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Protecting Yourself While Shopping Online this Holiday Season

As the holidays roll up, customers buying items online increases exponentially. Unfortunately, cyber attacks and identity theft also increase with that number. That’s why the professionals at MBT Bank have come up with some helpful tips and tricks to stay safe when shopping online this holiday season!

Don’t Use Unknown Wireless Networks

If you are in a coffee shop or airport and a network pops up for you to connect to, your chance of being hacked skyrockets. When the network you are on is not protected, hackers have a chance to get into your phone and locate passwords, account information, and more. Even though you want to check your email or see if there is a good deal somewhere, try to resist in order to protect yourself.

Use Different Passwords

Yes, it is hard to use a different password for each site when you are connected to 50 or 100 sites. However, if a hacker gets ahold of one password, they can instantly use that password with your email to log into all other sites that have the same one.

Don’t Store Credit Card Info on Sites

When online sites have you enter your credit or debit card information, many of them give you an option to save your card information. They say it’s secure and most of the time it is, but hackers are still able to get into their account and find your information. Even though it’s a little more work to type your information in each time, it’s more work to deal with getting your money back after someone has stolen your information and used it.

Avoid Clicking Links

When shopping online, you may have a million links pop up for the item you’re searching for. These are easy ways for hackers to bring you to a site they created to give you malware. That’s why it’s important to only click the links on trusted sites.

Shop Secure Sites

As mentioned above, it is okay to trust links within a secure site. However, if you are searching online for a certain gift to give someone and find a list that links to different sites, do not trust those sites. Search online about which sites are credible before you go to them and give them your credit card information.

These tips will aid you in being a security savvy shopper when the holidays begin to hit. If you have any questions or concerns about your account, be sure to contact MBT Bank. Our team of professionals is here to help if a problem of stolen information does arise!

 

Four Ways to Raise Your Financial Game

Whether you’re a football fanatic whose weekly happiness hinges on your team’s performance or you can’t tell the difference between a quarterback and a punter, the game of football can actually teach you a lot about managing your finances. Don’t believe us? Check out the MBT Bank game plan that can help you earn a financial win.

It’s Important to Win on Offense, Defense and Special Teams

Most teams need to play well in all three aspects to win games. In your finances, your offense is your income. If you think of dollars as yards, the more money you generate, the more secure you can be. If income is your offense, then spending is your defense. Coaches don’t want their defense to be on the field too long, so keeping the spending to a minimum is the best way to keep your finances in check. Your special teams are unique actions like investing. You only need them a few times per game, but you need them to perform well when they’re on the field.

Defense Wins Games

If spending is your defense, controlling your spending is the best way to ensure your defense is successful. Taking a defensive approach to your finances that controls spending and saves a little each and every month may not seem like the most exciting thing, but it will get you a win. Slow and steady saving can keep you on that winning streak you’ve been striving for.


Understand the Game Clock

The game clock can dictate how a team plays. At times, you can be aggressive, while other times may call for a more conservative approach. Taking an aggressive approach, such as making a smart investment, can help you improve your financial situation quickly. However, a more conservative and steady savings approach can help you accrue wealth, too. However, it may just take a little longer.

Surround Yourself with Good Coaches

A good coach trusts others to develop players and game plans. There are a lot of financial experts that have a wealth of knowledge. Take advantage of their assistance and unique perspective, and you can start with the experts right here at MBT Bank. Trust these financial experts to use their experience to help you get a win.

Just as a good game plan can help your favorite team on the gridiron, basic football strategy can help you with your finances. If you have any questions, contact MBT Bank and we’d be happy to help you develop the right game plan.

 

 

Tips for Cyber-Security When it comes to Your Mobile Device

Odds are you’re probably reading this blog post on your cell phone, which you found through an app on your smartphone and then used it to get directions to Manufacturers Bank & Trust. Seventy-seven percent of Americans now own a smartphone and use it on a daily basis. With so many people accessing, searching and downloading things on their cell phones, are we really using the same caution and protection we would use when it comes to our computers? Odds also are, you’re not. With a few tips, you can start better protecting your smartphone from things like data theft, malware and privacy invasion.

Needed Protection: You may be wondering what exactly needs to be protected when it comes to your smart phone. Luckily, they can be broken down into three categories.

