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Part-time Teller – Salem, IN branch

Department:Branch Operations

Reports to:Head Teller

Supervises:None

Status:Non-exempt

Summary:  Provides basic cash receipt and payment services in accordance with financial institution procedures while looking for ways to better service our customers with our products and services.

Job Requirements:

  • High school diploma or equivalent.
  • Successful completion of in-house training program or other approved training program.
  • Good interpersonal communication and computer skills; ability to operate standard office equipment such as adding machines and key board.
  • Good phone etiquette.
  • Must display good attendance, dependability and punctuality.

Specific Job Functions:

  • Receives checks and cash for deposits to accounts, verifies amounts, examines checks for proper endorsement, and enters deposits into computer records.
  • Cashes checks and processes withdrawals; pays out money after verification of signatures and customer balances.
  • Accepts loan payments and ensures the payments match balances due.  Enters payments into the computer and issues customer receipts.
  • Place holds on accounts for uncollected funds.
  • Counts, checks and packages coin and currency as needed.
  • Balances cash drawer at the end of the shift and compares totaled amounts to computer generated proof sheet. Reports any discrepancies to the supervisor as necessary.
  • Ensures that the teller station is properly stocked with forms, supplies, etc.
  • Reports malfunctions of teller terminals and other equipment used at the teller station.
  • Is responsible for checking night depository bags and mail deposits, verifying contents and recording proper information on the financial institution’s forms.
  • Is responsible for comprehensive, prompt and efficient customer transactions.
  • Responsible for keeping cash and keys secure and adhering to cash drawer limits.
  • Answers customer questions when necessary, always using the opportunities to cross-sell other bank services and refers to the proper person.
  • Practice Sales and Service Performance Standards.
  • Issues cashier’s checks, money orders and credit card advances.
  • Responsible for being compliant with all regulations and compliance requirements pertaining to job function.
  • Carry out such other duties as may be assigned or requested.
  • Complete training as necessary.
  • Processes CTR’s and SAR’s properly and promptly, as needed.

The iPhone app has finally arrived to join iPad and Android

Information about installing First Savings Bank’s NEW mobile banking app.

  • Install the NEW First Savings Bank mobile banking app. You may click on the link below or you may search in your App Store to download the NEW app.
  • First Savings Bank’s NEW mobile banking app icon will look the same.
  • You may need to know your Apple® password in order to install our NEW app.
  • You will use your current First Savings Bank online banking User ID and password to log into our NEW app.

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Mobile Banking Questions & Answers

General

Q:  I liked your old App. Why did you have to change it?

A:  First Savings Bank is committed to helping our customers make their everyday banking experiences easier. We understand that day to day life can be hectic and it is often hard to get everything done. That’s why we strive to make banking as convenient as possible by offering the latest technology available. You can do everything you could from our old App, plus so much more. We think you are really going to love our new App as much as we do!

Q:  What are the new services this App has that the old App didn’t?

A:  You will now have access to pay bills, make an external transfer, pay a friend, view e-Statements, set-up and manage Account Alerts, reset your password, view check and deposit images, and customize your user experience with quick balances, PIN login, fingerprint login and change the order in which you view your accounts.

Q:  I’ve used your old App before, how do I use your new one?

A:  It’s easy!  Just download our latest App from the Apple or Google Play Store and use your Online Banking login credentials (username and password) to get started.

Q:  Will I need a password to download the new Mobile App?

A:  You may need to enter your iTunes or Google Play stores password in order to download our new Mobile App. If you do not remember your iTunes or Google Play stores password use the appropriate link below to reset your password.

iTunes – https://iforgot.apple.com/

Google Play - https://accounts.google.com/signin/recovery

Q:  Should I delete the old First Savings Bank Mobile App?

A:  Yes. So that you can continue to enjoy Mobile Banking and have the new features we are SO excited about, you will want to download our new First Savings Bank App. Our old App will no longer function.

Q:  How do I enroll for Mobile Banking?

A:  If you’re already an Online Banking user, use your existing login credentials (username and password) to log into our Mobile App.  If not, simply visit www.fsbbank.net to enroll. Once you are enrolled for Online Banking, you can use the same username and password to access our Mobile App!

Q:  What devices are supported with the Mobile App?

A: Apple iPhones and iPads with iOS operating system version 9.0 and above are supported.

Android devices with any of the following operating systems are supported: Jelly Bean (4.3.1+), Kit-Kat (4.4-4.4.4), Lollipop (5.0-5.1.1), Marshmallow (6.0-6.0.1) and Nougat (7.0-7.1.2).

Q:  Can I use my Windows phone to access Mobile Banking?

A: Yes!  At this time there is not an App for your windows device, simply visit www.fsbbank.net for access to Online Banking through your mobile browser.

Q:  What is the difference between the different Login types and how do I change it?

A:  In order to change your login type, select settings from the hamburger menu hamburger within our Mobile App and click Login Type. You will need to log out, close the app and relaunch it before the changes will take effect. We always recommend setting up security on your mobile device in addition to the security within the Mobile App.

Normal Login will require a username and password or a PIN every time our app is accessed. The username and password will be required for the initial login. After the initial login you will have the option of enabling PIN login, which will bypass the username and password for future logins.

Auto Login will allow access to account balances only. If you are accessing anything else in our app you will need to enter your username and password or PIN (if enabled).

Fingerprint will allow access to account balances only using the biometric reader on your mobile device. It is the same as Auto Login, but more secure. If you are accessing anything else in our app you will need to enter your username and password or PIN (if enabled).

Q:  Can I receive alerts via text message?

A:  Yes, alerts can be set up through our Mobile App and sent via text message or email. Alerts set up via Online Banking are separate from the alerts set-up on our Mobile App. If you currently have alerts set-up in Online Banking you will simply set up your custom alerts on our new Mobile App and select your delivery method.

Security

Q:  Is First Savings Bank’s Mobile App secure, and what systems are in place for security?

A:  Yes, our new Mobile App has state of the art data encryption, username and password requirements and timed user sessions. First Savings Bank feels that a customer’s data security should be a top priority!

Q:  If I forgot my Username or Password how can I reset it?

A:  iPhone & Android – From the landing page click Help. When the help window pulls up, use the drop down box to select either Forgot Username or Forgot or Reset Password.

iPad – From the landing page click Info and select User Help. When the help window pulls up, use the drop down box to select either Forgot Username or Forgot or Reset Password.

Mobile Deposit

Q:  How do I deposit a check?

A:  Click on Deposits from the landing page or the hamburger menu hamburger. Enter the amount of the check, take a picture of the front and back of the check and submit. If this is your first time making a deposit via our Mobile App you will need to accept the disclosure.  Deposits made through our new Mobile App can be viewed in the deposit history.

