Tag Archives: Bank Blog

3 Fall Activities That Won’t Break The Bank

With the first day of fall officially behind us, it’s time to start taking advantage of all the things offered during this season. As the leaves begin to change, take some time to get outside and appreciate the cooler temperatures and scenery. We’ve listed a few fall favorites that won’t put a dent in your bank account.

  • Take an extended bike ride. Autumn is the perfect season to enjoy the cooler weather with a bike ride. Get the whole family together and take in some of fall’s beautiful landscapes through your local park. Bring along a picnic and enjoy the sights and sounds. Leave the car at home and bike to your favorite farmer’s market. To get some ideas on where to go, check out this article on family friendly bike paths in Louisville.
  • Visit a pumpkin patch. A fall tradition, visiting your local pumpkin patch is a must do for you and your family. Spend one day picking out pumpkins to decorate your home or carve later in the season. Make sure to pick a few extra pumpkins to try out these great recipes for fall.
  • Get crafty. Even if you don’t consider yourself the “crafty” type, take some time this season to take part in some easy and inexpensive crafts. It’s a great activity to do as a family, and you can create a number of things such as decorations for your home and homemade Halloween costumes. This article includes great crafts to get you ready for fall.
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8 Money Tips Every College Freshman Should Know

With Labor Day behind us, most colleges are underway with the fall semester. The American Bankers Association encourages college students to get an early start on securing their financial future. Check out these eight tips on how to avoid expenses now and reduce financial burden upon graduation.

  • Create a budget.  You’re an adult now and are responsible for managing your own finances. The first step is to create a realistic budget or plan and stick to it.
  • Watch spending. Keep receipts and track spending in a notebook or a mobile app.  Pace spending and increase saving by cutting unnecessary expenses like eating out or shopping so that your money can last throughout the semester.
  • Use credit wisely. Understand the responsibilities and benefits of credit.  Use it, but don’t abuse it.  How you handle your credit in college could affect you well after graduation.  Shop around for a card that best suits your needs.
  • Lookout for money. There’s a lot of money available for students — you just have to look for it. Apply for scholarships, and look for student discounts or other deals. Many national retailers offer significant discounts for those with a valid student ID.
  • Buy used.  Consider buying used books or ordering them online.  Buying books can become expensive and often used books are in just as good of shape as new ones.  Dedicate some time and research to see what deals you can find.
  • Entertain on a budget. Limit your “hanging out” fund.  There are lots of fun activities to keep you busy in college and many are free for students. Use your meal plan or sample new recipes instead of eating out. If you do go out, take advantage of special offers that occur during the week, like discount movie ticket days or weekly restaurant specials.
  • Expect the unexpected.  Things happen, and it’s important that you are financially prepared when your car or computer breaks down or you have to buy an unexpected ticket home.  You should start putting some money away immediately, no matter how small the amount.
  • Ask. This is a learning experience, so if you need help, ask.  Your parents or your bank are a good place to start, and remember—the sooner the better.

For more tips and resources on a variety of personal finance topics such as mortgages, credit cards, protecting your identity and saving for college, visit aba.com/Consumers.

Budgeting 101

Rainy-day funds, savings for college, or just making your rent payment can all be made easier with a budget. Although a simple and oftentimes overlooked strategy, budgeting your finances will help make the difference in managing your money. Putting together a household budget requires time and effort. Stock Yards offers the following steps to create a budget:

• Be a Spending Sleuth. Track every penny you spend for a month. Keep receipts and write everything down. This will be an eye-opening experience and will help you see where you can cut back.

• Count Your Money. Determine the total amount of money coming in. Include only your take home pay (your salary minus taxes and deductions). Your income may also include tips, investment income, etc.

• Itemize, Categorize, and Organize. Review the records and receipts you’ve been collecting over the last month. Categorize your spending using a budget sheet. You can utilize the free templates in Microsoft Excel to create a budget sheet that is fit for you and your family.

• Achieve Your Goals. Set a realistic financial goal and develop your budget to achieve that goal. Subtract your monthly expenses from your monthly income. Find ways to cut spending and set limits on things like entertainment expenses.

• Save, Save, Save. Make one of your financial goals to save a certain dollar amount each month. Start an emergency fund if you don’t already have one. You never know when you may need it.

• Stick to it. Keep track of your spending every month. Update your budget as expenses or incomes change. Once you achieve your financial goal, set another.

Resource information provided by American Banker’s Association.

9 Tips to Green Your Home and Save Money

1. Location, location, location efficiency. Carefully consider the location of your home. If you’re close to work, shopping and entertainment, you may not need a car. Without a car you would save money on gas, car insurance and maintenance, not to mention reduce pollution. If you’re thinking about moving further out, try to find something near public transportation and shopping.

