Find a penny, pick it up!

I’m not sure how much luck has to do with saving, but this childhood phrase comes to my mind every time I see a penny lying on the ground. And this in turn got me to thinking about how much money I would have if I had saved those pennies!

So here is my challenge. Starting the day you read this post, what if, from now on you put aside all of your change every day and kept it in a jar. How much money do you think you would have at the end of a year, and what would you then do with that money once it accumulated? Hmm.. lots of possibilities there!

Okay, so now what if you don’t use cash? What if you use your debit card all the time but would still like to save the change? Well, with Central National Bank it is possible to do just that! It’s called the It Makes ₵ents! program. It Makes ₵ents! allows me to round up my debit card transactions to the nearest dollar (all the way up to $10.00) and have the change put right into my savings account!! So, not only am I saving money without even realizing it, but I am also earning interest on it!

Being enrolled in It Makes ₵ents! also means that there’s no minimum balance requirement on the savings account it’s tied to. As long as it’s hooked to It Makes ₵ents! and there’s a flow of change being deposited into the account you’ll never receive a service charge for being below the minimum.

If that still isn’t enough incentive, maybe this will help you decide… Starting September 1st, 2012 we are launching a new savings match program. If you are enrolled in It Makes ₵ents! the bank will match 5% of every penny saved!*

 

*See the complete program details and restrictions at: www.centralnational.com/personal/imc.asp

Article courtesy of Jodi – Guest Blogger

CNB Android App Now Available!

After months of development your requests have been answered. The Central National Bank Android App is finally available for download on the Android Market. And, yes, just like the iPhone App it will be free to users!

Don’t forget, to use the app, you must first be enrolled in Central Online Banking. For more information about Central Online Banking including enrollment instructions, click here.

What can the app do?

Users are able to view their account balances, pay bills, transfer funds, and more! The Android app uses the phone’s native features, so using the app has never been easier.

How do I get the app?

Get it on the Android Market

https://market.android.com/details?id=com.jackhenry.CentralNationalBank

Shop & Win Promotion!!

The biggest shopping day of the year is less than 48 hours away! We can’t offer you a great deal on a flat screen tv or e-reader, but that doesn’ t mean we can’t make you a deal!

If your Turkey Day plans include taking a trip to the stores at Midnight, be sure to check out the details of our Shop & Win Promotion. Each time you use your debit card between Black Friday and Cyber Monday you’ll be entered to win a $100 VISA Gift Card!

Money Does Not Buy Happiness. Or Does it?

You’ve all heard the old adage, but what if money actually can contribute to a happy and fulfilled life? Of course, I’m talking indirectly – taking a bag of money home and rolling around in it isn’t likely to cause giddiness. I recently read “Buying Happiness” by Gretchen Rubin and it got me thinking. I’ve decided money and/or the management of money really can lead to happiness. Here’s a rough summary of Rubin’s article…

  • Money can help you build and maintain relationships with loved ones. Whether it’s planning a trip to visit far-away relatives or taking a friend to dinner, you’re using the green stuff to gain one of the emotional needs that help you to lead a happy life.
  • Money can help you get more exercise. Physical activity is constantly linked with a better mood and attitude. Some people spend money on a gym membership, others a new bicycle or even a new iPod to listen to while running.
  • Money can bring you peace of mind. Period. So manage your finances wisely and don’t get too far into debt. If you are in the red, figure out a budget that can help you get out of debt. Just the feeling of being in control can greatly contribute to your peace of mind.
  • Money can help you eat better. Fresh and organic foods can be more expensive than processed meals, but by investing more you are contributing to good health and good relationships. At my house, the kitchen is where we usually spend time together as a family, whether we’re cooking, cleaning up or even hanging out, we’re always having fun.
  • Money can help you contribute to the happiness of someone else. Sometimes, just making a friend happy is worth the cost of a gift. You can get that happy feeling from helping strangers, too!

Rubin finished with one important reminder: We are all very different and have different desires. If your friend/daughter/father/cousin wants to spend money on something, don’t be quick to judge! It might not be important to you, but could mean the world to them!

Blue Jeans for Charity

Our Concordia branch location has come up with the idea to start a fundraising effort called ‘Blue Jeans for Charity’. Every last Friday of the month, employees can donate $3.00 in exchange for a chance to wear blue jeans to work that day. The bank then matches employee contributions and donates the money to a local charity each quarter.

March 25th marks the end of the first quarter for this new program and employees have chosen Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cloud County for the first donation. Funds raised amount to $250.00! The local paper will be on site to cover the event.

Jodi Rehbein, a CSR in Concordia, got the idea to start this, in part, because of the ‘Pay it Forward’ campaign. Rehbein indicated that, “The bank will display a countertop sign on the day we wear jeans, so our customers know why we are dressing down. It also gives them an opportunity to find out more about the charities we choose to support”.