1. Device Protection – In case your phone was ever stolen, this kind of protection would wipe all information and data from your phone, which is beneficial if you utilize mobile or online banking.

2. Data Protection – This protection was designed to keep work information from place of employment from being spread to your personal apps.

3. App-Management Security – Having login information, credit card information and other personal information within apps should be protected from falling into the wrong hands. App-management security does just that.

Trusted Apps: Not all apps are created equal. Since it’s becoming increasingly easier for third-parties to create apps this means there are more apps out there than there’s ever been. One way to help protect yourself is to only download apps from the trusted app store. You should also review existing apps’ privacy policies and settings for permissions.

Public Wi-Fi: One thing you should know is public Wi-Fi is generally not secure. Hackers can get in-between you and the Wi-Fi connection point and when you’re submitting information on your phone you’re actually sending it to the hacker. It’s recommended to protect yourself using a VPN, which encrypts your data, essentially scrambling the information.

Jail breaking Phones: While it may seem like the cool thing to do to format your phone without the factory standards, you’re actually setting your phone for several security risks. One of those risks is Malware and loss of personal information.

We hope these tips can better protect you and your smartphone. There are several companies that can protect your mobile devices, including Norton Mobile Security and McAfee Mobile Security. If you have any questions or concerns about you protecting yourself, we encourage you to contact us. Our team would love to assist you.

 

Top Five Savings Hacks

We all could stand to save a little more money. Whether it’s for an upcoming purchase, a rainy day fund or an emergency fund, saving money is a skill that benefits you throughout your life. It’s not easy to save, but MBT Bank has some hacks that you can implement right away to start developing better habits.

Set a Budget

In order to know how much you can save, you need to know exactly how much you’re spending. Sit down and develop a monthly budget to track your necessary expenses versus your monthly income. Any remaining income can be put right into your savings account.

Give Yourself a Goal

It’s easier to put money away when you know what you’re saving for. Whether you’re saving for a vacation, a car or a down payment for a house, you’ll find more success with your saving efforts if you set a monthly goal.

Learn to Say No

Saving money means cutting back on unnecessary expenses so you can limit your spending. That means saying no to going out for dinner with friends, skipping that trip to the movies and spending more time at home where you can save money.

Stick to Cash

Instead of using your debit card to make every purchase, take out cash at the beginning of each week or pay period within your budgeted amount. Once you’ve gotten the cash, leave your debit card at home. You’ll be surprised how much more careful you are as you think about whether you really need to spend the cash.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

It’s easier now to save than ever before thanks to technological advances. Keep track of your account balances using Manufacturers Bank & Trust online banking, or download a budgeting app to your smartphone to keep yourself honest as you save.

If you don’t have good saving habits right now, don’t worry. Everyone has to start somewhere and it’s never too late to start saving. If you want more help with managing your finances more effectively, please contact MBT Bank and our staff will be happy to help!

 

Fall and Winter Home Prep to Save You Money

As the seasons change, so do your bills. However, finding new ways to save can be tricky when you’re already super savvy. By creating a good savings foundation during the fall and winter, you will be able to start 2018 off in a healthy financial state. That’s why we have compiled a list of tips and tricks to prepare your home for the seasons to come in order to save some cash!

Install energy-efficient windows

A low-emissivity glass also known as Low-E glass is used to help block the rays of the sun up to 90 percent, and keep the heat inside when it’s cold and outside when it’s hot. Energy Star estimates those who replace a single-pane window with an energy-efficient model will save $126-$465. Now multiply that times the number of windows you replace and you’re looking at quite the savings.

Lower water heating temperature

If you lower your water heating temperature, you will save 4-22 percent annually on your bill. Instead of allowing the water to get scalding hot, you can set it to only become warm which will increase your savings every time you shower, wash your hands, or do dishes.

Adjust the temperature

By turning back your thermostat by 7-10 degrees for 8 hours a day, you can save up to 10% each year on heating and cooling bills. Each time you raise your heating by one degree, your heating bill is raised by 3%, so it’s important to avoid that mistake.

Weather stripping

Thirty to 40 percent of your heating costs are lost to air leaks, according to Energy Star. That’s why it’s important to find where drafts are coming from in order to cover the leaks with weather stripping materials, which start off at around $5.

Replace light fixtures

If you replace your home’s five most frequently-used light fixtures or bulbs with energy efficient ones, you can save $75 a year. Just imagine if you did that with more bulbs!

