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First Bank Wisdoms

Let’s Achieve It!

I hope you enjoyed your holiday, along with a spectacular fireworks display. One of our favorite holidays, my wife and I attended a local display not far from our home to enjoy the celebration of this great nation’s birthday and freedoms. How lucky and blessed are we? Recently, I heard a sobering statistic that America’s World War II Veterans are leaving us at the rate of 430 per day. This ‘greatest generation’ and their sacrifices helped ensure we’re still afforded our Independence Day. Through our partnerships and support of such first-class organizations as the St. Louis Blues and the Greater St. Louis Honor Flight (GSLHF), we’re able to assist in the mission to honor St. Louis area veterans’ service in World War II and other wars, by providing an all-inclusive trip to Washington, DC to visit the memorials built in their honor.  It’s through this organization that we’ve had the honor of meeting such incredible heroes as WWII Veteran John W ...

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First Bank Recognizes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

.alignText { text-align:center; } 14 Tips for Stopping Elder Financial Abuse in its Tracks               Every year, millions of seniors fall victim to financial fraud. Studies show elder financial abuse costs seniors approximately $2.9 billion each year. In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, First Bank is urging older clients and their trusted caregivers to safeguard all personal information and stay alert to the common signs of financial abuse. “Fraudsters often prey on seniors experiencing cognitive decline, limited mobility and other disabilities that require them to rely more heavily on others for help,” said Kelly Wiese, Senior Vice President/Director of Marketing. “Appointing someone you know and trust to handle your financial matters aids tremendously in the fight against these crimes.” First Bank is offering the following tips: Plan ahead to protect your assets an ...

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It’s Possible to Save Money While on Vacation

Summer vacation plans for many travelers have already begun. For many, this is the one week (or two) each year where everyone in the family is off from school, work, and team sports, so the desire to splurge is certainly understandable. Although enjoying your well-deserved vacation should be the primary goal, it’s also necessary to keep over-spending in check by having a reasonable budget in mind. Vacations can be expensive—the average American household spent approximately $1,800 per person on summer vacations last year, and that cost continues to rise in 2017. With over 44% of that budget going toward transportation, establishing an overall vacation budget is better done BEFORE the trip, not after the excitement has already begun. Not sure where to begin? Let’s get started! 1) Check with a trusted travel agent. Although there are many resources available online, checking with a travel agent before your trip may prove to be helpful. Often, agents have access to special offers and res ...

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7 Tips for Protecting Yourself Online

Though the internet has countless uses and advantages in our daily lives, it can also make users vulnerable to fraud, identity theft, and other scams. According to a recent survey, a staggering 12 adults become a victim of cybercrime every second.  We’d like to recommend the following tips to keep you safe online: 1.    Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date.   Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive up-to-date fixes as they become available.   2.    Set strong passwords. A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.   3.    Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account ...

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The “Paying for College” Conversation

It’s easy to get caught up in filling out FAFSA and loan applications, evaluating your 529 plan performance and planning a budget for college expenses, and forget one very important step of the paying for college process: having an open, honest conversation with your child about how you will handle the cost of college.  According to the College Savings Foundation 2013 Survey of Parents, 75 percent of parents expect their children to contribute to college costs. If you’re among this number, do your children know that these are the expectations? It’s important to have “the college conversation” well in advance of the first tuition bill so that there aren’t any surprises or arguments over who will be paying when the time comes. These tips can help you maneuver this tricky conversation with ease. Before you talk Do your calculations As accurately as you can, estimate how much you would be able to contribute to each school that your child has received an aid off ...

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FAFSA 101

The U.S. Department of Education provides more than $150 billion in financial assistance for education each year. However, if you want your child to have a chance at receiving any of this aid, you’ll have to fill out FAFSA. FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is one of the most significant determinants of how your child’s higher education will be funded. Administered by the Department of Education, FAFSA analyzes your income and other household financial information to determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which in turn determines how much financial aid your child is eligible to receive. Learn why it’s important to submit FAFSA and what you’ll need to do during the submission process. Who should fill out FAFSA? The short answer to this question is everyone that wants to pursue higher education. There is technically no income limit for who can receive federal aid, and FAFSA also makes you eligible for non-need-based aid, such as federal loans. There ...

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Time for Graduation Season: Time to Talk Money

It's May, also known as graduation season. Do you know of a graduating senior or do you have one in your household? Many new graduates find themselves in a new, more independent role, along with the financial independence that often comes along with living on their own. Although this is an exciting time, it can also be intimidating as money management is a big part of adulthood. In order to help get students started on the path to financial independence, we wanted to offer the following tips:   Help your student learn the importance of creating a budget. The first step in managing your own finances is to create a realistic budget and sticking to it. Watch spending. Keep all receipts and track spending. Pace all spending (even minor purchases) and increase saving by cutting unnecessary expenses, like eating out or shopping for new clothes, so that your money can last longer.  Use credit wisely. Understand the responsibilities that come with using cred ...

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Tax Facts: Charitable Deductions

This year the deadline for individuals to file or request an extension is April 18 th. If you owe taxes, filing an extension does not mean you get an extension to pay. With the tax deadline looming, individuals who gifted cash or goods to charity in 2016 may be able to claim a deduction on their federal return. Before you do there are some important facts to know before taking the deduction: Qualified Charity - The donation must be made to a qualified charitable organization. Gifts to specific individuals, political organizations, social clubs and foreign organizations (certain Canadian, Israeli or Mexican charitable organizations allowed) are not deductible. Confirm with the organization their status. Beware of fake charities set up by scam artists. Itemize Deductions - In order to deduct charitable contributions the taxpayer must itemize deductions. Benefit in Return - If you get something in return for the donation, this may reduce the amount you are able to deduct. Taxpaye ...

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We have a heart for our Clients, Community, and History

If you’ve watched any news programs or viewed any popular social feeds lately, you know there’s certainly no shortage of commentary regarding presidential topics from both sides of the platform. While I’m not here to voice opinions or raise discussions on debatable issues, I do wish to commemorate our proud American heritage and democracy. Since President’s Day is tomorrow, I felt it would be a good time to reflect–not on policies or viewpoints –but, simple reflections on what a blessing it is to live in a nation that’s afforded us the right to peacefully choose our voice in government. Of course, history tells us this freedom, along with countless others, has come only from the bravery and sacrifice of our military men and women–past and present. For this, we truly thank you. I’ve mentioned previously that First Bank originated its humble roots as a small, family-owned bank in Creve Coeur, right at the time of William Howard Taft’s presidency. ...

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Tax Updates for 2017

Every year in the fall, the Internal Revenue Service announces the annual inflation adjustments for the next year. For 2017, the biggest news is there is very little change. Due to the low cost-of-living index, most of the figures did not meet the threshold to trigger an increase. Summarized below are a few highlights comparing 2016 and 2017:

2017 Tax Update chart comparing 2016 to 2017

The data contained in this article is for information purposes only and is not intended for legal, tax or accounting advice. The information was taken from sources we believe are reliable and may be subject to change.

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All First Bank blog information and content is strictly informational. It is not intended to be specific investment, tax, or legal advice. If you need detailed financial, investment, or tax advice, please contact a First Bank qualified professional. Please note, First Bank occasionally shares third-party content we find to be relevant and helpful to our audiences.