Finding Money To Save (Even When You Think You Can’t)

expenses cut.jpgIt’s that time of year when we all resolve to put a lid on our spending and save more money. The internet is full of articles like “Five Ways To Save $1,000 This Year” and advice for folks to save $30 just by cutting back to eating out just three days a week.

But what if you don’t eat out every day and you’re sure there’s not hundreds of dollars in savings to be found in your budget? We don’t claim to have all the answers in this one little story but we do have some things for you to think about and maybe kickstart your way to savings this year.

Think About Your Spending
We all spend money on things we don’t need and sometimes on things we don’t really want. The first thing you need to do is study how you’re using your money. Do this however you like. An easy way is to save your receipts and keep a slip of paper to jot down every time you drop a few bucks in the work vending machine because you’re craving Diet Coke and Peanut M&Ms. Then study your habits and think about ways to cut costs or change behaviors. If you’re buying candy and drinks every day, it might be smart to bring a snack from home.  This is an easy behavior change that could save several dollars a week.

Once you know what you’re spending money on, ask yourself some questions. What are you buying that you don’t need or that you buy out of habit? Are you actually using what you buy? Is it truly a need or a want disguised as a need?

When our bankers visit third graders to talk about spending and saving money, they typically understand the difference between a need and a want. For example, you need shoes but you want Nikes. However, when we talk to teens, we find they think they need Nikes and that no other shoes will do. What do you truly need?

Food is a major money leak for many American households as so much of what we buy spoils before we use it. If you find yourself throwing away most of the celery every week, it might be time to ask yourself if you’re buying celery because you like it or because you always buy it (or because it just looks good in the cart).

Plan, Plan, Plan
Planning is half the battle when it comes to spending and saving. How many times have you gone to the store and couldn’t remember what you need to buy so you just buy a bunch of stuff that sounds good? Whether it’s school clothes, groceries or holiday shopping, make that list and stick to it.

Also, be sure to research your purchases ahead of time. Find out what’s right for you, what’s most economical and what’s most likely to last so you’re not buying a replacement next year.

Planning a purchase also may involve delaying a purchase. In this world that delivers up to the second news and overnight packages from across the country, delayed gratification is becoming a lost art. Do your research and think about how badly you really want or need what you wish to buy. How many hours must you work to pay for it? This question alone may impact your views.  Sleep on it and revisit the purchase later. You may find you were more excited about buying something new than you were about the thing itself.

Don’t Overlook The Big Stuff
You need homeowners insurance but when was the last time you read your policy or comparison shopped? You need a car but can you afford your car when you consider the cost of insurance, maintenance and monthly payments? You need a place to live but could you downsize or find a more affordable neighborhood?

These changes may seem drastic but if you’re serious about saving money, the effort could be worthwhile.

Once you’ve found ways to plug those money leaks, both big and small, be sure to actually have a plan in place to save that money and make sure your budget reflects any changes in spending. If you are saving $50 a month on your insurance, why not set up an automatic transfer from your checking to your savings account?

Saving money isn’t always about the obvious advice to avoid the expensive cup of coffee. It also involves some thinking, research, planning and maybe even a little soul searching to figure out what’s best for you and your finances.

Do you have tips to share? How are your savings efforts working out in this new year? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Who We Are: Embracing Community Through Our Core Values

The theme of 2019 here at VCNB will involve something extremely important to us. We’ll be talking about our Core Values throughout the next twelve months.

You already know that we are a community bank and that we’ve been serving customers for 152 years but do you really know what we believe in and what we value? Our Core Values answer that question. They say that Community, Leadership, Integrity, Progress and Relationships are important to us.

Today we want to tell you a little about our Community philosophies and how we apply them.

When we have a branch in a community, we are there because we want to be part of that community. We want to be thought of as the neighborhood bank that looks after its customers, that provides jobs for locals when possible and that invests in the community where there is opportunity.

