Category Archives: Tips

7 Worthwhile Ways to Use Your Tax Refund

 

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According to the Internal Revenue Service, more than 70 percent of the nation’s taxpayers received a tax refund averaging nearly $3,000 in 2017 and will get a similar amount this year. As Americans receive their refunds along with additional benefits coming from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in December, we have highlighted seven tips to help them use their money wisely.

To help consumers make the most out of their money, We have provided you with the following tips.

  • Save for emergencies.  More than 60 percent of Americans are not prepared for unexpected expenses. You can prepare by opening or adding to a savings account that serves as an “emergency fund.” Ideally, it should hold about three-to-six months of living expenses in case of sudden financial hardships like losing your job or having to replace your car.
  • Pay off debt.  Pay down existing balances either by chipping away at loans with the highest interest rates or eliminating smaller debt first.
  • Save for retirement, your child’s education or future health expenses. Open or increase contributions to a tax-deferred savings plan like a 401(k) or an IRA. Your bank can help set up an IRA, while a 401(k) is employer-sponsored. Look into opening a tax-advantaged 529 education savings plan to ensure school expenses will be covered when your child reaches college age. Or save for future health expenses with tax-free dollars by investing in a Health Savings Account.
  • Pay down your mortgage or student loans.  Make an extra payment on your mortgage or student loans each year to save money on interest while reducing the term of your loans. Be sure to inform your lender that your extra payments should be applied to principal, not interest.
  • Invest safely with U.S. savings bonds or municipal bonds. The U.S. Treasury allows for savings bond to be purchased using your tax refund for as little as $50. Savings bonds earn interest for a maximum of 30 years.
  • Invest in your current home.  Use your refund to invest in home improvements that will pay you back in the long run by increasing the value of your home.  This can include small, cost-effective upgrades like energy-efficient appliances that will pay off in both the short and long term – and with tax credits (as long as Congress continues to renew the program).
  • Donate to charity.  The benefit is two-fold: Giving to charity will make a difference in your community, and you can also claim the tax deduction, if you itemize.

Resource information provided by the American Bankers Association.

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4 TIPS TO GET FINANCIALLY FIT

The New Year is an ideal time to set new goals, as many vow to become more physically fit or get organized.  The New Year is also a great time to assess your finances, gain control and stick to a new budget or saving plan. Taking control of your personal finances will allow you to save and prepare for unexpected expenses.

Get financially fit this January.  Follow the tips below to get started.

Get Organized Consider treating yourself to a post-holiday gift of a financial organization system.  Alphabetized file folders, or filing systems specifically for financial organization are available in January as people begin to prepare for tax season.  Take advantage and start the New Year with an organizational system.  While you’re getting organized, consider buying a shredder to keep your personal information safe from identity theft.

Create a Budget Track your income and expenses to see how much money you have coming in and how much you spend.  If you have debt, establishing a budget will help you to pay down your debt while saving. Use computer software programs or basic budgeting worksheets to help create your budget.  Include as much information as you can and review your budget regularly.  Print several copies of this budgeting worksheet to help you get started.

  • Identify how you spend your money.
  • Set realistic goals, especially if you plan to cut some of your expenses.
  • Track your spending and review your budget often.
  • Points to consider when cutting debt:

Lower Your Debt Debt from student loans, mortgages and credit cards is nearly unavoidable.  Most families carry about $10,000 in credit card debt.  Spending more money than you bring in can lead to financial stress.  Establish a budget to pay down debts while you save.

  • Pay more than the minimum due and pay on time.
  • Pay off debt with higher interest rates first.
  • Transfer high rate debt to credit cards with a lower interest rate.
  • Use credit cards and loans for purchases that will appreciate in value like a home.

Save for the Unexpected and Beyond Pay yourself first.  Saving is important; it ensures a comfortable future that can endure financial surprises.  No matter how old you are, it’s never too late to begin saving.

  • Save at least 10 percent of your income for retirement.  Enroll in a retirement plan or consider optimizing an established retirement plan.  Contribute at least the maximum amount that your employer will match.  Contributions made to these types of plans are tax deductible.  If your employer does not offer a retirement savings plan, many banks offer Individual Retirement Accounts.  IRAs offer tax-deferred growth, meaning you pay taxes on your investment gains when you make withdrawals.
  • Financial advisors often recommend keeping about three months’ salary in a savings account in case of financial emergencies like hospital bills or loss of job.
  • Increase your contribution as your income increases.
  • If you receive direct deposit at work, ask your employer to send a specific amount to your savings account.  Because the money is put into an account before you have a chance to spend it, automatic savings plans are an easy and convenient way to save.  If your employer doesn’t offer direct deposit, many banks allow for automatic transfers from checking to savings accounts.

