OVB celebrates Get Smart About Credit campaign

October might bring spooky frights with Halloween, but it’s also when the American Bankers Association celebrates its Get Smart About Credit campaign. While Oct. 17 was designated as Get Smart About Credit Day, OVB has celebrated the initiative all month with plans to continue doing so this fall and winter.

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OVB Financial Literacy Leader Hope Roush presents Adventures in Credit to area elementary school.

Get Smart About Credit is a national campaign comprised of bank volunteers who help youth understand credit and other important financial lessons. Now in its 17th year, this year’s event once again reached children across the country. According to the ABA, the primary purpose of Get Smart About Credit is to prepare students to join the workforce by making sure they have an understanding of credit and other money management skills.

OVB celebrated Get Smart About Credit Day at Point Pleasant High School on Oct. 17. The credit lesson was worked into the OVB BANKit program, which features interactive lessons on financial topics throughout the school year. OVB also presented credit focused lessons at River Valley High School. Additional credit presentations are scheduled to take place later this fall at area high schools in both Ohio and West Virginia.

Michelle Alderman, personal finance teacher at River Valley High School, emphasized the importance of teaching students how credit works.

“I think it is important for students to learn about credit early because for some in just a couple of years they will be out in the ‘real world’ making financial decisions for themselves,” Alderman said. “During the credit lessons covered by myself and through the OVB BANKit program, students learn that credit can be a positive and negative source in their lives. Students do not have any experience with credit at this point and these lessons illustrate how interest, time and monthly payments can affect the amount borrowed. We also discuss how credit can affect their ability to obtain employment and finance certain items they will need later in life. Credit is an important lesson and should be touched on as much as possible to prepare these students for borrowing for college, a home or automobile.”

In addition to OVB BANKit, credit lessons are incorporated into OVB’s other financial education programs, which include elementary grade levels. OVB plans to present Adventures in Credit, featuring the Centsables, at area elementary schools this fall and winter. The presentation includes an interactive lesson where students must help their superhero friends determine whether or not to use credit for the purchase of a new mega bike. As students learn the pros and cons of credit, they also get experience in calculating the cost of interest.

Get Smart About Credit teaches students that credit education is more than paying for college, credit cards and loans. The campaign aims to show that a true understanding of credit also encompasses budgeting, credit report comprehension and identity protection. By promoting these important lessons in area schools, OVB hopes to make an impact on our future community leaders.

Looking for ways to work in the Get Smart About Credit initiative at home with your family? We’ve got you covered with these helpful tips:

  1. Pay your bills on time. This sounds like a simple concept, right? However, too often people find themselves making late credit card payments. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, set up alerts on your phone as a reminder to get those bills paid on time. If you are able, pay your bill in full. If not, at least make sure to pay the minimum when due.
  2. Watch for warning signs of credit trouble. If you find yourself using credit for all purchases or always making late payments and/or barely scraping by to afford your minimum amount due, you’re already in trouble. The best thing to do in this situation is pay what you can and avoid making any more purchases with your credit card. If you are feeling overwhelmed ask your bank if they have any suggestions to help you get back on track.
  3. Budget, budget, budget. Setting and sticking with a budget is the first step to financial freedom. By adhering to a spending plan and working to build your savings, you will be less likely to overspend on credit cards, which will also help you save on added fees, such as interest costs.
  4. Think before you spend. Often those who encounter credit issues make the common mistake of purchasing items via credit without truly thinking about what it is they are purchasing. Do not pay for things using credit without understanding how it may affect your budget first. Make sure that you will have the means to make payments on your purchase before you reach for the credit card.
  5. Take advantage of your annual free credit report. It is recommended to have your credit checked annually to review for any possible errors on inaccuracies. By doing this you also help protect yourself against the dangers of identity theft. Check your credit for free annually by going to annualcreditreport.com, the official site set up by law from the three national credit reporting agencies. Be sure to type in the address exactly as is since there are many “lookalike” sites, which can charge you for the report or a subscription fee as well as collect information from you for marketing purposes.
  6. Utilize your bank services. Banks are more than money in a vault. They offer valuable services that students can benefit from, including student checking accounts, debit cards, mobile and online banking, balance alerts, personal loans, direct deposit and more. OVB also offers Benjamin Tracker, a helpful tool to help you stick with your budget and not overspend. In addition, OVB also offers a variety of financial education programs.
  7. Ask questions. Whether you are a student looking for advice or an adult wanting to improve your financial circumstances, ask for help. Your local banker is a great place to start.

