Back to School – Are you ready?

Going back to school suggests it is the end of summer and the beginning of school supply sales, material lists from new teachers and classes, and long lines at school supply stores.  Children disappointed by the finish of their summer vacation are encouraged with the purchase of new clothes, books and occasionally, treats and impulse buys.

American shoppers spend nearly $10 billion in family clothing stores to get ready for the back-to-school season. Families spend another $2-3 billion in bookstores during the same period.  You may be wondering how you will be able to get everything your children need without getting into too much debt. 

You are not alone. Here are some simple strategies you can follow to help you beat the back-to-school debt blues:

Don’t Buy Anything You Already Have

It is tempting to purchase all new school supplies for your children, regardless of whether or not you already have them at your home.  For example, what kind of shape is your child’s backpack in? Is it ripped or can he/she use it again for the coming year?  Just because your child wants a new backpack does not mean you must purchase one.  Remember, you are teaching your child financial responsibility when you use what you have. 

Look at your pens, pencils, erasers, folders, binders, clipboards, calculators, and anything else you receive on the supply list from your child’s school. If you can reuse or use something you already have, do so.

Spread Out Your Expenses

Review the supply list or the college needs list with your child.  Purchase only those things that are most necessary to start the year.  It is possible to spread out the purchase of supplies over a month or two (or longer).  Check with your child’s teacher to see if they can bring one box of tissue  on the first day of school and another box later in the year. Getting only those things that are essential to the first couple of weeks of school will help soften the “supply list” blow to your family’s finances. 

Spend Only What You Have

As soon as you have determined what you must purchase for the first few weeks of school, set a budget and stick to it.  Avoid using a credit card unless you need to make a larger purchase, such as a laptop computer or software program.  Keep track of your total as you shop so you can eliminate impulse purchases and focus on getting the best deal possible.  When the funds are gone, the shopping stops.  It’s that simple.

Make Back-to-School a Great Experience for Everyone

By thinking creatively and limiting your spending to only what is necessary for the first couple weeks of school, you can spread out your back-to-school expenses throughout the year and stay out of debt.

Finally, open your child their first checking or savings account and teach them the value in budgeting and saving for their futures. It’s something you won’t regret. Plus, your child can get $10 when they open a new account during the month of August! Get more details at your local branch.

Central National Bank Recognized for 125 Years as a Nationally-Chartered Bank

Central National Bank was presented with a framed certificate commemorating 125 years of supervision under the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, an independent bureau in Washington D.C. which serves to regulate and supervise all national banks in the United States.

Chairman Emeritus Ed J. Rolfs accepted the certificate on behalf of the bank with his son and current C.E.O and President Ed C. Rolfs standing at his side. Emily Schrader and Keith Osborne made the formal presentation on behalf of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

“Central National Bank customers can be assured that their deposits are safe and secure with our bank.  We are proud to continue our long-standing relationship with the OCC and look forward to serving our customers for the next 125 years,” said Rolfs.

Central National Bank reported strong performance through the first half of 2015 and finished the second quarter with total assets of $886 million. The bank serves customers across a broad geography including 34 retail banking branches in 22 communities in Kansas and Nebraska.

“We are very proud of our long history of strength and stability for our customers,” said Rolfs. “We are also pleased to have been recently named one of the top 200 Healthiest banks in the country by DepositAccounts.com. As a point of reference, this site tracks and reports health ratings for more than 7,000 banks and credit unions in the country and we have been ranked number 48. The ranking is based on an analysis of our capital strength as well as our total value of loans considered to be at risk.”

Wiggle Before You Swipe!

One of the easiest ways to protect yourself from Debit Card fraud is to be aware of your surroundings, including checking over a debit card terminal for a skimmer. A skimmer is a malicious card reader that records the information off of your card’s magnetic stripe when you swipe the card at a gas station or ATM terminal.

How can you tell when a skimmer has been installed?

The easiest way is to “wiggle” the card slot. Pull on the card reader and make sure a skimmer isn’t attached. You typically won’t have to pull very hard to detach a skimmer. Should you find a skimmer on the machine you’re using you should immediately notify the business so they can take the appropriate steps to notify customers that card data may be compromised.

Be vigilant about checking every machine for skimmers, not just gas stations and ATMs. ATMs located in a bank drive-thru lane can be just as vulnerable as an ATM located somewhere remote. It takes just as long to install a skimmer as it does to purchase a tank of gas and drive away.

