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10 Ways to Save Money in College

save money

With delicacies such as ramen, easy mac, and PB&J, college doesn’t always seem as glamorous as it is in the movies. Learn how to build up your bank account this year with these helpful savings tips courtesy of Iowa State Bank! We’ll show you how to make the most of your dining dollars, classroom supplies, and other on campus opportunities!

 

  1. Books. Instead of purchasing those $300+ textbooks, utilize your university’s library and study using the same materials without any of the cost!
  2. Coffee. Get the best bang for your buck when you go for your next caffeine fix. Many coffee shops offer free wifi for studying in addition to free refills on basics coffee and teas. Simply purchase the size of your choosing, and stick around for a proper study session complete with all the coffee you need!
  3. Meal Plans. Dining dollars aren’t just for dinner. Utilize those additional funds to purchase other necessities such as toiletries to ensure you never leave any allocated dollars unused.
  4. Student Activities. Keep tabs on school events. With many university sponsored events offering free food or drinks, students tend to jump at the opportunity, so it’s best to arrive early!
  5. Scholarships. You never know until you try, or in this case submit, but in many cases writing a simple essay and answering some questions is all you need to do to be considered for a $500+ scholarship.
  6. Student Discounts. They’re everywhere; whether you’re on campus, or out and about, always be sure to carry your student ID to save a little extra money at various retailers.
  7. Loan Interest. Start paying off your student loans ASAP. Compounding interest especially can rack up additional expenses quickly, so be sure to begin paying down your debt as soon as you can.
  8. Cars. Ride your bike around campus instead of paying for costly gas, auto maintenance, and parking passes. During the winter months, you can skip waiting in the cold for the parking lot shuttle, and warm up as you cycle home!
  9. Recycle. Those pop cans and soda bottles can be valuable. It may not seem like a lot of money at first, but over time you’ll find yourself saving more and more.
  10. Work. Get a part-time job during the school year that offers great benefits like free gym membership, discounted meals, or free drinks!

Whether you’re a first year, or a PhD student, there are countless ways to save some green throughout your college years. Let us help you tuck away some of those valuable dollars with a structured savings account at Iowa State Bank!

Generational Financial Habits: Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z.

Personal Finance

When it comes to your spending habits, your age may influence your decisions more than you think! Depending on your generation, there may be some key patterns that differentiate you from your older and younger counterparts. Discover your key financial traits with this helpful guide courtesy of Iowa State Bank.

 

Baby Boomers

Typically classified as the savers of the modern age, many of those age 51-70 are known for tucking away funds as quickly as they can accumulate them. Many baby boomers were affected by both the Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. assassinations and hold strong sense of mistrust of the system. There are many in this generation who choose savings options outside of financial institutions. This large generation of approximately 70 million people, is currently in the process leaving the workforce and entering retirement. The most important item on their financial agenda is to save and secure funds for the decades of life they will enjoy outside nine to five.

 

Generation X

Often overshadowed by the large baby boomers ahead of them, generation X’ers tend to be strong willed and decisive, fighting for their share of the financial pie. Having been one of the first generations to experience divorce as a normal occurrence, many of those adults age 40-50 continue to look out for their individual financial wellbeing through strictly defensive tactics. Boasting on the highest education rates, this group makes strategic savings plans, constantly preparing for the ball to drop. They are best known for their cautious optimism and lofty financial goals.

 

Millennials

The current generation of twenty and thirtysomethings, were shaped by a highly digital world. Growing up in the age of computers and terrorism, these young adults believe that the typical American dream, may be slightly skewed. In many areas, home and car ownership is on the decline as more and more millennials strive to gain experiences over material possessions. Influenced by their parental counterparts, it is common to see this generation shying away from long term debt after seeing their parents succumb to missed payments and foreclosures during the 2008 economic crash. Couple that cautious initiative with crippling student loans and added inflation, where now today many college graduates are working multiple jobs to simply make ends meet.