For more information on OVB’s financial education programs or to schedule a presentation, e-mail OVB Financial Literacy Leader Hope Roush at hdroush@ovbc.com.

 

 

Share the season without breaking the bank

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Did you know that the average person spends more than $1,000 on holiday shopping? And that doesn’t include travel, entertainment and all the other fun stuff the holidays entail.

That’s why Benjamin Tracker from Ohio Valley Bank wants to help you stay on top of your spending now, before it turns into a blizzard of bills in January.

It’s easy to set spending targets with Benjamin Tracker. And once you have them, they can keep you grounded when the festivities get going in earnest.

Setting spending targets may be the best decision you make all season! And we’ve made sure doing it is just as easy.

There are other great features that Benjamin Tracker provides like monthly cash flow, spending patterns and the like.

But let’s keep it simple. Set your spending targets before the holidays heat up. You’ll be glad you did.
How to Set a Spending Target Read more of this post

Take advantage of Sales Tax Holiday

Back to School.

Even though we are soaking up those last few bits of summer, it’s already time to start thinking about going back to school. The start of a new academic year can be a financial challenge for many families. Thankfully, Ohio is hosting the annual Sales Tax Holiday this weekend.

The Sales Tax Holiday will kick off midnight Friday, Aug. 2 and end 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 4. According to the Department of Ohio Taxation, the following items are exempt from sales and use tax: clothing priced at $75 per item or less; school supplies priced at $20 per item or less; and school instructional material priced at $20 per item or less. Items used in a trade or business are not exempt.

As the definition of “clothing” can be broad, the following clothing items qualify under the Sales Tax Holiday guidelines: shirts; blouses; sweaters; pants; shorts; skirts; dresses; uniforms (athletic and nonathletic); shoes; shoe laces; insoles for shoes; sneakers; sandals; boots; overshoes; slippers; steel-toed shoes; underwear; socks and stockings; hosiery; pantyhose; footlets; coats and jackets; rainware; gloves and mittens for general use; hats and caps; ear muffs; belts and suspenders; neckties; scarves; aprons (household and shop); lab coats; athletic supporters; bathing suits and caps; beach capes and coats; costumes; baby receiving blankets; diapers (both children and adult, including disposable diapers); rubber pants; garters and garter belts; girdles; formal ware; and wedding apparel.

School supplies that qualify include: binders; book bags; calculators; cellophane tape; blackboard chalk; compasses; composition books; crayons; erasers; folders (expandable, pocket, plastic, and manila); glue, paste, and paste sticks; highlighters; index cards; index card boxes; legal pads; lunch boxes; markers; notebooks; paper; loose leaf ruled notebook paper, copy paper, graph paper, tracing piper, manila paper, colored paper, poster board, and construction paper; pencil boxes and other school supply boxes; pencil sharpeners; pencils; pens; protractors; rulers; scissors; and writing tablets. As for instructional materials, only the following items will be included: reference books; reference maps and globes; textbooks; and workbooks.

According to the Department of Ohio Taxation, as for applying coupons/discounts in addition to the sales tax holiday, the following protocol would take place: “If a retailer offers a discount to reduce the price of an eligible item to $20 (applies to school supplies) or less or $75 (applies to clothing) or less, the item will qualify for the exemption. This applies to all discounts even if a retailer’s coupon or loyalty card is required to secure the discount. If a retailer accepts a coupon that entitles the retailer to third-party reimbursement, such as a manufacturer’s coupon, the discount provided by the coupon does not reduce the item’s sale price for purposes of determining whether the item is eligible for the exemption.”

