How to Build a $1,000 Emergency Fund in 10 Months Sep 23, 2014, 10:07 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Guest post by Katie Bryan, America Saves

Do you have $1,000 set aside for emergencies? If you already do, you could probably use another $1,000 in that account. Experts recommend keeping at least three months expenses in a reliable, liquid account – though even an extra $1,000 can be a life-saver. But finding $1,000 to save isn’t always easy. That’s why we’ve put together this four-step plan on how to save $1,000 in 10 months.

Get Started with These 4 Steps

  1. 1.       Find a Safe Place to Save Your Money – You will want to save your money in an account that you can access easily in case of an emergency. That means you should probably not keep this savings in a U.S. Savings Bond or in mutual funds. Choose a traditional savings account or a short-term certificate-of-deposit (CD), currently the most attractive accounts. (Early withdrawal penalties on a CD rarely lower the yield below that of a savings account.) Consider opening a new account or sub-account for this money so you’re not tempted to spend it. Most importantly, do not keep savings in a checking account, which pays no or low interest and is too easy to access.

 

  1. 2.       Save $100 a month – If you are already saving $100 a month, great! Skip to step 3. If not, you need to either earn $100 more a month or cut back in order to find that $100 to save. America Saves has a list of 54 ways to save money to get you started. It can also help to pay yourself first and save the $100 at the beginning of the month instead of waiting to see if you have money left over to save at the end of the month.

 

  1. 3.       Automate Your Savings – Setting up an automatic way to save is one of the best ways to save. Once you set it up, then it happens without having to think about it. Here are two ways to automate your savings. 1. Every pay period, ask your employer to deduct $100 from your paycheck and transfer it to a savings account. Ask your HR representative for more details and to set this up.  2.  Ask your bank or credit union to transfer $100 from your checking account to a savings account every month.  Talk to your local bank or credit union to set this up. Learn more about how automating your savings or bills can help your relationships.

 

  1. 4.       Watch Your Savings Grow for 10 Months – The final step is to sit back and watch your savings grow. How often do you look at the calendar and think it’s half way through 2014 already? The same will apply to your savings; Before you know it you will have that $1,000. They key is not to touch the money unless you have an emergency – that’s what the money is there for after all.  

Once you have at least $1,000 in your emergency account, continue your savings success and continue to build your emergency savings or apply that money to a new savings goal. Perhaps you have debt you need to pay down or want to save for a car or home.

No matter what you are saving for, America Saves can support you with tips and advice through emails and text messages. Sign up for these by taking the America Saves Pledge Today.

Katie Bryan works for America Saves, managed by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America (CFA), which seeks to motivate, encourage, and support low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. Learn more at americasaves.org.

Automating bills and savings can support marriage and relationships Sep 04, 2014, 9:48 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Couples cite financial problems as a common cause of divorce. At Bank of American Fork, we believe one way some financial stress contributing to separation or divorce can be avoided is with smart banking, including utilizing available technology and automating payments.

In the past, paying bills was simpler. People paid in cash or by check and there may have been fewer bills to be paid. Now, more bills means more complexity: mortgage or rent, food, utilities, student debt, credit card debt, phone bills, Internet and cable, and car payments can easily be a part of nearly every household.

All these bills can result in confusion and disagreement in the absence of a budget, enough money to pay them, and differences in spending habits. Making a budget is hard enough, but trying to stick to it can really cause rifts.

Budgeting and planning are vital components to maintaining a peaceful relationship when it comes to financial stability. Studies show that couples who fight regularly about finances are 30 percent more likely to separate. Couples who budget for individual spending, automate spending to help them stick to their budgets and communicate where money is going and how much there is will have less financial stress in the relationship.

“Automating some of your bill payments may reduce stress,” said Joshua Everton, eBanking manager for Bank of American Fork’s holding company People’s Utah Bancorp. “It works like this: you and your partner make the decision once about what your budget should look like, set up automatic bill payments to go out first thing after paychecks come in. Then you don’t get to the end of the month without enough to pay bills, angry at someone else for spending too much on the wrong things.”

Consider doing the same thing with savings. If you and your partner decide to save for a house, car, vacation, retirement or something else, decide how much you can afford to save each month. Then, set up an automatic transfer to go into a separate savings account—when you set up that transfer, you’re making the decision once to save every month. You may even want to use an online-only savings account, which often have higher rates.

Financial stress doesn’t have to be a reason for a relationship to flounder. Use the technology available to you to make it easier to stick to your goals.

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Retirement confidence rises Sep 02, 2014, 8:40 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

For the first time in years, more Americans anticipate a comfortable retirement. What can you do to make sure you’re ready for retirement?

With the average life span increasing, many Americans have struggled in retirement. Their parents and grandparents typically only planned for a decade of expenses following retirement—now, many people are realizing they will be working longer than they anticipated and/or need to prepare for several decades of expenses. With this changing landscape, Americans have been anticipating a less-than-comfortable retirement consistently since 2007.