Q:  What if the app doesn’t read my check?

A:  For best results the check should be placed on a flat dark surface where there is good lighting. Make sure that the numbers on the bottom of the check are easy to read and that the check contains a numeric and written dollar amount, a date, a payee, MICR encoding (the numbers on the bottom), a signature of the maker (the person who wrote the check) and your endorsement on the back. If the check cannot be read through the Mobile App, please visit your nearest First Savings Bank branch or First Savings Bank ATM to make your deposit.

Q:  When will my deposit post?

A:  Checks deposited Monday – Friday before 4:30pm EST will be credited to your account on the same business day. Deposits made after 4:30pm EST or on a Saturday, Sunday or Federal Holiday will be credited to your account on our next business day.

Q:  How do I get the camera to take a photo?

A:  If you have an Android simply click TAKE PHOTO and touch the camera icon to take the picture. If you have an iPad or iPhone all you have to do is click Take Front and touch anywhere on the screen to take the picture. Don’t forget to repeat for the back of the check.

Bill Pay

Q:  Can I pay bills through the Mobile App?

A:  Yes, paying your bills has never been easier! Prior to using our App you will need to set-up Bill Pay through your Online Banking (if you are already using Bill Pay in Online Banking there is no need to set anything up), if it has not been set-up you will get an error from our App that states “SSN is invalid for consumer”. Once Bill Pay is established through Online Banking you never have to go back to it.  You can add, change and remove payees by selecting Pay Bills from the landing page or the hamburger menu hamburger and select Payees from our Mobile App. You are also able to view your Bill Pay history and cancel payments (that show as Scheduled in the history).

Q:  How do I create a new payee?

A: Select Pay Bills and click Add a Payee.

Q: Can I expedite a payment?

A: No.  Be sure to review the delivery date when making your payment through our Mobile App to make sure your payment will arrive on time.  Not all payees accept electronic payments, for payees who do not; a paper check is cut and mailed to them. We recommend that you set the send date at least five (5) business days in advance of your bill due date. For payees who are able to accept Electronic Funds Transfers (EFT), we recommend that you set the send date at least three (3) business days in advance of the due date.

Android - When the calendar comes up to set the send date, in the upper right hand corner, you will see either check or electronic along with the expected delivery date of the payment.

Apple Devices – When the calendar is open, in the grey bar running across the top, click Delivery Option. This will show you the payment type (Check or Electronic). The expected delivery date can be seen circled in red on the calendar or under the Send On date from the Payees screen.

External Transfers

Q:  What is an External Transfer?

A:  External Transfer with our Mobile app allows you to request money from your account at another institution to your First Savings Bank account or to send money from your account at First Savings Bank to your account at another institution. You can also add or remove accounts, view transfer history and cancel PENDING transfers. If you select standard processing this is completed at NO cost to you!  For express transfers there is a $5.00 per transaction fee.

Q:  How can I send an External Transfer from the Mobile App?

A:    Select External Transfers from the landing page or the hamburger menu hamburger and select Schedule Transfer.

Q:  How much money can I send with External Transfer?

A:  You can send any amount between $50.00 & $1,000.00 per transaction for a max of three (3) transactions per day, totaling up to $3,000.00. There can be a total of 5 transactions per week, totaling up to $5,000.00.

Q: How do I set up an account for this service?

A:  On the Add Account window, enter the information for the account you would like to set-up (this will include information like Financial Institution name, routing number, account number, account type and the primary account holders name). To ensure that you are the owner of the account, the service makes a small trial deposit and then a trial withdrawal from the account the following business day (the withdrawal is less than a dollar and is never larger than the amount of the deposit). Once the trial transactions have posted to the account, select the account from your accounts list within the new Mobile App and you will be asked to enter the amounts of both trial transactions. If the values are entered correctly your account will be activated and you may begin using the account to transfer money.

Pay a Friend 

Q:  What is Pay a Friend?

A:  Pay a Friend within our Mobile app allows you to send or request money from another person, no matter where they live or what financial institution they use (as long as it is within the United States). All you need is their mobile phone number or email address.  You can also add or remove friends, view transfer history and cancel PENDING transfers. All of this is at NO cost to you!

Q:  How do I Pay a Friend from the Mobile App?

A:  Select Pay a Friend from the landing page or the hamburger menu hamburger and select New Payment/Send Money or Request Money.

Q:  How much money can I send or receive from a Friend at a time?

A:  With Pay a Friend you can send or request any amount between $10.00 & $500.00 per transaction for a max of five (5) transactions per day, totaling up to $500.00. There can be a total of no more than $1,000.00 per week.

e-Statements

Q:  Where do I sign up for e-Statements?

A:  Enrolling in e-Statements is only available through Online Banking. Once you have enrolled for e-Statements you can view them in our Mobile App by clicking the Statements option from the hamburger menu hamburger.

COMPLIANCE OFFICER

Department:Risk Management

Reports to:  Chief Risk Officer

Summary:    Responsible for directing, developing and overseeing the Bank’s Compliance Program and monitoring the Bank’s performance with all applicable state and federal laws and regulations. Provides leadership while working effectively with business partners to drive a strong risk based compliance culture, while maintaining an independent compliance position. Responsible for the second line of defense function to ensure compliance with policies and procedures ensuring the safety and soundness of the bank.

Job Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s Degree required. Alternatively, years of compliance-related experience in lieu of degree will be considered.
  • Minimum of eight (8) years bank compliance management experience required
  • Experience should include working with regulatory agencies, including the Federal Reserve Bank (FRB), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and/or state Department of Financial Institutions.
  • Must have in-depth knowledge of regulations affecting a commercial bank, including lending such as Regulations B, C, G, O, V, X, Z and BB; deposit, such as Regulations CC, DD, and GG; and operational rules and regulations.
  • Must have the ability to review account information, as well as, question and investigate results from program reports.
  • Strong communication, collaboration, and technical compliance skills. Should be able to work effectively with others at all levels across the organization and provide leadership or assertive guidance to management and staff within the organization.
  • Critical thinking and the ability to “connect the dots” of multiple data points across multiple business units to develop a comprehensive assessment of compliance risk.
  • Must have strong Microsoft Word and Excel skills.