With online shopping, if all items in a shipment qualify as eligible items and the sales price for each is within the sales tax holiday price threshold, shipping and handling charges are not taxable. For more information on the sales tax holiday guidelines, visit http://www.tax.ohio.gov.

OVB Boot Camp brings financial fun to 4-H

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Campers learn how to budget with candy.

Summer and 4-H camp go together like peanut butter and jelly. Ohio Valley Bank was pleased to once again teach a class at Mason County 4-H Camp this year. The class, OVB Boot Camp, was offered at both older and younger camps.

OVB Boot Camp has become a tradition in Mason County 4-H, and several campers returned to enjoy this year’s class. In addition, several new campers participated as well. In total, 21 campers completed the program.

“I really enjoy seeing familiar faces return and choose to take our OVB Boot Camp class each year. It’s nice to see their progress. It’s especially enjoyable when a camper moves up from younger to older camp and continues to take the class. We really get to know many of these kids and it is so much fun seeing them learn and grow,” Hope Roush, OVB financial literacy leader, said. “I also enjoy welcoming new campers into the OVB Boot Camp family. I really like seeing the veteran campers take an active role in helping the first-timers because it again shows me how much they’ve learned.”

OVB Boot Camp covered a variety of financial topics at both camps. Lessons were presented in a fun, interactive format. For example, students had to make financial decisions based on a candy budget. Additional lessons and games included the following:

  1. Basic account types
  2. Basic bank paperwork, including check writing as well deposits/withdrawals
  3. Interest
  4. Debit vs. Credit
  5. Budgeting

Along with each daily lesson, campers participated in a game where they had to juggle a mock portfolio of their bank accounts. Each day they drew a Real Life Card, which either required them to pay a bill or provided them with unexpected cash. Campers also had an opportunity during this time to make deposits and withdrawals from their accounts. In addition, campers could choose to give in to their sweet tooth temptation and spend their money on snacks or continue to save. This year’s older camp portfolio winner was Olivia Stanley, while Audrey Reynolds took top honors at younger camp.

On the final day of both camps all accounts were liquidated. Campers had the opportunity to use their mock money to bid on real prizes at the annual OVB Boot Camp auction. Everyone was able to purchase at least one fun item. Prizes included a range of snacks, toys, games, movies and gift cards. Campers were excited to take home all of their purchased prizes.

“The auction is really fun for our campers, but more importantly it’s where they really see the importance of saving money and making wise budget choices. They quickly learn that the kids who practiced those skills have the advantage as they are able to provide the highest bids for the more popular prizes. It’s another way to really show them the value of money in a semi-real world setting,” Roush said.

Both older and younger campers did a great job this year. Campers showed how much they learned every day with banking trivia and other activities. Camper Molly Fisher has taken the OVB Boot Camp class many times and said that she always learns something new.

“In OVB Boot Camp I learned about investing in the stock market, money market accounts, certificate of deposits and much more. The valuable knowledge I have gained in this class will help me with my future endeavors. This class was very beneficial to me,” she added.

Camper Lyndsey Ward, like Fisher, is another camper who has participated in OVB Boot Camp multiple times. As this was Ward’s first time in older camp, she said she was able to learn even more money management skills.

“I also learned about credit and debit cards. This is my favorite class and I learned the most here,” she added.

Camper Riley Oliver described OVB Boot Camp as a good place to learn the importance of budgeting.

“I learned how to control my money. I learned how to work with banks on loans and other things. I also learned about how interest works with credit cards,” he said.

Camper Kate Henderson agreed that learning about budgeting was important.

“In OVB Boot Camp I learned how to manage my money. I learned the different types of accounts you can have and the rewards and consequences of each. I also learned how to write a check and how to do deposit and withdrawal slips,” she said.

Camper Aiden Wallis said the budgeting game was fun because it made him appreciate his parents.

“I had to think about what my parents spend and pay each month,” he said. “I also learned how to save money and how you need to pay for insurance.”

Credit vs. Debit was an interesting lesson for Camper Cara Russell.

“I’ve learned a lot in OVB Boot Camp. One thing I learned was the difference between debit and credit cards. I also learned some of the downfalls you can encounter with a credit card. This class was really fun and I’m ready to come back again next year,” Russell said.

