Young Adult Blog Series: Find Your Financial Co-Pilot

CoffeeWorkerIf you think of your financial life as one giant road trip with financial stability as the end destination, one of the first things you’ll need to do is find yourself a good co-pilot. Someone dependable, who will have your back if the going gets tough. Someone who understands you—how you operate, what your needs are—and someone you’ll enjoy having along for the ride!

In the context of finance, that co-pilot is your bank.
A good working relationship with a financial institution is part of a solid financial foundation, and it’s important to find the right one to work with. Depending on where you live, you’ll probably have several to choose from, so here are a few things to consider when selecting a bank:

• Location of branches and ATMs — While the days of traditional banking are giving way to online tools and mobile apps, it’s still good to find one that is conveniently located, in the event that you need to physically visit the branch. Also, consider their ATM locations in relation to where you live and work. Is there a branch ATM nearby? Many branches are also part of networks that don’t charge fees, so be sure to find out as you research different banks.

• Fairly priced products and services — Different banks will offer different accounts and services. Be sure to do a good comparison between banks you’re considering; take into account interest rates and fees associated with their various accounts.

• The overall “vibe” — Remember, you’re choosing a partner accompany you on your journey toward financial success. Interacting with your bank should be a positive experience, so be sure to find a bank that will take the time to understand your needs and genuinely wants your business. Trust your instincts—if you’re not getting the right feeling when you walk into a branch or speak to someone on the phone, find another institution.

When you walk into the branch, be prepared and know what you need, but also ask questions. Make sure you’re getting the products and services that are best for you. If you’re opening an account for the first time, you’ll need your Social Security number, identification and proof of residency. Consider signing up for some basic accounts and services: a checking account, savings account and ATM card are a good place to start. You could also consider enrolling in direct deposit to make it even easier to receive your paycheck.

Having all of these services under one roof and getting to know your personal banker can help keep your financial life simple, and can help down the road when you need other things like loans or mortgages.

 

Friday Focus: The Center for Life Enrichment

In 1963, the Center for Life Enrichment was founded in Leonardtown Maryland and has worked to positively impact the lives of people with intellectual disalogobilities in Southern Maryland ever since. The Center provides programs and services to help individuals increase independence, integrate into the workforce and have opportunities for social interaction. The Center is currently making the final preparations for its annual “Cash Bash” event this weekend, and Executive Director Randy Ferguson took time out of his busy schedule to chat with us for this week’s Friday Focus.

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.).

A: The Center for Life Enrichment (TCLE) is a nonprofit organization that provides services to individuals with special needs in St. Mary’s, Calvert and Charles counties. The type of services that we provide are aligned with our mission statement: “to provide programs and support services that will increase the vocational and personal potential of individuals with disabilities”. We are currently providing support to nearly 250 individuals throughout the three counties. TCLE provides a variety of services, grouped according to an individual’s interest and needs: day supports, vocational training, community employment, in-home supports, transportation and community integration. To learn more about our organization, please visit our website at http://www.tcle.org.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

A: If you ask anyone who works in this field what their favorite moment would be, more than likely their response would be “Every day is special and the biggest reward is the smiles that we receive”. We have a number of individual success stories from individuals receiving their first job, their first paycheck, to individuals getting their own apartment. For TCLE, the favorite moments are all individualized.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: All nonprofit organizations will tell you that their biggest challenge is maintaining or raising money for their organization. The biggest challenge facing many nonprofits is to remain fiscally strong and sound and at the same time, be able to provide the necessary services needed by those we serve.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: We have a few events on our calendar. On May 17, TLCE will be holding our fourth annual Cash Bash at the Hollywood Fire House from noon to five, with tickets available at the door. We also have a golf tournament scheduled on September 26, 2014 at the Wicomico Golf Course.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: We have a number of ways individuals can become involved at the Center for Life Enrichment:
• We have a volunteer program where individuals can volunteer their time working directly with the participants or assisting us at fundraising events.
• We are always looking for the community’s support by accepting donations of clothes, toys, furniture and everyday knick-knacks that will support our four Vintage Values Thrift Stores.
• We have a boat and car donation program
• We are a United Way Recipient; our campaign number is #56384
• We accept monetary donations to support special projects

Individuals wishing to help or if they would like more information can contact us at 301-373-8100 or email us at contact@tcle.org.

Starting on the Road to Financial Security

CarAsk ten people what it means to be financially stable, and you’ll likely receive ten completely different answers. But whatever your personal definition of financial stability might be, the most important thing is making it a reality.

Reaching a point of financial security is a process that takes time, effort and yes, a little sacrificing. The results are worth it though, and starting early can give you a huge leg up down the line.  To get you started, here are 11 good financial habits that can help put you on the road to financial security.

1. Be organized. Keep your financial records together and figure out an organizational system that works best for you.

2. Use direct deposit for your paychecks. Direct deposit is a faster, safer way to have your paychecks delivered to you that a printed check. Plus, you can elect to have a portion of your check deposited into a savings account, which is a great way to ensure that you’re always saving!

3. Start saving for retirement. If your employer offers a retirement plan, contribute as much as you’re able. Remember that retirement savings deductions are taken pre-tax. If your employer doesn’t offer retirement options, consider starting an IRA for yourself.

4. Set up an automatic savings program. Commit to having a set amount of money transferred to your savings account each week, even if you can only save a small amount. Every dollar makes a difference!