2. Light up the house, not the electric bill. Replacing incandescent light bulbs with more energy efficient compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs will save you about $6 a year in electricity costs per bulb and more than $40 over its lifetime. According to ENERGY STAR, if every American home replaced just one light bulb, we would save enough energy to prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year. Remember to recycle used CFL bulbs. Go to http://www.epa.gov/bulbrecycling for recycling locations.

3. Some like it hot, hot, hot…or cold, cold, cold. Closely monitor your thermostat. Adjusting it just a few degrees while you’re out can save energy and money. You can make it easier by installing a programmable thermostat. Use fans and close the blinds during the warm months and let the sun in for natural warmth in the winter. Also, change your filter every three months.

4. Make it mean-green-clean. Cleaning supplies can be expensive and are made with toxic chemicals. You can save money and the environment by making your own cleaning supplies. All you need are some basic household ingredients like vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda and borax to clean everything from windows to tile.

5. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! Sticking to this mantra can help you save money around the house. Use a rag instead of paper towels. Buy products in bulk, concentrate or refillable containers to reduce packaging waste. Look for products made from recycled content. And don’t forget to recycle!

6. Win-dos for your windows. There are a number of ways you can make your windows more energy efficient without replacing them. For better insulation from the weather you can caulk exterior joints, put shrink wrap on them or hang blackout curtains.

7. Fan the green flames. To keep your refrigerator running efficiently, keep the fan clean. The motor won’t have to work as hard if the fan is clear of debris.

8. Decorate green. Houseplants are like living air-filters. English Ivy, rubber trees, peace lilies and red-edged dracaena can help clean the air and look pretty too.

9. Vampire energy is sucking you dry. On or off, anything plugged into the wall sucks energy. Vampire power costs U.S. consumers more than $3 billion a year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Unplug your electronics and appliances when they’re not in use.

Resource information provided by American Banker’s Association. For more green home solutions, visit: epa.gov/greenhomes

6 Money Mistakes Newlyweds Should Avoid

With wedding season upon us, many newlyweds will soon be managing their finances as a pair. The American Bankers Association is encouraging couples to waste no time addressing how they will handle money issues as spouses and financial partners.

“Developing a financial plan can often take a backseat to the excitement of a wedding,” said ABA president and CEO. “But it’s important to remember that this is not only a marriage of hearts but also a marriage of finances.”

To help couples start their journey on strong financial footing, ABA warns consumers of these post-wedding money mistakes:

  1. Avoiding the money talk. Discussing your finances can be a bit uncomfortable for many couples, but those who tackle it head on will be better for it. Understand your partner’s financial goals and spending habits. While you may have different answers, this conversation can help you develop an approach to money management that works for both of you.
  2. Not setting a budget. A mistake many couples make is not establishing a budget early on. After assessing your finances as a pair, determine how you’ll spend your money each month. Are there certain expenses that you should be cutting back on and others you should be saving up for? Coming to an agreement on these things and setting a budget will be beneficial for the health of your bank accounts and your relationship.
  3. Not having a plan for your accounts. There is no ‘right’ way to manage your accounts. Couples can choose to have exclusively joint accounts, a joint account as well as separate accounts for saving or personal spending, or keep things entirely divided. Discuss your preferences together and decide what makes you both the most comfortable.
  4. Failing to set up an emergency fund. Life is full of surprises and unfortunately, some of these surprises can be expensive. Having an emergency fund will help you avoid precarious financial situations should something come up. It’s important that you decide together how you’ll set aside the money.
  5. Not establishing a minimum cost for discussing big expenses. While not all purchases demand a conversation, more expensive ones that impact the family budget should. Determine what that threshold is as a couple. For any expenses above that cost, you both should be in agreement on whether it’s a necessary purchase.
  6. Forgetting to update your beneficiaries. Now that you’ve officially tied the knot, you should likely identify your spouse as the person who will receive the benefits of your will, life insurance policy and financial accounts like your 401(k), checking and savings. Don’t make the mistake of waiting for an emergency to arise to handle this.

    Resource Information Provided by the American Bankers Association

Giving Thanks & Giving Back

The holidays are often a time where we reflect upon our lives, give thanks for what we have, and look to give back to those in need. This time provides us the opportunity to evaluate the year and make our resolutions for the next. And ideally, your investments should fall somewhere in this process of reflection. After all, your portfolio, if planned well, can be a gift that has the potential to keep on giving, to you and the ones you love for many years to come. To help get you started this year, here are a few year-end investment tips that are always important to remember.

