Saving Money On Groceries

Money is tight in most households right now. With the kids home for three meals a day, many families have seen their grocery bills unexpectedly skyrocket. You want to feed your kids nutritious foods but you also don’t want to go broke doing it or spend all day in the kitchen. So what do you do?

Here for You BadgeWe don’t have all the answers for your unique circumstances but we have some ideas to help you brainstorm what will work in your house!

Meal plan and make a shopping list – Think of your meal plan as your road map through shopping and meal prep. Jot down what you want that week’s meals to look like. It’s best to base this off of what you already have and what’s on sale. From there you can start a shopping list to insure you buy everything you need.

Shop once – The more exposure you have to a store, the more money you are likely to spend. For example, you run in to pick up milk only to walk out with two bags full of extras. Do all your weekly shopping at once and avoid those extra trips.

Eat in season – Seasonal foods are cheaper and they’re typically more flavorful. Summer is a wonderful time for fresh, affordable foods like sweet corn, cucumbers, berries, tomatoes and melons.

Support your local farmers – Help a neighbor while feeding your family. You might be surprised at how much fresher, cheaper and more flavorful your meals are when food comes straight from the local field to the market. Farmers markets can also be a good source for eggs and other goods.

Buy frozen – If you can’t find or afford fresh meat and produce, hit the frozen section! The produce you find here is still good for you, often picked at peak and flash frozen. Frozen foods will keep for a long time if you don’t need them now.

Be flexible – Brand or store loyalty can be costly when you’re on a budget. If your kid only eats Heinz Ketchup with their chicken nuggets, we get it. But they might not notice the store brand french fries. If you only buy boneless skinless chicken, you might find that another cut of meat is just as good.

DIY – If you’re trying to save money on food, there’s no better way than to cook your own meals. That means reducing the take-out and most prepared foods from the grocery. That pretty little container of sliced berries is way more costly than slicing your own. Most frozen meals are convenient but they’re packed with sodium and often don’t stretch very far for the money. Frozen pancakes are convenient but it’s easy to whip up a batch of cheap homemade pancakes for the freezer. Don’t have time to cook every day? Take a few hours one day to prep some casseroles or meal kits for the freezer. Check out Pinterest or ask friends for favorite recipes.

Slash the snacks – Snack foods like chips, pop and little packaged cakes are so expensive. Try cutting back or offer alternatives. Keep a pitcher of Kool-Aid in the fridge and cut up a block of mozzarella in lieu of string cheese. Even if you don’t want to make something from scratch, a cake mix and can of icing are way cheaper per serving than a box of Ho Hos.

Take short cuts – Lots of folks swear by their Instant Pot or slow cooker. The Instant Pot allows for quick cooking. The slow cooker requires planning but is a good tool for making cheaper ingredients delicious.

Audit your grocery bill – Do you see trends in your spending? What’s the thing that costs the most or that feels like the biggest waste? There may be nothing you can do to reduce this expense but knowledge is half the battle and will help you understand how your family’s choices impact the budget.

What do you do to save money on groceries? Tell us in the comments below! We’re always looking for good ideas!

Teach Your Children To Save

Full coins in a jar. Saving money. Growing concept.Save money for children and future.

Every spring, our bankers go into local schools to talk with youngsters about saving money. It’s part of a national effort called Teach Children To Save, led by the American Bankers Association. While we can’t go into classrooms this year, we are working to reach out to students in other ways.

With young kids, we talk about why someone might need a bank, why money is safe when kept in a bank, and the importance of saving money. Here’s some food for thought for you to help your kids develop money saving skills and understand the difference between needs and wants.

  • Make saving visual. Piggy banks are wonderful but a clear jar will allow your child to see their savings grow. If your child has a passbook savings account, help them keep their passbook current or even have them draw a chart so they can see their money grow.
  • Help your child see that things cost money. Don’t just tell your child that a toy costs $10. Help them make the connection between that cost and their money by helping them count out their money and show them how their savings decreases.
  • Talk about the difference between needs and wants. We need food, shelter, and clothes. That means we need shoes to wear but we don’t need Nikes. We want Nikes but could wear something cheaper. We need to buy food for dinner but junk food like Oreos are a want.
  • Make them buy some of their own wants so that they can see how hard it is to save money. Use this process to show them opportunity cost. “If you buy this toy, you won’t have enough money to buy a video game later.”
  • Give them savings goals. When they’re small, those goals might be to save for a special toy or game. As they age, those goals can be built on and will mature to save for a car or college.

Saving money is a habit best formed in youth – even if all they have to save is spare change or chore money. The will to save money is like a muscle that gets stronger with use. Developing good childhood habits will serve them well for a lifetime.

