Build your own ‘pot of gold’ this St. Patrick’s Day

Pot of gold coins and clover on wooden table against green background, space for text. St. Patrick's Day celebration

You don’t necessarily need the luck of the Irish to improve your financial well-being. This St. Patrick’s Day is a good time to think about your personal “pot of gold.”

There are many steps you can take to improve your finances. While searching for four leaf clovers, also be on the lookout for deals that can help you cut costs. Many businesses offer seasonal discounts and sales. Taking advantage of a sale priced item can make a huge difference for your wallet.

Do you want a credit card that actually can reward you? Look no further than Ohio Valley Bank’s limited time 0% A.P.R. Visa Rewards Credit Card special. By opening this card through OVB, you can enjoy this introductory rate for the first 12 months after account opening. You can also earn rewards points to purchase various items, including hotel stays for the vacation you’ve been looking forward to. This limited time offer is only available until March 31. For more information, contact your local OVB branch or visit http://www.ovbc.com/rewardscard. Rates are subject to change.

Sometimes lifestyle adjustments are necessary to improving your financial circumstances. However, you don’t need to be friends with a leprechaun to apply the following financial tips to your life:

  • How much are you saving? You might already be saving some money, but is it enough? Building a good savings account is one of the best things you can do to prepare for unexpected expenses, such as home repairs or even job loss. By having money in a savings account you can avoid putting yourself into additional debt when it comes to covering costs. A good rule of thumb is to practice the 50/30/20 rule, which is a simple way to budget by setting aside 50% of your post-tax income on needs, such as rent or mortgage; 30% on wants such as clothing, going to the movies or dining out; and 20% on savings or paying off debt.
  • Budget wisely. Speaking of budgeting, it’s a good idea to have one in place. We commonly mention the importance of budgeting on this blog as it truly is one of the first steps to financial freedom. A budget can prevent you from overspending and increasing unwanted debt. To help keep you on track, check out OVB’s Benjamin Tracker, where you can set-up personalized spending goals.
  • Cut unnecessary expenses. After you create a budget you may notice you spend a lot more than originally thought. Do you pay for cable and find yourself rarely watching it in favor of streaming services? Why continue paying for a service you aren’t benefitting from? While green beer might be a special item to celebrate with on St. Patrick’s Day, alcohol can actually be a sizeable expense. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2016 Consumer Expenditure Survey, American households spent an average of $484 annually on alcoholic beverages. Like dining out, alcohol is a costly, yet unnecessary expense. To save money consider limiting these types of purchases to either special occasions or to a once a month basis.
  • Go green. St. Patrick’s Day is not the only time to focus on the importance of the color green. By taking measures to “go green” in your life you can not only save money but help the environment as well. Easy ways to get started on a greener lifestyle can be anything from replacing your lights with more efficient LEDs to reducing your water output by turning off the sink while brushing your teeth and aiming for shorter showers. Going green can also reduce your household energy costs. Making sure that your thermostat is set at an appropriate temperature is a good way to save money as well. When you aren’t at home a good rule of thumb is to adjust your thermostat to a few degrees cooler during the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer. Make sure to change your filters used with your heating and cooling system regularly as well. Also, look into sealing any cracks or fix any leaking pipes you might have in your home. While sometimes very minor, these issues can rack up quite a bill in the long term. Another way to go green is to consider going paperless with your bank statements. Check out OVB’s eDelivery for more information.

We all could use a little extra luck especially after this past year, but sometimes we need to put in the work to make things happen. While you may not find a real pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, it’s never impossible to improve your financial health.

From all of us at OVB, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Don’t fall into these financial pitfalls with your valentine

Happy Valentine's Day!

The holiday known for love, chocolate and flowers is quickly approaching. While you and your sweetheart are planning a lovely Valentine’s Day weekend, remember that romance should not be limited to one holiday alone.

When it comes to harmony within relationships, financial issues are often said to be one of the biggest sources of feuds. This Valentine’s Day while you are enjoying your conversation heart candies or digging into that box of chocolates, keep in mind the effort it takes to not only maintain a romantic relationship, but also one that practices healthy financial habits.

