Inaugural Report of the Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey

Monday, July 21 at 09:00 AM
Category: Arvest News

Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma consumers' views of the economy are lower than the national consumer sentiment index, according to the recently released Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The inaugural report of the Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey was released today. The report indicates varying levels of confidence across Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. The sentiment of Arkansas consumers regarding their views on the economy is lower than that of consumers in the neighboring states of Oklahoma and Missouri. All three trailed the national consumer sentiment index for June as reported by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan.

The Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey is conducted by the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. The University of Oklahoma’s Public Opinion Learning Laboratory conducted the 1,200 phone surveys.

The consumer sentiment index for Arkansas was 67.4, while Missouri was 68.6 and Oklahoma 76.4. The national index for June is 82.5.

The data was tabulated by the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and evaluated on the individual state level by CBER director Kathy Deck; David Mitchell, director of the Bureau of Economic Research at Missouri State University; and Russell Evans, director of the Steven C. Agee Economic Research & Policy Institute at The Meinders School of Business, Oklahoma City University.

Jason Kincy, marketing director for Arvest Bank said, “When Arvest decided to sponsor this survey, we felt it would be beneficial for our communities and customers to have a reading of how consumers are feeling about the economy in the states where we operate. These first results give us better, more localized, information in that regard than has been available in the past. What is most important is knowing where people in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma stand in their views – especially because consumers drive the majority of economic activity. Plus, with future results, we will be able to see if sentiment here is trending up or down with sentiment nationally.”

The Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey will be conducted twice a year, with the next survey expected to be completed in late November. With each study, the index score will be released first, followed by additional information regarding specifics of consumer activities and plans.

Information about the survey, copies of this release, summary documents and print-ready logos can be found at:

About Our Research Partners
The Center for Business and Economic Research, Sam M. Walton School of Business at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville (CBER) provides excellence in applied economic and business research to federal, state and local government, as well as to businesses currently operating or those that desire to operate in the state of Arkansas. The center further works to improve the economic opportunities of all Arkansans by conducting policy research in the public interest.
The University of Oklahoma Public Opinion Learning Laboratory (POLL) serves two functions: to provide a learning environment for the teaching of survey design, public opinion research and data analysis for the purpose of developing student capabilities to conduct academic and professional research and analysis; and to conduct research on public opinion, in order to foster knowledge about public affairs and to assist in the conduct of research on public policy of import to state and local governments, media organizations, other public and private entities, and the general public.
The Meinders School of Business (MSB) at Oklahoma City University, which includes the Steven C. Agee Economic Research & Policy Institute, offers a full range of undergraduate, graduate and professional development programs. MSB prepares graduate and undergraduate students to be socially responsible leaders in a global economy through teaching excellence and faculty scholarship in business practice and the disciplines. Faculty and students engage with the business community, local government and regulatory agencies as part of the teaching-learning process.
The Bureau of Economic Research, housed within the Economics Department at Missouri State University, serves as a clearinghouse for data and publications on economic conditions within the region, state and nation. The staff has a wide variety of experience and is able to provide consulting services, produce detailed GIS maps, economic and industry forecasts and other relevant reports.

Data released as part of the Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey, summary and news releases is free for broadcast, publication or use in presentations. Please cite “Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey” as the source each time information is referenced.

Tags: Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Press Release

Wanna Get Away — With Less Expensive Airfare?

Wednesday, July 16 at 11:40 AM
Category: Arvest News

Planning a vacation? Whether you're thinking about visiting loved ones, relaxing on a tropical island, or visiting a big city, it's important to shop around for the best travel deals, especially airfare.

Shopping for flights can feel a little like playing the stock market. One day, prices are up, the next they drop considerably. So how do you master the art of airfare shopping? You can start by reviewing these helpful shopping pointers.

Avoid peak travel times. It's a simple fact airfares are priced higher during peak travel seasons, such as Thanksgiving and holidays. Many experts recommend that if you can, you should travel during the period between the high and low travel seasons. This is known as the "shoulder season."

Be flexible. The more flexibility you have in planning your trip, the more you may be able to save. When searching flights, try experimenting with different departure and return dates. Sometimes waiting just another day can save you hundreds of dollars.

