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Iowa State Bank Blog

Cyber Safety Tips: Online Shopping

Online Shopping - Finger Pushing Add To Basket Button On Touchscreen

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

 

Happy Holidays on a Budget

Week 2 post 2

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.

Get your Finances in Shape for the Holiday Season

Are you ready for the holiday shopping season? Get your finances in shape today.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Store Card Cautious: Prepping for the Holiday Season

 

The holiday shopping season is officially here, be sure to be store card cautious.

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.

 

Home Improvement Projects that Won’t Haunt your Finances

Don't let your house become haunted with hidden expenses!

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.

Homemade Halloween: How to Save Money

You can save money this Halloween by going homemade!

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.

Tips from Iowa State Bank: How to Raise Your Credit Score

Raise your credit score with these tips.

Raise your credit score with these tips.

In a previous post, we talked about the makeup of your credit score and what goes into it. Your credit score is important for many reasons and today we will talk about how to raise it. An improved credit score means you are more likely to receive better rates on everything from mortgages and credit cards to loans.

There is no magic formula and major improvement on your credit score takes time. Some of the following tips may seem like small things, but doing them consistently goes a long way to helping your cause. By using these tips from Iowa State Bank you can put yourself on the right track to improving your credit score today.

Tips on raising your credit score:

  1. Never miss a payment, even if you’re only paying the minimum. Commit to making a payment every month, and when you’re done paying down your balance, you’ll seem like much less of liability to lenders than if you consistently miss payment dates.
  2. Only use about 10 percent of what your credit limit is. The smaller the percentage is, the better your credit score. For example, if you have a store credit card that has a $4,000 limit, only use around $400 of that and pay it off right away.
  3. Pay off cards with small balances. Gather up all those credit cards and pay off the balances, so you are not piling so many cards onto your score. Choose one or two cards that you can have as go to cards for purchases.
  4. Only open new credit accounts as needed. Opening various store cards or other types of credit cards can hurt you. Make sure you keep track of your finances and use those cards rarely.
  5. If you don’t have a credit card, apply for one and use it lightly. Use it for something like filling up for gas every week. This is an expense that’s already in your budget, so using your credit card then immediately paying off the balance is an easy way to use credit without it getting the best of you.

Raising your credit score can benefit you greatly when it is time to buy a new house or new car and you need a loan. Again, this process takes time, so give yourself about six months of hitting all the above milestones. Then, contact Iowa State Bank if you have a loan need and we can we see what kind of rate you are eligible for.

Home Improvement Projects to Do This Fall

Improve your home before the winter weather hits.

Improve your home before the winter weather hits.

The fall weather in Iowa is ideal for spending time outside with the family for barbecues, tailgating, and hiking. Fall is also the perfect time for home improvement projects. Your home needs to be ready for the winter ahead that is just around the corner. From checking a few things off your to-do list to tackling larger projects, this is the perfect time to get going on home improvement projects. Here are a few ideas from your friends at Iowa State Bank:

•Install and maintain pathways. With winter coming up, it is a good time to consider laying a new path to your front door. Not only will your home feel more welcoming, it will also be safer to get to your door during the colder months of the year. If your pathway is already installed, maintain it by patching rough spots.

•Weather-proof your doors. During the winter, door are one of the key places you lose heat. If you live in an older home, this is especially important. Not only will weather-proofing keep the cold winter air out, but it will keep your heat in, possibly saving you 10-30 percent on your energy bill.

•Freeze-proof exterior faucets. Living in Iowa, we know how cold it can get in the winter months. Be sure to take care of your hose faucets by replacing them with freeze-proof options. The small amount of time and money you spend doing this now is far less than the time and money you would have to spend for a burst water pipe.

These are just a few ideas; what fall improvement projects do you have in mind to prepare for winter?

This blog post from Iowa State Bank is part one of two in our series on home improvement projects to do this fall. Stay tuned as our next home improvement projects post will be in October. In the meantime, turn to Iowa State Bank if you need help with financing your home improvement project. We offer consumer loans for the project you have in mind, so talk to one of our Loan Officers today for details.

Money Tips for Settling into Your New Home

Settle into your home with ease while saving money.

Buying a new home can be one of life’s most exciting adventures. However, it does come with a financial obligation and the ability to make repairs so it is move-in ready for your family. With buying a house, saving money can become more of a priority because you are taking on a long-term responsibility. You want to enjoy your new home and add to it all while being conscious of your home improvement budget. Iowa State Bank has money tips for you to consider as you settle into your new home this August.

Money tips for settling into your new home:

  1.  Make sure your attic is well insulated. Come winter, you will be thankful for an insulated attic when it comes to the heating bill.
  2. Use smart strip plugins because they will save energy. You will save money because five electronics are using one wall plugin instead of the normal two.
  3. Plant shade trees around your house. They will eventually grow and provide savings in the summertime on your cooling bill.
  4. Take advantage of tax benefits for home improvements. There are many benefits for buying energy efficient appliances and home improvements.
  5. Check your windows for any leaking of air. This can be a huge cost saver on your heating and cooling bill in the long run. Leaking air can cause your systems to work harder and make the cost of your bills sky rocket.

We hope you settle into your new home well and save money while doing so. Iowa State Bank has mortgage lending services if you are looking into purchasing a new home. Check with us for the current rates and conditions. You can rest easy knowing you would be working with experienced and professional lenders who are here for all of your lending needs.

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Keeping your Money Safe While Traveling

Being prepared before a trip can make the vacation less stressful.

Being prepared before a trip can make the vacation less stressful.

August is filled with getting the kids ready for school and warm summer vacations. Whether you are looking to be refreshed and renewed for the coming fall or the kids need a getaway, you shouldn’t have to worry about your money being safe.

Traveling during the summer can mean worrying more about getting your card number copied or overcharged due to increased travel fraud. Keeping your money safe while traveling is a priority for Iowa State Bank and we offer many services that can help you do so. We have compiled a list of tips to keep in mind while traveling anywhere the rest of the summer.

Tips for keeping your money safe while traveling:

  1. Get a travel card from Iowa State Bank. A travel card can be loaded with the amount of money you need, so you are not worried about having all of your money with you on a trip. It can be reloaded as you need more money.
  2. Protect your important documents and papers. A money pouch can be helpful while traveling because they can be concealed under clothing. Most of the time, money pouches look discrete so you do not attract attention, like a fashionable purse would
  3. Keep valuables at home or out of your purse. You may need to bring your nice watch or other valuables with you, but it is best practice not to keep nice items with you. Nicer clothing and jewelry can attract thieves.
  4. Keep a variety of ways to pay with you. Have a bit of cash as well as a credit card, so you’re not completely out of luck if something happened.
  5. Avoid travel scams. No matter where you travel to, there is a potential for scams of all kinds. Some of these include pickpocketers, time shares, beggars, etc.. Always be aware of what is going on around you.

Traveling is a great experience and you can keep it that way if you stay aware and ready for anything. Please contact Iowa State Bank today about a travel card for your next vacation and to let us know where you’re headed and for how long.

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