OVB Boot Camp was created in 2005. To schedule OVB Boot Camp or for more information on the bank’s other financial education programs, contact Roush at 740-578-3452 or e-mail hdroush@ovbc.com.

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OVB celebrates Financial Literacy Month, TCTS Day

Financial literacy is important for all ages. However, educating children on the importance of making money-smart decisions will prepare them for adulthood. It’s never too early to teach children how to successfully manage their money.

As part of the bank’s financial literacy programs, OVB is celebrating Teach Children to Save Day. OVB has participated in the American Banker’s Association’s Teach Children to Save campaign for several years. According to the ABA, Teach Children to Save along with the foundation’s other financial education initiatives has reached 10.5 million youth through the commitment of many bank volunteers, including OVB.

While Teach Children to Save Day is today, the entire month of April is designated as Financial Literacy Month. OVB continues to celebrate Teach Children to Save all spring and will conduct programs during the fall and winter upon request. On Wednesday, April 17, OVB will present their Adventures in Saving program, featuring The Centsables, at Washington Elementary School in Gallipolis, Ohio. The presentation will be part of the school’s annual career fair, which OVB has also proudly taken part in for several years. Adventures in Saving is a fun, interactive lesson on saving, which perfectly coincides with the Teach Children to Save campaign. Topics included in the presentation focus on the following:

  1. Wants vs. needs
  2. Creating a savings plan
  3. Making deposits
  4. Interest
  5. Budgeting

The ABA encourages parents to take an active role in Teach Children to Save as well. Both the ABA and OVB urge parents to utilize the following tips as they teach their children the importance of making sound financial decisions.

  1. Set an example. By being responsible with your money and showing your children the importance of paying bills on time, setting savings goals, and budgeting, you will help them understand money management. Children often emulate their parents’ habits, which includes their financial well-being.
  2. Make budgeting an open discussion. Talking about money openly with your kids is a great way to communicate your financial values and experiences. Encourage your children to ask questions, and be prepared to answer them.
  3. Show children the differences between needs and wants. Often kids and adults prioritize their wants over their needs. Show your children the value of budgeting by taking care of your needs first as well as making saving a priority.
  4. Open a savings account for your children. Involving your child with banking at an early age can help them be more prepared to handle finances as an adult. Bring them along as you make deposits. Also, ask OVB about our Statement Savings account, which does not require a minimum balance for customers ages 18 and under. It’s never too early to start saving!
  5. Involve friends and family with your child’s new savings goal. It takes a village to raise a child, and having others encourage your kids to save their money will help them realize the importance of doing so. Teach them how to save money they receive for special occasions, such as holidays and birthdays.

To schedule a Teach Children to Save presentation or for more information on OVB’s financial education programs for children and youth, contact OVB Financial Literacy Leader Hope Roush at hdroush@ovbc.com. Presentations are currently being scheduled now through December 2019.

Have a happy, budget friendly Valentine’s Day

2019 Valentines Day Post Pic

While many folks joke that Valentine’s Day is nothing more than a scheme for greeting card companies and florists to rake in extra cash, it can still be a day to celebrate those you love. If expense is an issue, there are plenty of ways to enjoy Cupid’s holiday without breaking the bank. To quote the Beetles: “money can’t buy me love.”

Whether you are planning a romantic Valentine’s Day with your sweetie, a family filled day of love, or a fun day with friends, we’ve got you covered. We hope the following ideas can help you make this year’s holiday the best one yet.

