Category: Saving Money

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.

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!

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!

The 10 Best Things to Buy at the Farmers Market

Save Money

One of the things we enjoy most during produce season is the delicious and money-saving weekend Farmers Market. Just about every community has their own local growers, and no matter where you are there’s sure to be some delicious baked goods as well. This season, our team at Putnam Bank would like to share our favorite finds which brighten up our kitchen and keep a few extra dollars in our pockets.

The first thing you’ll want to do before shopping at any Farmers Market is to find a good reusable tote, or wagon if you plan on purchasing a lot, along with a predetermined amount of cash to help budget how much you spend with various vendors. Once at the market, it’s a good idea to do a quick lap around to see what items are being offered from each vendor. Then, you can go through and decide which produce you want to buy and where.

Here are the top 10 items we look for while shopping at our local Farmers Market:

  1. Honey: Did you know honey is one of the very limited products of nature that does not spoil? Its eternal shelf life not only gives you an endless amount of time to use it, but it’s delicious too! Find a local honey provider who can ensure you’re getting the best product your area can offer, and add it as a sweetener to numerous recipes.
  2. Heirloom Tomatoes: These delicious beauties aren’t commonly found in stores while out shopping for plants or seeds. When you find them at the market, they may be a bit pricier than the traditional varieties; however, their complexities and flavors will make your dishes come to life!
  3. Cucumbers: Did you know that it is cheaper to make your own pickles compared to buying them at the store? Grab up four or five decent-sized cukes, an onion, and some dill the next time you’re at the Farmers Market, and give it a try!
  4. Hot and Sweet Peppers: When these guys are in season, we love trying as many varieties as we can! Not only are they cheaper than their grocery store counterparts, but they taste significantly hotter and sweeter as well!
  5. Onions: Have you ever seen a green onion with a bulb bigger than a quarter? You’ll enjoy these and other delicious delicacies which give you a better bang for your buck! Be sure to take a look at all the varieties of onions available as you may find a new favorite. So long as they’re stored in a dry cool place, you can keep fresh onions for several months!
  6. Rhubarb: There’s something about this especially sour vegetable. Sweet and crunchy, it offers a fun twist to many fruit dishes, but grocery stores rarely seem to carry it. Be sure to stock up this season as this delicious vegetable can be frozen or canned easily.
  7. Lettuce: Cut and go varieties will be seen year round at Farmers Markets. With many varieties available, now is an affordable time to taste and tweak your favorite salad recipes.
  8. Berries: You name it! Strawberries, blueberries, huckleberries, whatever delicious morsels you can find are at your nearby Farmers Market are well worth the cost. These tasty treats are some of the region’s favorite sweet staples and are perfect for snacking.
  9. Baked Bread & Jams: Be sure to sample home-baked treats throughout the season, and enjoy the different flavors the market has to offer. Great products, such as buttermilk bread, offer mouth-watering twists on many timeless classics.
  10. Flowers: Compared to your area grocery store or box brand, these Farmers Market flowers are sure to stop you in your tracks. Not only do they last longer because they’re picked locally, but they tend to cost less, and offer a more regional variety.

We wish you luck on your next Farmers Market outing. Be sure to stick to your budget, and enjoy all the tastes and smells the market offers. Happy shopping!

7 Absolutely FREE Activities for the Kids

Money Savings

Whether it’s during the summer or after school, keeping your children occupied takes a truly creative mind! This season, Putnam Bank is excited to share some of our favorite and affordable activities for your little ones to enjoy!

