Save money with DIY Halloween costumes

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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.

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OVB employees dress as everyone’s favorite campfire snack 

Happy Halloween!

OVB to take part in Get Smart About Credit

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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!

 

It’s time to go back to school

Back to school

Summer sun has been fun, but now it’s time to be cool and go back to school.

While it’s always sad when summer comes to a close, going back to school can be an exciting time. Autumn temperatures, new academic challenges, and fall sports mark the start of the school year. For many parents, however, the new school year can also be expensive. With the increasing costs of school supplies, clothing, meals, and athletics, many families find their budgets to be a bit tighter than usual.

To make sure you don’t overspend on school supplies, contact your child’s school first and request a list. Many schools already have supply lists available, and often each list is organized per grade level. By sticking to the list you won’t waste money on items that will be provided by the school and you will know exactly what to purchase to avoid overspending. In Ohio, take advantage of the Sales Tax Holiday, slated for Aug. 4-5, to help save money. For more information, visit http://www.tax.ohio.gov/sales_and_use/salestaxholiday.aspx .

If you missed or are unable to shop during the Sales Tax Holiday, many retailers already start rolling back prices on school supplies in August. Keep your eyes peeled for any sales. Once your child begins classes make sure to again look through their school provided items. If you purchased any items that the school already has, either return them or put them aside for next year. Many schools will gladly accept a donation of your unused supplies as well.

When it comes to new clothes for the school year, with growing children many parents find themselves having to purchase entirely new wardrobes. If you are still working on your back to school clothes shopping, check area retailers for seasonal sales. In many climates, winter clothes are not necessary until a few months into the school year. However, many retailers already have their winter attire front and center. The good news is quite often the summer and early fall pieces are now in the sale section. Taking advantage of seasonal sales can help you save tremendously on back to school clothes.

As kids continue to grow out of their current sizes at a rapid rate, consider the value of buying from consignment shops. Many consignment shops offer fashionable clothing at a significantly lower price. In addition, many consignment shops will offer credit in exchange for gently used items.

Another expense of the new school year is lunch costs. When it comes to school lunches the amount parents spend can vary greatly. Fortunately in our local area, many schools offer a free lunch program. However, if your child’s school does not have this program in place or if you have a picky eater, you may have to find other ways to save on lunch expenses. The best way to start is including school lunch costs in your monthly budget. Advance planning is also key. By knowing what foods your child likes as well as an estimated cost, you can create menus to help with your meal prep. Be sure to involve your child in the meal planning. By keeping your kids interested it assures the food won’t go to waste and they will learn a financial lesson on budgeting as well.

When planning your child’s lunches, also make sure to take advantage of coupons while grocery shopping. Keep track of coupons in your local newspaper as well as look around the store for any deals. Another helpful tip to cut down on lunch costs is purchasing items that have a long shelf life. Stock your pantry full of these items and you will be set for weeks to come.

Locally, students are set to return to school on the following dates:

  • Cabell County Schools – Thursday, August 10
  • Jackson City Schools – Wednesday, August 16
  • Washington City Schools – Wednesday, August 16
  • Miami Trace Schools – Wednesday, August 16
  • Mason County Schools – Thursday, August 17
  • Westfall Schools – Thursday, August 17
  • Wellston Local Schools – Monday, August 21
  • Gallipolis City Schools – Monday, August 21
  • Madison Plains Schools – Monday, August 21
  • Eastern Local Schools (Pike) – Tuesday, August 22
  • Gallia County Schools – Wednesday, August 23
  • Oak Hill Union Local Schools – Wednesday, August 23
  • Meigs Local Schools – Wednesday, August 23
  • Western Local Schools – Wednesday, August 23
  • Waverly City Schools – Wednesday, August 23
  • Southern Local Schools – Thursday, August 24
  • Eastern Local Schools (Meigs) –Thursday, August 24

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

Celebrate Summer Staycation Style

Father and son campingAlong with sunshine and barbecues, the summer season is often associated with travel. Summer vacations are a tradition for many families. However, the cost of summer travel can be quite high.