 

Generation Z

The up-and-coming generation of the century, this group is the first age demographic to grow up completely immersed in digital technology. The days of cell phones and computers encompassed their childhood, and many of those age 0-20 have never known life without the digital realm. Still relatively young, these Gen Z’s take diversification to the next level, not trusting too much in any one entity. With advancing diagnostic systems this generation takes time and consideration into account before making any major life decision. As this generation ages, more experiences and choices will continue to shape their financial style.

 
No matter what generation you are a part of, there are a variety of ways you can improve your financial habits. Speak with one of our experienced personal bankers today, and we’ll show you how to get started!

How to Hit a Homerun in Retirement

RetirementWinning in a baseball game or in your retirement savings is no easy feat! It takes dedication and determination to seal the win. As you begin to reexamine your retirement plan try these key pointers from Iowa State Bank to coach you along the way!

 

Load the Bases

If you have available resources, make sure you’re using them! Just as a batter is primed to score with his bases covered in players, so are you by capitalizing on your 401(k), IRA, personal savings, and structured investing plan. Score extra points by taking advantage of your company’s 401(k) which matches your monthly contributions up to a certain percentage of your salary. Those are free dollars to aim towards your retirement!

 

Pitch a No Hitter

Don’t let the opposing team get ahead; work to pitch a no hitter by setting up your emergency savings fund. Instead of walking any unexpected expenses, such as auto repairs or medical bills, send those players back to the dugout with an added savings curve ball. You’ll be protecting your savings and racking up points, while staking your claim to your space in the hall of fame.

 

Build a Winning Team

Just as you would compile your fantasy team around leading scorers and left handed pitchers, the same applies to your financial team! At Iowa State Bank we have a well-rounded lineup of personal bankers, wealth advisers, and lenders to help you make it to the big leagues.

 

Play Extra Innings

Even in retirement, there’s no rule against a little over time! Take up a part or full-time job you enjoy to cover living expenses before you have to dip into your savings account. You and your spouse could land a home run in the bottom of the 10th with some additional income at the start of your retirement.

 

No matter if you’re swinging for the fences or just trying to get on base, our experienced team at Iowa State Bank can help craft a game plan for your retirement! Give us a call at (319) 753-2265 or stop by the bank today!

Taking Baby Steps to Eliminate Your Debt

Shrinking Debt

As of 2015, the average American with credit card debt owes $15,762 – and that’s just credit. Auto loans, student loans, and mortgages add thousands of dollars and years of repayment to your personal finances. However, debt doesn’t have to be a life sentence. Once you have made the commitment to work towards financial freedom, follow these steps from Iowa State Bank to begin eliminating those personal debts.

  1. Establish an emergency fund immediately. Unexpected events can take a harder hit on your savings than unbudgeted spending habits ever could. Even if you’re juggling a current debt or two, work to set aside $1,000 as soon as you can in a separate emergency checking account. As you chip away at remaining debt, this cushion can protect repayment plans from being flattened by a faulty car battery or flooded basement.
  2. Adopt the Debt Snowball method. Instead of listing them highest to lowest by interest rates, arrange debts from smallest to largest. Paying off a handful of small debts in the same time it’d take to chip away at a large one eases burdens, yields immediate results, and provides motivation to continue saving.
  3. Reduce your rates. Refinancing your mortgage and negotiating lower interest rates on credit cards can make a big impact. Reevaluating your health, life, and auto insurance policies may reveal services you don’t need, or it can spur you to shop around for providers with lower rates.
  4. Chop extraneous expenses. Create a list of unavoidable monthly expenses – rent, utilities, gas, food. Create a second list of leisure expenses – gym memberships, cable, eating out, clothing. After budgeting for the necessities, pick a few discretionary categories you’d like to keep with reduced spending, but cut the rest. Putting your spending on a diet is easier when you allow yourself a few modest outlets.
  5. Evaluate progress monthly. Creating a multi-year financial plan for eliminating debt is the first step, not the only one. Perform a monthly check-up on your plan to continue spending within your budget. It can also provide a boost of encouragement when you see progress, and you might spot ways in your new financial routine to make your budget even more cost-effective.

It may be a long road to eliminate debt, but it’s within your ability to travel it. Don’t go it alone – contact one of our advisers today to help you create and stick to your financial plan.

