Tag Archives: Tips

How to Spring Clean Your Credit Card Debt

As the weather gets warmer, don’t let your credit score go up in flames! The average person with credit card debt has a balance of $16,000. That’s the cost of a brand new Ford Focus!

We understand the road out of debt isn’t easy but we want to provide you with some helpful tips.

Spring CleanGet organized. Kyle Long, Senior Commercial Credit Analyst at Two Rivers Bank & Trust, said organization is essential! “Create a detailed list of your current credit cards, total debt on each card, minimum payment on each, and their interest rates,” he suggested.

Hide your cards. After you’re organized, hide your cards. Try not to use them if you don’t have to. “Determine if there are any areas where you can save money during the month,” Long said.

“If you can eat out less, eliminate unnecessary luxury expenses, and utilize coupons, that money can be saved to make additional payments to the total credit card debt.”

Start with one card at a time. The card with the highest interest rate is where you should start. “Apply any extra cash you have every month to paying off this card, while still paying the minimum on the other cards,” Long explained. “Continue this approach until all your cards have been paid off.”

Long’s best advice for someone with substantial credit card debt? “Don’t ignore it! Make a plan and execute it because prolonging the debt will lead to increased interest charges, late fees, and a decrease in your credit score,” he said.

Our advice? Take a deep breath. Two Rivers can help you along the way. Our checking accounts include a debit card and online banking services that can help you use your credit card less.

You can come see us, too. Our lenders can review your finances with you.

“We can determine if a personal loan or home equity loan can help you consolidate your credit card debt, which can save you thousands of dollars in interest payments,” Long explained.

Being a good neighbor means we are there for financial guidance. Call us or come see us to talk about your credit card debt. We can help you breathe a little easier just in time for spring!

How to Protect Your Money & Accounts Online

money accounts onlineNot surprisingly, cases of credit card theft and general cyber-crimes increase around the holidays.

With Cyber Monday and the holidays approaching, chances are, you will be spending some money online. So how do you protect yourself from credit card theft, identity theft, or fraudulent advertisements?

Because Two Rivers Bank and Trust cares about your protection, privacy, and financial security, we asked our Information Security Officer, Sean Allworth, for a list of tips to protect yourself against cyber thieves.

Stay up-to-date on the latest security software.

With so many presents to purchase, make sure that every time you go to check-out, your card and your finances are fully protected. Sean Allworth says, “Keep your computer operating system, your internet browser, and your mobile device up to date with the latest security updates and patches.” Investing in an efficient security system is an intelligent decision. Consider the savings when your system blocks a cyber thief from stealing everything in your bank account!

Avoid shared networks and computers.

Shared networks and computers are a safe bet when your activities are irrelevant to any personal or financial matters. But when it comes to making your holiday purchases, avoid shared networks and computers. Sharing networks or devices can actually weaken your security and leave your passwords vulnerable to cyber theft.

Sync your devices.

Syncing your mobile devices with your personal computer strengthens security. Allworth adds, “You can sync your mobile devices with a computer for additional security, and be sure to use anti-virus and anti-spyware software to help find and remove viruses.” As long as your computer is protected by anti-virus and anti-spyware software, syncing with your mobile device will enhance online security.

Don’t click blindly.

Don’t just click anywhere and everywhere. Allworth advises, “Always be careful about what (and where) you click online. A tip is to look for security-enabled website addresses that start with https: (the “s” indicates security).” Cyber-thieves create fraudulent advertisements and links meant to gain your attention. If the website is not verified as secure through your security software, do not click on the link!

Verify legitimacy before opening emails.

A major way cyber thieves steal from internet users is through the user’s email account. Allworth explains, “Keep in mind that links you receive via email or in messages on social networking sites can be harmful or fraudulent. Identify the address is legitimate or contact the sender directly to ensure legitimacy.” In short, if you see an advertisement or email that seems off, do not open it until you have contacted the alleged sender and verified legitimacy.

The holiday season is supposed to be filled with joy, security, and peace of mind. Be confident in your online purchases and contact Two Rivers Bank and Trust today to learn more about how we protect our customer accounts from cyber theft!

responsible

Get your kids excited about saving

It’s important to get your kids excited about saving, especially when you have a little extra time on your hands. What better time to start than now?!

The value of saving is something that some parents instill into their children at an early age.

“As far as ages go, as young as three and four is when children can start recognizing what money is and that money has value,” said Two Rivers Bank & Trust Online Sales and Service Representative Dawn Pratt.

Set up a plan

There are many ways to get children to start saving their money. But first, it’s important for them to be making money in order to put some of it away.

“Whether it’s picking up cans, or maybe mom and dad have some kind of an allowance program, where you get paid so much for each chore. Somehow they need to recognize that they have to work to get money to be able to spend it on what they want.”

