6 Smart Things To Do With Your Tax Refund

Pink piggy bank with a dollar bill in the slot

Tax Day. Two of the most dreaded words in the English language. So ominous that even Benjamin Franklin famously remarked in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy that “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Tax Day in the United States has long been derided and viewed as something awful, and for good reason. It’s tedious going through all of your receipts. It’s frustrating trying to navigate the labyrinthine tax code. The fear of an IRS audit looms large in today’s society. And let’s not even talk about the feeling you get when you have to write that check to Uncle Sam. *Ugh*

Despite all of the negative connotations Tax Day has earned, this is not necessarily the case for everyone. According to IRS statistics, it would seem that in 2012, around 70% of taxpayers received a refund. If you are the lucky recipient of such a windfall then the bigger question is: what to do with it? It’s no secret that retailers want that money, and will offers sales and deals to get you to part with it. While the urge to splurge on a big-ticket item like a new TV, smartphone, tablet, or some other toy or gadget is quite tough to resist, let’s look at a few things that you could do with your refund instead…

 

  1. Set Up An Emergency Fund. This is perhaps the most important, and easiest, thing you can do with your refund. A good rule of thumb for an emergency fund is to save approximately three months worth of living expenses. So tally up all of your bills for a three-month period and you’ll have a great starting point for your emergency fund. The critical thing to remember about an emergency fund is this: only use it for emergencies! Don’t use the money for something frivolous. Only use it for things like repairing your car after an accident, paying medical bills after an injury, or paying bills if you find yourself between jobs.
  2. Pay Down Debt. After you have an emergency fund established paying off debt is the best thing you can do. Carrying a lot of debt (student loans, car loans, credit card etc.) is a big drag financially and emotionally. So this tip is to simply use your refund to pay off some of that debt. Choose one of your higher-interest debts (since that interest is only adding to your debt) and put your refund towards the balance. You will save money in the long run by paying less in fees and interest, while reducing the amount of debt you owe.
  3. Make Home Improvements. Take a look around your home. Do you need any repairs? Perhaps a new roof? Maybe you could use some new appliances that are more energy-efficient? Whatever the case may be, putting money back into your home is a good investment. You can increase your property value while increasing your comfort level all at once.
  4. Set Up A College Fund. Invest in your children’s future by using your refund to establish a college fund for your kids.
  5. Donate To Charities. Giving to charities frequently is hard if you’re on a budget or carrying a lot of debt, so your refund can be a chance to change that. Choose a cause meaningful to you and your family and make a generous donation. Remember you can claim the donation on your taxes next year.
  6. Start Your Business. If you’ve always wanted to be your own boss then put your refund towards making that happen. If you already run your own business then reinvest your refund in your business to help it grow, increasing your income for years to come.

 

This list is just a primer, there are many sensible things you can do with your refund. Always remember to take a moment to look at your financial situation and determine your own best course of action.

 

Are you getting a refund this year? Let us know what you’d like to do with it in the comments below…

 

It’s Never Too Early to Learn to Save

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by Hope Roush, OVB Financial Literacy Leader

It’s never too early to learn how to be money savvy, and as an effort to teach children the value of a dollar, the American Bankers Association established Teach Children to Save Day. This year’s celebration took place Friday, April 11. According to the ABA, Teach Children to Save has reached more than six million young people through the commitment of 134,200 bank volunteers. In addition to the day itself, the ABA encourages participants to spread the Teach Children to Save message throughout the month of April and spring season.

Ohio Valley Bank once again took part in Read more of this post

Teaching Teens To Be Financially Successful

It seems that money grabs the attention of mostly everyone, especially teenagers these days. High Schoolers  tend to appreciate money’s ability to keep them up to date with the latest trends. While it’s good for teens to be ambitious and have the desire to be financially successful, they need to learn about money management first. The old and often used saying, “money doesn’t grow on trees,” is a good lesson that everyone should learn.

As an effort to teach students the banking basics and how to properly manage money, Ohio Valley Bank created the BANKit! program. During my time as the Financial Literacy Leader at OVB, BANKit! has expanded to reach all Gallipolis City and Gallia County High Schools as well as two Mason County, WV schools. I can honestly say that working with teens through the BANKit! program has been a rewarding experience. I love that through BANKit! these students are learning something that I was essentially clueless about at their age.

The BANKit! program runs throughout the entire school year. Each month, I visit participating schools and we do a lesson on some type of financial subject, such as budgeting, credit scores, loans, identity theft, and knowing the difference between debit and credit.  Along with lessons, students are playing the BANKit! game, which works like this:

  1. At the beginning of the year students are presented with $100 in Buzz Bucks, the BANKit! currency.
  2. Their goal is to increase their $100 as much as possible by the end of the school year.
  3. Students must strategize how they would like to manage that money. They have the option of dividing it into many account types, including checking, savings, money market or certificate of deposit. They can also choose to keep some of their Buzz Backs in cash or take a risk and invest in BANKit’s fictional company, Pseudosoft.
  4. Each month students must draw a Real Life Card, where they are presented with unexpected cash or an unforeseen bill.

