Last Minute Summer Road Trip

By Brandi Betts
VCNB Marketing Specialist

August is here so you probably think it’s too late to get in a summer road trip. However, in my experience, it’s never too late for a little road trip enjoyment. There are tons of fun options within an easy driving distance of southern and central Ohio. It’s just a matter of finding what you’re looking for and figuring out what’s best for you.

A lot of times, we think that vacation only counts if we go far away or if it’s something exotic or expensive. The truth is, you can have fun almost anywhere if you go looking for it. In fact, you can find adventure and relaxation in your own community just as easily as in someone else’s. With that said, I’m the first one in the car if there’s opportunity to leave home and explore someplace else.

Here are some places that literally offer something for everyone and that aren’t too far from home.

If you just have a day or two:

Consider Cincinnati! There tons of museums and historic sites, state and metro parks, shopping, amazing hotels and restaurants here. Plus they have one of the best zoos and aquariums anywhere! The greater Cincinnati area is a neat mix of metropolitan and small-town mom and pop type communities. Now, with a soccer team (that’s about to go Major League and that’s doing really well for themselves) along with the Reds and Bengals, this is truly a destination for sports lovers too.  Hop a ride on a streetcar and take in a concert at Riverbend, Cincinnati Music Hall or one of the other great venues.

Personally, one of my favorite places to visit here is the American Sign Museum. It’s about 20,000 square feet packed with antique and vintage signage that may remind you of your youth as well as a lot you’ve never seen. Other favorite stops for me include the 85,000square foot Ohio Valley Antique Mall at Fairfield and one of the two Jungle Jim’s locations I always pick up a few bottles of craft sodas and have fun touring all the international foods here!

If history is your thing, the National Park Service operates the William Howard Taft National Historic Site. This is free to tour and lends some great insight into the life and career of our 27th President. It’s not too far from the downtown attractions and about a ten minute drive from the zoo. I recently read about something I had never heard about – it’s an old fashioned root beer stand that looks and sounds like a time capsule in all the pictures. The Root Beer Stand is on my agenda very, very soon.

Cincinnati is one of those places where you could spend as long as you want and keep finding more to do.

 

If you have a long weekend:

If you have longer, Wytheville, Virginia may be a good fit for you. For as long as I can remember, Wytheville (pronounced WITH-vill) was just an interstate stop on the way to the beach. There’s a collection of hotels and gas stations and a Cracker Barrel convenient for the weary traveler but it wasn’t until recently I learned what’s hiding just beyond the highway.

Downtown Wytheville is a beautiful place with tree lined streets, cute storefronts, lots of history, easy access to the mountains, great architecture and interesting places to stay in downtown. The area boasts state and national parks with recreational experiences for almost anyone. Big Walker Mountain National Forest Scenic Byway winds through sixteen miles of forest land, ideal for both cars and motorcycles. Fishing, camping, hiking, mountain biking are popular here too.

When I went this spring, I visited the birthplace of first lady Edith Boling Wilson and found amazing pizza at a little hole in the wall that is a local hangout. There are several hotel options but if you’re looking for something special, the Edith Boling Wilson Hotel is awfully nice. It’s located in downtown and is known for service and luxury. Speaking of downtown, be sure to check out the big pencil outside Wytheville Office Supply. While it’s not something to plan a trip around, it certainly adds a little character to your journey! They are also known for a number of fun events throughout the year including a hot air balloon rally and some big car shows.

Personally, I love the character of Wytheville. It’s a laidback, southern town where the people are friendly, the food is tasty and where you feel like they truly want you to come back.

If you are craving the water

If you’re craving water and sun but don’t have the time or money for a long beach trip, Lake Erie could be a good compromise.

I love lighthouses and the 75-foot tall Marblehead Lighthouse is the best Ohio offers. For a small fee you can tour it and learn about this 1822 lighthouse that is still keeping ships safe. If you have kids, or if you’re a kid at heart, there is a Merry-Go-Round Museum. I will admit that I have never gotten to visit so I’m hoping some of our readers will go and send pictures. It sounds like fun and looks like a real feast for the eyes.

