Making the Most of Your Fair Winnings

by Hope Roush, OVB Financial Literacy Leader

 

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Just like that another fair season has come and gone in a flash. While kids are now moving their focus from fair projects to books and school, it’s never too early to begin thinking about next year’s fair. Read more of this post

Shark Week Rules Can Help You Make Smarter Financial Decisions

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Shark Week is here! The Discovery Channel’s longtime celebrated week of television offers many tips for shark encounters. Much of the advice learned through shark week can be applied to your financial well-being? Say what?

Yes, it’s true. Simple Shark Week rules can be applied to your everyday life, specifically your finances. Many of the tips to prevent beach-goers from experiencing a shark encounter can be easily used to make smarter decisions in general. Consider the following:

  1. Shark Week Tip: Don’t go swimming after dark. This same piece of advice also works when dealing with your money. Financial Tip: Don’t make financial decisions after dark. If you are making a major decision regarding your finances late at night, you might not be in the most alert state of mind. Generally, you are more tired at night and worn out from the stresses of the day. Instead, it’s best to sleep on your thoughts and then make your decision when you are rested and rejuvenated the next morning.
  2. Shark Week Tip: Don’t go swimming alone. Swimming alone and dealing with your finances all by yourself are two choices that aren’t necessarily the best. Financial Tip: Seeking advice on your finances can be very beneficial. It’s good to explore many options when making a major financial decision. There are professionals that are more than happy to guide you on the path to make the best decisions with your money.
  3. Shark Week Tip: Steer clear of murky water. If the water looks grim, it’s probably a good bet it’s not safe. If you receive some type of money offer and it doesn’t quite look legit, it’s likely it would be something unwise to pursue as well. Financial Tip: If you get a “free money” offer in the mail that looks unclear, such as a “sweepstakes” win that you never entered, it’s probably a scam. This type of scam unfortunately affects many people. Avoid this “murky area” and contact your local financial institution if you are not sure what to do with this type of situation.
  4. Shark Week Tip: Stay calm. If you actually see a shark while swimming, the best thing to do is remain calm. Panicking could actually draw more attention to yourself, which could incite an attack. When dealing with your money, it’s best to always stay calm if you notice something wrong. Financial Tip: If you are ever in a situation where you notice suspicious activity on your accounts, the best thing to do is remain calm. Report your concerns and let your financial institution handle the situation. Also, if you are ever worried about your current money circumstances, such as making a payment on time, it’s a good idea to stay calm and contact your financial institution for advice on how to handle this issue.
  5. Shark Week Tip: Avoid swimming in deep water. Swimming in deep water increases the odds of a shark encounter. When dealing with your finances, it’s best to not get in too deep as well. Financial Tip: If you find yourself experiencing a financial problem, such as credit card debt, it is important to not get in over your head. For example, it could be bad and result in poor credit if you try to pay off one credit card with another. If you find yourself confused on how to handle a financial decision, don’t let the stress engulf you. Contact your financial institution for help before things get out of hand.

While it seems odd to compare Shark Week advice with financial tips, as you can see the lessons are often quite similar. The experts know how to handle shark encounters, just like the professionals at financial institutions, including Ohio Valley Bank, can help you make the best decisions regarding your financial well-being.

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If you didn’t get enough on the shark-side of things from us, be sure to check out the Discovery Channel’s 27th Anniversary of Shark Week, running from Sunday, Aug. 10 through Saturday, Aug. 16. For a full Shark Week line-up, check out www.discovery.com. For information on financial services at Ohio Valley Bank, visit www.ovbc.com.

Financial Tips From Frozen

Kids watching Frozen.

Hopefully they learned as much as we did from watching this.

Financial literacy is a huge topic right now, and rightly so. Proper financial management is considered a weakness for many Americans. Our hope at OVB, is that we can give you some thought provoking, and sometimes entertaining tips that will help you better manage your finances.

What better way to learn about financial literacy, than through tips gleaned from the wildly popular Disney movie, Frozen?

