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.

 

 

Stay cool with these summer savings

Summer 2018 River

Exploring local parks is a great way to enjoy summer cost-free. Pictured above is Riverfront Park in Point Pleasant, W.Va. This park is a good place to exercise as well as take in nature’s beauty. 

 

After a cold winter and hectic spring, summer is often seen as time to bask in warmer temperatures as well as relax. This summer allow yourself to embrace the season by not breaking the bank.

There are many ways to save money and still have a great summer. The first thing you can do is take advantage of the warmer weather by heading out to your community parks. Parks are typically a free place where the entire family can enjoy various activities as well as exercise together.

Many parks also host various festivals during the summer months. These events are typically low-cost or free. From concerts to children events to plays, area parks are a great place to have fun in the sun. Don’t just stop at parks, spend the summer exploring all your community has to offer. From museums, libraries, theaters, hiking trails to local restaurants and shops, discovering where you live can be an exciting and inexpensive adventure. Summer is prime time for community events, check out this post to see what our local areas have on schedule.

Other ways to enjoy the season without putting stress on your wallet include the following:

  1. Embrace the joy of a staycation. Over the years, more people are choosing to spend their vacation time at home. While travel is fun, it can be a relaxing change of pace as well as a huge money saver to use your vacation time for a week at home. Take the staycation to enjoy your hobbies or find new ones; rest and rejuvenate; catch up on your favorite books/movies; partake in local events; work on house projects; and anything else you’ve wanted to do but just haven’t had the time. Looking for more staycation ideas? We’ve got you covered here.
  2. Take turns hosting dinner parties. Rather than going out with friends host your own meals at each other’s homes. Cooking or grilling out at home is cheaper than going to a restaurant. Dust off some board games and make it a fun evening in.
  3. Participate in a progressive dinner. If you would rather not cook a full meal for everyone, you might enjoy a progressive dinner with friends and neighbors. The way this event works is each household makes a portion of the meal, as in someone hosts appetizers, while another hosts the main course, and then desserts, etc. Along with food, make the evening more enjoyable with games or movies.
  4. Watch movies at home or take advantage of theater discounts. It’s no secret that summer is popular for most blockbuster releases. Unfortunately a trip to the cinema can be quite expensive, especially for a family. From tickets to pricey snacks, repeat trips to the movies end up costing quite a bit. If you really want to see a movie when it’s released, check your local theater for discounts. Most theaters offer some type of discount day, while others may even offer additional savings with family pricing. For other summer movie enjoyment, peruse your streaming services and make it a home theater experience. Grab your microwave popcorn and settle in for an inexpensive evening of fun.
  5. Camp in your backyard. Don’t have time or money to actually go on a camping trip? You can still have a camping adventure with your family from the comfort of your own backyard. Set up a tent or bring out sleeping bags to snooze under the stars. Share campfire ghost stories, make s’mores and enjoy the fun parts of camping without the cost of travel.
  6. Plan a day trip. If you don’t have the time or money to travel far for a summer vacation, see what places you could go to and enjoy in the span of a day. From amusement parks, water parks, zoos and ball games, see what is within range of your family. As always, keep an eye out for any special discounts as well.
  7. Go on a picnic. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy a picnic with your significant other or family. All you need to do is pack a lunch, grab a blanket and you are all set!
  8. Visit or host a yard sale. Instead of spending time shopping at malls, you can save a lot of money by taking advantage of yard sales in your community. Summer tends to be a popular time for these events. If you are looking to earn some extra cash and de-clutter, host your own yard sale. Get the entire family involved as this can also be used as a learning experience to educate children on the value of a dollar.
  9. Cut cable. An easy way to save money this summer is to simply cut your cable services. Many network shows are on hiatus during the summer months. While spending more time outdoors you may find you are watching far less television this summer.

Along with spending less on activities, you can also save money this summer by making a few simple changes at home:

  1. Keep your blinds/curtains closed. In most areas summer equals hot, which also means your air conditioner works harder. Keep your curtains closed to limit the amount of sunlight entering your home and reduce your air conditioner’s workload. According to the US Department of Energy, doing this also can decrease the amount of sun generated heat in your home up to 77 percent.
  2. Fill in air gaps. Checking the sealing of your home and fill in air gaps. This will not only help you in the summer, but should also help your home stay heated this winter.
  3. Cook outside. Not only is summer the perfect time to break out your grill, but it can also be cost effective. Ovens and stoves tend to create more heat within your home, which can put additional stress on air conditioning. Grilling also eliminates the cost of running kitchen appliances.
  4. Hand wash your dishes. Handwashing dishes rather than using your dishwasher can help offset costs that may result from increased air conditioning in the summer. We know life gets busy, so if you need to use your dishwasher only do so when it’s full.
  5. Unplug appliances not in use and turn off lights when you leave a room. These small tasks can reduce energy costs, especially if you find your bills going up during the summer due to increased air conditioning.

Remember if you need help sticking with your summer budget, check out OVB’s Benjamin Tracker. Have a wonderful summer!

 

 

 

 

 

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?

Piggybank and calculator

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!

 

 

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

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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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