Ultimate Guide to Yard and Garage Sales

Savings

 

With pockets full of dollar bills and a list of dream finds in hand, serious garage sale goers are perking up for the upcoming season. Become a pro deal-spotter by harnessing some of their top tricks of the trade!

  • Check for warranties: Even if they’re dinged or damaged, goods by brands like Craftsman and Chaco may offer lifetime warranties if you send them in for repair. Avoid: Electronic-based gadgets – everything from blenders to tablets – as they’re likely past warranty and cost more to repair than buy new.
  • Snap up fun novelty items: Infrequently used finds like wedding accessories, costume sets, and kitchen appliances can be pricey when purchased brand new. You can buy these gently-used finds for a fraction of the original cost! Avoid: Holiday-themed wares that you’ll use once, store for the year, and toss out at your own yard sale.
  • Think a few seasons ahead: A summer yard sale will be loaded with wintertime treasures. Scope out pricier outerwear like parkas and boots, while keeping your eye out for cross-country skis, durable metal shovels, and other seasonal goods marked at a steep discount. Avoid: Cold weather apparel worn close to the skin, such as hats and long underwear. Also, be wary of major items like snow blowers and snowmobiles, which may require costly repairs that outweigh the price of a newer model.
  • Shop for the kids: When they’re set to outgrow clothes every few months, garage sales are a treasure trove of inexpensive apparel for infants through teens. Be on the lookout for limited-use clothing like costumes and formalwear to save big during special occasions. Avoid: Cribs and car seats which are frequently recalled, soft toys that can’t be easily washed or sterilized, and truly vintage toys which may pose the risk of lead-based paint.
  • See Beyond the Paint: Furniture can be a phenomenal find if you’re willing to pin some extra effort. A new finish or a fresh coat of paint can make all the difference on wood & metal furniture. Avoid: Mattresses and upholstered items which may have unknown stains or trapped in odors.

 

5 Ways to Save for Your Next Vacation

Savings

Whether it’s skiing in the mountains, scuba diving among the reefs, or exploring history throughout famous museums, your ideal vacation can be anything you make it. Wherever you dream of traveling to, price is sure to be a factor in your decision. Make the trip of your dreams into a reality with these smart saving tricks to help fund your travels wherever they may lead.

  1. Open a dedicated savings account. To keep your goal clearly in sight and prevent overspending, establish a dedicated savings account for family vacations. You can use these funds throughout the vacation planning stages to book hotels and tickets. During your trip, easily track your designated spending while preventing unneeded dips into a primary savings account.
  2. Trust the change jar. The nickels and dimes that collect at the bottom of your pockets may seem insignificant, but a mere $1.25 saved every day in spare change adds up to just under $500 in only one year. Establish a large lidded container for your trip funds, for gas or gifts. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for loose change both at home and during your work day.
  3. Designate a pantry week. In the months leading up to your vacation, pick one week each month to skip the grocery store and eat out of personal food storage. By eating meals such as spaghetti, soup, or rice, you’ll par down the grocery bill while consuming pre-purchased food before it goes bad.
  4. Repurpose gift cards. Instead of letting that plastic currency go to waste speak with friends and family members to see if any of them are interested in a trade. If there is no trade to be had, selling the gift card for slightly less than the card’s value may create a better incentive for buyers while still allowing you to receive the best benefit.
  5. Save energy. Cut down on your monthly utility bill by creating a list of action items to save on energy costs. Running the dishwasher for extreme loads only, switching to cold instead of hot water for laundry, setting a time limit for showers, and only turning on essential lights can lower your utility bill piece by piece. Take the difference saved and funnel it into your travel savings account.

 At Iowa State Bank, we love seeing you accomplish your financial goals and enjoy all of the incredible places they can take you. If a vacation is on your horizon, make an appointment with one of our financial advisors today and learn how to make the most of your savings.

