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Iowa State Bank Blog

The Cost of Kids: How to Plan for Your Growing Family

Family

At Iowa State Bank we understand that adding to your family may not only be an emotional decision but a financial one as well. With the growing costs of childcare alone, it’s important to have a well-rounded plan for covering the expenses of your expanding household. In order to plan most effectively, we recommend structuring your budgeting into these three stages:

 

Beginning or Before Pregnancy: Examine your current health insurance to determine an estimate of cost for both prenatal care and delivery expenses. While many insurers offer prenatal care at no or little additional cost, the price for delivery can be complex. Study your monthly premium, annual deductible, and out-of-pocket limits for the calendar year to help establish these costs before the baby is delivered.

 

After Birth: Once the baby is born, there will be traditional costs such as health care, food, diapers, clothing, and more. However, many new parents also spend more on take-out meals to help lessen their time cooking. These expenses, along with a decrease in income for parents on maternity leave, can cause many parents to slide into debt. To help alleviate the burden of these growing figures, we recommend creating a monthly budget to designate every dollar to a purpose. By allocating a specific dollar amount to each area of your spending, you can ensure that all of your costs are covered while also planning for the future.

 

During the First Year: As your child continues to grow, the costs for new clothes and equipment will continue to grow with them. Many expectant parents can spend upwards of $16,000 during the first year of their child’s life, and variables such as location, number of children, and other factors can contribute to the overall costs as well. When possible we recommend saving for each step in your child’s growth. From birth to three month’s they’ll need many one-time purchases, but during the later stages, you may have had adequate time to save for each time period’s necessities.

 

Continue to grow your finances as you grow your family using Iowa State Bank’s trusted deposit services. We’ll help you organize your funds, and make the most of your savings.

 

Student Loan PSA: What Student Debt Really Looks Like

Student Loans

Obtaining your secondary education can be a landmark goal on your journey to success. By opening up opportunities, and enhancing your capabilities, the study of a discipline gives you the skills you need to conquer your future ambitions. More often than not, student loans offer a helpful supplement when financing this experience. However, many students are able to obtain these financial aids without having to budget or offer a credit history, causing a higher likelihood of default among student borrowers. To help avoid this, Iowa State Bank suggests answering the following questions before choosing how to pay for your collegiate participation:

 

What are you starting with?

The first question you should ask yourself is, ‘What money do I have to begin my education?’ If you have applied for and received scholarships, those should first count towards tuition and books. Additionally, if you have any financial support from relatives, these funds may be allocated best at the base of your budget during your college planning. By totaling the sum of these two amounts, you can determine the support outside your own savings that will be contributed towards your future learning efforts. Knowing whether or not this amount will be offered on a recurring basis can help you then decide what financial steps you need to take in order to save, earn, and/or borrow the remaining funds necessary.

 

How much and how often can you contribute?

After learning your total amount of support, it is now possible to create a plan of action to facilitate the rest. Depending on your length and type of education, your costs may vary drastically. When selecting both a field and institution of study, the factor of price is an important one to consider. By thinking of your education as an investment, you can ensure that you choose both a rewarding and promising career path to help you repay any debt you do incur during this time. To help decrease overall expenditures, many students take on a part-time job to supplement the costs of their education, along with the associated room and board. Utilizing this choice can decrease the overall amount of your anticipated loan, and help you avoid the additional expense of interest.  Should the cost of your education still be more than you can currently cover, the option of a student loan may be a viable solution.

 

What is student debt?

While obtaining an education has potential and opportunities, the accompanying debt can often be overbearing. In order to minimize this, we recommend borrowing only the minimum amount needed. By opting for a lesser sum, you are able to save your future-self hundreds or thousands of dollars on interest alone. For example, the average debt for a United States student is approximately $37,172. With borrowers averaging ten years for repayment, the potential cost of interest alone can add up to over $9,000.

 

Choosing the best option to finance your education can affect your life well past college. To help you make the most informed decisions, our team at Iowa State Bank offers sound financial advice and information. To learn more, stop by one of our locations, we’d love to get to know you and your education aspirations.