 

Specific Job Functions:

  • Provide consultation to the business units regarding the identification mitigation, resolution reporting/escalation of emerging and upstream regulatory risks and issues to ensure appropriate understanding of compliance risk and support the banks’ risk appetite which will ensure self-awareness is core to how the bank functions.
  • Serve as an independent advisor to the business unit management and risk management colleagues with the bank. Including advice and sign-off on new business initiatives, products and services, as well as process changes.
  • Escalate compliance issues to the Chief Risk Officer.
  • Work with the Chief Risk Officer to assist in coordinating regulatory examinations, advice on action plans designed to address regulatory findings and track timely remediation of regulatory issues associated with the Bank.
  • Research and analyze compliance trends and industry benchmarking to prepare for and monitor risks and issues. In coordination with the Chief Risk Officer, identify relevant regulatory updates to report out to the bank’s leadership team and Board of Directors, as applicable.
  • Maintain the bank’s Compliance Risk Assessment and use it to establish a monitoring plan.
  • Conduct monitoring reviews in accordance with the monitoring plan and report findings to the Chief Risk Officer and the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors, as applicable.
  • Responsible for being compliant with all regulations and compliance requirements pertaining to job function.
  • Carry out such other duties as may be assigned or requested.

What You Need to Know About the Grandparent Scam

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the agency received more than 400,000 complaints in 2016 from consumers reporting they were victims of impersonation scams. One of the most common is called the “Grandparent Scam,” which uses impersonation tactics to deliberately target and exploit older Americans.

To commit this crime, fraudsters call claiming to be a family member in serious trouble and in need of money immediately. The scammer might say he is stranded or has been mugged and call in the middle of the night to add to the urgency and confusion. Once the money is sent, the victim later finds out that it wasn’t their grandchild they were helping, it was a criminal.

“Fraudsters are preying on seniors at an alarming rate,” said Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation. “Before you make a move that might cost you thousands, it’s extremely important that you confirm who you’re actually speaking with before you act, because chances are it’s not your grandson Johnny you’re on the phone with, it’s a scammer.”

The ABA Foundation is offering four tips to help seniors avoid being victims of the grandparent scam:

  • Confirm the caller. Fraudsters are using social networking sites to gain the personal information of friends and relatives to carry out their crimes. Verify the caller by calling them back on a known number or consult a trusted family member before acting on any request.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Fraudsters want to execute their crimes quickly. In this type of scam, they count on fear and your concern for your loved one to make you act before you think. The more questions you ask the more inclined they will be to ditch the scam if they suspect you’re on to them.
  • Never give personal information to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call and the other party is trusted.
  • Never rush into a financial decision and trust your instincts.  Don’t be fooled—if something doesn’t feel right, it may not be right. Feel free to say no and get more information before you send money to someone.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports that elder financial exploitation is the most popular form of abuse perpetuated against older Americans, with annual losses ranging from $2.9 billion to $36.48 billion. ABA has joined the fight against elder financial abuse with its Safe Banking for Seniors initiative, which empowers older Americans and communities with tools and resources to help them guard against such offenses.

For more information on elder financial abuse visit aba.com/seniors.

6 Financial Tips for Service Members and Their Families

Miliary famlies face unique financial challenges, particularly when a service member is deployed.  The American Bankers Association has highlighted six financial tips to help military families reduce the stress of managing money.

“Finances are often identified by service members and their families as one of their most significant stressors – even more than deployments and personal relationships,” said Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation. “Financial concerns at home make it extremely difficult for service members to focus on the mission at hand. Planning ahead as much as possible is key for the millions of military families who face unique financial challenges like deployments and relocations.”

ABA offers the following financial tips for service members and their families:

  • Contribute automatically to a Thrift Savings Plan. Military members have access to the Federal Thrift Savings Program, which offers the lowest-cost retirement savings plan available. Have automatic contributions withdrawn from your paycheck.
  • Plan for deployment. Before deployment, have a family conversation about managing the household budget. Consider granting power of attorney to your spouse, should they need to make any urgent financial decisions while you are gone. Check with your bank to see if they have pre-printed forms you can use for bank accounts. Military personnel also receive additional funds while deployed. Decide on the best use for that extra cash, whether it is paying off debt or increasing Thrift Savings Plan contributions.
  • Meet with your banker before active duty. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act offers all military personnel entering active duty a variety of financial protections. The SCRA covers issues ranging from interest rate reductions to limits on debt accrual. Ask your banker about the key provisions of this law and how they can help you.
  • Set up automatic bill pay. Whether you’re stationed stateside or overseas, automatic bill pay will give you and your family one less thing to worry about each month. It can be particularly helpful during deployments in regions where internet access is unreliable and mobile banking isn’t an option.
  • Consider housing options. With mortgage rates at notably low levels, homeownership may seem like a no-brainer. However, service members should consider their options. Frequent relocations and deployments can make owning a home challenging and expensive. Renting may be a smart option for short-term assignments. Decide what’s best for your family and your finances.
  • Consult a financial advisor. Schedule a visit at a Personal Financial Management Program (PFMP) office, located in your military and family support centers. They offer free one-on-one counseling, as well as other financial education resources.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also provides tips and resources for service members at consumerfinance.gov/servicemembers. For more consumer tips and resources from ABA on a variety of personal finance topics such as mortgages, credit cards, protecting your identity and saving for college, visit aba.com/Consumers.

5 Ways to Protect Your Small Business from Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware has become one of the fastest growing malware threats to small businesses in recent years. According to the FBI, in 2015, more than $1.6 million was lost due to ransomware attacks.

The popular malware is used by cybercriminals to freeze business networks and servers and individual laptops and computers, steal critical information and data, and demand that a “ransom” — anywhere between a couple of hundreds to thousands of dollars — be paid.

“Small businesses are extremely vulnerable to these attacks,” said Doug Johnson, ABA’s senior vice president of payments and cybersecurity policy. “Businesses can minimize the impact of ransomware attacks by deploying a backup system for all critical information and establishing additional safeguards so that hackers have fewer entry points into their networks.” ABA offers these tips to help guard against ransomware attacks:

  • Educate your employees. Employees can serve as a first line of defense to combat online threats and can actively help stop malware from infiltrating the organization’s system. A strong security program paired with employee education about the warning signs, safe practices, and responses aid tremendously in preventing these threats.
  • Manage the use of privileged accounts. Restrict users’ ability to install and run software applications on network devices, in an effort to limit your networks exposure to malware.
  • Employ a data backup and recovery plan for all critical information.E Backups are essential for lessening the impact of potential malware threats. Store the data in a separate device or offline in order to access it in the event of a ransomware attack.
  • Make sure all business devices are up to date. Ensure antivirus and anti-malware solutions are set to automatically update and conduct regular scans so that your operating systems operate efficiently.
  • Contact your local FBI field office immediately to report a ransomware event and request assistance. Visit https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field to locate the office nearest you.

21 things not to forget when packing for your vacation

by: momondo.com

21 things not to forget when packing for your vacation
Heading to the Sahara without a hat? Up the creek without a paddle? Avoid a vacation disaster with our travel checklist and packing tips.

