Save money with DIY Halloween costumes

all_dolled_up

OVB employees got all dolled up for the perfect DIY Halloween costume

Ghosts galore, spooky tricks and tasty treats can only mean one thing – it’s time for Halloween! Like any holiday, however, Halloween can end up being quite costly. Don’t let money scare you like ghosts and ghouls. There are many ways to have a Happy Halloween without frightening your finances away.

While many people associate Halloween with candy, costumes are generally the focal point of the holiday. Halloween costumes appeal to all ages, and unfortunately can be expensive. Many store bought costumes have a high price tag, but don’t feel forced to overspend. With some extra time and a little creativity, you can make your own costume that can be just as good, if not better, than one you purchase.

Halloween is the perfect time to tap into your creative, artistic side. As DIY projects continue to be all the rage, why not work some do it yourself magic into this year’s costume? Whether you are making a costume for yourself or making multiple costumes for your children and family, DIY is the way to go. Not only will you save quite a bit of money, but your costumes can even be unique and different.

Here are some of our ideas to help you get started with your DIY Halloween costuming:

  1. Go classic. Halloween costumes that never go out of style are traditional ghosts and witches. While these may be a little basic, it’s an easy, low-cost option. Both of these costumes are also great for the last minute Halloween party-goer. To create your ghost costume, simply cut two holes for eyes side by side in a white sheet. If you already have an old white sheet that you don’t mind cutting up, even better! For a witch costume, all you really need is a witch’s hat, which can typically be purchased at an inexpensive price. Simply wear your witch hat with black clothing and hocus pocus: transformation complete!
  2. Search your closet. In an age where fashion trends are constantly changing, it can be comical to dress as a blast from the past. Wear older styles that you still own. You might have to do some digging, but taking it back a decade makes for a great costume, and one that’s almost cost-free. A “groovy” 70s you, your “gnarly” 80s self or taking it back to that “da bomb” style of the 90s all make for pretty cool costumes.
  3. Puns are fun. Want an easy to make, unique and funny costume? Time to break out the puns. One example is be a “cereal killer.” To make this costume, just take an old shirt and hot glue empty cereal boxes on it. For an added splash, throw some red paint or fake blood on it too. Get it? A cereal “killer.” Another easy pun costume example takes a stab at one of the big movies currently in pop culture, Fifty Shades of Grey. No, we don’t mean something naughty. All you need is a grey shirt and some grey paint sample cards. Simply hot glue the samples to your shirt and boom: you’re “fifty shades of grey.” For another twist, paint some cat or dog whiskers on your face and wear a party hat, you party animal. Another idea is to gather your friends and go as “The Four Seasons.” No, we don’t mean the musical group, but the actual seasons with each person wearing either a winter, spring, summer or fall themed-outfit. There are many more easy and fun pun costumes. Check out your Pinterest boards for inspiration.
  4. Accessorize. Adding a simple headpiece or accessory to a regular outfit can make for a fun, easy and relatively inexpensive Halloween costume. For example, adding cat ears to a black, white, pink or grey dress and/or shirt/pants combo is a simple costume. Make it even cuter by painting some whiskers on your face. Ladies, transform into a princess simply by pairing a costume tiara with a party dress you already own. As for the guys, you can be a king just by adding a costume crown to any suit you already have in your closet. Devil or Angel? You can be either by pairing devil ears or an angelic halo and wings to color appropriate clothing. When you add just a small detail to your current clothes it makes your costume creation process simple and nearly cost-free.
  5. Go simple scary. Want to be frightening this Halloween? All you need to do is rip some old clothes and splash either fake blood or red paint on them. Pair it with a cheap scary mask or use face paint to transform into a spooky zombie.
  6. Do Halloween as a group. There are so many creative, fun, low-cost group costume options. An easy example is to dress a rainbow, where each member of your costume party simply dresses head to toe in their assigned color. Find pieces from thrift stores or your closet and do a group theme as characters from your favorite movie or show. When it comes to group themes, half of what makes your costume so great is seeing your idea come together with multiple friends.

