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Best time to buy

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You may have heard that December 26 is the best day to buy Christmas decorations or February 15 is when to nab the cheapest candy. But what about EVERYTHING else that you buy?

We’ve been sharing “Buy The Way” wisdom for the past year on our Facebook page. In case you missed a few, we have a year-long recap of the best purchase to make every month.Buy the Way Infographic

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When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a financial services holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Arizona. It also has a loan production office in Texas. Subsidiaries of the holding company include mutual fund and alternative investment services groups, single-purpose companies that deal with brokerage services and insurance, and a registered investment advisor that manages the company's proprietary mutual funds and investment advisory accounts for institutional customers.



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Credit Card Debt vs. Emergency Funds

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You probably already realize the importance of keeping an emergency fund for unforeseen events such as auto repairs or health issues. However, actually saving for the unexpected can be a challenge. By not planning, you can put yourself at risk for financial disaster.

A recent poll from Bankrate revealed 24 percent of Americans have more credit card debt than they have in their emergency savings. Most people, 58 percent, who don’t struggle with credit card debt still fall short when it comes to having a strong emergency fund.

emergency savings vs. credit card debt

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Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate, can’t stress enough the poor situation consumers are putting themselves into. “These numbers mean that three out of every eight Americans are teetering on the edge of financial disaster,” says McBride.

How to manage credit card debt

While there isn’t one definitive way to erase credit card debt in a hurry, below are a few helpful tips to expedite the process.

  1. Tackle high interest debt first
    It may be easier for you to stick with a debt payoff goal if you attack the card with the lowest balance. However, most financial experts agree that the best practice is to pay down the balance on the highest interest card first.
  2. Double or triple payments
    Consider doubling or tripling your monthly payments, or apply tax refunds towards outstanding balances. The faster you can tackle your highest interest card, the sooner you will reach a debt-free lifestyle.
  3. Stick with your plan
    When faced with high debt, it is critical to track and budget expenses to monitor progress and keep spending habits under control. Once the highest-interest card reaches a balance of zero, it’s time to move on to the next highest interest card.
  4. Build an emergency savings
    Building an emergency fund is just as important as getting debt under control. Tuck away money each month and set aside for emergencies only. Do this even if it means paying less on your debt payments. Most experts agree that a healthy emergency fund equals at least six months of living expenses.

Getting credit card debt under control requires excellent planning, dedication and patience. Once goals are met, it is important to keep moving forward with healthy spending and savings habits.  Being financially prepared for life’s unexpected events is smart. Having peace of mind is priceless.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Em Sullivan is an AVP Product Manager for UMB Payment Solutions. She joined UMB in 2011 and is responsible for managing consumer credit card activities, including product development, product Marketing, partner implementation & on-boarding.



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Teach Children to Save

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Do your kids know that money doesn’t grow on trees? Here are some helpful tips for each age group.
Teach Kids to Save

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You don’t have to wait until your kids are teenagers. You can start talking to them about the basics of money as early as preschool. Here are some tips about how to talk to your kids about money at any age:

  • From ages three to five you can teach kids that money can be exchanged for things. Explain to them the difference between pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.
  • From ages five to nine you can start giving them an allowance. This is also a good time to explain bank accounts and what it means when a bank account earns interest.
  • From ages nine to 13 you can help them open a savings account. Encourage them to save their allowance towards a goal (a new toy or a DVD). You might even consider setting up a matching savings plan like most companies do with a 401(k). This is also a good time to start talking to them about the idea of keeping a minimum balance based on the savings account requirement. You can also introduce the concept of keeping savings in case of emergency. Even though they won’t need to pay for an emergency at such a young age, you can explain the importance of keeping a nest egg.
  • From ages 13 to 15 you can expand your children’s allowance to include more expensive items like clothes or gifts for friends. This is also a good time to introduce entrepreneurship. Encourage your kids to earn their own money with jobs for neighbors and friends.  Arrange for them to have an ATM card so they can withdraw money from their savings account.
  • From ages 15 to 18 and up you can help your children open a checking account with a debit card. Teach them how to manage their account online or with mobile banking. You can even go old school and show them how to use a check register. This is also a good time to talk fiscal responsibility about when they go off to college. Be very clear about what expenses you will pay for which ones they will cover.

