What To Buy Right Now

Each month of the year is the ideal time to buy certain types of merchandise. This time of year is ripe for the picking in many areas as retailers begin their big holiday push with deep discounts on Christmas gifts. Between Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday as well as all the other days in between, there’s no shortage of opportunities to buy and save.

Cookware and small appliances– The pandemic has many of us cooking more so you may find that it’s high time to replace your cookware with something better. If you’re thinking about a better mixer, pots and pans or baking sheets to help you channel your inner Emeril, this is the time to invest.

Genealogy services – The holidays are typically a season of family togetherness. Maybe that’s why genealogy services like Ancestry and 23andme offer subscription discounts. Look for these services to be on sale this month and next.

Clothes, shoes and accessories – Last season’s clothes, shoes and accessories are now deeply discounted but it’s also a good time to find winter items on sale. Boots, coats, sweaters and other cold weather items have been in the stores for a month or more and retailers are anxious to start moving them out the door.

Electronics – Everyone is looking for a deal on televisions, computers, tablets, and smart home accessories and November doesn’t disappoint. It’s the perfect time to pick up a deal on any of these things and more!

Groceries – The holiday season usually inspires a lot of baking. Cookies for Santa and pies for Thanksgiving are just the tip of the carb filled iceberg so there usually are plenty of sales on baking supplies and mixes. It’s a great time to stock up on pantry items like flour, sugar, chocolate chips and baking mixes for a deal. Turkey, stuffing mixes, frozen breads, punch supplies and many canned goods are available for a great deal in anticipation of Thanksgiving feasting.

Toys and Games – The holidays are for the kids after all! It’s a logical time to find Christmas gifts but also smart to stock up on gifts for birthdays and holidays in the coming year. Don’t forget to save some cash for after Christmas sales too!

Local gift items – We think it’s always a good idea to shop local but many artisans and craftspeople have been working for months in anticipation of Christmas sales. Have a look around and see what unique gift items (and maybe some things for yourself!) can be found in your community!

Giving Gifts That Aren’t “Things”

Are you struggling for Christmas gift ideas this year? You aren’t alone. It seems that many are at a loss when it comes to the holidays. If you’re looking for something different, you might consider gifts that are a little harder to wrap.

Studies show that people are more likely to make memories with experience gifts than with merchandise from the store. Today we have some ideas that will take the focus away from buying and place it on sharing and on experiences that will create those warm memories.

Subscriptions – Give them a subscription to a magazine you think they would love or to a meal delivery service to save them time on cooking for a month. Are they into genealogy? An Ancestry.com membership might be a good choice. If they travel a lot, an auto club membership like AAA could be helpful.

Services – Some people simply don’t need or want anything but would very much appreciate help with needed services. Car washes, yard or housekeeping services and oil changes are all things most people need and gift cards are available from local service providers. Want something more personal? How about a gift certificate for a session with a local photographer?

Experiences – Want something more fun? How about a gift card for horseback riding, pottery glazing, an escape room or spa day? How about passes for national parks, miniature golf, an art gallery, the arboretum or the zoo?

Learning – Is your loved one an aspiring musician, artist, writer, chef, athlete or yogi? How about some kind of lessons or online learning? Our communities are filled with people who give swim, tennis, piano and guitar lessons. Many websites offer learning opportunities where they can go at their own pace while learning a fun new skill.

Themed gift baskets – Yes, this is a thing but you can give useful things that will be consumed or that can be used again and again. The baker in your life might appreciate a fancy new baking dish and the supplies to make some gourmet brownies. A gardener could find hours of solace in a pair of quality pruning shears, some gloves and seeds from their favorite catalogue.  Buying for a family? Give them a game night gift basket with a board game, snacks and gift card for pizza from the neighborhood pizza joint!

Do Chores – Often times an older person has an abundance of things but a real need for help with projects around the house. If you’re handy, you might be able to save them a lot of hassle by fixing a leaky faucet and winterizing their windows. Be sure to take lunch and plan to spend some time with them when you’re done!

Time – Speaking of time, plan a fun day doing what they enjoy like hiking, going to a museum or even cooking together. We heard a fantastic story about a grandmother who gifts her grandkids an experience every month. The kids receive twelve envelopes, each one containing a clue about what they will do or even the passes or cash to pay for it. Grandma and grandkids have fun together and mom and dad get some free hours once a month. This idea would work for all ages if you want to squeeze in more time with a loved one!