Fix leaking faucets

If you fix a leaky faucet, you will save $35 and 1,661 gallons of water if it drips one drip per second. Little things like a leaky faucet end up having a big impact on your bills over time, so be sure to check your nozzles.

We hope that these home hacks will help you save this fall, winter, and hopefully the seasons to come! Contact us if you have questions about what else you can do in order to grow your savings.

 

New Season. New You. New Financial Goals.

It’s a new season and a new month, making it the perfect time to set new financial goals! While money management may not be your strongest asset, we believe with a little goal setting, a little discipline and a little help from us, you can end up surprising yourself how much of a financial all-star you really are! Start with these quick tips and watch your money grow.

Create a budget and stick to it – Budgets don’t have to be hard. Write down your outgoing expenses and any incoming money. If you’re spending more than taking in, it’s time to eliminate some costs. If you need help with monitoring your spending, we can help you get on track.
The importance and purpose of a budget is to help you spend less than you earn so you can save money. So by not sticking with the budget, what’s the point of having one? Create it, use it, and stick to it.
Eliminate Wasteful Spending– Next round of bills you receive look at them closely. Do you need every service you’re paying for? Are you being charged unknown fees? Go through your bills with a fine tooth comb and raise any flags so you’re not nickel and dimed.

We live in a time of instant gratification, but that often leads to financial consequences. Before every purchase, ask yourself “Do I really need this?” If you find the answer is no, leave it behind and move forward.

Build Your Savings – Every time you’re paid, the first deposit should be into your savings account. Essentially, you’re paying your future self for emergencies and retirement.
If you haven’t done so already, now is the perfect time to set up your 401k or 403(b). Generally, companies match their employees to a certain percentage and that’s free money you should be taking advantage of today.
Leave money you’re saving alone. There are penalties for withdrawing money early from certain accounts. Why pay a penalty for money you worked hard to put in there? Let it sit tight and watch it grow!

We hope these tips help you work to your financial goals this month or season. We are available to help you with your financial management if you need it. Just call or stop by to get your goals underway.

Saving for Tuition 18 Years in Advance

tuition

After you get to see those little eyes open, it’s like a whole new world has unfolded before you. When you’re elbows deep in changing diapers, cleaning up whoopsies, and trying to sleep more than four hours a night, the last thing on your mind is college savings. At Manufacturer’s Bank & Trust we understand the chaos which ensues with each new addition to your family. To help you prepare for this upcoming transition, we’d like to help you find the best educational savings account for your little bundle of joy before he or she arrives!

There are two primary types of accounts when it comes to saving for your child’s ongoing education. Similar to retirement savings accounts, both of these options do require various stipulations when it comes to distributing the saved funds. Here we’ll show you the pro’s and con’s to each option, to help you better determine which option will suit you and your needs best.

The Coverdell Savings Account: This account option utilizes after tax dollars, which means there are no taxes on distributions when the funds used for education. The account does have a nationwide $2,000 a year contribution limit, in addition to various income restrictions. While you and your spouse may manage and contribute to the fund, once the child turns eighteen, he or she will own the account and all the funds within it.  However, once the child is of age, he or she may only use the funds for education related expenses without incurring an additional distribution tax.

The 529 Savings Account: This account option also utilizes after tax dollars, which again indicates no future taxes on distributions if the funds are used for education. The account does not have income limitations, however, each state stipulates their own yearly contribution limit, typically ranging from $100,000 to $350,000 per year.  For this account type, the physical savings account, and the funds within it remain yours, only designated toward a specific beneficiary (which you can change up to once per year.)

Let’s compare the two when looking at national average college costs across the U.S.

If you choose to save using the Coverdell account option, suppose you save $2,000 per year for eighteen years, yielding a total of $36,000 of total out-of-pocket contributions. Add in the compound interest of those eighteen years, and you’ll find yourself with approximately $80,983 in total educational savings. Fun Fact: The national average for a year of in-state public college in the U.S. is $20,090 or $80,360 for a four-year degree.

Alternatively, if you choose to save with a 529 account, you can save more than $2,000 per year, say $3,500 per year instead. Multiply those contributions by eighteen years, and you’ll have $63,000 in total out-of-pocket contributions. After calculating your compound interest into the equation, you’ve grown up to $141,562 in total educational savings. Fun Fact: The national average for a year of any college in the U.S. is $35,370, or $141,480 for a four-year degree.