Don’t Trust that Text… You Might Get “Smished”

The newest ruse called “smishing” is a variation of phishing where cyber thugs use SMS text messaging to target mobile banking customers.  Several articles suggest that we are in the early stages of mobile threats and that cyber criminals are still figuring out the best way to gain access to your personal information via cell phone. 

Malware, which is short for malicious software, is still the most pervasive fraud out there and can attack any computer through e-mail or poisoned Web downloads.  This is how criminals take control of your computer and ultimately your finances.

Obviously, mobile banking is becoming more and more common.  Criminals know this and will become very efficient at digging for your information.  Please make sure you and your friends are aware of this situation and if you receive a text that says it’s from your bank and to call the 1-800 number, go to your bank’s website to get the contact info, don’t just call the number provided in the text… You might get “smished”.  Your bank will never text you for the purpose of soliciting information.

Guest Blog by Tim M

Holiday Shopping – Unwrapped

I can’t believe there are less than two months until Christmas.  I’ve been trying to come up with ways to save some money this holiday season, so I’ve been doing a little research online. I ran across an article yesterday that listed 19 gift ideas that would save you money. It sounds like your typical holiday shopping guide, but it’s not quite that simple. Each gift on the list will supposedly save the receiver money as well.

As I went through the list of ideas I had to laugh. In my opinion, several items on the list would make terrible gifts! So, in order to be fair, I polled my coworkers and we decided which items would actually be good gifts to give to friends and family. Here’s what we came up with: 

  • CFL Light Bulbs or LED Light Bulbs – good for the environment, and they last forever!
  •  Newspaper Subscription – coupons and news about great deals!
  •  A Coupon Book – I hope the reasoning behind this one is obvious.
  •  Candles – can be used for light during late-night storms and smell great.
  •  Gas Card – probably the best idea ever… I will say no more.
  •  Metal Water Bottle – use, reuse, repeat.
  •  Water Filter – paired with a metal water bottle you could save someone hundreds of dollars!
  •  Crockpot & Recipes – yum, yum and yum. I had Crockpot roast just yesterday.
  •  Smart-Power Strip – doesn’t feed on electricity, even when your electronics are turned off!
  •  A Day Planner – not sure I agree that this will save you money, but it’s a great gift and one I always appreciate.
  • Stamps and Envelopes – I’m forever running out of stamps and thank you notes, this idea gets an A++.
  • A Finance Book – learn to manage your finances from a book… OR just log into our handy-dandy website for FREE!
  • Gift Cards/Certificates – one of the best inventions known to man. I LOVE getting these. Top of my list this holiday season? An Amazon gift card! So I can buy books for my Kindle!
  • A Favorite Indulgence – my second, favorite gift idea. It probably doesn’t make sense, so here’s an example. My friend loves Bath and Body Works lotions, but doesn’t buy them much because of the expense. For Christmas, I could buy her a favorite scent. That will save her money – and is guaranteed to make her day!

Here’s a few gifts on the list that we thought weren’t such good ideas:

  • Rechargeable Batteries & Recharger – the batteries always seem to be running out of juice.
  • Reuseable Shopping Bags – they may help save the environment, but we couldn’t think of a store that gives a significant discount if you use them.
  • Wind-up Flashlight – these things are awesome, but the ones I’ve received as gifts are already dead and won’t recharge. Plus, some of them take a lot more work than a simple twist of a handle.

To see the complete list and reasons these 19 items were picked visit the actual blog at, http://frugalliving.about.com/od/christmas/tp/Gifts_that_Save_Money.htm

     
 

 

Fall Fever

Fall is my absolute, favorite season. I love the color, the smell, the weather, the holidays and the food. I’ve heard that people who are pessimistic like fall and people who are optimistic like spring. I don’t feel like a pessimist… but I’m not sure how you can diagnose yourself when it comes to things like that. Anyhow, I’m telling you all this because there is only one aspect of fall that I dislike…

The stores! Every fall I feel the need to empty my wallet (and bank account) buying meaningless decor, gifts, smell-goods, clothes, food, you name it… I want to buy it. And the stores take advantage of helpless shoppers like myself. They make in-store displays extravagant and beautiful. They put out fragrances that are pleasing, festive and cause shoppers to feel good when entering a store. Sure, they do similar things year-round, but for some reason I am hit harder September through November.  I have an endless supply of pumpkins, candles, leaves, and Halloween decor. Do I have a single Easter decoration? No sir! I can’t say that I’d display such items – even if receiving them as gifts.

