Three Ways Online Bill Pay Can Help You

VCNB Online Bill Pay can save you time, money and hassle!

VCNB Online Bill Pay was designed to save you time and make your life better. If you haven’t tried it, we have three good reasons why you should!

  1. Stay organized by scheduling all your bills to pay from one place! Set up email reminders when a bill is due so you never miss a payment. If you receive eBills through our Online Bill Pay, you can even receive notification when the bill arrives. Need to know if a bill has paid or how much you paid last month? Search your bill history by company name, status or date to get your answers.
  2. Feel good knowing it’s the cheapest and the safest way to pay. There’s no need to buy checks or stamps when you can send money electronically. This means there’s no worry that your money will get lost in the mail or land in the wrong hands.
  3. Automate your bills or take control of your scheduling – whatever way works best for you! Automatic payments are great for bills that stay the same each month like a car payment or insurance. You can also log in and schedule each payment individually.

Please remember that accounts registered for Bill Pay that do not make at least one payment during the calendar month will be assessed a $3 fee. Want to learn more? Click here for details or log into your account through Online Banking or VCNB Mobile to get started.

Three Steps To Managing A Credit Card

A credit card can be a useful tool when managed mindfully. Setting and following ground rules is a powerful first step to success.

Whether you have your first credit card or have gotten yourself into trouble with several, it’s never too soon or too late to learn good credit card management habits.  Here are some rules to live by.

Know Your Why

If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to set some ground rules for yourself. First, you need to decide why you have a credit card.

Some cards offer incentives for using them. For example, the Visa® Platinum Card at VCNB offers UChoose® Rewards Points for every purchase. These points can be redeemed for incentives like gift cards, cash back and travel. Many of our customers use this card for much of their spending and then pay off the balance when it’s due.

Some credit card holders keep their cards for emergencies. If the fridge dies or you have a medical issue, a card to help you past this bump in the road offers peace of mind. Others use their card only for building credit or for specific kinds of purchases like hotels when they travel or just at the gas pump.

This is a personal decision for you to make and there’s no wrong answer.

Keep Your Debt In Check

We caution customers against allowing debt to accumulate. In fact, we encourage customers to never charge more than they can afford to pay off in a month and to actually pay off that balance monthly. Even a small balance left unattended can accumulate large interest charges and snowball into a massive sum over time. In fact, making the minimum payment on even a few hundred dollars could be costly: added interest could amount to hundreds of dollars over a period of years before the debt is paid off.

Make A Plan For To Pay Off Debt

If you have credit card debt, we recommend making a plan to pay it off as quickly as possible.

For most people, the first step toward paying off debit is making a realistic budget. Click here to read about the basics of building a good budget.  If your budget is tight and you think you don’t have extra money for paying off that debt, click here for some practical ways to cut expenses.

Finally, avoid accumulating more debt while trying to pay off the old. It may be a challenge but you’ll never see a zero balance if you keep charging what you can’t afford. For more on this topic, visit our partners at Nerd Wallet who have a repayment calculator and tips to help you.

31 Ways To Save Money

We’ve talked a lot lately about budgeting and the trials of sticking to a budget. One thing that people usually learn when they start budgeting is that they need to cut expenses. Experts often talk about the coffee effect. Buying a $4 cup of coffee every workday costs $20 a week, $80 a month and almost a thousand dollars a year. A small change like this can have a real effect.

What else can you do?

