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1-800-Flowers is buying Harry & David

Tuesday, September 2, 2014 8:40 am

An online flower peddler is paying big bucks to branch out to fruit baskets.

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  • The Fiscal Cliff and Long Term Investments

    Wednesday, November 28, 2012

    If it bleeds it leads! That supposedly is an old adage of the news reporting profession. I don’t know if hard-nosed newspaper editors ever did actually say that to fledgling reporters any place other than in a film noir movie script but it does symbolize a true human tendency. We pay attention to negatives.

    Why we do it, I don’t know. Disasters and crime, personal scandals of celebrities, politicians and the powerful are hot topics. Weather reporters breathlessly (and endlessly during my favorite TV programs) train their radar on every wind that shows the slightest circular motion during every thunderstorm that blows through regardless of how mild. And we watch.

    It’s the same with financial news. You still occasionally see an investment person on television today bragging about how they predicated the stock market crash of 1987! Cable TV hosts, authors of magazine articles and investment newsletter writers thrive on highlighting negatives because it gets your attention and helps them sell the commercials, ads and newsletter subscriptions from which they make their living.

    Today we hear about the fiscal cliff approaching with the New Year, the sovereign debt crises in Europe, the declining U.S. dollar, geo-political upheavals abounding, the greater regulatory burden being put on business, and the ups and downs of the stock markets which appear to be of greater magnitude than before. This gloomy haze of negative news and focus on the short term makes it easy to lose sight of the long range reasons to be invested in the stock market.

    Most of the financial news media is geared towards short term trading otherwise, why would you need to watch every day?  If you own a local dry cleaning business or florist shop you don’t pay much attention to how much you could sell your business for on any given day. Your focus is on taking care of your customers so you can increase sales and profits and continue to pay yourself an income that rises over the years. If you do that, the market price of the business will also increase over time.

    For most people, investing in stocks should be the same. Stocks represent businesses that you own a piece of. Selection of good businesses that take care of their customers and have rising sales, profits, and dividends (income to the owners) should be the primary concerns. Day-to-day or quarter-to-quarter fluctuations are generally insignificant in the long run. This doesn’t mean you don’t keep an eye on value or change investments from time to time just try to focus more on your long term objectives.

    There are many, many companies in the U.S. and elsewhere that have survived depressions, recessions, world wars, socialist governments, and other adversities while paying a cash dividend every year for 50, 60, or 100 years or more. They followed the short term ups and downs of the market but generally are worth much more today.

    A business-owner approach to investing with a long term focus may make you lose interest in most of the financial news. Maybe that’s a good way to go ahead…live a better life.

     

    This post is written by David Riggs, Vice President and Trust Investment Officer of MutualWealth Management Group.

  • A Season of Thanksgiving

    Tuesday, November 20, 2012

    Someone I know well told me that I was a rather odd duck, both very philosophical yet entertained by some of the most mundane and simple of things (read sophomoric humor!).  It is with that premise that I ruminate on the whole season of Thanksgiving.  While some of the auspices of how it started may be left to the historian to argue, it does seem to me that we now have a holiday whose sole purpose is to cause us to reflect for a moment on those things for which we are truly thankful. 

    I have also noticed many Facebook friends are taking this period of time to express their thankfulness for various things each day apparently culminating in the holiday itself.  While I am certainly glad for this, what strikes me is the fact that we have to create a holiday to remind us to be thankful.  And so it is that I commit to a new resolution long before the New Year (a whole month!) to pause whenever I can and be in a state of thankfulness as often as possible. 

    So with that beginning, let me launch into the many things for which I am thankful.

    1. Family – I have a wonderful wife who I adore and continue to find to be the joy of my life, two daughters who are succeeding in their own careers, two dogs who show boundless joy when I get home, and of course, a brother, nieces, parents, in-laws, and others who make my life so much better.
    2. MutualBank – Wow, where to start.  A great group of people, a bank that still values its ability to focus on the community, and an ethos that is second to none.
    3. MutualBank Clients – It is because of our phenomenal clients that MutualBank gets to succeed every day.  Our clients are some of the most loyal customers that I have ever encountered and they do us proud every time they tell a friend what a great bank we are.  I am truly thankful for all of our clientele.
    4. Friends – one of my insights into how good life is runs proportional to the deep friendships that my wife and I have developed – there is a direct correlation to the two.
    5. United Way – MutualBank is a heartfelt supporter of United Way as are many of my colleagues.  Why?  Because the United Way does great work in helping others that need it most and bringing together community partners to make our hometowns better for all.  By the way, there are many other great community partners that MutualBank and its many team members support – part of our ethos of being true to our community bank philosophy.
    6. Health – yes, I’m getting older and the joints are not quite as supple, the muscles take a little longer to quit aching, and my brain doesn’t seem to remember as much (maybe because I have many decades of stuff in it now – I hope that’s it!).  In spite of that, I’m still thankful that I can move easily and can still have deep and meaningful dialogues with friends and family.  So I try not to complain about the aging process and just be thankful that I am where I am.