  1. Explore your local community. While romantic getaways are great, they can be quite expensive. Instead of racking up debt by going on a vacation, this Valentine’s Day take advantage of your local area. A stroll through the park can be a romantic way to spend the day and won’t cost you a thing. Bonus? It’s a good way to get in exercise and begin a healthy lifestyle together. If that’s not your thing, check out local museums, which typically offer free or low cost entry. You never know what hidden gems you may discover in your own backyard. Also, check your local newspapers or social media groups to see if there are any Valentine’s Day events in your area. Many churches often host Valentine’s Day dinners for families and couples. Local restaurants typically offer Valentine’s Day specials as well.
  2. Take advantage of your OVB Visa Rewards. By using your Scorecard rewards points you can save money and still have the perfect Valentine’s Day with your sweetie. For example, use points to book an overnight romantic getaway. Booking your stay is simple as it can be done directly from the EZCard site.
  3. Put your chef skills to the test. Meals made with love are often the best kind. Dust off your recipe book and cook a special meal for the one you love. If you know what their favorite dish is go with that or try something new that you can both enjoy. Not feeling confident alone in the kitchen? Consider cooking a fun, Valentine’s Day meal together as part of your date. Just make sure to avoid any food fights!
  4. Host a progressive dinner. If cooking an entire meal is too time consuming and you’d rather spend Valentine’s Day with a group of friends, plan a progressive dinner. This works by having each couple/family host a portion of the meal. You travel from house to house enjoying each course from appetizers to dessert. Throw in some board games and this makes for a fun evening out with friends that won’t strain your wallet.
  5. Hit up a matinee. If a classic movie date is your Valentine’s preference, why not save a little money and go for a matinee? Matinees generally are less expensive than evening shows. If you work during the day, perhaps celebrate Valentine’s Day on a weekend afternoon this year. Check your local theaters for any Valentine’s Day deals.
  6. Transform your living room into your personal theatre. If you would prefer to stay in or want to save on movie ticket prices, host a movie night at home. This is a great couple or family activity. Each person can choose their favorite movie to add to the lineup. Make it a full theater experience with some microwave popcorn and candy for all to enjoy.
  7. Go cheesy – literally – by ordering a heart-shaped pizza. An oldie, but a goodie. Don’t have time to spend hours in the kitchen but also don’t want the cost of going out to eat? Order a heart-shaped pizza. Many pizza restaurants have the themed pies available on Valentine’s Day. Its, cute, it’s cheesy, what’s not to love?
  8. Donate blood. This one might come off as a bit creepy, but donating blood is actually a great way to bond as a couple as you help those in need. Donating blood together can be a meaningful experience. Ask your local hospitals or Red Cross centers on how to get started. Bonus? After you donate blood you usually get to indulge in a sweet treat!
  9. Make homemade valentines. Creating your own valentines is something both couples and families can enjoy. Store bought cards can be quite pricey, so why not put more meaning in your cards by making your own? If you aren’t crafty, remember what it was like to make homemade valentines as a child. Make it a fun activity together. Exchanging your valentines can be just as fun as making them.
  10. Enjoy loved ones’ hobbies. What better way to show you care than showing interest in your partner’s hobby? If they enjoy video games, offer to play with them. Maybe they like to paint? If so, sign up for an art class together. While opposites do attract, shared interests can make you grow as a couple.

If you are still puzzled on how to spend this year’s Valentine’s Day, remember if all else fails candy should be on sale Feb. 15! What’s better than discounted chocolate and conversation hearts? We wish you all a wonderful and happy Valentine’s Day.

Don’t get bogged down by college costs

2018 College Savings Pic

Starting college is an exciting, challenging time for many young adults. With college comes new responsibilities, such as living away from home for the first time. One of the most difficult aspects of college is the expense.

Managing money as a college student can be made easier by opening a checking account. A checking account is a great tool that can help students stick to their budgets as well as keep money safe and secure. Students who will be going away to school can still choose the comfort of their hometown bank with Ohio Valley Bank’s Right Start Checking for customers ages 16-25. This account has no monthly service fee and allows five free non-OVB ATM transactions per month. In addition, Right Start Checking enables access to eDelivery statements and free online mobile banking. For students who are away at school, mobile banking is a great asset. Through this feature, students are able to deposit a check using their smartphone from the comfort of campus.

Parents should also make having a conversation about budgeting with their college-aged children a priority. By keeping the lines of communication open, college students may not feel as overwhelmed knowing they can still turn to parents for financial advice.

Creating a budget with your college student doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple budget outlining money coming in compared to projected monthly expenses is the first step. Once that has been determined, calculate an “allowance” amount, which can go toward the expense of extra activities including special events, games and concerts. Make sure to keep track of all expenditures. Take advantage of helpful budgeting tools, such as OVB’s Benjamin Tracker.