Explaining money management to your kids can start out with something as simple as giving them an allowance. If you talk to them regularly, teach by your own fiscally responsible example and give them the right tools, you will do more than teach them about money basics. You will instill in them a respect for earning and saving money that will hopefully set them on a path to being financially independent and responsible in adulthood.




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How to use a home equity line of credit

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Finding the treasure within your home
home improvement

We’ve walked you through the steps to buying a new home. Before you finished unpacking, we’re guessing you already started a list of improvements and additions to give your new home a personal touch.

Reports like this one show that you’re not alone. Today, home improvement is becoming a growing trend for many American homeowners. Much of this growth is attributed to a rebound in the housing market and the highest consumer confidence scores since 2008.

So should you tackle a home improvement project?

Whether it’s updating your bathroom or adding more space to accommodate a growing family, improving your home can be a fun experience and a strategic method of increasing its fair market value. Research has shown that adding a deck and turning your attic into a bedroom raise the most value, returning approximately 85 percent of your original investment.

If you are considering making a home improvement, using a home equity line of credit (HELOC) to borrow against the equity in your home may be a good solution for financing the project. With today’s low interest rates and steady rise in home prices, you may have greater opportunity to borrow against your equity.

Some advantages:

  • You can make purchases with a HELOC debit card. Using the card is an easy and efficient way for you to pay for needed items.
  • The flexibility factor – the home equity line is something you can access as many times as you need to, as long as the credit is available. But remember to be disciplined with your spending. If you would like to use the equity in your home for a purchase, the wisest thing to do is use it for investments that help retain or add value to your home.

Give yourself an additional level of comfort by seeking counsel from your banker or financial advisor. This person is experienced in carefully reviewing all the home equity options to ensure you have the appropriate financial resources to complete your project in the most strategic way possible.

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When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Ms. Michelle Nischbach joined UMB in 2010. As Territory Sales Director in the consumer bank, she is responsible for overseeing operational and advisory excellence within five primary operating markets: St. Louis, Greater Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Arizona. Ms. Nischbach has 26 years of experience in the financial industry and earned her MBA from Lindenwood University.



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Holiday Costs

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Holiday costs. How do they all add up? How do you spend your money and your time?

Holiday Spending Infographic

December holidays by the numbers

 

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UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a financial services holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Arizona. It also has a loan production office in Texas. Subsidiaries of the holding company include mutual fund and alternative investment services groups, single-purpose companies that deal with brokerage services and insurance, and a registered investment advisor that manages the company's proprietary mutual funds and investment advisory accounts for institutional customers.



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How to pay for your children’s college free of stress and debt

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College tuition is rising steadily. The price of a four-year public university has risen 2.3 percent (1.6 percent for private college), and that is on top of inflation, according to the College Board. Those increases reflect the average of the last 20 years and include tuition, fees, room and board.

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Sound intimidating? Good news, these numbers don’t have to be daunting for parents. Having a plan to properly fund these goals is half the battle, and definitely decreases anxiety. Here are some tips as you begin savings for your child’s higher education:

  1. Know the numbers – If only we had a crystal ball to predict exactly what tuition will cost when your child gets to college. We do, however, have tools that can forecast costs and assist in planning. Talk with your financial advisor—he or she will be able to help you estimate and plan for these expenses.
  1. Determine how much to fund – Once you have an expected figure, talk about how much you want to fund. There are differing viewpoints on what percentage parents and children should each contribute to education through scholarships, loans and tuition payments, so discuss this with your family and then set goals based on what everyone feels is appropriate.
  1. Establish investing timetable – The next step is to put your financial goal in writing and begin weighing options on how to achieve the desired savings. Designating monthly or annual contributions to your preferred education savings vehicles is a great way to start. However, you should feel comfortable adjusting these over time on an as-needed basis. Don’t become discouraged if projected savings do not align exactly with the end goal. The most important thing is to consistently save something to ensure the funds continue to grow.
  1. Evaluate options – There are a variety of college savings vehicles available, including 529 Plans and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts. Your financial advisor can make recommendations that are in line with your strategic plan.
  1. Communicate the strategy – When the time is right, start the conversation with your children about their educational paths. Talk about the financial support you plan to provide, and where you expect them to share responsibility. This will help your children begin establishing their own goals and promote accountability for educational expenses as well.