Not only are the students’ goals to make as much money as they can, but the individual with the highest ending balance is rewarded at the end of the year with a cash prize. In addition, the BANKit! game encourages student camaraderie as classes compete against each other for the best average class balance. Anytime you involve competition and money, it seems to catch the attention of teenagers! I get a kick out of seeing them get so competitive, and while entertaining, it’s even better because they are actually learning along the way!

As the year progresses, it’s very rewarding to witness a change first hand in the students’ approach to money.  I love seeing that “light bulb” switch on for them once they finally grasp a concept. I also really enjoy watching the wheels turn in their brain as they attempt to strategize new ways to win the BANKit! game.

At the end of the year my BANKit! students are still teenagers, who probably still want money for all the latest fads. However, they are more financially savvy teens who have hopefully learned a thing or two about what it takes to manage money.

Mason-Co-BANKit

Why I Went From Credit to Debit

©Getty Images

©Getty Images

I have a startling confession to make. Up until recently, I was a heavy credit card user, and it wasn’t an OVB credit card.  Boo! Hiss! Snarl! That’s the sound of certain members of my OVB family coming to take me out. The fact is, I received a credit card from an unnamed national credit card company prior to my employment with Ohio Valley Bank and just never switched over.  I was receiving 1% cash back, I was able to pay for everything a month later (more on why that’s a negative below), and I had just gotten in the habit of using it.

Recently, however, I made the jump from a national credit card to a local debit card.  Why? Well I’ll tell you!

Budgeting

It’s easier for me to budget when the money comes out of my account right away. Sure for the first month of paying with a credit card it might be easier to pay a month later, but after a point it really isn’t any different from paying now.

Read more of this post

Be Prepared When Applying for a Loan

©Getty Images

©Getty Images

While loans can be quite useful and are often necessary for many circumstances such as starting a business or purchasing a car, for some the thought of going through the application process can be intimidating. While it is true that applying for a loan can be a detailed process, with a little preparation it can be rather simple. In order to simplify the process, we asked two of OVB’s lenders, Shelly Boothe and Steve Nibert, what a potential customer should bring with them when applying for a loan.

Regardless of the type of loan needed, both Boothe and Nibert agree that there are two important things you must have when applying:

  1.  Identification
  2.  Recent Pay Stubs

“From there (what you need) differs depending on whether it is a mortgage or installment loan,” Boothe added.

For example, on a secured installment loan, which includes both car and ATV loans, two recent pay stubs are needed.  According to Nibert, if the unit is coming from a dealer than a purchase agreement is needed while a bill of sale must be presented if the unit is from an individual. For unsecured loans, which are loans that don’t require anything to be held for collateral, only two recent pay stubs are required.

Of course, mortgage loans, which are the most complicated loan type, also require the most items. To get the application started, Nibert recommends customers present the following items in addition to ID and pay stubs:

  1.  Past two tax returns and W-2’s
  2. Information on the home, which can include a legal description, real estate tax bills, and an estimate on homeowners insurance

“Once we have most of these items we can take the application, pull a credit report and evaluate the request to see if we are able to approve the loan,” Nibert said.

Lenders, like Boothe and Nibert, are available to work with customers and guide them through the loan process. Currently, Ohio Valley Bank offers mortgages, home equity, construction, auto, and personal loans. On the business side, OVB offers many financing options, including commercial real estate loans, floor plan financing, loans on stocks and bonds, commercial equipment loans, SBA loans, commercial construction loans, and USDA loans.

©Getty Images

©Getty Images

For more information on loans or other financial services offered by OVB, visit www.ovbc.com.  Ohio Valley Bank is an Equal Housing Lender.

5 Cool Things You Might Not Know OVB Has

Ohio Valley Bank is a community bank.  We offer a small town vibe with small town customer service.  Your neighbor down the street could be the one taking your deposit, and that is part of what makes community banks great.  However, that doesn’t mean we can slack on bringing you the best in technology, convenience and useful products.  Even our best customers might miss out on something we release from time to time, so today I’m going to talk about a few of those things you may have missed.

Money Island & The Centsables

One thing all kids (and I) have in common is the love of playing games.  That’s why we offer Money Island.  Money Island is an online, virtual world where kids can log into a safe environment, play games, build a virtual home and learn how to be financially sound.  Check out the story of Stone Broke in the video below. Read more of this post

5 Tips for ATM Safety

A row of colorful ATMs.

Getty Images

ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) are a common, everyday part of our modern lives. Ohio Valley Bank introduced Gallia County’s first ATM back in 1979 (though when the ATM was truly invented is still debated) and today you can usually find one nearby, no matter where you might be. They are in coffee shops, shopping malls, convenience stores, and you can even find them in courthouses. They are great for grabbing some quick cash, making a deposit, or checking your account balance, but with this proliferation of ATMs comes the opportunity for unscrupulous individuals to abuse them. ATM fraud is a valid concern we should all be aware of. Let’s take a quick look at some of the best practices one can remember when dealing with ATMs.

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