We leave it up to the management of local branches to determine how their community funds should be spent and we encourage our employees to be active through volunteerism and supporting local events.  In fact, we offer our employees some incentive to get involved – they can volunteer on bank time or receive a little time off when they volunteer on their own time.

It’s rewarding to hear about all the things our employees are doing in their communities. Some volunteer with food pantries and animal shelters while others are working with community theaters, helping out at events and even serving on boards.

Our public relations donations are spent in a number of ways. Large donations have been given in recent years to school programs, foundations and to groups that help seniors. Small donations are given to almost every type of event, fundraiser and organization imaginable.

We try to be good neighbors, to keep our offices looking nice and to be known in the community as a resource, not just for bank business, but for the community as a whole. We thank you for supporting us in your community.

Small Business Spotlight: Spring Street Sports

Small businesses are important to communities and running a business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month! 

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When John McGee opened his business it was because he wanted to fill a need in his community. Since then, the Spring Street Sports owner has built a successful business but seems most interested in chasing a passion to help local kids.

Spring Street Sports started life when John realized there was no place in Vinton County to buy a Viking t-shirt or to have a trophy made. “My wife and I were going to see the boys basketball team in the playoffs at the Convo and I mentioned needing to get a shirt to wear. She said we’d have to go to Wellston to buy one and that just didn’t make sense to me,” he said. “Why would we leave our community to buy a Vinton County shirt?”

In 2006, they converted a small apartment on Spring Street in McArthur and started making shirts and trophies. With enthusiastic community support, they added embroidery services and tanning as well as other products.

It wasn’t long before they needed more space and McGee said they wanted to have a larger retail space. In 2016 the opportunity presented itself to move into a retail space in downtown McArthur. Here shoppers can pick up items that are ready for purchase as well as see sample merchandise and place custom orders.

McGee enthusiastically attends the games, sponsors events and does his best to help Vinton County kids and adults wear their Viking pride. “That’s why we’re here. Our kids are our future so we want to support them and we want them to know how proud their community is of them,” he said.

IMG_7704IMG_7736But their line of products isn’t limited to Viking apparel. They also provide things like embroidered jackets for construction companies and uniforms for businesses.

They offer some more unusual products too. “I try to offer unique things that you can’t find anywhere else around,” he said. For example, Spring Street is an authorized dealer for Green Mountain Smokers, wood pellet smoker grills that can also be used like a regular grill and that can be controlled with an app. With a 150 degree to 500 degree temperature range, it can be used to cook meats as well for baked goods and essentially anything else the backyard chef might want to cook.

Rocker chairs for camping and events, insulated cups, stadium chairs and Bison Coolers are also available here. Plus, they do year round tuxedo rentals. Signs, billboards, car magnets and digitally printed signage are also available.

Trophies and plaques continue to be popular as well.

He praised longtime employee Kelli Ousley as well as niece Kacy Petty who manages the store. “Kacy does a great job keeping everything running for me. It can be pretty fast paced and stressful in here and she does a good job keeping a handle on things,” he said.

Several brand options are available in custom hats, t-shirts, sweatshirts and jackets. Nike and Richardson are the most popular brand of caps. Popular apparel brands include J America, Holloway, Nike Golf, Gildan and Jerzees. These are available with embroidery, screen printing and several colors of vinyl.

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The store works with teams and organizations for fundraisers. “Everyone likes t-shirts so they make a great fundraiser,” he explained.

He gets the store involved in a number of other ways. They sponsor tailgating for home football games complete with sliders and other food. They also honor a football player with a Hit of the Week award and a band member with a Musician of the Week award. This year the store is sponsoring the Vinton County Prosecutor’s Driven to Succeed Program.

“In small communities, sports programs and school activities are what we do on the weekends and weeknights,” he said with sincerity. “Everything revolves around the schools and I think it’s important to be present and to support the kids and schools. We’re investing in the future when we support the kids.”

Spring Street Sports is located at 200 W. Main St., McArthur and they are open Monday through Friday 10 a.m to 7 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to noon.  Call 740.596.8337 or follow them on Facebook.