DIY Kits – If they’re crafty, consider giving them DIY kits for things they can use like lotion, candles, soap or ice cream. This will give them something to do, something to consume and maybe even spark a new hobby!

Gift cards – If you’re really stumped or in a rush for time, consider a gift card for something they really love like their favorite coffee shop, clothing store or photo printing service for all those pictures on their phone!

Now it’s your turn! Tell us the best experience gift you’ve given or received!

Reward Yourself With Rewards Checking This Holiday Season

What’s on your holiday list and how much money will you spend? A VCNB Rewards Checking Account would reward you for all those purchases!

Tis the season of holiday spending and many savvy VCNB customers are ready to reward themselves while giving to others this holiday.

Think about how much money you spend during the holidays.

Maybe you’re buying gifts and stocking stuffers. Maybe you’re sending Christmas cards and need stamps and cards or family photos to share with loved ones. Do you cook special foods for holiday celebrations? Perhaps you leave a gift card for your mail carrier or use the holiday sales as an excuse to spiff up your wardrobe or update some things around the house.

Whatever your spending patterns this time of year, most Americans are spending money and a lot of it.

But our VCNB customers who use our Rewards Checking Account will tell you that they can pay for their purchases from their checking account while accumulating uChoose Rewards® points that can benefit them later.

It’s simple, really.

When you use your Rewards Checking account debit card, you will earn one point for every $3 spent. Use your card 21 or more times per cycle and receive an extra 200 points. You can also accumulate points for using Online Bill Pay, Direct Deposit and Automatic Loan Payments. We will even give you 1,000 points when you open the account and 500 points on your anniversary.

Sign into the uChoose Rewards website to find special offers for online purchases and for in-store purchases with offers you can activate.  

The website is also where you manage and redeem your rewards points. Here you’ll find it easy to request cashback or to order gift cards, arrange travel or shop for merchandise.

There are many benefits to using this account but also some important details to remember. First, there is a $7 monthly fee that is waived if you do one of two things – either make 15 or more debit card purchases per statement cycle or maintain a combined relationship of $5,000 or more with VCNB. That would include your personal checking, savings and CD balances.

Most customers find that they are easily using their card fifteen times per month.

Also, you must register your debit card on the uChoose website to begin earning rewards points. Purchases made prior to registering your card cannot be retroactively awarded points so be sure to get that done before you begin spending.

What are you waiting for? You can open this account online or visit any of our branches to have one of our Personal Bankers open it for you. Click here to get started!  

Already have Rewards Checking? We would love to hear how you use your Rewards! Comment below and tell us!

Small Business Spotlight: Casa Del Taco

Being a small business owner is a tough job! That’s why we feature a different small business in our Small Business Spotlight every month!

Since 1984, Casa Del Taco has been one of Chillicothe’s signature flavors. The family owned business offers up fast casual Mexican food in two locations.

Owner Bill Barker said they set themselves apart from other restaurants in town with made-to-order food that uses fresh, high quality ingredients. “Everything is very fresh and we make it when you order it. We make our own sauces, avocado dressing, and chicken tortilla soup from scratch using our own recipes,” he explained.

Lean ground beef, real cheese, and fresh vegetables are just some of the delicious ingredients used to make their signature dishes. “We sell more regular tacos than anything but we are known for a lot of things,” he said as he began to list popular dishes like their Mexican Chef Salad with homemade avocado dressing, burritos and Casadillas which is their version of the quesadilla. “We want to be proud of the product we serve and one way we do that is to start with the best ingredients.”

That pride in work has been instilled in the entire family. Bill and his wife Tammy have four grown sons who are all involved in the business. Three work for Casa Del Taco while their youngest son manages the Old Canal Smoke House which they purchased in 2013. “I’m proud that they all chose to stay and help. It isn’t the easiest business in the world but we all love what we do and love serving great meals to people,” he said.

When they opened their first location on Bridge Street, the landscape of this now busy street was much different. At the time there were only about eight restaurants. Today there are close to eighty and growing.

