College Grads: Setting Out on Your Own?

Thursday, April 24 at 10:25 AM
Category: Personal Finance

Preparing to be out on your own can be fun and exciting, but it also means taking on new financial responsibilities. The decisions you make now about how you manage your money can affect your ability to get credit, insurance, a place to live, and even a job.

First Things First: Develop a Budget
The first step toward taking control of your financial life is to evaluate how much money you take in and how much money you spend. Start by listing your income from all sources. Then, list your "fixed" expenses — those that are the same each month — like rent, car payments and insurance premiums. Next, list the expenses that vary — like entertainment, recreation and clothing. Writing down all your expenses, even those that seem insignificant, is a helpful way to track your spending patterns, identify necessary expenses and prioritize the rest. The goal is to make sure you can make ends meet on the basics: housing, food, health care and insurance. Your public library, bookstores, and online resources have information about budgeting and money management techniques. In addition, computer software programs can be useful tools for developing and maintaining a budget, balancing your checkbook and creating plans to save money.

Trying It Out
Choose five "Help Wanted" listings from five different categories of the classified ads. These should be jobs for which you are qualified. Read each job description carefully, noting the skills required for each position. Then make a list of your knowledge and skills to determine if the job might be right for you. Using the hourly wage or yearly salary in one of the ads, determine how much you will earn each month. First, subtract 30 percent for estimated taxes to determine your net monthly income. Then, create a budget of how much you might spend on the following, and subtract these costs from your income.

A Place to Live. Find the apartment listings. Choose a place to live and record the monthly rent on your budget sheet.

Groceries. Find the food ads. Estimate the amount of food you will need each week and then multiply the cost by four to estimate your monthly expense. Remember to add in costs for non-food items, too, like shampoo, soap, toothpaste and laundry detergent.

Eating Out. Find a restaurant ad and deduct the cost of dinner for two plus a 20 percent tip.

Transportation. Find the automotive section and find a new or used car you'd like to buy. Once you've chosen a car, add 6 percent for interest cost and divide it by 48 to estimate the monthly payment for a four-year loan.

Other Expenses. Consider auto insurance, gasoline, utilities (for example, gas and electric, internet access, cable), phone, renter's insurance, student loans, clothes, haircuts, charity, a vacation, your daily cup of coffee, and maybe longer term savings to buy a home. Add a reasonable amount to your expenses for these items.

What's your bottom line? Do you have any money left at the end of the month? If not, what expenses can you reduce or eliminate? Is there a way to make more money? As you write out your projected income and expenses you’ll be better prepared to embark on your financial responsibilities as a college graduate.

Article courtesy of Federal Trade Commission: Consumer Information.*

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

Tags: Budgeting, Financial Education

Arvest Associate Wins Earl Sneed Leadership Award and Speaks at Leadership Norman Class

Thursday, April 24 at 06:10 AM
Category: Arvest Community News

Nathan Thompson, Arvest Assistant Manager in Norman, Okla., won the 2014 Earl Sneed Leadership Award for exceptional leadership. He was nominated for the award by his classmates in the Norman Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Norman program. The award is named after Earl Sneed, Norman’s mayor from 1960 to 1964 and Dean of the College of Law at the University of Oklahoma.

Thompson also spoke at the banquet for the graduating class of Leadership Norman 2013-2014. Leadership Norman is an eight month leadership program that teaches communication, education, personal leadership, quality of life issues, city and state government, health care and economic development in sixteen interactive sessions. The program allows professionals who live or work in Norman an opportunity to learn more about and network with their community.

“I want to read a quote by Richard Fingers about the definition of leadership,” Thompson said in his speech at the banquet. “‘Leadership is the capability to translate vision into the future.’ Notice he didn’t say ability – he said capability to emphasize the need for action, not just the knowledge of how to accomplish a task. This class gave us the knowledge, and now it’s up to us to act on what we learned.”

The program is organized by the Norman Chamber of Commerce* which believes a well-founded community is built on both economic and non-economic strength including education, good health and a sense of well-being among neighbors.

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

Tags: Associates, Oklahoma, Press Release

Seven Steps to Spring Clean Your Finances

Wednesday, April 23 at 09:30 AM
Category: Personal Finance

The season for spring cleaning has arrived and while many may be focused on organizing closets or scrubbing floors, Arvest Bank encourages consumers to clean up their finances, as well.

Here are tips to help our customers cut back on financial clutter this spring:

  • Evaluate and pay down debt. Take a look at how much you owe and what you are paying in interest. If there are better rates available now, consider requesting a lower credit card interest rate or refinancing your mortgage. Begin paying off existing debt, whether that’s by chipping away at loans with the highest interest rates or eliminating smaller debt first.
  • Review your budget. A lot can change in a year. If you’ve been promoted, had a child, or become a single income household, be sure to update your budget. Determine what expenses demand the most money and identify areas where you can realistically cut back. Develop a strategy for spending and saving and stick to it. 
  • Check your credit report. Every year, you are guaranteed one free credit report from each of the three bureaus. Take advantage of these free reports and check them for any possible errors. Mistakes can drag down your score and prevent you from getting a loan, or cause you to pay a higher than necessary interest rate. 
  • Sign up for e.statements and paperless billing. Converting to paperless billing will help keep your house, physical and financial, more clean and organized.
  • Set up automatic bill pay. By signing up for automatic bill pay, you’ll never have to worry about a missed payment impacting your credit score. You can set it so that money is withdrawn from your checking account on the same day each month.
  • Consolidate your accounts. Managing several accounts can be challenging. If you have open accounts that you rarely use, then consider closing them. It’s important to note cancelling accounts may come with a fee or impact your credit score. Other options include streamlining all your accounts under a single bank, or using a bill management service that allows you to view all of your financial accounts, bills, subscriptions and travel rewards in one place with a single password.
  • Download our mobile app. We now offer mobile apps for iPhone, iPad and Android devices that allow consumers to manage their finances from the palm of their hand. With the click of a button, you can make a deposit or access a record of all your recent transactions.