The Ultimate Guide for the First Time Home Owner

Mortgages

The journey to becoming a first time owner is an exciting and personal process. With questions ranging from price, commodities, to neighborhoods and more, the task of finding your ideal property can seem daunting. At Iowa State Bank we want to help you make the most of your home buying experience with our guided route to home ownership. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the view as we take you step by step through the first time home buying process.

  1. Assess your personal finances. Take a good hard look at your current sources of income, in addition to the underlying expenses you have each month. Determine if your funds can support the cost of a monthly mortgage, property taxes, home insurance, and all the other associated costs of home ownership.
  2. Mortgage Pre-Approval. Once you’ve decided to make the jump into home ownership it’s time to determine what your ideal purchase price will look like. Work with your mortgage lender to decide on the best price range for you and your family. After determining your financing needs together, the bank will evaluate your credit history award you with a pre-approval letter for the amount they will agree to finance.
  3. Find “The House.” Here comes the fun part – house hunting! Pair up with a reputable realtor from the area to look at houses that do not exceed the approved purchase price. You may look at six homes, or thirteen, but once you find the right property you’ll know it’s the one!
  4. Get an approved offer. After touring the property and checking for any major repairs, speak with your realtor about putting in an offer on the house at price within your budget. The seller may counter with a different price point, and negotiations for the offer can be discussed with your realtor. When you and the seller have agreed to a purchase price and a finalized offer is signed you officially have an accepted offer to purchase your future home!
  5. Speak with your mortgage lender. Now that you’ve found your new place, your mortgage lender can gather accurate tax information and further specifics for your mortgage financing. Reach out to confirm the terms of the loan prior to closing to help ensure a smooth transition.
  6. Home Inspection. Since you and the buyer now have an accepted agreement it’s time to fully inspect the property you intend on buying. Speak with your realtor for recommended home inspectors in the area, and set up a time when both you and the realtor can be present. The home inspector will detail notes about the property concerning safety hazards and other important repairs that be taken care of at the sellers expense.
  7. Close the offer. After all the paperwork is finalized, and you complete the final walk through of the home, it’s finally time receive your mortgage financing and close the home offer.
  8. The House is yours. All your hard work has paid off and you are now a home owner! Celebrate this monumental achievement by inviting family and friends over for a moving or house warming party!

Whether you’re looking for a peaceful cottage in the country, new construction in the city, or a happy hideaway in the suburbs, Iowa State Bank can help you with all your financing needs. Stop by the bank or give us a call at (319) 753-2265 and get started on your home buying journey today!

How-To Save $1,000,000 by Retirement

Retiring

 

Retirement may seem an eternity away; however, even if it’s a dream 20 years down the road, saving for retirement shouldn’t wait until the goal is in sight. Rule of thumb says you’ll need $1,000,000 in savings to retire comfortably. Our experts at Iowa State Bank recommend taking the following steps to save with the future in mind:

  • Determine when you want your $1 million. The typical age of retirement is 65, but you may be shooting for a few years earlier or later. Whatever the age affects how much you need to save each month, so calculate years left to save based on current age and breakdown monthly savings requirements thereafter.
  • Start saving ASAP. Compound interest rewards those that begin saving earlier rather than later. A $10,000 investment at age 25 could yield tens of thousands of dollars more by 65 than if that same $10,000 were invested at 35.
  • Spend less than you save. It’s basic math. You’ll have money left over only if income exceeds expenses. Buying a home within your range, purchasing cars secondhand, and paying for vacations out of savings and not on credit protects you from dipping into debt.
  • Opt for automatic. Research your employer’s 401k or retirement-based plans and determine what percent you’d like funneled from your paycheck and into your savings. If your employer matches contributions up to a limit, work to reach their maximum to maximize your savings.
  • Save beyond your 401k. Expect the unexpected. A flooded basement or dying car engine can send you spiraling out of your financial plan if you haven’t budgeted for rainy days. Set up a $1,000 emergency fund as soon as possible, and work to expand it to anywhere from 6-12 months of income to protect you from larger surprises, like medical issues or unemployment.

The road to a million takes time and discipline, but it’s exceedingly possible. For further savings strategies and investment options, make an appointment today to meet with one of our trained financial advisors.

