Money Advice Gone Wrong

Money Management

Sometimes the best intentions can lend themselves to producing the worst results. While many friends and family members may offer quick solutions to your financial anguish, often times, the best education is understanding those lessons first hand. At Putnam Bank we’d like to showcase several of the most common pieces of advice we hear, and what you can do to remedy these particular miscommunications.

Bad Advice #1: You have to go to college to get a decent job.

While a college degree does open additional doors, it is not required for many well-paying jobs available around the nation. Social figures like Mike Rowe, have made it their personal mission to spread the message that you can earn a living without having to sink into debt. Whether you’re interested in IT, manufacturing, grocery management, or other skilled work, you can find numerous positions through technical training or management programs, and avoid the majority of debt most four-year college students incur.

Bad Advice #2: Having debt is okay if you pay your minimum payments.

While it is important to make installments on your loans or debts, eliminating them all together should be the desired end goal. Did you know that when credit reporting companies review your credit score, there are five factors considered? The two most important factors are your payment history and your debt to income ratio. If your monthly debt payments require more than 43 percent of your income, that may raise a flag to any future potential lenders.

Bad Advice #3: To build your credit score you need to purchase everything on your credit card.

While it certainly helps to have a long and healthy track record associated with your credit card usage; having an on-time payment history is far more important. This payment history represents the largest factor of your credit score, which the reporting bureaus track. By never spending more than you have, you can make certain you are able to pay your bill in full each and every month. This action may have the potential to help foster growth for your credit score.

Bad Advice #4: Retirement savings can wait.

Contrary to what many young adults think, right now is the most important time to start saving for retirement. While later in life you might have more disposable income to save, you’ll also have less time before you need those funds. Once compound interest enters any equation, time becomes the most valuable commodity for growing your wealth. For instance, if you saved the Roth IRA maximum of $5,500/year starting at age 25, you’d have $1.17 Million by the time you’re 65. Who wouldn’t want to capitalize on those kinds of savings?

We think you can tackle any piece of advice with a few grains of salt. If you’re curious what your next financial move should be, stop by Putnam Bank and speak to one of our dedicated personal bankers. Our team of financial experts is here to help you and your family succeed!

Promotions Announced at Putnam Bank

Pictured L to R: Donna Glaude, Brandy Hapgood, Melissa Stedman

Thomas Borner, President and CEO, of Putnam Bank announced promotions at the bank. “I’m privileged to recognize the accomplishments and hard work of our employees. It is rewarding to be able to promote from within as the staff develops and grows along with the bank. Our employees represent true community banking by providing great service to our customers and the community” added Borner.

Donna Glaude was promoted to Vice President and Operations Officer. Donna has over 31 years in banking, 17 of which have been with Putnam Bank. She holds an Associates Degrees from Newbury Junior College and is a graduate of the Connecticut School of Finance and Management. Donna is a member of the Day Kimball Healthcare Woman’s Board, and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and children.

Brandy Hapgood was promoted to Assistant Vice President and Area Manager. Brandy has over 22 years in banking, and has been with Putnam Bank for 6 years. Brandy graduated from the Connecticut School of Finance and Management and attended Quinebaug Valley Community College. She is a member of the Day Kimball Healthcare Woman’s Board, Putnam Business Association, Day Kimball Hospital Putnam Bank Golf Tournament Committee, and co-chairs the annual Arc Quinebaug Valley Golf Tournament.  Brandy lives in Plainfield with her husband and son.

Melissa Stedman was promoted to Branch Manager of the Griswold Office. Melissa begin her banking career with Putnam Bank 10 years ago. She has an Associate’s Degree from Quinebaug Valley Community College and has received numerous certificate form the Center for Financial Training. Melissa is the bank’s team captain for both the annual Northeast Opportunities for Wellness Road Race, and annual Quinebaug Valley Regional Rotaract Club Trivia Night. She lives in Brooklyn.

Mr. Borner also announced the following staff promotions and reassignments.  Leah Davis, promoted to Assistant Branch Manager, Danielson Branch; CarolAnn Blomberg, promoted to Loan Closing Officer; Patricia Kovacik, promoted to Commercial Loan Closing Officer; Jaimini Patel, promoted to CSR Supervisor, Griswold Branch; Alyson Davis, promoted to CSR Supervisor, Main Office; Joyce Borey, promoted to Loan Servicing Supervisor; Dawn St. Onge promoted to CSR/IRA Coordinator; Amanda Tarryk, promoted to Loan Processor II; Denise Heuschneider, promoted to Assistant Head Teller; Suzanne Watters, promoted to Assistant Head Teller; Kimberli Long, promoted to Assistant Head Teller; Sandra Pellecchia, promoted to Senior Teller; and Seana Hendrickson, promoted to Senior Teller.

