Category Archives: Credit

Understanding Interest Rates and Your Financial Situation

interest.jpg Untitled-logo trustWhen discussing bank accounts, investments, loans, and mortgages, it is important to understand the concept of interest rates. Interest is the price you pay for the temporary use of someone else’s funds; an interest rate is the percentage of a borrowed amount that is attributable to interest. Whether you are a lender, a borrower, or both, carefully consider how interest rates may affect your financial decisions.

The Purpose of Interest

Although borrowing money can help you accomplish a variety of financial goals, the cost of borrowing is interest. When you take out a loan, you receive a lump sum of money up front and are obligated to pay it back over time, generally with interest. Due to the interest charges, you end up owing more than you actually borrowed. The trade-off, however, is that you receive the funds you need to achieve your goal, such as buying a house, obtaining a college education, or starting a business. Given the extra cost of interest, which can add up significantly over time, be sure that any debt you assume is affordable and worth the expense over the long-term.

To a lender, interest represents compensation for the service and risk of lending money. In addition to giving up the opportunity to spend the money right away, a lender assumes certain risks. One obvious risk is that the borrower will not pay back the loan in a timely manner, if ever. Inflation creates another risk. Typically, prices tend to rise over time; therefore, goods and services will likely cost more by the time a lender is paid back. In effect, the future spending power of the money borrowed is reduced by inflation because more dollars are needed to purchase the same amount of goods and services. Interest paid on a loan helps to cushion the effects of inflation for the lender.

Supply and Demand

Interest rates often fluctuate, according to the supply and demand of credit, which is the money available to be loaned and borrowed. In general, one person’s financial habits, such as carrying a loan or saving money in fixed-interest accounts, will not affect the amount of credit available to borrowers enough to change interest rates. However, an overall trend in consumer banking, investing, and debt can have an effect on interest rates. Businesses, governments, and foreign entities also impact the supply and demand of credit according to their lending and borrowing patterns. An increase in the supply of credit, often associated with a decrease in demand for credit, tends to lower interest rates. Conversely, a decrease in supply of credit, often coupled with an increase in demand for it, tends to raise interest rates.

The Role of the Fed

As a part of the U.S. government’s monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Board (the Fed) manipulates interest rates in an effort to control money and credit conditions in the economy. Consequently, lenders and borrowers can look to the Fed for an indication of how interest rates may change in the future.

In order to influence the economy, the Fed buys or sells previously issued government securities, which affects the Federal funds rate. This is the interest rate that institutions charge each other for very short-term loans, as well as the interest rate banks use for commercial lending. For example, when the Fed sells securities, money from banks is used for these transactions; this lowers the amount available for lending, which raises interest rates. By contrast, when the Fed buys government securities, banks are left with more money than is needed for lending; this increase in the supply of credit, in turn, lowers interest rates.

Lower interest rates tend to make it easier for individuals to borrow. Since less money is spent on interest, more funds may be available to spend on other goods and services. Higher interest rates are often an incentive for individuals to save and invest, in order to take advantage of the greater amount of interest to be earned. As a lender or borrower, it is important to understand how changing interest rates may affect your saving or borrowing habits. This knowledge can help with your decision-making as you pursue your financial objectives.

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Financial Considerations for Single Women

Untitled-logo trustIf you’re divorced or separated, money management will become an important part of your life. While it may be true that money can’t buy or ensure happiness, your ability to manage your finances can play a large role in your financial future, and to a large extent, your ability to live life on your terms.

A huge amount of time is not necessarily required to get your finances moving in the right direction. It is often simply a matter of attending to the “basics.” The following steps may help you stay on track:

1. Pay Yourself First. Transfer a set amount from your earnings to your savings each month. Even a small amount in the beginning helps.

2. Reduce Consumer Debt. Avoid high credit card finance charges by paying off the balances each month, or if you must carry a balance, use only cards offering low finance rates beyond the introductory period.

3. Maintain Good Credit. You can obtain one free annual credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Good credit is required for obtaining loans and low interest rates. Monitoring your credit can also help you guard against identity theft.

4. Diversify Your Savings. Develop a plan for your short- and long-term needs. Consider your liquidity needs, risk tolerance, and time horizon for retirement. Be sure to consult a qualified financial professional to determine an appropriate strategy for your financial future.

5. Take Advantage of Tax Benefits. If you qualify, contribute to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan, or another similar retirement plan. These plans offer tax benefits that may help enhance your retirement savings.

6. Update Your Estate Plan. Have your will and any trusts reviewed by a legal professional. Prepare advance directives, such as a durable power of attorney, living will, and health care proxy. This is important for everyone at any time, regardless of age.

