Monthly Archives: April 2016

How-To Save $1,000,000 Before You Retire

Retiring

Retirement may seem an eternity away; however, even if it’s a dream 20 years down the road, saving for retirement shouldn’t wait until the goal is in sight. Rule of thumb says you’ll need $1,000,000 in savings to retire comfortably. Our experts at Putnam Bank recommend taking the following steps to save with the future in mind:

  • Determine when you want your $1 million. The typical age of retirement is 65, but you may be shooting for a few years earlier or later. Whatever the age affects how much you need to save each month, so calculate years left to save based on current age and breakdown monthly savings requirements thereafter.
  • Start saving ASAP. Compound interest rewards those that begin saving earlier rather than later. A $10,000 investment at age 25 could yield tens of thousands of dollars more by 65 than if that same $10,000 were invested at 35.
  • Spend less than you save. It’s basic math. You’ll have money left over only if income exceeds expenses. Buying a home within your range, purchasing cars secondhand, and paying for vacations out of savings and not on credit protects you from dipping into debt.
  • Opt for automatic. Research your employer’s 401k or retirement-based plans and determine what percent you’d like funneled from your paycheck and into your savings. If your employer matches contributions up to a limit, work to reach their maximum to maximize your savings.
  • Save beyond your 401k. Expect the unexpected. A flooded basement or dying car engine can send you spiraling out of your financial plan if you haven’t budgeted for rainy days. Set up a $1,000 emergency fund as soon as possible, and work to expand it to anywhere from 6-12 months of income to protect you from larger surprises, like medical issues or unemployment.

The road to a million takes time and discipline, but it’s exceedingly possible. For further savings strategies and investment options, make an appointment today to meet with one of our trained financial advisors.

7 Tips to Decrease Your Gardening Costs this Year

Gardening

Gardening season is upon us! Whether you’ve been gardening for decades or are flexing your green thumbs for the first time, save some green as you grow it this spring with these helpful tips from Putnam Bank:

  1. Study the sun. You can burn hundreds of dollars by accidentally placing plants in areas that receive too much or too little sunlight. Take time before planting to make notes on the sun’s path across your yard, scoping out key sunny and shady spots along the way.
  2. Invest in mulch. A layer of fresh mulch aids in protecting against soil erosion while cutting the costs of weed killer.
  3. Reuse newspapers. Before you lay down protective mulch, spread layers of old newspapers directly onto the soil to block weeds and lock in moisture. Eventually the newspaper decomposes while saving on water costs in the long-run.
  4. Try natural bug protection. Instead of buying pricey pesticides and bug zappers, place fabric softener sheets next to outdoor light fixtures to deter flying insects.
  5. Make your own weed killer. Eco-friendly and inexpensive, you can create your own weed killer by mixing 1 gallon of white vinegar with 1 ounce of liquid dish soap. Put this mixture in a spray bottle and directly apply to weeds for the maximum effect.
  6. Start composting. Create nature’s best fertilizer in your own backyard by forming a small compost pile of kitchen and yard waste. Not only do you reduce your footprint by saving space in a landfill, but your homemade compost saves you money and increases the yield of your plants.
  7. Plant the pricier edibles. To save money, time, and precious garden real estate, invest in planting herbs and vegetables that would normally cost you a bundle at the grocery store. Grow pricier crops such as raspberries, shallots, and basil yourself and buy cheaper produce like lettuce, carrots, and parsley at your local farmers markets.

At Putnam Bank, it’s always growing season when it comes to building your wealth. If you’re looking to prosper your financial gains stop by or give us a call at 800-377-4424 today!

The Top 10 Things to Add Value to Your Home

Renovation

Just like purchasing your home, selling it is a journey all its own. Whether you’re aiming to sell your home in one year or five, you can make a number of small changes that offer a big return on your home’s value. Try these key improvements and see the effect on your next home assessment.