  1. Shop Car And Home Insurance – You may save hundreds of dollars simply by shopping around. Your current insurance provider may offer a discount for responsible driving or for combining a car and homeowner’s policy. Start with your insurance agent and ask what they can do to lower your rate. If necessary, shop with other agents and companies.
  2. Assess TV Costs – What are you spending on television? Do you have cable, satellite, streaming services or an antenna? What do you use the most? If you mainly watch one streaming service and find yourself watching less cable, it could be time to cut the cord.
  3. Pack Lunch – The cost of fast food is creeping up there and the long term effects on your health can be dire. Save your wallet and your waistline by packing lunch. Invest in a lunchbag or thermos to bring leftovers. Skip the leftovers and buy special lunch foods – it’s still cheaper than dining out every day.
  4. Consider Subscriptions and Memberships – Examine what you’re paying for and not using. Maybe it’s a fitness app, a magazine or club membership you don’t use. Auto payments make it easy to lose track.
  5. Pack Snacks – Avoid the vending machine at work by stocking your desk with snacks. If you crave a snack on road trips, plan ahead and bring things from home.
  6. Bring Your Own Drink – Vending and gas station drinks are expensive. If you love Diet Coke, buy a six pack of bottles at the grocery for $3.50 instead of one bottle for $2. If water or coffee are your thing, try a reusable bottle or mug.
  7. Use The Library – The local library is a spectacular resource for books, movies, music and more! If they don’t have what you want, they can often interlibrary loan it. They usually have free wifi too!
  8. Use Your Kitchen – The kitchen counter isn’t just for mail! Strive to cook your meals instead of picking up take-out. That slow cooker and air fryer are just waiting for you to create a masterpiece!
  9. Shop Sales – If you like chicken and beef but just one is on sale, grab the sale item while it’s cheap. This makes stocking your freezer and pantry affordable and helps you plan meals around what’s on sale.
  10. Shop Your Pantry – That can of beans languishing in the back of the cupboard would work great in a pot of vegetable soup. Use up the open cereal or chips before reaching for new. In other words, use what you have and that could be wasted.
  11. Meal Plan – Those last two tips are optimized when you meal plan. Check your grocery store circular to see what’s on sale and build meals around what you have and what’s on sale. Instead of just grabbing everything that looks good, go to the store with a plan for what you will cook and get ingredients you need to complete the meal.
  12. Shop Your House – Before you run out and buy something you think you need, have a look around your home. Do you have an older version of the item that still works or something else that can be repurposed? Using what you have can be an effective and creative solution!
  13. Know Your Weaknesses – If you know you’re always too tired to cook on Wednesday night, have a simple plan to combat the drive-thru temptation like frozen lasagna or breakfast for dinner.
  14. Pay Bills On Time And In Full – Avoid late fees by paying your bills on time and avoid interest fees by paying them in full. Carrying credit card debt will cost large interest fees, adding up to hundreds or thousands of dollars each year. Use VCNB Bill Pay to save on time and postage too.
  15. Refinance Your Home With VCNB – Rates are low, making it a great time to refinance and save on your mortgage!
  16. Study Healthcare Bills – When you receive healthcare services, ask for an itemized bill and read it. Do you recognize the services and the service dates? Was your insurance billed properly? Mistakes happen and can be costly.
  17. Reduce Energy Costs – Remember when your parents complained that every light in the house was on? Turn off lights and electronics when not in use. Gaming devices, televisions, computers, etc. draw energy even when not in use so invest in a power strip with a surge protector to easily turn off everything at once. Take shorter showers and turn down your hot water heater a few degrees too.
  18. Reinvent Leftovers – Whether you live for leftovers or loathe them, it’s easy to transform them into something new! Roasted chicken and veggies can become chicken pot pie and taco meat can go in chili. There are tons of options if you get creative!
  19. Try a No Spend Challenge – Set a period of time and commit to spending no money. Pay your bills, put gas in the tank and buy groceries you need but commit to no spending on extras. Try it for a day or week and work up to a month.
  20. Audit Your Expenses- Write down all spending for a week. This should include every dollar you put in a vending machine, meals out, online purchases and the big stuff too. Do you see patterns? Add up all those purchases and see which ones you can reduce.
  21. Cold? – Dress for the weather and put on socks or a sweater rather than turn up the thermostat.
  22. Avoid Disposable Products – Single use products like bottled water, paper towels and styrofoam cups are costly for your budget and the environment.
  23. Switch Your Ceiling Fan Direction – There’s a switch on your ceiling fan that makes it go either clockwise or counterclockwise, according to the Hunter Fan Company. In the summer, they say a counterclockwise motion creates a downdraft and a nice breeze. In the winter, switch to clockwise to circulate warm air around the room.
  24. Delay Gratification – When you get the urge to buy, write it down and wait. If you delay some purchases, you may find they aren’t that important. If they remain a priority, start researching what you want and shop sales.
  25. Break A Bad Habit – Most of us have bad habits but some are quite expensive. What’s yours?
  26. Maintain Your Car – Putting off vehicle maintenance will cost you in the long run. Keep up with oil and filter changes. A clean air filter will improve gas mileage by up to seven percent. Properly inflated tires help with this too.
  27. Meatless Monday – It’s no secret that meat is expensive. Trying a meatless meal is a great way to trim dollars from your budget. Start with easy swaps like pasta dishes, soups and casseroles.
  28. Drink Water – Water is good for you and most people don’t get enough. Tap water and jugs from the store are cheaper than sports or soft drinks. Carry a refillable water bottle to kill the temptation to buy costly drinks on the go.
  29. Understand Food Spoilage – Americans waste hundreds of dollars on food every year. Learn to rotate the stock in your pantry and to understand the difference between the terms Sell By, Best Buy, and Use Buy. Prioritize cooking what you need or using leftovers so they don’t go to waste.
  30. Say No To Retail Therapy – Many of us shop when we’re stressed or sad but the anxiety will only worsen when you get the credit card bill. Try some free ways to lift your mood like a walk, a movie or playtime with your kids.
  31. Question Everything – Questioning your bills and habits and applying your priorities will help you make cost saving choices.

