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5 Financially Savvy Ways to Use Your Tax Refund

Personal Finances

Getting your taxes done early not only takes one more thing off your to-do list but further allows you to start planning for the future. Working with your tax professional, determine how much your family may receive this year from a tax refund. No matter the amount, we recommend putting it towards your financial goals for the year. Here are some great strategies we’ve tried to get the best bang for our buck:

  1. Max out your 401(k) or Traditional IRA contributions. If you aren’t taking advantage of one of these two accounts, we highly suggest opening one soon! These tax-beneficial accounts help holders accumulate and grow their funds without the burden of tax at the time of deposit. Each account, however, is limited by how much you can contribute. By allocating funds into these account types it may not only help you save for retirement but also allow your money mature throughout the years, with no additional effort.
  2. Make an extra payment on your mortgage or student loan. Paying down your loan is always a great option when selecting financial goals. In the case of a mortgage, you earn more equity as you pay, while with student loans, you gain more momentum towards financial freedom. Instead of adding money to each monthly installment, we recommend creating one lump payment. By doing this you can you create a single but large decrease in your principal amount owed, drastically reducing your associated interest as well.
  3. Save for the 2017 holiday season. While holiday events, family gatherings, and memories are held dear, the burden of the season can pose potential problems for your personal finances. If you struggled saving last year, now is the perfect time to set aside funds for the holidays. Determine how much you need to pay for each aspect of your seasonal activities, and save as much as possible in a separate account for your tax refund. If additional funds are needed, automate your savings to transfer a specific dollar amount to this account each month.
  4. Pay off outstanding credit card debt. With one of the highest interest rates, credit cards are notorious for taking years to pay off. If you want to make a dent in your debt, we recommend tackling one card at a time.  Using your tax refund, see if you can eliminate smaller debts first. Then with the remaining funds, begin your paying down each additional credit card. By paying off the card with the least amount of debt first, you can begin to snowball your way to financial freedom!
  5. Start saving for a vacation. Whether it’s a spring break, a summer adventure, or a fall festival, it’s never too early to start saving. Once you have determined a destination, then create a rough budget of the expected expense. Depending on your refund you may be able to pay for the whole trip outright, or you may need to couple the funds with some additional monthly savings. No matter how you choose to save, we recommend keeping your vacation funds in a separate deposit account so you’re not tempted to use them throughout the year.

If you still have questions on how to best use your tax refund, our personal bankers would love to help. At MBT Bank, we can assist you in using all your savings options to help make the most of your money. Stop in and see us today!

 

5 Ways to Stay Fit without Breaking Your Budget

 

Budgeting

Holiday season means delicious feasts, scrumptious treats, and unforgettable drinks. All these added meals, can only mean one thing – extra time working out! If your favorite festive foods are breaking your calorie budget, try these tips to help both you and your wallet in great shape.

  1. Youtube Videos. Who said exercise videos has to be expensive? Peruse through the YouTube catalog of new and old workouts to find the perfect match for your schedule. Some great videos to start with are 10 Min Abs Workout, No Gym Full Body Workout, 30 Minute at Home Strength Workout.
  2. Running. While this option may depend on the weather, the feeling of running outdoors with the fresh air in your lungs can never compare to the jolting feeling a treadmill can bring. With the basic investment of a good pair of running shoes, and some comfortable outdoor athletic attire, you can enjoy this sport whenever the urge hits.
  3. Calisthenics. This is a great home exercise that is entirely based around using your own body weight. Through structured movements, and small equipment extras, you can complete your entire weekly workout, in the comfort of your living room.
  4. Purchase Multi-use Equipment. When purchasing equipment, look so see how many different exercises you can complete with it. Instead of buying the upscale item that is specifically engineered to optimize one exercise, expand your home-gym with affordable equipment that can serve multiple purposes.      
  5. Downsize Your Gym. If you already belong to a gym, and prefer the atmosphere to your home workout area, consider downsizing your gym spending, or switching to a more cost-effective workout center. If you have family members paying for gym access that never go, consider revising your plan, and incur the cost for their access only when they use it.

