Four Ways To Spring Clean Your Finances

Spring is a great time to clean up your finances! Here are four easy ways to get started!

  1. Review your credit report –It is important to make sure your credit report is accurate and free of mistakes. By law, you are entitled to order one free credit report each year from each of the three major credit bureaus. Access yours here. 
  2. Review your budget and plan to pay off credit card debt – Is your budget current? Do you even have a budget? Every person with an income and expenses needs a budget to help them know what is happening with their money. While reviewing your budget, also look at your debts. Do you still have leftover holiday debt hanging around? It’s time to knock that out.
  3. Start an emergency fund – Most Americans have less than $1,000 saved. If faced with a crisis, how would you pay for it? Putting away just a few dollars every payday can be a big help in an emergency. Click here to open a Passbook Savings at VCNB with as little as $100.
  4. Organize and shred old financial documents – Sort through your old files and only keep what you absolutely need. Remember, the IRS has up to six years to audit you so be sure to keep tax records and supporting documents for that long. Learn more here.

A couple more thoughts – take a look at your bank accounts, credit cards and even the way you pay your bills. Are you paying too much credit card interest? Are you pleased with your checking account? Talk to a VCNB account representative about how you can be rewarded for your credit card purchases with a Platinum Visa© Card and for your everyday banking habits with a Rewards Checking Account at VCNB. Also ask about how Online Bill Pay can save you time and money and even prevent late fees!

Finally, we just confirmed some shred days for two of our offices:

May 5, 2018 from 10 a.m. to Noon
Canal Banking Center
 
June 9, 2018 from 10 a.m. to Noon
Friendly Bremen Banking Center (W. Fair Avenue location)

This is a great, free way to safely dispose of important documents that you do not need to keep. We’ll post more information as it becomes available!
 
Learn more about our Rewards Checking Account, Platinum Visa, Online Bill Pay and other VCNB products here!

Now Is The Time For Home Improvements!

JCBC Billboard - HELOC Now is the Time - (Jackson Digital)

How long is your home improvement wish list? Is there something special you would like to do that would make your home perfect? Is it the bathroom of your dreams or a bigger kitchen to accommodate your growing family? Maybe you want a more spacious family room or a pool so your home can be the hangout for all the neighborhood teens?

Whatever it is you would like to accomplish, here at VCNB we believe that now is the time to make those dreams a reality. Now through June 30, open a new home equity line of credit to receive an introductory annual percentage rate (APR) of 3.99 percent for the first twelve months.

If you have equity in your home, why not use it to make your house the home you’ve always wanted it to be? See below for the terms of this promotion and click here to get started! 

This promotion is available April 1, 2018 through June 30, 2018. The introductory Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will be fixed at 3.99% for the first (12) months from the note date and will be terminated at the end of the twelve (12) month period. After the introductory period, the loan will become a variable rate loan. The subsequent APR may vary from Prime Rate (index) to Prime Rate plus 0.25% (margin is dependent on loan-to-value ratio). Prime rate is based on the current rate published in the Wall Street Journal. As of March 22, 2018 that rate was 4.75%. The current APR using the prime rate plus the 0.25% margin is 5.00%. The APR will never exceed 18.00%. This promotion applies only to new lines of credit. Promotion available for single family, owner-occupied, primary residence only; excludes manufactured properties. Minimum line amount of $10,000 is required. Maximum loan-to-value ratio is 89.00%. After the initial 12 month period there is a $50.00 annual fee. Title Insurance and Survey Fees will be assessed to borrower for loans of $100,000 or greater. Fees range between $350.00 and $1500.00. Property and flood insurance will be required, if applicable. Applicants must successfully meet our Home Equity Line of Credit underwriting standards. Not all applicants will qualify for this promotional offer. Alternative rates and terms are available. NMLS #483350

 

Now Is The Time To Buy!

FBBC Billboard - Home Loan Now is the Time Alt (Nauman Digital)

Buying a home isn’t a decision to be made lightly. However, if you’re thinking about buying this year, now is the time to buy and finance your new home with VCNB.

Here at VCNB we have experienced lenders who will help you along the way. Plus, now through June 30, qualified borrowers will receive a $500 closing cost credit with a new home purchase mortgage!

The $500 Closing Cost offer is valid for applications received April 1, 2018 through June 30, 2018. This offer is only available for purchase mortgage transactions of a new, single family, owner-occupied primary residence. All loans are subject to underwriting and property approval. Not all applicants will qualify for this promotional offer. The $500 closing cost offer will be in the form of a lender credit and will be applied at the time of closing. Other restrictions and limitations may apply.