 

Take Control Of Your Bills With Online Bill Pay

If you’re trying to bank and manage your money from home, one key tool provided by VCNB is Online Bill Pay. There are many advantages to using this service now and during regular times too.

Here for You BadgeWith Online Bill Pay, customers can maintain control over their payment activity without the expense of sending paper checks or the uncertainty over when the check will arrive. In fact, you can specify the exact date you want the bill paid and are able to set up payments to businesses of any size. Whether it’s the dentist down the street, the local electric company, or a Fortune 500 business, we’ve got you covered with Online Bill Pay.

 

Here are a few things you need to know:

  • Recurring payments can be set up on autopay. You choose the day you want the bill paid and we take care of the rest.
  • You can also pay bills on demand.
  • Easily sign up for e-bills from businesses that offer this service. This allows you to keep all your bills and payment activity stored in one place.
  • Your bill history is searchable so it’s easy to find past activity.
  • Setting up reminders helps you know when a payment is due.
  • You can even send money to a friend using just their email address. Do they owe you money? Send them a reminder! You can even split a bill with a roommate or someone else!

Access Online Bill Pay through your Online Banking at VCNBfamily.com and on VCNB Mobile, our mobile app. There is a quick three step process to get started and this service is free to customers as long as you use it once every month. Inactivity will result in a $3 monthly fee. Visit our Learning Center to view a tutorial on this service as well as videos about many other VCNB products. Click here to read more about banking outside the branch!

 

Here For You: Beware Of Scams

These are confusing and challenging times for many Americans. Sadly, there are criminals out there who understand that trying times are the ideal conditions for scamming others. The IRS has provided us with some tips about current scams that we wanted to share with you.

  • Here for You BadgeRobocalls making fraudulent offers to sell respirator masks and other sought after supplies with intent of delivering.
  • Fake COVID-19 related apps and websites that install malware or ransomware.
  • Phishing emails asking for money or presenting malware.
  • Social media scams fraudulently seeking donations or claiming to provide stimulus funds.
  • Sales of fake testing kits, cures, immunity pills, and protective equipment from fraudulent sources and that requires the recipient to enter his or her bank account number.
  • Fraudulent offers for free COVID-19 testing in order to obtain Medicare beneficiary information that is used to submit false medical claims for unrelated unnecessary, or fictitious testing or services.
  • Prescription drug schemes involving the submission of medical claims for unnecessary antiretroviral treatments or other drugs that are marketing as purported cures for COVID-19.
  • Antiviral treatments or other drugs that are marketed as purported cures for COVID-19.
  • Scams involving the IRS Stimulus payments including calls from individuals attempting to obtain personal information. The IRS will not call, email, or text to verify payment details.

As your community bank, we want to remind you that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Remember that your bank, local government, and IRS will not contact you to request your personal information, social security number or account information. We encourage you to be cautious, to ask questions and to safeguard your personal information.

If you feel that you have been victim to a scam, please notify the United States Attorney General.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Technology You Need, Service You Expect

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What does it mean when we say that VCNB has the technology you need and the service you expect?

It means that we understand customers today often prefer and even need technology when doing their banking and that we are eager make available as many of those tools as possible. On the other hand, we know there is no substitute for the human touch and that our employees are still here to help whenever you need them.

For example, many of our customers enjoy self-service aspects that come with the mobile app and website. With VCNB Mobile, you can check balances, transfer funds, pay bills, send money to a friend, open an account and even deposit a check using the camera on your mobile device!

You can even apply for a mortgage on our website! Use our Mortgage Lending Center to find a lender near you, apply for a loan or try out one of our financial calculators.

VCNB customers are also enjoying the way that technology gives them access to a large ATM network. Use the MoneyPass app or website to locate one of 32,000 nationwide surcharge-free ATMs available near you.

There are even self-serve stations in our newly constructed and remodeled offices to make it easier for customers to access information and to self-serve rather than meet with a banker.

But what happens if you have a question about that checking account you opened online or if you’re not sure how to answer a question on the mortgage application? Maybe your teenager wants to open their Student Checking account online but has questions about how a checking account works.

We have a small army of people at the ready to help. You will find Customer Service Representatives available by phone and online chat. We also have personal bankers, tellers and mortgage lenders in our branches who will be happy to answer questions, give advice and help with whatever you need.

Here at VCNB we love to see customers come into our banks but we know this isn’t always convenient for our customer. That’s why we try to be here when you need us – both in person and through technology!

In fact, it may be unfair to say that we offer the technology you need and the service you expect.  After all, we want you to need and expect both of these things from VCNB!

 

 

 

 

What To Buy In September

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The month of September has some distinct characteristics – school is back in session, football is well underway and the temperatures are starting to drop. Another characteristic of this month is that there are a ton of bargains to be had if you’re shopping for the right things.

