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Money Magic Tricks

Magic is one type of entertainment that will never go out of style. Whether it’s David Blaine and his shocking stunts, or newly famous films such as Now You See Me, this classic art has proved to truly stand the test of time. While Sunset Bank may not be the best at slight of hand, we do have a few savings tricks up our sleeves! See if you can understand the steps to these financial stunts and make your fiscal success appear out of thin air.

Make your money disappear (into your savings!)

Before you’re tempted to spend those hard earned dollars, we’ll show you how to make them vanish, and then reappear! By logging into your online banking, you can set-up recurring monthly transfers for a set amount from your checking to your savings. This way, your funds will get tucked away before you even knew they were there! The extra money saved can contribute to your retirement, education, or even an exciting getaway.

Cut your debt in two.

Tired of paying pesky credit card debt, a mortgage, or student loans? This helpful hack can show you how to saw that number in half, and potentially make it disappear. Financial talk show host Dave Ramsey has a proven method called Snowballing Your Debt. By continuing your monthly minimum payments, and using extra funds to “attack” one debt at a time, you can then rollover extra money from the fully paid loans into paying off the next biggest debt and then the next. Before you know it you’ll be debt free, and looking for another financial trick to master!

See double dollars on your retirement plan.

If you’re like most Americans and need to play a little catch-up on your personal retirement savings, this trick is sure to impress! To really maximize your saved dollars, we recommend diversifying your retirement accounts, by allowing one to be maintained by your employer (401k) and creating a separate account for you to contribute to on your own (IRA.) By automatically withdrawing money from your paycheck through your 401k, you can potentially invest MORE while having it managed through your employer. In addition to this, creating a dedicated IRA to store personal savings dollars in allows you to explicitly manage the growth of your continued contributions. Know what’s better than one retirement savings account? Two!

Pull extra money out of a hat.

Just like magicians, a good budget can help you find things you never knew were there – like money! Whether you’re using traditional methods like the envelope system, or more digital options like the YNAB, the end goal is still the same. To help you save even faster, you can couple your budget with additional savings tips and tricks on common recurring expenditures such as groceries, and you’ll see the savings in no time!

How to Create 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 recently 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 Sunset 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, and don’t hesitate to ask our dedicated team members for help if you’re ready to begin your next 66-day practice round!

  1. Use the Envelope System: To help train your brain to only spend what you budget for, withdraw your total flex 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 too!
  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, 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 at Sunset Bank would love to help kick off your next 66-day habit!

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

credit card

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, Sunset Bank has put together our most commonly asked do’s and don’ts to 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 app centered around 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 to keep  you 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 do offer some 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, 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.  However, if you close a card, always check and see if that card hold 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 Sunset Bank offers credit cards too? 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 and your spending.

Saving for Tuition 18 Years in Advance

tuition

After you get to see those little eyes open, it’s like a whole new world has unfolded before you. When you’re elbows deep in changing diapers, cleaning up whoopsies, and trying to sleep more than four hours a night, the last thing on your mind is college savings. At Sunset Bank we understand the chaos which 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 used for education. The account does have 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.  However, the child once of age, 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, typically ranging 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 Sunset Bank today! We’d love to help your family continue to grow!

Money Advice from the Movies

movies

Occasionally, even the best movies hold fantastic financial advice. We love these classic films and their timeless tales. At Sunset 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 Sunset 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 are 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 home ownership potential.

“One more thing, they don’t want to pay taxes again, ever.” -Armeagedon,  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 Mikey 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 off of flashy deals or specials, choose a reliable lineup with our team of community focused professionals at 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 dang 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, instead focus 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? If you notice any great financial tips or tricks, be sure to post them to our Facebook feed. At Sunset Bank we’re always searching for new and exciting ways to help our customers save!

3 Sure Fire Ways to Save on Travel

travel

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

7 Items Worth the Splurge

splurge

When you make your savings plan, you often don’t think about the things you should spend extra money on. While scrimping on other items such as groceries or kids clothes could help you in the long run, there are some expenditures that could cost you in the future if you don’t pony up for the better option. At Sunset Bank we suggest taking a second look at these seven products, and see if you need to upgrade the next time you buy:

 

Toilet Paper: You may not think it’s necessary, but let’s be honest; when you’re staying at a hotel that doesn’t have the good stuff, you notice. Household items such as toilet paper or garbage bags are bought to complete a task, and if they don’t complete it well or comfortably then it’s time to reconsider your options. We believe this product is worth the extra couple bucks, but we do recommend saving by buying in bulk!

