Although the tax deadline is in April, Iowa State Bank wants to bring you the basics of tax season because it’s never too early to get your own money back. Many people think of tax season as a stressful time and scramble to get their finances and forms in order to make the process go smoothly. We want to help you understand tax season basics so when the time comes for you to file taxes, you feel confident in your return.
Basics of tax season-
- E-filing can save time, money, and paper. Depending on your tax needs, e-filing is a great option for a quick and simple filing method. Typically, e-filing forms and websites have the form built in so you just plug your numbers and information in. Be careful before filing an e-return because your taxes may require paper filing. In that case, it is best to work with a Certified Public Accountant.
- Exemptions are a great way to lower your tax bill. Exemptions can save you tons of money each year on your taxes if you just take a little bit of time to find out what you qualify for. Exemptions will give you a tax discount for many reasons including: having children, being married, and just being a contributing member to society. Exemptions are worth looking into if you want to save money on taxes.
- Being audited is not the end of the world. Because the IRS has to process so many tax forms each year, their system flags items that may seem odd. Even if you get audited, it may be something simple, like accidently checking the wrong box or typing the wrong numbers. To avoid being audited, make sure you are clear and concise with tax forms. Pay close attention now to save you stress later.
Iowa State Bank hopes your tax season is simple and easy to deal with. Also, remember that if you contribute to an IRA through Iowa State Bank, there are tax perks to doing so!
February is a month filled with love and relationships, so why not fall in love with your personal finances again this month? From savings to budgeting and spending, you can love every aspect of your personal finances again with Iowa State Bank’s tips for the month of February. It is easy to fall in love with your personal finances when you follow these simple tips.
How to fall in love with your personal finances:
Make a budget- Making a budget may seem like a waste of time because they can be seemingly hard to stick to. But making a budget can be one of the most important things you can do if you have future goals of traveling, buying a house, or purchasing a new car. A budget can help you better understand where your money is going and how you could possibly be wasting it.
Shop smarter- From the grocery store to shopping at the mall, use everything you have until you go back to the store for more. Pinterest and other websites are great for finding recipes to make with the food you already have. You will not only get to be creative, but you will also save money by not throwing away wasted food and ingredients.
Cancel email subscriptions- Getting a Monday morning email for 25% off at your favorite store is tempting and it can be hard to resist the urge to run out and shop, but you can easily avoid these money wasters by unsubscribing from the daily or weekly emails. Out of sight, out of mind is the key to saving money on unneeded shopping.
Treat yourself- You can fall in love with your personal finances when you treat yourself too! You can indulge every so often on a good pedicure or a trip to the movies. When you spend money on yourself every once in a while, you will feel less stress and truly appreciate your money.
Iowa State Bank wants to help you fall in love with your personal finances. Contact us today to learn all about our personal checking and savings services.
When you come home from a dinner at the local restaurant, you set your leftovers in the refrigerator. You haven’t eaten them within three days so you toss the rest. If you did that twice a month, you could be throwing away hundreds of dollars each year. Iowa State Bank is always looking for ways for you to save money, so in today’s blog we are going to point out little money wasters that could be adding up.
- Paying interest on credit cards. We understand that sometimes, it is inevitable to pay a little interest on your credit card if it is carrying a balance. The best way to avoid high interest rates is to pay your credit card balance frequently to avoid the waste of money.
- Buying name brand. More often than not, the generic brand of food items and cleaning products are just as good as name brand. Name brand items can cost upwards of 50 cents more per product, which will add up in the long run.
- Buying pops and food items at the convenient store. When you shop at the convenient store, you are paying the price for the convenience. With a little planning, you can avoid the cost by buying in bulk and bringing snacks and drinks with you.
- Bottled water. Bottled water is not only harmful to the environment, the cost will also add up quickly. A filter for your faucet can save you plenty of money over the year because a package of bottled water costs about $4 per 24 pack.
- Eating out too often. Not only is wasting leftovers bad, but going out to eat too often is worse. With meals averaging $10, you could be spending upwards of $150 per month on eating out. You are better off taking a little time to prepare a meal at home.
Iowa State Bank wants you to strive for financial wellness in 2015! Stop into one of our locations today to talk about our savings plans.
At the beginning of each year, 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Yet only 8% of these people can stick to their resolutions according to Statistic Brain. Iowa State Bank wants to help you keep your resolution for 2015, so we have quick financial organization tips to keep you in check.
Quick Financial Organization Tips:
Personal Finances- It is important to frequently check up on your personal finances. Iowa State Bank makes it easy with our online banking services. By checking in on your finances, you can be sure that your account is in good standing and you are able to keep an eye on fraudulent charges.
