Annual Personal Finance Calendar

Monday, January 26 at 11:15 AM
Category: Personal Finance

Managing your personal finances is an ongoing process that requires discipline. Most people are successful at making sure the bills get paid and often saving a little on a regular basis. However, managing your finances effectively is more than just handling the daily or monthly tasks. There are other financial events that occur throughout the year that you should address.   

Here is a monthly calendar that can serve as a guide to addressing some of these other issues.  

  • Establish your financial goals for the year and create a plan to accomplish them. If your goal is to save on a regular basis, establish an automatic savings plan to have a certain amount transferred from your checking account to your savings account each month.
  • Review your investments to ensure your asset allocation matches your time horizon and risk tolerance.
  • Prepare a personal balance sheet.
  • Start to get your information organized for filing your tax return.
  • Be sure your financial information is organized. A variety of paid and free programs are available to help you record and store important financial and family records and information.
  • Create or update an inventory of your belongings for insurance purposes. If you have a video inventory, be sure to store a copy in a secure location away from your home.
  • Review your insurance policies to ensure you have the coverage you need, including an umbrella liability policy. Be sure to check the deductibles.
  • Be sure your tax returns are filed. You can file for an extension if you need more time but that does not delay when you may need to pay the amount due.
  • Dispose of tax information that is no longer needed. The IRS only has three years to begin an audit unless you do not report all your income or file a fraudulent return. You generally only need information for three years from the due date of the return when you report the information. You will probably want to keep copies of your tax returns forever.
  • Check your credit report to guard your financial identity. You can get a free credit report through the website,* and several Arvest checking accounts come with Family IDProtect™, which offers credit reporting and monitoring.
  • Review your borrowing. If it is getting excessive, take steps to bring it under control.
  • Review your mortgage to determine if you should consider refinancing.
  • Review your investments to make sure your portfolio matches your goals.
  • Perform a mid-year checkup of your finances to ensure you are living up to your financial resolutions you set in January.
  • Use an online retirement calculator to determine if your savings plan will provide the funds needed for the retirement lifestyle you want.
  • Use some spare time to learn more about investing or handling your finances in general.  
  • There is still time to make changes that will have an impact on the current year.
  • As your children or grandchildren get ready to go back to school, consider how their college educations will be financed. Look into establishing custodial accounts like Coverdell Education Savings accounts or a Section 529 plan for them.
  • Review the steps you are taking to prevent identity theft and to protect your electronic records.
  • Review your estate plan. Recent changes to the estate tax laws have raised the threshold on what size estates are subject to tax. But estate planning is more than just taxes. Be sure you have other documents that are important – durable power of attorney, power of attorney for health care and living will. If you have moved, divorced or had new children or grandchildren, you should be sure your estate plan has been updated.
  • You should also make sure the beneficiaries on your retirement plans, IRAs and life insurance are still appropriate.
  • Review your charitable deductions for the year. Consider giving appreciated stock that you have held for more than a year if you wish to make a large contribution to your favorite cause.
  • If you are self-employed or have a small business, make sure your retirement plan is up to date.
  • Review the details of your employer’s retirement plan. If you participate in a 401(k) plan, be sure you are contributing enough to get the full employer match contribution. Review your investment allocation as well.
  • Review any insurance offered by your employer to make sure you have made choices appropriate for your situation.
  • Discuss your finances with your family. Keeping them informed can reduce stress and anxiety if something unfortunate happens.
  • Review your investment portfolio and your investment results for the year. If you have realized capital gains and unrealized capital losses, consider taking a loss to offset earlier gains. 
  • Spend a little time to create your financial resolutions for the next year and write them down.
The suggestions on this calendar may not match your personal financial schedule. However, it can serve as a reminder to make sure you address important issues.

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.
Tags: Financial Education, IDProtect, Retirement, Savings

Cortez Joins Arvest Bank in Westville, Okla.

Friday, January 23 at 05:20 AM
Category: Arvest Community News

Since 2006 Francisco Cortez has been serving the Arvest community. We're excited to see his continued service in his new role as branch manager in Westville, Okla.

WESTVILLE, Okla. — Arvest Bank in Westville is pleased to announce that Francisco Cortez has accepted a promotion to branch manager.

