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Financial Tips For Military Families

As we honor our nation’s Independence Day, we are reminded of the many sacrifices service members and their families make to protect it. First Bank has highlighted seven financial tips to help make the lives of military families a little easier. Military families do an incredible service for this country. The nature of their jobs is inherently stressful – but financial stress shouldn’t be part of it. First Bank would like to offer the following tips to help service members pave the way toward a strong financial future: Contribute to a Thrift Savings Plan. Military members have access to the Federal Thrift Savings Program, which offers the lowest-cost retirement-savings plan available. Have automatic contributions withdrawn from your paycheck. Plan for deployment. Before deploying, have a conversation with your family about managing the household budget. Consider granting power of attorney to your spouse, should they need to make any urgent financial decisions while you are gon ...

Mobile Banking While Traveling: Let’s Stay Safe!

While you’re enjoying your travels this summer, be sure to take First Bank’s mobile banking options with you. As mobile devices become more and more popular, hackers are finding savvy ways to steal information. We’d like to urge clients to be extra cautious when using mobile devices to do their banking while on vacation. It’s important to always take a common sense approach to mobile banking, especially when traveling. Use caution on your phone, just like you would a laptop or tablet. First Bank is offering the following tips to help you further protect your information: Avoid storing sensitive information like passwords and social security numbers on your mobile device. Password protect your mobile device and lock it when you’re not using it. Be aware of your surroundings. Do not type any sensitive information if others around you can see. Log out completely when you finalize a mobile banking session. Protect your phone from viruses and malware just like you ...

Six Smart Money Moves for New College Graduates

More than 70 percent of college graduates began their career owing more than $37,000 in student loans last year. Considering the additional living expenses they’ll soon face, new college graduates would be wise to focus on their financial future right now. First Bank has highlighted six smart financial decisions college graduates should consider to position themselves for financial success as they embark on their next phase of life. The habits new graduates develop right now will have a big effect on their financial future. Living expenses add up quickly once you’re out on your own, and many young adults who didn’t plan ahead are delaying major milestones, like getting married or buying a home, because of their financial situation. The good news is that you can have a bright financial future if you think strategically about money right out of the gate. First Bank recommends the following financial tips for new college graduates: Create a budget. Supporting yourself can be ex ...

Seven Worthwhile Ways to Use Your Tax Refund

According to the Internal Revenue Service, more than 70 percent of the nation’s taxpayers received a tax refund averaging nearly $3,000 in 2017 and could potentially get a similar amount this year. As Americans receive their refunds along with additional benefits coming from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in December, here are seven tips to help tax refund recipients efficiently utilize those tax refunds. Tax season is the perfect time to hit the reset button on your finances. Your refund can help put you on the right path toward reaching your financial goals. Consider using it to pay off debts, creating an emergency fund, or saving for the future. Save for emergencies. More than 60 percent of Americans are not prepared for unexpected expenses. You can prepare by opening or adding to a savings account that serves as an “emergency fund.” Ideally, it should hold about three-to-six months of living expenses in case of sudden financial hardships, like losing your job or having to repl ...

Tips for your Financial Spring Cleaning

As we kick off the spring months by cleaning, sorting, and tidying up around the house, don’t forget to add financial organization to your spring cleaning to-do list. To help, we’ve highlighted six tips for organizing your ‘financial house’. People are motivated to get things done when the weather warms up and the flowers bloom, which makes it an ideal time to look closely at your savings and spending habits. After all, putting in the work now will help you live your best life in the months ahead. These six tips can help consumers get started organizing their finances: Review your budget. A lot can change in a year. If you’ve been promoted, had a child, or become a new homeowner or renter, be sure to update your budget. Determine what expenses demand the most money and identify areas where you can realistically cut back. Develop a strategy for spending and saving – and stick to it. Evaluate and pay down debt. Take a look at how much you owe and what you are pa ...

‎Will Your Home Improvement Make you Money?