Maumee Bay State Park, Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and Kelleys Island provide countless opportunities to get outdoors and take in your surroundings.  Put-In-Bay village is about a twenty minute boat ride from Port Clinton and it has been a destination for over 150 years. Guided tram tours, backroads for biking, a winery and Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial are among the attractions here. And of course, there’s the water activities on Lake Erie and Cedar Point Amusement Park for the roller coasting riding thrill seekers in the crowd.

Other Options

Not sure about these places? Looking for something a little different? I say look around you. The Buckeye State is packed with activities, interesting sights and ways to while away these last days of summer. People travel to Ohio from all over the country to visit our Amish Country, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, amusement parks… the list goes on and on. While they’re here, they’re also finding the smaller attractions that make our state special like our Quilt Barn trails which started down in Adams County and the little mom and pop roadside places that make us who were are.

Pack up the kids or grab a friend and hit the trail before this summer slips away. Need more inspiration? Our friends with Ohio tourism have some ideas.

 

All photos by Brandi Betts

 

Celebrating Success: Stout Graduates From Stonier

Cassie Stonier Class 2018
Cassie Stonier 2018The VCNB Family has a reason to celebrate!

VCNB Regional Retail Manager Cassie Stout recently graduated from the American Bankers Association (ABA) Stonier Graduate School of Banking, following in the footsteps of countless VCNB leaders who completed this challenging piece of their banking education.

Stonier is an elite program for the nation’s best and brightest bankers. The three year program prepares future industry leaders with curriculum covering a wide variety of industry topics. Taught at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in Philadelphia, the program also provides a series of leadership sessions.

Stout explained that she has been completing off-site work for the program for the last three years. Then one week a year the class convenes at the Wharton School in Philadelphia for an intense period of classes and networking. “They cram a lot into those weeks we are there. It’s a very intensive week we spend there every year,” she explained. She indicated that students choose from a catalog of banking courses and are encouraged to select those that are most appropriate for their financial institution.

They also take Wharton School leadership classes that are taught by Wharton professors. While they aren’t specific to banking, they teach skills useful in all lines of business. Wharton is widely regarded as one of the world’s top institutions for business education and the Stonier School attracts bankers from all over the country and around the world.

“I have learned a lot about banking and about bank management through this process,” she said before naming some of the topics she learned about and how they apply to her role at VCNB. She also praised the connections she has made through Stonier and the efforts made to pair bankers with others who are from similar institutions but not from competing institutions. “They are very selective in how they pair bankers so in the end you have a nice network of bankers you can call on to bounce an idea off of or to just have someone to talk with.”

The class of approximately 240 graduated on June 14 with a Stonier diploma and a Wharton leadership certificate.

She indicated that she has already put to good use some things that she learned at Stonier on both special projects and on daily tasks. In fact, just last week she used a Wharton exercise during a meeting with the branch managers who she supervises.

Stout began her career with VCNB in 2006. Many customers will remember her as the Branch Manager at our Ross County Banking Center on Main Street in Chillicothe. Today she serves the bank in a different kind of role, overseeing managers of branches in Vinton, Hocking, Jackson and Ross counties.

“I am grateful for the opportunity and appreciate that the bank gave me this opportunity,” she said.

VCNB Head of Retail Brenda Doles expressed pride in Cassie’s accomplishments both at the bank and at Stonier. “I am so very proud of Cassie. When she sets her sights on a goal she can accomplish anything,” Doles said. “She truly manages her time. Through all of this she managed her branches, she managed her personal life, she managed her course work without missing a step and without ever letting anyone down. She’s someone I hope will go far for us.”

AEP Recognizes VCNB Improvements

VCNB was recognized earlier this year by AEP Ohio for their work to improve energy efficiency and environmental impact at several bank branches. This was a result of a lighting project which has made work spaces lighter and brighter and that will save the bank money over time.

New lighting was installed at offices in McArthur, Circleville, Grove City, Chillicothe, Bremen and at one Lancaster location.