Chores around the house are a great place to start. Maybe it’s $1 if they make their bed in the morning or for taking the dog for a walk. Adjust the dollar amount as you see fit for your family and your own budget. Is your child old enough to have a job? Babysitting in the neighborhood or paper routes are great options for kids who aren’t old enough to drive.

Once you have your child earning money, it’s time to incorporate the savings aspect, which is different for different ages.

“Preschoolers – make sure they’re putting their money in a clear jar so that they can see it grow,” said Pratt. “For elementary to middle-school aged children, have them try a three jar system — spending, saving and giving—making sure they understand that at least 10% should be saved.”

Pratt also thinks that it’s worthwhile to get the whole family involved.

“Some people have even considered matching what their children save. If their children saved 10%, mom and dad kick in another 10%. So for every dollar saved, they put a dime away and their parents match it. So it’s like their own little family 401k.”

The Two Rivers Bank & Trust in Mediapolis partners with its schools to create a Bulldog Savings Bank.

“We go to the school once a week and have our Bulldog Savings Bank members come in and deposit. Now, they can only deposit up to $20/week, but if they deposit $20/week throughout the whole year, that adds up to be quite a bit. Even $5, that’s a lot more than what they had before. And the children, they have fun. They come in and they get waited on by our 5th graders that are our bank tellers and it’s a great way to integrate children into the banking system.”

Goals

Based on what their earning potential is, set goals for your child to meet every week. For example, if they are earning around $10 per week, make it exciting for them to set aside $2 for savings.

It’s important to figure out what they are they saving for. Set a goal for your child as far as what they can spend their savings on. Have they been wanting to go to Chuck-E-Cheese every time you’re driving around for errands? Do they love going to the pool during the summer? Give them a payoff and it’ll make it more exciting!

Two Rivers Bank & Trust believes in teaching good fundamental savings habits, which is why they have a savings account for your child. The Jr. Banker Savings account only requires a $5 deposit to open an interest bearing account, with fantastic rates on account balances in two tiers. The account even converts into a regular savings account when the account holder turns 18! Stop into your neighborhood Two Rivers Bank & Trust to get your little one started with savings today.

Wedding

Tips on how to frugally find your way through wedding season

Who knew having so many friends could come back to haunt you? Between flights, hotels, gifts, attire, etc… weddings don’t just add up for the bride and groom, but for their guests too. Here are a few tips to make it through wedding season with your savings still intact.

Credit card rewards

Two Rivers Bank and Trust offers rewards for simply using your credit card. It’s essentially free money you can redeem on flights, hotels, gift cards, merchandise, food, and more. Look into all of the benefits your Two Rivers Bank and Trust card offers. If you have a lot of weddings further away this summer, redeem those rewards and put them toward your airfare and lodging.

“One of our options is that you get one point for every one dollar that you spend or, for the cash reward, you get one percent cash reward back,” said Two Rivers Bank & Trust Teller Supervisor Kristin Fritz. “It’s easy and not all of the cards out there offer those great kick-backs and rewards, so in that sense, it makes you feel better about your spending.”

Compare lodging rates

The bride and groom will often reserve a block of rooms at a specific hotel close to their wedding venue at a group rate. But, that doesn’t mean you need to stay there. Shop around. If the pricing for the “suggested” hotel is out of your price range, there’s nothing wrong with staying another mile or two down the road for half the cost.

If the wedding you’re attending will have a big group of your friends in attendance, suggest renting a house for a couple days through Airbnb or another short-term rental site. This allows for multiple people to split the cost of the rental, and if the house comes with a kitchen, you can save on food too!

Keep it simple

Men don’t necessarily rack up the bucks on wedding attire. They can usually get away with throwing on their usual suit, picking out a tie, and they’re set. Unfortunately, women don’t have it that easy. For starters, (most) women know that they should never show up the bride by arriving in an eye-popping ensemble. If they wear a dress that’s appropriate and memorable, they likely won’t want to wear it to another wedding where the same people will be present. So what’s a girl to do?

According to Wisebread.com, women are not encouraged to wear a printed dress to a wedding because prints are remembered. If you’re looking to get a little more bang for your buck, opt for a solid color and spice it up with accessories. Change out scarves, jewelry, shoes, handbags, etc… These items will cost a lot less than a completely new outfit from scratch.

Use your Two Rivers Bank & Trust Credit Card

Take full advantage of your purchases by investing in a card that invests in you.

“You can use it anywhere. As far as lodging, you’re getting those points back. Or, when you buy the gift, you’re going to get rewards that you can use on something else along the way. So, you’re getting a kick-back whenever you are making a purchase of any kind,” said Fritz.

One thing you should never leave behind during wedding weekends is your Two Rivers Bank & Trust Credit Card. Whether it’s the hotel room, night-of attire, or the pedicure the week before, the Two Rivers Bank & Trust Credit Card is where you have your choice of card and your choice of rewards. You can choose between the Cash Rewards, Platinum Rewards or Platinum for whatever your spending needs.