This year, according to a Gallup survey, there are more Americans who think they will have a comfortable retirement than those who think they won’t. Fifty percent reported expecting to have enough money to retire comfortably, with 45 percent who said they would not.

Confidence is highest among younger Americans. Fifty-two percent in the 18-29 age group and 51 percent in the 30-49 age group are positive about having enough money. In contrast, 48 percent of those closest to retirement, ages 50-64, say they will not have enough money.

What are you doing to prepare for retirement? Despite a changing environment, there are ways to prepare that can help you feel confident about retirement. It takes planning and some self-control, but if you make the decision now and automate some of the steps, it gets easier.

Here are some resources, and be sure to come back for upcoming articles about how you can prepare for retirement!

Make your money work for you with a Roth IRA.

Different types of IRAs.

Using online money manager to track your savings goals.

• Browse our archives for more retirement tips.

Bank of American Fork to match up to $20k for Westlake Marching Band trip

Bank of American Fork is, once again, reaching out to its community by opening an account in behalf of the Westlake Marching Band to get students to the Pearl Harbor Memorial Day parade in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7. The bank will match up to $20,000 in donations made to the account, making a potential $40,000 contribution towards the student fees to participate in the parade.

Executives at Bank of American Fork felt this opportunity for the Westlake Marching Band to participate in the Pearl Harbor Memorial Day parade should not be missed and are calling on the community to help.

“The Westlake Marching Band has been chosen to participate in a historical event because of their exceptional talent and hard work,” said Richard Beard, president of Bank of American Fork. “To think that they would have to miss out on such an opportunity is unfortunate, and we couldn’t let that happen. At Bank of American Fork, we know it’s important to support the communities that support us.”

Though each of the 140 students has committed almost $1000, they are seeking sources for the additional funds.  Bank of American Fork is asking community members to step up and donate so the bank can make the maximum $20,000 matching contribution.

Bank of American Fork is proud to sponsor its communities and proud to be a part of a community willing to help. Earlier this year, the community stepped up and raised funds for drug-sniffing canines for the American Fork Police Department, through a similar donation-matching program.

Donations can be made at any of the bank’s 14 branch locations through September 30. Donations are tax-deductible.

Bank of American Fork is serious about offering safe financial products designed to help you do the things you need to do. We don’t design our products to be predatory or to contribute to unhealthy financial habits, and we’re constantly evaluating the products we have to make sure we’re offering is valuable to customers.

Recently, the Brigham Young University statistics department did a study on the use of one of our products, Bounce Protection. They found that our lower-income customers are using this product less frequently than our middle- and upper-income customers.

Bounce Protection is an overdraft-protection product. Many of our customers like Bounce Protection because it helps them avoid embarrassing situations when their purchases would be declined, and it provides a safety net for unexpected financial situations and emergencies.

However, overdraft products can be known for their potentially predatory nature, so Bank of American Fork commissioned a study. Using a product like this excessively could be expensive for customers, and although we rarely receive complaints about Bounce Protection, we wanted to understand how our customers are using it. If our lower-income customers were using it more frequently, we would be concerned about the way we’re educating them about how to use Bounce Protection or about their overdraft options.

We like to see our customers make financially healthy decisions. If you’re ever unsure about whether your use of a product is helping or hurting your financial goals, feel free to reach out to us via social media, our website or our call center.

We want to make sure we’re offering potentially valuable products like Bounce Protection, but with education and information to help you use those products responsibly. We’re doing our best to do our part to help you make good financial decisions, including:

• Educating new checking account customers on Bounce Protection and less-expensive alternatives.

• Offering information about using Bounce Protection.

• Sending monthly statements that show year-to-date use of the product.

• Allowing customers who can’t pay the negative balance within the first month to repay it over time, without additional interest or fees.

This recent BYU study results are consistent with our policy of not offering predatory products or services, and we’ll always keep evaluating our products to that end. So what can you do to make sure you use this product responsibly? Start here for a great article about using Bounce Protection healthfully.

Fiscal fitness is all about using the right products and services for you in a responsible way. For example, the type of overdraft protection you use may be dependent on your current financial and credit situation, as well as your financial goals. Remember to talk to your banker (or call us at 800-815-BANK) about the goals you’re trying to achieve, besides the products you’re thinking about, because there may be a better option for you.

Mortgage basics with Ike Dietz Jul 31, 2014, 8:10 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Did you see this Fresh Living segment with Mortgage Loan Officer Ike Dietz (NMLS 447506) about the first step to prepare for getting a mortgage loan?

Mortgage basics with Ike Dietz on Fresh Living

Ike is a mortgage loan officer at Bank of American Fork because he loves seeing people in the same community that he lives and works in getting into homes. When someone asks about the first steps to getting a mortgage, Ike says he always suggests people look at their budgets. As mentioned in the clip, what you qualify for and what fits your budget are not always the same.