What are you waiting for? There is no better time than the present to finance your new home with VCNB! Click here for details and to find a lender in your neighborhood!

NMLS# 483350

How to Save for a Down Payment

The tallest hurdle to buying your first home will be saving for the down payment. To avoid having to purchase private mortgage insurance, you’ll likely need to put down at least 20% of the purchase price, which will probably mean tens of thousands of dollars.

As a young adult, saving this much money may seem impossible — like climbing a mountain. When you climb a mountain, it looks huge from afar. But if you take one step, then another, pretty soon you’ve reached the top, and the view is great.

Figure out how much you need to save
No matter the amount you have to save, approach it as a challenge. First, figure out exactly how much house you can really afford with the help of a home loan calculator. The calculator uses your inputs (income, expenses, debt) along with local tax data to recommend how much home you can afford — and how much of a down payment you’ll need.

Figure out what you spend now
If you don’t know exactly what your monthly expenses are, track all your spending for a month and analyze it to see where you can cut back. Think realistically about what you can sacrifice each month to reach your savings goal.

Cut out the small stuff
By now you’ve probably heard you should skip the daily latte and brown-bag your lunch, but those are savings cliches for a reason: They really do add up.

Something else that can add up: using coupons for your grocery shopping. Get familiar with the BOGO (buy one, get one) days at your local stores. With smartphone apps, you no longer need to clip and save paper coupons to present at checkout.

To save money on entertainment, rent movies through a subscription service such as Netflix or, even better, check out movies from your library. Libraries also frequently offer lectures, book groups and kids’ programs. Look for other free community events at your local parks and take advantage of free-admission days at museums.

Find a high-yield savings account
Earning as much interest as possible will help ignite your savings. You can find high-yield savings accounts at Internet banks, credit unions or community banks. When you open the account, add an automatic withdrawal from your paycheck so you won’t be tempted to spend money earmarked for the down-payment fund.

Sell what you don’t need
You might want to declutter before you move into your first home, so why not start by selling stuff you don’t want or need? If your neighborhood puts on a community garage sale, join in. Or sell your unwanted stuff on eBay, Craigslist or via a Facebook “virtual garage sale” page for your area.

Enlist family and friends
No, don’t ask your friends to give you money. Instead, let them know that saving for the down payment is your No. 1 priority. If your friends want to go out for dinner, suggest you get together for homemade pizza or a potluck at home. Chances are you’ll have a much more memorable evening.

The bottom line
Saving for a down payment can seem like a high mountain to climb, but if you look at it as a challenge, it can also be fun. And just imagine the feeling of accomplishment when you’re relaxing someday in a home of your own.

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

How to Tell You’re Ready to Buy a House

Making the decision to become a homeowner is emotionally and financially complex. Here are some key things to ask yourself if you’re considering whether buying is right for you.

Do you have a good reason to buy?
Sometimes switching from renting to buying is a no-brainer.  Maybe you live in a modern one-bedroom apartment in a chic part of town, but you have a baby on the way. If you want a place in a good school district, with more square footage and a yard, buying may well be your best bet.

Other times, the urge to buy is driven by emotion: You see a house you like and you “just know.” There’s nothing wrong with that reaction, but take time to check out the property before you make any commitments. If it’s too far from work, near a noisy road or the best house on a bad block, it may not be as good a deal as it first appears.

And remember: Houses go on the market all the time, and there are tens of millions of single-family homes and condos in the U.S. So there’s no need to worry if your first choice doesn’t work out; your home is out there.

Can you make the upfront investment?
Buying a home requires an initial investment that you can’t ignore.

First, many lenders require a down payment of 20% of the home price. That’s $40,000 for a home that costs $200,000, about the median price in America. You’ll also owe closing costs, which could include loan-origination fees, discount points, appraisal fees, survey fees, underwriting fees, title search fees, and title insurance. Those could total another few thousand dollars.

The expenses don’t end there. You’ll want to hire an independent inspector to look for defects in a home before you buy.  This will cost several hundred dollars, but could save you thousands in repairs. And then there are moving costs, state or city taxes, utilities installation and the costs of changes you might want to make to the home — such as new flooring or painting — that are easiest to do while it’s empty.

This isn’t meant to scare you off; buying a home is still a smart choice for many people, despite the costs. But it does take a lot of cash.

Can you afford the upkeep?
Your mortgage payment might be fixed for the next 30 years, but your property taxes and insurance rates can rise. And if you didn’t make a 20% down payment, you’ll have to buy private mortgage insurance, or PMI, until you have 20% equity in your home. It costs about $165 per month on a $200,000 loan.