Spring is a great time to take a hard look at your finances and identify ways to manage them more efficiently. By getting your financial house in order, you can set the stage for a stronger, more successful future.

Article courtesy of the American Bankers Association.*

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

Tags: Cash Management

Considering an SBA Loan? — Questions to Ask Yourself

Wednesday, April 23 at 06:50 AM
Category: Business Banking

While the Small Business Administration (SBA) itself does not make loans, it does guarantee loans made to small businesses by banks, credit unions and other lenders who partner with SBA. SBA lenders are approved by the Small Business Administration to lend your business money. The SBA guarantees the loans that SBA lenders give to your business.

There are many benefits to an SBA loan. They include the following:

  • Lower capital requirements
  • No points or balloon payments
  • Longer amortization periods (up to 25 years on real estate 7(a) SBA loans)
  • Increased loan-to-value financing

The funds from an SBA loan can be used for nearly any need your business may have. This includes marketing expenses, machine upgrades, purchasing of inventory, regular operating expenses like salaries and utilities, debt refinancing, and facility renovations to name a few options.

The majority of for-profit businesses potentially qualify for an SBA loan. As a business owner, you should have money invested in your business.  Also having excellent personal credit scores will go a long way in helping you get approved. The SBA lenders want to see you have good character and will pay the loan back. Finally, make sure you have a quality business plan prepared for the lenders. In the plan explain the amount of capital you are requesting, show step-by-step how that money will be spent, and have a plan for how you plan to pay the loan back.

Before seeking financial assistance, here are some questions to ask yourself in order to evaluate your business’s financing needs:

  • Do you need more capital, or can you manage existing cash flow more effectively?
  • How do you define your need? Do you need money to expand or as a cushion against risk?
  • How urgent is your need? You can obtain the best terms when you anticipate your needs rather than looking for money under pressure.
  • How great are your risks? All businesses carry risks, and the degree of risk will affect cost and available financing alternatives.
  • In what state of development is your business? Needs are most critical during transitional stages.
  • For what purposes will the capital be used? Any lender will require that capital be requested for very specific needs.
  • What is the state of your industry? Depressed, stable, or growth conditions require different approaches to money needs and sources. Businesses that prosper while others are in decline will often receive better funding terms.
  • Is your business seasonal or cyclical? Seasonal needs for financing generally are short term. Loans advanced for cyclical industries, such as construction, are designed to support a business through depressed periods.
  • How strong is your management team? Management is an important element assessed by lenders.
  • How does your need for financing mesh with your business plan? If you don't have a business plan, make writing one your first priority. All lenders will want to see your business plan for the start-up and growth of your business.

For more information, contact your financial institution, or visit*

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

Tags: Arvest Biz, Business Banking,

Arvest Bank Names Huffman President in Eureka Springs, Ark.

Wednesday, April 23 at 06:40 AM
Category: Arvest Community News

It's our pleasure to have Allen Huffman rise to the position of Community Bank President in Eureka Springs, Ark. As a native to the town, Huffman will be able to service the local needs of the residents in a natural manner.

EUREKA SPRINGS, Ark. — Arvest Bank is pleased to announce that Allen Huffman has been named as Community Bank President for Arvest Bank in Eureka Springs. He takes over for Richard Kimberlin, who announced his retirement from Arvest Bank in March.

Huffman has worked for Arvest Bank in Eureka Springs as an Assistant Vice President and Commercial Lender since 2010. Prior to that, he was a sales manager for Best Western Inn of the Ozarks in Eureka Springs.

“Allen is a hometown boy from Eureka Springs and an exciting choice to help lead our team,” said Arvest Bank Regional Director of Community Banks Chad Evans. “His experience and background in the local market has made him a successful commercial lender and gives him a great background for success as president.”

Huffman graduated with a Bachelor of Science of Business Administration in management and marketing from Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, Ark., in 2007. He is also a graduate of the American Bankers Association Commercial Lending School at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and Shockproof! Credit College for Commercial Business at Rex Beach & Associates in Tulsa, Okla.

Huffman is the treasurer and second vice chair of the Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce and a board member for the Mercy Health Foundation and the Eureka Springs Historical Museum. He is a member of the Eureka Springs High School Alumni Association Scholarship Committee and the Carroll County Community Foundation Future Fund. He served previously as president of the Eureka Springs High School Alumni Association and on the boards of the Holiday Island Rotary Club and the Northwest Arkansas Tourism Association.

He and his wife, Paige Huffman, live in Holiday Island, Ark.

Tags: Arkansas, Arvest Benton County, Associates, Press Release

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