Plan Is Not A Four Letter Word: Budgeting for 2014
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.
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. Add up your monthly income, after deductions. This includes taxes and another other deductions you have, such as
401K, insurance, etc. 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.
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?
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
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?
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.
Health Savings Account (HSA) Tips and Benefits
Autumn always represents a time of change in Indiana. Leaves change colors, temperatures cool down, and the humidity finally drops to a tolerable level. For many companies, autumn also brings changes in health insurance. Open enrollment opportunities provide employees the chance to explore new health care options to maximize their benefits and protect against hardship. In addition, changing health care laws have brought the topic of health insurance to the forefront of many consumers’ minds.
One health insurance option that has steadily gained popularity over the years is the
Health Savings Account (HSA). In fact, research conducted by wealth and investment management company Devenir showed that HSA numbers across the country reached 9.1 million accounts in July of 2013. Paired with a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP), the HSA presents a more affordable option for employers and an excellent way for employees to save money for healthcare expenses.
opening an HSA? Here are a few tips and benefits:
A High Deductible Health Plan is defined by the IRS as having a minimum deductible of $1,250 for singles and $2,500 for families (
limits applicable for tax year 2013). Contribution limits are capped at $3,250 for singles or $6,450 for families into your
Health Savings Account for tax year 2013. In 2014, these limits increase to $3,300 for singles and $6,550 for families. HSA owners over the age of 55 are eligible for an additional $1,000 catch-up contribution in 2013.
Deductions do not have to be itemized on your federal income taxes to deduct your contributions to an HSA.
HSA funds can be used to pay for qualified medical expenses. (
Consult a tax advisor for items considered as qualified medical expenses.) Once the HDHP deductible is met, the health insurance covers medical expenses as defined in the policy.
Over time, if medical expenses are low and contributions are made regularly to the HSA, the account can accumulate significant assets that can be used for health care tax free or used for retirement on a tax-deferred basis.
HSAs also have an advantage over the Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) since deposits are not necessarily tied to expenses in a particular plan or calendar year. (
No use it or lose it policy.) HSA funds are automatically rolled over for future medical expenses or may be used to reimburse qualified expenses from prior years, as long as the expense was qualified under an HDHP at the time that the expense was incurred.
High Deductible Health Plans and
Health Savings Accounts are great options for many consumers, but the choice of health insurance should not be made alone. Excellent resources include your employer’s Human Resources department, an insurance representative, or a professional tax advisor.
This blog was brought to you by Jared Matchette, Deposit Product Analyst at MutualBank. Be On Guard!
Scammers are everywhere. It's easy to be tricked into sharing personal information with someone who shouldn't receive it. We have learned that customers of some banks and credit unions in Indiana are the target of scammers. Currently, MutualBank customers are not targeted, but it's important to be on guard.
What you need to know is that we will never call or email you asking for you to identify personal information. This includes information about your accounts, your personal identifying information, your debit or credit card information. If someone is calling or emailing you asking you to take action or provide information, please hang up immediately.
These kinds of scams are often called "
Social Engineering". Check out our blog from 2012 called " Social Engineering...Don't Be Fooled and Keep Your Information Safe". This will help you protect your information and bank accounts if scammers target you.
If you have accidentally provided information about your debit or credit cards or your bank accounts to someone, please contact us immediately.
Call us at (800) 382-8031 or stop by a Financial Center near you.
Learn more about what to do if you believe you're victim to debit card fraud. Email Phishing - Protecting Your Information
Whether you own a small business or use your home computer for financial activities, you need to be aware of Email Phishing which can ultimately lead to identity theft and corruption of your small business and home computers.
What is Email Phishing? Phishing emails are crafted to appear as if they have been sent from a legitimate organization or known individual. These emails often attempt to entice users to click on a link that will take the user to a fraudulent website that appears legitimate. – United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT)
Common forms of Email Phishing Phishing emails are becoming very personalized posing as your cable company, utilities, credit cards, mobile phone carrier, banks, and many more entities that you do business with on a regular basis. The most common threat of Email Phishing right now is malware. If you click on a link inside of an email that was intended for phishing; your computer can become infected with malware. The malware will attempt to steal your personal information, usernames and passwords to systems such as online banking.
Trigger events that can lead to Email Phishing Here are some trigger events that fraudsters may try to leverage with Phishing Emails.
Natural disasters (Hurricanes, tornados, etc.)
Here are some steps to take in order to protect you against Phishing.
Most importantly, do not give username and password information (such as online banking systems) out to anyone. Many phishing emails try to trick you into entering username and password information into a phony web site.