5. Do a monthly budget. Take a good look at your income and monthly expenses. Write down the monthly expenses that you have: rent, student loan payments, bills, etc. Once those expenses are taken out, figure out how much you can afford to save, and how much you’re going to allow yourself for miscellaneous expenses. Discipline yourself to stay within your budget, especially when it comes to entertainment and leisure expenses.

6. Create a personal balance sheet. A balance sheet helps you calculate your net worth—the difference between your assets and your liabilities. It’s a good practice to update your balance sheet at least a few times a year so that you always have an accurate idea of where you are financially.

7. Use credit cards wisely. Credit card debt can add up quickly and can put you in a tough financial spot. While it’s tempting to be able to buy things today and not worrying about paying until tomorrow, remember that “tomorrow” will inevitably come and you’ll need to pay your balance. A good practice is to make sure that you can always pay your balance off in full each month, that way you’ll never get hit with high interest rates. If you think you’re likely to carry a balance month-to-month, be sure to shop for a card with a good interest rate.

8. Make credit card payments promptly and pay more than the minimum. If you find that you are carrying over a balance on a credit card, make every effort to pay more than the minimum—not doing so can lead to trouble for your credit score, and can increase your monthly payments in the long run.

9. Reconcile your checking account monthly. Keeping a close and careful record of your transactions will help you to ensure that you always have enough funds in your bank account and avoid overdraft fees.

10. Review all your bills and statements as soon as you receive them. You should make a point to look at your bills and statements as soon as they’re available to check for any discrepancies and see if any action is needed.

11. Get smart! Take every opportunity to boost your financial literacy—check out financial columns and blogs for the latest advice, and don’t hesitate to talk to your banker or financial advisor if you have questions.

 

 

 

Financial Education Blog Series: Young Adults

They are the generation that came of age in a time of economic uncertainty: young adults, between ages 18 and 25, dubbed “millennials” by the media.

For them, student loan debt, underemployment, the rising cost of living and the never-ending pressure of consumer culture have shaped their financial experience thus far and will likely have a far-reaching impact on their financial futures. And while information is more accessible than ever before, studies are mixed on just how much of it millennials are digesting when it comes to financial literacy.

Over the next 12 weeks, the Community Bank blog will take a look at financial issues facing today’s young people, from establishing credit to buying a first car. We’ll provide some tips and strategies for saving, investing and planning for the financial future. Whether you’re starting your first 401k or just saving your pennies for a rainy day, we’ll help improve your financial-know how!

What’s your financial IQ? According to a recent FINRA study, only 24% of millennials were able to answer four or five questions correctly on this Financial Literacy Quiz. See how you measure up!

Friday Focus: Historic St. Mary’s City

Historic St. Mary's CityEver wondered what it would be like to spend a day in the 17th century? Visitors to Historic St. Mary’s City have the opportunity to do just that! Located on the St. Mary’s Peninsula, Historic St. Mary’s City brings the early colonial experience to life day in and day out. With a number of interactive historical sites staffed by costumed interpreters, visitors to the museum learn the stories of the earliest settlers of Maryland’s first capital. This week’s Friday Focus takes an inside look at the museum with help from Executive Director Regina Faden. Continue reading

Friday Focus: The Community Foundation of Southern Maryland

Community Foundation of Southern MarylandGuided by a vision to make Southern Maryland “the best place to live and give”, the Community Foundation of Southern Maryland is a driving philanthropic force in Charles County. Incorporated in 2005, the Foundation provides advice on all types of giving and uses its in-depth knowledge of the community’s needs to help direct funds to a multitude of organizations. We talked with the Foundation’s executive director, Gretchen Hardman, for an inside look at the Foundation’s work and what visitors to the upcoming Annual Potomac Waterfowl Festival can expect this year! Continue reading

Friday Focus: The Rappahannock YMCA

Rappahannock Area Family YMCAThe Rappahannock Area Family YMCA provides opportunities for health, wellness and recreation to many different communities in Virginia. With five locations in King George and Northern Virginia, the organization enriches the lives of people of all ages and abilities through the programs and services they provide. Barney Reiley, the Y’s Chief Executive Officer, chatted with us about the many ways the Y touches the community for this week’s Friday Focus. Continue reading

It’s Tax Day!

young coupleTax day is upon us! If you’ve filed your taxes already, congratulations!

If you haven’t, don’t panic—there is still time today to file your tax returns. Forbes Magazine shared these 11 tips for the 11th hour filers out there. Check with your tax professional if you have any last-minute questions, and double check all forms carefully before you submit them. Remember that all tax forms must be mailed or e-filed by midnight tonight, April 15, 2014. Continue reading

Friday Focus: Nonprofit Institute at the College of Southern Maryland

onprofit Institute at the College of Southern MarylandEvery day, nonprofit organizations face a multitude of challenges, from staffing to marketing to the ever-important task of raising money. The Nonprofit Institute at the College of Southern Maryland works to assist nonprofits in the Tri-County area by providing tools and information to help organizations succeed. Having just wrapped up work for the Institute’s annual conference, Coordinator Tammy Vitale took time out of her busy schedule this week to talk with us about the many resources that are available for nonprofits. Continue reading

Charitable Giving Tips

Charitable GivingWhat’s your favorite cause? In 2012, CNN reported that Americans gave an estimated $316.2 billion to charity. Along with enabling your favorite organizations to continue their good works, charitable giving can also be a smart tax strategy. Donations to qualified organizations can usually be claimed as deductions on your taxes, and you’ll get the added emotional satisfaction that comes from knowing you’ve done a good deed. Continue reading