OVB ready for Get Smart About Credit campaign

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Halloween is just around the corner. While ghosts and goblins might scare you, don’t let your credit do the same. To help promote the importance of maintaining good credit, Ohio Valley Bank is once again taking part in the American Bankers Association’s Get Smart About Credit initiative.

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 16th year, this year’s event will again reach children across the country. Get Smart About Credit Day will be held Thursday, Oct. 18, however, OVB is set to celebrate the event throughout the month of October and the fall season.

Credit lessons will be incorporated into OVB’s financial education programs, which include elementary through high school grade levels. OVB will present Adventures in Credit, featuring the Centsables, to area elementary schools. Get Smart About Credit lessons will also be a focus in the OVB BANKit program, which is currently being conducted on a monthly basis at six local schools in Ohio and West Virginia.

The primary purpose of Get Smart About Credit is to prepare students to join the workforce by making sure they have a strong understanding of credit and other money management skills. Get Smart About Credit works to teach 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 generations.

Looking for ways to improve your credit or topics to help teach your kids about credit? 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.

OVB BANKit back in action

It might feel like summer with these recent sizzling temperatures, but the 2018-2019 academic year is well underway. With school in session, Ohio Valley Bank has once again resumed their BANKit program in area high schools.

The OVB BANKit program, which spans the entire length of the school year, reached approximately 390 students last year from participating schools in Ohio and West Virginia, including Gallia Academy High School, South Gallia High School, River Valley High School, Point Pleasant High School, Wahama High School, and the Mason County Career Center, which is comprised of students from Point Pleasant, Wahama and Hannan High Schools. Students ranged from freshmen to senior grade levels.

Created in 2010, the OVB BANKit program brings real-life banking lessons to the classroom in a fun, interactive format. OVB Financial Literacy Leader Hope Roush conducts each lesson, which typically takes place on a monthly basis at each participating school. The program works as a game in which students are given $100 in “buzz bucks,” the OVB BANKit currency. Students have the option to invest their buzz bucks as they wish among different accounts, including CDs, money market, basic checking and savings. They also have the option to purchase and sell shares of stock in the game’s mock company, Pseudosoft.

During each visit students draw a Real Life Card, which may force them to pay an unforeseen bill or provide them with expected cash. Students also have a chance to manage their banking and make deposits/withdrawals in their accounts. This interactive portion of the program is essential as students learn to fill out basic bank paperwork as well as practice vital money management skills.

In addition to the game aspect, each BANKit visit includes a lesson on a financial topic. Lessons set for this academic year include:

  1. Basic differences in bank account types
  2. Filling out bank paperwork, such as deposits and withdrawals; check writing; updating check register
  3. Reading a bank statement
  4. Credit/Cost of Credit/Credit Reports/Credit Scores
  5. Budgeting
  6. Identity Theft
  7. Credit vs. Debit
  8. Interest

For more information on the OVB BANKit program and other financial education programs, visit http://www.ovbc.com and/or contact Roush at hdroush@ovbc.com.

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!

Time to go back to school

Group Hands Holding Letter Back School Concept

Summer hasn’t quite waved goodbye, but as we soak up these last few days in the sun it’s time to plan for the upcoming academic year. Many area students will head back to the classroom this month.

While it’s always sad to see summer vacation come to a close, the start of a new school year is an exciting time. From fall sports to new academic challenges, going back to school can provide a nice change of pace for both students and parents. However, extra expense is one aspect of going back to school that can be stressful for families. Fortunately, there are things you can do to not break the bank with back to school shopping.

To eliminate unnecessary expenses contact your child’s school and request a supply list. Many schools already have supply lists available, which are typically organized via grade level. Supply lists will help you avoid wasting money on items already provided by the school. You will also save money by knowing exactly what to purchase.

Save even more in Ohio by taking advantage of the upcoming Sales Tax Holiday, slated for midnight Friday, Aug. 3-11:59 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5. All sales tax will be exempt from purchases of clothing $75 or less along with school supplies and instructional materials for $20 and under. The exemption applies per item, not total transaction. Online and phone orders purchased during the Sales Tax Holiday will be eligible for the exemption as well.