Make sure that email spam/junk filters are turned on and configured properly. Consult with your email provider or IT specialist for assistance.
Do not click on links or open attachments in suspicious looking emails. Delete them immediately and tag them as spam/junk within your email system.
Log into your known sites from your web browser to verify if an email is legitimate as the links in emails can be easily spoofed to go somewhere other than where it looks like it will go.
Be leery of unsolicited emails asking for personal information or presenting links to click on in order to update account information, track orders, overdue bills, cancelled ACH/Wire transactions, etc.
If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
Do not email sensitive information in email unless it is encrypted. Banks and other businesses should provide secure email systems to communicate regarding account information.
Do not store usernames/passwords, account information, SSN numbers, or other personal information in your email systems as if you do become infected with malware it will attempt to scan your email for this information.
Make sure that you have anti-malware/virus programs installed on small business and home computers and they are always updated and perform frequent scans.
Make sure that you keep other programs such as Java, Adobe programs, Internet browsers, and other online programs updated with the most current patches.
More information about Email Phishing and Cybersecurity
Here are some good web sites to obtain more information about email phishing.
Learn more about Phishing through information from the FTC and from the United States Government.
Remember, you can call us anytime. Let us know if you have questions or concern for your bank accounts. Call 800-382-8031or email
This blog is brought to you by John Mickle of Risk Management and Compliance with MutualBank.
When You Need Us, We Will Be There.
It was an ambush! As soon as I hit the top of the stairs, a flying set of bouncing pigtails sandwiched around a Cheshire Cat smile hit me with all of the boundless enthusiasm a third grade girl can muster. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” she beamed as she stuck out her tiny hand and vigorously shook mine. “I love the Boys & Girls Club! It’s my favorite place!”
The energetic greeter was representing the Boys & Girls Club of Elkhart, which the MutualBank Foundation helped launch with a seed grant. This past school year there were more than 500 young people enrolled in after school programming. I am proud to say I was a part of the start-up team and Kathy Sears , a Business Banker in our Elkhart office, currently serves on the board of directors.
There are many things I enjoy about my career with MutualBank, but one thing stands out above all the others. When we say " Go ahead … live a better life!" - we mean it. No matter how big we grow or how far our footprint expands, we remain a community bank.
I came out of the non-profit world to join the MutualBank team in Elkhart County nearly six years ago and I still have a heart for service. I quickly discovered I was not alone. Our team is blessed with a bevy of servant leaders.
Many of us are in places you have come to expect to find your neighborhood bankers. We have board representatives with the chamber of commerce, economic development committees and community foundations. MutualBank has a strong financial and volunteer presence with the United Way in all of our “footprint” counties.
Financial education, especially for young people, is a growing passion for our team. Chrystal Hurd, a Financial Center Manager at Western Avenue, leads an innovative program for grade school students in South Bend. Myra Nissley, a Teller Team Leader at our Syracuse Financial Center, visits schools in Syracuse. Georgette Miller, Financial Center Manager at Baldwin Avenue in Marion, volunteers with Jobs for America’s Graduates in Marion.
We are helping communities Go ahead in health and welfare. Chris Caldwell, Senior Vice President and Business Banking Manager, is board chairman for the Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana. Robyn Palmer, Client Relationship Manager for Elkhart County, holds the same position for Combined Community Services in Kosciusko County and Jim Tinkey , Vice President and Business Banker is a long time member of the K-21 Health Foundation in Warsaw .
Many more of our Mutual teammates roll up their sleeves and work behind the scenes. Among them, Jaime Faulkner, Communications Coordinator, cooks for the Muncie Mission and Martha Oprea, Trust Compliance Officer with MutualWealth, is a regular in the kitchen at the South Bend Center for the Homeless.
We have an appreciation for the arts. Chuck Viater, North Region President serves the South Bend Symphony Orchestra, Gary Kern, CIO for Information Systems is active with the Muncie Civic Theatre and Lila Piper, Area Manager in Grant County, lends her time and talents to the Community School for the Arts in Marion.
There are many, many others. MutualBank volunteers have helped build Habitat homes and have braved cold winter nights in a tent with the local Boys Scouts. They have walked in the Relay for Life and driven for Meals on Wheels. You will find them at college football games and at the local little league park.
Go ahead … live a better life! And when you need us, we will be there.
This blog is provided by Vince Turner, Regional Manager for Elkhart and Kosciusko Counties.
