Archive for the ‘ Savings ’ Category

Save for their future…with WooHoo! U!

Who doesn’t want the best for their child or grandchild’s future? You can help them save for their future today by opening a WooHoo! U Youth Savings account for them!

With a 3.04% APY on balances up to $4,999.99, they are getting a GREAT rate until they GRADUATE! But don’t just take our word for it, check out our latest video testimonial from a happy parent!

For full details on our WooHoo! U Youth Savings Account visit our website at: www.citizensmn.bank/personal/savings-and-cds

Why WooHoo! U?

WooHoo UCitizens Bank Minnesota knows that banking experience at an early age can shape a young person’s financial identity, attitudes and habits in a way that can last a lifetime. Kids learn many things in school, but usually personal finance is not one of them. That responsibility falls on the parents/guardians. Citizens is here to help!

WooHoo! U is a tiered savings account that earns 3.04% APY on balances up to $4,999.99. With WooHoo! U, youth savers will earn a great interest rate and develop sound saving habits. You can learn more by visiting our website at: www.citizensmn.bank/personal/savings-and-cds

Stop in to talk with one of our Client Service Representatives and open your account today!

Types of IRA’s for Children

girl with money

There are two different types of IRAs that are suitable for children: traditional and Roth. The primary difference between traditional and Roth IRAs is when you pay taxes on the money that you contribute to the plan. With a traditional IRA, you pay taxes when you withdraw the money during retirement (at your then-applicable tax rate). A traditional IRA contains pre-tax earnings. With a Roth IRA, you pay taxes when you put the money into the account, so it contains earnings after tax.

The money grows tax free while it’s in either a traditional or Roth IRA. But the benefit of a Roth is that when the child withdraws the money many decades from now, he or she won’t have to pay income tax on it. What’s more, there are no required minimum distributions (RMDs) on the money. Of course, these rules may change in the next 40 years, but that’s where they are now.

If you claim your child as a dependent, he may be required to file an income tax return of his own if his income exceeds a certain amount set by the IRS ($6,300 for 2017). If your child earns less than this amount, she is likely in a 0% income tax bracket and she probably won’t benefit from the up-front tax deduction associated with traditional IRAs.

Because many kids don’t earn enough money to benefit from the up-front tax deduction associated with traditional IRAs, it makes sense in most cases to focus on Roth IRAs. In general, the Roth IRA is the IRA of choice for minors who have limited income and who, therefore, would not benefit from a deductible traditional IRA.

Starting an IRA for your child can be a wonderful thing. At their young age, compounding kicks into high gear due to the long time horizon. And usually they will be in a low, or even zero tax bracket so the Roth is normally the best choice.

If a child keeps [a Roth] until age 59-1/2 (under today’s rules), any withdrawal will be tax free. In retirement, he or she would likely be in a much higher bracket, so  would effectively be keeping more of his or her money.

Benefits of IRAs for Kids

A single $1,000 IRA contribution made at age 10, for example, could grow to $11,467 over 50 years, assuming a conservative 5% average annual growth rate. Contribute $50 each month, and the account might grow to $137,076 (with the initial $1,000 contribution and the same hypothetical growth rate of 5%). Or double the contribution to $100 each month and the account could reach $262,685. As children make more money and eventually become adult earners, their annual contributions are likely to be higher, and the IRA could grow correspondingly. Setting aside money each month or year for an IRA – even if the contributions are small – helps your child develop awareness and healthy financial habits.

Another benefit of IRAs is that your child may be able to tap into the account for qualified higher education expenses and up to $10,000 towards a down payment on a first home without penalty. With a Roth IRA, you can withdraw any contributions, but not the investment earnings, for any reason without tax or penalty.

Information courtesy of: Investopedia.com

Visit www.citizensmn.bank or contact Citizens Bank Minnesota at 507-354-3165 to find out more information about the great rates we offer on our IRA CD’s!  The future starts NOW!

9 Best Ways to Save Money During the Holiday Season

holiday-saving1

Before you hit the mall or organize a big party, it can help to have a comprehensive plan in place so you know exactly where your money is going this holiday season – that way, you can ring in the new year with celebration rather than panic. Here are several ways to keep your spending under control this December.

1. Make a Budget

There are a couple different ways to set a holiday budget. You might want to establish a general spending cap, or try allocating a specific amount to each person on your gift list. Be aware, though, that while making a holiday budget is great, it can go sour in one of two ways:

  • Setting a Budget That’s Too Tight. While setting a tight budget always starts with good intentions, an unrealistic one can do more harm than good. Without a little wiggle room for last-minute purchases or enough cash allocated for your mom’s gift, you can end up very frustrated. In fact, you might get so frustrated that you just toss your budget out the window. To prevent this from happening, look over your numbers. Do you really need to spend $50 on wine, or can you cut back in order to allocate more money to gifts instead? Don’t just pick numbers out of thin air – really think things over to ensure that you make the right decisions.
  • Forgetting the Little Things. Gift giving is a huge expense during the holidays, but don’t forget the other costs you incur throughout the season. Parties, travel expenses, charitable donations, and holiday-themed activities can all add up to destroy a budget. If possible, add some money into your budget for unexpected costs so you’re not left scratching your head.