Meet with your financial advisor- Set up an appointment late this month or early next month to see where you stand with retirement, mortgage payoff, and other financial obligations. Your financial advisor can give you the advice you need when deciding what to do next with your finances.
Make a list of goals- Take 10 minutes out of your day to make a list of 10 financial goals you have for the upcoming year. Have you always wanted to take the family to Disney World or to the beach? Make a goal to do so in 2015. By writing it down, you will be more accountable.
Stay organized with a calendar- A calendar can keep all of your appointments and other commitments organized. You can mark two days each month on the calendar where you check all of your loans, bank statements, bills, and mortgage. The calendar will keep you on top of due dates so you don’t get charged unsightly late payment fees.
Iowa State Bank wants financial organization to be easy for you this year. Contact us today about our personal finances options and loan services. You are sure to get organized this year with these tips!
As you continue your holiday shopping with last minute deals online and in stores, Iowa State Bank wants to remind you to be cautious. The holiday season is the ideal time for cybercrimes to take place. Today we are going to give you cyber safety tips for online shopping, so your holiday season can be a little less stressful. Online shopping is quick, easy, and convenient, but the National Cyber Security Alliance recommends you keep your computer clean and free of viruses before you consider shopping online.
Cyber safety tips for online shopping:
- Protect your personal information. Be aware of the type of information the site is asking for before making the purchase. Also remember you only need to fill out information that is required for the purchase.
- Use safe payment options. Credit cards are typically the safest form of payment because they have a monetary limit on spending compared to debit cards. Never send cash through the mail for payments for your purchases, more likely than not this is a scam.
- Keep a paper trail of your purchases. Typically after you make a purchase online, the website will send a confirmation email, similar to a receipt. Do not send it to your trash right away. Make sure you receive a conformation email first and once you receive the shipment, you can delete the email.
- Turn your computer off when you are done shopping. Many people leave their computers running 24/7 giving hackers a large window of opportunity to break into your system. Shutting your computer off for a while after shopping will prevent hackers from accessing your system.
- Beware of emails requesting more information. If an email you receive seems too good to be true or out of the ordinary, it is probably a scam. If you are unsure, contact the company directly.
We wish you happy holiday online shopping from Iowa State Bank. If you need assistance with personal loans, checking accounts or opening a new credit card, contact us today.
December is filled with exciting holiday shopping, decorating, and parties. Iowa State Bank wants to remind you to still keep your budget in mind throughout the month of December. You may feel like you want to splurge on gifts, food, and decorations, but it is still possible to have happy holidays on a budget. Don’t let the joy of the holidays lead you to a spending frenzy that you will regret in January. Iowa State Bank is going to show you how to have happy holidays on a budget.
Make a budget- It is best to make your overall monthly budget for December and also budget for the holiday weeks. Make that list and check it twice! A budget can help you stay on track even when you are tempted to buy a few extra stocking stuffers.
Don’t overdo the credit cards- The temptation to max your credit cards during the holiday shopping season is difficult to overcome because there are so many deals at every store. If you are going to use credit cards, be sure to be aware of the upcoming payment after the holiday hustle and bustle.
Limit the gift giving- The holidays don’t have to be focused around opening presents. Instead of going overboard with gift buying, give each person in your family one nice thing. You can even add little surprises leading up to the family celebration. Everyone will remember being surprised by the fun gifts they receive instead of the overload of gifts.
Look for the deals- This may seem obvious, but there are tons of sites on the internet that are filled with coupons to your favorite stores. Another option is to search the app store on your smartphone for a phone app that offers coupons.
Iowa State Bank wishes you a happy holiday season filled with joy and family time. If you need assistance, please visit any of our four locations for information about savings accounts and other great savings services.
Are you ready for the holiday shopping season? Get your finances in shape today.
With Thanksgiving around the corner and holiday shopping soon to follow, you should start thinking about getting your finances in shape for the holidays. Iowa State Bank has expert tips for you to gear up for the holidays. In 2013, Americans spent around $800 each on holiday shopping, celebrations, and parties. Is your bank account equipped to spend that much money right now?
If you are worried about how you will afford the holidays, have no fear, Iowa State Bank is here to advise you on the best practices to start saving now.
Get your finances in shape for the holiday season:
- Stick to a strict budget the month before. You may be low on cash while you save, but only spend what you need throughout the month of November. You will be relieved once December comes around because you will have enough money for all of your shopping.
- Don’t go overboard. The holidays are not supposed to be centered on the gifts. There’s nothing wrong with getting gifts, but there is no need to spoil each person in the family. Focus on having time together and enjoying the memories.
- Start your shopping early. Starting now, you can buy gift items little by little until your list is complete. This method is good because sometimes you can find what you are looking for during November when items are not marked up yet.