Know when to shop. In general, airlines usually announce sales on Monday evenings so Tuesday afternoons are a great time to look for cheaper fares. Also, consider flying on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays when business travel is lower, and airlines offer cheaper flights.

Compare. Compare. Compare. If you've spent any time looking at airfare, you know different airlines can offer significantly different prices. That's why you should look at all airlines that travel to your destination.

Shop online. You can look for flights directly on airline websites or on free travel sites, such as Kayak,* Travelocity* and Orbitz,* which search several sites at once and present all your options to you in single place. Keep in mind, however, flights from travel sites are not necessarily cheaper, so be sure to look at flights from individual airline sites.

Sign up for alerts. Many travel sites and airlines offer travel alerts to notify you of sales and price changes.

Pay attention to the fees. Airlines not only vary in flight pricing but also in fees, such as baggage fees. When comparing flights and airlines be sure to know the fees for baggage. Some airlines don't charge baggage fees for the first bag, while others do. Read the fine print.

Use frequent flyer miles. If you travel the same airline often, be sure to sign up for rewards programs. This could help you get discounts and savings on your flights.

Sit back and relax. If you've followed the above tips, chances are you may have saved some money. The only thing left to do is to relax, and bring your seat backs to an upright position to prepare for takeoff!

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.


Some Facts About Phishing

Tuesday, July 15 at 10:05 AM
Category: Arvest News

Fishing is a favorite summertime activity for millions of Americans.

Phishing, on the other hand, is a type of online identity theft. And unfortunately, those who perpetrate it seem to know no seasonal boundaries. Instead, they use email and fraudulent websites designed to steal personal data like passwords, credit card numbers and account data.

Fraudsters can use this information for nefarious activities such as stealing money from your account, opening new accounts in your name, or even obtaining official documents using your identity. So, your first question might be: How do I recognize a phishing email?

Here are a few tips:

  • If it looks wrong, it’s probably wrong. Typos, the use of all capital letters in an email subject line, and multiple exclamation marks all are signs the email in question didn’t come from the source it represents.
  • Check the sender’s email address carefully. If a particular company sends you emails regularly, they typically come from the same address. Another one, particularly if it looks strange, should be a warning sign.
  • Be wary of urgent messages. Although reputable companies sometimes ask you to do something with urgency, threats and deadlines – especially to avoid your account being closed – can be a sign of phishing.
  • Avoid embedded forms. If an email contains a form for you to fill in personal financial data or login information, be leery. Reputable companies rarely, if ever, make that kind of request.
  • Study phone numbers and web links. If a company asks you to call a number and provide personal information, check that company’s website or some form of official previous correspondence to make sure it is the same number. Likewise, if asked to ‘click’ a link, hover your mouse over it to see if you’re actually being sent to the correct site.

If you believe you have received a phishing email, the tips are much simpler. Do not click on any links in the message. Instead, delete it.

Or, if you find yourself in the position of believing you have unwittingly responded to a phishing email, there are some steps you can take to minimize potential trouble.

  • Contact the company directly.
  • Contact your bank and change the passwords and/or PINs on any online accounts you think could be compromised.
  • Close any accounts you know have been accessed fraudulently, and open new ones.
  • Check your monthly bank and credit card statements for unexplained charges.

The FDIC* also suggests you contact the police and request a copy of any police report or case number for later reference. In addition, call the three major credit bureaus – Equifax at (800) 525-6285, Experian at (888) 397-3742, and TransUnion at (800) 680-7289 – to request a fraud alert be placed on your credit report.

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.

Tags: Privacy and Security

Dog Days of Summer

Monday, July 14 at 09:05 AM
Category: Arvest News

Summer is the season for picnics, vacations and other family fun. It's also an important time of year to care for a very special and loyal member of your family — your family dog. While dogs love the opportunity to spend time outside, higher temperatures and other summer dangers can put them at risk.

Here are some tips to ensure your dog stays healthy and present for all your family fun this summer:

  • If your dog is outside, make sure he has a cool, shady place to rest. According to the American Kennel Club, doghouses are not good places for cooling off dogs, off as they can actually trap heat. Try to place your dog near a shady tree and have plenty of water nearby in a kiddie swimming pool where your dog can cool off by taking a dip.
  • Always have cool and clean water available for your dog to drink during hot days.
  • Avoid having your dog walk on hot sand, paved roads or driveways, which can burn their paws.
  • Don't take your dog on long walks or hikes during excessively hot days. If your dog needs to be walked, take him early in the morning or late in the evening when temperatures are cooler.
  • Never leave your dog in a parked car in the heat.