How to Shave Thousands of Dollars off Your Mortgage

Mortgages

Congratulations on purchasing your home. You are now privileged to enjoy the thrills of home repair, maintenance, and occasional renovation. Depending on your mortgage structure, you may be paying off your home for up to thirty years. Luckily Iowa State Bank has some tips and tricks to help you reduce your repayment time. Using these three strategies, we’ll show you how to pay off more of your principal to decrease the term of your loan, and lessen your overall interest costs.

 

Method 1: Making Additional Payments

In addition to your regularly scheduled payments, making extra installments can help you knock down your principal and associated interest. These additional amounts can be paid on the same day as your scheduled portion, or they can be more frequent throughout the month as funds become available. If you find yourself having a surplus in your budget, a great option would be to use those dollars as an additional mortgage payment.

 

Method 2: Increasing Your Monthly Payments

As you make your mortgage payments each month, create a plan for how much you can add on top of your regular installments. Similar to method two, these subsequent funds will continue to help you pay down your principal amount, and lessen the amount of interest owed for the life of the loan.

 

Method 3: Making One Lump Payment

Sometimes if you’re refinancing or purchasing a home, you may be trading an old mortgage for a new one. In this case, we recommend making one large installment after closing. This not only pays off a large portion of your loan but brings your overall interest accumulation down as well.

 

Owning a home is an exciting and well-earned milestone, however, the additional costs of ownership can raise questions. If you’re curious about the most efficient way to pay down your mortgage, stop in and speak with one of our experienced lenders today.

Title: Tax Beneficial Accounts You Need to Use

Tax Beneficial Accounts

 

One of the most proactive ways you can protect your personal finances is to take advantage of tax beneficial accounts such as an HSA, 401(k) and IRA. Though these accounts are typically tied to retirement savings, this is not always the case. At Iowa State Bank we want to help you make the most of your money, by offering these three account options:

 

Health Savings Account (HSA): Currently tied to your insurance provider, this account allows you to save pre-tax income into an interest bearing account. The funds within this account can be rolled over yearly, and are meant to help supplement the cost of various medical and childcare needs. However, there are limits on how much you can save for this account, the 2017 limit for an individual is $3,400 a year, and $6,750 for a family. You can typically access these funds using a debit card or written check to cover qualifying expenses outside of your insurance offerings. Another great perk of this account is that it can be invested. To further grow your funds you can work with a financial adviser to invest in mutual funds, stock, and bonds to help your money mature.

 

Work Sponsored Retirement Account (401k): Many companies now offer this account as a corporate benefit. By automatically withdrawing pre-tax dollars from your monthly income, you are able to save for retirement before you even receive your paycheck. The funds you contribute, along with those matched by the company, can then be invested into a variety of options, pushing your money to continue multiplying. Since these funds are meant to act as retirement savings, any early withdrawals have a 10 percent penalty in addition to the income taxes due. However, once you reach age 59 ½, you can start taking regular distributions from this employer-sponsored plan.

 

Individual Retirement Account (IRA): This is a great example of a non-work sponsored retirement account. Generally offered in two versions, the Roth IRA, and the Traditional IRA, both offer various tax incentives so you get the best bang for your buck. Each account has a contribution limit of $5,500 a year, or $6,500 for those age 50 or better.

 

In a Traditional IRA, you contribute pre-tax dollars into an interest-bearing account, which can then be invested into an array of opportunities to expand growth. If you want to remove funds from this account prior to age 59 ½ however, you will incur 10 percent early-withdrawal penalty along with paying State and Federal taxes. At age 70 ½, the account requires you to begin taking minimum distributions. This retirement savings option is open to anyone, with no immediate requirements.

 

With a Roth IRA there is no age requirement for distributions, and after five years, you can withdraw as much as you like up to the total amount of contributions. The only amount you cannot withdraw is the added interest earned after contribution. The main tax benefit with a Roth IRA, opposed to the Traditional IRA, is that contributions are post-tax dollars, but distributions bear no tax. This means if you are in a higher tax bracket upon retirement, you do not have to pay additional taxes to withdraw those funds, potentially keeping more of your savings. This account option does have an income limit, which disqualifies single filers whose adjusted gross income is more than $132,000 or $194,000 for joint filers.