 

VCNB Announces Tenth President In 151 Year History

Mark ErslanVinton County National Bank is pleased to announce that Mark Erslan has been named by the Board of Directors to replace Ron Collins in anticipation of Collins’ 2019 retirement. Collins has served Community Bancshares, Inc., the bank’s holding company, for over twenty years. This included nine years as president of First Bremen Bank and nine years as president of VCNB.

Erslan began his career with VCNB in 1992 after graduating from University of Rio Grande with a degree in Business Management. His first position with the bank was Management Trainee in the Operations Department. The following year, he requested a position interacting with customers and was entrusted with a Branch Manager position in the bank’s new Ross County market. Since then, Erslan has held various roles within the bank including Consumer Lender, Vice President of Lending and, most recently, Executive Vice President Head of Lending.

He is optimistic about the bank’s future and indicated he plans to continue following the bank’s current growth strategy. “We look forward to steady growth in the communities we serve by continuing to provide our customers with excellent in-person service while embracing new technology to provide additional conveniences on-line,” Erslan said.

“I am eager for the opportunity to lead the bank in this position. In my 26 years with VCNB, the past presidents have played a significant role in my development and I hope to pass that along to the next generation of bankers,” he continued.

Collins will help with the transition by continuing as CEO through 2019. He also plans to remain on the Board of Directors.  “It was a pleasure and honor to lead this organization and be able to work with such dedicated people.  I am pleased that Mark will be our new president. Over the years he has demonstrated his commitment to our bank, our customers and the great communities we serve,” Collins said.

VCNB Business Support Team Works For You

As a business owner, you need every dollar and every minute to work for you. Your bank also needs to work for you. Here at VCNB, we understand that and we provide a Business Support Team to help you with business problems and solutions.

We recently sat down with Monica DeLong, Vice President of Retail Accounts at VCNB, to talk about what sets VCNB apart in the world of business banking. She had a lot to say on this subject.  “Most banks offer basically the same products so the things you find at big banks or regional banks are the same products we have here. What sets us apart from all the others is the dedication we have to our business customers and the services we provide them,” DeLong said.

In fact, VCNB offers a dedicated support phone line that rings into the Business Support Team. “When they call, they will hear a familiar voice, someone they’ve likely worked with before and someone who understands their business and what they need,” DeLong explained.

Another thing that makes VCNB unique is the complimentary set up services and training provided by bank employees. “If you sign up for Remote Deposit Capture, we don’t just ship the equipment to you. We actually go and set up for you. We demonstrate it, we help you learn how to use it so you’re comfortable and are ready to make those deposits from the comfort of your office. The same goes with payroll. If you use our payroll services, we come to you and we train you to use it. Then we offer support if you need it later.”

She pointed out that VCNB is also one of the few banks that offers Rewards Points for business checking customers. These points can be earned by using bank products and a debit card. They can be redeemed for cash back to the account, making it easy for business customers to earn a little extra cash just for doing their banking.

Another quality that many customers appreciate is the flexibility in online and mobile banking. With online banking, the account holder can assign as many people as needed to use online banking and to see as much or as little of the online banking content as necessary. So the employee responsible for payroll can be given access only to the payroll portion of online banking while another employee may only be given access to wire transfers. Checks and balances can also be put in place so that one person initiates something but a second person has to approve it.

“It’s our service that sets us apart,” DeLong pointed out. “We want the entire relationship with the customer so we want to make sure the entire process is a positive one. You’re never just a number, you’re a name and we know who you are.”

Ready to move your business relationship to a bank that really wants to work with you? Find your closest branch here! 

Rita Teeters To Retire Thursday

When Rita Teeters talks about her upcoming retirement from Vinton County National Bank, she doesn’t seem as eager to leave work as she does to simply have free time to do as she wishes. Rita will retire Thursday after accumulating 35 years over two stints with the bank.