Evaluate your goals. What are the goals for your financial assets? Are they all achievable? Have they changed since last year? Sometimes these questions are the most difficult to answer, yet they are the most important. Alongside your time horizon, cash flow needs and tolerance for risk, these questions are the basis for your financial plan. And if you don’t have any investment goals or a financial plan, now is an excellent time to create one. Having a plan in place that is properly aligned with your goals gives you the best chances to succeed.

Review your diversification and harvest losses carefully. With the recent volatility in the markets, you’re probably looking to sell some underperformers in your portfolio and harvest some tax losses.  Be careful not to chase heat.  It can be easy to sell what’s done poorly and reinvest in what’s done well.  But no one investment style or category leads forever.  Stick to your benchmark and maintain your diversification.  And if your benchmark contains a 5% weighting in energy you should have close to that invested in energy as well (not 0%, but also not 20% – each of those carries too much risk).  Whether you think any one stock, sector, or fund still has room to rise or fall, remember you can always be wrong.  Even the best investors are often wrong about timing.  You don’t want to be caught on the wrong side.

Focus on your total return. Most investors want to compare their portfolio’s overall performance to how each individual investment performed. They want each individual stock, bond or fund to perform as well or better than the whole. But this isn’t how portfolio construction should work. There should always be stocks in your portfolio that perform vastly different from each other, and similar to their respective categories. If they don’t then you’re probably taking too much risk. Review the point above. This is the concept of diversification and it is immeasurably important to meeting those financial goals. Don’t always look to sell the underperformers. Focus on the total return.

Donate Stock, Not Cash. Finally, for those whose year-end goals include making donations to the charitable organizations you support, consider donating appreciated stock instead of cash.  It’s easier than you may think and saves you money.  Say you own a stock for which you paid $1,000 that’s now worth $2,500.  If you sell that stock, you’ll have to pay taxes on the $1,500 gain.  If you have a 33% combined tax rate, that’s $500 you’ll owe just to the government, leaving only $2,000 for the charity. Yet if you donate the stock, you will owe no taxes and the charity receives $2,500, and you have a $2,500 tax deduction.  A win-win for you and your favorite charity!

We hope you had a great year and we look forward to working with you in 2016. From all of us here in the Stock Yards Bank & Trust Wealth Management Group, Happy Holidays!

Holiday Planning: Make a List and Check it Twice

As the holidays quickly approach, the American Bankers Association is encouraging consumers to plan ahead to avoid excessive debt in the New Year.

“Develop a plan in advance of the holidays, and be sure to check it twice,” said Frank Keating, ABA’s former president and CEO. “Assessing your finances and spreading out your holiday spending are terrific ways to avoid starting the New Year with debt you’ll regret.”

Below are seven holiday spending tips from ABA to help consumers have a financially happy New Year:

  • Plan ahead. Before you start shopping, develop a realistic budget. Consider your income, subtract your normal monthly expenses and then add any savings to whatever cash is left over. If you need to use your credit card, think about what you can afford to pay back in January.
  • Keep track of other costs. Don’t forget costs beyond gifts, like postage, gift wrap, decorations, greeting cards, food, travel and charitable contributions.
  • Make a list and check it twice. Keep your gift list limited to family and close friends, noting how much you want to spend on each.
  • Shop early, spend carefully. Avoid shopping while rushed or under pressure, which can lead to overspending. Make sure to comparison shop online first, or download an app that lets you compare prices before you buy anything in a store. Before you head to the cashier (or online checkout), make sure your purchase is within the budget you set.
  • Avoid traps. Finding a spectacular sale on something you’ve been wanting can easily throw you off course. Stay strong and stick to your budget. And don’t apply for store credit cards you don’t need just to get a one-time discount.
  • Use credit wisely. Limit the use of credit for holiday spending. If you must use credit, use only one card, preferably the one with the lowest interest rate, and leave the rest at home.  Pick a date when you can pay off your holiday credit card bills, and commit to paying off the balance by that time. Be sure to check statements for unauthorized charges and report them immediately.
  • Save your receipts. Not only will you need them for possible returns, you’ll need them to keep track of what you’ve spent and to compare with your credit card statement. Knowing how much you spent will help you plan for next year, too.

Keating noted that banks are committed to helping consumers responsibly handle credit and save for the future.

“Banks offer a wide menu of options to help you save for the holidays and other expenses,” said Keating. “Ask your banker about a customizable savings plan, such as a Christmas account that enables you to set aside money throughout the year for your holiday spending.”

For more information on managing your money – as well as a variety of other personal finance tips and resources – visit aba.com/consumers.

Resource Information: American Banker’s Association