Rates are low, according to Freddie Mac, so get your income information together, and like Ike mentioned, make the call. If you call 800-815-BANK, Ike or another experienced mortgage officer can walk you through the process and may be able to help you find the mortgage that fits you.

Buying a new home is something most people do only a few times in a lifetime, so it’s to be expected that a borrower will have many questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions so you feel confident about the process, the exact loan terms and the costs associated with a mortgage.

Stay fiscally fit: Measure goal progress with online money manager Jul 14, 2014, 8:10 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

This year, we’ve spent some time focusing on making sure you know about and have access to the tools that will help you be fiscally fit when used responsibly. Chances are you’ve made some changes in your money management this year, since interest in saving money, effort towards saving money and effectiveness in saving money all rose for Americans in the first four months of this year, according to the America Saves Personal Savings Index. Now you’re thinking about evaluating your goals so you can adjust where needed. When it comes to goal-setting, sometimes measurement and evaluation are the hardest part! However, without measuring and evaluating, it’s nearly impossible to know whether the steps we’re taking to reach goals are working.

Enter online money manager. This online aggregator service allows you to automatically pull all of your financial accounts together in one place, set budgeting goals and then automatically track your progress towards those goals! This makes budgeting simple (and cheap, since it’s a free tool).

Here’s how online money manager works and how you might be able to use it to help you get or stay fiscally fit (even when you’re traveling and having fun all summer).

Our online money manager works for our customers. This smart and sleek financial management and budgeting tool allows you to get a complete picture of all your finances in one place. Link all of your bank accounts, retirement accounts, credit cards, mortgage loans, investments and other financial online accounts—whether at Bank of American Fork or thousands of other institutions—to the online money manager within your Bank of American Fork online banking account. You can budget and manage your money with more clarity because all of your transactions and balances are in one place.

Here’s an overview of how you can use online money manager:

Get a complete financial picture – view all accounts (checking, savings, retirement, mortgage, credit card, investments and more), including those from other financial institutions, in one place

Track expenses – automated and manual categorization of expenses

Create a budget – the budget wizard helps create a budget based on actual income and expense or using national averages

Track savings goals – budget for and track savings goals, making it easier to create a realistic savings plan

Set alerts – choose user-defined spending limits, balance, deposit or transaction alerts to be sent via email or text message

To use the Online Money Manager, just log into your online banking and click on the “Money Manager” tab. To enroll in online banking, visit any Bank of American Fork branch, use our live chat feature at www.bankaf.com or contact us at 1-800-815-BANK.

New St. George branch! Jul 09, 2014, 8:10 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Bank of American Fork’s locally-owned, locally-invested model a perfect fit for vibrant and growing St. George

On August 18 Bank of American Fork will open the doors to its new St. George branch at 335 East St. George Blvd. Bank of American Fork has operated a mortgage-loan office in St. George since last year. The bank’s commitment to small-town service has been a natural fit in the St. George community, and now Bank of American Fork will be able to offer the technology, products and services of a big bank to the consumers and business owners of the St. George area.

“Bank of American Fork is excited to offer community banking services to the people living in and businesses building up the St. George area,” said Richard Beard, president and CEO of Bank of American Fork. “We have a strong customer base in Washington County. We are excited to offer our customers, the community and business owners the big-city banking we’ve been building for more than 100 years. Our strong, locally-owned community bank will be valuable by providing personalized services to this vibrant area of Utah.”

The bank already has a mortgage-loan officer, Chris Palmer, and some additional associates in the mortgage-loan office that will work at the new branch. In addition, the bank has hired Bradley Stucki as branch manager, John Allen as a business development officer and Mike Draper as operations manager. Stucki and Allen bring years of Washington County experience to the new branch.

“I’m looking forward to being a part of the Bank of American Fork branch in St. George,” Stucki said. “I love Washington County and I’m pleased that we’ll be able to provide the services this community needs so we can be a vital part of the economy here.”

It’s rare for a business to last 100 years, and Bank of American Fork is still locally-owned and invested in the local economy. Its community-banking model has survived and thrived in the 14 communities it serves.

The new branch will open for business on August 18, and a grand opening will be held later in the month. You can reach the new office at 435-319-6900. For other questions, please feel free to call 800-815-BANK or visit us at www.bankaf.com .

Meet the Saratoga Springs branch associates Jun 30, 2014, 5:23 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Do you know where your nearest Bank of American Fork location is? Do you know that we have branches throughout Salt Lake, Utah and Davis counties? Have you heard that we opened a mortgage office in St. George? Do you know how to find us online?

