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  • Costumes for a Cause

    Thursday, August 30, 2012

    As the summer draws closer to an end, we start gearing up for all things Fall. This includes working with companies who offer Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to their employees, reviewing retirement plans and investments and helping individuals prepare for the upcoming holiday season.  One staple event for MutualBank this time of year is the beginning of our United Way campaign.

    MutualBank is a pacesetter company, meaning we run our company campaign prior to the start of the formal United Way campaign. This year, we wanted to do something a little different with our campaign kickoff meeting. 

    In order to make it fun and raise extra money for United Way, we thought of a contest. We selected several fun costumes and thought about who our employees might be willing to pay money to see wearing them. A couple of executives came to mind and we put the plan into action. Employees voted on the costume by paying $1.00 per vote.  At the meeting, we provided a photo opportunity where employees could pay $1.00 to have their photo taken with our executives. 

    Fortunately, Pat Botts, President, and Lynda Stoner, Vice President and Regional Manager, were great sports! They are willing to do whatever it takes to raise money for United Way.  Clearly, you can see that based on their costume.  The winning costumes were "Thing 1" and "Thing 2" from The Cat in the Hat. 

    And who says bankers can't be fun?

     Above: (L to R) Lynda Stoner, Pat Botts

    Below: (L to R) Lynda Stoner, Sue Godfrey-United Way,
    Michael Brown-United Way, Pat Botts

  • Teaching Children about Money

    Monday, August 20, 2012

    I dread the beginning of school, because I know that means I start hearing the statement, “I need money for…………….” On a weekly basis there is something that my children need (or think they need) money to buy or do something at school. Usually I grumble a little bit and then one of them will say, “Just get the money at the bank.” Convenient that I work at a bank and they have all the money I need, or so my children think. 

    When do we decide to teach our children about money, hopefully before it is too late. When I started working at 16, I lived at home and had very few expenses. So every week I cashed my check and had my weekly spending money. Like most youngsters, cash in the pocket meant I must spend it as soon as possible. I know that if I would have saved ½ of my paycheck from ages 16 to 22, I would have had a pretty decent savings to either buy a car, down payment on a house, pay down school debt, etc. 

    There will always be a debate on whether to give children an allowance or pay for chores and while we do not currently do either at home, maybe we should. How will our children learn how to save, to be charitable, or make financial decisions if we do not train or equip them? One of the reasons we are in the economic crisis today is that we all were spending more than we made. Spending more than we have is definitely one trait that we must not pass down to our children.

    The reality is, waiting until our children get a job at 16, 18, 22 or at whatever age, may not be the right answer. By then, it might just be too late. We all must learn that we must budget and make decisions on each of our priorities. While we expect our children to learn a lot at school, we must also make the decision to teach our children along side with the schools to make our communities better.

  • Financial Confessions from an Old Geezer

    Wednesday, August 8, 2012

    It’s back-to-school time.  Early August, really?  Back in my day (aka “old geezer comment coming next”), we didn’t start school until after Labor Day!  What is it with the here and now – it’s changing faster than ever, and it is simply hard to keep up!   (Especially for us geezers, right?)

    I’ve shared with you that we have a teenager in the house.  She will be actively driving come next spring.  She is polishing up her defensive driving skills in the meantime.  I am asking my teen to put some money away to purchase a car at some point.  I will help, but I certainly won’t be buying that Porsche she has a photo of on her smart phone. 

    Chances are good, that if we become a three-car family, there are some options we will look at – saving money for an old clunker (after all, I drove a 1963 VW bug back in 1979), seeking out a car loan for a little newer vehicle (also possibly translated as a “safer” vehicle), and my lender recently even enlightened me that I could roll a vehicle loan into my mortgage loan – for convenience, of course.  I have a little time to consider the options, and see how well my teenager is saving money for her future transportation. 

    College expenses are going to be hefty, also, though we have a few more years.  Finding money to set aside to help our daughter – go get those scholarships, young lady! – is tough.  The 529 College Savings Plan is there to help us, help her.   She will also need to have some “skin in the game” for school – it’s no longer “like it was, back in the old days.” But we will do what we can, by taking advantage of setting aside some money, and planning – for her future.

    Also creeping up on me is my own retirement.  While it is off on the horizon just a bit, I need to be accountable to have set aside enough money so I can live a retirement lifestyle I’ve dreamed of – you know, traveling with spouse, family, and friends!  I want to live that dream, and so I have to prepare.  I do my best to set aside money and contribute to my employer’s 401(k) plan.   By putting some money there, my company matches me, in essence, giving me “free” money on top of my own contributions.  But is it enough?  That’s hard to say, so I, on occasion, I also talk to a financial adviser.

    I encourage my spouse, who works in a small family business, to set aside some money in an IRA.  We cannot rely on Social Security, if it will even be there, and so, it is important we spend time planning for our financial future.   The future.  It will be here before we know it.  My goal is to be a financially prepared, old geezer.

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