 

Start maximizing your money and look into your account options today! Stop by Iowa State Bank and our team can answer any questions you have. With our experienced lenders, we can help you choose the best accounts to get the most value out of your long-term savings.

5 Financially Savvy Ways to Use Your Tax Refund

Personal Finances

Getting your taxes done early not only takes one more thing off your to-do list but further allows you to start planning for the future. Working with your tax professional, determine how much your family may receive this year from a tax refund. No matter the amount, we recommend putting it towards your financial goals for the year. Here are some great strategies we’ve tried to get the best bang for our buck:

 

  1. Max out your 401(k) or Traditional IRA contributions. If you aren’t taking advantage of one of these two accounts, we highly suggest opening one soon! These tax-beneficial accounts help holders accumulate and grow their funds without the burden of tax at the time of deposit. Each account, however, is limited by how much you can contribute. By allocating funds into these account types it may not only help you save for retirement but also allow your money mature throughout the years, with no additional effort.
  2. Make an extra payment on your mortgage or student loan. Paying down your loan is always a great option when selecting financial goals. In the case of a mortgage, you earn more equity as you pay, while with student loans, you gain more momentum towards financial freedom. Instead of adding money to each monthly installment, we recommend creating one lump payment. By doing this you can you create a single but large decrease in your principal amount owed, drastically reducing your associated interest as well.
  3. Save for the 2017 holiday season. While holiday events, family gatherings, and memories are held dear, the burden of the season can pose potential problems for your personal finances. If you struggled saving last year, now is the perfect time to set aside funds for the holidays. Determine how much you need to pay for each aspect of your seasonal activities, and save as much as possible in a separate account for your tax refund. If additional funds are needed, automate your savings to transfer a specific dollar amount to this account each month.
  4. Pay off outstanding credit card debt. With one of the highest interest rates, credit cards are notorious for taking years to pay off. If you want to make a dent in your debt, we recommend tackling one card at a time.  Using your tax refund, see if you can eliminate smaller debts first. Then with the remaining funds, begin your paying down each additional credit card. By paying off the card with the least amount of debt first, you can begin to snowball your way to financial freedom!
  5. Start saving for a vacation. Whether it’s a spring break, a summer adventure, or a fall festival, it’s never too early to start saving. Once you have determined a destination, then create a rough budget of the expected expense. Depending on your refund you may be able to pay for the whole trip outright, or you may need to couple the funds with some additional monthly savings. No matter how you choose to save, we recommend keeping your vacation funds in a separate deposit account so you’re not tempted to use them throughout the year.

 

If you still have questions on how to best use your tax refund, our personal bankers would love to help. At Iowa State Bank, we can assist you in using all your savings options to help make the most of your money. Stop in and see us today!

 

6 Steps to Scoring Your Savings Goal

Savings Tips

Do your savings goals make you feel frozen? Get back on the ice this season, and let Iowa State Bank help you win your personal financial game. We’ll show you how to keep pushing forward with these strategic hockey tactics:

 

Find the 5-hole.

One of the first and most important ways to save is to keep your eyes open! Whether it’s taking advantage of grocery store specials, buying household items in bulk, or cutting spending from your monthly budget, the biggest opportunity you have while saving money is continually searching for new ways to save.

 

Complete the hat-trick.

Before you start saving for the short-term items, be sure you have the long-term set in place. Just as in hockey, there are three things you need, to make the best play of the game. Start by setting up an emergency savings account, to help guard your savings. Follow up by opening a personal retirement account such as IRA, to continually grow your savings. For the last trick of the play, we suggest creating a 529 or Coverdell account to help save for your child’s future education. These three accounts will help not only you score your savings goals but will assist you in winning your entire financial game as well.

 

Put your debt against the boards.

Show your debt whose boss, and push them against the glass. By aggressively paying off your outstanding debt, you make additional funds available to further your monthly savings. We recommend paying the minimum payment on each debt, and then using any surplus funds to add extra payments to help pay it off sooner. Once you have paid off a debt, use the funds from that allocation to help erase the next obstacle, one payment at a time.

 

Place your spending in the penalty box.

While working on your savings goals, look into your monthly spending to see where you can cut costs. Consider reducing your funds for eating out and entertainment. The extra money can go towards your debt, or once paid off, can help you achieve your savings goal sooner!