Before we go on, I should warn you that for the one percent of you who haven’t seen Frozen yet, there will be spoilers. If you don’t want a major plot point being spoiled for you, don’t continue on.

We’ll start with the easy one that’s pretty much spelled out by the characters in the movie.

Supply and Demand

When Kristoff goes into Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post during the “Big Summer Blowout” looking for winter supplies, he discovers that “supply and demand have a big problem.” The supply of winter gear is low, which results in the price he has to pay being much higher than expected.

The most glaring example of this in the real world is with mobile phones. When that brand new iPhone comes out, demand is very high and so is the price. If you can stand not having the newest, shiniest technology, waiting a year will allow you to buy the same phone at a greatly reduced price.

Set up an emergency fund

What caused the supply and demand problem in the previous section? That would be Elsa and her ice powers. Kristoff sells ice for a living, “a rough business to be in right now” for sure. If he had an emergency fund, he’d be able to live comfortably during this time of unexpected hardship.

Most experts recommend saving three to six months’ worth of income for your emergency fund. This fund can be used when unexpected things happen, such as losing a job, incurring unexpected expenses or your queen losing control of her ice powers and thrusting the land into an eternal winter, which happens more often than one would think.

Insurance

Kristoff’s sled went plummeting down into a ravine, eventually bursting into flames, Kristoff just might have been thinking, “Man, I wish I bought insurance on that thing.” Thanks to the eventual generosity of the royal family, Kristoff was able to replace his sled with an even fancier model, but we can’t all rely on that kind of thing.

Insurance is just in case protection. In other words, you are at least somewhat protected, just in case something bad happens. Some types of insurance are required, but some aren’t. For some people, insurance is completely unnecessary…until it isn’t. You can’t count on things always working out in your favor. When something does eventually go wrong, it’s good to know that your home, car and family will be protected.

Too good to be true

Lastly, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. When Anna met Hans, fell in love at first sight and got engaged to someone she knew for ONE DAY, it seemed like a fairy tale come true. It was a fairy tale alright, but it wasn’t real. Hans eventually showed his true colors and turned on Anna.

Just like in the movie, there are a lot of disgusting people out there that will do whatever they can to take advantage of others. They will promise money, gifts and even their love in order to get what they want, which is usually money. My advice is to have a somewhat skeptical eye when communicating on the internet with someone you don’t know. If someone else initiates the conversation (through phone, email or social media) be very cautious about what information you give them.

Did any financial tips jump out at you when watching Frozen? If so, leave them in the comments below.

Shopping for Professional Attire on a Budget

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Shopping on a budget can be a challenge. The challenge can be even greater when you are looking to update your professional work attire on a budget.

Many jobs require a professional or business casual dress appearance, and maintaining a work appropriate look isn’t always the easiest on your wallet. However, there are ways that you can look stylish and work appropriate while not breaking the bank. When setting your professional attire budget, you should first read over your workplace’s dress code. Knowing what is and isn’t work appropriate is the first step. Once you have a good understanding of what clothing types are permitted, you can get started.

Taking care of the basics before buying any extra is a good place to begin when shopping for your professional attire. Purchasing the basic clothing items you need first will allow you to better budget for extra pieces, such as ties and/or accessories. Examples of basic professional attire pieces include:

  1. Work appropriate dress slacks in neutral colors, such as black or grey.
  2. Work appropriate dress skirts and dresses in neutral colors, such as black or grey.
  3. Appropriately styled blouses/button-downs/dress shirts in neutral and basic colors, including white, tan, grey, navy and black.
  4. A nice pair of denim jeans for casual work days.

When shopping for your “basic work attire” staples, a good way to save money is to shop in the “off season.” Typically during the autumn and winter months, prices for items such as dress slacks will be more expensive. However, during the spring and summer time these items often go on the sale rack because they are considered “out of season” by many retailers. By stocking up while the items are on sale, you not only save but are able to purchase more items while doing so as well. Shopping during the “off season” for other wardrobe essentials can help you save tremendously.

