The U.S. Department of Education provides more than $150 billion in financial assistance for education each year. However, if you want your child to have a chance at receiving any of this aid, you’ll have to fill out FAFSA. FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is one of the most significant determinants of how your child’s higher education will be funded. Administered by the Department of Education, FAFSA analyzes your income and other household financial information to determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which in turn determines how much finanacial aid your child is eligible to receive. Learn why it’s important to submit FAFSA and what you’ll need to do during the submission process. Who should fill out FAFSA? The short answer to this question is everyone that wants to pursue higher education. There is technically no income limit for who can receive federal aid, and FAFSA also makes you eligible for non-need-based aid, such as federal loans. There ...

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We have a heart for our Clients, Community, and History

If you’ve watched any news programs or viewed any popular social feeds lately, you know there’s certainly no shortage of commentary regarding presidential topics from both sides of the platform. While I’m not here to voice opinions or raise discussions on debatable issues, I do wish to commemorate our proud American heritage and democracy. Since President’s Day is tomorrow, I felt it would be a good time to reflect–not on policies or viewpoints –but, simple reflections on what a blessing it is to live in a nation that’s afforded us the right to peacefully choose our voice in government. Of course, history tells us this freedom, along with countless others, has come only from the bravery and sacrifice of our military men and women–past and present. For this, we truly thank you. I’ve mentioned previously that First Bank originated its humble roots as a small, family-owned bank in Creve Coeur, right at the time of William Howard Taft’s presidency. ...

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Is Saving Time One of Your New Years Resolutions?

We’re just a couple of weeks into 2017 – time to begin (or maybe make) those New Year’s resolutions. Mine happen to include a few healthful goals, devoting more of my personal time to charitable organizations with causes I hold dear, and, like so many others, to simply find more time in my day. Do these mirror any of your resolutions? Time and time again, my colleagues and I hear from our clients one resounding request, “How can you save me time?” Similar sentiments from leaders at all levels of organizations always include “the need for more time.” If this is also on your list of to-do’s this year, take comfort in knowing you are certainly not alone. Whether it’s time to implement new career goals, time to build or explore business expansion, more time for the things we enjoy, some time for quiet tranquility, or more time for family, there’s one thing we all want more of–time. I’ve heard it said, time management is life management; ma ...

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Financial Planning Tune-Up

October is Financial Planning month and around the nation cities are hosting free Financial Planning Days. The events are a combined effort of four non-profit organizations: Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Financial Planning Association, Foundation for Financial Planning and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Local CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals volunteer their time to offer free advice in one-on-one sessions or workshops. If you cannot attend your local event or do not have one in your area, it is a good time to do your own financial tune-up. Know Where You Stand The first step is to evaluate your current situation. Just like using a navigation system to find the best route to your destination, you need to know your starting point. There are four keystones to a comprehensive financial review. 1. Goals and Concerns: Evaluate where you want to be and any potential road blocks along the way. 2. Net Worth: As the foundation of achieving your financial dreams, get an idea of ...

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Let’s Prepare for the Change of Seasons

As I write this, a noticeable change is in the air. The temps aren’t necessarily cold yet, but the days are getting slightly shorter. There’s a crispness to the mornings I’ve always found inviting. There’s definitely a change of seasons coming. Although we know the seasons will change and time will march on, we don’t always think it will come as quickly as it often does. In other words, it can really sneak up on us. The same can be said of the change of seasons in our own lives. From our childhood and the progression from grade to grade and on to graduation, jobs, and retirement, the passing of time is inevitable. Planning ahead for them is not. I’ve encountered many ‘change of season’ moments in my own life. The most recent being the change of seasons in my role with my own parents. I remember the time and coordination it took to find comfortable, supportive care for my parents in a care facility. We were blessed to find such an organization that could ...

