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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Refinance Your Home With VCNB – Rates are low, making it a great time to refinance and save on your mortgage!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Cold? – Dress for the weather and put on socks or a sweater rather than turn up the thermostat.
Avoid Disposable Products – Single use products like bottled water, paper towels and styrofoam cups are costly for your budget and the environment.
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.
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.
Break A Bad Habit – Most of us have bad habits but some are quite expensive. What’s yours?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
This month we are excited to feature Castaways Restaurant in Lancaster, an iconic eatery high on the hill “above the fairgrounds” as the advertisements used to say. Established over seventy years ago at this very location, Castaways is a Lancaster staple.
While some necessary changes have been made through the years, the meat and potatoes of the restaurant remains the same – the food! Fresh steaks, chops, and burgers sourced from Bay Food Market accompany a wide variety of seafood, sandwiches, salads, and stone-baked pizzas on the menu. Their legendary Prime Rib Wednesdays, held bi-weekly, have been satisfying crowds who come in to “eat at the butcher’s house” for decades.
For as long as anyone can remember, the Kraft family has been connected to the historic restaurant. The connection, first through the Bay farm and then through Bay Food Market, eventually led to Bay Food Market owner David Kraft buying the restaurant in 1997 when original owner Fred Eaton decided to sell.
For many years the restaurant stuck with what worked in more than just the kitchen. Traditional marketing tactics were used to promote the restaurant and word of mouth was heavily relied upon. However, in recent years as David’s daughter Micole Ruff has taken on more responsibility with the family business, she’s made the marketing side one of her top priorities. Step #1 was to make social media a serious part of their strategy.
With an eye for photography, Micole posts to social media nearly every day, whether it be photos on Instagram or updates and shout outs on Facebook. On Sundays and Mondays, when the restaurant is closed, she even makes an effort to shout out other local businesses and establishments.
Like everyone else, the business had to evolve last year because of the challenges that came with the pandemic. “We just did what they told us we needed to do,” Micole said, referring to operating a restaurant amidst a global pandemic. “We really didn’t have a choice. But we were lucky that we already had a good amount of carry-out business before this all happened.” The already-established base of their carryout business, she says, is a large reason why their temporary but mandatory shift to carry-out only service was successful.
Then they experimented with bringing in musicians to play on the patio for the guests dining outdoors on summer and autumn Prime Rib Wednesdays. That went from experiment to official part of the schedule each week almost immediately. Now, musicians are lining up to play once the weather breaks this year. The calendar is already booked through May.
One of the most publicized efforts over the past year was the opening of their kitchen to Jamie Mast, owner of The Original Jimmy’s Jawbreaker concession trailer, another legendary staple of the local dining community. Several times throughout 2021, Jamie was able to come in and cook alongside the Castaways crew in the kitchen. On these special nights, the Original Jimmy’s Jawbreaker burgers and homemade cannolis were offered alongside the full Castaway’s menu. Doing something a little bit different offered a lift to the business. “Jamie and her businesses have been long time customers so it was a natural fit to partner with her for something like this. It was great for all of us!”
With seventy years of experience preparing delicious food, Castaways has a loyal fan base beating a path to the off-the-beaten path restaurant above the city. They invite newcomers to follow their lead and discover what all the fuss is about when people gush about their delectable fresh cut meats, homemade dressings and stone baked pizzas.
Visit Castaways at 1500 North High Street in Lancaster. You can also find them on Facebook or Instagram and view their full menu on their website. Dine in or carry out your dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays and don’t forget to pre-order your Wednesday prime rib feast a day ahead of time!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.