She started her career with VCNB in 1964. Back then, the bank was still small with just one location in McArthur and a modest staff that included only a handful of women. “One person answered the phone. That’s how small we were,” Rita said. “And there were just a few of us girls in the Accounting Department.”

Rita Teeters Retires croppedThese were prosperous years and, as the bank grew, so did the presence of other women. Rita’s job was to operate the proof machine, a large piece of equipment used to process transactions and ultimately make sure the bank was balanced at the end of each day.

She worked in the Accounting Department until leaving in 1979 while expecting her first child. “When Carla came along, I never expected to keep working. That’s just what you did back then. You stayed home and raised kids,” she explained. “But when I left, Bob Will told me I would always be welcome if I ever wanted to come back.”

Nineteen years later when Carla was in college and son Kevin in high school, Rita found herself looking for work to help her family through a rough patch.  “I answered an ad in the county paper because someone was looking for a proof operator. That’s what I did for the bank so I applied for it. Well, never did I guess it would bring me back here,” she said.

That was 1998 and she says a lot had changed during her nineteen year absence. “They had changed to a ten key proof machine. It was so small! And different! I had to learn it all over again!”

The bank had also embraced technology during her absence and she had to learn computers for the first time. “Kids today just grow up knowing these things but I had to learn. They were patient with me and I was grateful,” she laughed.

She has seen even more changes in banking since that day. Now she works in the bank’s Operations Department as a Senior Operations Processor. “We do a lot of the same things but the way we do them has changed. Computers have taken a lot of the labor out of what we do,” she said while citing some specific examples including how customer account statements are created. Today, statements are automatically generated by computers. Then, they were created manually by people. Returned checks were filed daily, checked off the customer’s statement and then mailed with the statement to the customer.

Rita also reminisced about the people and other aspects of the bank. As a young woman, she worked for Belle Jenkins, the bank’s first female employee who was known for her no-nonsense approach to work and impeccable style. “A lot of people were intimidated by her but I really liked Belle. She was a good role model for us all,” Rita said as she talked about the day the bank ladies learned they could wear pant suits to work. “I never saw Belle wear anything but a dress or skirt but she wore a pant suit to work one day. She came down to the basement and announced that we would be permitted to wear pantsuits but that the bottom of the jacket had to come to our wrist when we stood,” she explained.

She reminisced about other aspects of the changing dress code including the official bank blazer that every employee was expected to wear every Friday. Many bank customers might remember them in different colors over the years including burgundy, navy blue and gold. “We had to wear them every Friday. That was dress up day,” she said.

Rita talked about others who have come and gone from the bank since she started. “So many of them have passed,” she said while talking about popular bank personalities like Jerry Griffith who was a favorite banker of so many customers that his line would stretch through the lobby while other tellers stood with no customers to wait on. She smiled at the memory of Bob Will, Jr. who carved out time each day to speak to every employee. “He always made you feel like you were important,” she said.

During her time with the bank, Rita has worked for five of the bank’s nine presidents. She has witnessed the bank’s growth from one small community branch with only a handful of employees to a large operation with seventeen branches and close to 250 employees.

“I have enjoyed working here. They’ve been real good to me but it’s time to go. It’s been 35 years and I’m ready to have some freedom, to not have a routine. I told the girls the other day, it’ll be nice to not have to go out into the cold in the mornings,” she laughed.

Rita plans to spend some time on sewing and quilting projects and looks forward to spending more time outdoors next summer. She says she’s “the gopher” for the family farm and is most enthusiastic about spending more time with family. She has been married to her husband Kayle Teeters for forty years and she hopes to spend more time with him, their children and three young grandsons.

Rita, we wish you all the best in your retirement and hope you enjoy your newfound freedom!

Pataskala Banker Embraces Spirit Of Holidays Through Music

Friendly Bremen Banking Center Personal Banker Mitchell McCrady has a busy month ahead of him. By day Mitchell helps customers in our Pataskala branch with everything from cashing checks to opening accounts. After hours he is a passionate musician who plays French horn with three different Central Ohio symphonies and a local opera company. This month, he will be especially busy with Christmas performances in and around the Columbus area.