What are your tips? Comment and tell us what you would add!

Sticking To A Budget

Earlier this month we talked about how to make a budget. While budgeting can be an intimidating topic, the process of writing a budget is actually quite simple. The hard part is actually sticking to your budget and that’s what we want to talk about today.

Read your budget – Even the best planned budget does no good if you don’t read and follow it. If you’re feeling a desire to spend money, pull out your budget and see how you planned to spend your money. Then decide if that extra purchase is worth it.

Sleep on it – If it’s not something you need, sleep on it before you buy. Do you really need a room sized television? Would you still need it if it weren’t on sale? Give it a few days or a week and see if you still think it’s important to buy now.

Know your weaknesses – What are the budget busters that you encounter the most? What are the weaknesses that you wrestle with the most? For many it’s take-out after work because no one wants to leave a stressful job to go home and cook.

Be prepared – If you know your weakness is eating out on workdays, take time to meal plan or even keep some convenience foods in the freezer to make getting dinner on the table easier. A frozen pizza and a bagged salad are cheaper than fast food and could even be quicker than swinging by a drive-thru. If your weakness is shopping, plan other forms of entertainment than browsing your favorite store. A movie marathon, playground time with the kids or practicing a favorite hobby might be better options than shopping.

Make allowances – Having a budget doesn’t mean you can’t have the things you enjoy. If you don’t want to surrender that fast food habit or have a weakness for new shoes or video games, write those expenses into your budget. Give yourself an allowance for those fun purchases. Reduce your grocery budget and write in a dining out allowance if you know this is a priority.

Make a list – Planning is your friend when it comes to sticking to your budget. Keep a running list of things that you will need to buy and then work them into your budget. Better yet, time those purchases with sales if you can. Don’t discount the importance of taking a shopping list to help keep you on track at the grocery store too.

Reframe your thinking – Before you buy, ask yourself how much you have to work to afford that item. People rarely connect their purchases with their time and labor. How many hours will you have to work to pay for that gaming system, a night out on the town or that plane ticket? You work hard for your money. Is it worth the time you’ll invest to afford it?

Make it a game – Try a No Spend Challenge. You can set your own rules but the most common no spend challenge is to pay bills and buy necessities but nothing else for a month. It’s a manageable way to curb spending for a period of time and see how much money is left after the bills are paid when you aren’t eating out, shopping and making impulse buys.

Avoid temptation – If you know you don’t have extra money to spend, stop tempting yourself. Avoid store browsing, stop perusing all those marketing emails and take away your own credit card. You can’t spend if you don’t have access to money!

Be realistic – You’re going to make mistakes. However, slipping up and spending too much this weekend doesn’t give you license to go crazy and to throw out the entire budget. Just forgive yourself and get back on track. While you’re at it, take a look at how you’re spending your money. Are you spending a lot on wants while struggling to pay for needs? Is there room to trim things that you don’t care about in favor of retirement savings and expenses that are important? Having a realistic view of your money and your habits will go a long way toward sticking to your budget and knowing where your money is going.