Updated Mobile App with Convenient, New Features!

Our newest mobile app comes in Android, iPhone and iPad versions, so it’s optimized to best suit the phone you have. If you already have our app you’ll be prompted to update the next time you log in. If you don’t, it’s available now on Google Play and in the App Store.

The new features include:

  • Mobile Deposit – You can now enroll in Mobile Deposit within the app!
  • E-Statements – Sign up for, and view E-Statements within the app!
  • iPad App – No more using the iPhone app on your iPad, our new app includes a version that’s optimized specifically for your iPad.
  • Text Alerts – Text message transaction alerts are available and expanded. (Opt to receive text alerts on: Online Banking, ATM, Debit Card, Checks, etc)
  • Secure Messaging – Communicate securely with our support department from within the app.
  • Calculators  – Tip Calculator, Monthly Payment Calculator, Savings Calculator
  • Two-Way Text Banking – Make transfers via text message.
  • Simplified Logon – Save your username or log in with TouchID on compatible Apple devices.

Not a customer? Open an account online today!

 

Spring Cleaning: Seven Consumer Tips for Eliminating Financial Clutter

The season for spring cleaning has arrived and while many may be focused on organizing closets or scrubbing floors, the American Bankers Association encourages consumers to clean up their finances, as well.

“Spring is a great time to take a hard look at your finances and identify ways to manage them more efficiently,” said Frank Keating, ABA president and CEO. “By getting your financial house in order, you can set the stage for a stronger, more successful future.”
 
Below are seven tips from ABA to help cut back on financial clutter this spring:
  1. Evaluate and pay down debt. Take a look at how much you owe and what you are paying in interest. If there are better rates available now, consider requesting a lower credit card interest rate or refinancing your mortgage. Begin paying off existing debt, whether that’s by chipping away at loans with the highest interest rates or eliminating smaller debt first.
  2. Review your budget. A lot can change in a year. If you’ve been promoted, had a child, or become a single income household, be sure to update your budget. Determine what expenses demand the most money and identify areas where you can realistically cut back. Develop a strategy for spending and saving and stick to it. 
  3. Check your credit report. Every year, you are guaranteed one free credit report from each of the three bureaus. Take advantage of these free reports and check them for any possible errors. Mistakes can drag down your score and prevent you from getting a loan, or cause you to pay a higher than necessary interest rate. 
  4. Sign up for e-statements and paperless billing. Converting to paperless billing will help keep your house, physical and financial, more clean and organized. 
  5. Set up automatic bill pay. By signing up for automatic bill pay, you’ll never have to worry about a missed payment impacting your credit score. You can set it so that money is withdrawn from your checking account on the same day each month.
  6. Consolidate your accounts. Managing several accounts can be challenging. If you have open accounts that you rarely use, consider closing them. It’s important to note that cancelling accounts may come with a fee or impact your credit score. Other options include streamlining all your accounts under a single bank, or using a bill management service that allows you to view all of your financial accounts, bills, subscriptions and travel rewards in one place with a single password.
  7. Download your bank’s mobile app. Many banks now offer mobile apps that allow consumers to manage their finances from the palm of their hand. With the click of a button, you can make a deposit or access a record of all your recent transactions.

Raising Financially Savvy Kids

“Mom, I want that!”  “Dad, can I get this?”  “Why can’t I just get a new one?”  Have you ever heard your child utter those words?  Or maybe you have heard someone else’s child complaining as you rolled by with your little one in the stroller thinking, “That isn’t going to happen to me.”  It doesn’t have to happen to you if you work to help your children understand how to be financially savvy at a young age.  

More often children learn from observation and imitation rather than through any other method.  As you do your best to make sound financial decisions, your children will see and often emulate your commitment to fiscal responsibility. Outside of being an example for your children, you should also talk to them about fiscal responsibility. Here’s a few tips for what you should emphasize in these lessons.

Lesson #1:  Money has value.  One of the first lessons to teach children is that money has value.  Whether you have millions of them, or only a few, one dollar is one dollar.  It has the same purchasing potential regardless of who is holding it.  As children learn that money has value, you should explain that they will acquire the things they need and want by using money.

Lesson #2:  Understand the difference between “wants” and “needs.”  While this may be a different discussion for different age groups, it is important for your child to understand that not everything he or she “wants” to have is a “need”.  You can use the example that food is a “need,” but candy is a “want” even though it is considered “food”.  As children get older, the lines blur between wants and needs, so be sure to teach this lesson when your children are young.  It’s important to impress the point that, acquiring the things we “want” is not bad. But, it should only happen after our needs are met, and there is money available to do so.  

