Practice Awareness To Boost Your Financial Health

Having a budget and regularly reviewing your financial commitments is a great place to start down the road toward better financial standing.

Being engaged and aware of what is happening in your financial life is the most effective way to improve your personal finances. We have some tips to help you be more mindful of your finances and how your VCNB account tools can help!  

First: Know Your Income and Commitments

It is imperative to know how much money comes in every month and where it’s going. The best way to do this is to gather up pay stubs and other income documents. Start by adding up your income. Then make a list of all your expenses and add them up to see how much you have going out every month to create a basic budget. Read our Budgeting 101 article to get started!    

Next Step: Get the Right Tools

VCNB offers account holders some user-friendly tools that will make life easier. From checking your balance and paying bills online to turning off your debit card in our mobile app, there are a number of tools for keeping tabs on your finances. Many customers especially love Account Alerts which allow them to receive a text or email for things like when a loan payment is due or each time their debit card has been used. You can even set an alert for when your account drops below a certain balance. Click here to learn more about how the leading technology offered at VCNB can help your financial life!

You’ll also want to review your credit report for accuracy. Download your credit report for free at www.annualcreditreport.com. This document will help you spot errors in your credit history which could impact your credit rating as well as your ability to borrow money, rent a home, qualify for auto insurance or even get a job.

As you’re creating your budget, be sure to put in place some maintenance routines. Have a special place for bills that need attention, automate what you can, and designate a time to pay bills and check balances. While you’re at it, be sure to file or scan any paperwork you need to keep.

What’s next:

These are some basic first steps that everyone should take on the path to financial awareness. Here are a few more.

Start by looking for ways to cut costs. Be sure to apply that savings to paying off debt or to plan for big expenses. Click here for 31 ways you can save money now.

If you know that you spend six hundred dollars on Christmas every year, don’t wait until the holidays and rack up credit card debt. Instead, open a VCNB Christmas Club account to have automatic transfers made from your account into a Christmas Club every two weeks.

Get into the mindset that you will think before you buy and curb those impulse purchases to save strain on your budget. Start thinking about what you want your life to look like and how money can help you strive toward those goals.

Most of all, be mindful and start thinking about how you can put your personal finances to work for you.

Meet Your Banker: Sandy Wachenschwanz

Sandy Wachenschwanz was just a teenager when she took her first job in the banking industry. Forty two years later, she has worked in several aspects of local banks and recently transitioned into a new one here at VCNB. She is the bank’s newest Retail Lender in our McArthur location.

Sandy began her career serving in the Operations Department of a bank in Athens where she was a jack-of-all trades in the days before computers. “We did everything by hand. Returned checks, wires, balancing the general ledger. It was all done manually,” she recalled as she reminisced about the reasons she fell in love with banking. “I liked the logic of it all and solving problems,” she said.

Sandy Wachenschwanz is now a Retail Lender at VCNB’s McArthur location.

After nineteen years in that department she moved into mortgage lending and also assisted commercial processors with some duties. She moved up the ladder to work as a branch assistant manager while continuing to hone her mortgage lending skills. Along the way she learned well all sides of banking and the ways banks can help customers.

Sandy came to VCNB’s McArthur location in 2019 as branch Assistant Manager but was pleased this year to move back into her lending roots as a Retail Lender. “I really enjoy helping people achieve their goals and helping people figure out their finances so they can make their lives better. That’s a lot of fun and something I have always enjoyed,” she explained.

She credits having good teachers over the years, other bankers who led by example and helped her be a better lender. The Albany area resident has three children and three step-children. She and her husband Robert enjoy their nine grandchildren and the benefits of having a big family. She is actively involved in her church as a Sunday School teacher and Church Secretary.

“I’m happy to be here in McArthur helping local people achieve their dreams and build better lives. I invite anyone seeking a loan or who is not sure where to start to get in touch so we can talk,” she said.

Reach Sandy in the McArthur office at 740.596.2525, Extension 2212 or email Sandra.Wachenschwanz@vintoncountybank.com.

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.

