Posts Tagged ‘ Savings ’

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

The Savings Force

Today, April 25, 2011, we celebrate the introduction of The Savings Force! Our former Junior Banker President, Breezie, has retired and these Superheroes are coming in to teach our youth bankers how important it is to save. Here is a short story of how they came to Citizens!

The Story of Citi & Zen 

In the village of Bankland, not far from here, lived a young girl named Citi and her best friend, a boy named Zen.  They did everything together – riding bikes, playing soccer and just having fun.  But their favorite thing to do was searching for adventure, and that’s just what they planned to do.  They packed lunch bags with sandwiches and juice.  They each had a couple of dollars to spend, just in case they found something they wanted to buy.  They set out on their bicycles to a nearby village, named Squanderville, hoping that it was a good place for an adventure.    

There were so many things to do in Squanderville.  They spent the morning exploring the town and decided to visit some of the stores after lunch.   The first stop must surely be the candy store.  There were shelves full of bins with candy in every one!  Some of the local children were buying bags full of candy, emptying their pockets and spending all the money they had.  Citi and Zen weren’t sure about spending all their money on candy so they decided to shop some more.  

The next store Citi and Zen went into was a toy store.  It was full of toys, from floor to ceiling – everything a kid could ever want!  Again they saw some of the local children emptying their pockets to purchase toys.  Citi and Zen saw a few things they wanted, too, but still waited to see what else they could buy in Squanderville. 

After a few more stores, Citi and Zen looked at each other and realized they didn’t really want to spend their money that day.  They decided to save it for something special that they may want to buy in the future. 

Citi and Zen returned to their homes in Bankland to tell their parents about their adventure in Squanderville.   They explained how the other children had foolishly spent all of their money on candy and toys, and how they had decided not to spend their money today, but save it for a special purchase later.  The parents told Citi and Zen that they were proud of both of them for being so responsible, saving their money wisely and waiting to buy something they really wanted. 

Citi and Zen saved their money for several months.  They decided to return to Squanderville to teach children there about saving money and how to spend it wisely.  But how would they get the children to listen?  They knew what to do…their fist stop would be the costume store, where they found exactly what they were looking for- super hero costumes!  They would become The Savings Force!   Citi became Lil’ C and Zen became Super Z.  The Squanderville children gathered to listen while Lil’ C and Super Z explained the importance of saving money.  They told of the day they visited the village and watched as many of the children emptied their pockets and spent all of their money on candy, toys and other things.  They pointed out that there was nothing wrong with spending some of the money on these items once in a while, but encouraged them to save some for the future.  In time, there would be enough money saved to buy something really special!      Citi and Zen were happy to help the kids in Squanderville and decided to help other children as well.  

Before Breezie retired, he invited Lil’ C and Super Z to come to Citizens Bank Minnesota to help YOU learn how to save money, too!   We hope you get a chance to meet them – they would love to meet you!!

By: Missy Marti, Assistant Marketing Director & Kelly Blick, Marketing Assistant

Money Management for Kids

Some common questions often arise when discussing the topics of money and kids. 

1)      When and how should kids start earning money?
2)      When should they start managing/saving their money?
3)      How do you encourage them to save? 

Kids should start to earn money as soon as they start wanting and needing things.

Adults have all heard from kids “I want this” or “I need that”.  We need to teach them how to earn those items, not just get them. Earnings could be an allowance from their parents for doing daily chores around the house, assisting grandparents, neighbors, birthday money and gifts.  The list could go on and on based on their abilities.   

With that in mind, kids should also start managing/saving money as soon as they start earning money.  Kids will naturally want to spend what they earn.  If they receive $5 from grandma for raking leaves, they’ll want to spend the $5 on something they think they really want or need, then wonder why they have no money.  

How do we get kids to save and manage their money?  We first need to help them put together a plan to earn money. That plan should be fun and workable for them.  Then we need to implement a plan based on the individual. What do they want to do with their earnings?  Do they have something specific they want that’s more expensive?  If so, spending what they earn on smaller, less expensive items will not help them save money to buy that more expensive special item someday.

I offer my children three options with the money they earn.  The first option is putting some money in there wallet to spend on those smaller items that give them immediate satisfaction.  The second option is to have a savings bucket at home to fill for more expensive items.  The third option is a savings account at the bank to save for their future. 

This concept has worked well because they compete with each other to see who saves more and where it’s stored.  If it’s in the wallet, it’s typically spent on junk.  If it goes to the bucket, it’s very likely to accumulate for that special item; and if it goes to the bank, it’s secure and grows interest so they someday have money for education, a vehicle or there first home. 

So parents find a plan that works for your kids and have fun with it! 

By: Brant Drill, Assistant Vice President

Good Savings Habits

Do you feel like you can’t get ahead when it comes to your finances? You never seem to have quite enough money to meet all of your monthly obligations and can’t even think about saving for a rainy day. You’re not alone. Many of us feel the same way and have the same issues with our finances. The bad news is there is no magic to make it better immediately. The good news is you can take immediate steps to make it better in the future. Here are three steps to help improve your savings habits and put you on the path to better financial management.

Start Early

Don’t put off saving money until things are better, or until you are making more money. It won’t happen on its own. Start right now by setting up a savings account and putting a portion of your paycheck away every payday. Start small, $5.00 or $10.00 each paycheck and gradually increase the amount. Or better yet, start with a certain percentage of your paycheck, say 5%. This way the amount you are saving will increase as your income increases.

If you have children, teach them from a young age proper money management. Pay them a regular allowance for chores they complete around the house. Sit down with them each time they receive their allowance and decide how much they will save, 5%,10% or more, and then divide the rest into how much they can spend, how much they will donate to charity, etc. Do the same with money they receive for birthdays and Christmas. Teaching them good savings habits now will insure that they will be able to handle their finances properly when they grow up.

Make It Automatic

Many employers now require that your payroll be directly deposited to your bank account and most of them will deposit it to more than one account, if requested. Set up a separate savings account and have a portion of your payroll deposited to that account. This makes saving automatic. You will soon learn to live on less income and not miss the amount being saved. If you don’t have direct deposit of payroll, ask your bank to set up automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account and treat that transfer like a bill that must be paid on a regular basis.

Even better, set up two savings accounts, one for specific savings goals (trade autos, house downpayment, etc.) and one for emergencies. Use the second savings account only for true emergencies like unplanned auto repairs or medical bills. After you have a balance in this account equal to a least 3 months payroll, start transferring the excess funds to a more permanent savings vehicle (CDs, mutual funds, etc.) that pay better returns.

 Credit Cards

Credit cards have become almost a necessity in our lives whether for making a reservation at a motel or renting a car, many businesses require that you have a credit card to do so. We are often tempted to use our credit card when we don’t have the immediate cash to pay for something. Avoid that trap at all costs. If you don’t have the excess cash to pay for something, ask yourself if you really need it and resist the urge to “buy it now”. Make a plan to save the money needed to make the purchase.  If you do have to use your credit card, try to pay the entire balance off each month. This will keep you from going deeper into debt and help avoid paying finance charges which can double or triple the cost of your purchase. If the balance is too large to payoff all at once, pay as much as possible and always pay more than the minimum amount due. If you manage your credit card balances wisely, you will be amazed at how much more you have available to save.

These three steps will help you improve your savings habits and “have more money left at the end of the month”. Your finances will be less stressful and you will enjoy watching your rainy day funds grow. 

By: Robert Wise, Vice President

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