Putnam Bank, in existence for over 155 years, is a state-chartered and insured stock bank, with assets, including the holding company of approximately $502 million dollars. 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.

5 Strategies to Shrink Debt

Debt Management

Minimizing your debt can always seem like a mountain of to-do lists. With various recurring payments, differing interest rates, and due dates that never seem to end, if you feel overwhelmed, you’re not alone.

While having a credit card, or other outstanding debt, isn’t a situation anyone wants to find themselves in, a surprising 38.1% of American households carry credit card debt.  Couple that with a total household debt average of $134,643.00 and the idea of debt starts to seem more common than you’d think!

While we know that having debt isn’t always the best solution, Putnam Bank is here to help you conquer it. We’ve found five proven ways to reduce your debt, and stop your spending process from adding more! Take a look at the five tools below, and see if they help you become debt free!

  • Find New Ways to Save: Whether it’s reducing your grocery bill, finding more affordable clothing options, or simply turning to the cash-only budget. There are numerous ways you can save. In fact, we recommend blogs such as The Simple Dollar, Making Sense of Cents, and Penny Hoarder to continue bolstering your savings knowledge.
  • The Snowball Method: This is by far our favorite way to reduce your overall debts. While you may need to start with finding some new ways to save, once you can allocate some extra dollars, you can put this effective method into action. Simply pay the minimum amounts on all outstanding balances, and then use the surplus funds towards your smallest payment to help pay it off sooner. Once your smallest debt is completely paid, you can use the surplus funds towards your next largest debt and so on. Repeat this process until all your debt has been paid off.
  • Refinance Your Current Loans: The snowball method will help you erase debts one by one; however, using this other strategy you can see about reducing those payments in one quick action. Speak with one of our dedicated lenders to see if your home mortgage, or personal loan, can be refinanced at a lower rate to save on monthly payments. This may make a small dent, but every little bit counts!
  • Freeze the Credit Cards: In order to proactively prevent yourself from overspending, freeze all credit cards you currently have in your possession. This step helps you to force yourself to spend only what you have. If you decide to use cash only, the envelope system may help you save even further!
  • Set Up Automatic Transfers: This one simple trick can save you hundreds each and every year! By using your online banking as a resource, you can create an automation to ensure you are never tempted to spend those extra dollars. Instead of waiting for them to be spent, allocate them to your savings, and tuck them away for paying down debt or building your emergency fund to eliminate emergency debts.

However you and your family decide to decrease your household debt, Putnam Bank is behind you! We’d love to talk about your financial goals and help you identify the best tools to help you get there. Give us a call, or stop by your nearest branch to get started today.

5 Affordable Summer Vacations

Summer Vacations

One of the best things summer brings, aside from the beautiful weather, is time to enjoy with your family. Whether that’s planning a fun weekend adventure, or carving out a week to go exploring, your kids are sure to remember these getaways for decades to come. After years of trial and error, we’ve discovered some ideal destinations where you can stay in budget while enjoying all the perks of your family’s time away.

Wisconsin Dells, USA

This Midwestern hot spot is filled with many of the nation’s premier water parks. With options at every price range, many resorts include park passes and discounts on other area activities. For those looking to save some extra funds, we recommend finding accommodations with a kitchenette. This added feature allows your family to cook meals instead of having to eat out at pricier restaurants, plus the kids will appreciate the extra time in the pool!

Tamarindo, Costa Rica

One of the most difficult parts of organizing a vacation is finding all the activities for you and your family to enjoy. At GO Adventures in Tamarindo, they have a bit of everything for your little ones to experience. Back at the hotel, they can run across award winning beaches, and spend the day relaxing in the sand. For those days you want to venture out, there is always an endless supply of options, and not to mention delicious food!