Debbie Pickett Will Retire Friday

It’s a new year and soon to be a fresh start for Debbie Pickett who will retire tomorrow. She joined the bank family nearly twenty years ago when she came in to do some business and was invited to apply for a job. That was twenty years and a few job titles ago. While she still enjoys her job, she says it is time to go.

“I had it in my mind that I would retired at 65 and I’m almost there,” she said. “After all, you have to weigh how long you want to work with what you want to do when you finally retire and have time to do the things you enjoy.”

Debbie Picket RetiresDebbie started out as a teller at the Friendly Bremen Banking Center on West Fair in Lancaster.  Since that beginning in 2001, she has taken on other new and challenging positions both on the front line and behind the scenes. “Friendships grew with staff and customers. I have deep respect for those working on the front line. I became the receptionist there before moving to the East Main branch as Ned Hinton’s processor for several years. I learned so much from different seasoned employees which helped me later as I was promoted to a loan officer.”

She went on to serve as Branch Manager at our West Fair location but had developed a curiosity about the bank’s Indirect Department.

“I thought it was interesting, working with all our dealers. I was able to join the department full time in 2015 and have enjoyed working with our dealerships to grow our relationships for auto and other financing opportunities,” she recalled. “I like the relationship that we build with our dealers that provide trust and loyalty to us which in turn provides us with new customers to offer our services to. They choose to do business with us from our personal attention and reputation of good service.”

Before joining the bank family, Debbie had a varied career that started when she was a young car hop at Kenny’s, a popular hangout on Memorial Drive before she went into office supplies and even funeral planning. “I have always worked. It’s exciting to think I won’t have to anymore but it’s strange at the same time. What will it be like to not get up and go to work for someone else?”

The good news is that Debbie has a lot to keep her busy.  She has been saving projects for around the house and especially looks forward to having more time with family including her husband Mark, a daughter, a son, and grandkids.

“I often work after hours and on Saturdays so it will be wonderful to have more free time when the kids are not in school. I won’t have to wait for a day off to plan time with them. It’s also important to be available for my little granddaughters to come over to visit and to spend time at my grandsons’ sporting events. Being involved in their lives means a lot to me.”

Debbie has worked from home for much of the last year and says this time at home has aided in the transition to retirement. “I miss spending time at the office and the people I see there. But maybe having this separation from the office will make the shift to retirement a little easier,” she said. “I have developed friendships with so many of my coworkers. I’m sure to miss all those people.”

She expects to make a cake with her family to celebrate tomorrow night. “Every time we make a cake lately, my granddaughters want to sing the Happy Birthday song. I can hear them changing the words to ‘Happy Retirement to you!” she laughed.

“I have a lot to look forward to and I’m going to enjoy just enjoying life!”

Looking Back On A Year Of Giving

Looking back on 2020, we can say this year has been unlike any other we’ve seen in our 153 year history. This global pandemic has changed the way we do business, how we are entertained, how we interact with loved ones, and in countless other ways.

It has been challenging and scary for many who are suffering economically or because of their health. That’s why we have committed to working with our customers who have struggled due to income loss this year. We also continue supporting our communities in the best way we know how – through volunteerism and monetary donations.

Our employees log hundreds of hours volunteering in their communities every year and have continued to do so when safe this year as well. You’ll find them helping at food pantries, serving on boards and lending a hand at animal shelters. They give blood, are leaders in their churches, visit nursing homes and seek other ways to make a difference.

Our branches have donated nearly $300,000 to causes important to their communities. Those causes come in many forms. We have supported events like the drive-thru Pataskala Cookie Walk, a Chamber event that gave local families a socially distanced and fun way to welcome the holidays.

We bought livestock at county fairs, supporting the age old tradition of 4-H members learning useful skills and responsibility while caring for their animals.

We’ve donated to some big projects too. The Logan Theater project will provide local teens a place to go after school and a place for movies to roll and the arts to come alive in downtown Logan.

Donations were made to high school programs, libraries, and food pantries. In McArthur, we donated care packages of non-perishable food and snacks to be sent home with local kids when schools were closed.