    That’s my list; I hope that as we conclude the year that you take a moment to write down yours.  When we approach things with an optimistic and thankful attitude, we find that the world is indeed slightly more positive and certainly more appreciative. I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving and way in advance, a very Happy New Year!

  • Live a (Financially) Healthier Life

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012

    Healthy, wealthy, and wise….And the most important of these is, (you fill in the blank). 

    For me, it’s health.  Those that have read my prior blog posts know I’m in that nefarious “over age 50” category.  Physically, it’s true.  Mentally, possibly but it’s debatable, especially If you know me!  I believe being healthy deserves a closer look – it is closely tied to our financial freedom in many ways, and it deserves a post on our bank blog!

    Our bank just completed a two-year health & wellness Get Fit Program.  Health-conscious team captains were asked to lead employee teams that included family members.  We kept track of healthy things that got our heart rate up from walking and running to playing volleyball just to name a few.  Getting an annual physical (yes, men, this means you, too!), keeping a nutrition log, even coaching a child’s sport team earned us points.  Our employees focused on doing healthy things hoping some of those things they did would become habits.  Prizes were awarded a few weeks ago and our winning team will get some extra paid time off, cool logo wear, and the ‘bragging rights’ for this year’s event culmination.

    Not only did we create new, healthier habits, we put up some pretty fantastic results too.  At week 26 this year, we had 8 participants who had lost 10% of their total body weight and 4 more that lost 20% of their body weight.  One employee stopped smoking, and 10 employees reduced one prescription (under physician care) previously needed due to health issues.  Those are winning statistics, for me, and much more important than who won.

    We will all have to seek ways to continue our healthy habits.  I know the bank will support endeavors to keep this mindset at the forefront.  We are generally a sedentary workforce, so any efforts can only bring positive results. 

    From the financial side of things, how can being healthier help?  Let’s see, that former smoker is saving money they formerly spent on cigarettes, right?  If they smoked 1 pack a week, that translates to $260/year in savings.  If they smoked 1 pack a day, that equals $1300.  It does start to add up.  Similarly, the folks that were able to reduce one prescription medication as a result of being healthier gained back some financial rewards, too.   I cannot analyze the numbers on that, but the facts prove the healthier lifestyle puts money back into the pockets of our employees.

    As one of 80+ million Americans in the age 45-64 category (U.S. Census, 2010), health has become more important to me.  Hindsight is indeed 20-20, and I only wish I had paid more attention to my health when I was younger.  Now, I have to reduce weight, increase & maintain regular healthy activity, and pay much more attention to my eating habits.  Had I done this as a 30-40 year old, I might be sitting differently.  There are more people in my age group, 31% more according to the U.S. Census, 2010, than in 2000 and we account for more than a quarter of the US population.  When our large demographic gets ill, or when we fail to take good care of ourselves, that can be detrimental in cost – of health care, to name just one. 

    Getting back to “just me”… I’m thinking more now about retirement and wanting to have fun when I do retire.  I’m putting money into my 401(k), trying to pay down debt, preparing for ‘the teenager’s’ college expenses by contributing to a 529 plan and  keeping some amount of ‘nest egg’ cash available to me for emergencies.

    I look forward to both taking it easy in my “golden years” and enjoying travel time, family time,  volunteer time and  of course one of my favorites - future fabulous (old) girls’ trips.   I won’t be able to have much of that fun if I’m overweight, tired, out of shape, and fighting more possibilities of disease that run in my family – diabetes, heart issues, cancer.  Keeping myself healthier – er, getting myself healthier now can pay off for me when I get to retirement.  Excuse me, I need to get up and get moving before it’s too late!

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