ACTIVE FAMILY

By the time you have a family of your own, there will be accompanying expenses for various activities and lessons for your children, family vacations, saving for college educations or buying a new home. Throughout this time, you should regularly evaluate your progress towards achieving the financial goals you set earlier in your life and adjust your spending, budgeting and saving to make sure you stay on track.  With all the demands a family places on your income, it is still important to build your long-term investments. 

Planning and discipline that determines what and how you spend contributes to your future financial success.  Here are some tips HomeTown Bank recommends for sound financial management during this demanding time of your life.

1. Establish a household budget (and stick to it!).

With many household expenses, a household budget can help you control how your money is spent, rather than it controlling you. Since most bills are due monthly, it's helpful to establish a monthly budget containing all your current household bills and expenses including things you may not get a bill for like groceries, date nights, clothing, etc. Allocate a dollar amount for each line item and categorize all the expenses into similar buckets like "entertainment" or "home maintenance." The only way to make a budget work is to include everything you spend in the budget and to stay within the budgeted amounts. But don't forget to pay yourself first! See step 2 below.

HomeTown Bank’s Our Cash FlowTM is a helpful budgeting tool. Our Cash Flow connects to almost every US financial institution with internet banking capability so you can see all your accounts in one place, set up budgets and goals, track spending, and more so you can understand your complete financial picture. Learn more here.

2. Pay yourself first.

There are many things needing your attention (and checkbook) these days- from grocery bills and babysitters to mortgages and car payments. However, one of the best personal finance strategies is to pay yourself first. By automatically setting aside a portion of your income for savings and retirement on a consistent basis, you will create a more secure financial future.

Goal Setter Savings – An automatic savings account that helps you save by drafting from your HomeTown Bank checking account.

3. Take your time purchasing a home.

You may be outgrowing your rental or starter home and looking for something else to meet your family's needs. However, a home is a big investment and should be carefully considered. Hire a professional and make sure everything from square footage and maintenance to schools and location will match your preferences. You don't want to buy something you can't commit to staying in for a few years. Most importantly, don't buy more than you can afford – it is recommended to keep house payments at or below 25% of your monthly salary. 

Here's a calculator to help calculate your monthly payment.

There are many loan options to meet a variety of situations and needs. With today’s competitive mortgage rates, experienced lending professionals and local decision-making, talk to a HomeTown Mortgage lender to find a loan that meets your unique situation.

4. Understand your credit report.

Your financial behavior over the past seven years, including how much credit you have, how long you've had it and whether you pay your bills on time is information included in your credit report. Three credit reporting agencies — Equifax, TransUnion and Experian — maintain these reports, and lenders buy them to help them decide whether to offer you a prequalification.  Your credit report also carries your credit score ranked between 300 and 850 that many lenders use to decide whether you are creditworthy and will repay a loan as well as the interest rate you pay. Your credit score is available from the three credit reporting agencies: 

Equifax –  www.equifax.com
TransUnion –  www.transunion.com
Experian – www.experian.com

5. Start Saving for College.

By starting early, when your child is in preschool or before, you can build a realistic fund through the power of compounding over many years. The earlier you start, the less you’ll have to save per month. Below find some products and tools to help plan how you will finance a higher education:

HomeTown CDs – Maximize your return by locking in a competitive rate for a chosen term.

Personal Money Market – Earn higher interest rates while having the ability to access your money at any time.

Virginia 529 Plan – A resource for Virginia's tax-advantaged college savings programs

College Savings Calculator – Use this calculator to develop your education savings plan.

All college applicants and their parents should become familiar with the most recent Federal Financial Aid for Higher Education (FAFSA) guidelines and deadlines. Applications for federal student aid may also be available from your high school counselors, public library or college financial aid office.  

6. Open a checking account for the way you live.

Conserve time, money and paper with HomeTown Bank’s convenient checking accounts with online banking and bill pay as well as free debit cards and no-charge ATM services.

Totally Free Checking – This no-fee checking account makes makes managing your cash flow simple. You can also earn interest on your balance.

Advantage Interest Checking – This account has preferred rates that reward you for using HomeTown electronic banking.

Star Checking – This is a premier high-yield account with full checking privileges that earns a money-market return.

7. Eliminate extra mail and household clutter with e-statements.

Simplify your life and eliminate extra paper when you sign up for FREE e-statements via online banking.

8. Save for retirement.

Many people underestimate the amount of money they’ll need in retirement. Be realistic about major expenditures, e.g., will your mortgage be paid off by retirement?  If so, you may need less income than you do now.  Do you plan to buy a vacation home or travel extensively?  Will you have to pay for your own health insurance? These and other financial considerations all come into play.  

HomeTown CDs – Maximize your return by locking in a competitive rate for a chosen term.

Personal Money Market – Earn higher interest rates while having the ability to access your money at any time.

HomeTown IRA –  IRAs are a smart tax-advantaged savings option to help you build your retirement.

Retirement Calculator – Access a helpful retirement calculator here.

9. Teach your child(ren) to save.

People who learn how to save money early on are much more likely to develop good money management skills and grow into wise consumers. Something as simple as a piggy bank or jar is a great tool to encourage savings. Young children may not always realize that $10 tomorrow is better than $2 today and usually want to spend money immediately. Help them see the benefits of savings by setting simple goals, tracking their progress visually, and rewarding their behavior with non-monetary items. As they grasp the concept of savings, take them to a bank to open a savings account and regularly review their statements with them.

HomeTown Bank has great savings accounts for kids.

Kids Club – This account was designed to make saving money fun and rewarding for children up to age 12. Kids can turn coins into savings with a free HomeTown Piggy Bank.

Teen Advantage – The supercharged interest rate on the Teen Advantage account can help 13 - 17 year olds save for a new pair of jeans, a car, or college.