good idea.

If you are in need of a financial resource at the Lake of the Ozarks, remember that the team at First Bank of the Lake is always here for you. From interest bearing checking and savings accounts in Osage Beach MO to individual retirement accounts (IRAs), we have a wide variety of services designed to meet your specific needs. As a local institution, we will never try to sell you a service or loan you don't need. On top of that, we make all of our decisions right here at home - and we use judgment and compassion when evaluating customer requests. Visit our website at to learn more about how we may be able to help 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