We even gave away $2,020 to a graduating high school senior from each of the counties where we have a branch.

Supporting our local communities and people and the causes important to them is important to us. As we bid farewell to 2020, we look with hope for the new year ahead. From our bank family to yours, we wish you a new year that is happy, healthy and prosperous.

Get Smart About Credit

Are you smart about credit? Read on for a simple explanation of credit scores and how to improve yours!

The American Bankers Association sponsors Get Smart About Credit Day every October to help consumers understand the role that credit plays in their life and how to smartly build good credit. Many people don’t realize that their credit score impacts their ability to rent an apartment, buy affordable car insurance and even find employment. Here’s a refresher on credit!

What is a credit score?
A credit score is a number that represents a person’s creditworthiness. The higher the score, the better a consumer looks to potential lenders.

Why is it important?
Your credit score and credit history affect a number of practical areas of your life. Credit worthiness determines what loans you qualify for and the interest rate you pay. Typically, the higher your credit score, the better your interest rate. It can also impact your ability to rent a home, qualify for a credit card, buy a car, get good car insurance rates or even get certain kinds of jobs. In other words, a good credit score can save you money and even improve your life!

What Factors Affect Your Credit Score?
– Payment history, including the number and severity of late payments.
– Your Credit utilization rate which is the amount of revolving credit you are using divided by
the total amount of revolving credit you have available. A lower credit utilization rate shows
you are using less credit than is available to you.
– Type, number and age of credit accounts.
– Total amount of debt.
– Bankruptcy.
– How many credit accounts you’ve recently opened.
– Number of inquiries for your credit report.

What is a good credit score?
Excellent              800-850
Very Good            740-799
Good                    670-739
Fair                       580-669
Very Poor            300-579

How is my credit reported?
Your credit is reported to three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Any time you apply for a credit card or loan, apply for each insurance, pay a bill late or on time, or pay off a line of credit, this information is reported to become part of your credit report. Visit a reputable site like http://www.annualreport.com to obtain your free annual credit report. Review your report for accuracy by making sure that you are familiar with every account listed and that the information is correct.

How do I improve my credit score if I have already made mistakes?
– Pay your bills on time.
– If you have missed payments, get current and stay current.
– Avoid being sent to collections because a collection account will stay on your credit report
for seven years.
– Keep balances low on credit cards.
– Make a budget and a plan to pay off your debt.

Having good credit is important but building good credit doesn’t have to be hard for the average person. Simply show that you can handle your debts responsibly and your score will naturally grow.

Credit 101 For Teens and For Everyone

Our bankers spend a lot of time in local schools during the spring. We talk to little kids about spending and saving money and to high school kids about topics important to them. As they’re about to venture out on their own we give them an overview of real world money topics like how to open a checking account, how to apply for a loan, and what it takes to build good credit.

Here for You BadgeWe can’t go to the classrooms so we wanted to bring the credit talk to the blog! Since every consumer needs credit for a variety of reasons, this is helpful information for everyone – not just those high school students!

What is a credit score?
A credit score is numerical summary of a person’s credit worthiness. It takes into account several factors including length of credit history, outstanding debt, pursuit of new credit, types of credit in use, and payment history. The higher your score, the better your credit.

Why do I need good credit?
Your credit score will be considered when you apply for a loan or a credit card. Many employers look at your credit as do insurance companies, landlords, and even cell phone companies. In other words, your ability to get a cell phone, rent an apartment, get a credit card, insure your home, start a new job or afford a loan for a car is tied to your use of credit. In the world of borrowing money, someone with excellent credit may qualify for a lower interest rate than a customer with good or acceptable credit. Good credit can literally save a customer hundreds if not thousands of dollars in their lifetime.

How can I improve my credit?
– Pay your bills in full and on time every month.
– Use 25% or less of your available credit. In other words, if your credit
limit is $10,000, carry a no more than $2,500 of debt.
– Maintain steady employment. You will be perceived as being reliable and
better able to pay bills if you are able to hold down a steady job.