 

Office Chair: If you’re like many Americans, you may spend a majority of your day sitting down. To avoid chronic back pain, and a slew of other ailments, we recommend investing in a comfortable and reliable office chair. If your employer is willing to pay for all or a portion of the chair, be sure to offer your measurements to be sure their options fit your height and weight specifications.

 

Mattress: Did you know you spend 33 percent of your life sleeping? For such a large portion of your time, you’ll want to be sure you’re getting the best sleep possible. Avoid those box store less costly options, and test out a few of the higher end options available in your budget. Not only can you sleep better, but you may find yourself spending less on coffee or energy drinks as well.

 

Pillows & Bed Sheets: While the mattress will make the biggest impact on the quality of your sleep, upgrading your thread count and purchasing the proper pillows can make a world of difference as well. Something as simple as changing the firmness of your pillow could help you sleep through the night more soundly.

 

Work Clothes: Sweats, shorts, and other home attire may not require the added expense, but the clothing that you wear to portray yourself at work should come across as professional while also remaining intact over time. We suggest finding one or two brands that fit both your budget and your style, and selecting key basic pieces to compile a wardrobe of endless combinations.

 

Garbage Bags: Do you enjoy it when you go to take the trash out in the early morning and just as you reach the bin, the bag breaks across your feet? No, neither do we. We agree that it is more than worth the extra dollar or two for the name brand bags that won’t break. Afterall, if the bag breaks, that means you’ll need to take a shower too!

 

Data Plan: Every cell phone provider seems to come out with a brand new plan option as soon as a new phone is released. While the choice of phone is completely up to you, we think that the data plan should cover not only what you think you’ll use, but some buffer room too. Instead of paying the expensive overage fees every time to go over your data limit, we recommend purchasing a more comprehensive plan to ensure you have a little extra space when you need it.

 

These seven things will prove their worth in the long run, and many items only require a one-time investment. If you have any other items you think we should add to our list, let us know on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you!

Teaching Your Children the Basics of Online Security

child online

If you’re like many parents in the United States, your preteens and teenagers may be running circles around you when it comes to utilizing the latest technology. Whether that’s Facebook’s latest updates, new iPhone technology, or the latest app hitting the scene, the amount of new knowledge and innovation seems endless. For your growing adults, this may look more like an endless playground than a minefield, but at times it can be both. To help your children use technology while still remaining safe we recommend these simple suggestions:

 

Passwords are important. Instead of defaulting to the same password for every account, explain to your son or daughter why they should have a complex password for each separate account. Leary cyber criminals are able to gain access to all your accounts instead of only one when they discover the passwords are all the same. The strongest passwords contain lowercase and uppercase letters, symbols, and numbers. Great apps like LastPass can help to store all current passwords in addition to creating stronger password options.

 

Privacy matters. On Facebook and most other social media outlets, there are always options to make your profile private or public. For children, and adults, we strongly recommend keeping your personal online profile private. While you and your children can connect with friends and other known acquaintances, it can become dangerous to push your information out to anyone who wants to read it. For instance, if you post about leaving for a family vacation, and the profile is set to public, potential thieves could now view your home as an easy target while you’re away.

 

Don’t talk to strangers. Just as you had the “Stranger danger,” discussion with your son or daughter when they were younger, this message follows a similar point, but within the chat rooms and friend requests online. While in an ideal world, we wouldn’t face issues like catfishing or cyberbullying, the truth is that these actions can cause real world issues and aren’t always left online. To keep promote in-person communication, remind them of the importance of speaking with friends and family outside of the web, and if they ever do need someone to talk to you and your family are always there to listen.

 

Only use secure wifi. After school, your teen may head to a part-time job or extracurricular. If they’ll be going away from your home or school, be sure to encourage them to steer clear of unsecure wifi. While many afterschool hotspots offer free wifi for customers, often there may be potential cybercriminals broadcasting a false signal. These unsecure signals can give them access to your child’s computer if the wifi is accepted. The criminal could then access personal information, passwords, or hold the computer access for ransom. To avoid situations like this, instruct your teen or preteen to only use wifi at home and at school unless you have approved of an additional location such as the library.

 

Teach your children how to use the internet responsibly, and perhaps they can show you how to capitalize on the creative and efficiency tools it offers. At Sunset Bank, we think that family is one of the most valuable parts of life and we want to help your family grow. If you’d like to start a checking or saving account for your teen or preteen, stop in today, we’d love to help you get started.