New Orleans, USA

This city is filled with a rich and vibrant history perfect for family vacations. With countless historical tours, you and your little ones can learn about the history of the South while enjoying some truly decadent dishes! Exciting excursions such as airboat tours and crocodile encounters will give your kiddos stories they’ll be anxious to share back home! For added savings, we recommend booking a home rental to avoid costly hotel fees and save some extra money by trying out your own creole recipes.  

Vancouver, Canada

This vibrant town, just north of the border, is filled with fun and flavor! Enjoy all the best bites and adventures alongside your family at the Granville Island Public Market, and then take a walk through the Vancouver Aquarium, to watch your children learn all about Canada’s sea creatures. No matter what you and your family decide to do, you’ll be warmly greeted throughout one of the happiest cities in the world. Just be sure to remember your passport!

Austin & Waco, USA

These two sister towns are separated by just over 100 miles, but offer fun-filled activities in both locations. By combining the two cities for this memorable trip, your family can step on the set of Magnolia Market and savor the mouth-watering taste of Franklin Barbecue, all in one fell swoop. Austin will provide an endless list of new restaurants and tours, while Waco can set the tone for the ride home with classic family-fun that the whole clan can enjoy.

Wherever your summertime travels take you, Putnam Bank is here to help safeguard you and your finances while you’re away.

Why Checking Your Credit Score Matters

Personal Finance

Across television ads, online banners, and even chit-chat among relatives, the phrase, “Check your credit score,” seems to be popping up. If something so important needs constant reminders, why does it have such a key importance in your personal finances? Well, the truth is that it doesn’t, your financial actions do.

A credit score is comprised of five different measures which indicate how you as an individual are perceived in terms of repayment and risk. Individuals who pay their bills on time, have been utilizing loans and credit cards, and don’t maintain too much debt, typically have a higher score. While the score itself is seen by potential lenders as a positive or a negative, the true meaning it portrays is to showcase whether you as an individual are a promising person to repay any funds you are lent. This score can be changed for the better or the worse depending on the actions you take.

This is why checking the report itself can be beneficial for your personal financial reputation. By reviewing your history on a recurring basis you can quickly identify any mistakes or missed payments that need correcting and do so in a timely manner.

For those who do not check their score, scenarios like the following could occur:

Say you accept a job in another town, and after moving, you realize you still need to forward your mail. After a week or two in the new place, you go online and make the switch. However, unbeknownst to you, there was one last utility bill that was mailed to your prior address after you moved away. Weeks go by, even months, only now you’re connected with a new utility company, and you have new bills to pay. Behind the scenes, your credit score could be declining because that one last bill has now been reported to collections. Your credit history will now note that a payment has been missed, and the longer it is missed the more it could damage your credit score.

Situations like this happen to many Americans, and while sometimes they can’t be prevented, the damage they cause can be minimized by checking your credit score on a monthly basis. Instead of allowing a payment like this to retain a balance for over 120 days, you can catch it in under 90 and minimize any potential negative effect on your score.

This is just one example in how checking your credit score can impact your financial health for the better. Other benefits include fraud prevention, better financial negotiation, and more accurate personal financial records.

Our team at Putnam Bank would be happy to walk you through your credit report and is always available to answer any questions you may have.

 

Who Says You Can’t Make a Snowball in the Spring?

Pay Down Debt

While the weather can be as predictable as the lottery, one thing you can always count on through the seasons is your ability to snowball anytime you want. However, before you start creating snowmen out of ice shavings, let’s first cover what a snowball is. Typically in financial terms, snowballing is an action in which you structure your debt payment to decrease the overall time and cost associated with any accounts payable you have.

Here’s how it works: To begin a snowball, you first need to know what debt(s) you have on the table. By creating a list of your known debts, and also checking your credit report for any unknown ones, you can ensure you have all your bases covered. Then, using that information, prioritize your debts by amount from smallest to largest. Once you have them organized you can begin to set-up or continue minimum payments across all installments.

For the next step, you’ll want to look through your current spending and earning to see if there are ways you can allocate additional funds each month to pay off your debt. Whether it’s an extra $50 or an extra $500, every penny matters!

These additional funds can then be assigned to the debt you indicated at the lowest amount. Each month you’ll have a little extra money to help pay off that expense even sooner. Once the balance reaches zero, the snowball officially begins! Now that you have eliminated one payment, you can utilize all the funds that were going towards that expenditure and push them towards the debt with the next lowest amount.