7. Review Your Insurance Needs. Periodically review your risk management program. Your life, health, and disability income insurance needs will likely change as you progress through various life stages.

8. Plan for Future Care. Consider your possible long-term care needs. Have you ever thought about your future care needs, should you one day require help with activities of daily living, such as meal preparation, personal care, dressing, and housekeeping? Long-term care insurance increases your care options, should the need arise by helping to cover care at home, an assisted living facility or in a nursing home.

9. Build a College Fund. College tuition, at a public or private institution, continues to rise. So, relying on your children to receive scholarships or financial aid may not be the most practical strategy. Look into opening a 529 college savings plan or other college planning account. As soon as possible, begin saving for your child’s education. Eighteen years can pass quickly.

10. Set Long-Term Financial Goals. Establish one-, three-, five- and10-year goals. Evaluate your progress yearly and make adjustments, as appropriate, to achieve long-term success.

Whether you’re divorced or separated, straightening out your finances can become a top priority. Make a commitment now to start this planning process. Attention to the basics may help you meet your financial goals and improve your emotional and financial well-being.

Visit https://www.syb.com/wealth-management-and-trust/how-we-serve-our-clients/ to see how Stock Yards Bank and Trust can help you.

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Resource information provided by Financial Media Exchange

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5 Tips to Spring Clean Your Finances

For many Americans, spring is a time to clean, sort and tidy up around the house.  As you dust your shelves and rid your home of clutter, consider setting aside some time to organize your finances.

“The arrival of spring motivates people to renew their surroundings, and what better way to focus that momentum than to check off everything on your financial to-do list?” asked Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation. “Taking stock of your finances and planting the seeds of new saving habits today will go a long way toward alleviating pressures on your pocket throughout the year.”

The American Bankers Association recommends these five tips to help you refresh your finances:

  • Evaluate and pay down debt. Take a look at how much you owe and what you are paying in interest. If there are better rates available now, consider requesting a lower credit card interest rate or refinancing your mortgage. Begin paying off existing debt, whether that’s by chipping away at loans with the highest interest rates or eliminating smaller debt first.
  • Review your budget. A lot can change in a year. If you’ve been promoted, had a child, or become a new homeowner or renter, be sure to update your budget. Determine what expenses demand the most money and identify areas where you can realistically cut back. Develop a strategy for spending and saving and stick to it.
  • Check your credit report. Every year, you are guaranteed one free credit report from each of the three bureaus. Take advantage of these free reports and check them for any possible errors. Mistakes can drag down your score and prevent you from getting a loan, or cause you to pay a higher than necessary interest rate.
  • Sign up for e-statements, paperless billing and text alerts. Converting to paperless billing will help keep your house—physical and financial—more clean and organized, and will help protect you from fraud.
  • Set up automatic bill pay. By signing up for automatic bill pay, you’ll never have to worry about a missed payment impacting your credit score. You can set it so that money is withdrawn from your checking account on the same day each month.

 

Resource information provided by the American Bankers Association 

Protecting Your Identity

Identity theft continues to be one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. In 2014, there were 12.7 million victims of identity fraud in the U.S., according to Javelin Strategy and Research. In recognition of Cyber Security Awareness Month, Stock Yards Bank & Trust recommends following these tips to keep your information – and your money – safe.

1. Be cautious of who you share with.

Don’t provide your Social Security number or account information to anyone who contacts you online or over the phone. Protect your PINs and passwords and do not share them with anyone. Use a combination of letters and numbers for your passwords and change them periodically. Do not reveal sensitive or personal information on social networking sites.

2. Shred sensitive papers.

Shred receipts, banks statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.

3. Keep an eye out for missing mail.

Fraudsters look for monthly bank or credit card statements or other mail containing your financial information. Consider enrolling in online banking to reduce the likelihood of paper statements being stolen. Also, don’t mail bills from your own mailbox with the flag up.

4. Use online banking to protect yourself.

Monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions. Sign up for text or email alerts from your bank for certain types of transactions, such as online purchases or transactions of more than $500.

5. Monitor your credit report.

Order a free copy of your credit report every four months from one of the three credit reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.com.

6. Protect your computer.

Make sure the virus protection software on your computer is active and up to date. When conducting business online, make sure your browser’s padlock or key icon is active. Also look for an “s” after the “http” to be sure the website is secure.

7. Protect your mobile device.

Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen. Before you donate, sell or trade your mobile device, be sure to wipe it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen. Use caution when downloading apps, as they may contain malware and avoid opening links and attachments – especially from senders you don’t know.

8. Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately. 

Resource Information: American Banker’s Association