This week we are excited to dive into the Do’s and Don’ts of Credit and Debit cards! Offering two very similar, but uniquely different services for your financial needs, these cards can help you to reign in your finances and grow your credit score when used properly. Learn all about these tips and tricks courtesy of Heartland Bank.
Debit Card: A card issued by the bank, that is tied directly to a checking or savings account, which allows money to be electronically transferred from one bank account to another when making a purchase.
- Use for daily transactions. It’s always great to have a paper trail reminding you of your purchases.
- Use for repeated expenses such as gas, groceries, and other costs you can plan for.
- Balance your check book. Sometimes charges such as gas or dining can take several days to run through so be sure to keep track of your spending by balancing your checkbook weekly.
- Use your debit card online unless you absolutely have to. Having your credit card information stolen is one thing, having your bank information stolen is another.
- Spend more than you have in your account. Overdraft fees are no fun for anyone!
- Postdate transactions if funds are not readily available in your account.
Credit Card: A small plastic card that is offered by the bank or other financial institution, allowing the card owner to purchase goods and services on credit.
- Use for online expenses through secured vendors. Many discounts may be offered online only and can save you and your family a bundle.
- Pay your bill in full each and every month. Make to avoid hefty interest rates and other timely fees by not extending your balance over the next month.
- Utilize points to help you earn while you spend. These points are great for supplementing costs of family trips or other extra activities.
- Spend more than you have allocated for the month. Paying more for interest and other fees is money wasted.
- Open too many credit card accounts. Keep one or two cards that you use and payoff each month to help boost your score.
- Max out your balance, even if you pay if off each month this can potentially damage your credit score and serve as a red flag to potential lenders.
Get started on your finances today with a secure credit or debit card from Heartland Bank! We’ll help you understand the ups and downs of each and find the best solution for you and your needs.
The journey to becoming a first time owner is an exciting and personal process. With questions ranging from price, commodities, to neighborhoods and more, the task of finding your ideal property can seem daunting. At Heartland Bank we want to help you make the most of your home buying experience with our guided route to home ownership. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the view as we take you step by step through the first time home buying process.
- Assess your personal finances. Take a good hard look at your current sources of income, in addition to the underlying expenses you have each month. Determine if your funds can support the cost of a monthly mortgage, property taxes, home insurance, and all the other associated costs of home ownership.
- Mortgage Pre-Approval. Once you’ve decided to make the jump into home ownership it’s time to determine what your ideal purchase price will look like. Work with your mortgage lender to decide on the best price range for you and your family. After determining your financing needs together, the bank will evaluate your credit history award you with a pre-approval letter for the amount they will agree to finance.
- Find “The House.” Here comes the fun part – house hunting! Pair up with a reputable realtor from the area to look at houses that do not exceed the approved purchase price. You may look at six homes, or thirteen, but once you find the right property you’ll know it’s the one!
- Get an approved offer. After touring the property and checking for any major repairs, speak with your realtor about putting in an offer on the house at price within your budget. The seller may counter with a different price point, and negotiations for the offer can be discussed with your realtor. When you and the seller have agreed to a purchase price and a finalized offer is signed you officially have an accepted offer to purchase your future home!
- Speak with your mortgage lender. Now that you’ve found your new place, your mortgage lender can gather accurate tax information and further specifics for your mortgage financing. Reach out to confirm the terms of the loan prior to closing to help ensure a smooth transition.
- Home Inspection. Since you and the buyer now have an accepted agreement it’s time to fully inspect the property you intend on buying. Speak with your realtor for recommended home inspectors in the area, and set up a time when both you and the realtor can be present. The home inspector will detail notes about the property concerning safety hazards and other important repairs that be taken care of at the sellers expense.
- Close the offer. After all the paperwork is finalized, and you complete the final walk through of the home, it’s finally time receive your mortgage financing and close the home offer.
- The House is yours. All your hard work has paid off and you are now a home owner! Celebrate this monumental achievement by inviting family and friends over for a moving or house warming party!
Whether you’re looking for a peaceful cottage in the country, new construction in the city, or a happy hideaway in the suburbs, Heartland Bank can help you with all your financing needs. Stop by the bank or give us a call at (515) 352-3181 and get started on your home buying journey today!
Creating a structured savings plan is one thing that can set apart the financial dreamers from the financial doers! By setting strict guidelines to your goal, and ensuring the correct follow through with a backed up savings plan, you can be certain of your success in accomplishing your future achievement! One of the biggest obstacles in these plans is the unforeseen, and there is a way to manage even that. Using a well-rounded emergency fund can ensure that you don’t dip into saved funds for unexpected costs such as auto repairs, or medical emergencies. Want to get started setting up your emergency fund today? Follow these simple steps and you’ll be on your way to financial success!