Continue to do this process until each unwanted debt is paid off. Debts such as your mortgage are a great thing to pay off early, but may not be necessary to include in your debt snowball. Our helpful mortgage lenders can always assist in restructuring your payments if you are truly passionate about eliminating all debt.

If you’re ready to get started, we have some great money saving tips to help you find those extra dollars!

  • Switch to a Discount Grocer: You could reduce your monthly grocery bill by up to half when you shop at a bulk or discount grocer instead of a brand-oriented chain.
  • Bring Your Coffee and Lunch: Both of these items could be costing you more than you think! The typical American lunch runs approximately $12.00 and an average latte could cost you $3.50 a day. By bringing both food and beverages from home you can drastically decrease your monthly expenditure for dining.
  • Take Advantage of Apps: New technology based tools like Mint, Honey, and RetailMeNot, offer continuous and unique ways to save and manage your personal finances. By taking advantage you can not only save on unexpected items but better visualize your budget through tracked spending categories.

At Putnam Bank, we are excited to help you succeed on your journey toward financial success. If you’d like to set-up automatic payments, or monthly transfers, our Online Banking can help! Visit our website to get started today.

 

 

The Latte Factor 101

Money Management

Making your way through the drive every morning with a coffee may give you a refreshing start to your day, but at what cost? The ideology that coffee shops and other retailers capitalize on is the notion that these small expenditures add a little excitement to your day without a hefty bill. However, when you enjoy perks like these on a daily basis, they add up, quickly!

Financial author, David Bach, is the mastermind behind the Latte Factor. This helpful calculator enables shoppers to see not only the cost of an individual purchase but the lost value it could cause for further investment as well.

For example:

If you purchase a $4.45 latte from Starbucks every weekday for the next thirty years, the total cost of your daily coffee is $34,710.00. However, if you had put that weekly $22.25 expenditure into an investment with an average earnings rate of eight percent or more, you could have made $108,985.49 in earned interest during that time. This showcases the true cost of a daily latte as the overall product expense ($34,710.00) + the lost interest ($108,985.49) = ($143,695.49)

While less than $5.00 a day may seem like chump change, compounding these expenses on a long-term level can showcase helpful savings opportunities to maximize your retirement savings efforts and limit unnecessary spending.

This equation doesn’t work just for coffee either! If you find yourself splurging for a fast-food lunch break, buying extra sodas at work, or even paying for a magazine you hardly read, you’ll soon find that all of those little expenses can make a big impact.

To help break some common splurging habits Putnam Bank recommends the following:

  • Before making a purchase, ask yourself, “Should I spend these funds or should I invest them?”
  • Use free services like our Online Banking or Mint to visualize spending and see areas where you can cut excess.
  • Remember the rule of 7. On average, invested funds will double every seven years, without any added contributions.
  • Utilize accounts like IRAs, HSAs, and 401(k)s to maximize the dollars you invest and save.

If you have any questions on how to get started, or want to learn more about how to make your money work for you, stop by or drop us a line to set-up an appointment today.

Nature v. Nurture: The Psychology of Spending

Saving Money

If you’ve ever taken Psychology 101, you’ve probably heard the argument for nature v. nurture. In this multi-century discussion, psychologists have debated whether a person’s genetics or environment make a greater impact their personal behavior. At Putnam Bank, we’re excited to share our take on this timeless debate, and share how nature and nurture affect your spending habits.

The financial traits which we see as more nature based are:

  • None

Are you surprised? Contrary to many personal opinions, financial lessons and preferences are 99.99 percent teachable. This concept is backed by an interesting study in which children were given one marshmallow immediately, but were given another if they could occupy themselves until the tester returned to the room. Researchers found that the kids who were able to wait to receive the second marshmallow went on to have more successful ACT scores and other measurably improved personal relationships. This information is particularly interesting due to the fact that delayed gratification is a skill, which can be taught from a young age.

Delayed gratification is one of the initial skills learnt for financial education in the form of savings. For this reason, it is practical to begin a child’s understanding of finances with this particular task, however, there are many other aspects of managing your money that can be tied to these initial skill sets as well.

The financial traits which we see as more nurture based are:

  • Whether you prefer to save or spend.
  • The specific items you enjoy saving or spending for.
  • Your skillset for prioritizing tasks and expenses.
  • The desire you have to compare yourself to others.

