Have you ever asked yourself, “When should I start teaching my kids about finances?”

 

While there’s no right answer to this question, a good place to start is whenever they have developed fundamental math skills. This is typically between the second and fourth grade.

 

The goal when beginning to teach your child about money is to help them understand the value of money and the importance of saving. You’ll want to use simple terms and relatable examples that you know your child will be able to grasp. One of the best ways to do this is to use your personal experience. Explain how you work a job to make money, and the money you make from said job allows you to buy things like groceries, clothes, vacations, etc.

 

If you want to take it a step further, you could set them up with a regular allowance or pay them for doing certain chores around the house. This will give them an applicable experience in understanding the most basic way money is earned. There are multiple ways to introduce money fundamentals to your child(ren), so do some research to find one that works best for you.

 

Once they understand how money is earned, you can segue into the basics of saving money. A great way to do this is by using a visual example such as a piggy bank or clear jar. This allows children to literally see the money they save and how it accumulates over time. When they are comfortable with the concept of saving, share how their savings can be used for something else in the future. Explain the different ways they could use their savings – to buy something they want for themselves or purchase something for someone else for a special occasion such as a birthday. If you haven’t already, this would also be a good place to open a savings account for your child.

 

When applying this to real-life, give them the opportunity to use their savings to purchase something they want. This will allow them to determine if they have enough money saved or not helping them comprehend if they need to save some more money or if they already have the amount they need. Once they have the amount needed, let them hand the money to the cashier so they get excited and experience the value of “this for that.”

 

Helping your child save money can bring up feelings of frustration due to having to wait to purchase something they want. This is a great opportunity to validate those feelings and explain that you, their parent, or guardian, also sometimes have to wait to purchase things you want. Set a regular time together where you sit down and count their money with them, so they know just how much they have saved. And don’t forget to encourage them on their saving journey.

 

Setting a good foundation for understanding money can help your children be more responsible with it as they get older. Even the smallest money tips can impact the way your children will think about and use money in the future. Visit our Personal Money IQ and scroll down to the “Kids and Money” section for more tips.

Financial Literacy Awareness Month is observed nationwide by a variety of organizations. People all over the U.S. host educational events and activities throughout the month of April to promote the importance of financial literacy – especially to our nation’s youth.

 

In recognition of Financial Literacy Month, we would like to share some tips to help you better prepare for potential financial situations.

 

Safeguard Your Accounts with Multifactor Authentication

Multifactor authentication can increase the safe keeping of your financial accounts and information. The most widely used methods are challenge questions and one-time passcodes (sent via text, email, or phone call). This added layer of security does not allow anyone to fully log in to an account until after the username, password, and passcode/security answer are all entered correctly.

 

Avoid Late Fees with Online Bill Pay

Bills and payments can easily be lost or show up late in the mail. This can cause you to pay unnecessary late fees. To prevent this from happening, consider using online bill pay through your bank account or your mobile app. Bill Pay allows you to review your payments and make payments as quickly as the next day, so you no longer have to stress about a lost bill or payment. Start using today by logging into your ICB bank account or mobile app.

 

Save for Early Retirement

When entering the professional workforce, you’ll want to consider how you’ll fund your retirement. Most employers will offer retirement benefits like a 401k. However, IRA’s are also a good option to save. But how much are you supposed to save? First, determine what kind of retirement lifestyle you want. Then, just like budgeting, you’ll want to calculate the cost of that lifestyle and adjust your savings accordingly. Revisit your numbers annually to help you stay on track. If you need help, contact one of our local bankers for more information.

 

Saving vs. Investing as a Young Adult

Saving and investing can seem daunting when you first begin your career. However, the difference is simple… one is for short-term goals, the other is for long-term goals. For short-term savings goals – such as building an emergency fund, saving for vacation, or buying a car – you’ll want to keep your finances in an easily accessible location. This is normally a regular checking or savings account or can even be a certificate of deposit or high-yield savings account.

 

On the other hand, saving for long-term goals – like retirement – means investing money into a retirement account such as a 401k or an IRA. As a young adult, understanding where to put your money to start saving for your goals can set you up for a better financial future.

Vacations are a wonderful time to relax on a beach, enjoy a cruise, or stroll through a new city. But one of the best parts is not having to stress over how to pay for it.

 

The first step for any vacation is to identify your budget. By planning out your finances, you can enjoy the perfect vacation that won’t break the bank. To help you get started, here are five tips to consider when you begin planning your budget-friendly vacation….

 

  1. Open a savings account.

How much you save for your trip will help determine your budget. Having a separate savings account devoted to vacations, trips, or other getaways can make the planning process easier. Consider having a certain amount automatically deposited into a travel savings account each week. By putting funds into a dedicated travel account, you can create a healthy saving habit and build up your vacation spending money therefore lessening stress and allowing more time for rest and relaxation.