As the city has grown, so has Casa Del Taco. They opened a second location near Kroger on Western Avenue, making it easier for residents on that side of town to obtain their “Casa Del fix.” In fact, the restaurant is a favorite first stop for many former residents when they visit town as well as a destination for people all over the region who have fallen in love with the food. “It’s pretty neat when someone says they drove from far away just to eat your food.”

While Bill is quick to admit that the restaurant industry is a challenging one, he said the complications caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have made it even more difficult. They were able to remain open with pick up services at Old Canal and drive-thru services at Casa Del Taco but traffic was diminished during these months.

They also have had to negotiate challenges like supply chain issues and staffing shortages. “Things that we bought for years suddenly weren’t available. Pork was harder to find because of meat shortages. It was just a real challenging time.”

The company employs about eighty people but they do have some openings available. “We are blessed to have such a great staff but things would go better if we had a few more people. But the people we have, I can’t say enough good about them. They’re rock stars, they’re soldiers, they’re so loyal to what we are doing and we are truly fortunate to have them,” he said.

Casa Del Taco is located at 1055 North Bridge Street and at 1360 Western Avenue in Chillicothe. The Western Avenue location is currently still drive thru only due to the dining room size but the Bridge Street location is open for dine-in or drive-thru. Find them online at www.gottagetyourcasa.com.

Barbara Perry Will Retire Friday

Barbara Perry will end her banking career when she retires on Friday.

Barbara Perry’s mother always told her that it is important to be kind. This simple piece of instruction has made her popular among our Pickaway County customers and someone who will be missed when she retires later this week. “I just always try to be kind to people. You never know what someone is going through so a little kindness and a smile can go a long way,” she explained.

Barbara had a career in the medical field before switching to banking to work as a teller in our Pickaway County market for over fifteen years. While she has spent most of her time in Circleville, Ashville customers will remember her as a teller in that office for a few years as well. “I always thought it would be interesting to work in a bank and it really has been. Some things we do get kind of routine but I really like my customers and having a relationship with so many of them,” she said. “You get to know their children and families and jobs. I’m going to miss seeing so many of them.”

The Circleville native graduated from Circleville High School but now lives at Amanda with Terry, her husband of 44 years. Their son Kyle and daughter-in-law Amy have two sons – Drew and Carson – who Barbara calls her “little grandjoys.” She literally lights up when talking about these youngsters and how she looks forward to seeing them as often as possible.

Family is important to Barbara who came from a family of nine kids and she can’t wait to spend more time with her loved ones. “I always say my sister Cheryl is my best friend. I’m looking forward to spending more time with her and with my family.”

The self-described homebody has a number of hobbies to enjoy and aspirations to look forward to in her retirement. She has a large collection of teapots, enjoys cooking and baking when time allows, and enjoys going to flea markets with her husband.

Some of her retirement plans have been put on hold because of the pandemic but that doesn’t seem to have dampened her excitement. She especially is looking forward to a lighthouse tour with her sister once travel is safer. She also wants to learn salsa dancing and try Tai Chi. “They say it helps your peace  of mind, it centers you. I think I would enjoy that,” she exclaimed.

She also enjoys music and loves to sing. “I like to sing and all of us, my family, sing when we get together,” she said. She has sung at weddings and even used that as her talent when competing in the Miss South Central Ohio pageant. “That was a long time ago,” she laughed. “Good memories!”

But Barbara is looking forward to making wonderful new memories in the years ahead. “I’m ready. My husband has been retired for a while and I’m looking forward to not having a schedule and being able to do my own thing.”

Still, she said that retiring is a little bittersweet. “It’s been a pleasure serving my customers and meeting so many people over the years. It’s amazing all the people you meet in this line of work and I will miss that.”

Of those people, she especially has enjoyed serving elderly customers. “I have always had an affinity for older people and marvel at all they’ve seen in their lives. They remind me of my mother who passed away at 93 and all the experiences she had. People need to pay more attention to them because they have a lot of wisdom to share,” she said. “Of course some people might say that I’m elderly now too,” she laughed.

The bank will celebrate Barbara with a party on Thursday night and her last day of work will end Friday at 2 p.m.

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.