There are many more creative and fun DIY Halloween costumes. Shop your local craft stores for fabric and supplies to help you get started. A hot glue gun can work wonders if you don’t sew. Glue dots are also a nice tool to aid in your costume creation. Search the internet for inspiration. Once you have an idea, you will be surprised at how quickly it comes together. Your wallet will thank you too.

campfire_fun

OVB employees dress as everyone’s favorite campfire snack 

Happy Halloween!

OVB to take part in Get Smart About Credit

vintonelem3

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

October is not only about Halloween, it also plays host to the American Bankers Association Get Smart About Credit event. Don’t let your finances scare you. Be sure to Get Smart About Credit!

Ohio Valley Bank will once again celebrate the event this month with their financial literacy programs. Now in its 15th year, Get Smart About Credit is a national campaign sponsored by the American Bankers Association to help youth understand credit and other financial lessons. Get Smart About Credit Day will officially be held Thursday, Oct. 19, however, OVB will be celebrating the event throughout the fall season.

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Dress savvy, save savvy: shop for professional attire on a budget

Men's shirts in clothing store

Dress for success is a mantra that is often preached within the workplace. However, shopping for your professional wardrobe can be quite costly.

To look your best at work and not spend a fortune, we’ve created a shopping guide to help you out. Before you get started, thoroughly read your workplace’s dress code in order to make sure your attire is suitable. If you aren’t sure of a clothing piece even after reading the dress code, the best thing to do is not purchase the item until you have spoken with someone from human resources.

Once you know what is acceptable for your workplace, take a look in your closet. If you notice several items that you no longer wear or no longer fit, remove them. If the items are still in good shape consider taking them to a consignment shop, where you may receive some money in return. Many social media sites include groups where you can sell nice, used clothing as well. Be sure to take note of clothing that is both in good shape and work appropriate. By examining your current wardrobe before you head out to shop, you will be able to assess what you need to buy rather than what you want, which will help you save money.

Begin with the basics. The basics are major staples of your wardrobe that can be paired with other pieces to make multiple outfits. Basics include:

  1. Blouses and or/button-down shirts in neutral colors. These tops can be layered with cardigans/sweaters, paired with ties or statement necklaces, and can go with a variety of dress slacks and/or skirts.
  2. Dress slacks in neutral colors, including tan, grey, navy and black.
  3. Solid color skirts, which could be paired with many different top combinations.
  4. A few good pairs of work shoes, in colors such as black, grey, navy or tan/brown.
  5. Appropriately styled denim jeans for casual dress days.

Just because you should take care of your “basics” first, doesn’t necessarily mean your work wardrobe has to be boring. Instead it gives you the ability to create multiple outfits. Most basic shades can easily match appropriately to patterned pieces. By mixing and matching your basics with other pieces, you will be able to make more out of less, which helps you save tremendously.

Accessories are your friend. A great way to jazz up or change any outfit is by using accessories.  For men simply changing up your tie or adding some cool cufflinks can add individuality while keeping your attire acceptable for the office. Vests are another nice addition to mix and match with your outfits. Accessorizing for women can include appropriate statement jewelry pieces, such as a necklace, bracelet or pair of earrings. Simply adding a necklace to your basic wardrobe can make your outfit feel brand new. Dress scarves are another great touch to give an outfit a whole new style.

Another way to help you save money as well as add to your professional wardrobe is to choose versatile pieces that can be both dressed up and down. For example, you may choose a nice blouse or top that pairs perfectly with both a skirt and dress pants as well as jeans or leggings for a casual weekend look. A nice polo shirt is another item that can be dressed up by pairing it with dress slacks or dressed down by wearing it with shorts or jeans. Finding shoes that can be both work and casual wardrobe staples is another way to get the most bang for your buck. By purchasing pieces that work for both business and casual outfits, you will buy less and, save money.