According to the Ohio Department of Taxation, school supplies $20 or less that are eligible for the exemption include the following: binders, book bags, calculators, cellophane tape, blackboard chalk, compasses, composition books, crayons, erasers, folders, glue, paste, highlighters, index cards, index card boxes, legal pads, lunch boxes, markers, notebooks, loose-leaf paper, copy paper, graph paper, tracing paper, manila paper, colored paper, poster board, construction paper, pencil boxes, pencil sharpeners, pencils, pens, protractors, rulers, scissors and writing tablets. For more information on what clothing items qualify, visit https://www.tax.ohio.gov/sales_and_use/salestaxholiday/holidayfaq.aspx.

If you are unable to take advantage of the Sales Tax Holiday, ask area retailers about any upcoming discounts or sales on school supplies. As for clothing, many summer pieces are already marked down as fall and winter clothes have hit the main racks. With school starting in mid-August, your child should be able to wear summer clothes for the first month or so. At the rate younger children outgrow their clothes, consider shopping at consignment shops to save money.

Another expense the new school year brings is added lunch costs. Fortunately many of our area schools offer free lunch programs. Call your child’s school to see if they participate. If your school does not have a free lunch program or if you simply have a picky eater, planning is key to save money on school lunches. Include school lunch costs in your monthly budget. Preparing meals in advance can save both time and money. Involve your child in the process by letting them help pack and choose their food. By involving your kids in lunch planning, it will avoid food going to waste and can be a financial lesson as well. Always check your local grocery store and newspapers for coupons to cut down costs.

Locally, students will return to school the following dates:

  • Mason County Schools – Wednesday, Aug. 15
  • Miami Trace Schools – Wednesday, Aug. 15
  • Washington City Schools – Wednesday, Aug. 15
  • Gallipolis City Schools – Thursday, Aug. 16
  • Eastern Local Schools (Pike) – Thursday, Aug. 16
  • Westfall Schools – Thursday, Aug. 16
  • Western Local Schools – Thursday, Aug. 16
  • Cabell County Schools – Monday, Aug. 20
  • Jackson City Schools – Monday, Aug. 20
  • Southern Local Schools – Monday, Aug. 20
  • Madison-Plains Schools – Monday, Aug. 20
  • Gallia County Schools – Tuesday, Aug. 21
  • Meigs Local Schools – Wednesday, Aug. 22
  • Wellston Local Schools – Wednesday, Aug. 22
  • Oak Hill Union Local Schools – Wednesday, Aug. 22
  • Eastern Local Schools (Meigs) – Thursday, Aug. 23
  • Waverly City Schools – Thursday, Aug. 23

Ohio Valley Bank offers best wishes for another great school year. For information on OVB’s financial literacy programs, visit http://www.ovbc.com or e-mail OVB Financial Literacy Leader Hope Roush at hdroush@ovbc.com.

 

 

OVB enjoys 4-H fun with annual boot camp class

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4-H campers practice budgeting with candy during OVB Boot Camp.

Summer is in full swing. School is finally out, which means fun in the sun, pool parties, fairs, and of course, 4-H Camp!

As per tradition, Ohio Valley Bank once again participated in Mason County’s 4-H Camp. The bank’s class, OVB Boot Camp, took place at both older and younger 4-H camps. This year’s classes reached 27 campers.

A variety of financial topics was presented in a fun, interactive format during both camps. Campers participated in lessons and games, which included the following:

  1. Basic account types
  2. Basic bank paperwork, including check writing as well as 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 their personal mock portfolio of 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 temptation and spend their game money on snacks or continue to save. This year’s older camp portfolio winner was Hayley Russell, while Lyndsey Ward took top honors of the younger campers.

On the last day of both camps, all accounts were liquidated. Participants used their play money they earned throughout the week to bid on real prizes at the OVB Boot Camp auction. Prizes included a range of toys and games as well as movies, snacks and gift cards. Campers were able to take home all of the prizes they purchased.

Both older and younger camps did a wonderful job. Many older campers have taken the OVB Boot Camp class every year, while this year’s younger campers were all new to the program. The majority of campers agreed that they learned many valuable financial lessons, which will hopefully help them manage their money well as adults.

Camper Derrick Jackson, who has participated in the OVB Boot Camp Class every year since it was offered in 2006, ages out of 4-H camp this year. To celebrate Jackson’s accomplishments, OVB presented him with a $100 boot camp “buzz buck” with his face on it. The pretend currency was also signed by OVB President and CEO Tom Wiseman.