The way you create your budget is up to you, but one thing’s for sure: you need one. Create yours before the season hits full steam, and revisit it often to make sure you’re spending within your means.

2. Track Your Spending

Your budget does no good if you don’t effectively track your spending. Personally, I keep a separate Christmas fund in a dedicated bank account. This makes it easier for me to separate holiday spending from regular, day-to-day expenses. I also have my bank’s app on my phone, which allows me to check my balance and track my spending anytime, anywhere – even in line for the cashier.

Spreadsheets are also an excellent and accurate way to track your holiday expenditures. By establishing a budget and entering your real expenses, you can easily keep yourself on track. Just be sure to remain diligent. I find that if I can track my expenses in real-time, I’m much more effective than if the receipts are lying around for days before I input them into my system.

3. Cut Back on Extras

Getting lattes piled sky-high with whipped cream, splurging on a pair of shoes for yourself, paying for a photo with Santa – we’re all guilty of indulging a little more than we should simply because it’s the holiday season. However, you can’t get stuck in a trap where constant spending on “extras” eats into your budget.

Cutting back on those extras can have a big impact on your bottom line. For example, if you purchase a $4.50 pumpkin spice latte three times per week throughout December, that’s $162 you’ve spent on pricey drinks. That money could have paid for a few Christmas gifts, enough gas to get to Grandma’s house, or a generous donation to a charity of your choice. Before you splurge on a little treat or “extra” for yourself, be sure it’s really worth the price.

4. Use the “Secret Santa” Method

I have four brothers and one sister-in-law on my side of the family, and three brothers-in-law and three sisters-in-law on my husband’s side. Add in the 11 nieces and nephews, and buying for the family becomes a huge expense – not to mention a major drain on my schedule. Instead of buying for each member of the family or even pulling names out of a hat, we’ve decided to funnel our resources into a Secret Santa experience instead.

Our local church decorates a tree with ornaments, each decoration with the age, gender, and specific Christmas wish of a child in need. Instead of buying presents for my own family members, we choose to purchase gifts for the anonymous beneficiaries. The best part is that each individual family chooses as many ornaments as they can afford – some can buy for an entire family, while others can pick one or two ornaments to fit their budget. In the past, my kids and I have had fun picking out toys, clothes, and books for children of a similar age.

Not only does a Secret Santa experience help relieve some of the stress and financial burden of exchanging gifts with every member of my family, it gives us a chance to talk about the importance of service and giving during the holidays. I love that my kids get a break from the “gimmes” and get to focus on someone less fortunate.

Some other ideas for charity during the holidays include the following:

•Toy drives
•Volunteer work
•Baking treats for neighbors
•Assembling care packages for shelters, hospitals, or the armed forces
•Coat drives
•Donating to charity

Funneling what you would have spent on family gifts to those in need is a great way to give back, have a charitable experience with your loved ones, and relieve holiday stress.

5. Choose Cheaper Traditions

Traditions are what make the holidays so special, but they can be a financial burden. If your traditions include holiday travel, paying for a special attraction, or surprising your kids with extravagant gifts, you might find yourself going significantly over budget in the name of family.

While traditions are important and admirable, they don’t have to be expensive to be memorable. In fact, you might find that your kids prefer the cheap stuff to the grander gestures. So many activities and traditions are inexpensive, or even free – you just have to know where to look. By making cheaper events and traditions part of your celebration, you can save money without skimping on the festivities and memories.

Here are some of my favorite cheap activities:

•Touring neighborhood Christmas lights
•Watching a movie with hot chocolate at home
•Sledding
•Seeing Santa at the mall
•Making Christmas crafts
•Baking together
•Reading favorite Christmas stories
•Seeing a high school production, such as a play or choir performance
•Caroling
•Checking daily deals, such as those on Groupon or LivingSocial, for discounts on local attractions

Teach your kids that traditions aren’t about what you spend, but the time you spend together.

6. Embrace Potluck

We host Christmas Eve for our extended family every year at our home. I love prepping, cooking, and having everyone together for Christmas – but you know what I don’t love? How expensive all the food, decor, and activities always are. Buying food for 30 people is seriously pricey, and if not for potluck assignments, I’d be spending most of my Christmas budget on food and drink.

Now, I’ve learned my lesson – if you’re hosting an event, embrace the idea of potluck assignments. Let everyone know you’re going to make the main dish, but that you’d appreciate help on sides, appetizers, desserts, and drinks. I simply send out an email a few weeks in advance letting everyone know what their assignments are to ensure we don’t end up with five vegetable trays and no dessert.

I also assign Christmas games and activities to some of my teen nieces and nephews. They love being involved, and I don’t have to stress about keeping guests entertained.