Resource information provided by the American Bankers Association

INVESTMENT INSIGHTS

by Joan Schade

Stock Yards Bank Wealth Management & Trust


We all like to plan and dream about how we’ll spend our retirement years. What does your plan look like? Will you travel, play golf, garden, or visit with friends and family? Maybe you’re planning to move, or perhaps you’d simply like to spend some time relaxing and enjoying some well-earned rest. Sometimes, however, unplanned events arise that leave us stunned and thinking, “What just happened?” Fortunately, if we have the right type of insurance in place it can make dealing with the unexpected a whole lot easier.

When you start to plan for your retirement years it is always a good idea to review the insurance you already have in place. Consider if your needs or objectives have changed since you made the original purchase. For example, was your term policy to insure that your children’s education would be covered or that your house would be paid off should something happen to the main bread winner? If your children are grown and there are only a few payments left on the mortgage, your current policy may not be the right type of protection needed at this stage in your life.

Purchasing insurance to provide some income for a surviving spouse is common, but you may also want to look at a long-term care policy. Without the right kind of insurance, you could be forced to use all of your hard-earned savings, including your retirement savings to pay for care. The cost of such needs continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Long Term Care Insurance policy options have grown as well in the last decade. As opposed to the “use it or lose it” options in years past, many policies now offer a wide array of hybrid products that will allow you and/or your spouse to use what you need and pass any remaining dollars on to your beneficiaries tax-free.

Insuring for the right purpose today could protect the quality of your retirement years. Wouldn’t we all like our retirement dreams to come true?

For more information about Investment Plans, please contact our Wealth Management and Trust Department.

 

Online Banking FAQ

1. How do I enroll for consumer online banking?
You can enroll right from our website, http://www.syb.com. Click the Enroll link in the Log In
section and follow the steps. You can also enroll at any of our branch office locations

2. Is there a fee for consumer online banking?
There is no fee for consumer online banking or Billpay. There is a nominal fee for Mobile Deposit.

3. What is a Secure Access Code and why do I need one?
When you login for the first time, you will be prompted to receive a Secure Access Code.
A Secure Access Code is a one-time use code that allows you to securely login to our online banking system and is delivered to you via phone call or SMS text. You will also need a Secure Access Code if you delete your security certificate or “cookie” that we’ve stored on your computer, or if you login from a computer that was not registered for repeated use. Choosing to “register my computer for later use” authorizes us to store a security certificate on your computer which will speed up the verification process in the future, and eliminate the need to use a Secure Access Code on each login.

4. How do I log in for the first time?
After enrolling, you will receive an email to let you know when you can log in for the first time. On the SYB.com home page enter your User ID that you created during enrollment and click the Sign In button. On the next screen, select “I am new user” and enter your Login ID again. You will be directed to a page displaying the secure contact information we have on file for your account. Select one Secure Access Code delivery method from the list you can access immediately: phone or SMS (text message), then click Submit. Note-The Secure Access Code is only good for 15 minutes. If it expires, you will need to request a new one. Enter the Secure Access Code, click Submit. Read the Online Banking Agreement, click I Accept. Create a password, click Submit.
NOTE: If you choose not to register the computer you will be asked to go through the Secure Access Code process each time you login on this computer. You should NOT register a public computer or a computer that others might use outside of your control.

5. Why do I have to enter a Secure Access Code every time I login even though I registered my computer?
If you delete system cookies, whether manually or through an automated process, the activation will be erased and you’ll have to use a Secure Access Code each time you login. You can make changes to your cookie settings through your browser.

6. How can I change my Login ID or Password?
Under Settings click on “Security Preferences”

5 Ways to Spot a Lottery Scam

According to the FBI, in 2014 consumers lost more than $8 million to solicitation scams promising instant wealth and grand prize earnings. These scams, commonly referred to as the “advance fee,” “lottery” or “sweepstake” scam, involve fraudsters issuing counterfeit checks and fake award letters to consumers who have allegedly won a lottery or sweepstake raffle. The consumer, who most likely never entered the alleged drawing, is issued a check worth more than the amount owed and instructed to pay taxes and fees before receiving their lump sum payment. Unfortunately, the check — in addition to the raffle — is bogus.