As a result of this project, the bank will save 61,868 kWh or 47.4 tons of CO2 annually. This is equivalent to:

– Ten cars off the road per year
– Annual C02 generation of five single family homes
– 1,228 tree seedlings grown for ten years.

According to AEP Ohio, commercial buildings account for nearly one-fifth of the total energy used and one-third of end use electricity. They point out that the benefits of improved building energy efficiency and lowered energy costs are widely recognized and they commended VCNB for working to be part of this movement through their savings incentives programs for businesses.

A Library Straight From a Fairy Tale

Exterior with signReaders often say they enjoy reading books because it’s an opportunity to be transported to another time and place, to meet people and enjoy special places they otherwise couldn’t access in their daily lives. If a book can accomplish this, imagine a library so special that a walk through the doors is also like being transported to a whole new world.

Such a place does exist and it is situated in the quaint village of Lithopolis on the line of Franklin and Fairfield counties.  The Wagnalls Memorial Library is an imposing building that resembles a castle and that serves so many roles that there are almost too many to mention. If the community is looking for a place to hold an event, to learn, to play, to be enriched, to appreciate history or to engage with others, The Wagnalls is the place to be.

Library Director Tami Morehart speaks of the library, the town and its people with such enthusiasm and love that it’s hard to separate the library from the community as she tells their stories. That’s because library employees are involved in community projects while community organizations and residents are involved in the library.

Morehart’s own life story is closely entwined with that of the library. She began coming to the library and to story time as a child. She met her husband and celebrated their wedding reception here and has worked here off and on since she first started shelving books in 1974. She said that serving as Library Director for the last few years has been a dream come true as she’s had opportunity to give life to projects and to help shape the library’s future while keeping an eye on its intriguing past.

The library’s story begins in the early twentieth century with a gift of humungous proportion. Mabel Wagnalls Jones had the library built as a gift to the town to honor her parents, Adam and Anna Willis Wagnalls, who each were born in log cabins in Lithopolis. Her father was the co-founder of publishing giant Funk & Wagnalls and her mother had always dreamed of doing something special for the village and wanted to provide opportunities that were not available to her as a child.

Mabel was an author and concert pianist who lived most of her life in New York City but who had a fondness for her parents’ birthplace and grew up visiting her grandmother who still lived in the town. She believed that this gift to the town would fulfill her mother’s wish.

Interior reading room.JPGThe Tudor-Gothic library was designed by Columbus architect Ray Sims and most of the workmen were from Lithopolis. Most of the stone was quarried from a site just behind the library and the construction was said to be a true labor of love for those involved.

The original library is considered a work of art in itself, featuring a formal entrance hall, a tower, auditorium with stage and banquet hall. The upper walls have a sculpted grapevine with bunches of grapes to signify plenty. Owls keep sentinel over the room, perched on shields depicting religion, industry, education and patriotism – values held dear by the Wagnalls family. The owls hold their own meaning, representing some baby owls found in a tree that had been cut down during the quarrying of the stone.

The center window contains stained glass inserts that tell more of the Wagnalls’ story. The State of Ohio Seal, a printing press, a log cabin, the lamp of learning and the Seal of the United States are all depicted in this window. The room was furnished with handmade tables and chairs.

 

The library is also filled with countless paintings and memorabilia. Mabel’s favorite Steinway grand piano is on display along with the Loving Cup that was giving to her by the village at the library’s 1925 dedication. Two original Norman Rockwell paintings are on permanent display as well as paintings that were used as covers for Funk & Wagnalls’ magazine The Literary Digest.

exterior garden.jpg

Outside, the grounds and gardens feature rock sculptures made from rocks collected from all over North America, a martin house, and winding paths lined with flowers and shrubs.  The gardens are maintained by the Fairfield County Master Gardeners.

Since the library was dedicated in 1925, it has been expanded three more times – in 1961, 1983 and 1992 – each time to help the library better serve the growing needs of the community. Now it boasts an impressive children’s library with a locally designed and constructed train station and corral for the kids to enjoy.

