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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 ...

Are you Concerned About the Equifax Breach?

As you may have heard, Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies that handle the data of consumers and businesses worldwide recently reported a data breach. At First Bank, the security of our clients’ information and accounts is paramount. In light of the Equifax security breach, we’ve reviewed our security procedures and made adjustments to continue protecting our clients’ information and account access.  Rest assured, we employ a variety of security measures to defend against such continuously-evolving threats. In addition to the actions taken by First Bank, there are actions you can take to further protect yourself. Visit the website www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. This site is dedicated to the Equifax security breach, allowing you to do the following: Check online whether or not your information was impacted at https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/. Enroll in the credit monitoring and identity theft insurance service offered free for a y ...

Need Help Finding Extra Money to Save Each Month?

Fall is here which means the holidays aren’t too far away. Is it time to consider ways to help you save money each month? While we should all be saving all year, the change of seasons is always a good time to assess where our hard-earned money is going, while also ensuring it’s going where it should be. With a thorough review, perhaps you’ll find there are ways to shave money off of your monthly bills or expenses each month. We’d like to offer a few suggestions while you’re creating your budget for the remainder of the year: 1. Use online and mobile banking to stay on top of your accounts. Set up alerts to notify you if your balance becomes too low or a deposit is made. This will help you to better manage your money. Be sure to set up direct deposit into your savings account(s) to help you gradually build your savings over time. 2. Depending on where you live, Autumn may mean cooler temperatures than what’s typically enjoyed during the summer months. This can t ...

Diversifying Assets

As you know, diversifying assets is always a wise financial decision. It’s also important to make your savings an important part of your overall financial strategy. Whether you're putting a percentage of your income toward retirement or saving for a rainy day, it’s vital to continue building your savings with each paycheck. Whether it’s saving for college, retirement, a house, or just an unexpected car repair, saving is critical for your financial future. Starting with your first paycheck, a set percentage of your income should be direct deposited into your savings account. That way, if it isn’t part of your checking account that you normally make purchases from, you won’t miss it. In addition to traditional savings accounts, it’s also a good idea to consider a CD (Certificate of Deposit) as part of your savings strategy. CD rates stay consistent so you can have the peace-of-mind that comes from locking into a stable, longer-term rate. Once you’ve locked into a ...

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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.