  1. An eye-catching entrance. As the gateway into your home, your front door will set the tone for what’s within. Update your door bell, paint the front door, and hang a spring wreath to tie it all together.
  2. Energy-efficient updates: Updating appliances, windows, and fixtures, to their more green counterparts can set your home apart with the attractive promise of future savings.
  3. Low-maintenance landscaping: While flowers are eye-catching, shrubs and drought-resistant greenery make great visual impact with the promise of less hassle.
  4. A thorough clean. A deep clean of carpets, curtains, and corners will make your home sparkle and create a positive first impression. Hiring a professional cleaning service may also help to remove hard-to-clean grime and overlooked areas.
  5. De-cluttered rooms. A tidy house doesn’t always feel open. Heavy curtains, overstuffed couches, and rooms devoid of sunlight can make buyers cautious of square footage. Rid the room of nothing but bare essentials and simplistic furniture to maximize the area of the space.
  6. Extra mirrors. To double the feel of any room, strategically place mirrors to create an illusion of extra space.
  7. Small updates to big places. Kitchens and bathrooms are focal points in the selling process. Without the time and cost of a major remodel, small updates like new lighting, fresh paint, or modern accessories can add value to your home on a budget.
  8. Revamped flooring: Thin or threadbare carpets can raise alarms for buyers as they visualize the daunting need to replace the tired flooring. As your budget allows, replace your home’s carpet beginning with high-traffic areas and working outwards.
  9. Modern lighting. Updating light fixtures to a timeless and simple feel, help to elevate a home’s design and gives the potential buyer a blank canvas to imagine life in their new home.
  10. A professional opinion. In under an hour, a trained interior designer can provide suggestions for small tweaks, such as furniture arrangement or paint color adjustments, which can increase your home’s value with limited investment.

While improvements are not a guarantee of improved value, they can make all the difference when drawing in interested buyers. If some of your home-improvement projects require a bigger investment than your budget expected, our lending officers at Putnam Bank can work to help you secure the HELP (Home Equity Line Program) you need. Call us today at (800) 377-4424!

 

Budgeting 101: Financial Literacy Month

Budgets

Knowledge is power. That’s why Putnam Bank is thrilled that April is Financial Literacy Month, a month for educating community members on tips and tools for a healthier financial relationship. Below, we break down the steps to creating a basic budget to kick-start this month of learning:

  1. Identify money coming in. Look past the salary or hourly rate on your contract and focus on take-home pay. How much will you bring in after taxes? When do you see this pay-off – weekly, biweekly, or monthly? Factor in other sources of cash flow too, like child support or paychecks from a part-time job. Understanding what you own dictates how you spend.
  2. Establish money going out. Divide monthly expenses into three major categories: fixed costs, savings, and discretionary. Rent, utilities, food, gas, and debt comprise the fixed costs and determine funds for the remaining categories. Savings should include an emergency fund as well as allocation for retirement or down payments on vehicles or homes. Discretionary – the Fun Fund – is the most flexible and can ebb and flow with changes in income and expenses.
  3. Balance steps 1 & 2. The purpose of budgeting is to provide control over your financials. That means ensuring that money going out doesn’t exceed money coming in to keep your head above the debt line. If you find your listed expenses exceed your income, pick one of two options: seek ways to boost income or scale back expenses.
  4. Pick a management system. Armed with a financial plan, equip yourself with tools to help you stick to it. Traditional but trusted, the envelope method helps you keep funds in physically separated expense categories. Once money runs out from that month’s envelope, it’s gone unless funds can shift from other envelopes. A number of free or low-priced mobile apps can give you even tighter control of your budgeting, providing real-time updates of spending and handy visuals of your progress.
  5. Track progress. A long-term financial plan is simply a series of short-term goals. Monthly check-ups help you gauge success from the month, making sure you stayed on target. You can adjust funds as income or expenses fluctuate and spot ways to economize your budget.

Want to take your budgeting up a notch? Meet with one of our financial advisors, who will work with you to plan a secure financial future. Give us a call to set up your appointment today!