It’s true. Sticking to a budget can be hard. It’s also stressful not knowing where your money goes. A little planning and mindful decision making can go a long way toward helping you stay on track. When you do make a mistake, try making better decisions and do better next time. Like anything else, it gets easier with time!

Not sure how to get make a budget? Read about that by clicking here and to find 31 ways to save money by clicking here. Are you a budgeting pro? What are your tips? Comment and share your ideas!

Budgeting 101

The hardest part of any budget is getting started. Gather your income and bills and just dive in!

Whether you are a spender or a saver, one of the scariest words in the English language is the word BUDGET. Where do you start? Is it hard to make one? What’s it really meant to accomplish? More importantly, how do you stick to a budget?

First, take a deep breath and know that there is nothing scarier than not knowing what happens to all your money. Your budget is just a tool to help you determine where your money goes. It’s that simple.  

The best way to get started is to work on one month at a time.

Before you begin

Choose your tools – You need to decide if you want your budget to be digital, say in a budgeting app or an Excel spreadsheet, or if you’re going old school with paper and pen. There’s no right answer to this. Some people prefer the pretty graphs and automated math features found in an app. Others find it grounding to sit down with a piece of paper and a calculator.

Gather documentation – To make an effective budget, you must know how much you make and how much you spend. So take the time to gather up all your bills including utilities, rent or mortgage, car payments, insurances, daycare bills, tuition payments, and anything else you pay. Do you have things that you pay less than monthly? You’ll need to plan for annual property taxes or quarterly car insurance too.

Getting Started

Make a list – Make a list of every bill you will pay this month, estimate the cost and add it all up. Now add up your income and take a long, hard look at how much money is left after you pay your bills.

Non-bills –  What else do you buy each month? You will need groceries and gas for the car. Do you have a gym membership? What about clothes, movies, eating out and other fun purchases?  Don’t forget about birthdays, vacations and holiday gifts. Make a list of everything you spend money on. Are there big purchases that you need to save for every month? Do you even know how much you spend on these things? Look back through your credit card and bank statements to get an honest feel for how much you’re really spending on these extras

Pay yourself –Saving money is important so don’t forget to save for retirement and emergencies. Most Americans are woefully unprepared for even a $500 emergency but tucking away a little each pay will help you be ready.

Add it up – Take a moment to add up all these bills, discretionary spending and saving. How does it look? Is your spending outpacing your income? Are you incurring credit card debt for clothes, dining out and vacations? This can be a sobering moment in the budgeting process and will determine your next steps.

The reckoning – How do you feel about what you’ve learned so far? Did you realize you were spending so much on food? Do you see room for cutting expenses? Are you pleased with where you are? For most first time budgeters, there is something shocking about this complete snapshot of their spending habits. Once you reach this point in the process, it may be time to go back and start making some edits.

Working the puzzle – Most Americans are living at or above their means. If this is the case for you, building an effective budget will be like working a puzzle. You may need to look at cutting some costs to make that puzzle fit together more easily.

Looking ahead – If you have large quarterly or annual expenses to plan for, it’s smart to look ahead and consider the best ways to do that. Often, the easiest thing is to budget a little every month and then use automatic transfers from your checking to savings so that you’re not bearing the burden all at once.

Every month – You will need a budget for every month. Eventually, you may find that it’s easy to simply copy last month’s budget with some small changes while other months require more work. It’s often most effective to budget an entire quarter at once so that you get a broader view of your needs.

The Hard Part

The hardest part to any budget is sticking to it. It’s easy to get carried away on vacation or to forget all about it when the kids need shoes. That’s why it’s important to check in with your budget before making purchases and to make needed adjustments. Remember, your budget isn’t carved in stone. It’s a living, breathing document that is most effective when it’s kept updated and when it’s used.

Are you ready to get started with a budget that will put your money to work for you? There’s no better time to start than today!

We also offer tips for sticking to a budget and ideas for saving money when you need to trim some costs.

What Do Our Lenders Wish Customers Knew About Home Loans?

Building or buying a home can be stressful. There are countless decisions to be made and processes to follow that customers typically don’t experience often. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced banker who can show you the way. We asked some of our experienced lenders what they want customers to know prior to financing a home.

Mortgage Loan Officer Brooke Adams works at our Ross County Banking Center in Chillicothe where she provides borrowers with a checklist of items she will need to start their loan application.