Once you’re a homeowner, you’ll also have to pay certain utility bills that might have been included in your rent. And you’ll be responsible for maintenance: double-pane windows one year, a new garage door the next, fixes to the roof five years up the road. It adds up.

These numbers are based on averages.  Plug your specific figures into a rent-or-buy calculator to find out if you’re ready for homeownership. And know that there is no one answer that’s right for everybody. Whether you keep renting or buy, your decision should be right for you alone.

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

 

Four Reasons to Buy a Home Instead of Renting

The financial benefits of buying a home compared with renting have yoyoed over the years, especially of late. If you’re sitting on the fence, here are four circumstances in which it may be a better bet to buy.

If interest rates remain low
From a financing perspective, if this isn’t the best time to buy a house, it’s pretty darn close.

The average interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage, the most common variety, has hovered below or near 4% for several months now. For comparison’s sake, if you bought 10 years ago, the average interest rate was 6.41%. In 1996, it was 7.81%, and in 1981 it was a whopping 16.63%.

Although the Federal Reserve has begun to inchrates upward, it is likely that it will do so slowly and that it will be a while before the cost of borrowing to buy a home stops being historically low.

If home prices level off
Home prices rose steadily in the 1970s, ’80s, ’90s and 2000s before plunging around 2007, and in the past few years they have been climbing again. Different markets have seen different trends, of course, but generally what’s at play is supply and demand: More potential buyers than houses available means sellers can dictate terms and get top dollar.

But something interesting is happening: The oft-told story that millennials are renting for longer or living with their parents nowadays is not entirely accurate. No, people in this age group (born between 1981 and 1997) want very much to own a home, but they are putting it off because of real and imagined difficulties in affording it.

That could mean fewer potential buyers and a cooling of the upward surge in home prices. While others wait, you could pounce.

If rental costs continue rising
Real estate researcher Reis Inc. reports that apartment rents rose 4.6% in 2015. In hot housing markets such as California and the Pacific Northwest, rents are going up by about 14% per year.  According to Zillow, the median asking price nationwide for a rental was $1,575 per month in early 2016.

The monthly payment on a $200,000 mortgage — about the average in the U.S. — with a 4% interest rate would be just over $950. Even with taxes, insurance and maintenance, it’s tough to make a financial case in favor of renting.

If you want to save money
Home values over the past 70 years have generally tracked with inflation. Yes, you could make more money in the stock market. But we’re talking real life, not investment advice. Consider two things:

  • Your rent is locked in for a year or two, then will go up. Your mortgage payment can be the same for 30 years.
  • If you are raising a family, it seems all but impossible to save money. But when you sell the house after 30 years (or 20 or 10), someone will hand you hundreds of thousands of dollars, money that could put the kids through college or finance your retirement.

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Why Teens Need a Checking Account

VCNB began offering a student checking account a few years ago in response to a growing number of teens and parents who requested it. There is significant value to a teenager having an age appropriate checking account and we are optimistic that this generation of teens will be more financially savvy because of it.

After all, a teen will be an adult in a few short years. Whether they are headed straight to the workforce or to higher education, your teen soon will experience some degree of independence. Helping them establish good money habits at a young age is an important way to give them a good start to adulthood.

Here’s some food for thought:

Expense tracking and budgeting
Having a checking account teaches teenagers the very basic of skill of not spending more than they have as well as how to record expenses and debits. In general, it helps them develop budgeting skills they will use for a lifetime.

Independence, good habits and financial responsibility
As a parent, you have spent years managing every aspect of your child’s life. While you may not like to think about it, soon your teen will be an adult who needs to make responsible decisions. Independence starts in the teen years and helping them make sound decisions with their money is part of preparing them for adulthood. Habits are created every day – work with them and use a checking account to teach them good ones

Safer than cash
We notice that many of our student checking accounts are opened by teens who are going on school field trips, sometimes out of country. It’s far safer to travel distances or even just around town with a debit card than with a pocketful of cash.

Check out this link to learn more about Student Checking My Way at VCNB. You’ll find this account listed under the Checking Accounts tab.

 

Turn Coins Into Cash At Select VCNB Locations

If you’re like a lot of us, you probably have in your home a jar or a piggy bank filled with loose change. You empty your pockets each evening and give those pennies and dimes a toss into the jar until it gets full. Now, instead of rolling that coin, you can bring it to some of our banks to run it through a coin counting machine.