Make sure you look for deals and sales when shopping for work clothes. Taking advantage of sales at local retailers as well as shopping at factory outlet stores can help you cut costs dramatically. Many shops often have sales on “out of season” items. So when you see prices slashed go ahead and stock up. This way you both save money and will have the proper wardrobe staples when that season rolls around again.

Comparing brand prices as well as price checking different retailers on the same piece is another good way to save. Some retailers will even price match an item with another store. Always check for coupons as well. Many associate couponing with food items, however there are coupons for clothing too, including simple but necessary professional wardrobe pieces, such as socks and hosiery.

Another way to save on your wardrobe is to take advantage of apps that offer rebates, such as www.ibotta.com. Ibotta enables users to add rebates to qualify for cash back as well as buy featured products at your favorite stores and retailers. You can redeem your rebates by taking a photo of your receipt and get cash back.

Hopefully these tips will have you looking your best without breaking the bank. Good luck and happy shopping!

 

College student savings survival guide

Concept of expensive textbooks with female student

As students are preparing to go back to school this fall, many of them will start their first year of college. College is no doubt an exciting time, and for many college freshmen it marks the first step to “freedom.” However, this newfound freedom often comes with more responsibility, including managing money for the first time.

College freshman often find themselves overwhelmed when it comes to their finances. Rest assured, there are ways to avoid the “broke college student” stereotype. The first step is to create and stick with a budget. A college student’s budget doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple budget that outlines money coming in compared to expected monthly expenses is a great way to get started. Setting an allowance for extra activities, such as special events, games, and concerts, is another factor to include in the budget.

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. Ohio Valley Bank offers the Right Start Checking account for customers ages 16-25, which makes it a perfect option for college students. 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.

If you are off to college for the first time or are returning and want to better manage your finances, check out these additional tips:

  1. Keep your eyes peeled for student discounts. You may be surprised by how many businesses and restaurants offer student discounts. It doesn’t hurt to ask as this isn’t always advertised. Make sure to always have your student I.D. with you to take advantage of any discounts offered.
  2. Take advantage of free campus events. It may seem tempting to go off campus to see a movie or attend a concert, but many college student unions sponsor a variety of free entertainment events. From movie screenings to dances to festivals and more, look to see what is being offered for free on campus. This allows you to still have fun with friends without breaking the bank.
  3. Utilize your student meal plan. While it may be tempting to dine off campus, it’s also an unnecessary expense when you are already paying for a meal plan. If you still aren’t sold on your school’s food, perhaps opt out of your meal plan entirely so you can use that money to purchase your own groceries.
  4. Share with friends. When it comes to eating out consider splitting the cost of a pizza with friends. This way you can still get a treat and save money. Sharing costs for other things like groceries or movie streaming services is another great way to save.
  5. Be careful when it comes to credit. If you use credit cards wisely it is a good thing as it will help you raise your credit score. However, not making good credit choices can be quite problematic. With a credit card comes new responsibility and using too much credit is a problem when you find yourself unable to pay your bill. Remember to only use credit when you know that you have enough money to pay the balance. Also be selective when choosing a credit card. Research the card’s annual percentage rate as well as any annual and penalty fees that may be associated with it.
  6. If you can, pick up a part-time job. Of course school should be your number one priority, but if you are able, a part-time job can help you tremendously. Many colleges offer work study programs to students who qualify. If you can’t get into a work study program, look for other job options that can work around your class schedule. Also, if it’s possible look into a job and/or internship related to your field of study, which would not only provide you with extra cash but also give you valuable career-related experience.
  7. Shop wisely at the campus bookstore. Most college courses require you to purchase textbooks, which when bought new can be expensive. If the option is available, purchase used books. This is typically a much cheaper option. Also, sell back your used textbooks at the end of the semester to make some extra cash. If the book store prices are simply not affordable, check out online retailers, such as Amazon, to see if you can get the textbook you need at a reduced price. Another idea is to check with friends who previously took the same course to see if you could borrow their textbook. If you can make it work, sharing textbook costs with friends is a great money saver.
  8. Start saving now. Most financially successful adults begin saving their money at a young age. While it might be tempting to spend the money you have and earn while in school, you can help your future self tremendously by saving your money at a young age. Even if it’s a small amount that you set aside for your savings account each week, it will be beneficial to your future. Saving money in college can help you pay off your debts, such as student loans, faster.

