Personal Finance Calendar – Fourth Quarter

Thursday, October 30 at 09:25 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. Here is a monthly calendar for October through December that can serve as a guide to addressing some of these other issues. 

Review your charitable deductions for the year. 

  • Americans continue to be generous givers to their favorite causes. Contributions can provide personal satisfaction and tax savings.
  • If you itemize your tax deductions, you can deduct cash contributions up to 50 percent of your adjusted gross income.
  • 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, make sure your retirement plan is up to date and fits your needs.

  • The simplest retirement planning tool is an IRA. You can contribute up to $5,500 for 2014 or up to $6,500 if you are age 50 or above.
  • SEP IRAs are simple to establish and allow contributions up to 25 percent of compensation with a maximum or $52,000 for 2014.

Review the details of your employer’s retirement plan and make sure you are taking full advantage of it.

  • Participate in the plan. Even minimal participation makes sense.
  • Contribute as much as you can. The annual limit for employee contributions for 2014 is $17,500 with an additional $5,500 allowed if you are age 50 or older. Determine what you can afford and make the largest contribution you can.
  • Get the entire employer's match. Review your plan to understand how the employer's contributions are made and allocated. Discussions with your human resources department may be helpful.
  • Use a sensible investment strategy. Choose a combination of investment options that match your time horizon and risk tolerance. Generally, longer time horizons and greater risk tolerance point to a more aggressive investment strategy with greater use of equity investment choices.

Review any insurance offered by your employer to make sure you have made choices appropriate for your situation.

  • Everyone should consider health insurance and getting it through you employer is probably cheaper than buying it on your own.
  • The choice of health insurance options should be based on how you want to use the insurance and how much you can afford. If you view insurance as simply protection against very large medical expenses, choosing a higher deductible will probably result in lower premium.
  • Many employers offer short-term and long-term disability insurance coverage. Again, because this insurance is available as part of a group, the costs are usually lower than what you would spend on your own.

Discuss your finances with your family. 

  • Many find it difficult to discuss financial issues with family members, but there are benefits for everyone by doing so.
  • Preparing for a family financial discussion will force you to organize your thinking about your short-term and long-term financial plans.
  • Keeping family members informed can reduce stress and anxiety if something unfortunate happens.
  • You may learn something from them in the discussion.

Review your investment portfolio and your investment results for the year. 

  • Be sure your asset allocation (equities, fixed income and cash) matches your time horizon and risk tolerance. Longer time horizons and greater risk tolerance usually point toward a higher allocation to equities.
  • Many investors end up with a portfolio consisting of many stocks. Use this opportunity to review each position to make sure you still want to own it.
  • If your long term investment results are poor, consider alternative avenues like mutual funds, index funds or changing your advisor.
  • If you have realized capital gains and unrealized capital losses, consider selling stocks held at a loss to offset earlier gains.

Spend a little time reflecting on your financial situation and your goals.

  • Evaluate how well you are doing in reaching your goals.
  • 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.

Tags: Financial Education

Friday Financial Forum Oct. 31 in Bartlesville, Okla.

Thursday, October 30 at 07:05 AM
Category: Arvest Community News
Join us Friday, Oct. 31, 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 Southeast Adams Rd., Bartlesville, Okla. Every Friday we invite customers like you to attend our one-hour Financial Forum.

What you can expect at the event:

  • News: "The Scoop" about businesses coming, going and expanding in Bartlesville (Amelya Wilmott, Arvest Bank)
  • Information: Community leaders share topical, local and state information (Sen. John Ford, Rep. Earl Sears and city councilman Mike McGrew)
  • Updates: Arvest provides current economy and stock market trends (Josh Randoph, 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 Amelya Wilmott at (918) 337-4358.

Tags: Bartlesville, Community Support, Oklahoma

Halloween Safety

Wednesday, October 29 at 08:25 AM
Category: Arvest News

It's the most "spooktacular" time of the year. That annual ritual when young pirates, princesses, superheroes, mermaids, and other characters venture out into the streets to collect tasty treats from friends and neighbors. But, while Halloween can bring joy and excitement to children, it can bring worries to parents about their children's safety. Here are some simple tips to ensure your child enjoys the treats of the season and helps them stay safe.

Food Safety

  • Carefully examine all the candy and treats for any signs of tampering.
  • If you cannot be with your children, then instruct your children to eat only factory-wrapped candy or treats from people they know and trust.
  • Read the labels on all candy packaging. This is especially important to parents whose children have dangerous food and other allergies.