- Start a savings plan. Save a set amount from your income every week in November. By the end of the month, you can have enough money to get all of your shopping done in time for the holidays.
Holiday shopping can be stress free if you plan ahead and keep your budget in mind. It is a busy time of year, but the holiday spirit keeps everyone feeling jolly! Contact Iowa State Bank if you have any questions about savings accounts or debit cards.
The holiday shopping season is officially here, be sure to be store card cautious.
The chaos of the Holiday season ahead can leave you feeling as you need to pinch all your pennies. Buying presents for everyone can get expensive and make a store credit card seem more appealing. The holiday season is a big time for department stores and chains to give great deals if you sign up for their credit cards. The initial 10% or $15 off may seem appeal at the checkout, but don’t let it fool you in the long run.
Iowa State Bank wants you to be store card cautious this holiday shopping season because many of these types of credit cards carry high interest rates, expensive late fees, and can possibly ding your credit score. If you feel the need to have extra options this holiday season, your best bet is to apply for a credit card from Iowa State Bank. Unlike a store card, you can use it almost anywhere and have a more obtainable interest rate. Just in time for the holiday season, we want to give you some facts about store credit cards.
Store card cautious:
- The average interest rate on a bank credit card is between 13% and 14%, a majority of store credit cards are over 20% interest.
- A typical late fee on a store credit card is $25 each month.
- When applying for store credit cards, according to FICO it is considered a hard inquiry which can take on average 12 points off your score. When a person has too many store credit cards, it looks high risk to credit companies.
- Many of the 500 million store credit cards circulating around the world are taken out during the holiday season and forgotten about the rest of the year.
The instant holiday savings may seem appealing, but be cautious of what a store credit card looks like on your credit report. High interest rates and late fees can leave you with an empty pocket. Please contact Iowa State Bank today for information about applying for our credit card this holiday season.
Don’t let your house become haunted with hidden expenses!
In September, we posted some helpful fall home improvement projects to do before the weather gets cold. With the winter right around the corner, we are continuing the series with more helpful projects that won’t haunt your finances. Iowa State Bank understands you don’t want to break the bank, but you still have a to-do list that needs to get done. Not only will routine maintenance on the outside of your house save you a headache, it will also keep your family safe.
Home improvement projects that won’t haunt your finances:
- Clear the gutters of fallen leaves. The end of October is the best time to do this because the majority of leaves will have fallen. Clearing will keep them working properly and add to the lifetime of your gutters.
- Repair and seal cracks in concrete. This may not seem like a high priority, but it will save you money in the future. When snow and ice get into the cracked cement, it is likely to get worse when spring comes. By sealing the cracks you will be preventing falls and costly future repairs to your driveway or pathways.
- Check for peeling paint on your home’s exterior. Peeling paint is a sign that the existing paint is no longer protecting the structure. Going around your home and checking for spots can help you get a better idea of how much paint you will need. Patch the paint on a calm and dry day. It may take a few hours, but it is worth the time.
Autumn is filled with red and orange fallen leaves, which is an indicator that winter is not too far away. Be prepared by doing routine fall maintenance. These small projects won’t haunt your finances, so do them before you need to do a project that will. If you are looking to do a large project this fall, contact us at Iowa State Bank for consumer loans.
You can save money this Halloween by going homemade!
From the start of October to the very last day, Halloween is in the air. From fun-sized candy bars to spooky decorations, Halloween costs can add up quickly. The season’s memories are always cherished, so you don’t want to leave any of it out. We have ideas for you about creating a homemade Halloween. It can still be spooky and spectacular without spending too much money.
A homemade Halloween costume is the answer when you are looking to save money. Some kid’s costumes can cost upwards of $50 for one night of fun and then they end up in the play room. Pinterest is a great resource for homemade Halloween costumes for you, the kids, and toddlers. Not only will the costume be one of a kind, it is also a good time for you and your little one to bond.
Get the whole family together to make homemade decorations. What’s more fun than letting the kids be creative and make Halloween decorations. The big box stores are filled with expensive decorations, so save money by making them at home.
Since we have a few weeks before Halloween, it is the perfect time to stock up on the candy. Prices spike on candy during October because it is in high demand. Save money by looking for coupons and stores that have the best prices. Here are some more great tips on saving on Halloween candy, so your October budget doesn’t take a hit.
From costumes to crafty decorations, a homemade Halloween can be more fun than store bought items. You can save money and get the kids involved with decorating and costume design. Planning ahead is important if you want to save money and time this October. Check out Iowa State Bank’s Facebook page this month about safety tips for trick-or-treating. Come to Iowa State Bank for all of your personal, business, and agricultural banking needs.