MutualBank Movie Credits
When we visit the theater and enjoy a movie it is easy to overlook the number of hours, hard work, and individuals involved behind the scenes making the magic on screen look so easy. We see the end product, enjoy the experience, and leave feeling like we just watched life unfold on the big screen, but yet we don’t see the editing, the filming, or camera operators (to name a few). Much of the work involved behind the scenes of a movie success is the same within a company. There are hundreds of employees and hours of hard work required to be a sustainable and successful organization.
MutualBank has a lot of stars that play an important role in creating a positive experience for customers. Each employee plays a pivotal role in the operations of the Bank. Many of these individuals are often behind the scenes doing their jobs to make service seamless to customers. It’s very similar to a movie except for the scrolling credits at the end. There are no scrolling credits at the end of the day to give acknowledgements to the employees for a job well done. I can assure you, however, they are there working very hard to make MutualBank the best Bank it can be.
In lieu of these credits MutualBank has a formal employee recognition program. This program is made up primarily of the “Kudos” recognition which is sent by peers, managers, executives, including the President and CEO and it can be received by the same group of individuals. “Kudos” recognizes someone for doing a good job, simply doing his or her job really well, or assisting a co-worker in a time of need.
The “Kudos” each quarter are then compiled and reviewed by a committee. Recipients are selected from these quarterly “Kudos” based off their teamwork, cooperation, and caring attitude to receive a prestigious “Kudos of the Quarter” award. This award includes a special trophy and cash. The “Kudos of the Quarter” has been awarded 146 times in its history.
During the first quarter of 2013 three employees received recognition. Two individuals received the “Kudos of the Quarter” and one individual received the “Go Ahead of the Quarter”, a recognition program similar to its “Kudos” equivalent but recognizes sales and service to customers. Phrases like “
you dropped everything to help me”, “ you saved me”, and “ thank you so much” permeated throughout. These three individuals do not have face-to-face customer contact, at least very minimal if any, and yet they are recognized for their outstanding efforts to make MutualBank a well-ran organization, behind the scene.
So why am I telling you this? I’ve been lucky enough to receive the “Kudos of the Quarter” and I know how special it feels when you are presented with the award. Everyone at the Bank works extremely hard. To earn the recognition is an extraordinary achievement. One of our most recent recipients wrote a thank you note and said, “
With all the Kudos the Bank has, I’m sure this is a hard decision every quarter. I appreciate this award and my wish is that every co-worker can experience the honor.”
Another reason I share about our own ‘scrolling credits’ is because it’s something special MutualBank does that has made it a
great place to work its near 125 years in existence. Our values as a company are identified by our brand to help people live better lives. How we do that both internally with our teams, and externally with our customers is what keeps that brand alive and sets us apart from others. Recognition of those actions serves both as a thank you and inspiration to others. It also helps to give meaning to our contributions to the Bank and the community.
Sound like a cool place where you might enjoy working? See if you’re fit by
viewing our career opportunities.
This blog is provided by Chase Batt, Assistant Vice President of Human Resources and Training Manager.
Community Banking and Small Businesses
Sometimes when I’m writing these blogs I find myself challenged with what to say. Do I blather on about the importance of working with your CPA and attorney as you are making business decisions? By the way, that is critically important so please, please,
please . . . talk with your professional advisors to ensure that you are doing the right thing for your business. Do I blather on about the importance of mentors? If you haven’t read that blog I would encourage you to do so as I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having someone to mentor me throughout my career and the great opportunity you may have to do the same for someone coming up in your particular field or industry.
No, today I’m taking proverbial pen in hand (okay keyboard) to talk about the importance of community banks to the
small business lending arena. I’m not going to spout all sorts of data as the Internet has given us a tool where we can pull any statistic that we want but to really understand the underlying numbers becomes almost impossible. Instead, what I’d like to do is share some anecdotal kinds of things that I’ve been hearing lately.
One small business owner told his lender that he truly appreciated all her help. He was sure that it was going to be difficult doing
business with MutualBank because it is difficult doing business with any bank. However, what he found was a lender and a bank that were easy to do business with. As a point of example, he said “it was a nice experience to have somebody pick up the phone, talk to me and make it happen” when he called the bank’s help desk.
Another client recently reported back to me that he found working with his lender to be one of the main reasons that he continues to do
business with MutualBank. His lender fully understands his company’s needs, accurately ascertains what is going on within the business, and asks the right questions to help his company succeed (and thus we helped him personally as well). As he said, “you don’t get that with the big banks”.
Am I biased; sure, I work for a community bank, and always have. But, I will tell you that
small business owners want and need a business advisor, not just an order taker. When the business banker is asking the critical questions, it is aimed at helping the business succeed. Does the bank need to make a profit, absolutely; it is our only way of surviving. However, do we need to make a profit at the expense of the business because we didn’t do right by the company to whom we are lending money – absolutely not!