“During my time in OVB Boot Camp I have learned how to be financially stable in life. I really enjoyed my years in the class and getting to work with Bryna (Butler, OVB vice president corporate communications), Hope (Roush, OVB financial literacy leader) and Tony (Staley, OVB assistant cashier product development/business sales and support).” Jackson said. “I would like to thank everyone at OVB for putting together this class for the youth of Mason County.”

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OVB Boot Camper Derrick Jackson, who has participated in the class since 2006, was presented with a special “buzz buck” for his accomplishments over the years.

 

Many of the campers in both the older and younger classes said the budgeting lesson was their favorite activity.

“I learned about budgeting and managing money in our OVB Boot Camp class. It was a lot of fun. I especially enjoyed the auction at the end of the week. I can’t wait to take this next year,” Russell, older camp winner, said.

Camper Alex Fetty also agreed that he enjoyed learning about budgeting.

“I learned how to earn and spend money. I learned about certificate of deposit and how to deposit money into my checking account. I also learned how to write checks. I think the most important thing I learned was about a budget,” he said.

Camper Jacob Shull also found the budgeting game and lesson informative.

“In this class I learned I truly need to be cautious of my limits. Budgets though they take time to work out are worth it. Thank you OVB for doing this class,” Shull said.

Camper Brynn Roush said that the budgeting lesson made her more aware of how her parents manage their money.

“I learned about what all our parents pay for,” she said. “I learned that your parents have to make good choices about how they spend their money.”

Camper Caitlin Campbell was excited to learn valuable financial lessons as well.

“I learned about the differences between credit and debit. I learned how to budget, what a stock is, and so much more,” Campbell said. “I had a lot of fun playing the (banking) word searches and crossword puzzles because it helped me retain the knowledge about banking better. I think this class was very informative.”

Camper David Kapp said that he chose to take OVB Boot Camp during his week at older camp as he wanted to financially prepare himself for the future.

“Being that I didn’t want to fall into debt I thought that this class would help. I wasn’t disappointed as I learned much,” he added.

Camper Reece Oliver said she learned a lot during her week in OVB Boot Camp.

“This week OVB has taught me a lot about saving money. It has also taught me about using debit and credit cards correctly. We also learned about checks,” she said. She added that she loved OVB as well as getting to use her money she earned on fun prizes, including the cookies she purchased.

Camper Olivia Stanley also said that she enjoyed the boot camp auction as it was very rewarding.

“This week at OVB (Boot Camp) class I learned you can earn interest,” Stanley said. “I learned that you need to save your money and you will be rewarded.”

OVB Boot Camp was created in 2005. For more information or to schedule OVB Boot Camp, contact OVB Financial Literacy Leader Hope Roush at 740-578-3452 or e-mail hdroush@ovbc.com.

OVB celebrates Teach Children to Save Day

The key to building financially strong individuals and communities is education at a young age. Many people see financial responsibility as limited to adults, but it’s never too early to teach children how to be money savvy.

In an effort to help children understand the value of a dollar, the American Bankers Association established Teach Children to Save Day, which is being celebrated today. April also serves as Financial Literacy Month. According to the ABA, Teach Children to Save along with the foundation’s other financial education initiatives has reached 9.1 million young people through the commitment of more than 225,000 banker volunteers, including Ohio Valley Bank.

OVB celebrates Teach Children to Save the entirety of spring, and will do program presentations in the fall and winter upon request. Recently OVB took part in a Career Day at Washington Elementary in Gallipolis, Ohio. OVB Financial Literacy Leader Hope Roush discussed the different careers in banking as well as stressed the importance of saving. Along with materials provided by the ABA, OVB also uses the campaign as an opportunity to utilize the Centsables Adventures in Saving program, which is a fun, interactive lesson on saving. Topics included in the presentation focus on the following:

  1. Wants vs. needs
  2. Creating a savings plan
  3. Making deposits

Parents are encouraged to share the Teach Children to Save message as well. Both the ABA and OVB offer the following tips to help parents teach their children valuable financial skills:

  1. Set the example by being responsible yourself. This is accomplished by paying your bills on time, being a conscientious spender and an active saver. Remember children often emulate their parents’ personal finance habits.
  2. Talk openly about money with your kids. Communicate your values and experiences with money. Encourage your children to ask you questions, and be prepared to answer them.
  3. Teach them to understand the difference between needs and wants. Discuss the value of saving and budgeting as well as the consequences of not doing so.
  4. Open a savings account for your children. Take them with you to make deposits so they can learn how to be hands-on in their money management. At OVB ask about our Statement Savings account, which does not require a minimum balance for customers ages 18 and under.
  5. Tell your family and friends about your child’s savings goal. This can help your child save money with the cash they receive for special occasions, such as holidays and birthdays.
  6. Encourage kids to use Benjamin Tracker inside OVB NetTeller to keep track of savings goals. It’s a great visual to show the benefits of savings.