These self-serve machines are available at the following locations:

     Friendly Bremen Banking Center – East Main Street branch
Friendly Bremen Banking Center – Pataskala branch
Ross County Banking Center – Western Avenue branch
Ross County Banking Center – Richmond Dale branch
Vinton County National Bank – McArthur branch

To use one of these machines, simply follow the instructions on the screen and dump your change onto the conveyor belt. The machine does all the sorting and counting! Then it prints a receipt which you can take to the tellers to receive your cash or have the funds deposited into your VCNB account.

This is a free service to VCNB customers. Anyone who does not have a VCNB account but who wishes to use the machine may do so for a five percent fee.

How I Ditched Debt: ‘Born Spender’ Goes on a Spending Fast

In this series, NerdWallet interviews people who have triumphed over debt using a combination of commitment, budgeting and smart financial choices. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
and then we saved

And Then We Saved

Who: Anna Newell Jones
How much: $23,605 in 15 months

Anna Newell Jones considers herself a “born spender” whose desire for the latest fashions and gadgets landed her in debt.

When she got married in May 2009, she had a big secret — she owed nearly $24,000 in credit card debt, student loans and money that her parents borrowed for her. She was living paycheck to paycheck and felt like she had hit a bottom financially. So she shared with her husband, Aaron, a plan to cut her expenses to the bone, pay off debt and become a financial adult. And she decided to blog about her efforts to keep herself motivated and accountable.

First up was making a list of wants and needs customized to herself. Do-it-yourself hair color in a box made the “needs” list, but salon services did not. Then she did what she calls a reverse budget — she analyzed the previous three months’ spending to see where her money was going so she could determine what could be cut.

Newell Jones declared a “spending fast” in 2010: spending the bare minimum and only on necessities. The Denver resident found it freed up time previously spent shopping, returning items and worrying about the financial hole she was digging. That extra time helped her figure out how to increase her income, including photographing weddings on weekends, writing a book and creating her website at andthenwesaved.com.

» SIGN UP: Set and track your own goal to ditch debt

What was your total debt when you started? What is your debt today?

At the tail end of 2009, I [had] $23,605.10 in debt, and I managed to eliminate all of it in only 15 months! I have a mortgage now. Apart from that, I’ve been able to remain completely debt-free.

How did you end up in debt?

I’m a natural spender. I like new things. I used to live for finding that perfect shirt or decoration for my house. … Even though I owed money to others (like my parents for school), I was always able to find money when I wanted something. I was completely overwhelmed by my debt and thought I’d die with it, so in a lot of ways I decided, “Ah, screw it! Might as well at least enjoy myself!” Basically, I spent money I didn’t have on things I didn’t really need. I was reckless.

What triggered your decision to get out of debt?

I wanted my financial life to be about more than just covering my minimum balance each month or not bouncing a check. I got to the point where I was tired of feeling like crap about myself and the situation I had created for myself. I had, in a lot of ways, hit my “financial bottom.” I was desperate enough to make sacrifices and do whatever I had to to get out of debt.

What steps did you take to reduce your debt?

I made some very serious lifestyle choices … meaning I only spent money on necessities (rent, basic food, etc.) and nothing extra. I started my blog as a way to hold myself accountable. I thought that maybe if I went public about my debt and about how much it weighed on me, I’d be more likely to not immediately ditch the entire idea once things got difficult.

How has your life changed for the better since you got out of debt?

Oh man, it’s so much better! Life without debt, shame, worry and anxiety centered around money is so freeing. Before, I was stressed and worried all the time, and it showed. Now I own several businesses, have money to save for my family’s future, and have the freedom to spend more time with my husband and son.

How do you remain debt-free today?

I’m very mindful of my money and my spending. I regularly do reverse budgets [to watch for overspending issues that could crop up]. I also run a Spending Fast Bootcamp and connect with members of the bootcamp each week in Facebook Live videos. Helping them helps me stay aware and present, rather than mindlessly slipping back into my old “spender” ways.

How to tackle your own debt

Jones, who says her blog kept her accountable, wishes she had known about other people who were also battling debt and also felt ashamed and isolated. She created just such a community on her website. Support and accountability can help, she says.

  • Analyze your current spending, to see where money has been going and pinpoint expenses that can be reduced or eliminated
  • Identify your own wants and needs. Needs are non-negotiable, while wants can wait. But every person’s list will vary.
  • Save for an emergency fund. When you are trying to repay debt, watching balances go up can be discouraging. But emergencies will happen. Be prepared with money designated for just such occasions. An amount as low as $500 in reserve can insulate you from an unexpected expense and running your credit cards back up.

More From NerdWallet

Bev O’Shea is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: boshea@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @BeverlyOShea.