The holidays are a great time of the year, don’t miss out on any of your favorites this season, and stick to these cost-effective workout tips! If you’re looking to save for your next holiday gathering, stop in today, and we’ll help get your holiday season started out right!

 

10 Tips for a Great Holiday Party

Seasonal

No matter which holiday you are prepping for, there are some essential party essentials you should always plan for! Throughout this holiday season, try these top 10 planning tips, courtesy of MBT Bank:

  1. Pick the best date. Saturday’s are always the prime time for holiday parties. Be sure to book venues ahead of time to ensure you can capture the best date for your gathering.
  2. Choose a simple theme. Don’t oversimplify it, but make sure it’s something that will click well with your guests. Simple things such as color coordinating, can help continue your theme throughout the event.
  3. Send invites at least six weeks before. People want time to plan, but not too much time to forget. Let your guests know about this holiday party six weeks prior to ensure they have plenty of time to plan. If you ask them to RSVP this can help you gain an accurate head count for food and beverage purposes.
  4. Email a reminder the week of. Sometimes people forget, ensure that all your guests who are available can attend, with a simple email reminder one week out from the party.
  5. Keep food fun yet familiar. A little twist here and there keeps things interesting, however, going too far can turn guests off to food altogether. Work with your caterer to determine what the best mix is for your holiday event!
  6. Set-up a good flow of traffic. Create a space that allows hungry guests to move through the food on both sides, well out of the way of your more conversational area.
  7. Create a timeline. Every party has activities, whether it’s dancing, trivia, or a simple informational slideshow, planning ahead of time can save you a headache later. Create a schedule for the evening to share with your guests. This will help them plan their time accordingly as well!
  8. Play festive music. Create a simple playlist full of upbeat and festive songs, but also be sure to include some current music selections as well! This will keep the holiday tone, without being overwhelmingly so.
  9. Give away or donate leftovers. Leftovers are a given at any holiday event, be sure you send your guests home with some goodies to help avoid discarding surplus food. If doggie bags are not an option, stop by your local food bank that night, or the next day to see if it can be used.
  10. Have a clean-up crew. Cleaning up is the worst part of event coordinating. Make this task easier on yourself, and recruit a team of guests and friends to help clean after the event, or the next day. Offer to provide a meal and beverages as thanks, in addition to a free ticket or gift at the

If you follow these holiday hacks, your event could be the best gift of the season! Show us your favorite holiday get together by sharing a photo on our Facebook page. We can’t wait to see all the different themes!

6 Ways to Save on Your Home Energy Bill

Save Money

The cool months are approaching, and so is the increase in your home’s energy usage. Before the days start to get chilly, put these key steps in motion to save some serious pocket change on your next utility bill.

  1. Swap out your 40 watt bulbs for a more efficient LED bulb. While the lights themselves may be more costly, they will save you money in the long run. Begin with one room in the house and every couple months splurge for another room’s new light bulbs. Slowly, your home’s lighting will become more energy efficient, dropping your electricity usage.
  2. While the temperature’s still relatively warm, turn off your air conditioning, and let the house breathe. Open up windows both upstairs and downstairs to cool the house, and bring in some fresh air. Even if it’s for only a few hours a day, this simple technique can decrease your energy usage a little at a time.
  3. Trade in those mesh curtains for an energy efficient alternative. Darkening shades can help to keep your house warm by trapping heat inside. As an added bonus, they also shield the sun, so sleeping in on the weekends has never been easier.
  4. If you have a family of four, doing laundry can add up quick! Decrease your energy usage by switching to a cold wash detergent and only using hot water when deep cleaning whites. For additional savings, hang items to dry in the basement or garage, eliminating the energy needed for the dryer.
  5. Fill your freezer. By keeping a full freezer, you make the appliance work less, once all the food is frozen. Each of the items inside of the freezer will help keep the space frozen, meaning less energy is needed to keep everything cold.
  6. Pile on the layers this season. Once the cold comes, instead of running to the thermostat, make your way to the closet. Adding sweatshirts, jackets, and cardigans to your wardrobe can help you stay toasty on those chilly nights, without spiking your energy bill. If the evening is particularly cold, enjoy the night in front of a warm kindling in the fireplace, and remember to add a couple blankets to your bed!