With your flights and hotel booked, the luggage is the last thing stopping you from that great holiday. We know it feels like a chore, but if you follow our expert packing tips you’ll never have to worry.

1. Make a list

Ok, so it sounds a little boring, but idiot-proof lists are the gateway to a stress-free holiday. Separate your essentials from your desirables, and be realistic with your luggage limitations. If you need list inspiration – the following might be a good place to start…

2. Don’t forget the first aid kit

We’re not asking you to prepare for ER, just a small bag with the most necessary pills and medicine you might need. After all, nobody wants to suffer a punishing headache, high-climate fever, upset stomach or all three during a holiday. It might be easy enough to pick up a domestic remedy for your ailments at home, but medicines in the country you are visiting may be limited to prescription only. The same goes for allergy meds and asthma remedies – bring them on board!

3. Limit your liquids

We all know about it by now, and yet there’s still a mass confusion and hold-up when some chancer tries to sneak a bottle of water past airport security. Much to everybody’s chagrin, pan-European baggage restrictions state that all liquids carried in hand luggage must be no more than 100 ml per item, and must fit into one small and resealable transparent bag (usually available at the airport for a nominal fee). If you’re carrying anything larger, stow it with your checked-in suitcase.

4. Name tags are there to help

Unless you’re an international man of mystery, you shouldn’t have to worry about travelling incognito. Most suitcases come with name tags fitted as standard, so be sure to fill them in just in case you – or the airline – lose your luggage!

5. Observe restrictions on baggage

If your airline says: “23kg”, then they mean 23kg! Weigh your bags before you get to the airport and make sure you are within the restrictions, otherwise you’ll be forced to cough up extra cash at the airport or, even worse, have to say goodbye to that lovely hand-knitted cardigan your grandmother spent so long slaving over. We’ve all tried to squeeze that extra pair of pants in the already overstuffed suitcase, but the restrictions are there for a reason, and that reason is your safety. Which reminds us…

6. Save bag space for all your holiday purchases

Whether it’s duty free goods or holiday mementos, it’s inevitable that you’ll be bringing more back home with you than when you left – so make sure you have room for it!

7. Skip the shoes

The biggest and most frustrating item of luggage. How many pairs of shoes you should take is very much dependent on how long your vacation might be, but we’d suggest that three pairs is a reasonable average for a 1-2 week getaway. More important than volume is versatility, so make sure you’re not stuck hiking in stilettos by bringing a pair of shoes for every realistic occasion of your trip. Wear your most cumbersome pair on the plane – plus, stuff your socks in the rest – and you’ll save even more space.

8. Cosmetics – at a minimum!

Unless you plan on travelling to a desert island, it’s likely that you’ll be able to pick up popular shampoo or sun lotion brands in almost any corner of the world. Fewer cosmetics also mean that you’ll be less likely to find an explosion of nondescript gooey liquids spoiling everything in your suitcase when you arrive at your destination. If you really can’t live without that special face cream, try to take only as much as you’ll need for your trip and nothing more. That way you can discard the empties and save extra luggage room for your trip back home.

9. Keep on rolling…

This tip is certainly up for debate, but we think that rolling your clothes really is the only way to go. Not only will it reduce those pesky wrinkles and creases in your gear, it’ll save you some much needed suitcase space.

10. All valuables go in hand luggage

It’s rare that airlines lose luggage these days, but why take the risk? Stay safe and stow all your expensive luxuries – from your camera to your diamond engagement ring – in hand luggage.

11. Don’t forget the adapters

If you do need them, save on the crazy airport prices by buying them ahead of your trip.

12. Pack all-rounder fashions, not eccentric statement pieces

You might want to pack that banana costume for your trip, but is it really necessary? Fancy dress or no, this is a question you should really ask yourself when pressed for suitcase space. Pack great all-rounder attire and a classy evening outfit, but leave those outlandish statement pieces for a night out at home.

13. Be delicate with your delicates

If you have to pack any china plates or glass goods, wrapping them in bubble wrap or in-between clothes and putting them right in the middle of your case is safest way to make sure they arrive with you in one piece.

14. Categorise your clothes

Pack clothes in groups: that means shirts with shirts, pants with with pants -it’s easier to find what you need and unpack on the other side.

15. Pack a mini closet in your hand luggage

Not literally, of course, but it’s always a nice idea to add a clean set of underwear and a garment in your carry-on bag, in case of your luggage being lost in an aeroplane mix-up.

16. Don’t predict the weather – check it

Depending on where you’re going, weather forecasts are either your holiday’s best friend or biggest foe. Come rain or shine, meteorologists will always give you the best idea of what weather to expect on your holiday. Check the day before you fly and pack accordingly, and save room for that trusty pac-a-mac or umbrella you hope you’ll never have to use.

17. No on-board manicure

Tip for the well-groomed flyer: if you’re thinking about carrying a nail file, scissors, or any other sharp primping tool in your luggage – give up the idea! They are prohibited and airport workers will ask you to get rid of them.

18. The most necessary things go on top

If you believe that a particular thing can be useful to you very soon (perhaps at the airport), for example, a jacket – put it on top. Very obvious advice, but perhaps it’s so obvious that you’d be bound to forget otherwise!

19.  Towels?

Towels! Yet another pesky space-filler you need to think long and hard about whether you actually need. Check ahead of time to see if your holiday accommodation will be providing them (they probably will) and pack accordingly.

20. Strip at airport security

It’s unlikely you’ll be asked to strip down to your undergarments, but it’s possible that you’ll be asked to undress a bit as you go through to the terminal. This usually means taking shoes, belts and jackets off, and removing any jewellery or metal goods. Travelling with a laptop or tablet device? Be prepared to present your gadgets to the friendly security staff too.

21. Don’t leave home without the essentials

This penultimate tip is a big one as, without these necessities, you won’t be heading anywhere but home: check and check again that you have your monies, a valid passport and – for the sake of your holiday companions – a toothbrush. Keep these all on hand and then you’ll be able to remember the most important thing…

Enjoy your vacation!

 

Getting a Loan and Choosing a Lender: What You Need to Know

Preparation is key to navigating today’s housing market. American Bankers Association offers the following tips to help prepare potential homebuyers.

Know your own financial situation.
Before you begin the home loan application process, determine what you can realistically afford.  Take into consideration your credit score, how much debt you currently carry and what type of down payment you are prepared to make.

Have your documents ready.
While each bank may require different documentation, you may be required to furnish the following information depending on your employment and financial situation:

  • ​Pay stubs;
  • Tax returns;
  • Financial statements (one that is less than 60 days old);
  • Copies of additional monthly payments such as car loans, credit cards, and student loans; and
  • Any other information (such as proof of additional income) that you think will help your banker to positively evaluate your credit request positively.