- Open a dedicated savings account.
- Deposit Funds each month without withdrawing anything.
- Start by saving $1000.
– Next save 3 months’ worth of income and expenses.
– Finally maintain 6 months’ worth of income and expenses.
The reason you have this fund is simple, to prepare for the unprepareable. Whether it’s an unanticipated job loss, a costly home repair, or other unplanned expenses, your emergency fund can help you stay afloat when the waters get rough.
The main objective of this account is to have it work for you and your needs! By specifically determining what you define as an emergency (job loss, vet bills, auto repairs) and what doesn’t (last minute birthday gift, broken TV, new clothes) you can generate a structured list to know when you feel safe using those funds, and when perhaps its best to leave them untouched. The idea of the emergency fund is to have it when you need it. By gaining access easily via checkbook or debit card, you can make use the account more quickly when the unexpected strikes.
By generating your own emergency fund you can continue to save for milestones and pay bills, without worrying about the what if’s that lie along the road to the future. Get started with your emergency account today at Heartland Bank, we’ll help you get to your next savings goal!
Whether it’s skiing in the mountains, scuba diving among the reefs, or exploring history throughout famous museums, your ideal vacation can be anything you make it. Wherever you dream of traveling to, price is sure to be a factor in your decision. Make the trip of your dreams into a reality with these smart saving tricks to help fund your travels wherever they may lead.
- Open a dedicated savings account. To keep your goal clearly in sight and prevent overspending, establish a dedicated savings account for family vacations. You can use these funds throughout the vacation planning stages to book hotels and tickets. During your trip, easily track your designated spending while preventing unneeded dips into a primary savings account.
- Trust the change jar. The nickels and dimes that collect at the bottom of your pockets may seem insignificant, but a mere $1.25 saved every day in spare change adds up to just under $500 in only one year. Establish a large lidded container for your trip funds, for gas or gifts. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for loose change both at home and during your work day.
- Designate a pantry week. In the months leading up to your vacation, pick one week each month to skip the grocery store and eat out of personal food storage. By eating meals such as spaghetti, soup, or rice, you’ll par down the grocery bill while consuming pre-purchased food before it goes bad.
- Repurpose gift cards. Instead of letting that plastic currency go to waste speak with friends and family members to see if any of them are interested in a trade. If there is no trade to be had, selling the gift card for slightly less than the card’s value may create a better incentive for buyers while still allowing you to receive the best benefit.
- Save energy. Cut down on your monthly utility bill by creating a list of action items to save on energy costs. Running the dishwasher for extreme loads only, switching to cold instead of hot water for laundry, setting a time limit for showers, and only turning on essential lights can lower your utility bill piece by piece. Take the difference saved and funnel it into your travel savings account.
At Heartland Bank, we love seeing you accomplish your financial goals and enjoy all of the incredible places they can take you. If a vacation is on your horizon, make an appointment with one of our financial advisors today and learn how to make the most of your savings.
Retirement may seem an eternity away; however, even if it’s a dream 20 years down the road, saving for retirement shouldn’t wait until the goal is in sight. Rule of thumb says you’ll need $1,000,000 in savings to retire comfortably. Our experts at Heartland Bank recommend taking the following steps to save with the future in mind:
- Determine when you want your $1 million. The typical age of retirement is 65, but you may be shooting for a few years earlier or later. Whatever the age affects how much you need to save each month, so calculate years left to save based on current age and breakdown monthly savings requirements thereafter.
- Start saving ASAP. Compound interest rewards those that begin saving earlier rather than later. A $10,000 investment at age 25 could yield tens of thousands of dollars more by 65 than if that same $10,000 were invested at 35.
- Spend less than you save. It’s basic math. You’ll have money left over only if income exceeds expenses. Buying a home within your range, purchasing cars secondhand, and paying for vacations out of savings and not on credit protects you from dipping into debt.
- Opt for automatic. Research your employer’s 401k or retirement-based plans and determine what percent you’d like funneled from your paycheck and into your savings. If your employer matches contributions up to a limit, work to reach their maximum to maximize your savings.
- Save beyond your 401k. Expect the unexpected. A flooded basement or dying car engine can send you spiraling out of your financial plan if you haven’t budgeted for rainy days. Set up a $1,000 emergency fund as soon as possible, and work to expand it to anywhere from 6-12 months of income to protect you from larger surprises, like medical issues or unemployment.
The road to a million takes time and discipline, but it’s exceedingly possible. For further savings strategies and investment options, make an appointment today to meet with one of our trained financial advisors.