We are here to partner with every one of our business clients. We want to help them with a vast array of products and services that will help them achieve their goals and dreams. So, if you are
feeling boxed in by your current bank, call MutualBank and talk with us, we want to help you grow your business the way you want, with our business bankers right there to help you all along the way.
Feeling boxed in? See how MutualBank is different below:
This blog is brought to you by Chris Caldwell, Senior Vice President and
Business Banking Manager. Keep Your Information Current
One of the most important things that bank customers can do to help prevent fraud is to keep their contact information current with their financial institutions and credit card providers. Old email addresses and phone numbers can be used by fraudsters to pose as you in order to defraud you and your bank. It’s very easy to change email addresses and mobile phone numbers which are used as a primary communication means by most people these days. Your bank and credit card companies rely on this information to verify transactions to ensure that they are legitimate. Don’t let outdated contact information enable you to be a fraud victim.
Here are some tips on keeping your information current with your bank:
New address – Make sure you notify your bank as soon as you move in order to keep receiving mailed information such as bank statements. Also make sure that that you request the US Postal Service to forward your mail from your old address.
Phone numbers – As mobile and smart phones replace traditional land line based house phones, it’s very important to make sure that your bank is informed if you change and or eliminate a phone number. If you decide to change mobile phone providers make sure that you are aware you can take your number with you to your new provider. This can help eliminate the hassle if you wish to retain your phone number.
Email Addresses – Email addresses are the easiest contact point to change. However, this also makes it easier to use a discarded email address for fraud. Make sure that you keep your email address updated with your bank to avoid missing communication especially if you utilize eStatements.
At MutualBank you can update any of your contact information using Online Banking or calling Customer Support at 800-382-8031.
In order to protect you, we will verify all address, email address and phone number changes.
If you receive a confirmation of any contact information changes that you did not make, please call Customer Support immediately at 800-382-8031.
Remember, you can call us anytime. Let us know if you have questions or concern for your bank accounts. Call 800-382-8031or email
This blog is brought to you by John Mickle of Risk Management and Compliance
with MutualBank. Just How Good Are You?
There are things we all know we should do or at least we’ve been told we should do them. But just how good are you at getting them all done? Here’s a quick test. How many of these can you answer “yes” to?
You have your teeth cleaned every six months.
You pay every bill on time and in full every month.
You hit the gym at least 5 days a week… and do a full exercise routine.
You visit your doctor for a full physical twice a year.
You keep track of your intake of calories, fats, and proteins… every day.
You drink eight glasses of water every day.
You take your car in for an oil change every 3000 miles… or 7000 miles .
Did you do pretty well? How about this one?
You pay close attention to retirement plans you left behind at former employers by studying the investment choices and making rational changes in line with your long term needs.
If I got you on that one, then you should consider a retirement plan rollover to a
MutualWealth Management IRA.
More and more of us work for multiple employers throughout our careers and we end up with multiple retirement plans left behind. Even if you only had one employer you may have several plans that were offered at different times throughout your career. You don’t have to be retired to do a rollover. If you have terminated employment any retirement plan at that employer is eligible to roll over to an IRA.
The most important reason to roll over to a
MutualWealth IRA is for our professional services including helping you to establish investment goals, management of the day-to-day investment decisions, ongoing monitoring, record-keeping and keeping you informed.
There are a lot of other things to consider before doing a rollover. For instance, company stock held in a
retirement plan such as an ESOP or 401(k) generally should not be rolled to an IRA because you may end up paying more tax on it than necessary.
If you’re over age 55 but under 59 ½ when you retire you can access retirement plan assets without the 10% early withdrawal penalty. This isn’t available in an IRA.
Another feature not available to IRAs is that if you work past age 70 ½ you can defer taxable required minimum distributions until you do retire (unless you own more than 5% of the company).
On the other hand, a
MutualWealth IRA has advantages in addition to our services that aren’t available in company retirement plans. The possible investment choices are much greater and include individual stocks and bonds; you can withdraw money prior to age 59 ½ for education expenses for you or a dependent without the 10% penalty; and an IRA can allow you to stretch the tax deferred growth of your assets out over generations of your heirs.
Let’s face it. We just don’t do
all the things we’re supposed to do. It’s too easy to put off complicated decisions like a retirement plan rollover. MutualWealth can help weigh the pros and cons so you make the right choice. That’s another way we help you live a better life.
David Riggs is Vice President and Trust Investment Officer with
MutualWealth Management Group. View Archived Posts