Here are some tips on how to not let money matters come between you and your valentine: Read more of this post

OVB joins ABA’s Safe Banking for Seniors

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Ohio Valley Bank is once again participating in the American Bankers Association’s Safe Banking for Seniors program.

Safe Banking for Seniors is a campaign designed to educate senior citizens on financial issues that impact them, such as identity theft. The program focuses on identifying common scams that target senior citizens as well as provides information for financial caregivers. According to the ABA, senior citizens lose approximately $2.9 billion to fraud annually, but it is suspected that number is drastically underestimated as only one in 44 seniors report financial abuse. Safe Banking for Seniors was created as an effort to combat this growing issue.

OVB has taken part in Safe Banking for Seniors for several years. While the program is typically offered in-person, due to pandemic plans are in place for virtual presentations from live to pre-recorded formats. According to Hope Roush, OVB financial literacy leader, corporate communications, while Safe Banking for Seniors is primarily geared toward senior citizens, the program’s lessons are educational for all ages.

“Safe Banking for Seniors is a very detailed campaign. From lessons on identity theft to recognizing common scams and how to prevent them, the program is very informative for not only seniors, but all age groups as many of the issues discussed can impact anyone,” Roush said. “Our senior citizens are more vulnerable to many financial scams, which is why the ABA created this campaign. With the pandemic, our senior population is even more vulnerable to these financial crimes. I hope that through this program the bank can continue to help seniors in our community combat these problems.”

The program also added new modules for 2021, including Understanding Powers of Attorney and Choosing an Executor. Other modules include the following topics: Identifying and Avoiding Scams; Preventing Identity Theft; Choosing a Financial Caregiver; and Acting as a Financial Caregiver.

Safe Banking for Seniors encourages both seniors and their financial caregivers to follow these important tips as an effort to protect themselves from fraud: Read more of this post

Financial savvy tips to take into 2021

2021 New Years Part 2

Happy New Year! As we are now a couple weeks into 2021, hopefully you are continuing to stick with your new year’s resolutions and goals. One of the most common resolutions many people make annually revolves around financial improvements.

From saving to sticking with a budget to increasing income earned, money is a typical theme seen in resolutions each year. If you are looking to have a more financially fruitful 2021, you aren’t alone. With 2020 being a difficult year for many folks, a lot of people are looking for ways to stretch a dollar this year.

Creating and sticking with a budget is one of the best things you can do to get your finances in order. A budget is a tool that can help you stay on track with saving as it is essentially a spending plan. A solid budget details the income coming in, which helps you determine how much you have to spend on necessities as well as luxury items, such as vacations.

According to Andrew Bush, OVB online banking manager, the bank offers Benjamin Tracker to help customers achieve their budget goals. The free product, which is one of the many tools in OVB’s e-Services lineup, is available here.

“Benjamin Tracker assists users in managing their money. Through this tool, folks can monitor their spending, set personalized goals, and tag transactions in order to create a categorized view of their spending,” Bush said. “Benjamin Tracker allows you to customize spending targets to suit your individual goals. For example, if you are trying to cut back on ordering takeout this year, Benjamin Tracker will help you stick with this goal.”

Benjamin Tracker is available through both NetTeller and the OVB App, which are also easy tools to assist customers in monitoring their accounts. Additional information on OVB’s e-Services options is available at www.ovbc.com.

Here are more tips to help you become financially-savvy this year:

  • Work toward paying off debt. Unfortunately, it can be very easy to fall into debt, but an uphill battle to become debt-free. Not only is debt a burden, but the more debt you acquire the cost to pay it off goes up due to interest. As you work to pay off debt, avoid opening additional lines of credit until your active cards are paid off. Lowering your debt offers an added bonus as doing so will help boost your credit score. You may have to give up some luxuries you enjoy for a while, but the feeling of being debt-free will be worth it!
  • Organization is key. Many people dive into their financial new year’s resolutions with no plan in place. First, assess your current financial situation and outline what you would like to specifically work toward and/or change. From using tools, such as Benjamin Tracker, to keeping a physical spreadsheet of your goals, you will find that organization will help you stay on track.
  • Keep your future in mind. While living in the present is great, when it comes to your finances you should plan for the future. Setting money aside in a savings account is a good way to prepare for future expenses. In addition, regardless of your age, it is always beneficial to think about and eventually plan for your retirement. First, figure out approximately how much you would actually need to retire. Having these specific numbers in mind will help you better target how much you should be putting into savings now.
  • Consider refinancing. As interest rates are still low, refinancing may be a beneficial option to help you cut costs this year. However, it is important to speak with your loan officer to see if doing so is what is best for your particular situation. For more information on refinancing, check out this informative Q&A with OVB’s Greg Phillips, vice president, consumer lending.
  • Set up an emergency savings fund. If you do not already have one in place, setting aside funds specifically for emergencies will help you avoid additional debt.
  • Talk to family about your financial goals. By making your financial goals an open topic with your family, you will likely feel more supported to stick with this resolution. In addition, teaching your children the importance of being financially responsible is vital for their future.