As you can see, both of these accounts allow you to make much more through the benefit of time and compound interest. Just like your retirement savings, the sooner you start contributing, the more interest you can earn. While the Coverdell allows you to give the account to your child, the 529 shows better savings opportunities, allowing you to maximize your potential interest.

If you’d like to learn how you can start saving for your upcoming chick-a-doo, stop by and speak with one of our dedicated personal bankers at Manufacturer’s Bank & Trust today! We’d love to help your family continue to grow!

3 Sure Fire Ways to Save on Travel

travel

Still planning that next family vacation, or you and your sweetheart’s upcoming getaway? Manufacturer’s Bank & Trust is here to help you save as much as possible! We know the internet is flooded with travel savings hacks and hints, however, these three strategies have proven their value time and time again!

Before we jump into these smart savings strategies, we want to offer some affordable inspiration for your next getaway! For example, did you know there are various destinations where your dollar can go farther or other getaways which are less expensive during the holidays? Vacations like these aren’t always the easiest to find, but they’re well worth looking for! Once you know where you want to go, it’s time to implement these supportive saving systems.

  1. Costco Travel – Save MONEY when booking. In our searches for an affordable and fulfilling vacation, we stumbled across this great article detailing the incredible savings offered through Costco Travel. After looking into many of these packages and adventures, we found the savings were almost too good to be true. While you do need to purchase a membership, the savings from your vacation alone far outweigh the expense of the annual cost. (Not to mention the countless savings you can find in store or online too! )
  2. TSA Precheck – Save TIME when traveling. After you’ve saved your money during the booking process, you’ll want to enjoy every minute of your hard earned vacation, even those few minutes (or hours!) at the airport. Instead of waiting in security lines for what seems like an eternity, enjoy a quick and speedy process through the Transportation Security Administration’s Precheck program! After doing one extensive background check and identification, you and those traveling with you, can enjoy the ease of transit for the next 5 years for only $85.00 dollars. If you could miss one flight due to security lines, this membership would pay for itself in saved ticketing fees alone.
  3. FLIO Airport App – Save your SANITY in transit. Sometimes when you’re traveling you end up in an airport you may not have traveled through, but fear not! Before you start searching for you next departure gate, or walking to find the best bite to eat, open up this all encompassing airport app. Filled with airport layouts, restaurant ratings, and flight tracking capabilities, you can manage all your in-route activities with this one helpful hack.

We hope you and your fellow travelers enjoy these tips as much as we do! If you need to setup a designated savings account for your next adventure, Manufacturer’s Bank & Trust has the perfect solution! Stop by your nearest location, and start saving today!

7 Absolutely FREE Activities for the Kids

kidsactivities

Whether it’s during the summer or after school, keeping your children occupied takes a truly creative mind! This season, MBT Bank is excited to share some of our favorite and affordable activities for all of your little ones to enjoy!

  1. Take advantage of your local library and their summer and after-school programs. Even if it’s only an hour a day, this simple strategy can keep your child learning while they play, saving you some green along the way. To bring that fun home, register your child for a library card, and show them how to check out books and take them back. ! Extra tip: If you make a game out of reading, such as who can finish a new book first, you may even instill a passion in them for reading and learning.
  2. Setup camp in your backyard, tent and all. There’s nothing like the great outdoors, except when the indoors are just steps away! Ease your little one’s into the wilderness by creating a camp in your own backyard. You can complete the evening with a s’more roast, campfire stories, and stargazing to make the most of the nighttime.
  3. Bike around town, and enjoy a pit stop at the park. Set a route for a bike ride, and see if you can end at a park close to your home. The bike ride can allow your kids to explore the town, and burn some extra energy before winding down with some playtime outdoors.
  4. Head out for a swim at your local state park and enjoy the cool water or beach. Every state has some unique local parks, many with their own watering hole! Instead of paying the fee to visit your local pool, consider making a day trip to enjoy the warm sand and cool waters of your nearby rivers or lakes. For extra savings, pack a lunch and cooler to make the most of your day without having to spend a dime on admission or food.
  5. Create a fun scavenger hunt around your home or neighborhood.  A scavenger hunt can be as simple or as complex as you make it. For some of the younger kids, it may be beneficial to keep it around your home. However, if you have pre-teens to keep occupied, creating a neighborhood or town-wide scavenger hunt could be the perfect afternoon activity. Setting up the scavenger hunt ahead of time, will help you plan your route, and determine the best prize for those who finish it.
  6. Bring some grub, and have a picnic at the park. You can do this fun-filled activity for lunch, dinner, or both! Pack a bag or cooler with some great bites to eat, and find a table or bench at your nearby park. The kids can run and play for a bit, and then come enjoy a delicious homemade meal before diving back in for round two. If you want to really make this activity sweet, pack some of these individual cherry pies for dessert!
  7. Volunteer for local organizations and give back to your community. Keeping busy isn’t always about entertaining your children or yourself. Sometimes, it can be about something greater, like helping others. Organizations such as The Salvation Army, your local Food Bank, and the county Humane Society, are always looking for helping hands to assist in their day-to-day activities. Let your little ones choose which one they want to be a part of, and see if volunteering once or several times a week can fit into their schedule!