Do you suffer from a similar illness? Do you want to stop obsessive, autumn buying habits? Well… here’s a couple tips that may be helpful this season – or even during other seasons if you’re a boisterous Easter bunny, passionate Patriot or even Santa Claus’ head elf:

  • Make a list before a trip to the store – and stick to it.
  • Each time you buy new decorations get rid of the old ones. Lots of people can’t afford decor at big-box stores, so help them out by donating your old decor to thrift stores.
  • If you’re grocery shopping go to the grocery store instead of a catch-all store like Walmart or Target. You’ll be less inclined to buy things other than bread, milk and cheese.
  • Take along a friend or relative that is less likely to buy compulsively. I have a good friend who will follow me around the store and ask me “Do you really need that?”. Usually I don’t have a good explanation and end up putting items back. Now, when I go shopping without her I hear her voice in my head…
  • Put yourself on a budget. Go to the store with a specific amount of money in mind and don’t spend a penny over. In the end you’ll thank yourself.
  • Set seasonal items aside. If a week goes by and you haven’t opened the packaging then you probably don’t need to keep it. I’m a big return-er. (Conversely, if you’ve used the item all season, and left the tags or stickers on it… don’t return it! Nothing annoys me more than people who work the system and figure out ways to buy an item for one event, so they can return it later and get their money back.)

Any other ideas let me know! I’m always looking for ways to cut down on excessive spending.

Back-to-School Tips!

It’s that time again! Time to put the kids to bed on time, buy school supplies and figure out where they stashed their backpacks after the end of last school year. And then, when you can’t find the backpacks – OR the lunch boxes – you go out and buy new stuff for everyone… just to be fair.

Here’s a few tips I’ve found to be useful over the years. See if you can convince your kids to try them out and maybe you can save some time, money or peace of mind!

  • Make everyone clean their bedrooms before school starts. It helps everyone get a fresh start – and you may be able to locate lost school supplies like backpacks.
  • If you are still paying for your kids’ lunches you might consider getting then a checking account for storing lunch money. It’s a good way to build responsibility. Instead of bugging you every day for money your child can learn budgeting while you’re still able to bail them out of trouble. Budgeting will become very important to them when they’re halfway through the month and have no lunch money left.
  • Pack sack lunches – it’s healthier and cheaper. Or, make them pack their own. My Mom had a mantra – pack your own lunch or eat school lunch. Due to our nasty school lunches I learned very quickly how to pack a lunch – of course, Mom sometimes had to watch how many sweets we were throwing into the sack, but for the most part we ate well.
  • If your child is in college convince them to buy textbooks used. Bookstores charge high prices because they can – not because they should.
  • Pull out the remaining supplies from last school year and make the kids use them up before you buy all new stuff. We used to spend a fortune on school supplies every year because I thought I had to have new stuff. And hey, who doesn’t like new stuff? I’m just thinking that we probably threw away a lot of good stuff because it was “old”. And that gets expensive.

Any other ideas? Leave us a comment if there’s something I’ve failed to mention! We love money savers – and time savers. And I know there are tons of Moms out there with great ideas. We’d love to hear them!

Tips for Building Your Credit

I’ve been doing some research lately on building my credit score. I know that within the next five years it will be time to search for and buy a house, so it seems like a good time to start preparing. Probably shortly after the house will come the children, so saving will be a big issue as well, but we’ll handle one thing at a time for now.

The thing I keep reading - when I search for credit information online - can be conveyed by a simple formula: checking + savings = stability. If you’re able to manage both accounts well it’s going to show creditors that you are stable in your decisions and responsible with your finances.

After that, everyone seems to offer a slight variation on these 3 simple guidelines:

  • Pay your bills ON TIME
  • How much available credit do you use? Experts suggest that you never max out all of your credit options. It is recommended that you never charge more than 30% of the credit limit offered to you.
  • Don’t charge more than you can pay off in a month. It’s a slippery slope. If you ever stop paying off your credit card balance at the end of every month then you will only get further behind each month after that. In fact, sometimes I make a payment each time I get paid – which means I make a credit card payment every two weeks – that way I have a better idea about how much money I can actually afford to spend.

I have also read a few tips for getting better credit, once you’ve had problems or for building credit if you don’t have any:

  • Piggyback on someone else’s credit – In other words, get added to another person’s credit card so you can build up your own. Just make certain that they are financially stable and have good credit themselves. It’s not going to be much help to piggyback off of someone owing $30,000 to various creditors.
  • Get a store credit card – It’s usually much easier to get credit from a store, however you also must realize that it will be a slow process to build credit this way. They don’t help as much as some of the other options. Also, they tend to have higher interest rates, so when you aren’t able to pay the balance off in one month’s time then you end up having more problems than before you got one.
  • Get a secured card from a bank – These usually require a security deposit or collateral of some kind. The only thing about this suggestion that is hard is most people who need credit usually don’t have anything to put up for collateral. So unless they have a stack of cash sitting around and can put up the cash, it would be hard to secure this type of card.

So, one last thing that might help you out if you’re looking to get a credit card is to have a list of things you should look for in a credit card. The top three I’ve heard about are:

  • No application fee
  • Low annual fee
  • Credit will be reported to Equifax, TransUnion, & Experian – the three major U.S. credit bureaus

Don’t know what your credit score looks like? Request a free report now via the Central National Bank website. Click the Credit Report button at the bottom, right of our home page.