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  • Deer Need Banking Too

    Tuesday, November 19, 2013

    Not too long ago I saw a post on MutualBank’s Facebook page of a picture of three deer at our Bethel Financial Center in Muncie and the caption read, “Deer need banking, too.” I thought this was a pretty neat picture and post. I know it’s the time of year for deer to be out and about. Deer have been on my mind recently, believe it or not, and the above-mentioned Facebook post was just one of the reasons. And no, I’m not a hunter.  You see, I just turned 36 and I remember 20 years ago finally snagging my driver’s license. My Dad gave me a lot of advice but not necessarily about driving. I grew up in one of ‘those’ families who let their kids drive at an early age, dating back to sitting on Dad’s lap and him working the pedals with me at the wheel. Looking back, I’m sure Dad probably had a hand ready to take the wheel, but he chose to give me that experience and showed me trust even at an early age. 

    You’re probably reading and thinking what in the heck does this have to do with banking. Well, not much, but it does have a lot to do with experience, advice, and learning. The advice Dad gave me at 16 still runs through my head today. One piece of Dad’s advice was, “When it starts to rain, oil raises to the top of the pavement and the road will get slick.” Another was, “Keep an eye out for other drivers. At night, don’t rely on looking for headlights, look harder and make sure there are no cars coming when you turn on to a busy road.” Receiving my license in a rural town in Indiana during harvest season led him to give me one additional piece of advice, “When it is harvest season, deer are scared because of all of the farm equipment.  Many deer are in the fields and will run across the road to get away from the tractors. Keep an eye out for deer.”

    I recently told Dad as we were driving late at night, “Dad, you know one thing I never forget is you telling me during this time of year, keep an eye for deer.” We chuckled and had a moment that is kind of cool for a young man, at one time a little boy, to share with his father. It was special to let him know that his seemingly insignificant advice wasn’t insignificant at all. Just a few moments later as we approached a curve there stood three deer right beside the road. We both emphatically said – “look there, right there they are!” We again chuckled at my coincidental earlier comment. I listened to my Dad’s advice.

    A few weeks later I was teaching a customer service class at MutualBank.  A piece of this two-day training is lunch with our COO the first day and our CEO the second day.  During our CEO’s presentation he talked about experience as a key component to growth and development.  That’s when he made a comment that struck me and it brought all of my driving experience and my Dad’s advice to the forefront of my mind. Dave, our CEO said, “I had a mentor, the President before me, who said, ‘Dave, you can only get 10 years experience in 10 years’.” This comment, this simple truth, was profound.  It’s true. Dad had several years of experience that he imparted on me as I started driving. As simple as it may be, it made a difference to me. Sometimes we need a mentor, someone to guide us and give us advice to help us grow personally and professionally. I’ve had several influential individuals, like my Dad, my previous managers, current manager, co-workers and friends who have given me great personal and professional advice.  I’m thankful after 14 years of working at MutualBank for the advice, experience, and opportunities I have been given.

    If you are looking for a great organization that believes in its employees and gives them opportunities to gain experience, then I would encourage to look at working at MutualBank. We are defined by core values of Character, Compassion, Class, and Competition. I can relate each of these to my personal and professional life and even to that great advice my Dad gave me as young driver hitting the road for the first time alone. Ready to grow, learn, and work for a great organization? MutualBank might be the right fit for you!

     

    This blog is brought to you by Chase Batt, Assistant Vice President and Training Manager at MutualBank.

  • Plan Is Not A Four Letter Word: Budgeting for 2014

    Thursday, October 24, 2013

    Well, yes, technically, it IS a four letter word.  But I think you know what I mean. 

    In today’s world, people cringe at the word “budget”.  It is synonymous with “belt-tightening”, “frugalness” etc.  All words that make the American consumer love for spending groan.  Insert eye-roll here. 

    A high percentage of the American people live paycheck to paycheck.  Some don’t know what most of their money is spent on.  

