Spring Cleaning Your Finances

Housewife holding bucket with cleaning equipment

Here in the Ohio River valley spring is in the air. It’s time to start thinking about cookouts, walks in the park, gardening, and…spring cleaning. It’s always struck me as a little odd how spring cleaning became a thing. If we spend the whole winter cooped up in our homes why don’t we just clean them then? I mean you’re stuck indoors so  But I digress. Spring is a time of renewal, and with it comes a renewed determination to clean up our homes and lives. Spring cleaning doesn’t (and shouldn’t) just apply to your home. It also applies to any other part of your life that might be a bit messy, including your finances. So let’s take a look at a few reasons why getting our financial houses in order this spring can be a big boost…

  1. Being Organized Saves You Time & Trouble. Do you have a drawer stuffed with receipts? Is your desk swamped with paperwork? Set aside some time to specifically file and organize your financial documents; whether this means putting them in a filing cabinet, using binder clips, color-coded tab folders, or whatever you like is up to you. Whatever works best. You will soon find that having your finances organized neatly and orderly will make going over them far less daunting.
  2. Your Financial Awareness Will Increase. During the process of organizing and filing you will get a good idea of where you stand financially. This is a great time for review and reflection on the services you pay for, and a great time to trim some of the fat from your expenses.
  3. Going Paperless Saves. While you’re getting organized you can take it one step further by taking your financial life digital. Having your statements delivered to your email and paying bills online not only saves paper waste, but it saves you time, effort, and money spent on postage. The convenience this provides you will make you wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
  4. Being Organized Can Help Keep You Safe. Organizing all of your financial documents helps you know where they are, what information they contain, and what you can get rid of. Your financial documents likely contain sensitive, personal information that identity thieves would love to get their hands on. Use this as an opportunity to shred some of the old documents you don’t need anymore before tossing them out.
  5. Less Chaos & Clutter Can Relieve Stress. Studies have shown that being organized can help one feel more relaxed and increase peace of mind. The ancient Chinese art of Feng Shui is rooted in having an organized and clutter-free home.

These are just a few reasons for getting motivated and adding your finances to your annual spring cleaning. It’s a great time to look at your budget, savings, debts, and everything else that concerns your money. Take the time to sit down and figure out which direction you want to be headed, and whether or not you are, in fact, headed that way.

Do you “spring clean” your finances? Have any tips to share? Leave them in comments below…

When I Grow Up…

mr_smithby Hope Roush, OVB Financial Literacy Leader

“What do I want to be when I grow up?” Almost every kid asks this question at least once in their lives. To help teenagers get a grasp of what field they would like to work in someday, Gallia Academy High School hosted the Second Annual GAHS Career Day.

The event, held by the Gallipolis City School District and the Gallia County Chamber of Commerce, took place Thursday, April 10. During the career fair, students had the opportunity to attend several different presentations pertaining to their job interests. Ohio Valley Bank attended this year’s fair to discuss the many jobs available in the banking industry. OVB Chairman of the Board Jeff Smith and I, teamed up with WesBanco’s Deb Rhodes to conduct the presentation.

We each described our respective job duties. In addition, Smith discussed the history of OVB. He also touched on the different salary ranges at OVB as well as the different careers available. Students were presented with a handout that listed the many banking careers including traditional roles such as Tellers and Customer Service, Loan Officers, Administration, and Accounting all the way to roles that one might not necessarily think about in regards to a bank like Computer Programming, Web Site Design, Journalism and Writing, and Facilities Planning and Design.

OVB was proud to take part in this year’s career fair and plans to participate in the upcoming Gallia Academy Middle School Career Fair as well. This year’s GAHS Career Fair was sponsored by Holzer Health System.

 

Banks: Saving the World, One Check at a Time

With Earth Day upon us, many tend to start thinking about how we can help the environment. We can all do our part, but did you know that many of the latest advancements in banking technology can help you be a greener customer?

Reduce your carbon footprint, don’t drive to the bank.

As I started thinking about this article, one thing kept jumping into my mind. With advancements in internet banking and mobile banking technologies, why do we even need to drive to a branch anymore? The answer, of course, is that we don’t. Most of our typical daily transactions, from checking balances to making deposits; and even grabbing some cash in some cases, can be done wherever is convenient.

With internet banking you can pay bills, transfer funds, check transactions and even open accounts. All from the comfort of your home. Do it in your jammies, we don’t care! Through mobile banking you can do all of those things (with the exception of open accounts), plus deposit checks.

Lastly, through advancements in ATM technology and the placement of those ATMs in convenient locations where you were going to be driving anyway, you can grab some cash. Some ATMs, like the one at our branch in Gallipolis Walmart, can even accept deposits of both checks and cash. You don’t even need a deposit slip, which brings us to our next point…

Save a tree, don’t write that check.

Anyone who has ever watched an Earth Day special on TV knows that less paper is better, right?

For the customer, the biggest source of paper has to be in two places, statements and checks. Banking technology has advanced to the point that neither of those things are really necessary these days.

Statements aren’t necessary? Well, yes they are, but PAPER statements aren’t. Through the use of electronic statements (eDelivery), you can have a digital copy of your statement emailed to you rather than mailed through the traditional post office. For some customers, that can really be a lot of paper pages they don’t have to have lying around the house (or in the shoebox, you know who you are).

Another way of reducing our paper usage is to reduce our check usage. Checks used to be a really big deal. There is still a place for them, but as technology advances the need for checks grows smaller and smaller. With online bill pay, you can set up certain payees as electronic payees. What does this mean? It means your payment will get there faster and no paper check is ever written.

The other way of reducing check usage is to pay with a debit card. Beyond the benefits to the customer (rewards, faster reconciliation of the account and convenience at the register), that’s one less paper check you are writing. Some retailers even do e-receipts, which completely removes paper from the equation.

Doing our part.

Are you going to patch the ozone layer by not driving to the bank or rebuild the rainforests by not writing that check? Probably not. But one thing I’ve seen over and over is helping the environment isn’t about one person changing the entire world. It’s about many people changing their own little part.

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