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Spend or Save: Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Savings Strategy?

As the impact of the Coronavirus, or COVID-19, continues to impact families, businesses, and the economy as a whole, many consumers are now faced with the decision of how to best spend their money, including their tax refund or stimulus check. With many individuals finding themselves suddenly in an uncertain economic situation with reduced hours or the potential for loss of one or both incomes, it’s a good time to consider budgets, finances, and how best to plan ahead. According to the Internal Revenue Service, approximately 72% of taxpayers received a refund in 2018 and 2019. Last year, consumers planned to save approximately 41% of their 2018 tax refunds. By comparison, projected savings of tax refunds for 2019 are up to 50%. This could be due to the recent uncertainty of COVID-19 and the economy. “During these perilous times, consumers have suddenly found themselves in a position where they may have to rely on their savings to ensure that their everyday living expenses are met. This c ...

Don’t Let a Romance Scam Steal Your Heart or Your Hard-Earned Money

With Proposal Day behind us in March and Lover’s Day coming up on April 23, 2020, it’s a good time to discuss a growing and alarming trend, romance scams. You may be asking yourself, “Well, isn’t romance supposed to be a good, happy occurrence?” Of course, however, knowing that you’re in an actual relationship with a trustworthy partner is essential in today’s cyber-dating world. Unfortunately, there are those cybercriminals who are actively preying on the vulnerabilities of both men and women who are looking for love. What is a Romance Scam? A Romance Scam is defined as a confidence ploy used to lure people into a fictitious online relationship. The criminals often use popular dating apps and social media platforms, like Facebook or Instagram, to scout for their victims. Once they quickly build trust with their victim, they ask him or her for funds to be wired or mailed to them for fictitious emergencies. Another popular method of deception is asking the ma ...

A How-To Guide: Supporting Local Businesses During Coronavirus, or COVID-19

As the current coronavirus crisis takes a grip on many businesses and restaurants, owners are finding themselves anxious about both the short-term and long-term impacts this will have on their businesses. With restrictions put in place to help avoid the spread of the virus, small businesses are experiencing many changes to their business models, including a decrease in customers and their cash flow. As essential as small business is to the American economy, it’s essential that consumers do what they can to help assist them during this challenging time. Below are a few examples of how you can help support your local small businesses during COVID-19. 1. Carry Out or Delivery Your favorite, local restaurant may have had to close its doors to dine-in customers, but there’s a chance they’re still available for carryout or delivery. While the dining area might be closed, carrying out and delivery still provides income to help keep the business thriving during this economic hardship. ...

Invest Back into Your Home with a Home Equity Line Of Credit

How long have you lived in your current home? Is it time to start considering home improvements? Perhaps, you’ve been putting off a kitchen upgrade or bathroom remodel? While your home is one of your most valuable assets, it’s important to ensure your house is well-maintained and will retain its value. Even better, with many home improvement projects, your home’s value may even increase in value. Additionally, knowing that you’ll have enough money to cover your home-improvement costs can make any update process easier. By taking advantage of a home equity line of credit (HELOC), you’ll have access to the funds you need, when you need them, for your home-improvement projects. Advantages of a HELOC A HELOC is a line of credit that gives you access to funds based on several factors including the following: Your home’s market value. The equity you’ve built up in your home. Your credit score. Any outstanding debts against the home. The limit that& ...

Let’s Talk Taxes

As tax season is upon us, it’s time to start thinking about filing your taxes. Filing your taxes can seem intimidating if you are a recent graduate just joining the workforce or if you are filing for the first time. It’s not uncommon to ask yourself questions like, “What form should I be using?” or “What does a tax deduction mean?” Knowing what common tax terms mean, what the different tax forms are, and some general tips about filing will help you understand the process better. Tax Terms A critical step in filing your taxes correctly is to understand what common tax terms mean. Terms like withholding, deduction, and adjusted gross income (AGI) are terms used frequently. Withholding This is the amount of money taken out of your check during each pay period. The amount taken out is sent to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for federal income taxes. When you file, the IRS determines if you paid too much or too little. If you didn’t pay enough, then you& ...