What negatively impacts my credit?
– Late or missed payments.
– Using more than 80% of your available credit.
– Bankruptcy.
– Liens or foreclosures.
– Periods of unemployment.
– Too many requests for new lines of credit.

How do I establish good credit and keep it that way?
– Pay your bills, on time every month.
– Open a credit card and pay it off every month, or keep a very low manageable
balance.
– Do not open too many credit cards or credit accounts at one time.
– Avoid using the mantra “I’ll pay it off later” as a crutch for going into
debt for things you cannot afford.
– When it comes to credit cards, only charge things you can afford.
– Only apply for loans where the payment is manageable using your current
income.
– Do not stretch your budget too thin. Ask yourself, could I afford this car
loan if I lost my job or got sick and couldn’t work?

What is a good credit score?
740 – 850           Excellent Credit
680 – 740            Good Credit
620 – 680            Acceptable Credit
550 – 620           Subprime Credit
300 – 550           Poor Credit

Who tracks my credit?
Your use of credit is reported to three major credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Each time you pay a bill, apply for insurance, change jobs, or exceed your credit card limit, that information becomes part of the permanent record known as your credit report. You are advised to request a free credit report annually through www.annualreport.com. This report is a snapshot of your credit worthiness. It is important review regularly for accuracy.

Love Your Pet Day

It’s Love Your Pet Day and we wanted to show off some pets from the VCNB Family! If you can handle the cuteness, we encourage you to scroll through and admire pictures of pets submitted by our employees. You will note that we have a lot of traditional pets and a few that aren’t so traditional! Enjoy!

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Dream Field Gets Big Boost From Franklin County Banking Center

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From left are Grove City Branch Service Manager Shayne Applegarth, Head of Retail – EVP Denise Fauber, Branch Manager Sue Ross, Commercial Lender – VP Jeff Guminey, President Ron Collins, Grove City Little League Board Treasurer Jack Widner, GCLL VP Jimmie Harris, Buddy Ball Board Treasurer Lynn Stitzlein and Buddy Ball Board President Michael DiBlasi.

Since its inception in 1867, The Vinton County National Bank has stood tall as a community-centered organization, serving local communities by providing personalized loan and deposit services to individuals and local businesses. Now with 17 locations in seven Central and Southern Ohio counties, community service and financial donations in the areas where we live and work continue to be an important part of our bank culture.

In 2015, after adding the Franklin County Banking Center in Grove City to our financial family, an opportunity was presented to us to contribute to a project near and dear to the heart of many Grove City residents.  The Grove City Little League’s Project Dream Field, as it was being called, had been underway for a several years and was beginning to enter the home stretch.

The project’s goal?  The development of an accessible field to provide opportunities for children with disabilities to play baseball, regardless of their abilities.  After researching the Little League’s efforts and their proposed plan, VCNB was proud to present the Little League with a $3,000 donation toward the Dream Field earlier this month.  Grove City Little League Executive Board Member Jack Widner recently agreed to talk to us in depth about the project and shared some exciting news about the grand opening.

Tell me about the objective of the Dream Field project. 
In 2012, the Mayor of Grove City came to a group of Grove City citizens and asked them to resurrect the Grove City Little League.  The group of men, some of who played in the previously-disbanded league’s first games in the 1950’s, were happy to get involved in bringing Little League back to Grove City.  After they were able get to the league back up and running in 2013, the GCLL Board of Directors heard about a previous effort to bring a miracle field to Grove City.  That plan never came to fruition, so they decided they would like to try and make it happen.  The Board met with the City of Grove City, who pledged to help fund the project if the GCLL Board could raise $252,000.

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Little League Board Treasurer Jack Widner updates Grove City Branch Manager Sue Ross on the fundraising process.