We’re working on making sure you know where we are, because we heard that some of you don’t know about our branch in Saratoga Springs, or our branches in Salt Lake County, and some of you didn’t realize we were even outside of American Fork. We want to make sure you know where we are, so you can get the services you need, when you need them.

Here’s a little bit about our great team over in Saratoga Springs:

Megna Brown, Loan Secretary

Loves about her job: “I love living close by where I work and interacting with all the same wonderful people from the community. I love recognizing the smiling faces from the local stores and kids’ sporting events.”

Favorite Saratoga Springs spots: “Kneaders and Smith’s.”

Leah Hickenlooper, Vault Teller and New Accounts Representative

Why she’s a banker: “I love working with numbers and helping customers and I love the people I get to work with every day.”

Favorite Saratoga Springs spot: “I love the Kneaders just across the street from the bank.”

Angie Allen, Branch Operations Manager and Customer Service Chair

Loves about her job: “I enjoy getting to know customers and helping them with their financial needs. I am also proud to work with such a great team in our Saratoga Springs office.”

Favorite Saratoga Springs spot: “I have seen our rural community grow from just a few stop signs, cows and a swimming pool to our full city of Saratoga Springs. When I want good Mexican food I enjoy eating at Café el Lago right here in Saratoga Springs.”

Faith West, Teller and New Accounts Representative

Why she’s a banker: “I LOVE getting to know each of our customers. I love customer service, so talking to the people that come inside our branch is my comfort zone.”

Favorite Saratoga Springs spot: “Kneaders and Café el Lago are my two top favorites.”

Dustin Phillips, Vice President and Branch Manager

Loves about his job: “The feeling of knowing I’ve helped a business owner start up, expand or succeed, especially when they may have been turned down somewhere else first.”

Why he’s a banker: “It’s not glamorous, but I started as a teller while I was in college and decided not to leave.”

Favorite Saratoga Springs spot: “Café el Lago.”

Rochelle Mitchell, Teller

Loves about her job: “I am the newest convert to Bank of American Fork. I love my job! I really enjoy being able to interact with customers.”

Favorite Saratoga Springs spot: “For shopping, I enjoy Maurice’s. My husband and I go to Café el Lago for dinner, but I love Won Won Wok.”

Lindsey Kilpack, New Accounts Representative

Loves about her job: “I love meeting new customers and building relationships with them as I see them come back into the branch.”

Why she’s a banker: “My mother always said to find a job with a bank so I’d have good benefits and holidays off. I followed her advice and it turned out I love accounting and working with numbers!”

Favorite Saratoga Springs spot: “My favorite park is Neptune Park—there are so many fun things for kids to do. I also love watching Saratoga Springs develop because it’s exciting to see what will pop up next.”

Stay fiscally fit: Set up safe, automatic bill payments Jun 23, 2014, 9:21 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

If you made a goal to be fiscally fit this year, we have some resources to help keep you on track or help you get on track. Now that we’re halfway into the year, it’s a good time to evaluate how you’re doing on your New Year’s resolutions, high-five yourself for goals you’re on top of and make some adjustments for goals you aren’t. If your financial goals include better money management, paying bills on time or saving more of your income, here’s a tool for you.

PowerPay™ is Bank of American Fork’s online bill pay service that allows you to make payments for bills that you normally send through the mail. Do you sometimes feel like you’re spending all of your time paying bills? Eliminate the paperwork and set up online payments. Online payments through Bank of American Fork are safe and easy. “Push” payments are a safe and easy way to pay your bills, because the bank pushes the payment out to the billing company (the opposite, a “pull” payment, requires you to give your account information to your billing company and they pull it out of your account each month).

If you haven’t taken advantage of this free tool before, now may be a good time—if you’re heading out for a vacation this summer or your day-to-day schedule changes, it can be difficult to stay on top of bills and paperwork. Setting up automatic bill payments, or being able to quickly make your payments online may make it easier to get your bills paid on time, without feeling like paying bills is the center of your life.

To use this “push” payment service, all you need is Internet access and a Bank of American Fork online banking account. When you have those, you can use PowerPay to:

• Make payments online, saving money on checks, stamps and envelopes

• Schedule one-time or recurring payments

• Use any of your checking accounts to pay bills

• Easily access your transaction history and pending payments anytime you want

• View images of cleared transactions sent through PowerPay

• Feel confident knowing your payment information is protected 24/7

• Spend your time where it matters most

PowerPay is free with your online personal and business banking and you can set it up in these easy steps:

1. Log into your online banking.

2. Click PowerPay.

3. Select an account (or accounts) out of which you want the payments to go.

4. Set up your payees under the link at the top titled “Payees.”

5. Set up your payments through the links at the top titled “Add Payment” or “Quick Payment.”

6. Track your payments through the link at the top titled “History.”

Keep up with your fiscal fitness by signing up for PowerPay today.

PowerPay is a trademark of Jack Henry & Associates, Inc.

 
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