College is a great time to grow and take the first steps into adulthood. Making smart financial choices in college is a good path to take on the journey to a successful career. OVB wishes all first time and returning college students a wonderful semester!

 

Save Money with Creative Christmas Gifts

Giving presents for Christmas

Exchanging gifts is a wonderful part of Christmas…and it doesn’t have to break your budget!

 

‘Tis the season to be merry! And ‘tis the season to spend probably more than you should. Gift giving at Christmas can put quite a strain on your wallet, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

 

You can still give wonderful presents this holiday without breaking the bank. If you already missed those Black Friday sales, never fear we are here to help you make this Christmas both fun and financially savvy.

 

Christmas shopping to find great presents for your loved ones is sometimes stressful as well as pricey. The perfect present doesn’t have to be expensive. Homemade gifts can be unique and won’t cost you nearly as much. There is usually more sentimental value to a homemade present as well. Making gifts that come from the heart is a great way to show someone you care this holiday season. If you aren’t a creative person, have no fear! Check out some of our homemade gift ideas:

 

  1. A photo collage. One of the best things about the holiday season is reflecting back on past memories. This year, create a photo collage for your loved ones that showcases the good times you’ve had together. You can print photos and make a handmade collage, or you could use a digital computer program or app on your smartphone to create your own collage. Then simply print a copy, put it in a festival holiday card, and you are good to go! For family and friends you won’t be seeing in person, e-mailing your photo collage can also be a great way to wish them a Merry Christmas.
  2. Make a memory jar. This idea is perhaps the most sentimental and one of the easiest to make on our list. All you need is a Mason jar, paper, and decorative ribbon. Once you decide who this gift is for, think of your favorite memories about them. Then cut paper into strips and write down a memory on each piece. Once you are finished, fold each slip and place them in the jar. You could do a memory slip for every day of the upcoming month or even the whole year. Once your jar is full take the ribbon and add a cute bow for a festive touch.
  3. Cookies. Seriously, who doesn’t love a good Christmas cookie? Sometimes the best presents are the ones we can eat! Baking cookies is an inexpensive and tasty way to spread holiday cheer. Complete the gift presentation by placing the cookies in a holiday themed tin.
  4. Make a cookie/brownie mix festive jar. If you don’t have time to actually make the cookies yourself, you can give your friends and family all they need to get baking on their own. There are many recipes online, so choose one you like and measure out the needed dry ingredients. Place the ingredients in a Mason jar. Then, tie a cute ribbon on the jar with the attached recipe for the sweet treat.
  5. Create your own tree ornament. This one can take you back to grade school days, but making homemade Christmas ornaments is a great way to send a little holiday spirit with your gifts. There are many DIY ornament tutorials on the internet to choose from. We suggest checking out your local craft store to get started.
  6. Build a gingerbread house. Depending on your baking skills, you could either create your gingerbread house from scratch or purchase an inexpensive, pre-made kit. This particular present is great for families as it allows you to spend quality time together.
  7. Make a music mix. Who says mixed tapes are a thing of the past? Maybe the cassette tape part is, but you can give it a digital upgrade. Creating a playlist mix for your friends to download or even going a little old school by burning them a CD is a fun, yet inexpensive present. Choose songs that remind you of that person. This shows you truly care.
  8. Create a “coupon book.” This present is particularly good for your partner or spouse. Make “coupons” for various household chores; for example doing the laundry, vacuuming, and/or cooking dinner. You can create each coupon by hand or design them using your computer. Punch holes at the top of each coupon and then tie your coupons together with festive ribbon. This is a fun and easy gift, but just make sure you are ready in the future when your coupons are cashed in!
  9. Design a calendar. This gift is one that is great for anyone, especially your relatives. You can create your very own calendar on your computer. Choose pictures of your family or pictures you think the gift receiver would like for each month. Simply print your calendar pages and then use a three-hole punch to place holes in the top of each page. Tie your pages together with ribbon or yarn. And just like that you have the perfect gift that will last the whole year.
  10. Make a scarf and/or hat. As winter approaches, scarves and hats are must have items that you can never have too many of. If you know how to sew or crochet, these are perfect and easy presents to make. If you don’t know how to sew or crochet, never fear as there are several DIY tutorials on the internet to choose from.