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How to Talk to Your Kids About Money

How soon is too soon to talk to your kids or grandkids about money? If they are old enough to ask for a toy or a bike, they are old enough to start learning financial lessons that will last a lifetime. The best financial lessons are part of everyday experiences. Look for opportunities to talk about money, read books aloud and play games that center around spending money wisely. Be open and honest when you discuss your financial experiences—good or bad. Here are some examples of teachable moments to help you get started: At the bank When you go to the bank, bring your children with you and show them how transactions work. Get the manager to explain how the bank operates, how money generates interest and how an ATM works. Ask the manager for a tour. On payday Discuss how your pay is budgeted to pay for housing, food and clothing, and how a portion is saved for future expenses, such as college tuition and retirement. At the market It’s easy to give clear examples of “need ...

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Back-to-School Edition: College-Bound

In an increasingly competitive job environment, obtaining a degree after high school has become even more necessary. The average estimated cost to attend at a public four-year in-state university is $24,061. The tuition is only a fraction of that figure but the total cost more than doubles when you factor in other room and board, books and supplies, transportation and personal expenses. The cost of a bachelor’s degree can vary based on several factors: attending public vs. private university; attending in-state vs. out-of-state university; location; or living at home vs. living on campus. Who pays the bill? Based on the most recent study from Sallie Mae, currently contributions from parents have surpassed scholarships and grants. What are the options to plan ahead? Save: Investing early and allowing the funds to compound can be an efficient way to pre-pay for higher education. There are different types of accounts that are available such as brokerage, Roth IRA, 529 Plans, Coverdell saving ...

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Are Medals Really Made of Gold, Silver, or Bronze?

The summer games have begun with the lighting of the torch. It’s such an awe-inspiring moment to see, considering the flame has traveled for months, through countless cities, and carried by over 12,000 torchbearers. The teamwork and collaboration it takes to make this a reality is simply miraculous. The ideology of the games and bringing that many people, across multiple continents and cultures, into one majestic moment for one common goal is nothing short of phenomenal. These athletes all aspire to a common goal: to achieve greatness, to overcome obstacles, and to compete for the gold. They, along with the help of innumerable people, are making that dream a reality. And, although medals are made of gold, silver, and recycled electronics (an effort toward sustainability), that’s not really what goes into them. Medals are really made of the young athlete that gets up before dawn to start training; the daily determination to stick with the proper diet plan; and the perseverance to believe he o ...

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Let’s Get Moving

As you may know, my family and I relocated to St. Louis just a couple of years ago. Putting down roots and making this our beloved home...we couldn’t be happier. From Forest Park and the world-renowned St. Louis Zoo to the 11-time World Series Champions, the Cardinals, this area is a wonderful place to call home. What’s more, with St. Louis poised for significant job growth, while still maintaining attractive and reasonable housing prices, is it any wonder it’s predicted to be the second “hottest” top real estate market? In fact, St. Louis is ranking ahead of other top markets, even San Diego and New Orleans. That’s great news for home buyers and sellers. This is the perfect time to consider a move. However, serious buyers need to be ahead of the game. I’ve heard our mortgage colleagues comment how buyers really need to be prepared in this housing market. Their recommendations? Show up to open houses educated on the property, prepared to make an offer, and wi ...

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Financial Goals on the to-do's before the I-do's

Our calendar at home is starting to fill with a variety of invitations for summertime activities, particularly graduation celebrations and June weddings. Both are joyous celebrations in young lives. June is considered the official month of weddings, or so I’ve been told. I always assumed it was due to the warmer weather and sunnier days, but it actually stems from ancient beliefs, when marrying in June was thought to bless young couples with prosperity and good fortune. If only achieving the American Dream was as simple as luck and chance! Newlyweds and young couples today are faced with many opportunities and choices ahead of them. Life’s bigger questions start to surface–such as the best place to live or raise a family; what are the short and long-term savings goals; who will handle the family’s finances; and what are the shared plans for retirement? Oh, and we can’t forget about determining who will do the nightly dinner dishes. Seriously, though, making smart decisio ...

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Wisdom Archive Library

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.