To schedule a Teach Children to Save presentation or for more information on OVB’s financial education programs for children and youth, contact Roush at hdroush@ovbc.com. Presentations are currently being scheduled now through December 2018.

Are you keeping your New Year’s resolutions?

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Saving money is a common New Year’s resolution. Be sure to check out OVB’s Benjamin Tracker so you can stick with your goal of spending wisely this year.

 

It’s hard to believe we are nearly two months into 2018. We’ve almost made it out of winter with spring ready to welcome us soon. As we continue to navigate the New Year, one question remains: have you stuck with your resolutions?

If you answered yes, great job and keep it up! If you answered no, don’t feel bad because there is still plenty of time to get back on track. It seems after January many people run out of their “fresh start steam” and New Year’s resolutions become long-forgotten goals of the past. Just because you’ve strayed off the path doesn’t mean you need to quit entirely. We are here to help you make 2018 your best year yet!

  1. Review your resolutions. If you’ve completely fallen off the path of sticking with your resolutions, think of what they were and how you can make them more attainable. Remember to be realistic. Maybe you started too big or didn’t have enough time? Fix what went wrong and try again. Remember it is ok to adjust your goals to be more realistic as long as you continue to work hard to achieve them.
  2. Remember to track wisely. Don’t forget to keep track of your progress as it can help you stay focused. Journal what you’ve done and remember to list your struggles too so you know what to work on next. For example, a common resolution is to save money. If you are struggling to maintain this resolution, be sure to check out OVB’s Benjamin Tracker, where you can create a spending target to keep you focused. “Say you set a New Year’s resolution that you weren’t going to indulge in those coffee specialty drinks—iced caramel mocha anyone?—as much this year. Simply set a target for the amount you want to spend and category (coffee). When your transactions come into the bank, Benjamin Tracker will keep a running total of what you have spent in the coffee category and will visually warn you with a progress bar that turns from green to yellow to red when you are getting close to your target limit,” Bryna Butler, OVB vice president corporate communications, said.
  3. Make yourself accountable. Join social media groups to share your struggles and victories. There really is strength in numbers. For example, are you finding it difficult to stick with a healthy eating plan? You are not alone. Through social media you can find needed support as well as suggestions, such as healthy recipes, to help achieve your goals.
  4. Are you organized? When we make our New Year’s resolutions we often don’t consider potential road blocks, such as a busy work schedule. Remember to write down times that you can work on achieving your goals. For example, if you want to exercise more this year, don’t let your already hectic schedule deter you. Instead, make it part of your already established routine. Block out 20 minutes a day to get in your exercise. Twenty minutes can be done before work, during your lunch break, after work, or even during the evening.
  5. Reward your success. Don’t dwell on your shortcomings. Resolutions aren’t easy to keep, but if you focus on what you have done that can help motivate you to continue. Remember a good attitude can make all the difference in your success. If you want to get yourself something special to reward your progress but don’t want to spend money, remember to take advantage of your OVB Visa Rewards by using your Scorecard points.
  6. Look to your local community for help. Sometimes the best resources to help you stick with your New Year’s resolutions lie in your own backyard. Maybe you want to exercise more and just can’t stay motivated? Check out your local gym for classes and hours. Many gyms even offer personal training services to keep you focused. If your resolution was to explore your creative side, look for local art classes at area museums. Even if your resolution was to save money, remember your community can help with that. Visit your local parks for recreation and take advantage of the many free community events offered throughout the year to keep you entertained and your wallet full.

We hope 2018 is off to a good start for you, but if you have stumbled these first two months remember that it’s not too late to get back on track. Hopefully our tips will keep you motivated to stick with your resolutions. Let’s continue to make 2018 a great year!