Cortez has worked for Arvest Bank since 2006, starting as a teller in Fayetteville and then as a member of the assistant branch manager trainee program. After nine months in the program, he was named the assistant branch manager of the University branch in Fayetteville where he worked for two years, then was moved to the Township branch where he supervised 11 tellers for four years.

“Francisco has proven himself in every position he has occupied with Arvest Bank,” said Kurt Price, community bank president in Westville. “He understands how to provide the superior customer service for which Arvest Bank is known and demonstrates the ideals we want in a branch manager. We are excited to welcome him to Westville. 

A native of Bakersfield, Calif., Cortez moved with his family to Lincoln when he was 15, where he graduated from Lincoln High School.

He attends the St. Joseph Catholic Church in Fayetteville, Ark.

Tags: Associates, Oklahoma, Press Release

Fuel Economy in Cold Weather

Thursday, January 22 at 07:50 AM
Category: Personal Finance

Cold weather and winter driving conditions can reduce your fuel economy significantly. Fuel economy tests show that, in short-trip city driving, a conventional gasoline car's gas mileage is about 12 percent lower at 20°F than it would be at 77°F. It can drop as much as 22 percent for very short trips (three to four miles). The effect on hybrids is worse. Their fuel economy can drop about 31 percent to 34 percent under these cold conditions.

Why is winter fuel economy lower? Cold weather affects your vehicle in more ways than you might expect: 
  • Engine and transmission friction increases in cold temperatures due to cold engine oil and other drive-line fluids.
  • It takes longer for your engine to reach its most fuel-efficient temperature. This affects shorter trips more, since your car spends more of your trip at less-than-optimal temperatures.
  • Heated seats, window defrosters, and heater fans use additional power.
  • Warming up your vehicle before you start your trip lowers your fuel economy — idling gets 0 miles per gallon.
  • Colder air is denser, increasing aerodynamic drag on your vehicle, especially at highway speeds.
  • Tire pressure decreases in colder temperatures, increasing rolling resistance.
  • Winter grades of gasoline can have slightly less energy per gallon than summer blends.
  • Battery performance decreases in cold weather, making it harder for your alternator to keep your battery charged. This also affects the performance of the regenerative braking system on hybrids.
In severe winter weather, your mpg can drop even further. 
  • Icy or snow-covered roads decrease your tires' grip on the road, wasting energy.
  • Safe driving speeds on slick roads can be much lower than normal, further reducing fuel economy, especially at speeds below 30 to 40 mph.
  • Using four-wheel drive uses more fuel.
What can I do to improve my fuel economy in cold weather? You may not be able to completely mitigate cold weather's impact on your fuel economy, but you can do some simple things to help your gas mileage. 
  • Park your car in a warmer place, such as your garage, to increase the initial temperature of your engine and cabin.
  • Combine trips when possible so you drive less often with a cold engine.
  • Don't idle your car to warm it up. Most manufacturers recommend driving off gently after about 30 seconds. The engine will warm up faster being driven.
  • Don't use seat warmers or defrosters more than necessary.
  • Check your tire pressure regularly.
  • Use the type of oil recommended by your manufacturer for cold weather driving.
  • Remove accessories that increase wind resistance, like roof racks, when not in use.
  • If you drive a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle, preheating the cabin while plugged into the charger can extend your vehicle's range.
  • If you drive a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle, using the seat warmers instead of the cabin heater can save energy and extend range.
With some advance planning you can help mitigate some of the impact of lower fuel economy on your car this winter.

Friday Financial Forum Jan. 23 in Bartlesville, Okla.

Thursday, January 22 at 07:05 AM
Category: Arvest Community News

Join us Friday, Jan. 23, at 10 a.m. for our Friday Financial Forum. We’ll meet in the Friday Forum Room at Arvest's Eastside Branch located at 4225 S.E. Adams Rd., Bartlesville, Okla. Every Friday we invite customers like you to attend our one-hour Financial Forum.

Our featured speaker will be Chris Wilson, director of downtown Bartlesville, who will be letting us know about all of the great things going on with downtown businesses and community activities.

What you can expect at the event:

  • News: "The Scoop" about businesses coming, going and expanding in Bartlesville (Billie Roane, Arvest Bank)
  • Information: Community leaders share topical, local and state information (Sen. John Ford and Rep. Earl Sears)
  • Updates: Arvest provides current economy and stock market trends (Josh Randolph/Sonya Reed, Arvest Bank)
  • Hilarious Anecdotes: Jim Bohnsack, Arvest Bank

We look forward to having you join us! There is no need to R.S.V.P.; just join us if you can! If you have any questions about the event, please contact Billie Roane at (918) 337-4358.