In fact, he will take part in four Christmas concerts and a New Year’s Eve fundraising gala this month!

beautiful poinsettia in flowerpot, gifts and Christmas ballsMitchell began playing French horn at the age of ten, learning the instrument with the school band at Berne Union in Sugar Grove. During his teen years, Mitchell took lessons at Ohio University in Athens and further developed skills that he carried into college. In fact, he holds an undergraduate degree in Music Performance from University of Dayton and a Masters of Music in Horn Performance from Indiana University.

He is a member of the New Albany Symphony, Central Ohio Symphony, Newark-Granville Symphony Orchestra and Opera Project Columbus and participates in some seasonal projects as well.

Mitchell came to work at VCNB in 2015 and has since worked in our branches in Lancaster, Canal Winchester and now Pataskala, learning the ropes in retail banking and customer service.  “I feel lucky to work at the bank and pursue my passion at the same time. I’m so appreciative of that,” he said.

Here is the schedule of Mitchell’s upcoming holiday shows:

Central Ohio Symphony
Holiday Concert
Sunday, December 9 at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Gray Chapel, Ohio Wesleyan University

New Albany Symphony
Santa and the Symphony***Sensory Friendly Concert***
Saturday, December 15 at 11:30 a.m.
Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts
This is a short 45 minute program; perfect for little kids and those with special needs.

Holiday Spectacular
Sunday, December 16 at 3 p.m.
Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts

Columbus Dance Theater
MATCHGIRL
Friday, December 14 at 8 p.m.
Saturday, December 15 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Otterbein University, Fritsche Theatre – Cowan Hall

 
Weathervane Playhouse/Newark-Granville Symphony Orchestra
New Year’s Eve Fundraising Gala
Monday, December 31 at 8 p.m.
Weathervane Playhouse (100 Price Road Newark, OH 43055)

Mitchell invites everyone to come out and support, not just these shows, but other local performances in the area. “Every show is different and I would encourage people to go out and support as many as you can. These are local musicians in your own community and we enjoy giving great performances for people,” he said. “We’re lucky to have such a rich, thriving art scene in Columbus and in areas all over Ohio.”

Santa Visits Set

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Here at VCNB we’re pretty good friends with Santa Claus which is why he’s kind enough to visit some of our branches every December. We know it’s his busy season so we really hope you’ll take advantage of his visits by coming to see him!

Boys and girls of all ages are welcome to visit, share their holiday wishes and have their picture taken. Just remember to bring your own camera or phone for pictures!

Here are the dates and locations!

Friday, December 7 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Canal Banking Center

Friday, December 14 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Friendly Bremen Banking Center in Bremen

Thursday, December 20 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Friendly Bremen Banking Center in Pataskala

Friday, December 21 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Friendly Bremen Banking Center Lancaster East Main

Small Business Spotlight: BBB Music Center

Small businesses are important to communities and running a business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month! 

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In an age when many specialty stores are going the way of the rotary telephone, downtown Chillicothe continues to support a number of specialty stores. One of the more unique of these is BBB Music Center, a locally owned store that specializes in all things related to musical instruments and sound equipment.

Owner Bob Green said the Water Street store really is a center for the community.  “We’re not here to serve ourselves, we’re here to serve our community,” Green said. “We think it’s still important to have a local music store in town, one that’s friendly to customers and that gives them the services they need.”

Bob Green.JPGBob is an Air Force veteran and family man who has made a point to include family, friends and the entire community in the store. “A lot of my family helps out and I like to get the grandkids in here to teach them some work ethic. They all know how to run the cash register and some of them can tune a drum or a guitar. Some can set up sound systems.” Bob explained as he named each of his children, sons-in-law and grandchildren who help out. One of Bob’s daughters, Sarah Lambert, has been helping customers since he opened shop.