Lesson #3:  Patience is an important virtue when it comes to money matters.  Exercising patience is another virtue that can pay dividends when teaching your children financial responsibility.  While it is enticing (and easy) to purchase a “want” right now, it is not always the best move. For example, purchasing the newest cell phone technology the first day it becomes available isn’t a fiscally responsible move.  When the technology is new it costs more, but if you are patient for six months you can save a good deal of money and possibly avoid technology glitches or design flaws.

Lesson #4: Providing an allowance.  Using an allowance is a method many parents use to teach their children about money; but it can be a harmful endeavor, depending how you go about it.  If money has value, and you intend to give your child an allowance, it would be consistent with earlier lessons to require your child to put forth effort and earn the allowance. Take care to interfere with that lesson by adding variables to it.  For example, if you want to teach the concept that “work equals money,” you would not also want to teach lessons about behavior or grades using the same trade off.  It can be confusing for a child to distinguish between money they’ve received for grades or behavior versus money they’ve received for their effort.

Lesson #5:  Allow them to make final decisions.  One of the more difficult parts of teaching about finance is when it comes time to take a step back and watch your children implement what you have taught them. It can be difficult to step aside and let them make their own choices, but it’s important to let them do so.  When they ask for something, you should simply respond with the statement, “it’s your money.”  Children need to learn to make decisions, and then discover both the benefits and consequences, before they reach an age where a financial decision can make or break their credit history.

Cyber Tips

By 2017, the number of smartphone users in the U.S. is expected to surpass 200 million, nearly 65 percent of the population. Below are some key actions users can take to help minimize the likelihood of a successful cyber attack.

Regularly update your device.
Mobile malware increased 75% in 2014 from 2013 , and further increases in malware are expected in 2015, particularly in mobile ransomware. Updated operating systems and security software are critical in protecting against emerging threats.

Enable encryption.
Enabling encryption on your smartphone is one of the best ways to safeguard information stored on the device, thwarting unauthorized access.

Use a passcode.
In case your phone ever does fall into the wrong hands, don’t make it easy for someone to access all your important information! Enable strong password protection on your device and include a timeout requiring authentication after a period of inactivity. Secure the smartphone with a unique password – not the default one it came with. Do not share your password with others.

Do not use public Wi-Fi.
Do not log into accounts and do not conduct any sensitive transactions, such as shopping or banking, while using public Wi-Fi. Disable the “automatically connect to Wi-Fi” setting on your device.

Install applications from trusted sources.
Last fall, Gartner issued a prediction that more than 75 percent of mobile applications will fail basic security tests through 2015.   When downloading apps, be proactive and make sure that you read the privacy statement, review permissions, check the app reviews and look online to see if any security company has identified the app as malicious.

Install a phone locator/remote erase app.
Misplacing your device doesn’t have to be a catastrophe if it has a locater app. Many such apps allow you to log on to another computer and see on a map exactly where the device is. Remote erase apps allow you to remotely wipe data from your device, helping minimize unauthorized access to your information in the event you cannot locate the device.

Disable unwanted services when not in use.
Bluetooth and Near Field Capabilities (NFC) can provide an easy way for an unauthorized user near by to gain access to your data. Turn these features off when they are not required.

Carefully dispose of mobile devices.
With the constant changes in the smartphone market, many users frequently upgrade to new devices. Make sure you wipe the information from your smartphone before disposal. For information on how to do this, check the website of your mobile provider or the manufacturer.

Avoid these Three Issues and Increase your Business Security

If your business uses the internet or any other network application to reach customers, the question you should be asking yourself is this: Is my business secure?  Check out some of the common security issues among businesses today, as well as simple ways you can protect yourself, your business, and your customers:

Security Issue #1:  Worms and Viruses

According to Cisco Systems, 75 percent of small and medium-sized businesses were affected by a least one virus over the last year.  Worms and viruses can have a devastating effect on a business.  Be sure that your computer systems and any other electronic access to your business is armed with the appropriate programs to detect and repel worms, viruses and spyware at all points of contact.

Security Issue #2:  Information Theft

Unfortunately, information theft is a lucrative business.  Hackers break into business networks to steal credit card and other personal information from consumers.  They then sell that information to the highest bidder for a large profit.  Make the investment to protect your network using firewalls or other protective software.  Additionally, you must make sure you have internal policies and procedures in place to keep this information out of the hands of your employees as well.