To help, there are some innovative apps available that can you visualize your various expenses.

 

Beat the buzzer.

Saving for retirement is a marathon, not a sprint. Like hockey, if you don’t play until the end, you may lose the game in the last five minutes. To help prevent this, we recommend working with a personal financial adviser, ensuring your funds are in the right place at the right time. If you make a pass and transfer them to stocks too late, you could lose money and valuable time. We suggest creating a strategic and well-coordinated retirement plan to make certain all your savings get time on the ice, and your key players continue to stay in the game.

 

Drop your gloves for additional fees.

Whether it’s big banks searching for unnecessary add-ons, or potential financial advisers looking for a percentage of earnings, don’t be afraid to negotiate fees you deem excessive. The business is certain to have referees to let you know if you’re asking too much. However, it never hurts to ask!

 

With our affordable deposit accounts and expert financial coaching, we look forward to helping you sink your upcoming goal in the back of the net! Stop by and meet our dedicated team today!

The 10 Most Affordable Winter Destinations

wintervaca

The snowbirds seem have the right idea! Just as winter becomes too chilly and snow-filled, they flee to warmer weather! It just so happens that this is the ideal time to visit a variety of areas, while their prices remain low during their slower season. See how you can capture the best deals on your getaway from the colder weather, along with other popular snow-covered destinations.

 

Panama City, Panama: This amazing city is a must-see for those with a case of wanderlust. Filled with old history, and new innovation, the town of Panama City continues to surprise your senses. Explore the Casco Viejo area, and make your way to the Manolo Caracol restaurant. With this deliciously simple meal in your belly, you’ll be able to take on any adventure you find in Panama.

 

Singer Island, Florida: For this tropical getaway you don’t even need a passport! Tucked along Florida’s southeast coast, this local paradise offers the best of the beach life along with luxurious city activities in the neighboring West Palm Beach. If you’re looking for adventure, scuba shop Pura Vida Divers can help you fulfill all your scuba dreams! With diving, snorkeling, and surfing services, this family-run business will make sure your time with them is the best memory of your trip.

 

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: Filled with luxurious all-inclusive resorts, this caribbean getaway will help maximize any budget! There are hundreds of resorts to choose from, and most offer packages which include meals, beverages, and on-site hotel activities. Be sure to also catch a round or two of golf at their renowned clubs across the island!

 

Ambergris Caye, Belize: Feel the heat year round in this island paradise! With activities on both the island and inland, you’ll never have a dull moment at this destination. If you’re searching for some adventure, be sure to stop by Amigo’s to book your next cave tubing, zip lining, or ruin climbing tour! After your day you can enjoy an unwinding meal at the island’s best ceviche restaurant, Hurricane’s, but watch out for their signature hurricane cocktail!

 

Vancouver, Canada: Home to the famous Whistler Blackcomb mountain, this chilly destination is filled with plenty of activities and beautiful snow-covered trees! Extend your trip into the city of Vancouver itself to discover the Granville Island market and delicious local delicacies such as poutine and the JapaDog.

 

Big Sky, Montana: Avoid the chaos of Winter Park, and venture to the less populous, but immaculate slopes of Big Sky. With affordable packages to ski and stay, you and your family can enjoy your days on the slopes, and your evenings at the lodge. If you feel like venturing into town, you can warm up with some deliciously spicy food from the local favorite, Alberto’s.

 

New York City, New York: This iconic destination definitely makes its mark on your traveling memories, and during the winter, it becomes more affordable than ever! With inspiring sights such as the Rockefeller Center, and the Ground Zero Memorial, this city will inspire you throughout your vacation. Share a laugh with your family and get tickets to the Tony Award-winning Best Musical, Book of Mormon. This trip will surely be one to remember!

 

For every adventure you plan, there should always be a budget behind it! If you want to learn how to best save and budget for your next getaway drop us a line or stop by today!