 

If homemade gifts still aren’t your thing, keep your eyes peeled for any last minute holiday deals. Typically stores will have sales right before Christmas, so if you can handle the last minute rush this might be the best option for you.

Happy Holidays!

Saving Money In College

Jar with label and money on the table.

College is an exciting time. For many college freshmen it’s the first step to “freedom.” However, with that freedom often comes a new responsibility; managing money on your own for the first time. Doing so without the watchful eye of mom and dad can be quite stressful as well. There are ways to avoid becoming the “broke college student” stereotype. Being mindful of your finances and creating a budget is step number one.

A college student’s budget doesn’t have to be overly complicated. A simple budget outlining how much money you receive and what your expected expenses are each month is a good way to start. Adding an allowance for extra activities, such as special events, games and concerts, is another aspect to include in your budget. By setting an allowance, you are less likely to overspend. This also means you will still have money available for necessary purchases, such as textbooks and meal plan costs.

Opening a checking account is another great tool for college students to better manage their money. Not only does a checking account provide a safe and secure place to keep money, it also can make sticking with a budget easier. At Ohio Valley Bank, customers’ ages 16-25 are eligible to open a Right Start Checking account. This account is perfect for students on a tight budget as there is no monthly service fee. Right Start Checking customers are also allowed five free non-OVB ATM transactions per month. In addition, Right Start Checking enables access to eDelivery statements as well as free online and mobile banking. Mobile banking is especially beneficial to college students who are attending school away from home. Through this feature, students are able to deposit a check using their smartphone from the comfort of their dorm room! By taking advantage of mobile banking students can keep their relationship with their hometown bank.

There are other steps college students can take to cut costs. We recommend the following tips to make the most of your college experience without breaking the bank:

1. Look for student discounts. Many businesses and restaurants offer student discounts, however this is not always advertised. Make sure to keep your college I.D. with you at all times and ask if there are student discounts available. This can help you save tremendously.

2. Avoid spending too much on textbooks. Of course textbooks are a necessary item for most classes, however the cost for such items can vary greatly. Most new versions of textbooks in campus bookstores will carry a high price tag. However, many bookstores offer cheaper, used versions of the same textbooks for purchase at a much lower cost. In addition, retailers such as Amazon.com, usually offer textbooks at a significantly reduced price. At the end of the semester, most bookstores will allow you to sell back your textbooks as well.

3. Limit off campus dining. If you are already paying for a college meal plan, make sure you are actually using it. While it may be tempting to frequent restaurants with friends or order pizza with roommates, it can also be a contributing factor to quickly running out of spending money.

4. Avoid extra ATM charges. Be careful when using ATMs that are not affiliated with your financial institution. Additional service fees often result if you do not have an account with the ATMs institution. If your bank does not have an ATM near campus, take advantage of cash back opportunities when using your debit cards at businesses that offer this service, such as grocery stores. Also, ask your bank if they belong to a surcharge free network such as Money Pass.