Once your basics are taken care of, look for clothing pieces that you can mix and match to create different looks without spending any extra money to do so. For women, a good example would be to pair a colorful cardigan with a blouse and dress pants one day and then to wear the cardigan with a skirt or over a dress another day. Men can easily change up their everyday work look by simply wearing a different tie with the same shirt and slacks. In addition, statement pieces, such as jewelry, scarves, ties and pocket squares can be purchased at discount prices for less, but drastically offer your work attire more variety without spending too much money.

Another rule of thumb is to purchase pieces that can be dressed up for work as well as dressed down for more casual functions. This not only cuts costs from your work attire spending, but helps you save money on your general clothing purchases as well. An example would be a nice blouse or polo shirt that could work with both dress slacks as well as a pair of denim jeans. When shopping for work shoes try to keep this idea in mind as well. Make sure that the shoes you choose could easily be dressed up or down depending on circumstance.

Keeping an eye out for sales at local retailers as well as shopping at factory outlet-type stores can further help you save money when building your work appropriate wardrobe. It doesn’t hurt to compare brand prices store to store as well. Many retailers will often match the price of an item to another store that is currently selling the piece for less.

Finally, keeping track of your current work attire can help you save money. If it’s time to purchase new items, consider putting your gently used clothing in a yard sale to help earn extra money to pay for new pieces. This could be done as easily as posting the clothing items you wish to sell on a social networking site, such as Facebook. Knowing what you already have will also help you determine the pieces you need. Remember to always focus on what you need first rather than what you want. It’s also important to keep track of what you purchase, which will help you stick to your budget as well.

Good luck and happy shopping!

Classic “Dadisms” About Money

Fathers Day Tools

Dads tend to have a funny way of expressing themselves don’t they? I chalk it up to the fact that most dads have a repertoire of favorite sayings they always use. You know the ones, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” or “Rub some dirt on it, you’ll be fine” and the always classic “Don’t make me turn this car around!”. These oft-spoken phrase are known as dadisms and for Father’s Day I thought I’d share a few classic dadisms that pertain to money…

  •  Money doesn’t grow on trees you know. Score one for old dad because money, in fact, does not grow on trees. I can hear all the smart mouths out there saying: “But paper comes from trees and money is made of paper so there!” I know they’re saying it because it’s what I said to my dad whenever he told me this. Well it’s knowledge time kids: today’s American bills are actually made of about 75% cotton and 25% linen. So go easy on your dad, he’s just trying to impress on you the fact that money doesn’t come easy, and you don’t want to waste it.
  • Do I look like I’m made of money? A classic dadism. No dad, of course you don’t look like you’re made of money, because as your child I would also then be made of money, and therefore wouldn’t need to bug you for $20 so I can run to the comic book store. This is of course just another weird way that our fathers were trying to get us to think about money more critically, instead of just buying every shiny thing that caught our little eye.
  • Were you raised in a barn? or Are you trying to heat/cool the whole outside? Ah, this one may be my favorite. Anyone who didn’t close the door fast enough, or left it open because they “were just going to be a second then I was going right back outside dad! Geez!” probably heard this tried-but-true favorite of dads everywhere. What we fail to understand as children (well, one of the many things) is the concept of utilities. “You mean we don’t just get unlimited water and electricity for free? Yeah right dad, pull the other one.” But once we get a little older, have our own place, and are paying our own electric bill we quickly understand that our wise dads were just trying to get us not to waste money. (Special mention goes to moms for their variation of this phrase that applies to kids who stand with the refrigerator door open for extended periods of time trying to figure out what they wanted to eat.)
  • If it were easy then everyone would do it. Another very popular dadism but this is just the plain and simple truth. Thanks dad, for helping us all learn that hard work and perseverance is what will get us ahead in life.

Even if it might sound like gibberish or the insane ramblings of an over-worked, middle-aged man on the brink, more often than not dads actually do know what they’re talking about. They just have a weird way of getting the message across. So be thankful our dads passed these phrases along, many of us will be using them on our own kids one day.