Administrative offices, a computer lab, a reading room and patrons’ services desk were added on over time as well. While additions and improvements have been made over their 93 year history, efforts have been made to remain true to the integrity of the original building and to create spaces that feel as though they have always been there.

The library continues to grow and adapt to the needs of a changing community and society. For example, they recently completed a Creative Play Space where children are encouraged to put down electronic devices and use their imagination to play with the numerous toys provided. Made possible by a South Central Power grant, this room has been popular with kids and adults. Morehart said that some things are constants in this room, like a play kitchen, dollhouse and a Lego area for older kids. However, she said that some toys will be periodically cycled in and out. “This week we have dinosaurs out, next week it could be something different,” she said. “We want kids to be able to play here, to use their imaginations. There are no computers in here or electronic devices. It’s all creative play.”

 

The library also continues to add programming and events to keep the community engaged. Yoga classes, board game night, book clubs for adults and teens, cooking classes for adults and kids and a writing club are regular events. They recently hosted a class on phone photography and are offering a summer course to teach kids basic coding. Other interesting programs include a Harry Potter Reading Club and a weekly event where kids can practice their reading skills by reading to a registered therapy dog.

They host an annual Yule Ball in February, will host Santa during a Christmas Open House on Saturday, December 8 and will host a Great Gatsby themed fundraiser on October 6. Their theater group will put on a production of The Adams Family this fall.

“We want to be a destination place for people, for families, not just for books but for connecting with others, for learning, for community,” she said. “When someone is looking for a place to meet or something to do or some kind of resource they might need, we want them to think of us first,” Morehart explained.

 

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The community does use the library and they also often pitch in to help with projects and fundraising. With a small library staff and just two part time maintenance workers, there is an endless list of projects at the 93 year old facility. There is also a Friends of the Library group that raises money to support the library through used books sales and other events. “We are always looking for volunteer groups to help us out,” she said.

She said there are many ways for the public to support the library. They can start by simply using the library or taking part in programs. Volunteerism is another great way to help and supporting fundraisers is another.  In fact, there are many ways to contribute financially through private or corporate donations or through projects like Legacy Brick sponsorships.

interior stained glassThe library also welcomes visitors who simply wish to tour the facility. They offer a walking tour brochure and groups can call ahead to schedule a guided tour with Mabel, as portrayed by Carol Gaal.

Library hours are:
Monday – Thursday: 10:30 a.m. to
7:30 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Friday and Sunday: Closed

A new website contains a massive amount of information on events, library history, giving opportunities and other topics of interest. Visit www.wagnalls.org  or call 614.837.4765 for information and to find out how your group can volunteer. Click here to follow them on Facebook. 

“I think it’s important that we’re here. We want people to feel that it is safe and warm and welcoming here. Our staff is wonderful and they work so hard to be helpful. It’s the kind of place where we know your name and what you read and that you weren’t feeling well last week or that you got a new pet,” Morehart said. “We also are aware that we have to adapt and that we can’t become set in our ways. That’s why we are constantly thinking of ways to bring people in and to bring them together. It’s a living library because we never want to stop growing and changing and being what the community needs us to be.”

Morehart, who grew up in this library, said she has just one regret. “I remember this being such a special place to come to as a kid and it still is, as an adult but I wish I could see it for the first time as an adult and to know what that’s like to experience that wonder and awe! ” Morehart said.

While you may not be able to have that experience, we can tell you what it’s like. It’s like walking into a storybook. It’s magic.

Not Your Average Card

RCBC Billboard - Not Your Average - (Bridge Street Digital)

You may receive a lot of offers in the mail for average credit cards but we are sure you haven’t received an offer for a card or rewards program like ours. In fact, we like to say that we have debit and credit cards that simply aren’t your average cards.

That’s because our Rewards Checking debit card and Visa® Platinum credit card work in tandem to reward you for your regular banking and purchasing activities. Those uChoose Rewards® points can be used for a host of things including cash back, gift cards, travel and merchandise. If a customer has both cards, those cards can be linked to one uChoose account to help the points accumulate more quickly!