We hope these tips will help you stay on track with your 2021 financial goals and resolutions. Check back next Friday as we cover scams to watch for in the new year.

Give the gift of saving

Piggy BankLooking for another gift idea? Or have you already received some Christmas cash and need a place for it? Look no further than a savings account.

Savings accounts are not flashy or fancy, but they can be a huge help to your financial well-being. Research has shown that the earlier you start saving, the better equipped for the future you may be. This is why starting a savings account for your child is a great tool to instill financial-savvy skills at a young age. What’s a better gift than investing in your child’s future?

In fact, savings accounts tend to be the first exposure to banking that many people have due to the account’s availability for children. In addition, having a savings account as a child also creates a relationship with their community bank at a young age. Establishing a banking relationship early is another step in encouraging financial responsibility. At Ohio Valley Bank, children ages 18 and under do not have a minimum balance requirement with the bank’s statement savings account. For more information on what to bring when you open a savings account for your child at OVB, check out our resource page.

Another perk of savings accounts is the minimal risk to customers. Savings accounts do not lose money, whereas other account types can pose this risk. If you aren’t making withdrawals, your balance will not go down.

Additional benefits of opening a savings account include the following: Read more of this post

Don’t be haunted by your finances

Halloween Jack o Lanterns at night. Banner with copy space against a dark wood background.

Happy Halloween! As you enjoy feasting on treats and watching spooky, classic horror movies, don’t forget another subject that can often be terrifying – your finances.

As we wrap up our month-long celebration of the American Bankers Association’s (ABA) Get Smart About Credit campaign, it’s a good time to stress the importance of budgeting. Both making and sticking to a budget is often said to be the first step to financial freedom. By knowing how much you spend and what your monthly take-home pay is, you will be less likely to find yourself in the haunting pitfalls of debt.

A great tool to help you budget is OVB’s Benjamin Tracker. We all need a little help staying on track sometimes, and this free program can work wonders to curb spending. Do you have the ghost of gourmet coffee purchases hanging over your account balance? Benjamin Tracker can help you bust that habit by helping you stick with your spending goals.

OVB’s additional online services, such as NetTeller, are available to help you both monitor your accounts and avoid spooky situations. Here are additional tips to keep your personal finances happy rather than that of a horror movie: Read more of this post

Teach children to save for financial emergencies

Students group

As we continue to enjoy the spooky season and autumn activities October brings, don’t forget that the Get Smart About Credit campaign is also celebrated this month. 

Ohio Valley Bank has participated in the American Bankers Association’s (ABA) Get Smart About Credit event for several years. This year, to promote the importance of credit to youth, a new series of interactive lessons premiered on the OVB Virtual Classroom. While those lessons are vital to educating youth about credit, the campaign message has evolved to include response to current events, including the global pandemic. Stressing the value of financial responsibility is always part of the campaign’s curriculum, and this year has demonstrated the need to prepare youth in handling financial emergencies, such as economic downturn.

In a March 2020 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, half of young adults ages 18-23 reported that they or someone in their household lost a job or took a pay cut due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is more than any other age group. 

On Get Smart About Credit Day, which took place last Thursday, Oct. 15, the ABA hosted a webinar to tackle the topic of preparing youth, especially teens, to recognize how incidents like a recession can directly impact their financial future. OVB Financial Literacy Leader Hope Roush attended the virtual event and described it as another reminder that today’s high schoolers will soon be leaders in the community.