 

  1. Plan ahead and take advantage of cost-saving tips and tricks.

When planning your vacation, do research to find any discounts or deals on activities, accommodations, transportation, rentals, etc. Early scouting can save you money whereas last-minute decisions may cost you extra.

 

  1. Drive or fly?

Because you’ve successfully prepared, you’ve already done research on where you’re going and how long it will take to get there. Now is the time to answer the infamous question – do we drive or fly? Fortunately, there is no right or wrong answer. Consider how long it will take to drive, how many times you’ll have to fill up for gas, potential food costs and if you will be staying overnight. Then, research flight and rental car cost and decide which one is more economical for your situation.

 

  1. Choose an unconventional location.

If you plan on vacationing in popular hot spot locations like Las Vegas, NV; Miami, FL; or Gulf Shores, AL, it may be more expensive than if you travel to less popular destinations. If you are set on going to a vacation hot spot, consider looking at the surrounding areas to help decrease costs.

 

  1. Set up card controls and keep track of your spending activity.

Two thing no one wants to worry about on vacation – money and fraudulent activity. By setting up card controls, you can easily keep track of all your purchases and identify if there is any suspicious activity. By actively tracking your vacation spending, you can stay in control of your budget as well as ensure your hard-earned money stays safe.

 

Ultimately, being in control of your budget (and sticking to it) can empower you to have the relaxing, worry-free vacation you deserve.

 

Get on top of your vacation savings today! Open your savings account now and start saving up for your dream vacation.

Do you have a high school senior preparing to go to college? Are you overwhelmed by the opportunities, paperwork, and planning of it all?

In recognition of November being National Education Month, we put together five tips to help you and your child better prepare for their higher education and financial future.

  1. Do research: Set up college visits, talk to current students, and encourage your child to submit an early application. Help them stay organized by making a list of all the required paperwork needed for applications, such as letter(s) of recommendation, a copy of their transcript, etc.
  2. Be proactive: Write down important dates such as SAT or ACT test dates and scholarship application deadlines and place them where they will be seen daily. Help your child take charge of their future by ensuring necessary tasks are completed as soon as possible.
  3. Find scholarships: As much as $100 million in scholarship funds go unclaimed every year, according to the National Scholarship Providers Association. Start gathering options by asking questions and researching scholarships that apply for your child. If you don’t know where to begin, reach out to their teacher, guidance counselor, or mentor for help.
  4. Create a budget and open a savings account: It’s never too late to learn financial literacy basics. Work with your child to create a budget and help them open a savings account dedicated to funding their college tuition and other school related expenses.
  5. Talk about the impacts of posting on social networks: Did you know college admission offices can decline or resend an offer based on what you post on social media? Discuss the positive and negative impacts of an online presence with your child. Encourage them to tidy up their social media profiles before sending in their applications.

Congratulations on taking the first few steps in helping your child prepare for college! While you navigate this exciting and emotional process, remember to stay positive and open minded. College is about personal growth and discovery, and this milestone will help your child shape a bright and successful future.

Just like visiting a doctor, it’s important to review and evaluate your finances so you can ensure the healthiest relationship with your money. A financial check-up will give you more confidence in your finances and allow you to have more control over where your money is going.

If you’ve found yourself feeling overwhelmed or unsure of how to tackle your financial check-up, use these tips to help you get started.

  1. Identify any recent major changes in your lifestyle that could affect your finances. Have you switched jobs, received a pay raise, gotten married or divorced, had kids, bought a house or new car, etc.? It’s all relative when reviewing your finances.
  2. Gather your bank statements and credit card statements from the last 6-12 months and find where you are spending most of your money. See if you can identify spending patterns that could be adjusted or eliminated.
  3. Check your credit score. You can obtain a free copy from one of the three main credit bureaus (EquifaxExperian, and TransUnion) to check for and report any errors. This can also help you discover if you need to take necessary steps to improve your credit score.
  4. Evaluate all your current financial accounts (personal, business, checking, savings, retirement, CDs, loans, etc.). Ensure that all the information on your accounts is correct and up to date. Having a clear understanding of your accounts in relation to your financial goals can help you plan accordingly for the year.
  5. Review your debt(s) and interest rates (mortgage, car loans, credit cards, student loans, etc.). Write these down and plug them into your budget. Create a plan that will help you pay off your debt(s) as soon as possible.
  6. Identify tools and resources you can utilize to help streamline your banking. Check out some of the services our customers benefit from such as Online and Mobile BankingBill PayNotifi AlertsCredit Score, and more.

Our ICB staff is here if you need assistance with your financial check-up. Schedule an appointment with one of our local bankers to perform an account review and identify more ways for you to save.

After you’ve completed your financial check-up, you’ll have the information needed to reassess and set new financial goals and create a solid budget to help keep your financial goals on track.