October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This is a topic that hits close to home for millions of American families but one that most of us aren’t comfortable discussing. Our friends at The Lighthouse Domestic Violence Shelter in Fairfield County have asked VCNB employees to shine a light on these crimes by wearing purple on October 16. Our employees will wear purple and are invited to donate $5 to The Lighthouse so that they can wear jeans that day as well.

An average of 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States. That’s more than 12 million women and men over the course of a single year, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Here at VCNB, we are concerned for the safety of all people who are victims of abuse. The fact that so many Americans, so many of our neighbors, live in fear of their own partner is unacceptable. We have seen first-hand the struggles of too many women and men in abusive relationships and were devastated last year by the senseless murder of a former employee.

Life with an abuser is a lonely one and it is scary. An abuser is a bully who normalizes abuse and terminates their victim’s relationships with loved ones. They use ongoing verbal abuse to devastate their self-esteem, making them believe that they deserve to be abused. They make sure their victims have no resources of their own by denying them opportunities to work or to have their own money.

Leaving this untenable situation seems impossible but there are organizations with staff and resources that will provide vital support to them leave this dangerous situation.

If you are someone you love is in an abusive relationship, there are local shelters as well as a national hotline that you can turn to for help. Each county’s domestic violence organization is different with some offering everything from emergency shelter to victim advocacy to safety plans.

When you’re ready, here are some of the resources available in the counties where we have branches.

Fairfield
The Lighthouse
Lancaster
740.687.4423
www.lancasterlh.org/

Franklin
CHOICES
Columbus
614.224.4663
www.choicesdvcols.org

Hocking
My Sister’s Place
Athens
800.443.3402
www.mspathens.org/

Jackson
Serenity House
Gallipolis
800.942.9577
www.serenityhouseinc.weebly.com/

Licking
Center for New Beginnings
Newark
800.686.2760
www.thewoodland.org

Pickaway
Haven House of Pickaway County
Circleville
740.477.9113
www.havenhouse1180.com

Ross
Ross County Coalition Against DV
Chillicothe
Crisis Line 866.828.2273
www.facebook.com/RossCountyCoalitionAgainstDomesticViolence/

Vinton
Shepherd’s House
McArthur
740.596.9271
www.facebook.com/Shepherds-House-196460857034200/

Nationwide
National Domestic Violence Hotline
800.799.SAFE
www.thehotline.com

Banks NEVER Ask That

Can You Spot a Phishing Scam? Every day, thousands of people fall victim to fraudulent emails, texts and calls from scammers pretending to be their bank. And in this time of expanded use of online banking, the problem is only growing worse. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission’s report on fraud estimates that American consumers lost a staggering $1.9 billion to these phishing schemes and other fraud in 2019 — and the ongoing pandemic has only increased the threat. Imagine where we are in 2020.

It’s time to put scammers in their place.

Online scams aren’t so scary when you know what to look for. At Vinton County National Bank, we’re committed to helping you spot them as an extra layer of protection for your account. We’ve joined with the American Bankers Association and banks across the country in a nationwide effort to fight phishing—one scam at a time. We want every bank customer to become a pro at spotting a phishing scam—and stop bank impostors in their tracks. It starts with these four words: Banks Never Ask That. Because when you know what sounds suspicious, you’ll be less likely to be fooled. These top three phishing scams are full of red flags:

Text Message: If you receive a text message from someone claiming to be your bank asking you to sign in, or offer up your personal information, it’s a scam. Banks never ask that.

Email: Watch out for emails that ask you to click a suspicious link or provide personal information. The sender may claim to be someone from you bank, but it’s a scam. Banks never ask that.

Phone Call: Would your bank ever call you to verify your account number. No! Banks never ask that. If you’re ever in doubt that the caller is legitimate, just hang up and call the bank directly at a number you trust.

You’ve probably seen some of these scams before. But that doesn’t stop a scammer from trying. For more tips on how to keep phishing criminals at bay, including videos, an interactive quiz and more, visit http://www.BanksNeverAskThat.com. And be sure to share the webpage with your friends and family.

What’s Your Scam Score? Take five minutes to become a scamspotter pro by taking the #BanksNeverAskThat quiz at BanksNeverAskThat.com. Share your score on Twitter to encourage your friends and family to test their scam savviness, too. The more scamspotters out there, the harder it is for phishing criminals to catch their next victim!