13 Money Superstitions for Friday the 13th

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Friday the 13th is the one day (or more than one depending on how the calendar falls) when everyone seems to get at least a little superstitious. The date is so famous (infamous?) that it even has two words to describe the fear of it, and boy are they doozies: friggatriskaidekaphobia and paraskevidekatriaphobia. Good luck saying that five times fast. Anyway, we all know the most-common superstitions associated with Friday the 13th: don’t let a black cat cross your path; don’t walk under a ladder; breaking a mirror will bring you seven years of bad luck; etc. Well, people tend to be very superstitious about their money also, so let’s take a look at 13 common money superstitions.

  1. See a penny pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck!
  2. If you always pick up burnt matches instead of leaving them to lay then money will come to you.
  3. Write with green ink (never red!) and money will flow from your hand.
  4. Fold a new dollar bill lengthwise and you’ll keep your money.
  5. Keep a penny wrapped in paper in your pocket and money will continue to find you.
  6. If you mend or sew on clothes while wearing them you will always be poor.
  7. Peel an onion and burn the skin then money you are sure to win!
  8. If your left palm itches and you rub it on wood then you’ll receive money by the end of the week.
  9. If you see a shooting star and say “money” three times before it’s gone then riches will soon be yours.
  10. If you find money on the first day of the year and keep it, then you will have money throughout the rest of the year.
  11. If your initials spell a word it means you will be rich.
  12. Placing money in the right-hand pocket of new clothes will ensure you have money. Placing it in the left means you’ll have no money as long as the clothes last.
  13. Giving an empty wallet as a present will bring bad luck to the recipient.

This list just barely scratches the surface of all of the money superstitions I’ve heard over the years. For example, I recently heard one that says sorting your money according to denomination is supposed to bring good luck, but I’ve always done that because of my OCD, not because of luck.

Know any other money superstitions? Share them in the comments below…

Tips for Traveling this Summer

Wow, this food is expensive!

Unless you absolutely can’t avoid it, don’t waste your hard-earned money on airport food. In an airport, you are a captive audience, so they will charge insanely high prices for everything. If you just can’t stand waiting, I recommend something small like a pretzel.

Even when I’m rolling through the airport at a typical mealtime, I’ll only have a snack. Personally, I’d rather save my money and appetite for the really good food when I arrive at my destination.

Less is more.

Twenty dollar bills tucked into jeans pocket. Shallow dof.

Cash is an easy way of paying for things quickly and conveniently, but it does have some drawbacks:

  • One credit or debit card can hold thousands of dollars’ worth of purchasing power, but the same amount of cash puts quite the bulge in your wallet. Save space, travel light on the green.
  • Cash is not replaceable. Once that stack of bills you have in your wallet gets lost or stolen, it’s gone. With a card, you can cancel it quickly and conveniently, significantly minimizing any losses you may incur.

I recommend only carrying enough cash for incidentals, such as tips, cab fares and other small purchases you may want to make. For your big souvenir purchases or vacation dinners, credit or debit cards are much more convenient and likely offer rewards to offset some of the cost.

“Hey, I’m leaving the eastern time zone!”

For your protection, many financial institutions will block cards that show unusual use. For example, being used on vacation in San Francisco, California, when you typically only use your card in the tri-county area. While this may seem like a hassle, it really is for your protection and is avoided by simply calling and letting your financial institution know where you are going to be and for how long.

Compartmentalize.

For the cash you do carry, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I may be going a bit far, but when I travel I carry some in my wallet, some in my checked bag, some in my carry-on and I’ve even been known to stash some in my sock. (Note: take stashed cash out of socks before going through security!) If one or more of these items gets lost or stolen, you should have something stashed away to fall back on. At the very least, I recommend splitting your cash into two separate locations, such as your wallet and your luggage.

Have fun, but be safe!

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Of course, the most important part of vacationing is to have fun, but remember to be safe about it. Don’t flaunt the fact that you are a tourist or that you have a bunch of cash in your wallet. Heavy tourist locations are notorious for having a lot of people who will try to take advantage of the unwary vacationer.

Use the comments below to talk about your best money-saving travel tips.

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