    With a little planning and budgeting, looking ahead and making solid changes can be pretty simple to do.  Here are a few tips to help in this process.

    1. Make a detailed list of expenses.  If you use a checking account, this is as easy and sitting down with your bank statement through eStatements or Online Banking and looking at the month in a snapshot.  List all recurring debts such as loan payments, utilities, credit cards bills.  Also add up trips to the grocery, etc. 
    2. Add up your monthly income, after deductions.   This includes taxes and another other deductions you have, such as 401K, insurance, etc. 
    3. Deduct number one from number two.  This is your disposable income.   If you have a negative number, you need to look at number 1 again and see if there is something you can cut, or if you are overspending in areas such as grocery, eating out, etc.
    4. Once you get a manageable figure, you can then look at your budget.  There are lots of good budgeting tools free on the internet that you can use to figure out where your money is going.

    The key to this is making it work for you.  Not all budgeting programs work for everyone.  Make sure you give yourself some grace.  Changes to lifestyle don’t happen overnight.  Allow yourself some “free” money.  Get your kids involved.  Make it a game.  There are lots of things to do with this so you can get a better handle on your finances. 

    Remember, planning may not be something that comes naturally to all, but it can be learned.  

    This blog is brought to you by Debra Jones-Price, Financial Center Manager at MutualBank's Bethel Financial Center in Muncie, Indiana. 

  • Do You Have The Right Partners?

    Tuesday, October 15, 2013

    There was a book written in 1995 entitled The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do about It. The author premises that many businesses fail due to a lack of proper management of the company. This comes as a result of the owner being pulled in too many directions while trying to help his or her business truly succeed. At its core, the author suggests that more companies need someone who will work "on" the business instead of "in" the business.

    So, what does this look like?

    For many companies this means that the owner needs to find good partners to work with. Does the company have a trusted CPA advisor that he or she can turn to with accounting questions? Is there good legal advice that can help in situations whereby good counsel can ultimately save a company money through better contracts? And, does the company have a good relationship with a Business Banker?

    What can your Business Banker do for you?

    For starters, the Business Banker can provide a wealth of knowledge. Often, the lender has had experiences with others who may be in similar lines of business. As such, he or she can use the past to help the business owner by asking some tough questions. Tough questions, such as: 

    • How much more were your sales this year?
    • Help me understand the growth in your inventory category on your balance sheet.
    • Does that growth imply stale inventory, excess capacity or stocking up for incoming sales that are anticipated in the fourth quarter?

    Business Bankers have access to a variety of resources as well that can help the company owner understand how his or her company compares to others in the same industry throughout the country with the same sales volumes or history. This comparative data can help drive additional analysis of process, procedures, and sales tactics, all good discussions to be having with your banker.

    And that's not all your Business Banker can do for you. He or she can introduce you to other clients that might have synergistic opportunities. For example, if they have a body shop client, they might be able to introduce that client to all of their various insurance agents with whom they work. "I'd like to introduce you to Bob. He has a great body shop business and I know that he can help your clients with their car repair needs." The body shop client benefits, the insurance agent has another good source for taking care of his or her clients, and of course, the additional business ultimately benefits the bank's client which is good for the bank. When was the last time that you asked your Business Banker for a referral?

    Finally, the Business Banker ultimately has his or her clients' interest at heart. If the relationship (and I use the word "relationship" intentionally here) is not beneficial to both parties, then ultimately, it is not good for either. It is in the bank's and the client's best interests to have a "mutual admiration society" between each other. When a bank's client is happy and feels good about the service and advice he or she is getting from the bank's lenders, then they win. And if the bank's client wins, then ultimately, the bank wins as well. Both should feel this is a great relationship and that they are mutually looking out for one another's interests.

    So, as a business owner, do you have the right banking relationship to help you focus "on" and not "in" your business? If not, then ask the tough questions of your banker.

    This blog is brought to you by Senior Vice President and Business Banking Manager, Chris Caldwell.

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