Tags: Bartlesville, Community Support, Oklahoma

Auto Loans: Test Drive the Financing Part 2

Wednesday, January 21 at 09:45 AM
Category: Personal Finance

This is the second part in a two-part series on auto loans. In case you missed it, check out part one.

The sticker price isn’t the only thing to look at when car shopping. While you’re at the dealer, be aware of decisions that could cost you more money and actions that could save you money.

If you have been pre-approved for a bank loan, consumer advocates suggest keeping the financing decision separate from the negotiations on the price of the car. If you negotiate the vehicle price with the dealer before discussing a possible trade-in and financing, it is easier to see if you are getting a good price on the car.

Be cautious about offers to “pay off” anything you owe on a car to be traded in. A car dealer might advertise that it will pay off the balance of the loan on your trade-in vehicle, no matter how much you owe. However, if you have “negative equity” — you owe more on the car being traded in than it is worth — the promise to pay off the entire loan may be misleading. Instead of being paid off, the amount you owe on your trade-in may be rolled into your new loan, deducted from your down payment, or both. The result would be an increase in your monthly payments and, most likely, a major jump in the total cost of the loan after factoring in the interest to be paid.

If you still owe money on a car that you plan to trade in, consider waiting to make the new auto purchase until you have paid off your existing loan. “Then, when you buy a new car you will not have to borrow as much money and you will pay less in interest over the life of the new loan,” explained Luke W. Reynolds, FDIC acting associate director for community affairs.

Remember that, as with the price of the vehicle, the interest rate and other financing terms offered are typically negotiable. “Instead of relying solely on a dealer’s rate quote, you should speak with multiple lenders about the APRs they can offer you and let them know you are comparison shopping,” suggested Keith Ernst, associate director of the FDIC’s Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection in charge of consumer research. He added, “Explore any opportunities to lower your financing cost with each lender by asking about options such as different repayment periods or discounts for setting up automatic payments.” Many auto dealers offer discounted loans (such as zero-percent financing) or cash rebates on car purchases, but usually not both.

Make sure you understand what any additional products you agree to purchase will or won’t do, and how much they cost. The prices of those extras will be added to your original loan amount and will increase your total financing cost. Remember that products such as extended warranties or credit insurance (which could cover loan payments if you die, become ill or unemployed) are optional purchases. If you are interested, you don’t have to buy them at the dealership. You may be able to find a better or cheaper offer elsewhere.

Read the contract carefully before you sign it. Federal law requires lenders to tell you the terms of a loan, including the APR and the total cost. Federal and state laws also prohibit unfair, deceptive and/or abusive business practices. “Before signing any loan documents, you should fully understand all the aspects of the transaction,” said Ernst. “Verify that anything that was told to you is reflected in the agreement, including the treatment of a trade-in.”

Don’t rush into making a decision to buy a car or accept financing. Perhaps you’ve read in the news about reports from consumer groups that people sometimes mistakenly believed that a car purchase and dealer financing were final. The reports suggest that these consumers signed contracts or attachments (with titles such as “Special Delivery Agreement,” “Rescission Agreement,” or “Supplemental Agreement”), took the vehicle home, and then days or weeks later were asked to return to sign a new financing agreement with a higher interest rate or other less-favorable terms. Consumer groups refer to these as “yo-yo” scams.

The Federal Trade Commission has been seeking public comment to help evaluate the extent to which these concerns are found in the marketplace. To avoid falling for a scam — or just getting into a deal you don’t want or don’t understand — be careful to read through all the terms and conditions of any documents you are asked to sign.

“If you are unsure the loan is finalized, you may want to leave the car at the dealership and continue to comparison shop until the financing process is complete,” added Gratton. “This way you can be certain about the final financing terms.”

By arming yourself with information and not rushing into a car purchase, you can help ensure you’re making the best auto purchase for your situation. To learn more about purchasing a car, check out our Pinterest board, “Buying a Set of Wheels.”

Information courtesy of FDIC Consumer News.*

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

Tags: Financial Education

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