5. Use credit wisely. College might be a time when you get your first credit card. However, it’s important to remember that a credit card doesn’t equate to “free money.” A credit card can be a great way to build your credit if you use it responsibly. Make sure to not spend more than you have with a credit card. Only use the card when you know you have enough money to pay the balance. Before choosing a credit card be sure to research the card’s annual percentage rate as well as any annual fees and penalty fees that might be associated with it.

6. Consider working a part-time job. If you have time to balance a part-time job while you are in school it can be a good way to earn extra money. Many colleges offer work study programs on campus to qualifying students.
7. SAVE. Even though college budgets are usually pretty tight, try to always keep money aside in savings. Saving money while in college can help you pay off your debt faster when you graduate. It’s never too early to think about your future, especially when it comes to your finances.

College is a time of learning, growth, and excitement. Hopefully these tips will help you on your successful college journey. Best wishes for what is sure to be a wonderful school year!

Ohio’s “Tax Free” Weekend Kicks-Off Aug. 5

Back to School.

It’s Back To School Time!

Temperatures might still feel hot, but summer is already coming to a close as students prepare to head back to school in the coming weeks.

Going back to school means it’s time for most students to stock up on school supplies. As new clothing for school as well as other items, such as binders and notebooks, can be quite pricey it is a good idea to take advantage of Ohio’s upcoming tax free weekend. The tax free weekend begins Friday, Aug. 5 at midnight and will continue through Sunday, Aug. 7 at 11:59 p.m.

The tax free holiday will give customers and students the chance to purchase many school-necessary items at a lower price. Items that will be exempt from sales and use tax include 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. Ohio is one of only 20 states participating in this year’s tax free holiday.

Clothing is perhaps one of the most expensive items needed for school, and tax free weekend is the perfect time to buy. Since the rule states under $75 PER individual item, you may purchase any number of clothing pieces within that price. Most clothing that meets the under $75 price tag is included in the tax free holiday. Examples of items not eligible include sports equipment, such as ballet shoes, spiked athletic shoes; and mouth guards. Accessories, such as hair bows, purses, wallets, and sunglasses, also are not eligible. Items purchased for use in a trade or business are also excluded.

According to www.freetaxweekend.com the following types of clothing are under the tax free umbrella:

  1. Shirts
  2. Blouses
  3. Sweaters
  4. Pants
  5. Shorts
  6. Skirts
  7. Dresses
  8. Uniforms (athletic and nonathletic)
  9. Shoes
  10. Underwear/socks/hosiery/pantyhose/
  11. Coats and jackets
  12. Gloves/mittens/hats/caps/ear muffs
  13. Belts
  14. Neckties and scarves
  15. Aprons (household and shop)
  16. Lab Coats
  17. Bathing suits and caps
  18. Baby receiving blankets
  19. Diapers (including children and adult)
  20. Formal Wear and wedding apparel

With a large variety of basic school supplies eligible for the tax free holiday, plan to save money on these items as well. School supplies accepted include: binders; book bags; calculators; cellophane tape; blackboard chalk; compasses; composition books; crayons; erasers; folders (expandable, pocket, plastic, and manila); glue; paste; 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 paper; manila paper; colored paper; poster board; construction paper; pencil boxes and other school supply boxes; pencil sharpeners; pencils; pens; protractors; rulers; scissors; and writing tablets. Items excluded from this list are taxable. In addition, any item purchased for use in a trade or business will not be tax free.

School instructional materials eligible for the tax free holiday include only the following: reference books; reference maps; globes; textbooks; and workbooks.

If you have a coupon offered by the retailer to reduce the price of an eligible item to $20, the item will qualify for tax exemption. For more information on what types of coupons/discounts accepted as well as more details regarding tax free weekend, visit www.freetaxweekend.com/ohio-tax-free-weekend/.

As always we encourage you to shop local and think Community First as you purchase your back to school necessities!