Whatever tactics you choose to save, MBT Bank is here to help! Got questions on how to average your utilities over the course of the year? Our experience personal bankers can help!

How a $1,403 Cup of Coffee is a Bargain

RetirementWhat do you dream of doing when you retire? Relaxing at home, traveling the world, or maybe a mix of both. Wherever your retirement takes you, you’ll want to be sure your savings can support your future lifestyle. Keep your dreams on track and follow this simple guide courtesy of MBT Bank.

When you decide to retire, you start to receive the benefit of those hard-earned savings you’ve tucked away. Interest earned from these savings, along with any assistance you may receive, will soon become your primary source of income. This means that in order to have a successful retirement, you need to have a successful savings.

As of today, the estimated cost of future income is $16.75. This means that if you want to accrue $1 in earned income each year, you need to keep a savings of $16.75 in the bank. Now, let’s say for example, one of your retirement goals is to go down to the local diner each weekend and meet with friends for a cup of coffee. This cup of coffee costs $1.61, and for the sake of simplicity we won’t factor in inflation.

$1.61 x 52 weeks = $83.72 for your yearly coffee.

At $83.72 for the year, that would calculate to be $837.20 over the course of a decade, and $2511.60 over the next 30 years. However, once we calculate the current dollar of future income:

$83.72 x $16.76 = $1403.15 to cover your coffee for 30 years.

By this measure, you can pay for $2511.60 of weekend coffee, over the course of 30 years, by utilizing the $87.72 yearly interest on a total sum of $1403.15.

Concepts like this help showcase the incredible potential your retirement can hold! If you’re curious on how to maximize your savings, stop in today to speak with one of our knowledgeable personal bankers. We’ll help show you how to have your coffee and drink it too!

 

 

The Most Affordable Costumes for Kids

HalloweenGet your family into the fun of Halloween without breaking the budget! Try these exciting costume ideas, courtesy of MBT Bank:

  1. Ballerina: Help you little one showcase her favorite after-school activity, by using her dance class attire for an easy Halloween costume! If you’re searching for a new dance outfit try this affordable option. At a price tag of only $25, a portion of these proceeds go directly to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
  2. Identity Theft: Give your neighborhood a laugh, and adorn your child with 20 different name tag stickers, all sporting various names. As different people answer the door, your child can give them a giggle, and begin explaining the costume.
  3. Football Player: Energize your favorite quarterback, by helping your child to pretend to be their favorite NFL Star. Safety pin some simple graphics to their existing school jersey, and you’ve an all star player in the making!
  4. Crazy Cat Lady: This is one of the greatest last minute ideas. Have your child put on a robe, add curlers to her hair, and attach several stuffed animals (preferably cats,) onto the robe. Plastic glasses and a touch or red lipstick finish this ensemble off.
  5. Grapes: As simple as a pair of leggings, a long sleeve t-shirt and a pack of balloons, this easy costume is sure to be a family favorite. Color coordinate all your items to be red, green, or purple. Once your child is wearing the leggings and long-sleeve, attach the 10-20 balloons to the outfit for the full effect.
  6. Zombie: These creepy creatures come in all shapes and sizes. Puruse your local thrift shop for some clothing items than you can cover in ketchup or fake blood. Add a little creative makeup application, and you’ve got the real life walking dead on your hands!
  7. Rockstar: Imagine how many autographs your child will sign, dressed up as the next pop singing sensation. Help them coordinate an outfit with their own clothes, or a mixture of yours too. Add a wig and a homemade microphone, and you’re in business!
  8. Pop Art: Make the most of your artistic skills, and use facepaint and makeup to create this one of a kind costume! Let your kids pick out the color of their dots and accompanying catch phrase.
  9. Minons: Combine a pair of blue overalls, a yellow long sleeve, dollar store safety glasses, and canning lids to create your favorite banana loving character. Add in some fun squirt guns as gadgets, and this costume is complete.
  10.  Shadows: Find a black morph suit for your child, and then layer items of all black clothes over it. The more black accessories, the better!