Review the basics.
Knowing the fundamentals of the home loan process is an excellent way to prepare to choose the right mortgage. Make sure you are familiar with interest rates, loan terms and additional fees associated with buying a home.

Compare quotes.
Beyond the interest rates, there are closing fees and points and commissions. You will want to compare these for all the lenders on your list. There are several calculators available online that will help you determine which loan provides the best value, including these from ABA.

Choose a trusted lender.
Get references from family and friends and do your research. Call your local Better Business Bureau and ask if it has had complaints about any of the lenders you are considering. Keep in mind, federally insured banks are required to operate under a high level of regulatory supervision. A fully regulated bank may be your best choice. To find a fully regulated bank in your area, use the FDIC’s BankFind webpage.

Read between the lines.
Slick TV ads, telemarketers or door-to-door salespeople will often offer fast, easy loans for houses, cars and home repair, but not disclose all of the details. Read the fine print. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Ask questions.
When in doubt, ask for clarification from your lender. Discuss how long the loan process will take, how you will communicate – by phone or email, and who will service your loan.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – Playing a part in prevention

By

Nat Wood, Associate Director for Consumer and Business Education, FTC

Nora Dowd Eisenhower, Assistant Director for the Office for Older Americans, CFPB

It’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – it’s not a celebratory day, but rather a day to talk about preventing, identifying, and responding to elder abuse and financial exploitation. Whether you are an older adult, care for one, or simply know someone who is a senior, you can do something to prevent elder financial abuse. Here are some tips and tools to help you play a part.

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) “Pass it On” campaign will help you talk to friends, family, and loved ones about avoiding common scams. You may know about scams like identity theft, imposters, and charity fraud – but chances are, you know someone who doesn’t. There are many ways to use “Pass it On”to share what you know, like writing an article, giving a presentation, or distributing the materials in your community.

If you are a financial caregiver for an older person who is unable to handle their finances, or work with aging clients, then the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has tools for you:

Does reading this make you think about an older person you know? Call or visit and ask how they’re doing. If there’s a caregiver, consider filling in for a few hours. And check out the CFPB’s “Managing Someone Else’s Money” guides for common signs of financial exploitation, and the FTC’s advice on spotting elder financial abuse, so you know how to spot potential problems. If you think you see elder abuse, report it. If someone’s in immediate danger, call 911. Otherwise, contact adult protective services and your long-term care ombudsman’s office.

Want to learn more? For training opportunities and other information, sign up for the CFPB’s older Americans mailing list.  To keep up-to-date about the latest scams and frauds, sign up for the FTC’s scam alerts.

Working together, we can each do our part on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

 

10 E-mail Timesavers

By Randy Dean

  1. Handle “Quick Little” E-mails Right Now. If acting on the E-mail will take 3 minutes or less, get it done right now! Then file or delete removing from your inbox.
  2. “Task” E-mails That Take Longer. Determine what the task(s) is, then add to your appropriate task list. When I find open time in my calendar I can prioritize the most important and act on those in an appropriate fashion. Then move to a folder or delete it.
  3. Don’t Use Your E-mail Inbox as a “De Facto” Task List! Define the action required for an E-mail once, and act on it. Don’t use your inbox as your only file folder causing you to re-read e-mails and wasting valuable time.
  4. Make Folders and Use Them! It is fine to keep e-mails to reference if you feel you need them; just don’t keep in your inbox. Build a personal file system for your e-mails, with folders that naturally make sense to you, so you can quickly and easily move your completed e-mails, as well as you can quickly locate them when you need them again.  MS Outlook allows you the ability to make sub-folders inside of folders for even greater organization.
  5. Don’t Keep Attachments You Don’t Need.  Attachments require more storage space, if you have already saved the attachments to a different location, you can always keep the email and remove the attachment to free up space.
  6. Make Your Sent E-mails “Task Oriented.” For every e-mail you send, every recipient will have a clear, defined task with a specific due date. Tell each recipient 1) why they received your e-mail, 2) what they need to know in the e-mail, 3) what task needs to be completed, and 4) when they need to have it completed by. Think about how productive everyone could be if all e-mails were sent and received like that.
  7. NEVER Send an E-mail With a Singer Open Task to a Large Group! Don’t send a task request to a large group and say “someone needs to take care of this.” Chances are NOBODY will, because no one truly owns the task. In your E-mail make it very clear who owns the task and when it is expected to be completed by.
  8. Use Your “Signatures” Tool as an Auto-Emailer” Many programs allow you to save multiple versions of your signature. If that is the case, you have the capability to then use the signature tool as a way to quickly send repeat messages that you know you will use often. You can just drop the signature into a new e-mail, personalize it with the recipient’s name, and send as if it were an original composition. This will save time from retyping from scratch.
  9. Use SHIFT-DELETE for Junk and /or Spam Messages.  When junk mail makes it to your in box: What to do? If you are a PC-based user of MS Outlook, Lotus Notes, or GroupWise, simply “Single-left-click on that message (don’t double click, that will open it), hold down the SHIFT key, and hit DELETE.  This will permanently delete from you inbox and your deleted items folder as well.
  10. Whatever You Do, Don’t “Bling”! It is the sound your e-mail program makes to alert you that “You’ve Got Mail”. Far too many professionals drop whatever they are doing to check their inbox, derailing their focus and momentum, as well as hindering their productivity. Develop a regimen that allows you to check your e-mails 4-7 times per day. This will allow you to still be responsive without hampering your efficiency.