How many children do you think this will benefit in the Grove City area?  Is your aim beyond this area?
A new baseball group has formed out of the creation of the Dream Field: “Buddy Ball at Grove City Dream Field.”  The Buddy Ball baseball group will be in charge of putting together a league for children to be able to play baseball at the field.  They initially thought they would have six to seven teams of children with different needs.  However, since word has gotten out about the new field, we have received requests from teams as far away as Jackson, Ohio and London, Ohio to host games at the Dream Field.  It’s hard to tell exactly how many children will be served by the field – but we expect to draw children from a big chunk of Central Ohio and Southern Ohio.

I know a similar program in Dublin has been helpful in this project.  Did you model this off of another project specifically or was it a combination of various influences?
It was a combination of things that led us to develop this project.  We did talk to the organizers of the Dublin field, who were very helpful, and found out that they are serving over 47 zip codes and are having difficulty keeping up with the demand for the field.  There are 219 of these fields in the United States, and we thought the success of that particular field showed us there is certainly a demand for this here.

Tell us why you’re so passionate about the project and who is working on it with you.
When the Board of Directors had fulfilled its mission of bringing back Little League to Grove City, we were looking for a way that we could continue to give back to our community.  Once we saw the need, and the response the community had to our efforts, we knew we had to see this through.  Each of the Board members is looking forward to driving by that field and seeing children of all abilities able to enjoy the game of baseball.

It seems the community has really been on board with this – how much of your goal have you been able to raise and how were you able to do so?
Once word got out about the Board’s efforts to bring this project to fruition, the community was very supportive.  We had Girl Scouts, Cheerleaders and various service groups help raise money for the field.  The Grove City Community Club has been extremely generous to the Dream Field. Three gentlemen generously included Dream Field contributions in their obituaries:  Coach Ernie Plank, Dick Robinson, and Jim O’Connor.  One very successful fundraiser was hosted by Planks in Downtown Grove City which brought in around $5,800.  Most of the community’s fundraising efforts came in smaller amounts – but every penny counted in helping us reach and then surpass our goal.  Mount Carmel, the Mirolo Foundation, and the Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Class were very supportive.  Because of support from the community, we have raised over $550,000, all private funds!

I understand the Grove City Dream Field Specialty License Plate was created via Senate Bill 159, introduced by State Senator John Hughes and Representative Cheryl Grossman.  The next step is its discussion in the Ohio House of Representatives.  If all goes according to plan, proceeds from this specialty plate will help with the Dream Field upkeep.  What can you tell me?
Yes, that bill is still in the process of being approved.  Once it is, the license plate will cost $25.  $15 dollars will go back to support Buddy Ball and help offset their costs.  We need a minimum of 500 license plates sold each year to keep the program available.

So this whole concept really got going in 2013, correct?
Yes.  After the Board got Little League up and running in 2012, they moved on to bringing a Dream Field to Grove City.

…And you were able to break ground in June of 2015.  That’s a pretty quick turnaround from concept to construction.  How far along are you in construction and when is your expected completion date?
The field is complete and will be ready for play on opening day May 7.  Many items are still being added to the facility, however, such as water misters that were donated by Elks Lodge 37 and a scoreboard that was purchased by the Grove City Community Club.  The parking lot is being completed and the accompanying building with restrooms, changing tables, concessions, storage will be wonderful.  A new shelter house is planned to be built this Summer.

I heard there are plans for a universal playground next to the facility; is this accurate?  Was this always a part of the plan?
Because of the additional money that was raised, we were able to incorporate this into the project.  We expect to break ground on the universal playground this spring, with completion in early fall.

I’ve been keeping up with the Grove City Little League’s updates on the Dream Field’s progress.  Tell our readers where they can keep up with the latest information and how to make a donation if they’d like.
The best place is www.gclittleleague.com or on Facebook on our Grove City Little League page (facebook.com/GroveCityLittleLeague).

Do you have any marketing materials or videos you could share with us for our blog?
There is a great video on our Facebook page and the City of Grove City has been tracking progress of the project.  Karen Fahy in the community affairs division has been taking pictures all along the way of the building of the field along with a lot of the fundraisers we have had.

Well Jack, we certainly appreciate you taking the time to discuss the Dream Field and we look forward to the grand opening on May 7!
Thank you so much!