With so many crazy costumes to choose from, your family will surely have the best outfits on the block! Show us your Halloween fun on Facebook, and share your best costume creation!

Community Banking: Why It’s a Wonderful Life

Community Banking

 

As the seasons begin to change, and the holidays approach, our team at MBT Bank would like to share all the wonderful reasons we are grateful to be a community bank. Just like Mr. George Bailey, in the classic tale, It’s a Wonderful Life, we have found countless people and experiences that make our bank lucky to consider this community home:

It’s all About the People: Unlike the big banks of America, our small and locally-owned operation prides itself on putting our people first, making the success of our customers the bank’s number one priority. Just like the old Building and Loan, MBT Bank strives to help our customers make their home ownership dreams become a reality.

Growth Engine for Small Business: We succeed when you succeed. Just as George Bailey invested funds in Mr. Martini’s home and business, MBT Bank is here to offer advice and financing on your next home or commercial project. We want to help you and our hometown community grow, just like Bedford Falls.

Built on Long Lasting Relationships: The movie’s guardian Clarence, was a very wise man saying, “No man is a failure who has friends.” At MBT Bank we pride ourselves on not only helping our customers with their finances, but also building relationships with them as well. If you have a question on how to budget, which retirement plans to look at, or other money management inquiries, consider us your friendly neighborhood adviser!

Community Backed: Instead of being underwritten by Mr. Potter, or other national big banks, our institution is built directly upon the needs and wants of our community’s citizens. With no higher ups attempting to monopolize the town, our dedicated team of officers works to build up the community, and the men and women who call it home.

Employees Local Citizens: Just like George and Uncle Billy, MBT Bank is filled with fun and loveable characters. We take great pride in employing local citizens throughout our company, and helping them grow within the banking industry. If you’re looking for a new career, stop in and see if THIS BANK is right for you!

Get to know all of us at MBT Bank and discover how community banking can help you achieve a wonderful life. For everything from personal financing, to commercial lending, we have the perfect solution for you. Get started today and share your next financial goal with us, we’ll help you shoot for the moon!

10 Things Successful People Do

How to Succeed

Ever wonder how Mark Zuckerberg or Richard Branson got where they are today? Success doesn’t come easy, but it grows where it is watered. At MBT Bank, we want to help you climb into success with these simple tactics! Learn how to begin your journey to the top with these 10 key actions:

 

  1. Have maker time. No matter how many meetings there are in a day, schedule time each and every day to create, produce, and whittle down your to-do list. Not only will you get more done, but you’ll get more completed within your structured time!
  2. Prioritize your tasks. Sometimes that to-do list can be a mile long. Start your day with one main priority, and three sub tasks. Once these core items have been completed you can move on to the other smaller agendas you have for the day.
  3. Keep your values. Whether it’s making it home for dinner, or keeping on top of an evening health regiment, realize there are other values outside of work that need your attention too. Designate your time at work to do the most you can, so once the clock hits five, you know you’re scheduled to be somewhere else.
  4. Strategize your meetings. Do you need to be in every one of your meetings? Perhaps not! Speak with meeting organizers to determine if your input is truly needed and if so, could that be communicated through email instead? Time is precious, so make the most of yours!
  5. Say no. No is a powerful word. While you may not be able to say “no” to a supervisor’s request, when being asked to participate in additional projects, be selective and only join the workload you can handle appropriately
  6. Know when to delegate. You can’t do everything yourself. Invest time in your peers and ensure that if you need a task completed, they are up to the challenge. A great leader utilizers their team’s strengths and weaknesses, so be sure you’re putting the best person on each task.
  7. Create a daily routine. Everything from your morning breakfast choices, the various times you check your emails, to your scheduled breaks, you need to have a routine, and stick to it!
  8. Treat failure as a lesson. There’s a learning experience in every failure. By taking this simple mindset to heart, you can embrace the good that comes with every thwarted attempt. This insight helps not only grow your current project, but also broadens your mind to potential possibilities for future endeavors.
  9. Choose a mentor. The day you stop learning is the day you stop growing. One of the most effective things successful people do is to continue to learn. By never boasting a full cup, you can continue to add valuable knowledge to your repertoire and learn from someone who’s navigated many experiences you’ll soon face.  
  10. Wake up early. The early bird gets the worm! Whether you start work at 4:00am, 8:00am, or 8:00pm arrive early to collect your thoughts before your co-workers swarm in. During rush hour you’ll also notice an easier drive if you leave an extra half hour or hour early.