If you have a student starting college this fall, or are headed off to school yourself, we’ve put together some additional tips to help you stick to your budget:

  1. Explore campus events. It might be tempting to go out in your new college town, but with that comes added expense. Fortunately, most college campuses offer a variety of free or low-cost events to students. From concerts to dances to cook-outs, your university most likely has a schedule of campus events on tap.
  2. Seek out student discounts. You might be surprised at the amount of student discounts available. Most places that offer discounts simply need to see a copy of your student ID. If you aren’t sure where to start, visit your campus student union to see if they have a list of restaurants and businesses that offer student discounts.
  3. Sharing is caring. If you have roommates who don’t mind sharing, divvy up the items needed for your dorm/apartment to both save money and avoid having duplicates. Consider going in together for snacks, cleaning products, and other necessities. For example, splitting the cost of a coffee maker for your dorm can be a cost-saver in the long run as it will help you avoid the temptation of buying gourmet coffee every morning.
  4. Look for work study opportunities or a part-time job. If you are confident you can balance it with your classwork, a part-time job can be a great way to earn extra money while at school. If you qualify for a work study program, look into that opportunity. If not check out what part-time jobs are available on or close to campus. Even better if you can find a job that works as an internship, which could give you class credit as well as valuable experience.
  5. Purchase used textbooks if available. College textbooks can be very expensive, but are absolutely necessary. Many university book stores offer used textbooks at a much cheaper price. Also, a great way to make money is to sell your textbooks after the semester. Many campus bookstores will buy back both used and new textbooks. If you have a classmate you trust, consider going in together to purchase textbooks to share.
  6. Look for deals on computers. The start of the academic year usually brings sales on laptops and desktop computers. If you’ve already purchased your computer make sure to protect it with virus software. That may be an extra expense at first, but it will not only keep your computer secure but can save you money in the long run by avoiding repair costs. If a computer is simply out of your budget, fortunately most colleges have free computer labs on campus.
  7. Be wary of credit. Overusing credit cards is a common problem with all ages, but often first-time users are affected. If you have a credit card make sure to only use it knowing you will have the funds to make your payments on time. Avoid cards with an annual fee and look for ones with a low interest rate. Do not rely on credit for day-to-day expenses.
  8. Avoid eating out. It might be tempting to dine out with your friends, however, that can make quite a dent in your budget. If you are already paying for a school meal plan, absolutely make sure you are using it. When you want a change of pace split the cost of a pizza with roommates or plan on going out to eat only once a week if your budget allows.
  9. Cut cable. If your campus housing provides cable, great and lucky you. If not, cable is an expense that really isn’t necessary while in school. With the accessibility of streaming services you can easily survive without cable and your wallet will thank you.
  10. Look for free transportation. If you are on a large campus rather than drive everywhere wasting gas, see what type of free transportation is available. Many large campuses offer complimentary shuttle services to students. When going out with friends chip in for the cost of gas money or split the cost of a transportation service, such as Uber or Lyft.
  11. Watch application dates. Many scholarships renew as long as you fill out the necessary paperwork/application on time. Do not miss these dates as they could drastically affect the cost of your classes.
  12. Remember to save. Saving money might seem difficult when you are running a tight budget, but any amount can help you in the future. It’s a good idea to always have money tucked away in a savings account. Any amount you can save will be helpful, even if it’s the spare change you find in your car.
  13. Save on laundry expense. It’s always a great idea to do your laundry for free when you visit home on the weekends. However, if you aren’t able to do so consider purchasing a drying rack, which can help you save money by avoiding dryer expense. Keep a jar of change to use for laundry so you can avoid having to withdrawal cash from your account.
  14. Focus on school. The most important tip is to remember that classes should be your number one focus. By keeping school itself as your top priority you will be less likely to spend in other places.

Remember that college is an opportunity to grow into adulthood, and making sound financial decisions is the right step to being successful. OVB wishes all first-time and returning college students a great semester!