The Top 10 Things to Add Value to Your Home

Home Equity

Just like purchasing your home, selling it is a journey all its own. Whether you’re aiming to sell your home in one year or five, you can make a number of small changes that offer a big return on your home’s value. Try these key improvements and see the effect on your next home assessment.

  1. An eye-catching entrance. As the gateway into your home, your front door will set the tone for what’s within. Update your door bell, paint the front door, and hang a spring wreath to tie it all together.
  2. Energy-efficient updates: Updating appliances, windows, and fixtures, to their more green counterparts can set your home apart with the attractive promise of future savings.
  3. Low-maintenance landscaping: While flowers are eye-catching, shrubs and drought-resistant greenery make great visual impact with the promise of less hassle.
  4. A thorough clean. A deep clean of carpets, curtains, and corners will make your home sparkle and create a positive first impression. Hiring a professional cleaning service may also help to remove hard-to-clean grime and overlooked areas.
  5. De-cluttered rooms. A tidy house doesn’t always feel open. Heavy curtains, overstuffed couches, and rooms devoid of sunlight can make buyers cautious of square footage. Rid the room of nothing but bare essentials and simplistic furniture to maximize the area of the space.
  6. Extra mirrors. To double the feel of any room, strategically place mirrors to create an illusion of extra space.
  7. Small updates to big places. Kitchens and bathrooms are focal points in the selling process. Without the time and cost of a major remodel, small updates like new lighting, fresh paint, or modern accessories can add value to your home on a budget.
  8. Revamped flooring: Thin or threadbare carpets can raise alarms for buyers as they visualize the daunting need to replace the tired flooring. As your budget allows, replace your home’s carpet beginning high-traffic areas and working outwards.
  9. Modern lighting. Updating light fixtures to a timeless and simple feel, help to elevate a home’s design and gives the potential buyer a blank canvas to imagine life in their new home.
  10. A professional opinion. In under an hour, a trained interior designer can provide suggestions for small tweaks, such as furniture arrangement or paint color adjustments, which can increase your home’s value with limited investment.

While improvements are not a guarantee of improved value, they can make all the difference when drawing in interested buyers. If some of your home-improvement projects require a bigger investment than your budget expected, our lending officers at Iowa State Bank can work to help you secure the home equity line of credit you need.

 

Teaching Children the Value of Money in 5 Simple Lessons

Financial Education

Building a successful financial future for your little one starts with a strong foundation. At Iowa State Bank we offer financial opportunities for all ages! Grow the building blocks of fiscal understanding with your children using these fun and easy lessons.

  1. See the value of savings: Before they understand the concept of retirement, help them see the advantage of long term savings. Just as companies offer to match their employee’s savings plan contributions, offer to match your child’s investment in a purchase. If they save for half the amount, you’ll contribute the other half.

 

  1. Create a goal chart: Saving for a car, a college degree, or a home takes years of planning. Let your child see the value of long term savings by helping them visually track progress in their own investment. Choose a purchase such as a new tech device or a day trip to an amusement park. Based on their allowance and other sources of income, draw a column of boxes to represent the number of weeks of savings it will require, then draw an X or place a sticker in each box once they save the weekly amount.

 

  1. Open a savings account: An interest-bearing savings account can help your child track their money as it expands through simple deposits and compound interest. Open an account for your child early on to educate them on the concept of finances, and have them deposit a percentage of their allowance each month to see their own wealth grow.

 

  1. Demonstrate checking: When your child is comfortable with complex addition and subtraction, have them assist you as you track your deposits and purchases while balancing your checkbook. Show them a bank statement and explain the different components, identifying which numbers help you balance your checking account. Take this opportunity to explain the relationship between savings and checking accounts and give examples of why and when you would use each.

 

  1. Set an example: Your children look to you to set a precedent, so if you save, they save, and if you spend, they spend. Set up a savings jar at home for extra change and designate these additional funds to fun family events such as ice cream trips, movie nights, and more. Show them the power of savings one coin at a time!

 

Iowa State Bank wants to see you and your little ones succeed. Stop in today to learn about our various savings account options!

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