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American National Bank

financial education

Save wisely. Spend wisely.

A little knowledge can make all the difference

Save wisely. Spend wisely.

A little knowledge can make all the difference

Financial tools

to transform the way you spend and save

Everyone could use a little extra money. What most people don't realize is that, with a few tweaks, you can find that extra money in the income you already have.

You don't have to change your lifestyle or job. Just do the small stuff right. Cut monthly expenses you don't use. Pay down your credit card debt. Create a budget so you're not surprised at the end of the month. And we're here to help.

Get better at Money Management

It's not always about how much money you have, it's what you do with it that matters. Proper money management can give you the financial edge you need to build a better future, or create a more stable present.

Here are some of our best tips for managing your money the best way possible.

  1. Calculate Your Net Income:
    • Know how much you're really bringing home. Calculate all of your sources of income after deductions (like income taxes and 401k) are removed. What you're left with is your net income. This number ultimately determines what you can spend each month
  2. Create a Personal Budget:
    • A budget is your roadmap for spending. It lets you figure out how much you're allowed to part with each week. Here's how to do it:
      1. Save your receipts and take the time to add up all of your expenses for a month. This is your net income
      2. Subtract your expenses from your net income. If the result is a positive number, then you are living within the limits of your income. If the result is a negative number, your expenses are exceeding your income
      3. Look for nonessential expenses that you can reduce and recalculate. Ask yourself if each expense is a "want" or a "need," and try to minimize spending on the "wants"
      4. Most importantly, once you create a budget, stick with it. Make adjustments, as necessary. Having a budget will allow you to control your money rather than your money controlling you. Ask your banker for a copy of the Personal Budget Planner, which will help you create a budget
  3. Balance your Checkbook:
    • The balance in your checkbook is a critical number in money management because it allows you to know exactly how much money you currently have to save or spend. Keeping an accurate checkbook register also allows you to review where you spend your money
    • Be sure to record all transactions, including MasterCard Debit Card transactions, checks, and deposits. For more information on balancing your checkbook, request the brochure "Eight Simple Steps for Balancing Your Checkbook" from your banker
  4. Minimize Your Use of Credit Cards:
    • Credit card debt is an easy trap to fall into. That's why millions of Americans are in debt. If you have trouble paying off your credit card, switching to debit cards might be the best move
    • Debit cards are accepted at most places that accept credit cards. The difference is that the expense is automatically deducted from your checking account balance. That way, you don't spend more than you have. Be sure to track each debit card transaction in your checkbook ledger, just like you would if you wrote a check
  5. Pay Down Your Debt:
    • If you have credit card debt or other debts, pay the maximum to your highest interest rate debts first and the minimum on lower interest debts to pay debts faster
  6. Establish Savings:
    • Pay yourself first. When you pay your monthly bills, write a check to yourself and put it in your savings accounts. For direct deposit, talk to your employer about having a portion of your paycheck deposited to your savings account
  7. Know Your Credit History:
    • You don't want any surprises when you show up to get a loan. Credit reporting agencies collect data regarding your credit repayment history and sell this information to lending agencies. If your report shows that you are late paying bills, have maximized lines of credit, or have bankruptcies or other collection activities, this will negatively impact your ability to get credit

You can request your credit report from the following credit reporting agencies:

If you have been denied credit, you can get a free copy of your credit report. Otherwise, a small fee may be required. If you find incorrect information in your credit report, contact the credit reporting agency. They are required to investigate the information within 30 days and delete the information if it cannot be verified. Your rights are further described in the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

 

Debt Reduction Strategies

The following tips are designed to help you reduce your debt quickly and economically.

  1. Create a Budget and Stick With It. Your budget should include all of your current expenses. Request a copy of the Personal Budget Planner for more information on creating a budget

  2. Don't Borrow Additional Money to Pay Off Debts or Bills.

  3. Cut Expenses. Accomplish this by analyzing your budget and determining where reductions can be made (e.g., eating out, buying snacks and lunch at work, going to the movies, etc.). Once you have determined how much you plan to cut, use this "found" money to pay down the balances on your debts

  4. Optimize Your Monthly Payment. Pay the maximum amount toward your highest interest rate debts. Pay the minimum amount on all other debts

  5. Ask for Reduced Interest Rates. Some creditors, especially credit card companies, will reduce your interest rates if you just call and ask. If you receive offers for other credit cards with lower interest rates in the mail, use those offers as leverage when you are renegotiating your rates with your current creditors

  6. Set Goals and Priorities. Determine what's important. When you prepare to buy something ask yourself if this purchase is in line with the priorities you have set and whether it will help you reach your goal or delay it

Money Management Resources

For more information on effective money management and financial fitness, consider the books and websites listed below.

Helpful Books:

  • Pay It Down by Jean Sherman Chatzky, November 2004, Penguin Books, Inc., SBN:1591840635
  • The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke by Suze Orman, March 2005, Putnam Publishing Group; ISBN: 1-57322-297
  • The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley Ph.D. and William D. Danko, November 28, 2000, Pocket Books; ISBN: 0743420373
  • How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt and Live Prosperously, by Jerrold Mundis, April 1990, Bantam Books; ISBN: 0553283960
  • Credit Card Debt: Reduce Your Financial Burden in Three Easy Steps by Alexander Daskaloff, April 1999, Avon; ISBN: 0380807009
  • Slash Your Debt - Save Money and Secure Your Future by Gerri Detweiler, Marc Eisenson, and Nancy Castleman, October 1999, Financial Literacy Center; ISBN: 0965963837
  • The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom: Practical and Spiritual Steps So You Can Stop Worrying by Suze Orman, 1st edition, December 2000, Three Rivers Press; ISBN: 0609801864

Helpful Websites:

  1. Quicken Money Management Tips:
    • This website offers several articles related to money management tips. It also provides tips for budgeting with a family, investment & planning tips and home and job tips
  2. National Foundation for Credit Counseling
    • This is the home site for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, a national nonprofit network of 1,450 member agencies designed to provide assistance to people dealing with stressful financial situations. The site provides links and information for financial counseling, debt planner tools, and other helpful websites
  3. Federal Citizen Information Center
    • This government-sponsored website for The Department of Labor provides additional helpful links for retirement planning and financial fitness, including free online calculators

Get Money Smart

If you don't have any banking or financial experience, no worries. Introducing Money Smart, a free online financial education training program to help you with your personal finances. It's open to anyone; all you need is a computer.

The Money Smart Computer-Based Instruction (CBI) is easy to use. It's divided into 10 modules, each taking about 20-30 minutes to complete. You get personalized feedback and a certificate upon completion. 

  • Bank on It - introduction to bank services
  • Borrowing Basics - introduction to credit
  • Check It Out - how to choose and keep a checking account
  • Money Matters - how to keep track of your money
  • Pay Yourself First - why you should save!
  • Keep It Safe - your rights as a consumer
  • To Your Credit - how your credit history will affect your credit future
  • Charge It Right - how to make a credit card work for you
  • Loan to Own - know what you're borrowing before you buy
  • Your Own Home - what home ownership is all about

Start your free Money Smart classes on the FDIC website