She pointed out that there are many moving parts and pieces of any mortgage or construction loan process at the bank as well as through other individuals including appraisers, surveyors and the title company. Working within their individual timelines can create some challenges. “Each person involved in the many steps of the process have the same goal  –  to help the person close on their loan. However, in this big mortgage boom, we all have to be patient with turn-around times.”

Chad Meadows, a Mortgage Loan Officer at our Friendly Banking Center in Lancaster spoke specifically about the effort involved in building a home. “It’s always a pleasure to help customers realize their dream of building a home which will probably be their largest investment within their lifetime,” he said.

He suggests that customers speak with a lender prior to meeting with a builder to insure they are setting realistic financial expectations. “Realizing this dream and making it a reality requires coanstant communications between the homeowner, builder and lender. The continuity of this team is paramount for a successful project. It is most helpful to speak with a lender prior to meeting with the builder to accomplish realistic financial goals from the start.”

He elaborated on why this is important. “Items such as property taxes, insurance and monthly mortgage payments are a necessity to set realistic expectations for their dream home. This also helps the builder to save time and resources to effectively initiate the project on the right path. Accomplishing these few objectives in the beginning along with the team communicating consistently will make for a smooth and effortless construction project.”

Salt Creek Banking Center Senior Retail Lender Doug DeLong said that there is never a perfect time to take the leap but that there are practical reasons that make this the right time. “I would tell customers that now’s the time to do it! Rates have literally never been lower. With the costs of construction materials pretty high right now, the customer can more than make up for it with the extremely low interest rates.”

Still not sure if you’re ready to take the first step toward buying or building your next home?  Our lenders will be happy to answer your questions. “It is pure joy at the end of the day to watch a borrower achieve the dream of owning a home or buy that next home to grow their family.” Adams said.

Contact our Customer Service team at 1.800.542.5004 or contact a lender close to you!  

Your Dreams Matter To Us

At Vinton County National Bank, we have spent over 150 years helping customers reach for their dreams. It’s actually our favorite thing to do.

There’s nothing more fulfilling than helping a young person buy their first home, a family take their dream vacation, or to see eyes light up when a customer realizes their dream home is within reach.

But dreams can be lofty and it’s not always easy for individuals to know where to start. That’s ok because we have experienced, proven lenders who not only know where to start but who can also guide you down the road ahead.

There are few dreams bigger than building a house. Most customers have a floor plan, they have a vision of a big kitchen with a farm sink or a living room with just the right spot for the Christmas tree. Few are experienced with choosing a contractor or the hiccups that come with every home built.

We will guide you through this process because your dreams matter to us.

Ready to build? Now is a great time to start! Visit VCNBConstruction.com to get started.

Audit Your Expenses To Boost Your Savings This Year

Saving Money.

It’s a goal that many of us have. We want to save money, to put away something for a rainy day or maybe for a sunny one at the beach. But, let’s be honest. Saving money can be hard when it seems there is an endless stream of expenses and needs that throw our savings goals off track.

save or spend money

Looking for ways to cut costs is a good start toward saving more money. 

There are typically two ways to save money – either make more or spend less. Today, we will focus on spending less.

For most Americans, there isn’t one easy fix that will save them a ton of money but there usually are some small savings opportunities that add up to a good bit in a month or year. Some require research. Others require lifestyle changes, discipline and maybe some inconveniences in the name of cutting costs.

The first thing you need to do is understand how you spend your money in the first place. Is it all eaten up by bills and debt? Are you spendy when it comes to eating out? Do you blow all your money shopping online?

Keep a log of every dollar you spend and then honestly consider opportunities for cutbacks. It’s smart to audit your own spending and bills every year.

Examine Your Monthly Bills – When was the last time you shopped your car or homeowners insurance? What about internet, phone and television? Are you paying for a landline that no one uses? Call the cable or dish company to ask for a discount or consider alternate means of watching your favorite shows. If your mortgage is high, refinancing could be an option for you. A few simple phone calls could save you a lot.

Scrutinize Memberships And Subscriptions – Chances are you are paying an annual fee for something you don’t need or a magazine or website you don’t use. Review your credit card statements as many of these expenses auto renew. If you never go to the gym, that $20 a month could be better spent elsewhere.