10 E-mail Timesavers

By Randy Dean

  1. Handle “Quick Little” E-mails Right Now. If acting on the E-mail will take 3 minutes or less, get it done right now! Then file or delete removing from your inbox.
  2. “Task” E-mails That Take Longer. Determine what the task(s) is, then add to your appropriate task list. When I find open time in my calendar I can prioritize the most important and act on those in an appropriate fashion. Then move to a folder or delete it.
  3. Don’t Use Your E-mail Inbox as a “De Facto” Task List! Define the action required for an E-mail once, and act on it. Don’t use your inbox as your only file folder causing you to re-read e-mails and wasting valuable time.
  4. Make Folders and Use Them! It is fine to keep e-mails to reference if you feel you need them; just don’t keep in your inbox. Build a personal file system for your e-mails, with folders that naturally make sense to you, so you can quickly and easily move your completed e-mails, as well as you can quickly locate them when you need them again.  MS Outlook allows you the ability to make sub-folders inside of folders for even greater organization.
  5. Don’t Keep Attachments You Don’t Need.  Attachments require more storage space, if you have already saved the attachments to a different location, you can always keep the email and remove the attachment to free up space.
  6. Make Your Sent E-mails “Task Oriented.” For every e-mail you send, every recipient will have a clear, defined task with a specific due date. Tell each recipient 1) why they received your e-mail, 2) what they need to know in the e-mail, 3) what task needs to be completed, and 4) when they need to have it completed by. Think about how productive everyone could be if all e-mails were sent and received like that.
  7. NEVER Send an E-mail With a Singer Open Task to a Large Group! Don’t send a task request to a large group and say “someone needs to take care of this.” Chances are NOBODY will, because no one truly owns the task. In your E-mail make it very clear who owns the task and when it is expected to be completed by.
  8. Use Your “Signatures” Tool as an Auto-Emailer” Many programs allow you to save multiple versions of your signature. If that is the case, you have the capability to then use the signature tool as a way to quickly send repeat messages that you know you will use often. You can just drop the signature into a new e-mail, personalize it with the recipient’s name, and send as if it were an original composition. This will save time from retyping from scratch.
  9. Use SHIFT-DELETE for Junk and /or Spam Messages.  When junk mail makes it to your in box: What to do? If you are a PC-based user of MS Outlook, Lotus Notes, or GroupWise, simply “Single-left-click on that message (don’t double click, that will open it), hold down the SHIFT key, and hit DELETE.  This will permanently delete from you inbox and your deleted items folder as well.
  10. Whatever You Do, Don’t “Bling”! It is the sound your e-mail program makes to alert you that “You’ve Got Mail”. Far too many professionals drop whatever they are doing to check their inbox, derailing their focus and momentum, as well as hindering their productivity. Develop a regimen that allows you to check your e-mails 4-7 times per day. This will allow you to still be responsive without hampering your efficiency.

What can your home’s equity provide for you?

HELOC flyer no mouse print*As of 3/16/2017, Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the highest Prime Rate (index) published in the “Monthly Rates” section of the Wall Street Journal on a monthly basis, but APR cannot decrease below floor rate of 3.00%.  (As of 3/16/17 the Prime Rate is 4.00%.)  After 12 month introductory fixed rate, rate adjusts based on Prime Rate plus a margin ranging from -0.25% to .50% depending on credit score.  Maximum 18% APR.  This Home Equity Line of Credit is available for primary residence only. First Savings Bank primary checking account with direct deposit required.  Minimum loan amount of $15,000.  Maximum loan amount $250,000.  Total loan-to-value ratio may not exceed 80%. Minimum credit score of 670. Closing cost may apply if title insurance is required or for loans that require an appraisal.  Offer eligible for new loans; existing HELOC with a renewal date of May 31, 2018 or sooner; or an existing HELOC that the contract amount increases by at least 25%.  This loan is not available for the purchase of primary residence.  Standard Rates & Fees apply for credit scores under 670. Property insurance is required, and if applicable, flood insurance will be required.  Minimum monthly payments equal to 1% of unpaid balance or $50 whichever is greater. Paying only the minimum payment may not be sufficient to repay principal and interest and may result in a balloon payment. Consult your tax advisor regarding deductibility of interest. Subject to credit approval. Other restrictions may apply. Offer expires August 31, 2017.

 

6 Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Finances

As spring cleaning season begins, the American Bankers Association is encouraging consumers to put a priority on organizing their finances. ABA has highlighted six tips for getting your financial house in order.
“With the tax season ending, spring is a great time to take a close look at your budget and bank account,” said Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation. “You’ll have a clear picture of your financial situation, and you can make stress-reducing moves now that will pay dividends throughout the year.”

ABA recommends these six tips to help consumers organize their finances:

  • Evaluate and pay down debt. Take a look at how much you owe and what you are paying in interest. 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 credit 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.
  • Download your bank’s mobile app. From the palm of your hand, you can make a deposit or access a record of all your recent transactions. Be sure to download the latest updates when they are available.
  • 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.

Click here to learn more about protecting your finances.

5 Important Questions When Choosing Your First Home

Moving into your own place can be exciting and frightening at the same time. The American Bankers Association suggests considering the following questions when choosing your own home.

1. How much money do you have saved up?​

Start with an evaluation of your financial health. Figure out how much money you have for a down payment. Down payments are typically 5 to 20 percent of the price of the home. But be sure to keep enough in savings for an emergency fund. It’s a good idea to have three to six months of living expenses to cover unexpected costs.

 2. How much debt do you have?
Consider all of your current and expected financial obligations like your car payment and insurance, credit card debt and student loans. Make sure you will be able to make all the payments in addition to the cost of your new home. Aim to keep total mortgage payments plus utilities to less than 25 to 30 percent of your gross monthly income. Recent regulatory changes limit debt to income (DTI) ratio on most loans to 43 percent.

3. What is your credit score?
A high credit score indicates strong creditworthiness. Both renters and homebuyers can expect to have their credit history examined. A low credit score can keep you from qualifying for the home you wish to purchase or a low interest rate on your mortgage loan. If your credit score is low, you may want to delay moving into a new home and take steps to raise your score. For tips on improving your credit score, visit aba.com/consumers.

4. Have you factored in all the costs?
Create a hypothetical budget for your new home. Find the average cost of utilities in your area, factor in gas, electricity, water and cable. Find out if you will have to pay for parking or trash pickup. Consider the cost of yard maintenance and other basic maintenance costs like replacing the air filter every three months. Don’t forget to factor in real estate taxes, mortgage insurance and possibly a home owner association fee.

5. How long will you stay?
 Generally, the longer you plan to live someplace, the more it makes sense to buy. Over time, you can build equity in your home. On the other hand, renters have greater flexibility to move and fewer maintenance costs. Carefully consider your current life and work situation and think about how long you want to stay in your new home.

 

8 Ways to Stop an Identity Thief

More than 15.4 million Americans were victims of identity fraud last year, according to Javelin Strategy & Research. Below are eight tips to help consumers protect their information and avoid becoming a victim.
“Identity fraud continues to be a major problem for consumers,” said Doug Johnson, ABA’s senior vice president of payments and cybersecurity policy. “Fortunately, there are ways consumers can protect themselves, like being cautious about what information they share and who they share it with, especially online.”

ABA suggests following these eight tips:

  • Don’t share your information. 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.
  • Shred sensitive papers. Shred receipts, banks statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
  • Keep an eye out for missing mail. Fraudsters look for monthly bank or credit card statements and 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 for senders you don’t know.
  • Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.

Click here to learn more about protecting your finances.

How to Talk to Your Kids About Money

How soon is too soon to talk to your kids or grandkids about money? If they are old enough to ask for a toy or a bike, they are old enough to start learning financial lessons that will last a lifetime. The best financial lessons are part of everyday experience. Look for opportunities to talk about money, read books aloud and play games that center around spending money wisely. Be open and honest when you discuss your financial experiences—good or bad.