Here’s how it works:
With Rewards Checking, customers can earn one point for every $3 spent as well as 200 bonus points for 21 or more purchases per statement cycle.  We also offer points for using Online Bill Pay, Direct Deposit and for automatic loan payments. Customers are even rewarded with 500 bonus points on the anniversary of the account! With the Visa© Platinum Credit Card, customers can earn one point for every dollar spent!

See what we mean when we say it’s not your average rewards program? That’s because we’re not your average bank.

Now through August 31 we are offering an exceptional summer special so that you can earn even more points just for signing up for Rewards Checking and/or a Visa Platinum Card.* Sign up for a Rewards Checking Account or a Visa Platinum Card between June 15 and August 31, 2018 and receive 5,000 bonus points. Sign up for both the credit card and the checking account during that period and you’ll receive 15,000 points!

Are you ready? Stop by your local office or click here to get started! 

*Credit restrictions apply. Not all applicants will qualify for this promotional offer.

Three ways you can protect your cards from fraud

In our industry, we see data breaches involving major retailers almost every day. This is an enormous, far reaching industry that involves criminals stealing personal and card information which has far reaching consequences for retailers and banks as well as for customers who are frustrated and frightened by the threat to their information and money.

That is why VCNB spends a lot of money and resources to make sure that the bank and bank customers are protected. We have a top notch Fraud Department that monitors your activity, looking for things that are out of the ordinary so that we can stop fraud from occurring.

What happens if there is fraud?
If we confirm that your card has been used for fraudulent activity, we will turn it off immediately. The card will be closed so that it cannot be used for any purchase that you or someone else may attempt to authorize. We will then order a new card for you and will offer to issue a temporary card that you can pick up at your local branch. This temporary card is designed to get you through until your new permanent card arrives.

But what happens to the money that was stolen from you? You will need to contact the bank to file a dispute. It is through this dispute process that the bank will credit your money back to your account. If it is proven that the charge was fraudulent, you will not lose your money.

How can you protect yourself?
VCNB spends a lot of time and money to keep your accounts protected but we can only do so much. We rely on you, the customer, to monitor your own account activity. Here are three free ways you can do that:

  1. Turn off your card when you’re not using it. Yes, you read that right. You have the ability to turn your card off when you’re not using it and back on the minute you need it again. This can be done using VCNB Mobile or the Card Valet app for your debit card. You can control your VCNB Visa® card with Card Valet. We have customers who will turn their card on while standing in line at the store or when they pull up to the gas pump. When they finish the transaction, they turn off their card again before putting it back in their wallet. It’s a quick, easy and secure way to control how the card can be used.
  2. Monitor activity. This can be done in a few ways. Using Card Valet you can receive a text each time your card is used. You can also monitor activity in the VCNB Mobile app and on our website. Finally, you can sign up for free Account Alerts so you can receive a text or email every time your card is used. These are all free services to help you look after your money and accounts. If you see something suspicious or something you don’t recognize, contact the bank immediately.
  3. Place limitations on your card. Using VCNB Mobile or Card Valet, you can set limitations for each of your cards. You can set a monetary spending limitation as well as limitations on where a card can be used. You can determine a geographic area where the card can be used and say that it can only be used at certain kinds of retailers like grocery, gas stations or department stores. You can also place a monetary limit on each card so that it can be used for no more than $100 or whatever limit you choose. You can apply different limits to each of your cards and change them as you see fit.

We ask for your cooperation as we attempt to keep your money safe. If you see something that looks suspicious, we ask you to contact the bank immediately so that we can prevent a loss from occurring. This era in banking and currency has many conveniences but there are risks associated with using your cards, even with the retailers you trust the most. We thank you for your help keeping your money safe.

Small Business Spotlight: Bay Food Market

Small businesses are important to communities and running a small business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!  

Bay Food Market 1

If you’ve ever driven the roads of Fairfield County or the streets of Lancaster, you’ve no doubt seen one of the red Bay Food Market vans traveling about. It’s a brilliant yet simple piece of marketing, and the vans have become nearly as iconic as the little market on the corner of Maple and Walnut Streets in downtown Lancaster.