 

 

 

Save $3,500 this Year by Removing These 6 Things

Save Money

Saving money is no easy task! Only after dedication and determination, can you look successfully into your account to see the difference saving can make. At MBT Bank we’re excited to help you achieve your financial goals, and we can’t wait to get started! If you’re looking to tuck some funds away for an emergency savings, or vacation fund, these six tips can help you accumulate $3,500 in savings over the course of the next year.

  1. $720: Cut the cable – at $60+ each month this common expense eat up your budget in a hurry!
  2. $1400: Brew your own java – instead of grabbing a latte on your way to work make your own cup of joe and save that extra $4/day.
  3. $600: Plan Your Meals – instead of playing by ear each night for dinner, make a dedicated meal plan each week and stick to it. This will help cut costs on eating out and unused groceries. Remove one dining out meal each month and see the difference this can make!
  4. $468: Workout at home – the average gym membership runs $39/month which over the course of the year can add up quick. Try online workout videos and create a routine which uses various household items.
  5. $312: Pack your lunch – With most quick lunches running about $10/each, sneaking away for lunch could be costing you! Try packing a lunch from home to avoid these expensive dining options. Changing just three lunches each month could save you more than three-hundred dollars!

Learn how to open up your ideal savings account at MBT Bank to get started on your savings dreams today!

The Real Cost of a Fixer Upper

MBT_Blog_TheRealCostOfAFixerUpper

Throughout your real estate search, you’ve probably asked yourself the infamous question, “What would Chip and Joanna do?” With HGTV’s Fixer Upper series gaining popularity, more and more families are looking to buy inexpensive fixer uppers to fulfill their home buying dreams. Filled with projects, setbacks, and endless design potentials, these diamonds in the rough come with their own unique set of pros and cons. Luckily, MBT Bank is here to help you discover the true cost to working through your own fixer upper.

Every home has different needs, but these are some key expenses you’ll need to plan for when purchasing a fixer upper:

  • Realtor Fee: if you’re selling your current property, be prepared to fork over the 6 percent fee to have your home sold. Ideally you’re looking to sell your home for a higher dollar than you purchased it for, but this is not always the case. Be sure to have some funds in reserve just in case you have to cover the realtor fee out of your own pocket.
  • Construction Costs: Typically divided into two billing arenas, you can expect to either pay one lump sum, or a calculated cost of labor, materials, and an added profit margin. Expect to pay $100-$200 per square foot of intensive renovation work.
  • Materials: The more upgrades you want, the faster your price will climb. While simply getting the property up to speed is a task all its own, creating your own customized space inside will continue to add dollars and cents to your overall bill.
  • Furnishings: Depending on the format of your last home, you may be upgrading your furniture in this new abode. After various searches and bargain finds, you’ll still need to tuck away and extra some extra funds to ensure you can furnish the home once it is finished.
  • Landscaping: Now that the house is complete, it’s time get to work on the curb appeal – and it isn’t cheap! With an average price tag of $5,000, finishing your home with a completed landscape design can also add to the overall budget.

Altogether, purchasing a fixer upper may cost about the same as a newer home purchase after the cost of renovations. The advantage to these love-needing homes however, is their potential for customization, and creating the ideal home for you and your family. If you’re looking to repair or update your next home, consider financing through one of our structured Home Equity Lines of Credit. Our experienced mortgage lenders are here to help you every step of the way!