Here are nine things you can get deals on in September.

  1. Holiday Airfaire – Planning to fly during the holiday season? Now is the time to secure those plane tickets! Prices tend to start creeping up in mid-October.
  2. Nursery Plants, Shrubs and Trees – By September, nurseries are clearancing plants, shrubs and trees to make room for fall plants but also to prepare for the winter season. It’s better for them to negotiate on the price than to lose perishable plants to cold weather!
  3. Outdoor Furniture and Grills – The same goes for outdoor furniture and grills. Retailers are actively working this time of year to move out the door any seasonal items they have remaining.
  4. Bicycles – Thinking about taking up cycling? Maybe your kid needs a new bike. The season for riding bicycles in Ohio is nearing an end and many big box stores are eager to slim down their inventory until holiday gift buying begins again.
  5. Pool Supplies – Get a head start on next year’s pool season but snagging bargains on pool gear or even a prefab pool right now!
  6. Luggage – Labor Day weekend typically means sales on luggage. Catch a deal on new bags and suitcases for holiday travel or tuck them away for Christmas gifts!
  7. Summer Apparel – Sales on summer shoes and clothes have been going on for several weeks but remaining items are deeply discounted by September. Stock up on those summer essentials like flip flops, sunglasses, tanks and shorts!
  8. Large Appliances – Labor Day also ushers in large appliance season. Look for deals on energy efficient appliances that will save you money in the long run. Many manufacturers will be introducing new models soon and stores are working to clear out last year’s inventory.
  9. Cars – Another industry working to clear out inventory is the automobile industry. Next year’s model cars are already hitting the lots and dealerships need to clear out the old to make room for the new! VCNB can help you with this. Either contact your local branch to discuss your loan or tell the finance department at your dealership that you wish to finance with VCNB. They can take care of the application right from their desk!

What do you always look for in September? Share your tips in the comments section!

 

Protecting the Elderly From Financial Abuse

You, or someone you know, could become the victim of a growing crime in America — financial abuse of older Americans.  Seniors are increasingly becoming targets for financial abuse.  As people over 50 years old control over 70 percent of the nation’s wealth, fraudsters are using new tactics to take advantage of retiring baby boomers and the growing number of older Americans. Senior financial abuse is estimated to have cost victims at least $2.9 billion last year alone.

What Is Elder Financial Abuse?

It’s a crime that deprives older adults of their resources and ultimately their independence. Anyone who sees signs of theft, fraud, misuse of a person’s assets or credit, or use of undue influence to gain control of an older person’s money or property should be on the alert. Those are signs of possible exploitation.  Older Americans that may have disabilities or rely on others for help can be susceptible to scams and other fraud.   Advances in technology can also make it difficult for seniors to know who to trust and what’s safe.

Despite these threats, taking simple steps to safeguard personal information and being aware of warning signs can protect aging men and women from financial abuse.

Tips for Seniors:

What should you do to protect yourself?

  • Plan ahead to protect your assets and to ensure your wishes are followed.  Talk to someone at your financial institution, an attorney, or financial advisor about the best options for you.
  • Shred receipts, bank statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
  • Carefully choose a trustworthy person to act as your agent in all estate-planning matters.
  • Lock up your checkbook, account statements and other sensitive information when others will be in your home.
  • Order copies of your credit report once a year to ensure accuracy.
  • Never give personal information, including Social Security Number, account number or other financial information to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call and the other party is trusted.
  • Never pay a fee or taxes to collect sweepstakes or lottery “winnings.”
  • Never rush into a financial decision.  Ask for details in writing and get a second opinion.
  • Consult with a financial advisor or attorney before signing any document you don’t understand.
  • Get to know your banker and build a relationship with the people who handle your finances. They can look out for any suspicious activity related to your account.
  • Check references and credentials before hiring anyone. Don’t allow workers to have access to information about your finances.
  • Pay with checks and credit cards instead of cash to keep a paper trail.
  • Feel free to say “no.” After all, it’s your money.
  • You have the right not to be threatened or intimidated. If you think someone close to you is trying to take control of your finances, call your local Adult Protective Services or tell someone at your bank.
  • Trust your instincts. Exploiters and abusers often are very skilled. They can be charming and forceful in their effort to convince you to give up control of your finances. Don’t be fooled—if something doesn’t feel right, it may not be right. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

What should you do if you are a victim of financial abuse?

  • Talk to a trusted family member who has your best interests at heart, or to your clergy.
  • Talk to your attorney, doctor or an officer at your bank.
  • Contact Adult Protective Services in your state or your local police for help.

Tips for Family and Friends:

What are the warning signs of financial abuse?