Since 1932, Bay Food Market has been serving up quality meats with great service in a locally owned and operated neighborhood grocery. As Lancaster’s oldest independent grocery, the Fairfield County staple has become an icon in Lancaster and around Ohio.

Bay Food Market was recently selected by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to be featured for “Women-Owned Business” month, showcasing a handful of women-owned businesses around Ohio.  The grocery is owned by siblings Karen Kraft Crutcher and David Kraft, who received a special commendation presented by Secretary of State’s Regional Liaison Bob Kalish.

Specials - Ham Steaks & RibeyesThe few who don’t already know about the market are now finding out why local patrons and long-time regular out-of-town visitors make the market a regular visit.  Known for their wide variety of fresh cut steaks and chops, house made brats and fresh sausage, and ham steaks, bacon, pork belly, and a variety of sausages smoked in-house, they are also well known for their variety of high quality and creative beef patties, some made with a variety of cheeses and even bacon.

And while the patties fly out the doors, beef brisket has become a top seller, something that wasn’t always the case, says co-owner David Kraft.  “It wasn’t until people started smoking (brisket) in maybe the mid-2000’s that it was anything special.  We actually used to grind it up.  But those meat smokers changed the game,” he explained.  On a visit to Texas, David said he kept seeing brisket on the menu and offered as a cut in local markets.  Once he saw what was happening and the popularity it was gaining, they revamped their strategy for this particular cut in their own market and stopped grinding it.  It’s become one of the most popular sellers, showing that a business as old as Bay Food Market is never too old to adapt and evolve.

Custom party trays and grill boxes are a hit with customers and it’s not uncommon to find something new and creative being offered behind the counter.  A recent visit saw Apple Brats on the price board, a secret concoction that David said exemplifies the inventiveness of their business.  “We’ll try to make anything – whether it’s by request, or just an idea that pops into our heads!”

And Bay Food Market is not just a meat market – you can find everything you need for your pantry, kitchen, cookout, or even your pet.  Fresh ham salad and beef barbeque are a regular offering.  Fresh produce, baking goods, sauces, spices and seasonings line the shelves, and local favorite Conn’s Potato Chips and Snacks are prominently offered.  Sweet treats like Pumpkin Rolls from Margaret’s Heritage Kitchen in Bremen can be found, as well as massive jars of pickles perfect for your cookout and dog treats and dog bones for your furry friend.

 

However, the meat is what drives business and it all comes from their state inspected meat processing facility – the only fully inspected red meat facility in Fairfield County. This means that an inspector from the Ohio Department of Agriculture is in their facility any time meat is being processed. The inspector is looking for quality and safe food handling practices.  The majority of their meat is not prepackaged or frozen, and their practice of only purchasing from farmers that do not use growth hormones and that limit their antibiotic use to an as needed basis assures that no additives or preservatives are added.

For a fantastic deal on filets or ribeye, smoked ham steak or New York strips, Bay Food Market is where you’ll find it.  The grocery is located at 301 South Maple Street in Lancaster, and can be contacted at 740.653.9606.  For hours, payment options, specials, and answers to frequently asked questions, visit them online at https://www.bayfoodmarket.com/ and find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BayFoodMarket.  Pay attention to their frequent contests, as you may be the next Fan of the Week!

 

Don’t Let Friends Derail Your Finances

Over the past few years, Meghaan Lurtz has had to turn down two destination bachelorette parties for dear friends. She was in graduate school and didn’t have the money to go.

“It felt really crappy, because these are people that I know and I love and I care about, and I absolutely wanted to be there,” she says. “But finances are what they are. You have a budget, and budgets have restraints.”

Lurtz is the president-elect of the Financial Therapy Association. She’s counseled people who’ve been in similar situations and said yes to both the pricey activity and, in turn, credit card debt.