The article How I Ditched Debt: ‘Born Spender’ Goes on a Spending Fast originally appeared on NerdWallet.

Advice From The Experts: American Heritage Homes Talks Construction

Amercan Heritage exterior

Building a home is the biggest investment most people will ever make. Over the years, VCNB has helped scores of customers finance their new home projects and our lenders have noted that the same types of questions frequently pop up during home construction projects.

That’s why VCNB sat down for a long chat with Teri Robison, Sales and Design Representative with American Heritage Homes. Teri shared with us some of the things she wishes people knew when they are thinking about a home construction project. And Teri should know. American Heritage Homes is an established leader in the custom home business in central Ohio. Designer Gary Libertini and longtime carpenter Bill Crum opened the business in 1995. Today Gary is in charge of the Sales Team and Product Development while Bill runs the Production side of the business. Together they have built a business that can literally guide the client from A to Z, from locating land to turning the key.

It is Teri’s job to guide the customer through this process and to help make it go as smoothly as possible. She insists that trust is the number one factor in making this process less stressful. “Stress is what makes it intimidating to so many. That’s why you have to choose a builder who you trust. If I do my job right, you will be more confident,” she explained. “You will work with us a lot. It’s important that you trust us so if you don’t like something, I want you to tell me so that I can take care of it for you.”

When you meet with American Heritage, be prepared to talk. Teri suggested that when someone is ready to build, they typically have been thinking about it for some time. “You’ve been thinking about it, dreaming about it. They have researched, they have a Pinterest Board, they have a lot of ideas and dreams already” she said.

“You need to come in and sit with me. Talk to me. We’ll talk about kids and animals and how they live. Are their kids in soccer every night and there’s not a lot of time to cook big meals? Do the kids sit at the counter and do their homework while mom cooks? How do they live in their house? Is this a forever home or a stepping stone? That’s what I want to know,” Teri added.

If you do not have land or a location in mind, American Heritage can help you with this piece. First they will discuss how much land you want and where you wish to be. Then they can help you narrow down the options and ultimately find the land that is right for you and your budget. “Are you looking for ten acres with a pond and woods? Maybe you don’t care about the land but want a big house close to town. Knowing how you live and how you want to live is key,” she said.

With the land in check, Teri can begin guiding you through designing your home on paper. She says that a good builder will have a lot of questions about how you will live in your home. “I don’t want to just sell you any house. I want to build for you the home you want and need. My job is to disseminate the difference between what you think you want and what you really want,” she said.

“We will talk a lot because I want to understand you and I want to help you see what’s really important in your home. Where do you live in your house? Is the kitchen the heart of your home? Do you spend all your time in the living room or den or do you want your master bedroom to be a sanctuary? Do you soak in a tub? Would you prefer a big, luxurious shower? These are things we need to know to get started on your design,” Teri noted.

She recommends coming to your builder with a floor plan in mind first. “Don’t worry about what the house will look like. First we need to talk about how it will flow, how your home will work for you,” she said.

But before you ever begin designing your new home, Teri recommends shopping builders and considering a few key points:

Customer Service – when you visit a model home, how are you treated? Are they friendly? Do you feel pressured? Do they ignore you? Teri points out that you can tell a lot about a builder’s customer service by how they treat you on this first meeting. If you are uncomfortable or if you feel undervalued as a potential customer, these are red flags.

Stress Management – This is a huge investment and there’s always going to be stress where money is involved. However, Teri says that it is her job to make sure you do not feel that stress.

Better Business Bureau – Teri admits that most businesses will have a claim with the Better Business Bureau. The question is, how do they address the claim? Are there repetitive claims for the same issues?

Read The Specs – Pay attention to the specs of a builder’s plan. Teri advises looking at even the smallest details from the quality of the plumbing fixtures to the type of doors they use. For example, American Heritage fills garages and porches with gravel to provide greater support and stability for the concrete being poured on top. Other builders often just use dirt which settles more easily than gravel. Also, a base plan with American Heritage includes about forty percent more cabinets than other builders provide. Teri said they maximize available spaces for additional storage space in closets and cabinets. She emphasized the need to examine these specific items in the quotes rather than just the price per square foot which can sometimes be deceiving.

Trust Your Gut – Go with the company that makes you feel calm, the one you think you can trust. “Trust is the most important thing. I cannot stress enough that you have to trust your builder to have the best possible experience,” Teri said.

Learn more about American Heritage and even view sample home plans by visiting them online. Follow them on Facebook or visit their model home at 11143 US. 23 South, Lockbourne, Ohio.