7. Take Care Around Sales

Holiday sales can be an epic opportunity to save money – but be careful. Not all deals are created equal, and some may not even be truly discounted, as some stores keep prices the same but simply mark items with a “sale” sign.

Always comparison shop before you purchase an item during a sale. I use the ShopSavvy app – it allows me to scan the bar code of any item and see prices at nearby stores and Internet retailers to make sure I’m getting the best deal. Or, if you tend to fall victim to the festive atmosphere of a store and make unwise purchases, try shopping solely online. You can snag great deals and use coupon codes to get a lot more for your money.

Of course, you never save money by spending, no matter how significant the discount. Sales are great, but they don’t mean much if the money isn’t in your budget. If necessary, bring a printout of your budget so you can check your spending in real-time and avoid being swayed by a screaming deal.

8. Know When to Stop

When your list is finished and you’ve checked it twice, it’s time to stop shopping. Know when you’re finished, and avoid stopping by the mall “just to see what they have” – this can lead to making poorly planned purchases and blowing your budget.

I typically get the itch to shop a few days before Christmas, so I specifically save shopping for stocking stuffers until the last minute. That way, I’m still operating within my budget and purchasing something I actually need while fulfilling the urge to be part of the holiday hustle and bustle. By planning purchases and stopping when you’re done, you can be spared that holiday hangover come January.

9. Get a Head Start

The period right after the holidays is the perfect time to check over your budget and make plans for the new year. How did you do? Did you stay within budget? Were there places you could have cut back?

This is also the time to start planning a credit card payoff strategy if you used plastic to finance your festivities. In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have put anything on your credit card that you couldn’t pay off in a month, but if you went overboard, commit to a payment plan that eliminates your balances within the next three or four months.

If you’re really savvy and have the storage, the days following Christmas are also ideal for getting a jump-start on purchasing decor and wrapping goods for next year. Of course, that’s only if you’ve budgeted accordingly.

Article courtesy of: Jacqueline Curtis via MoneyCrashers.com

Citizens Celebrates 140 Years of Making Things Happen

BlueCircle

February 1, 2016 marks Citizens Bank Minnesota’s 140th Anniversary! We have a short anniversary video that highlights 140 years of making things happen!  You can view our video here: 140th Anniversary Video

 

September is College Savings Month

Little Girl dreaming of graduation

Did you know that September is College Savings Month? It’s never too early (or too late!) to start saving for college! Here are a few general savings tips:

  • Start saving as early as you can. However old your children are, if you want to help fund their college education, start saving. It is never too early, or too late, to start saving for your child’s college.
  • Find more ways to save: Analyze your spending to see if there’s anything you can cut out to increase your savings. Finding ways to save and making cuts can really add up over time.
  • Automate your savings:The simplest way to start saving is to make it easier on yourself. See if you’re able to automatically deposit a portion of your paycheck into a college account or any savings account for that matter.
  • Prioritize your finances:The world doesn’t stop for college savings, nor does the rest of your financial needs. You need to pay off any debt, especially any credit cards or other high-interest debt. You also need topay off your own student loans (if you have any), establish an emergency fund for yourself, and save for retirement as well.

What happens when you just can’t financially help?

Sometimes the dream of paying for your child’s education is just not within your reach. Or maybe, like some parents, you want your child to pay for their own education to learn how to stand on their own feet and become independent. Either way, there are still things you can do to reduce their student loan debts and how much they’ll have to pay.

  • Motivate them in high school.Work hard to encourage them and keep them motivated during high school. The better grades they have, the more likely they’ll be able to receive scholarships. High grades can also mean they’re eligible for advanced placement courses, which can count toward college credits and therefore reduce the amount of tuition owed. Also encourage them to volunteer and participate in extracurricular activities to increase their chances of getting scholarships.
  • Encourage them to work through high school.As soon as they can get a job, encourage them to do so. This may require your participation, such as driving them to work or helping them fill out taxes when that time rolls around. Have a discussion about what percentage of each paycheck should be put toward college.
  • Help them apply for scholarships.When the time comes, encourage and help them to apply for scholarships.
  • Teach them about student loans.A vital thing you can do for your child is take the time to teach them about financial aid, student loans, what they’ll owe upon graduation, and what that will mean for them in the long run. Help them keep track of financial aid deadlines and make sure your child fills out the FAFSA. This conversation can lead to ways to reduce their student loans while still in school, such as encouraging them to stick to a budget, not misuse student loans, and picking an affordable college to start with.

Citizens Bank Minnesota does have a scholarship opportunity where we award two or more scholarships each year to local graduating seniors who will be attending post-secondary education. Scholarship America performs the selection process and administration. This program was instituted at Citizens as a way to show our commitment to the community and our belief in today’s youth. Citizens plans to continue this tradition for years to come!

You can find out more information about our scholarship at http://www.citizensmn.com/personal/real-life-investors

By: Sarah Seifert, Marketing Assistant/Youth Club Coordinator

Sources: Thesimpledollar.com

%d bloggers like this: