6 Ways to Save on Your Study Abroad

Study Abroad

Are you or your child dreaming of learning abroad, perhaps on the coasts of Spain, or the mountains of Italy? As a young adult, now is a perfect time broaden those horizons, and explore new lands while continuing an education. Unfortunately, all of these great experiences don’t come for free! If you’re searching for some innovative ways to scrimp and save to make a potential study abroad a reality, we have a few strategies to help you make it happen.

  1. Scholarships, scholarships, scholarships. Whether it’s through a prospective program, current university, or perhaps even an area Amvets organization, make it a dedicated part-time job to apply to any and every study abroad application that is relative to your upcoming study abroad. You can save anywhere from a couple hundred dollars up to the entire cost of your travel and tuition through a combination of various scholarship programs.
  2. Work study. This is a fantastic opportunity many foreign programs offer. In exchange for a small amount of work during the week, such as AV management or library maintenance, you can reduce your educational costs by thousands! Be sure to apply for these early as they’re typically capped at a specific number of students.
  3. Plan your own excursions. Many study abroad opportunities also offer pre-planned excursions to go to neighboring cities or countries. Instead of footing an inflated travel bill, plan your own excursions with a group of friends and split the costs. You may find yourself having a better time than the official itinerary attendees!
  4. Pay with cash. Once you’ve arrived at your destination, continue your savings journey, by only taking the amount of cash you need for your planned purchases. It does help to have an international credit card such as Mastercard or Visa for emergencies, but when shopping day-to-day, spend less and pay with cash.
  5. Pack your staples and buy your conveniences. When packing for several months, it helps to include clothes which can be combined for multiple outfits. Couple this with versatile shoes and accessories, and a two-week wardrobe can easily last you a whole semester! Other amenities such as toiletries, snacks, and basic school supplies can be much easier to purchase once you arrive.
  6. Use apps to call home instead of expensive calling cards. Helpful apps like WhatsApp, Skype, and Facetime make it simple to connect with loved ones back home without having to pay costly fees. If you can find a local wifi hotspot, or happen to have internet where you’re staying, there’s no need to pay for an international cell phone or expensive cell phone fees. If you plan to use your regular U.S. based cell phone while abroad, just be sure to keep it on airplane mode to avoid astronomical roaming charges.

No matter where you or your child are planning to study abroad, the key is to enjoy it! We can help you set-up a dedicated savings account, all we ask is you make the most of your time and explore as much as you can!  We’ll help you take care of the rest.

How to Create Better Habits

better habits

If you’re like us, starting a new diet, or working to exercise more often is more difficult than we initially planned. The same is true with many financial goals you may have. Saving for retirement, eliminating credit card debt, increasing your credit score; these are all things that take time and dedication to complete, but sometimes it’s hard to stay on track.

Luckily, Business Insider released an article that showcases just how long it takes for your brain to form a habit. Surprisingly, it’s less than you’d think! It takes approximately 66 days for a consistent behavior to be added to your brain’s list of automatic actions. Thankfully, those 66 days do allow for some error. We’re all human, so there’s no need to be perfect during your trial practice. However, by committing to your new habit for 66 days or more, you can ensure that this new beneficial behavior sticks with you well into the future.

This new habit can be as simple as remembering to take the trash out, or as complex as maintaining a specified number of calories in a day. At Putnam Bank we want to inspire you with some important financial habits to help you progress down the path of financial success. Take a look at these three examples.

  1. Use the Envelope System: To help train your brain to only spend what you budget for, withdraw your total miscellaneous spending budget for the month. Then, divvy it up amongst your budget categories like food, entertainment, transportation, etc. After it’s been segmented, stick to your dollars, and only spend what you have in the envelope. No credit or debit cards to spend extra. If you can successfully make this a habit, you could see a large amount of extra savings which can then be used for vacations, retirement, or other savings ventures.
  2. Pay All the Bills Before They’re Due: Many habits appear easier than they truly are. In order to process this behavior into a habit, there are several steps you’ll need to repeat each month. To get started, make a calendar at the beginning of every month to mark the dates bills are due and for how much. Then, as the bills arrive, structure your payments to pay one at a time, leaving extra cushion in your account, should an unexpected expense arise. Using this recurring schedule, you can help yourself to get each expense paid before the designated due date. As an added bonus, an ongoing history of on-time payments may benefit your credit score!
  3. Save for Retirement: This one is often a habit that takes longer than 66 days because there is no immediate reward for the effort you put forward. Later in life, your future self will thank you for putting the time and savings away early on. The first step in this process is to research your options. If your company offers a 401(k), and a match, then that may be the first place you want to start. By automating payments from your paycheck, you can use pre or post-tax dollars to bolster your savings without the temptation of spending. Then, when you save extra money with your envelope system, remember to add those surplus funds into your retirement savings account to give it an added boost.

We love the three goals listed above, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own unique financial habits! If you’d like to get started on a new financial behavior, stop into your nearest branch today and speak with one our personal bankers. Our team would love to help kick off your next 66 day habit!

The Best Advice from Today’s Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs

Sometimes finding the perfect idea for a new business can be easier said than done. Often you start by asking yourself a series of questions. Where is there a need? What can be created more efficiently? How can I solve a recurring problem? These are all great prompts to help you when looking for a concept your new business. To help inspire your next venture, Putnam Bank would like to share some of our favorite quotes from several of today’s most influential entrepreneurs.

“Don’t quit, and don’t give up. The reward is just around the corner.” – Chip Gaines, HGTV’s Fixer Upper.

While Chip may add some much-loved humor to HGTV’s Fixer Upper, his ambition and work ethic are what help him and his wife Joanna, continue to succeed in both their real estate and retail ventures. This dynamic duo also proves that one business does NOT limit you to other opportunities. If you have a true passion for entrepreneurship, you can plant the seeds for multiple ventures so long as you tend to them as they grow.

“Sweat equity is the most valuable equity there is. Know your business and your industry better than anyone else in the world. Love what you do or don’t do it.” -Mark Cuban, ABC’s Shark Tank.

Mark Cuban started growing his businesses at an early age, showcasing that even a small idea can grow into something big. In 1990 Cuban sold his first computer consulting business for $6 million dollars to CompuServe. Not even a decade later, Cuban and business partner, Todd Wagner sold their new online audio company for nearly $6 billion dollars. Cuban is one of the best examples of growing your earnings and turning a penny into a fortune.

“If you are successful, it is because somewhere, sometime, someone gave you a life or an idea that started you in the right direction. Remember also that you are indebted to life until you help some less fortunate person, just as you were helped.” -Melinda Gates, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Melinda Gates began her career as a programmer for Microsoft. Soon after she and Bill began to build the company, they decided to push their wealth into various organizations to help others around the world. While there are various tax write-offs that make this a helpful tool for any business, this gesture also allows the company to share its love and showcase its own values through these acts of generosity. The Gates family is a great illustration of not only how to generate success but also using that platform to help improve the lives of countless others.

“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over.” -Richard Branson, Virgin Group

Richard Branson is known for his cavalier lifestyle, passion for quality, and continuing desire to grow his expanding empire. While Branson may have begun his entrepreneurship in print, he soon expanded to international corporations and other industry diversification. His journey to wealth held its fair share of trials and tribulations; however, today his company, Virgin Group, oversees more than 200 companies, proving that early business lessons can eventually pay the best dividends.

“When I sat down to write about mistakes that have led to my success, I had a much tougher time coming up with them than I would expect. Heck, I’m sure I’ve made hundreds of mistakes! Thing is, I often don’t look at them that way.” -Stephanie Izard, James Beard Award Winning Chef

Chef and entrepreneur Stephanie Izard knows that sometimes the best ingredient to a successful business is a good attitude. No matter how far her restaurants and industry successes take her, Izard is always seeking out new tricks and techniques to continue improving her business. Her efforts paid off in 2013 when she was awarded the James Beard title of Best Chef: Great Lakes, for her innovative work at Girl and the Goat. This culinary creator showcases the key indicator of a great entrepreneur, grit.

Whether you’re looking to start a restaurant or a software company, there are some key components you’ll need to get started. Our dedicated business bankers are here to help guide you through the entrepreneurship process and help you discover the best financing solutions for your upcoming venture. If you’re ready to get the ball rolling, contact us today!

The DO’s and DON’TS of Using Credit Cards

Using a credit card is a great stepping stone to help boost your personal credit history. By proactively managing your ongoing finances, you can showcase to potential lenders that you know how to fulfill your repayment promises. What many people don’t know, is that simply having a credit card does not automatically indicate an increase in your credit score. To help you succeed with your credit, Putnam Bank has put together our most commonly asked do’s and don’ts of using credit cards.

DO: Pay your balance in FULL every month or every two weeks.

DON’T: Keep a balance even if the interest rate is low

While keeping a balance less than 30 percent won’t drastically harm your credit score, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. We recommend never spending more than you can pay off each and every month. By keeping yourself to this standard you can make certain to never become a victim of expensive credit card debt.

DO: Choose a card that will compliment your lifestyle.

DON’T: Pick your credit card based of mail or TV offers.

There are countless websites and apps centered on helping you find the ideal credit card. Instead of signing up for a credit card through the mail, start perusing sites like NerdWallet to discover which card fits not only your spending, but your rewards preferences too! Before you start applying, remember to only apply for a credit card if you need one. If you plan on using more than one, wait six months (or more) before applying for a new line of credit. This will help you keep your credit score on track, and assist in preventing any unwanted dips.

DO: Use reward points to save money.

DON’T: Spend more just to get additional points.

While some credit card options certainly offer great sign-on rewards, remember that added debt and expenses are never worth the hike in points. The money you manage is yours, and it’s real! While the points are truly a great perk, never let them outweigh the tangible money you currently have in your individual accounts. If you allow this to happen you may find yourself with a mountain of debt, the equivalent of half the vacation you can no longer afford to take.

DO: Have more than one card when you can pay them all off on time.

DON’T: Cancel a credit card without researching its history.

There are certain cards that boast the best rewards when utilized for specific industries, and others that can add extra perks for those all-encompassing purchases. To make the most of these various benefits, we recommend using multiple credit cards for your household’s purchases, only once you’ve maintained a zero balance on one for more than six months. If you feel confident in managing multiple credit cards, you’ll find great advantages of using the rewards behind the various programs and their associated bonus structures. If you close a card, always check to see if that card holds your longest history of a credit line. Should that be the case, you may not want to cancel it, as it could create a slight dip in your credit score.

Did you know Putnam Bank offers credit cards? If you’re looking to boost your credit, or want to begin building your history with a local institution, our dedicated staff would love to help you get started. Simply stop by your nearest location, and we’ll help find the perfect fit for you.

Putnam Bank Supports The Last Green Valley

Putnam Bank through its Foundation donates $3,000 to support The Last Green Valley’s annual Walktober celebration. Walktober is TLGV’s premier event, designed to raise awareness of the significant cultural, natural, and scenic resources of The Last Green Valley and also promotes several fairs, festivals, and events occurring during the fall season.

Putnam Bank also donated $1,000 to sponsor Tastes of the Valley, a fundraising event which showcases locally grown products prepared by local chefs, and $1,000 to sponsor Acorn Adventures, a program for children and their families to get outside and explore.

Thomas A. Borner, President and CEO of Putnam Bank, stated, “We are all very fortunate to be able to live and work in this beautiful corner of Connecticut. As a community bank, Putnam Bank is dedicated to enriching the lives of the residents in our service area, and we are excited to continue our partnership with TLGV to preserve our heritage.”

“Putnam Bank has been a strong supporter of TLGV for many years and we are grateful for their continued support,” stated Lois Bruinooge, TLGV Executive Director. “Putnam Bank’s donations will help us care for, enjoy, and pass on The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor.”

Putnam Bank, chartered in 1862, is a $512 million Connecticut-chartered bank. Putnam Bank has branch offices in Putnam, Pomfret Center, Danielson, Plainfield, Griswold, Gales Ferry, and Norwich. It also operates a full-service loan center in Putnam. Stock is traded through NASDAQ under the symbol PSBH. For more information call (800) 377-4424 or visit our website at putnambank.com.

Pictured left to right: Bill Reid, TLGV Chief Ranger; Lois Bruinooge, TLGV Executive Director; Thomas A. Borner, Putnam Bank President & CEO; and Lynn K. Bourque, Putnam Bank SVP & Branch Administrator.

Communities Receive $59,000+ in Charitable Contributions

A juvenile mentoring outreach program gained resources for at risk children. Various organizations received funds to aid in the support of children’s programs aimed at developing a love of literacy and the arts. Funding was given to provide essential health and human services to the homeless and elderly. These are only a few examples of where Putnam Bank and the Putnam Bank Foundation contributed financially in 2016/2017 to help the needy, care for children and improve life in our local communities. For the last few years, the Putnam Bank Foundation has been a significant sponsor of the Town of Putnam Summer Al fresco and Fireworks and the River Fire Series. They have pledged commitments to Day Kimball Healthcare, Natchaug Hospital Joshua Center, Windham County 4-H, The Last Green Valley Walktober, and the Regional YMCA.

As a community bank with a vested interest in the local communities, Putnam Bank and its Foundation supported many local agencies and community groups with grants and contributions totaling over $59,000. The contributions consisted of: Area Youth Baseball Leagues, Boy Scouts of America, Tackle the Trail Sponsorship, Celebrate Cultural Diverisity Title Sponsorship, Thompson Ecumenical Empowerment Group, Daily Bread, Project Northeast, Empowering Women, Putnam Holiday Giving, Make-a-Wish, Sassy Chapeau, and the Turkey Trot.

Why the emphasis on charitable causes? “We’re not just in the community; we are community to the core. We feel we have a responsibility to not only provide products and services but also to help to enhance the quality of life in the communities where we live and work,” explains Thomas A. Borner, Putnam Bank’s President and CEO. “We see giving back to the community as part of our mission, and our responsibility.”

Putnam Bank, chartered in 1862, is a $512 million Connecticut-chartered bank. Putnam Bank has branch offices in Putnam, Pomfret Center, Danielson, Plainfield, Griswold, Gales Ferry, and Norwich. It also operates a full-service loan center in Putnam. Stock is traded through NASDAQ under the symbol PSBH. For more information call (800) 377-4424 or visit our website at putnambank.com.

Money Advice from the Movies

Occasionally, even the best movies hold fantastic financial advice. We love these classic films and their timeless tales. At Putnam Bank we’re excited to share their hidden financial advice, and help you make the most of your money-management, (while cluing you into some great movies to watch along the way!)

“You… you said… what’d you say a minute ago? They had to wait to save their money before they even ought to think of a decent home? Wait? Wait for what? Until their children grow up and leave them?” – It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946

Just like this movie’s protagonist, our lenders at Putnam Bank believe you should enjoy your home as soon as you can instead of waiting to pay for it in full. Our dedicated team of mortgage professionals is here to help you find the ideal lending solution to purchase the perfect home for your growing family. Instead of waiting ten, fifteen, or twenty years down the line to purchase your first house, stop in today and discover your homeownership potential.

“One more thing, they don’t want to pay taxes again, ever.” -Armageddon, 1998

Just like the heroic men of this movie, we understand you don’t want to pay any more taxes than you have to. While we can’t help you eliminate having to pay taxes, helpful savings accounts like an educational 529, or options such as a Roth IRA, can assist you in legally avoiding extra taxation later in life. If you’re curious and would like to learn more about our savings account options, stop by your nearest branch today!

“You know why the Yankees always win Frank?” “cause they have Mickey Mantle.” “No, it’s ‘cause the other teams can’t stop staring at those… pinstripes!”  -Catch Me If You Can, 2002

Instead of choosing your personal loans or mortgages based on flashy deals or specials, choose a reliable lineup with our team of community focused professionals. Our goal is to help you have the best experience possible alongside our local lenders, without the need for door-buster deals. Before you start your search for financing, ask yourself if you’re searching for the ideal teammate, or if you’re just staring at those darn pinstripes.

“The moment you become embarrassed of who you are, you lose yourself. I changed the house, the way I dressed, the way I ate – and for what?” -Oceans 13, 2007

If you haven’t heard already, keeping up with the Joneses is overrated. A high amount of debt, low savings, and never feeling like you have enough; there aren’t many upsides to this eternally competitive contest of who has what. Instead of trying to compare and contrast your belongings, try focusing on the experiences and essential items that mean the most to you and your family. These fundamentals can help you structure your financial well-being and focus your earnings on things that mean the most to you, not your neighbors next door.

We love the movies showcased above! Are there any movies you find yourself watching time and time again? Comment and let us know! At Putnam Bank we’re always searching for new and exciting ways to help our customers save!

Putnam Bank Announces Lauren LaBelle as new Personal Banking Account Executive

Putnam Bank has named Preston resident Lauren LaBelle as the Bank’s new Personal Banking Account Executive serving New London County in the Bank’s Norwich and Gales Ferry branches.

Lauren, a graduate of the University of Connecticut, has many years of banking experience, having been employed with Putnam Bank as a Branch Manager. She is also an Affiliate Member of the Eastern Connecticut Association of Realtors. Lauren has a long history of community involvement and is currently an active Board Member for the Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce, lead Chairman for the Business and Education Committee for the GNACC and participates as a member on the Finance Committee for Bethsaida Community Inc.

At Putnam Bank, Lauren assists prospective homebuyers and individuals who own their homes in New London County with their purchasing and refinancing needs.  Lauren LaBelle can be reached at Putnam Bank by calling 800-377-4424 ext. 7081.

“We’re excited to have Lauren on our lending team in New London County”, said Putnam Bank CEO Thomas A. Borner.  “Putnam Bank is working hard to be a top mortgage lender in Eastern Connecticut, and Lauren is a critical component to achieving that goal. We know that Lauren will be an invaluable resource to those looking to buy a home in the area.”

Putnam Bank, in existence for over 155 years, is a $514 million state chartered and insured stock bank. Putnam Bank has branch offices in Putnam, Pomfret Center, Danielson, Plainfield, Griswold, Gales Ferry, and Norwich. It also operates a full-service loan center in Putnam. For more information call (800) 377-4424,or visit putnambank.com.

Saving for Tuition 18 Years in Advance

After you get to see those little eyes open, it’s like a whole new world has unfolded before you. When you’re elbow deep in changing diapers, cleaning up messes, and trying to sleep more than four hours a night, the last thing on your mind is college savings. At Putnam Bank we understand the chaos that 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 are used for education. The account has 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.  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. The limit typically ranges 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 Putnam Bank today! We’d love to help your family continue to grow!

3 Sure Fire Ways to Save on Travel

Still planning that next family vacation, or you and your sweetheart’s upcoming getaway? Putnam Bank 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 further 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 offsets the expense of the annual cost. (Not to mention the countless savings you can find in store or online!)
  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 your 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, Putnam Bank has the perfect solution! Stop by your nearest location, and start saving today!