After all, it’s hard to turn down fun with friends. But that fun can add up, as buddies expect you to shell out for group vacations or smaller expenses, like dinners, drinks and concerts.

Here’s how to determine whether you’re spending too much with friends and, if so, fix your finances without hurting your relationships.

Reflect on your — not your friends’ — finances
First, recognize that everyone has a unique “money mindset” that shapes financial decisions, says wealth psychology expert Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, author of the recent book “Breaking Money Silence.” Income and savings certainly play a part, but so do our upbringings, personalities, cultures and values. “What’s important to you and how you spend your money might be different than your friends,” Kingsbury says.

» QUIZ: What’s your money personality?
So resist giving the side-eye when your friend goes for those $600 boots — that’s her decision and her money. Instead, “try to come up with your own philosophy around money,” Kingsbury says. Determine what’s important to you — traveling the world, paying off your credit card debt or buying a home, for example. Then prioritize accordingly.

Kingsbury suggests scrutinizing last month’s credit card and bank statements to make sure your spending aligns with your priorities. Aim to get a broad sense of where your money is going and whether you ought to adjust your spending habits.

For example, you may want to course-correct if you spent $500 at the bars but put $0 toward that home you’re saving for. Creating a budget, if you don’t already have one, will help.

Spend less money (not time) with friends, if needed
Say you realize you’re overspending on social activities with friends. This problem is pretty common, Lurtz says, and it’s often driven by FOMO — the fear of missing out. You may say “yes” to every pricey dinner or group trip, for example, even though your budget screams “no.”

Remember that the point of these outings is likely more about spending time with friends than it is about eating or vacationing, Lurtz says. “So, if you can be with the person in a less expensive way, do it,” she adds. Here are a couple of strategies:

Use cash. Participate in the activity, but leave the plastic at home and bring only the amount of cash you feel comfortable spending. Unlike swiping a credit card, handing over cash feels more substantial and forces you to use “mental accounting,” Lurtz says.
“Believe me, you’re less likely to buy a round of shots for all your friends when you only have a $50 bill in your pocket,” she says. And you still get to hang out. “You’re out there, you’re going, but you also have the pride in knowing that you prioritized your goals.”

Focus on the friendship. You can always pass on activities you don’t want to spend money on. Fight that FOMO by spending time with friends in a different way.
For example, skip the $100 dinner with your crew and grab a $5 latte with those friends the next morning. “You’re honoring the friendship” and showing interest in spending time together, Kingsbury says. “But you’re coming up with an alternative for the connection they’re trying to have with you — at your spending level.”

Discuss money with friends
When you pass on an activity, thank your friends for the invitation and give them plenty of notice. Be honest about your financial priorities and respectful of theirs, Kingsbury says. Rather than complain about their expensive tastes, explain that you’re trying to save for a home, for example.

An open talk about your financial goals — and your friend’s, if she’s up for it — does more than lessen the blow of a declined invitation. It can help you become better friends.

Discussing our money and values, Kingsbury says, “increases intimacy and helps us understand where the other person is coming from.”

More From NerdWallet

The article Don’t Let Friends Derail Your Finances originally appeared on NerdWallet.

Money Tools To Help High School Grads Succeed

Celebration Education Graduation Student Success Concept

Graduation season has arrived, ushering into the world a new group of young people who are headed into the workforce and into higher education. If you’re among the scores of high school graduates this season, there are some things you’ll need to succeed financially.

Checking Account
Everyone needs a checking account. It will keep your money safe and accessible.  Not only is money in the bank protected from flood, fire and robbery, it is also FDIC insured.* This means your money is safe until you are ready to use it. Yet it is still easily accessible for online bill paying, for purchases with debit card or check and for withdrawal from an ATM, bank, or cash back in a store.

Savings Account
One piece of advice we hear from older folks all the time is to start saving early. Even if you don’t have a lot of money, it’s important to stash away as much as you can every chance you get. A VCNB Passbook Savings account gives you a safe place to keep your savings separate from the spending money in your checking account.