Study Your Habits – If you eat lunch out five times a week and average $10 per lunch, that’s $2,600 a year. Maybe you can pack part of the time. If you shop when you’re bored, bring home take-out because you’re unprepared for dinner, or make purchases without looking for a deal there is room for savings. What habits are you willing to change in the name of having more available cash?

Avoid Late and Overdraft Fees– Always pay your bills on time to avoid late fees. The easiest way to do this is to automate your payments and this can be done with VCNB Online Bill Pay. Also, keep tabs on exactly how much money you have in your checking account to avoid overdraft fees.

Pay Yourself First – When you’re cutting expenses, be sure to safeguard your savings by tucking away that money in a savings account. If you save $40 a month on car insurance, set up an automatic transfer to your savings account each month. By the end of the year, you’ll have $480!

Save Those Windfalls – If you get a bonus at work or a tax refund, transfer those funds to your savings account. Use this good fortune to give your savings a boost!

The bottom line is that the way to savings is often through mindful spending. You work hard for your money. Be smart about how you spend it so you can save more.

 

 

 

 

 

Make Deposits At The ATM

Need to make a quick deposit or get some cash on the go? You probably knew that you can get cash from the ATM but you can also deposit cash and checks at your local VCNB ATM. The ATMs at all of our branches have updated machines with advanced capabilities.

These new machines can read images. That means that the customer can insert cash and checks without an envelope. Just follow instructions on the screen to receive immediate credit for up to $500 per day. The remainder of the balance will be processed and credit will be given next business day if deposited before 2 p.m. and on the second business day if deposited after 2 p.m.

This service gives customers 24 hour access to deposit funds to their accounts without waiting in a drive-thru lane or making an appointment to visit a branch lobby.

While we are cleaning our ATMs, we do encourage customers to take precautions by using hand sanitizer and washing their hands as soon as possible after using the ATM.

We miss seeing our customers in the branches and are happy to serve you through the drive-thru. However, if you need to make an after-hours deposit or if you wish to practice greater social distancing than you find at the drive-thru, please remember that the ATM may be the right option for you.

Bank Outside The Branch

VCNB was encouraging customers to bank outside the branch long before the pandemic caused people to seek safer ways to handle errands.

We know your time is valuable and we know you can’t always bank during regular business hours. We also want you to do businesses with us in a way that’s convenient and safe. For many, that means using technology on their phone or computer to bank wherever they may be. For some, that means popping by the drive-thru or an ATM to make a deposit or get cash.

Here’s a refresher course on options we offer for banking outside the branch.

Direct Deposit – Payroll, social security and unemployment checks can all be received by direct deposit. Instead of driving to the bank, direct deposit users simply wait for their money to appear in their account on the day they are owed.

VCNB Mobile – You may not realize it but you have the power of a bank lobby in your pocket. Download VCNB Mobile from the app store on your mobile device and do much of your banking from wherever you are. Just log in to your account to transfer funds, pay bills, check balances, and open new accounts. You can also deposit a check using Mobile Deposit. With Mobile Deposit, use the camera on your mobile device to send a photograph of the front and back of your endorsed check. If the check is endorsed properly and the deposit is made correctly, you will receive immediate credit for up to $1,000 per day.

Website – Much like the mobile app, use the website to open accounts, apply for a loan, check balances, pay bills, view statements, set account alerts and more!

ATM – Most VCNB branch ATMs have been upgraded to accept image deposits. The last upgrade is expected to be completed at our East Main Street Lancaster location by December 12.  Receive immediate credit for up to $500 in cash and check deposits per day at the ATM. The remainder of the balance will be processed and credit will be given the next business day if deposited before 2 p.m. and the second business day if deposited after 2 p.m.

MoneyPass®  – VCNB customers can access a network of over 32,000 surcharge-free ATMs across the nation. Visit www.MoneyPass.com to find a MoneyPass ATM near you!

Of course, we also have a great Customer Service Team waiting to help you via phone and the staff at your local branch will be happy to see you in-person by appointment, to help you via the drive-thru or to chat on the phone or via email!

What’s your favorite way to bank outside the branch? Leave us a note in the comments!