Saving for your children’s college expenses can seem like an overwhelming task, but it is much easier to manage with the right planning and support. Consider these tips and talk with your advisor—those college enrollment packages will arrive before you know it!

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When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.

 


Ms. Stokes is a senior vice president and director of Private Banking at UMB. She is responsible for driving sales and relationship management activities. She works closely with the Wealth Management leadership team and regional presidents to grow business and helps to develop roles in wealth management, relationship management and presentation skills. She joined UMB in 2009 and has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Missouri- Kansas City and a Bachelor of Arts from the graduate school of retail banking.



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5th Step in Buying a Home – Loan Approval and Closing

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Have you:

Whew…you’re almost to the finish line. Now that you have a contract, the only thing left besides the packing and unpacking is to get approved on a loan and attend the closing.

Once you have an accepted contract it is time to contact your mortgage loan officer (the one you worked with when you were pre-approved) and start the process for loan approval.  Your contract should allow for at least 30-45 days for you to get loan approval and close on your new home.

Home Stretch

fixed or variable rate Settlement Cost Booklet HUD-1 Settlement Statement Image Map
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When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.




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How saving money differs in your 40s, 50s and 60s

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We already told you how your financial goals and habits vary from decade to decade in your 20s and 30s. The same is true as you move into your 40s and up until retirement. Here are some pro tips on how to take full advantage of each unique decade.

generations

Things to DO in your 40s

Do meet with a financial planner to make sure you’re on the right track to retire when you want and with the right amount to continue living the lifestyle you want. Retirement may seem very far away, but you don’t want to let yourself be caught in your early 60s playing catch-up on your 401(k).

Do decide how saving for major purchases balances with your retirement saving. If you have children, are you going to pay for all or some of their college tuition? What about your children’s weddings? These are examples of things that can cause parents to be caught off guard and can put a pause on your important retirement saving. For more information on these decisions, take a look at our recent post on Kids’ college vs. retirement: where to save?

And one thing to AVOID in your 40s

Don’t miss out on the maximum match from your employer on your retirement plan. As we’ve recommended from your first job in your 20s, be sure to take full advantage of the match from your employer. Of course, going above that amount is also a great idea; just be sure you’re reaching that minimum amount to get your full match.

 

Things to DO in your 50s 

Do think of this decade as your time to save the most (less expenses with children out of the home and typically higher income than you earned earlier in your career). Consider paying off high-cost debt, such as your mortgage, if you haven’t already and then save aggressively.

Do add catch-up contributions to your retirement savings. Even if you’re tracking well toward your retirement goals, you’re allowed to save more now, so do it!

And one thing to AVOID in your 50s

Don’t wait until your 60s to purchase long-term care insurance. The average age to buy this type of insurance is 57. If you wait until a few years later, it will be much more expensive.


Things to DO in your 60s
 

Do prepare aggressively for retirement…even before your planned last day of work. It’s difficult to predict when health, layoffs or extra time needed to care for your aging parents will cause you to retire earlier. This is the case with more than 40 percent of workers.

Do think about downsizing. This isn’t something that needs to wait until you’re already retired. If you’re single or if it’s just you and your spouse in your home, consider where you want to live for the next few decades and if moving makes sense.

And one thing to AVOID in your 60s

Don’t keep the same insurance policies you had in your 30s. You might not need life insurance anymore. Check your long-term care insurance policy to see what benefits it includes.

Remember, whether you’re 21 or 68, it’s never too late to improve your financial plan.

 

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References: *2012 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

Inspired by a Daily Finance article

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Ms. Ponce is a Financial Center Manager for UMB Bank. She is responsible for managing the Collinsville micro-market. She joined UMB in 1991 and has 23 years of experience in the financial services industry.



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Kids’ college vs. retirement: where to save?

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In a perfect world, you could save for your retirement AND your children’s higher education. But what if it comes down to a choice between the two…which one should be the priority? Loving parents may not love our answer.

Of course, launching your college-graduated children into the world debt-free is an admirable goal and the topic of an upcoming blog post. However, doing so at the expense of your own retirement goals is not advisable.