The spring season is always a great time to get started on those long overdue home improvement projects in order to get prepared for all of the upcoming summer activities. Perhaps, you’ve decided you’d like to create an outdoor living space, add a gazebo, or install a stone patio? Or, maybe your home improvement projects are more like home maintenance projects that you just haven’t gotten to tackle? If you’ve made the decision to get started, then you may want to consider the projects and their return on your investment (ROI). According to a recent study, the following six home improvement projects returned the highest investment on your home’s resale value: Attic insulation—107.7% (ROI) New Entry Door—90.7% (ROI) Siding Replacement—76.4% (ROI) Deck Addition (wood)—71.5% (ROI) Deck Addition (composite)—65.2% Backyard Patio—54.9% (ROI) Although you may not plan to sell your home soon, your ROI is important before determin ...

Online Dating Scams: Don’t Be Bitten by the “Love Bug”

We realize it’s not a popular topic immediately after Valentine’s Day, but there’s a growing scam trend that’s occurring throughout the entire year. According to the FBI, over $220 million was lost in 2016 to online romance scam artists. That’s a staggering statistic. Social media networks and dating websites have become increasingly popular tools for meeting and communicating. Unfortunately, fraudsters have capitalized on this trend and often create fake profiles to lure in victims, establish relationships and eventually, extort money. Older Americans, in particular, have been targeted by this type of scam. If you’re concerned that you or a loved one is being scammed, the ABA Foundation and FTC recommend taking the following precautions: Slow down – and talk to someone you trust. Don’t let a scammer rush you. Never wire money, put money on a gift or cash reload card, or send cash to an online love interest. You won’t get it back. Contact Firs ...

Seven Tips to Prevent Tax ID Fraud

As the 2018 tax season gets underway, we’re urging our clients to take extra precaution when filing their return to prevent their exposure to tax fraud. “Fraudsters are using very clever tactics to get a hold of your personal information and submit false tax claims,” said Marc Ashworth CISSP, CISM, CRISC, Vice President, Information Security Manager for First Bank. “Consumers must be suspicious of any communication from the IRS through email, text, telephone or social media that requests personal information, and should keep a watchful eye out for missing W-2s and mail containing sensitive financial information.” Tax identity fraud takes place when a criminal files a false tax return using a stolen Social Security number in order to fraudulently claim the refund. Identity thieves generally file false claims early in the year and victims are unaware until they file a return and learn one has already been filed in their name. During this tax season, we’re offering th ...

Let’s Get Financially Fit in 2018!

We’re well into the new year…where are you with your resolutions? Are you staying on track or have you started? Either way, it’s never too late to assess your goals. Whether it’s fitness or finance, having a plan and sticking to it is the best way to ensure you’ll meet your goals. If your resolution is financial fitness, you’ve come to the right place. First Bank’s team of professionals are ready to help answer your questions and help you get your finances in tip-top shape. Let’s get started. Organize all of your bills (both automatic payment and paper) and arrange them by due date. It’s hard to know what we have to work with if we don’t know where our hard-earned money is going each month. If you’re not already using automatic bill pay within our online banking system, take this time to set it up. This will help to avoid any late payment fees. This is also a great time to sign up to receive e-statements if you’re still receivin ...

Let’s Honor the Heroes!

Although technology has improved our lives in countless ways, it’s also inundated us with around-the-clock headlines. That said, the past several months have certainly challenged us emotionally as we’ve witnessed an unprecedented amount of natural disasters and other tragedies. Our hearts go out to those impacted. In times like these, it’s essential to stay focused on the positives–especially the heroes. You see, I’ve always heard in times of tragedy, “to look for the helpers.” You’ll always find people ready and willing to selflessly help their fellow man in times of need. From dedicated first responders to off-duty officers and veterans helping to save those critically wounded; not to mention, good Samaritans putting themselves in harm’s way to rescue fellow strangers, we’ve seen countless acts of heroism. For this, we honor you. First Bank has the privilege to escort WWII veteran Jerome Huelsman and his family to the Blues game ...

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Disclosure

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.