Security Issue #3:  Security Legislation

Federal and state privacy laws dictate strict adherence to the privacy of customer data.  In certain industries, your business is held accountable for the adherence to these laws, and ignorance of these laws is not a defense in a court of law.  So, it is imperative that you are clear on the steps you must take to protect your data at all costs.  Check with your attorney and/or compliance officer to be sure you are in compliance with all of the privacy rules and regulations applicable to your particular industry.  Non-compliance with privacy laws can be costly and potentially devastating to your reputation as well as your profitability.

What can you do?

With every advance in technology comes new ways to exploit that technology for gain. New hardware or software releases present such opportunities. When peer-to-peer networking and instant messaging were still relatively new applications, for example, their users were attacked by malicious code written specifically for them. Now, mobile phones are frequent targets of viruses. Without the ability to predict what is coming next, the best defense is one that can easily adapt to future threats, and that is affordable.

The best thing you can do as a business is to keep up-to-date on all anti-virus and malware software, maintain employee policies that limit the use of outside or non-business programs or software, and continuously monitor your system for performance and other threats.  Diligence and preparation are the keys to preventing a major catastrophe at your organization.

Take Control of Your Finances: Part 5

Focus on Your Future (Article #5 in a Series of 5) 

Taking control of your finances is more than just spending less and earning more money.  You must save effectively, get out of debt, and have a great plan for your future.  There are five critical steps to follow to help you gain more control of your finances, which are: 

  • Track Every Penny You Spend
  • Develop a Useful Budget
  • Start an Emergency Fund
  • Get Out of Debt
  • Focus on Your Future

In this article, we will focus on the last step in the process, which is:  “Focus on Your Future.”

There are three critical areas of focus to consider when trying to establish a successful financial future: 1) Increase your earning power; 2) Focus on your net worth; and 3) Plan for your future.  Let’s look at each of these areas in a little more depth.

#1:  Increase Your Earning Power.

We have all learned from the dawn of the Information Age that education and training must be an ongoing process throughout the remainder of our lives.  It is not only important for our children to be educated, but each one of us must be willing to adapt to a rapidly changing world no matter how old we are.

Take a few minutes to contemplate your current earning situation.  Are you earning an amount of money that is adequate for the basic needs of your family? If not, you need to give serious thought to receiving additional training in a more marketable skill. Simply put, unskilled workers do not have as much economic leverage in today’s high tech marketplace as those who are skilled. 

If you are making an adequate living, you should still continue to look to the future and review where you may have growth opportunities within your industry.  Take the steps necessary to be the most informed and trained you can be and your earning power will continue to increase.

#2:  Focus on Your Net Worth.

All of the work you do to improve your financial situation will be manifest in one fundamental way; it will increase your net worth.  If your financial activities are not accomplishing this, then you must adjust in some way.  As the old saying goes, “it’s not what you make, it’s what you keep.” Whether you are taking steps to save more money, increase your earning power, or eliminate debt, your ultimate objective must be to increase your financial net worth.

To calculate your net worth, add up the current market value of all of your assets (e.g., home, automobiles, stocks, cash and other investments).  Then, subtract from that value all of your liabilities or debt (e.g., home mortgage balance, auto loans, credit card debt, student loans, and other personal debt obligations).  If you use a money management software program, such as Quicken or Microsoft Money, it will usually provide you with your net worth automatically from the information you put into the system.

Take the time to understand where you currently are. If you currently have a negative net worth, do not panic. You can take steps to improve your financial situation (e.g., get out of debt, increase your income, save more money, etc.), and you will slowly see your net worth improve.  Make wise use of bonuses, tax refunds and other financial windfalls.  Instead of spending them, put them into productive assets or into paying off debt, and you will be able to make even more progress in your goal of having financial security. 

#3:  Plan for Your Future

Decide now where you want to be and when. Then, develop a realistic (but aggressive) road map to get there.  You must write down how you plan to take control of your financial future.  Do not rely on the government, an employer, your church, a friend, or a rich family member to plan it for you.  The only person qualified to make decisions about your long-term financial future is you.  Be specific and take advantage of the financial tools available to make a difference in your life. 

Take a moment to review the five steps we have discussed in the past several articles.  Don’t become overwhelmed; start with one step and move on to the next.  Eventually, you will begin to see progress and start feeling better about your financial future.