Parents are starting to move their focus more toward retirement savings and less toward their children’s education costs, according to a report from Fidelity Investments. The survey reported among long-term savers, 55 percent are saving for retirement while 33 percent are saving for their children’s college tuition. That split was closer to equal last year, but many parents are realizing that their children have several options to help pay for college—loans, scholarships and grants—options that simply don’t exist when saving for retirement.
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How to save for retirement

You may not realize that savings anxiety exists at several different income levels. The lack of retirement preparation in the $20,000 to $30,000 income range (with nearly nine out of 10 individuals reporting they were not prepared) was surprisingly close to those making $100,000 to $150,000 (with nearly eight out of 10 giving similar answers).*

So how do you take charge of your financial future? If you’re in your 20s or 30s, you have more time to ensure a comfortable retirement. Just make sure you start right away. If you’re older than 40, we have a blog post next month that will offer specific advice for saving in your 40s, 50s and 60s. Regardless of your income, the best way to start is by taking the simple advice: determine what you can put away starting right now and do it. The sacrifice now will be worth it later.

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*Source: American Consumer Credit Counseling survey

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Mr. Bryan Joiner is a Financial Center Manager for UMB Bank, N.A in St. Charles, Missouri. He is responsible for managing a team that advises consumer and small business clients on financial decisions, such as how to lower debt and save more. He joined UMB in 2011 and has three years of experience in the financial services industry.



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4th step to buying a home: searching & making an offer

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Have you:

Good! Then it’s time to start house hunting. As a mortgage loan officer for the last 10 years, I certainly have a lot of knowledge in real estate, but still always refer to experienced realtors for this next step. Their knowledge of the housing market, along with expertise in real estate contracts, are the key to making the best selection of the property in which you could spend at least 5 years (but for some of you, potentially the rest of your life). I referred to Anita Trozzolo, a Kansas City realtor to give us some guidance for this next step.

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Create a priority list

You are making perhaps the biggest purchase of your life, and you deserve to have that purchase fit both your wants and needs.

Your priority list should include the basics, such as:

  • neighborhood and size
  • number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • basement (finished or unfinished)
  • a kitchen that comes with appliances

If you can’t get a home at your price with all the features you want, then what features are most important?  Start prioritizing.  For instance, would you trade fewer bedrooms for a finished basement?  A longer commute for a larger home and lower cost?

What type of home best suits your needs?

You have several options when purchasing a home from a traditional single-family home, duplex, townhouse or condo.  Each option has its pros and cons, depending on your wants and needs, so you need to decide which type of property is best for you. You can also save on the purchase price in any category by choosing a fixer-upper. Keep in mind, though, the amount of time and money involved to turn a fixer-upper into your dream home might be much more than you expected.

Regardless of your choice, it’s important to target your search. By using options such as general location and affordability, you can refine your search and focus on homes that offer the most desirable features. However, based on my experience with the hundreds of first time home buyers for whom I successfully found and negotiated their first home, it is imperative to nail down location first.  The majority of buyers purchase homes from their choices in their most desired location.

Here are some more tips for your search:

  • Make sure your realtor understands your wants and needs.
  • Your agent must be patient, and show you as many homes as you would like to see. This is most likely the largest purchase of your life!
  • Have your agent set you up on an automatic home search program. This is an efficient way to guide you in your search.
  • Drive through neighborhoods on your off time to check out the area.
  • Choose your favorites before submitting an offer, and tour as many times as you feel comfortable.  Oh, and don’t forget to bring parents and friends. The more eyes the better!

Submit an offer, and most importantly understand the sales contract.  Your agent will assist you with the following:

  • To determine how much to offer, your realtor will show you a market analysis of all the recent sold properties comparable to the home or homes you’re interested in.
  • Obtain all material defects known from the seller through the seller’s agent.  
  • Discuss types of insurance that is required.
  • Counsel you on what price to offer the seller.
  • Make sure closing costs are explained and negotiated.
  • Make sure home warranty is explained and negotiated.
  • Explain the sales contract and all other forms associated with the contract.
  • Present your offer to the seller.
  • Negotiate your offer and counteroffers.
  • Set up inspections.
  • Provide the contract to the lender and closing company.
  • Stay in constant communication with the lender.
  • Arrange and attend the closing.
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When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.




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