Pet safety in the summer goes beyond heat protection. Here are some precautions to take to avoid other summer dangers:

  • Make sure your dog's vaccinations are current. In the summer, your dog is likely to be outdoors longer and will have more opportunities to come in contact with other animals.
  • Brush your dog regularly, especially after extended time outside.
  • Do not let your dog lie or play on grass that is chemically treated.
  • If you take your dog to the beach, do not let him drink seawater, which can make him ill.
  • Don't throw your dog in water, just assuming he or she can swim.
  • If your dog can swim, make sure you are constantly watching him, as swimming can fatigue dogs easily.

Fetch more safety advice to help your dog.
For more safety tips to help protect your dog this summer, visit the Humane Society website.*

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.


When Should You Consider Taking Social Security Retirement Benefits?

Friday, July 11 at 09:50 AM
Category: Personal Finance

The answer to that question is not necessarily simple. 

There are several factors to consider:

  1. What is your age?
  2. Do you plan to continue to work?
  3. How badly do you need or want the monthly benefits?
  4. How long do you expect to live?

The first two questions are simple. The third question probably depends on your personal financial situation. The fourth question probably does not have an answer.

The Basics
Your Social Security retirement benefits are based on your earnings history (highest 35 years’ earnings) and assume you begin to receive benefits at your full retirement age. You can begin taking retirement benefits at age 62, but the amount you receive will be reduced. Delaying taking benefits until age 70 will increase the benefit levels.

For 2014, the average monthly benefit for all workers is about $1,300, and the maximum benefit based on the highest earnings is about $2,650. Benefits can increase annually based on cost-of-living adjustments that have averaged about 2.5 percent over the past 10 years.

Full Retirement Age
Full retirement age is between 65 and 67, depending on the year you were born.

Consider Your Continuing Employment Plans
The impact of working between age 62 and full retirement age is divided into two segments. For calendar years before you reach full retirement age, your annual Social Security benefits will be reduced by $1 for every $2 you earn above $15,480. For the portion of the calendar year you reach full retirement age, the reduction is $1 for every $3 you earn above $41,400. For high earners, this would significantly reduce or eliminate the Social Security benefits while continuing to work.

Once you reach full retirement age, there is an adjustment in calculating the length of early retirement to reflect months when benefits were withheld. However, the actual reduction in benefits due to working is never recovered.

Impact of Taking Benefits Before or After Full Retirement Age
If you elect to take benefits before reaching full retirement age, the reduction is 5/9 of 1 percent for each month for the first 36 months of early retirement and 5/12 of 1 percent for months 37 to 60 of early retirement.

If you delay taking benefits until after full retirement age, there is an 8 percent increase for each year you delay if you were born in 1943 or later. There are smaller increases if you were born before 1943.

Benefit adjustment for early or delayed beginning of benefits.

Another way to look at this is to consider what the total benefits would be over your lifetime based on when you started receiving the benefits. This chart assumes a full retirement age of 66 and a monthly benefit of $1,000 at full retirement age with no cost of living adjustments.

Some Conclusions
Everyone should consider their personal and financial situations when deciding when to apply for Social Security retirement benefits. However, there are some general conclusions that may make sense for you.

  • Unless you are planning to have a low-paying job after age 62, there is a significant reduction in your benefits that will not be recovered.
  • If you need Social Security benefits for living expenses, consider applying for them early.
  • If you are in poor health, consider applying for benefits early.
  • If you expect to live to normal life expectancy age, there is not a great difference in lifetime benefits between starting at 66 or 70 and only a small detriment to starting at 62.
  • If you do not need the benefits for living expenses, are healthy, have a family history of long lives and expect to live past your life expectancy, delaying benefits to age 70 should be considered.

You should consider this matter carefully and be sure to understand all the implications of when you apply for Social Security benefits. Consider discussing this with your family, representatives from Social Security and your financial advisor.

Tags: Financial Education, Retirement

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