  1. Take advantage of your local library and their summer and afterschool programs. Even if it’s only an hour a day, this simple strategy can keep your child learning while they play, saving you some green along the way. To bring that fun home, register your child for a library card, and show them how to check out books and take them back. Extra tip: If you make a game out of reading, such as who can finish a new book first, you may even instill a passion in them for reading and learning.
  2. Set up camp in your backyard, tent and all. There’s nothing like the great outdoors, except when the indoors are just steps away! Ease your little ones into the wilderness by creating a camp in your own backyard. You can complete the evening with a s’more roast, campfire stories, and stargazing to make the most of the nighttime.
  3. Bike around town, and enjoy a pit stop at the park. Set a route for a bike ride, and see if you can end at a park close to your home. The bike ride allows your kids to explore the town, and burn some extra energy before winding down with some playtime outdoors.
  4. Head out for a swim at your local state park and enjoy the water or beach. Every state has some unique local parks, many with their own watering hole! Instead of paying the fee to visit your local pool, consider making a day trip to enjoy the warm sand and cool waters of your nearby rivers or lakes. For extra savings, pack a lunch and cooler to make the most of your day without having to spend a dime on admission or food.
  5. Create a fun scavenger hunt around your home or neighborhood.  A scavenger hunt can be as simple or as complex as you make it. For some of the younger kids, it may be beneficial to keep it around your home. However, if you have pre-teens to keep occupied, creating a neighborhood or town-wide scavenger hunt could be the perfect afternoon activity. Setting up the scavenger hunt ahead of time, will help you plan your route, and determine the best prize for those who finish it.
  6. Bring some grub, and have a picnic at the park. You can do this fun-filled activity for lunch, dinner, or both! Pack a bag or cooler with some great bites to eat, and find a table or bench at your nearby park. The kids can run and play for a bit and then enjoy a delicious homemade meal before diving back in for round two. If you want to really make this activity sweet, pack some of these individual cherry pies for dessert!
  7. Volunteer for local organizations and give back to your community. Keeping busy isn’t always about entertaining your children or yourself. Sometimes, it can be about something greater, like helping others. Organizations such as The Salvation Army, your local Food Bank, and the County Humane Society, are always looking for helping hands to assist in their day-to-day activities. Let your little ones choose which one they want to be a part of, and see if volunteering once or several times a week can fit into their schedule! Here are some of our favorite organizations.

We love getting children involved in personal finance at an early age. If you’re searching for more affordable activities for your little one to enjoy, consider some of these fun-filled games to help them understand the basics of personal finance! Everything from mobile apps to hands-on activities can help them grow their own financial education.

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!

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.

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.

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.

 

Water Your Lawn & Your Wallet Too

Summer Lawncare

If you’d like to grow your landscape and your finances this season, then Putnam Bank has the perfect tips for you! To jumpstart this warmer weather, we’re excited to share our top tips and tricks to maintaining a healthy lawn and garden without digging too deep into your budget:

Seed your lawn early on. Get the growing season started right, and give your landscape some food to help it grow. By not only seeding your grass, but adding fertilizer as well, you can help ensure that your roots grow strong and healthy to fight off intermittent weather changes and pesky pets.

Automate your watering routine.  Keep your landscape looking green by maintaining a daily watering routine without all the fuss of hoses and watering cans. By setting up an automated system, you can make certain you’re not wasting water, while saving additional funds from no longer needing to replace malnourished plants.

Utilize alternative landscaping options. Reduce your overall recurring costs by taking advantage of helpful products such as landscape fabric, river rock, and various xeriscaping plants. By using these tools to grow foliage other than grass you can cut down on your time and expenses associated with mowing and upkeep.

Other Outdoor Savings Tips: While the above tips can aid you in keeping a green and healthy landscape, saving money isn’t about maintenance only. To help continue your savings in other areas of lawn care, we wanted to share some further tricks on how to reduce other outdoor expenditures associated with your growing landscape.

  • Choose colorful perennials over less-timely annuals when planting flowers. While annuals can have prominent blooms that catch your eye, these flora varieties will need to be re-planted every year. Avoid paying for new seedlings each spring by utilizing returning perennial plants instead. These recurring blooms will hibernate underground each winter, and emerge where they were originally planted year after year.
  • Plant prosperous fruit trees for added shade and earnings through plant production. By providing an escape from heated sunlight, shade producing trees can help decrease the cost of your home’s monthly cooling bill. If you choose a tree that also produces fruit you can typically accumulate $200 or more worth of produce that you have the potential to sell as well.

Make the most of this planting season, and create a garden that will give you both joy and savings. We can’t wait to see what you and your family create!