10 Tips for a Great Holiday Party

holidaypart

No matter which holiday you are prepping for, there are some essential party essentials you should always plan for! Throughout this holiday season, try these top 10 planning tips, courtesy of Iowa State Bank:

 

  1. Pick the best date. Saturday’s are always the prime time for holiday parties. Be sure to book venues ahead of time to ensure you can capture the best date for your gathering.
  1. Choose a simple theme. Don’t oversimplify it, but make sure it’s something that will click well with your guests. Simple things such as color coordinating, can help continue your theme throughout the event.
  1. Send invites at least six weeks before. People want time to plan, but not too much time to forget. Let your guests know about this holiday party six weeks prior to ensure they have plenty of time to plan. If you ask them to RSVP this can help you gain an accurate head count for food and beverage purposes.
  1. Email a reminder the week of. Sometimes people forget, ensure that all your guests who are available can attend, with a simple email reminder one week out from the party.
  1. Keep food fun yet familiar. A little twist here and there keeps things interesting, however, going too far can turn guests off to food altogether. Work with your caterer to determine what the best mix is for your holiday event!
  1. Set-up a good flow of traffic. Create a space that allows hungry guests to move through the food on both sides, well out of the way of your more conversational area.
  1. Create a timeline. Every party has activities, whether it’s dancing, trivia, or a simple informational slideshow, planning ahead of time can save you a headache later. Create a schedule for the evening to share with your guests. This will help them plan their time accordingly as well!
  1. Play festive music. Create a simple playlist full of upbeat and festive songs, but also be sure to include some current music selections as well! This will keep the holiday tone, without being overwhelmingly so.
  1. Give away or donate leftovers. Leftovers are a given at any holiday event, be sure you send your guests home with some goodies to help avoid discarding surplus food. If doggie bags are not an option, stop by your local food bank that night, or the next day to see if it can be used.
  1. Have a clean-up crew. Cleaning up is the worst part of event coordinating. Make this task easier on yourself, and recruit a team of guests and friends to help clean after the event, or the next day. Offer to provide a meal and beverages as thanks, in addition to a free ticket or gift at the party.

Which Subscription Service is Worth Your Money?

Save Money

The concept of subscription packages aren’t going away anytime soon! Offering the convenience of shipping, and the added surprise of finding out what’s inside, these clever subscription services keep you wanting more. With so many to choose from, how do you know which box is a worthwhile spend for your family? At Iowa State Bank, we’re excited to share our favorite options, and how they can help improve your budget:

 

Blue Apron: Out of all the make your own meal plans, this one by far stands apart! With plans as low as $8.74 per serving, these step-by-step culinary creations can not only help you eat better, but spend better as well! Reduce wasted money and food with their pre-portioned delivery system – and shipping is always free!

 

Bark Box: For all your furry friends, this box will have them waiting for the mailman every month! At $20 a month for a year long subscription, these fun-filled packages are stocked with nutritious treats and toys for your pup to enjoy. Check out their BarkShop page too, and see if your dog is a fit perfect for their Destroyer’s Club!

 

Dollar Shave Club: This popular grooming subscription is the perfect fit for men and women seeking a smooth shave. With options starting as low as $3 a month, this offer makes it simple to always have a fresh blade when you need one. If you do choose to upgrade, your product ships for free! Give it a try for a month, and adjust your shipments as needed, depending on how quickly you use the razors.

 

Birchbox: A traveling beauty bar for both men and women, this monthly subscription provides samples straight to your door for $10-20 each month. Complete with added membership pricing, and special offers, these little boxes pack a punch! If you discover products you simply cannot live without, simply go to their website, and select the full size version to purchase.

 

Raw Spice Bar: Eager cooks unite behind this affordable and delicious small batch spice subscription. Each month, they send professional and home cooks alike a mix of three regional spice blends. See how much you can grow your palette for only $8 a month!

 

Graze: Staying healthy can sometimes feel like a chore, especially while you’re working. Take the struggle out of hunting down those nutritious nibbles, and let graze do the shopping for you. For the low cost of $11.99 a month, you will receive 8 pre chosen snacks delivered straight to your home or office, and shipping is already included!

 

Gamefly: Video game addicts rejoice! Finally, there is a monthly subscription that allows you to play video games and rent movies at a low monthly cost! Starting at $15.95 you can rent one game each month with the option to return it at any time for a new game to rent. There are no late fees, and you can cancel at any time! Or for only $10 a month, you can live stream games straight to your home, 24/7!