The key to spotting financial abuse is a change in a person’s established financial patterns. Watch out for these “red flags”:

  • Unusual activity in an older person’s bank accounts, including large, frequent or unexplained withdrawals.
  • ATM withdrawals by an older person who has never used a debit or ATM card.
  • Changing from a basic account to one that offers more complicated services the customer does not fully understand or need.
  • Withdrawals from bank accounts or transfers between accounts the customer cannot explain.
  • New “best friends” accompanying an older person to the bank.
  • Sudden non-sufficient fund activity or unpaid bills.
  • Closing CDs or accounts without regard to penalties.
  • Uncharacteristic attempts to wire large sums of money.
  • Suspicious signatures on checks, or outright forgery.
  • Confusion, fear or lack of awareness on the part of an older customer.
  • Refusal to make eye contact, shame or reluctance to talk about the problem.
  • Checks written as “loans” or “gifts.”
  • Bank statements that no longer go to the customer’s home.
  • New powers of attorney the older person does not understand.
  • A caretaker, relative or friend who suddenly begins conducting financial transactions on behalf of an older person without proper documentation.
  • Altered wills and trusts.
  • Loss of property.

What should you do if you suspect financial abuse?

  • Talk to elderly friends or loved ones if you see any of the signs mentioned here. Try to determine what specifically is happening with their financial situation, such as a new person “helping” them with money management, or a relative using cards or credit without their permission.
  • Report the elder financial abuse to their bank, and enlist their banker’s help to stop it and prevent its recurrence.
  • Contact Adult Protective Services in your town or state for help.
  • Report all instances of elder financial abuse to your local police—if fraud is involved, they should investigate.

 

New ATMs Are Coming To Most VCNB Branches

Exciting changes are coming to the ATMs at most of our bank branches! These modern ATMs essentially are a 24-hour branch for basic services that you can access from your car.

The new machines have larger, easy to read touch screens and a couple of features that our customers are already loving.

With intelligent deposit, customers are able to deposit both checks and cash without an envelope. Because of this, immediate access is granted to all the cash you deposit. Better yet, up to $500 of a check can be immediately accessed.

That means when depositing a check, you can immediately withdrawal up to $500 of that amount!

VCNB Vice President of Operations Bryan Radabaugh said that the new machines have been well received so far. “People seem to be loving it. They’re easy to use, easy to read and they give you access to your funds much more quickly than the old machines,” he said.

Making a deposit with these machines is easy. Simply insert your debit card, hit deposit and follow the prompts on the screen. Because deposits are not in an envelope, the machine reads each check and each bill individually, allowing the machine to calculate the deposit amount and allowing the customer to know their money is all accounted for in the deposit. If the customer disagrees with the machine’s calculations, there is an option to request the funds be returned to the customer rather than proceeding with the deposit.

The customer’s receipt for the completed transaction indicates the number and type of bills deposited, along with images of the checks they deposited.

This is a far cry from the old style machines which require customers to place their money in envelopes. Because the machine cannot tell whether the envelope is empty or full or whether the amount the customer types in is the correct amount, customers using the old machines have to wait to access their funds on the next business day.

Radabaugh said that his reports show ATM deposit usage has seen impressive increases in the branches with new ATMs. “We’re seeing a lot more people deposit in the evenings after the bank closes and even in the morning before hours. Sundays are also busy because many people are simply unable to bank during conventional hours,” he said.  “We don’t want anyone feeling like they’re not welcome in a branch but this is another channel for someone who struggles to make it into the lobby.”

The project, which started last fall, will be completed in early 2020. Branches with completed ATMs are Pataskala, Logan, McArthur, West Fair Avenue in Lancaster, Bremen, Laurelville, Commercial Point, Circleville and Grove City. A new ATM will be installed in Ashville in time for the opening of that new branch this summer. Customers at any of the above branches can request a demonstration from branch staff. Our employees will be happy to help you!

 

VCNB Customers Can Access Over 32,000 Surcharge Free ATMs

VCNB rolled out something earlier this year that’s been a game changer for many of our customers. It’s called MoneyPass®. Have you heard of it?

No?

Well, keep reading because we think you’ll like what we have to say.

MP_2CF(lg) [Converted]Moneypass is a network that allows VCNB customers to use more than 32,000 ATMs nationwide surcharge free! It’s easy for you to use and will provide you with access to an ATM nearly anywhere you go in the United States.

This means you can still access your VCNB accounts via an ATM without paying a surcharge when you’re on vacation, away at college, traveling for work or visiting family coast-to-coast.

Here’s how it works!

  1. Visit their website or download the MoneyPass app.
  2. Search the zip code where you need an ATM.
  3. Choose the ATM you wish to visit!

MoneyPass will even give you driving directions to your destination. It’s as easy as 1-2-3! Visit the MoneyPass website to get started or visit the App Store on your mobile device to download the MoneyPass app today!