The story of BBB Music Center dates back to 2005 when Bob was trying to purchase a guitar from another area music store. Their look-but-don’t-touch policy meant that he couldn’t try out the instrument he liked before buying it. “I just didn’t understand how you could buy something like that without trying it first. You buy a car, you drive it first. You buy a guitar, you need to know how it feels and what it sounds like,” he explained.

Shortly after, he began selling bluegrass instruments at area festivals and events but it soon became evident that he needed a storefront. The store began life as Bob’s Banjo Barn and has been in a few places around town. Today they are on Water Street and the name shortened to BBB Music Center to reflect the wide variety of merchandise they carry.

In addition to stringed instruments, they sell band instruments and supplies, drum sets, keyboards, amplifiers, sounds systems and all the connectors, cables, power supplies, reeds, strings, neck straps, music books, tuners, cases and cleaning supplies you might need. They offer a wide selection of new and used guitars, banjos, mandolins, violins and strumsticks.

“We look for well-made instruments because we want to sell quality stuff for less money. It’s that simple,” Bob explained. He also is insistent that it’s important to sell customers the right instrument. “We fit people with instruments. They may not realize that a guitar may be too big or too small. We don’t want to see you waste your money. We’d rather help you find the right instrument that could last you a lifetime.”

On top of all that, they do cleaning, repair and restoration for all instruments as well as for sound systems and other musical electronics. In addition, they do warranty repair for certain brands of instruments. “We have experienced people who know what they’re doing and who I trust to do good work for our customers,” Bob continued. “Sometimes an instrument just needs cleaned, adjusted, tuned, or maybe a new set of strings. We can do all that and more.”

They also offer space for instruction. They have classroom space where independent teachers provide lessons for instruments including stringed instruments, keyboard and drums.  Each instrument purchased here comes with a free lesson. Also, it is possible to take lessons through an instructor here without actually owning the instrument but by using one at the store.

instruments and books.JPGBob is cognizant of the need to be competitive in an increasingly online world, working hard to keep prices competitive and to offer those personalized services that online sellers cannot. In fact, many customers come in for help setting up a new instrument they purchased online or to repair one damaged in shipping. “A lot of people buy online without knowing if it’s right for them and without realizing there is work to be done to make a new instrument playable,” he said.

Plus, if they do not carry what you need, they are pleased to order it for you.

They also provide set up and service for sounds systems. “Sometimes a church will call with a problem with their sound system or a microphone or keyboard and we’ll go right over. We know how important it is to have someone to rely on when you’re having a problem.”

Bob also keeps the store active in the community and is complimentary of many other downtown merchants. For example, the store accepts donated instruments which they clean and repair before donating to veterans through the VA Hospital. Churches, veterans and Kenworth employees all receive a ten percent discount.

giftEvery Saturday morning, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., a group of locals stop by to jam, playing gospel, folk and bluegrass music in a room at the back of the store. Everyone is welcome and there is no limitation on age or experience – one regular participant is ninety. “Whoever can come just shows up. We’ve seen friendships develop and bands form just from playing in the back room,” he said. Bob hopes to soon offer the jam room to younger artists on Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The beautiful thing about this line of work is that music appeals to everyone. “It’s a love, really. There’s nothing like picking up a guitar, closing your eyes and playing. It’s not a man’s world. It’s anybody’s world here. From six to ninety, we serve everyone,” he said.

The store’s customers come from all walks of life and from all over. Bob said that a number of their customers come from West Virginia, Kentucky and from all over Ohio. “We have customers come down from Columbus because the stores up there don’t carry what they need and they don’t offer the service we do” he said.

This store clearly is a passion and a labor of love for Bob. “Come in as a customer and leave as a friend. That’s what we want here,” he said. “Come in and ask questions, try the instruments, be sure about what you’re buying. That’s what we want and we’ll do our best for you.”

BBB Music Center is located at 20 East Water Street. With street parking available in front and in a public lot across the street, it is easy to park and visit them during business hours 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Call them at 740.772.2262, visit them online or follow them on Facebook.

See more images of the store in the slideshow below.

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