Before you participate in any lottery or sweepstake, Stock Yards Bank & Trust encourages you to keep these tips in mind:

• Don’t be fooled by the appearance of the check. Scam artists are using sophisticated technology to create counterfeit checks that mirror the appearance of legitimate checks. Some are counterfeit money orders, some are phony cashier’s checks and others look like they are from legitimate business accounts. The companies whose names appear may be real, but someone has dummied up the checks without their knowledge.

• Never ‘pay to play.’ There is no legitimate reason for someone who is giving you money to ask you to wire money back or send you more than the exact amount —that’s a red flag that it’s a scam. If a stranger wants to pay you for something, insist on a cashier’s check for the exact amount, preferably from a local bank or one with a local branch.

• Verify the requestor before you wire or issue a check. It is important to know who you are sending money to before you send it. Just because someone contacted you doesn’t mean they are a trusted source.

• Ensure a check has “cleared” to be most safe. Under federal law, banks must make deposited funds available quickly, but just because you can withdraw the money doesn’t mean the check is good, even if it’s a cashier’s check or money order. Be sure to ask if the check has cleared, not merely if the funds are available before you decide to spend the money.

• Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately. Bank staff are experts in spotting fraudulent checks. If you think someone is trying to pull a fake check scam, don’t deposit it—report it. Contact your local bank or the National Consumers League’s Fraud Center, fraud.org.

For more information about fake check scams and how you can avoid them, go to fakechecks.org.

Resource information provided by the American Bankers Association

Betting, Hoping and Planning

by Neil Byrne, JD, LLM, CPA Stock Yards Bank Wealth Management & Trust


It is almost Derby time. So what better topic to discuss than betting?

According to the dictionary, a bet is defined as “an act of risking a sum of money on the outcome of a future event.” Hope is defined as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” Finally, a plan is defined as “a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something.”

All of these concepts are wonderful in their own right, and can bring joy to individuals in the right context. It is fun to bet on the Derby, or to hope your tournament bracket wins your office pool. Unfortunately, too many people are unnecessarily making a bet on retirement security by simply hoping their savings, Social Security, and other resources will be enough.

Most people choose their career, their college major, and their home, not to mention their spouse, among various other important items in their life. What about retirement? How many people are hoping to be able to retire “one day” but haven’t put together a detailed plan for actually retiring? If you have not put together a plan, then you likely are not planning for retirement, but rather, are betting on retiring – one day.

Below are a couple of items to consider when putting together a retirement plan. While things like investment returns, basis, and tax rates are unquestionably important, for a moment, we suggest that you think “bigger picture,” and ponder how some more basic considerations can affect your successful retirement plan.

Your Needs and Wants
Even the age at which you retire is up for consideration. After all, setting a uniform retirement age is said to have been started in Germany by Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck, at least partially as a way for him to force troublesome government employees into retirement. Germany initially set it at 70, and then lowered it to 65*. Of course, whether that is true or not, neither Chancellor Von Bismarck, nor anyone else should really dictate when you retire. Naturally, taking retirement benefits that are only available at certain ages into account is an important part of the plan. But, with a little foresight, you can retire when it is appropriate for you.

After all, retirement is about you. To ensure that you are making the best decisions, you will want to have a good handle on your family dynamics, as well as your budget, assets, and liabilities. Do you have robust savings that can withstand unforeseen expenses? Have you considered what your wants and needs truly are? It may be appropriate to “bet” or “hope” for a dream item down the road, but we want you to plan for your true needs and wants in retirement.

Your Biases
Personal biases can have long-term consequences, and so, many people have a critical need for objective retirement advice. A 2008 book by Professor Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational, explains many of our biases and how they affect several facets of modern life. Two sections of the book, however, are especially relevant here.

First, people like to procrastinate – big surprise. But, it is true, and it can harm your retirement readiness.

Second, people like to keep all their options open for as long as possible, even when inaction produces a negative outcome. Undoubtedly, financial planning can be complicated. Moreover, retirement planning forces you to make an avalanche of choices – when should I draw Social Security? When should I stop working? Is Long Term Care Insurance for me? And on and on . . .

These two biases can work together to turn a plan into a bet before you even realize it. Betting may be fun on the first Saturday in May, but leave the betting for the track, and the hoping for your tournament bracket. Let’s plan for your retirement.

*See: https://www.ssa.gov/history/age65.html AND http://mentalfloss.com/article/31014/why-retirement-age-65