“We always discuss how it’s never too early to start saving, which is absolutely true. We work with children to help them understand banking basics and why they need to be financially responsible. While it might be difficult to talk about the pandemic’s effect on finances with kids, it is important to do so. High School students in particular are at an age where the economic impacts of this situation could shape their future,” Roush said. “Encouraging older students to begin thinking about what an emergency fund is and why they should start working toward one now can help prepare them for tackling similar circumstances, such as a recession, in their adulthood. Having open, honest discussions with your children as a family can also help as many people often emulate their parents’ financial habits. It might sound cliché, but these students really are the future and working with them now will help them not only be successful adults but can positively impact our communities as well.” Read more of this post

Refinancing 101 with OVB’s Greg Phillips

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With the current low interest rates the idea of refinancing your loan may have crossed your mind. While refinancing is a common practice, it can seem overwhelming to folks unfamiliar with the process.

According to OVB Vice President, Consumer Lending Greg Phillips, refinancing a loan whether it be a home mortgage, auto or personal loan, simply means to take the existing balance owed and restructure that under new terms.

“This may include cash out to make a larger loan or only refinancing the current balance,” Phillips said, adding that there are many reasons as to why someone should consider refinancing. “You could refinance to a better interest rate to shorten the loan term to pay it off sooner. You could refinance to borrow additional funds for debt consolidation, home improvements, education or just personal use. Financially speaking, a refinance can be good for the reasons listed above.”

While refinancing can be beneficial, Phillips also stressed that each case is unique and in some situations it might not be the best course of action to take.

“For example, if you are refinancing a home loan to consolidate debts and choose a longer term loan, you will not want to pay off an auto loan in this scenario unless absolutely necessary. Auto loans are secured by a depreciating asset and would need to be replaced. If circumstances arise, you may have to take another auto loan after you have refinanced your current one to long-term debt,” he said. Read more of this post

College 101: Cut costs and keep connected to hometown bank

2018 College Savings PicAre you planning to or have you recently dropped your “kid” off for their first semester of college? Feeling overwhelmed? Well, you are not alone.

While college is an exciting time for parents and their undergrads, it can also bring anxiety over new experiences and life changes. Don’t let finances be another stress for both you and your college student. There are many ways college students can both save and manage their money. One big asset is keeping your college student connected to their hometown bank.

Ohio Valley Bank understands the importance of maintaining relationships with all customers both near and far, which is made possible due to the bank’s many e-Services options. OVB Online Banking Manager Andrew Bush encouraged parents to make sure their college students download the bank’s mobile app.

“The OVB Mobile Banking app helps keep you connected to your money anywhere you are, right from your pocket,” Bush said.

OVB’s Mobile Banking app is currently available for both Android and iOS. When it comes to budgeting, OVB’s Benjamin Tracker, which is also available in the mobile banking app, is a great tool to help college students manage their finances.

“For creating a budget and tracking your money, I recommend our Benjamin Tracker application. It has the flexibility to allow you to create saving goals and keep an eye on your spending by categorizing your purchases,” Bush said. “Want to know how much you spend dining out in a month or need to start saving to upgrade your computer for the new school year? Benjamin Tracker can help. Best of all it is free and already available inside OVB NetTeller Online Banking so you can start using it right away!” Read more of this post

Home Buying 101 with OVB Vice President Greg Phillips

Greg PhillipsBuying your first home can be both exciting and nerve-racking. Many folks view owning your home as achieving the “American dream”, however, it can be an overwhelming process to get there.

OVB Vice President, Consumer Lending, Greg Phillips, described research as being vital for those who are looking into applying for their first home loan.

“The best place to start when considering purchasing a home is doing your ‘home work’,” Phillips said. “Figure out what fits in your budget. If you have to change your standard of living and spending habits to qualify, make those changes beforehand and give yourself time to adjust to that lifestyle. All of Ohio Valley Bank’s loan officers would gladly sit down and discuss payments as well as how much you can afford, etc. We want to put you in the best position to not only own a home, but to be able to enjoy it!”

To guide customers, particularly first timers, on the home buying process, Phillips answered the most commonly posed questions. Read more of this post