Here are some examples of teachable moments to help you get started:

At the bank

  • When you go to the bank, bring your children with you and show them how transactions work. Get the manager to explain how the bank operates, how money generates interest and how an ATM works. Ask the manager for a tour—be sure to ask to see the vault.

On payday

  • Discuss how your pay is budgeted to pay for housing, food and clothing, and how a portion is saved for future expenses such as college tuition and retirement.

At the market

  • It’s easy to give clear examples of “needs” and “wants” using different kinds of foods at a grocery store. Milk (for strong bones) is a need; soft drinks are a want. Explain the benefits of comparison shopping, coupons and store brands.

Chores and allowances

  • Assign chores and give them a monetary value. Discuss ways to budget and divide allowances. Encourage children to set a financial goal, such as saving for a bike, and figure out how to achieve it.

Paying bills

  • Explain the many ways that bills can be paid: over the phone, paper or by check, electronic check or online check draft. Discuss how each method of bill pay takes money out of your account. Be sure to cover late penalties, emphasizing the importance of paying bills on time.

Using credit cards

  • Explain that credit cards are a loan and need to be repaid. Share how each month a credit card statement comes in the mail with a bill. Go over the features of different types of cards, such as ATM, debit and credit cards.

Browsing the Internet

  • While online, explain to your children how valuable their personal
    information and privacy is to you, to them and to online predators. Discuss the risks and benefits of sharing certain information. Then, as a family, make a list of rules for keeping personal information safe online.

Planning a vacation

  • Whether you are planning an outing to a local amusement park or a once-in-a-lifetime trip, emphasize the value of saving as a family. Set a family savings goal that involves your children. Figure out the cost and discuss ways everyone can help to reach the goal.

10 Fascinating Facts About U.S. Currency

We work for it. We wish for it. We save it. We spend it. We gain it. We lose it.
Above all, we need it. Yes, money certainly does make the world go round.

In America, that money takes the form of paper bills (printed by the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing) and coins (produced by the U.S. Mint). However, the coins

that jingle in your pocket and the bills you stuff in your wallet today are far different from the ones originally produced in the late 1700s.

As you would expect, over the last 200+ years our currency has seen many, many changes — both big and small. That’s a lot of U.S. money trivia to keep up with!

So, WalletPop set out to uncover the most interesting tidbits about American currency
and share our favorites with you.

Read our questions and answers to discover 10 fascinating facts about U.S. currency.

1. What is the typical lifespan of a dollar bill?
That depends on the denomination of the note. Here are the average lifespans
according to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing (or the BEP):

$1 bill – 22 months
$5 bill – 16 months
$10 bill -18 months
$20 bill – 24 months
$50 bill – 55 months
$100 bill – 89 months

Bills that get worn out from everyday use are taken out of circulation and replaced. Coins usually survive in circulation for about 25 years.

2. What percentage of bills are $1 notes?
Just under half of the notes printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing are $1

notes. In fiscal year 2009, the exact percentage was 42.3%.

3. Has a woman’s portrait ever appeared on U.S. paper money?
Martha Washington is the only woman whose portrait has appeared on a U.S. currency note. It appeared on the face of the $1 Silver Certificate of 1886 and 1891, and the back of the $1 Silver Certificate of 1896.

4. Has an African American ever appeared on U.S. currency?
No portraits of African Americans have appeared on paper money, but commemorative coins were issued in the 1940s bearing the images of George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington, followed more recently by the release of a Jackie Robinson coin. Paper money does bear the signatures of four African American men who served as Registers of the Treasury (Blanche K. Bruce, Judson W. Lyons, William T. Vernon, and James C. Napier) and one African American woman who served as Treasurer of the United States (Azie Taylor Morton).

4. What was the largest bill every printed?
The largest bill ever printed was the $100,000 bill; it was actually a Gold Certificate issued in 1934. These notes were used for transactions between Federal Reserve banks and were not circulated among the general public. President Woodrow Wilson was depicted on the bill.

5. How wide is America in pennies?
A mile of pennies laid out is $844.80. By this Standard, America is about $2.5 million wide, coast to coast.

6. What does “E Pluribus Unum” mean?
The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco describes what this motto means and

how it came into use:

“E Pluribus Unum” is used on many of our country’s seals and most of our currency and coins. During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress issued a
three-dollar bill bearing the motto, “Exitus in Dubio Est,” which translates to “The Outcome Is in Doubt.” Despite congressional pessimism about the war, John Adams, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson proposed the more prophetic motto, “E Pluribus Unum” — “One From Many.” The motto first appeared on the Great Seal of the United States in 1782. The Great Seal, however, didn’t appear on U.S. currency until 1902.

7. What’s with that creepy single eye?
The so-called “all-seeing eye” that sits atop the pyramid on dollar bills was included as a reflection of divine providence. This was not the only option that was considered to fulfill

that desired theme. A depiction of the Children of Israel in the Wilderness was also
discussed as a possibility.

8. What type of paper is U.S. money printed on?
Surprise! Our so-called “paper currency” is actually not paper, but is made of cotton/linen material. It consists of a 75% cotton / 25% linen blend with silk fibers running through it.

If it were made of paper, it would fall apart if you accidentally left it in your pants pocket
and sent it for a whirl in your washing machine.

9. How durable is paper currency?
As we mentioned above, accidents happen. Fortunately, our “paper currency” is built to

take quite a beating. The BEP says it would take 4,000 double folds (first forward, and
then backwards) before a note will tear.

10. Is a torn up dollar bill still worth anything?
According to the BEP, it is. Its website explains: “The BEP redeems partially destroyed or badly damaged currency as a free public service. Every year the U.S. Treasury handles approximately 30,000 claims and redeems mutilated currency valued at over $30 million. Experts examine damaged currency and can approve the issuance of a Treasury check for

the value of the currency determined to be redeemable.”

What will you do with your tax refund?

- ForbesWasik

If you’ve filed your taxes — and waiting or received your tax refund — the great challenge begins: Whether to save or spend that modest windfall.

Like most people, your eyes probably light up with the possibly of getting that flat-screen TV, coveted article of clothing or even a little vacation. Personally, I like to spend my “found” money on musical instruments.

I know this is incredibly boring, but that Treasury check can do you the most amount of good if you don’t spend it. You’ll have to embrace that part of your brain that treasures long-term and prudent thinking. Sigh.

Nearly half of U.S. taxpayers expect a refund this year, according to Bankrate.com. “The percentage is highest among millennials (66%) and drops considerably with age; 49% of Gen Xers expect a refund, as do 34% of Baby Boomers and 26% of the Silent Generation.”