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which means there’s no better time than now to boost your scamspotting knowledge. Take the five-minute quiz and become a scamspotter pro! Share your scam score on Twitter for a chance to win weekly prizes, courtesy of the American Bankers Association. Each Friday in October the ABA will draw fifteen winners. One lucky grand-prize winner will receive $1,000—will it be you?

Small Business Spotlight: Ohio Steel Recycling

Being a small business owner is a tough job! That’s why we feature a different small business in our Small Business Spotlight every month!

Have some scrap metal in your way? Ohio Steel Recycling will be glad to take it off your hands and pay you for it too.

The company buys a long list of scrap metals from both commercial businesses and individuals. “We don’t care if you bring us a truck full of junk cars or just a trunk full of scrap from around your yard. We’re happy to take it all and will pay you for it,” owner John Belcher said. “That’s better than letting it sit in your way!”

They buy scrap metal that can be upgraded into materials to sell for recycling. For example, junk cars go through a process where they are drained of all fluids including gas and oil before the exhaust, wheels, tires and catalytic converter are removed. The metals and rubber can be recycled while the fluids like gas and oil must be properly disposed of by EPA standards. The car is then run through a compacter before being sold to another facility that will shred and separate the metals for recycling into other useful products.

This is helpful to the environment as it is more eco-friendly friendly to reuse metals than it is to mine more. It also prevents tons of materials from hitting landfills. “The environment would be a lot worse without places like this. Imagine if all this was sitting in a dump somewhere,” he said, gesturing to the hundreds of crushed cars that are stacked and waiting to be hauled off for recycling.

Cars are stripped of hazardous and valuable materials before being compacted and hauled away to be shredded. The shredded metals may be recycled and made into useful products.

But they take more than cars. They accept all sorts of junk vehicles and equipment as well as other items like appliances, copper wire and tubing, iron and steel scrap, aluminum scrap, cast iron, lead, brass and brass alloys, zinc and zinc alloys, demolition scrap, and industrial and manufacturing scrap. The list is quite long and includes almost everything metal.

For the average person, this could mean garage doors, metal siding, old plumbing, a car part or the refrigerator they just replaced.

There are some exceptions. They don’t take anything hazardous, toxic or radioactive. They don’t take any closed containers under pressure like propane or gas cylinders, fire extinguishers or aerosol cans that could explode. Liquids including gas, oil, paint, propane and water aren’t accepted either.

Copper wire that has been stripped from tubing awaits recycling.

Used bullets from a local gun range are among salvage materials that most people wouldn’t even think of as an opportunity to recycle. Copper wire is stripped from tubing, appliances are dismantled and everything that can be recycled is prepared to be trucked out to their next step in the recycling process.

John is always on the lookout for ways to expand the business and said they are about to begin accepting aluminum cans. “Aluminum cans are sort of a break even commodity for us but if it helps the customer, I think we should do it,” he said. “Besides, if they’re bringing us cans, they may realize this is a good place to bring other things.”

One customer hauled in an assortment of metal scrap in a bathtub. “You see all kinds of things in this line of work,” laughed John Belcher.

He works to keep his area as neat as possible given their line of work and encourages employees to remember “just because we’re a junkyard doesn’t mean we have to look like a junkyard!”  He went on to say “people don’t want to bring their nice cars into a bad place. Besides, we want to be good neighbors and keep things as clean as possible.”

John is also conscious of how the pandemic has impacted his business as well as other people and businesses. “It’s been a hard time for a lot of people. We closed for a couple of months and used the time to do some projects here. We’re open again but we’re not back to where we were in April. Honestly, I’m just looking forward to when things get better.”

John and his wife Dusty work together. They’ve been married for twenty years and have seven kids and five grandkids. He’s a Columbus native, living now in Grove City, but looking forward to someday moving back to the country near Stoutsville. He chats freely about the business, family and about finding a work-life balance. “Life is short and it’s important to appreciate the people in your life and the time that you have. Work is important and I really like what I do but you have to enjoy life to its fullest. Every day is important and I need to do better for sure but I’m trying,” he said.

Ohio Steel Recycling is located at 13141 National Road, Etna. Call them at 740.927.5384 and visit them online at www.ohiosteelrecycling.com.