First Bank Partners With Energycare To Help St. Louisans In Need Stay Warm This Winter

Employee-funded donation event raises more than $3,800 to purchase 128 electric blankets ST. LOUIS (January 9, 2019) – Today, First Bank donated 128 electric blankets to EnergyCare, a St. Louis nonprofit focused on protecting low-income, homebound people — especially the elderly, and seriously ill or physically disabled adults and children — from illness, hospitalization or death due to winter cold or summer heat. For the past 21 years, employees have participated in the fundraiser to donate air conditioning units in the summer and electric blankets in the winter to EnergyCare. “As the temperatures continue to drop, we often take for granted everyday essentials like blankets in the wintertime,” said Tim O’Dea, Executive Director, EnergyCare. “We are so grateful for community partners like First Bank for their continuous support. These electric blankets allow our clients to turn down their heat and save on utility bills while still staying safe and warm.&rdqu ...

Are Cash Apps Safe?

Millions of Americans currently use mobile pay or cash apps for sending money from person to person; of course, that number is only expected to rise this year and beyond. Cash apps, such as Venmo and Apple Cash, are an ideal method to send money to your college student, split lunch with a friend, or pitch in for the office luncheon; however, have you considered their security features, if cash apps are safe to use, and ways to protect yourself? According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there are some measures users of these services can take to help further ensure they’re using these cash apps safely. • As with all online banking and financial transactions you’re making on a digital device, always ensure your devices are regularly updated and that the security and permission settings within the app are reviewed. Configure any additional security options the app may offer, such as two-factor authentication, fingerprint identification, or establishing a PIN. • If you do n ...

Are you Safe Online?

Using the Internet daily is something many of us do, and unfortunately, we can often fall victim to cybercrime. Knowing what cybersecurity measures to take, how to recognize scams, and being careful of where you click, can help you become more knowledgeable when it comes to protecting yourself online against attackers. Something as simple as clicking on an unfamiliar link or opening an attachment can be the reason for major data loss. Important measures to take: Be careful where you click. The number one way to increase your cybersecurity is to be mindful of where you click. Avoid visiting websites that you aren’t sure of, and refrain from downloading software from suspicious sources. Often, these things contain malware that will immediately compromise your information without you knowing. Keep your software and computer up-to-date. Installing software and program updates can help keep your information secure. Always install the latest security updates and regularly keep plug ...

Ransomware is Growing Threat for Businesses

To help in the fight against cybercriminal activity, governments and industries alike have come together in support of National Cyber Security Awareness. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that banks, financial institutions, and organizations spend hundreds of millions of dollars to protect the data and financial information of their clients. As cybercriminal activity continues to climb, that amount is only sure to increase. Marc Ashworth, CISSP, CISM, CRISC, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer for First Bank, said one particular form of cybercriminal activity is gaining in prominence. “There’s been another large surge in ransomware in 2019,” he said. “Basically, it’s become very big business. The bad players have created an underground criminal network and are making a lot of money with it.” He continued that they continue to grow in strength and are becoming more organized. “The bad actors have even started leasing out their ransom ...

Your First Class Introduction to College Banking 101

It’s that time of year when summer is coming to an end and the beginning of another school year is quickly closing in. Whether you’re a returning college student or a first-year freshman, there are a lot of things you need to do before the semester starts. Choosing a college or university can be a difficult decision, as many factors will come into play. With the expenses you will incur while away at school, having access to cash is a must. Plus, the process to obtain your money should be as easy as possible for your on-the-go lifestyle. Student Checking Opening a student checking account is a practical solution for clients who are between the ages of 16 and 24. Opening this account offers a wide variety of benefits including your first order of checks at a discounted rate, eBanking, mobile banking, free eStatements, free bill pay, and much more. For more information on terms/charges and features/benefits, please visit checking account options. eBanking Secure eBanking is a great option if you lik ...

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Disclosure

All First Bank blog information and content is strictly informational. It is not intended to be specific investment, tax, or legal advice. If you need detailed financial, investment, or tax advice, please contact a First Bank qualified professional. Please note, First Bank occasionally shares third-party content we find to be relevant and helpful to our audiences.