How to Save $1,000,000 for Retirement

retirement

Retirement, 401(k), stocks and bonds, the subject matter of saving for the long term isn’t often as appealing as saving for the short term. Perhaps that’s why nearly three-quarters of Americans are underestimating how much they’ll need for retirement. The United States is on the brink, if not already in, a retirement crisis. However, at Sunset Bank we believe retirement saving can still be easily accomplished, there are just a few steps to get started:

  1. The first thing you’ll need to do is determine when and how you want to retire. There are an endless variety of retirement lifestyles, each of which entail a different budget and distribution structures. Some popular options include traveling by RV, retiring in a new location, downsizing your home in the same area, pursuing a new business or passion, and of course maintaining your current lifestyle without the need for work. By choosing your lifestyle goal we can begin to structure your savings plan around what you hope to achieve.
  2. Once you know what you want, start saving ASAP. As the old adage goes, “Slow and steady wins the race.” This is phrase is the epitome of retirement. If you save less, but start earlier you will consistently save more than if you deposited higher amounts later in life. We recommend utilizing any 401(k) or retirement savings plans your employer offers. If you are self-employed or don’t have access to retirement benefits, an IRA is a great self-funded option to help you save and take advantage of valuable tax incentives.
  3. Create a goal for how much you need to save. Financial Mentor offers great calculators to help you plan your path to retirement.  They can help you determine your strategy to become a millionaire, or show you how much you may need beyond $1,000,000. Saving more than one million could be more pertinent than you think. Today’s research indicates that millennials may need to save more than their baby boomer or gen x counterparts.
  4. Add any available surplus funds to your retirement savings. Simple adjustments like changing grocery stores, carpooling, and bringing your lunch to work can save more than you think! If you are able to find some additional ways to save, put those funds to work by contributing to your retirement accounts.
  5. Diversify your retirement savings. Instead of putting all your funds in company stock, corporate shares, or your 401(k), we suggest diversifying your savings options to ensure your risk isn’t higher than you need. Speaking with a professional adviser could help you determine what type of risk you’re comfortable with, and how you would like to your contributions to grow over time.

By continuing to save each and every month you can beat the odds and have a fulfilling and successful retirement. The most important thing to do is to start. If you’d like to open a dedicated savings account, IRA, or CD, our dedicated team is here to help. Stop by or drop us a line today to get started today.

ICBA, Sunset Bank & Savings Celebrate National Homeownership Month

Home

Washington, D.C. (June 12, 2017)—In recognition of National Homeownership Month, Sunset Bank & Savings, Waukesha, WI and the Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) are reminding current and prospective homeowners of community bank resources that make financing easier and more affordable.

“For most people, buying a home is an investment in their future—an opportunity to establish roots, start a family, and build financial security,” said ICBA Chairman Scott Heitkamp, president and CEO of ValueBank Texas in Corpus Christi, Texas. “Your local community banker, as a trusted financial advisor, can help you navigate the home buying process and select the financing option that works best for you and your financial future.”

ICBA reminds consumers that community banks can be a great resource to help determine:

  1. How much you can borrow and determine the appropriate loan products to suit your financial needs and budget considerations. Your community banker will review the mortgage process along with available mortgage programs and other loan features, including how long it will take to complete the process, so there aren’t any surprises.
  2. How current mortgage rates, the loan amount, property taxes and insurance premiums translate into monthly mortgage payments. This will help you shop for a home that fits your budget and increase your prospects for success as an informed buyer.
  3. Your rights and obligations under your mortgage contract. Today’s consumers have more avenues than ever to homeownership. Your community banker can help you read through and understand the fine print before signing on the dotted line.
  4. Suitable government-sponsored programs. In addition to federal homeownership and home-buying assistance programs, there are a number of programs sponsored by your state, local government or other organizations that community banks can recommend to make homeownership more affordable.
  5. Additional resources to help you create a budget and set financial targets. Many community banks offer homebuyer seminars and other helpful resources. Free online educational tools can also be found at www.hud.gov.

“Homeownership is the cornerstone of our nation’s economy,” said John Udvare, President at the Waukesha, WI-based bank. “As a relationship lender, Sunset Bank & Savings has a vested interest in our customers’ financial well-being and our city’s economic vitality. Creating a path to homeownership for local residents is an important step in establishing deep community ties, which will support future generations.”

For more information, visit our mortgage lending section of our website or give one of our experienced lending officers a call at 262-970-9000.

About ICBA
The Independent Community Bankers of America®, the nation’s voice for more than 5,800 community banks of all sizes and charter types, is dedicated exclusively to representing the interests of the community banking industry and its membership through effective advocacy, best-in-class education and high-quality products and services. For more information, visit www.icba.org.
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