 

Texture: No more magazine racks to clutter up your home, get the newest and latest news straight on your device with Texture’s digital monthly subscription. Offering the hottest magazines in every industry, this convenient service allows you to read the latest issue without the clutter of pages.

 

LootCrate: Allow your inner geek to celebrate for these gamer and movie centric crates! At a bargain of only $13.95 a month plus shipping and handling, these bountiful boxes offer one wearable item, a t-shirt, vinyl figure, comic book, household item, and utility item in every shipment! What are you waiting for? Sign up today.

 

Tasting Room: Nothing says relaxation like a satisfying glass of wine. Enjoy a bottle of your favorite flavors each month, through this interactive monthly tasting subscription. After the initial $9.95 tasting assessment of six personal-sized bottles, user are able to order wines to fit their personal tastes for approximately $15 a bottle.

 

Whichever box has begun to peak your interest, be sure to evaluate your family’s monthly budget to determine if it’s the perfect match for you.

 

The Best Black Friday and Cyber Monday Steals

Save Money

Whether this is your first year, or your fifth, post-Thanksgiving shopping will always have a special place in your heart. Each year shoppers find new ways to take advantage of the steep discounts retailers offer. Iowa State Bank wants to help you make the most of your holiday shopping, by offering these tried and true tactics to the best shopping strategies:

 

Black Friday: Originally coined from the notion of retailers changing from the red to the black in their profit ledger, this national day of shopping is historically the largest retail day of the year. 2016 boasts some of the largest discounts offered by companies such as Target, Best Buy, and Macy’s.

 

To make your Black Friday shopping experience a success follow these 5 tips:

 

  1. Scout Out All the Deals: Check the deals on theblackfriday.com for all the latest news and last minute steals. Be sure you know which stores are offering the best doorbusters and overall discount percentages.
  2. Create a Timed Route: Once you know the discounts, you can create a plan to maximize the most of them! Set-up a strategy and time table for how long you want to spend at each store, ensuring the quickest route to navigate store to store.
  3. Assign Team Roles: To make the most of your time in each store give each member of your team a role. One person can go wait in line, while two people go look for the top items, and the last person scours the store for unadvertised deals.
  4. Choose a Top 3: Before you step foot in any store, know what your main priority items are. Do you want to try for the limited doorbusters, or are you after the time restrictive steals? Whatever it may be, each location should have both primary objectives and supplementary items should the primaries fail.
  5. Dress Comfortable: Black Friday can at times be both a marathon AND a sprint.Be sure to dress in layers for various temperatures both in and out of the stores. Well-worn shoes are also a must, this is not the time to suffer through blisters or sore feet.

 

 

Cyber Monday: Still relatively new, Cyber Monday offers a highly discounted shopping experience all from the comfort of your home. With large-scale retailers such as Amazon, Overstock, and Wayfair participating, you are sure to find fantastic savings throughout the day. Try this home-based retail exchange this year and see how much time you can save too!

 

To make the most of your Cyber Monday shopping be sure to try these 5 tricks:

 

  1. Bookmark Items Ahead of Time: Go to your favorite online retailers and create a wishlist, or save the urls for all your favorite items. This way when you return for Cyber Monday, you can easily check if your go-to
  2. Set Alarms and Reminders: Create alerts on your phone or computer to notify you when an upcoming deal may be approaching. Often times these deals are limited both by time AND quantity, so being there right as it goes live can make a world of difference.
  3. Use Coupon Apps and Extensions: With services such as RetailMeNot, Honey, and Groupon, there now become countless online coupons and deals to add to your list!
  4. Compare Prices: One of the perks of shopping online is that you can be browsing multiple stores at once. Check several sites for your top items, and see which one is offering the best deal!
  5. Take Advantage of FREE Shipping: Retailers will be giving away shipping throughout the holiday shopping season. If your purchases fall within their spending limit or holiday shopping period, you won’t have to pay a dime to get them!

 

Whether you’re battling in the aisles, or scoring deals online, we hope your holiday shopping is a success! Share your favorite Black Friday or Cyber Monda photos with us on our Facebook page. We can’t wait to see how you do!

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