Online and Mobile Banking
You are on the go a lot. That means you will want to have quick access to your money. You’ll want to know how much you have, be able to schedule bill payment online and transfer funds between your checking and savings account with ease. Having online banking and mobile banking, like VCNB Mobile, your accounts are at your fingertips 24 hours a day.

Debit Card
As mentioned above, you need to be able to buy things. A debit card is safer than carrying around a pocketful of cash. Most retailers today accept plastic making it the most popular way to pay in most stores and restaurants.

Popmoney
Here at VCNB we offer something called Popmoney® personal payment service that allows customers to send money to another individual with just their mobile phone number or email address. If you’re headed off to college, this is an easy way for parents or grandparents to send their favorite college student a little pizza money from time to time.

Here’s a little more food for thought – You may think these crazy bankers have unrealistic expectations. You are just starting out and don’t have much money to save or to spend so you’re wondering why all this is so important. We’ll tell you why: when you’re young and without resources is a great time to learn how to do more with less. We find that people who learn to manage a bank account when they have limited funds are more likely to manage their money well when they are more established with a full time job and higher income. When you have a small balance and just a few bills is a perfect time to learn how to create a budget, reconcile your account and manage your finances responsibly.

One last thing – While you’re just getting started in a career or higher education, it’s important to think toward the future and toward building good credit. Talk to your parents and to a trusted banker about applying for a small balance bank credit card which you can learn to manage responsibly or about co-signing for a small loan so you can get the hang of paying a monthly payment for something you need. Building a strong foundation for credit usage which you manage responsibly is something everyone should work toward.

You can open accounts online or stop by your neighborhood VCNB office to talk with one of our local experts and to get started.

*FDIC deposit insurance covers the depositor up to $250,000 per depositor and per account type at each bank.

 

Paying Allowance Can Pay Off, If You Do It Right

Kids  with piggy bank.jpegYour child wants to know why one friend gets $10 a week, another gets a whopping $50 — but he or she gets zero. Should you give in and pay your kid an allowance?

When it comes to helping your child learn the value of money, an allowance gets a thumbs-up from financial experts. “Kids have better money habits if they’re given a chance to make money choices,” says Roger Young, a senior financial planner with financial advisory firm T. Rowe Price. “One way to do that is to provide them with an allowance.”

  1. Rowe Price recently released its annual “Parents, Kids and Money” survey, in which  66% of parents reported giving their kids an allowance. But few moms and dads simply hand over cash without a requirement, such as doing chores or earning good grades. Most report that their children have to earn their allowance.

How much is enough?
According to the survey, more than half of parents who give an allowance give $10 or less per week. But there is a wide range — one out of every 10 parents gives more than $50.

If you decide to give an allowance and your child has friends who are getting more, be prepared for complaints and requests for more cash. If those arise, ask your child to focus on his or her own money goals, says Joe Santos, a financial advisor and Los Angeles-based regional executive for Merrill Edge, the Merrill Lynch online investing platform.

It might also be a good time, he says, to talk about the futility of trying to “keep up with the Joneses” — after all, the most important factor in deciding whether to offer an allowance is your own family budget, not someone else’s.

If you’re already giving your child an allowance but have room in your budget to meet a request for more, consider asking what would justify the raise, says Christopher Krell, a certified financial planner and principal at Virginia financial advisory firm Cassaday & Co. For example, the child could offer to take on more responsibilities in caring for a family pet.

How should an allowance be spent?
Krell suggests urging young children to earmark a third of their money for savings, a third for spending and a third for sharing or charity. “As kids grow into their teen years,” he says, “they can also learn how their savings accounts get a boost by calculating compound interest.”

“Share with your child that it’s not what they have,” Santos says, “it’s what they keep.”

But don’t expect children to always make smart spending decisions. They might blow through their allowance right away and later realize there’s something they really want to buy, but they’re out of cash, Santos says. It’s best if parents resist the urge to bail them out. “They can learn the consequences of spending all their money too quickly,” he says.

With an allowance, children can learn how to save and earn interest on their own money until they’re ready to make a desired purchase without incurring debt. That’s a good lesson at any age.