Families looking to save money as well as make the most of their summer might want to try a staycation. While it may seem boring at first to not travel far for your vacation, with a little creativity your family could have a wonderful time.

Staycations are a great way to really explore your local community. You might be surprised what you discover. Staycations aren’t limited to simply “staying at home” as day trips to other places around your state can be part of your plans. Here are some low-cost ideas to help you save money as well as make the most of your staycation this summer:

  1. Check out your local scene. While you may reside in/work in an area, chances are you’ve missed some of its “nooks and crannies.” Even if you’ve lived in the same place your entire life, there could still be places or activities that you didn’t know existed. Visit your tourism center to get started. Consider it an adventure!
  2. Many towns both big and small usually have various summer events and festivals. Find a schedule for those occurring in your area. Many of these summer festivals typically offer family activities and even free concerts.
  3. Use your staycation as a time to not only explore but to also work on your fitness. You can do this by visiting your local parks and outdoor walking trails. This can be a great way to relax outside and allow the kids to let loose. To make it a day of fun in the sun bring along a picnic lunch.
  4. For fun that is educational, check out your town and surrounding areas for museums. Many local museums often offer a unique experience. Several museums also typically provide special events and classes.
  5. Speaking of classes, a staycation is the perfect time to take a class in something you’ve always wanted to do. Art classes are popular at many local galleries/museums. Also, several places now offer one night paint lessons, where you not only learn but also get to take home your own artistic creation. This is something fun you could do with friends or your partner. For fitness classes, check out your local gym’s schedule.
  6. Give Geocaching a try. Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. Your local chamber of commerce, library, or visitors’ bureau is a great place to get started.
  7. If the Geocaching scene in your area isn’t great, plan a scavenger hunt for your family instead. A family scavenger hunt is a great way to get in quality time. Offer fun prizes for winners, such as “choose dinner” or “no chores for a week” certificates.
  8. Visit your local swimming pool or area waterpark.
  9. Take a family camping trip from the comfort of your own backyard. If you have the supplies, set up a tent and spend a fun night under the stars. If you don’t have the items you need, you can easily enjoy other fun parts of camping, such as making s’mores or sharing ghost stories around the fire pit.
  10. If you can handle it, try going unplugged for a week. In today’s technology-driven society, it’s rare to see someone out and about without their cellphone in hand. Turn off your devices, except in the case of an emergency, and enjoy the quiet. Going unplugged can give you plenty of spare time you never knew you had! Not only will you be able to spend more time with family, but going unplugged for a week could leave you feeling rejuvenated and ready to return to work after vacation.
  11. Visit your local library. In addition to having a variety of books and movies to choose from, many libraries offer special events and activities during the summer months. From book clubs to summer reading programs, your library can be fun for the entire family.
  12. Host a family movie night. Allow each member of the family to select a movie of their choice from either your family’s collection or on streaming sites, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime. Grab some microwave popcorn and settle in. You can even theme your living room to be your own private cinema, or if you have the capabilities to do so, set up a screen in your backyard and enjoy movie time under the stars.
  13. If you aren’t in the mood for a family movie night, try a game night instead. Go the classic route with board and card games or go modern style with console/computer games.
  14. Visit your area amusement park and/or zoo. While you may have to travel a few hours to reach your destination, this can be a wonderful day trip for your family.

There certainly are several routes you can go with your summer staycation. Our ideas are just a few of the many activities out there to plan a terrific time for your entire family to enjoy. Remember a summer vacation doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun.

Have a safe and happy summer!

Minding the Gap: A Practice in Financial Feminism

Guest Post by Tammy G. Bruzon, America Saves

America Saves, a national campaign that promotes savings, notes significant differences in savings between men and women. A 2014 survey showed that women displayed a greater interest in savings, but there was no greater savings effort or savings effectiveness compared to men. But just two years later in the same survey, the gender gap leapt off the page. Woman were notably behind across 12 important financial indicators including consumer debt, savings habits, emergency savings, and general savings progress. Read more of this post