 

Surprisingly, most of those surveyed are at least thinking about doing the right thing with their refunds. That means not blowing it on an impulse purchase.

“Just 6% of U.S. adults who expect to receive a tax refund this year plan to splurge on something such as a vacation or shopping spree,” Bankrate found. “The most popular uses for the money are much more practical: save or invest it (34%), spend it on necessities such as food or utility bills (29%) and pay down debt (27%).”

Now for the do-the-right thing stuff. I always like the idea of saving over spending, especially when it means filling in some holes in your overall financial plan. Here are four essential items:

– Emergency Funds. Most Americans come up woefully short on this rainy day stash. The general rule of thumb is to cover at least three months’ worth of monthly expenses in case you’re unemployed.

But a better way of looking at the right-sized emergency fund is to cover all of your temporary expenses plus out-of-pocket costs for home, health and auto insurance as well. Remember that most people have deductibles on policies. This is the amount of money you need to cover something if you file a claim.

I’d also recommend that self-employed people have six months of emergency savings. And if you’re a homeowner, you need to save for appliance replacement and home repairs.

– Retirement. Have you fully funded your retirement plans? Remember you can also fund a conventional or Roth IRA. This will supplement your 401(k) savings. The Roth is a good back-up because withdrawals are tax free (after age 59 1/2).

The annual limit for both kinds of IRAs is $5,500. If you’re over 50, the max is $6,500.

– Debts. Pay down your credit cards first. Remember you can’t deduct that kind of debt from your taxes, so pay it off. All of the finance charges you’re paying are going into a hole.

– Special Purpose Fund. While some people don’t feel the need to do this, others like the idea that money is earmarked for special things like a big vacation, appliance, vehicle or other large expenditure.

 

Study: Bank Customer Satisfaction High, but Sales Pressure Poses Risks

March 1, 2017
-American Bankers Association

Banks have steadily won back customer trust since the financial crisis, but that trust could be endangered by sales pressure that isn’t based on the customer’s best interest, according to a new study by J.D. Power. Banks are now reporting record levels of customer satisfaction, and approximately 8 in 10 consumers say that their banks act in their best interest, that they trust their banks to do the right thing and that their banks act ethically.

The study found that high-pressure sales tactics and unexpected new accounts or fees reduced trust and increased the likelihood of switching. Although rare, more customers over time reported being pressured to adopt a product they did not want or need — 11 percent in 2015 versus 3 percent in 2011. Eight percent said they avoided going to branches because of the sales pressure.

The study also showed that 14 percent of customers said they have had accounts opened or funds transferred without their knowledge. Digging into these responses, J.D. Power found that these customers reported one of three experiences: simple and easily corrected errors, such as a typo in a Social Security number; identity theft or fraud by another customer, such as an ex-spouse in a divorce case; or unauthorized account openings by bank staff.

While the overall number of customers affected by these incidents is small, they are much less satisfied. More than half of those who had an unauthorized account or fund transfer or unexpected fees said they will definitely or probably switch banks in the next year — versus just 6 percent overall.

But banks did not need to eliminate sales pitches for customers to report satisfaction. Customers reported high levels of satisfaction when they received financial advice and product pitches, provided they also felt that bank staff had thoroughly identified customers’ needs and tailored promotions to those needs. More than 8 in 10 customers in this category said they would definitely continue to use their bank.

ABA’s Center for Regulatory Compliance recently released a Sales Practices and Incentive Compensation Assessment Matrix to help member banks assess and manage risks posed by their sales practices and incentive compensation programs.

7 Tips for Improving Your Credit Score

An important step to finding a home, whether you’re renting or buying, is ensuring that you have a good credit history. The American Bankers Association suggests the following tips to improve your credit score.

Request a copy of your credit score report – and make sure it is correct.

Your credit report illustrates your credit performance, and it needs to be accurate so that you can apply for other loans – such as a mortgage. Everyone is entitled to receive a free copy of his or her credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting agencies, but you must go through the Federal Trade Commission’s website at www.annualcreditreport.com​, or call 1-877-322-8228.  Note that you may have to pay for the numerical credit score itself.​

Set up automatic bill pay.

Payment history makes up 32 percent of your VantageScore credit score and 35 percent of your FICO credit score. The longer you pay your bills on time, the better your score.  Avoid missed payments by setting as many of your bills to automatic pay as possible.

Build credit through renting.

VantageScore’s scoring model, created by the three major credit bureaus, will now weigh rent and utility payment records. This will allow it to score as many as 35 million people who previously couldn’t get a credit score.

Keep balances low on credit cards and ‘revolving credit.’

Racking up big balances can hurt your scores, regardless of whether you pay your bills in full each month. You often can increase your scores by limiting your charges to 30 percent or less of a card’s limit.

Apply for and open new credit accounts only as needed.

Keep this in mind the next time a retailer offers you 10 percent off if you open an account. However, if you need a new line of credit, don’t jump at the first appealing offer; compare rates and fees offered through mail solicitation, on the Internet or at your local bank.

Don’t close old, paid off accounts.

According to FICO, closing accounts can never help your score and can in fact damage it.

Talk to credit counselors if you’re in trouble.

Using legitimate, non-profit credit counseling can help you manage your debt and won’t hurt your credit score. For more information on debt management, contact the National Foundation for Consumer Credit (www.nfcc.org).

5 Things you need to know to declutter your home

5 things you need to knowIs clutter weighing you down? Winter is the perfect time to declutter your home and set yourself free. As daunting as it may sound, it doesn’t have to be. Look at the bright side, the less you own the less you have to clean and organize. More clutter = More stress. Sounds good but where do you start?

  1. Make a plan. Create a list and prioritize the areas of your home that need to be decluttered. Start small, it doesn’t have to be a whole room; it could be a drawer, closet or area that needs work. Congratulations, you have completed step 1!
  2. Be realistic. Dedicate 15 minutes a day, 3 days a week, to decluttering your first room/area. Pick an easy place to start. When you have completed one area then, and only then, move on to the next. Enjoy your success!
  3. Apply the hanger method. The last thing you want to do is donate clothing you wear or keep things you don’t. In an effort to identify the clothing you no longer need, hang all of your hangers in the reverse direction. After wearing an item, return it to the hanger facing forward. After each season you will have a more accurate picture of the clothes you no longer wear.
  4. Get 4 boxes and label them: Trash, Donate, Keep and Relocate. As you go about your daily life and find items in these categories, place them in their appropriate box. This is an easy yet highly effective way to help organize your home.
  5. Donate. You should feel good about the decision to donate items knowing these items will go to someone in need.

Relax and enjoy spring in your clutter-free home!

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