We love getting children involved in personal finance at an early age. If you’re searching for more affordable activities for your little one to enjoy, consider some of these fun-filled games to help them understand the basics of personal finance! Everything from mobile apps to hands-on activities can help them grow their own financial education.

When to SAVE and When to SPLURGE

savesplurge

When you and your sweetheart set your budget each month, there are a variety of factors at play. Where can you get the best deals on groceries? How many date nights will you have each week? Do the kids have any sporting activities that require new equipment? At MBT Bank we recognize that everyone’s budget is different. No matter which categories you enjoy most, we’d love to showcase some great examples to help you find extra ways to save, and better identify which costs are worth the splurge.

SAVE: The best areas to find savings.

  • Weekly Groceries: If you don’t need the atmosphere or the free samples, there are numerous discount grocers which can save you BIG for weekly grocery runs. Coupling those savings with a pre-planned menu and sale scanning, can further reduce your overall food costs.
  • Kids Activities: During both the summer months and those after school hours, you may find yourself searching for activities to keep your children occupied. Whether that’s going to the pool, attending various summer camps, or finding an after school caretaker, keeping your kiddos active can be easier said than done. To help reduce these costs, we recommend season passes to recurring parks/activities, along with fun and affordable activities at home, which you can do with a number of household supplies.
  • Exercise: If you have ever purchased a gym membership you didn’t use, you are not alone! Many Americans see a gym membership as automatic attendance, when truly, it may be easier for you to workout at home. With so many new calisthenic exercises, yoga, and free-weight routines, there are a variety of tools out there to help you stay in shape without having to pay that monthly membership fee.
  • Travel: Searching “travel savings” on Google will inevitably leave you with pages of results. One fantastic tip we’ve found is purchasing travel through membership programs such as Costco, even if there’s not one in your area! There are countless reports of happy customers who not only saved money but had a much better experience when compared to booking it themselves.

SPLURGE: The expenditures worth the extra cost.

  • Budgeted Special Occasions: Occasions like your child’s birthday or you and your spouse’s 30th anniversary deserve a special treat. While we do recommend saving for these outings in advance, so long as the funds are budgeted for, feel no regret in celebrating your family’s happiness.
  • Childcare: Raising a child is no simple task, and for most parents the number one expense after a mortgage is childcare. We recognize that there are certainly savings opportunities to be had, however, in the long you’ll find that a friendly and reliable caretaker can make the world of difference on your child’s happiness, and your sanity, for years to come.
  • Healthcare: Your health, and the health of your family members is paramount to everything else in life. Whether you’re looking to find a reliable family practice physician, or are seeking long-term care treatment, now is not the time to scrimp and save. Making sure that your family is well taken care of and continues to live a happy and healthy life means you’ll have plenty of time to save for nearly everything else life throws your way.
  • Toiletries: Toilet paper, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.; these are items you use every day. If you’re using poor quality products to save a few cents you may find yourself with dry skin or poor hygiene. While it’s not necessary to purchase the most expensive option available, know that spending the extra dollar or two is well worth the cost to avoid potential problems.

Whether you’re looking for a place to store your savings, or budget your spending, MBT Bank has the perfect solutions for you. Stop by your nearest branch today and learn about our personal savings and checking services.