While the list of nurtured traits could go on for miles, the important fact is that like any other skill, fiscal education can be learnt through practice and continued repetition.

If you want to grow your personal financial skills set, we recommend starting with a household budget and saving plan. By committing to these two monthly activities you can start to build a foundation of learning to ensure you are adhering to the best financial practices.  As you grow your understanding of finances, adding in a retirement savings plan and debt repayment schedule can be valuable steps to gaining your financial freedom.

To start teaching your child these valuable lessons, we suggest great activities (like these) to help them understand the value of waiting. Simple games such as Mister Noodle can provide valuable comprehension for your child early in life.

Three Things to Look for in a Starter Home

Mortgage

If you’re in the market for your first home, congratulations! Becoming a homeowner is an exciting step on your financial journey. At Putnam Bank, our dedicated mortgage lenders are here to help you find the best financing option for your new home. Remember to stop in and secure a pre-approval letter before you start your home search.

After speaking with a mortgage lender to help determine your family’s ideal price point, it’s time to start viewing potential homes. During this process you’re bound to find a home you’ll fall in love with, and others that may send you running for the hills. As you ride this rollercoaster of an experience, we recommend searching for the following three things in your family’s ideal new house:

  1. Good Bones. Starter homes are a great option to find a great house within an affordable budget. To ensure your investment lasts for the long-term, we recommend taking a hard look at any foundational cracks, leans, or other structural ailments. While the rest of the house could look fantastic, these three issues should be instant red flags signaling you to continue looking at other homes.
  2. Cohesive Neighborhood. The people you surround yourself could be the individuals you see at 6:00 AM taking the trash out, or the partiers you have to ask to turn down the music at 11:00 PM. As you tour properties, don’t be afraid to chat with any potential neighbors and see if there is any information they can give on families you’ll be living alongside.
  3. Suitable Layout. While some renovations are certainly possible when purchasing a starter home, obstacles such as load-bearing walls could limit your expectations. Consider the overall layout of the home at the showing, and see if you could picture yourself the ways it is. If the answer is no, then you may want to find a few backup options should the renovations not be available within your budget.

The perfect home will look different to everyone. If you’re ready to start searching for your family’s new house, our experienced mortgage lenders are here to help. We work with many successful local realtors, and we would be happy to refer you to the one that fits your needs best. Give us a call or stop by to begin the search for your home today.

10 Ways to Shop Local

Small Business

Supporting our community is one of the most impactful ways we can help it grow. By shopping with local vendors and utilizing area service providers you and your family can help ensure that our community prospers and grows each year. If you want to shop local, but don’t know where to start, our team at Putnam Bank has come up with some creative ideas you may not have considered yet.

  1. Get produce at your local farmers market.
  2. Purchase floral arrangements from your neighborhood florist instead of online vendors.
  3. Work with local providers for your insurance and wealth management.
  4. Venture out for the night and tour area dining and entertainment establishments.
  5. Bank with a community bank.
  6. Buy groceries from a regional company compared to the large national chains.
  7. Like your favorite area businesses on Facebook and other social media.
  8. Shop for birthdays and holidays at your community’s downtown storefront.
  9. If you have received great service or products from a local business, recommend them to a friend or relative.
  10. Stay local when planning weddings or other milestone events and avoid online alternatives.

Owning and managing a small business may be more difficult than you think. We believe that opportunity is everywhere. Whether you’d like to open a business of your own, or simply want to support the ones you enjoy, it’s great to learn what small businesses are all about. That’s why Putnam Bank is excited to share some compelling and surprising facts surrounding the small businesses in our neck of the woods.

  • A company is considered a small business if they have less than 500 employees according to the Small Business Administration.
  • 99.7 percent of all active companies in the United States are classified as small businesses.
  • If your favorite retailer has been in business over ten years, they have officially beat the odds. According to the Bureau of Labor, two out of three small businesses are still operating after two years in business, and only half of small businesses have survived after being open for five years.  Approximately one-third of small businesses last ten years or longer.
  • Cash flow is cited as the more common issue regarding a business’s failure. Associated tasks such as invoicing, timed billing, and record keeping are often the most commonly linked culprits.

If your business needs to gain capital for an expansion or start-up, Putnam Bank is here to help. Our experienced commercial lenders can help you determine your ideal capital amount while also setting up valuable cash flow services Send us your information or stop in today to learn more about this convenient and affordable service.