Costume Safety

  • Ensure costumes are flame retardant.
  • Do not have your children wear masks or other equipment that obstructs their vision.
  • Before applying makeup, be sure to test it on a small section of your child's skin to prevent an allergic reaction.
  • Ensure your child's costume is not too long, which could cause them to trip or fall.
  • Choose comfortable shoes, such as sneakers. While princess heels may look great, they may cause your child to fall or experience foot pain.
  • Make sure your costumes are bright or reflective. Or, purchase reflective tape that can be adhered to any costume.

Road Safety

  • Make sure young children are always accompanied by an adult.
  • Have children carry flashlights so they can see and be seen.
  • Keep children on sidewalks and instruct them to walk not run.

General Safety

  • Adhere to the trick-or-treat hours your city or town has established.
  • Instruct children to stay away from candles and lighted jack-o-lanterns or other decorations that use fire.
  • Teach children not to enter any houses without being accompanied by a trusted adult.
  • Ensure children only go to houses of people they know.
  • If a house is dark, instruct children to stay away.

Home Safety
If you plan on handing out treats, here are some safety rules to ensure the safety of trick-or-treaters who visit you.

  • Turn on outside lights and make a clear path so young visitors can see where they are going.
  • Choose healthier, lower calorie snacks.
  • Limit the amount of snacks you provide to your young guests.
  • Turn out your lights when trick-or-treating has ended in your city or town or when you run out of candy.

Treat Yourself to More Safety Tips
For more helpful tips on keeping children safe, visit the Center for Disease Control.*

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


Following Up on Sales Leads

Wednesday, October 29 at 07:45 AM
Category: Business Banking

It is rare that a sale is made after an initial contact with a prospect, especially for any large ticket item or service. Customers buy on their schedule and it is the job of the sales person to stay in touch with the prospect during the sales cycle. Here are some ways to maintain contact throughout what can be a long sales process.

Make sure your message has value for the prospect. One of the keys to successful follow up is making sure your message in the follow up has value. A contact by phone, letter or visit that conveys "have you decided yet" is often intrusive to the prospect and seldom successful. A message is better received if it conveys appreciation for the prospect’s interest, responds to questions or shows your interest in the prospect's success.

Phone calls - The telephone is often the most common tool used to stay in touch with a prospect. It can also be one of the most frustrating tools to use. Often the prospect is unavailable or busy. In either case, you should be prepared. If you do connect with the prospect, express your appreciation for his or her time and deliver your message clearly. Which of the following seems better?

  • "Hello, Mrs. Jones. I was calling to follow up on your request for information on our new widget."
  • "Good morning, Mrs. Jones. Thank you for taking my call. I promise to be brief. I would like to describe some additional benefits of using our new widget."

Voicemail You must also be prepared to leave a message (especially with voice mail) that conveys the same impression. Consider the following:

"Good morning Mrs. Jones. I am sorry we are unable to speak directly. I wanted to offer some additional thoughts on how our new widget may increase the efficiency of your manufacturing process. I will drop some materials in the mail today. If you would like the information immediately, please call me at (800) 555-5555. I expect to be available all day today. If we don't connect, please leave a message indicating when would be the most convenient time for me to phone you. Thank you."

Email Using electronic communication can be efficient and effective. By its nature, it conveys a sense of speed and urgency. It also has become the communication method of choice of many busy people. While email tends to be less formal than the written word, make sure your emails are grammatically correct and conform to email etiquette standards. That means using complete sentences, avoiding unneeded capital letters and avoiding using too much bold type. Also make sure to include information on how to contact you.

Be sure your email adds value. Using a hyperlink to additional information on your product makes it convenient for the prospect to learn more. You may also want to include links to some other part of the internet where you have found something that may be of interest to the prospect. For instance, if you read some industry publications, you may want to send an email with a link to an article on your prospect's business.

Mail  The written word still has a place in our electronic world. Sending a short handwritten note thanking a prospect for a meeting shows your manners and conveys a sense of personal commitment to the prospect. You can also use the mail showing you are thinking of the prospect by sending materials in a "for your information" form. Many successful sales people scour trade publications to find articles that would be of interest to their prospects. A copy of the article and a short hand written note (maybe on the back of your business card) will remind the prospect of your continuing interest in helping them address their important issues.

Newsletters Newsletters can be an effective way to stay in touch with large numbers of prospects and leads. While they may be a bit expensive, if your product or service is high-priced and usually involves a long sales cycle, they may be worth the effort and cost. One way to make your newsletter more valuable to the prospect is to mix information about your products/services with other information that will help the prospect be more effective in his or her role.

Summary Staying in touch with prospects and leads is critical. Maintaining contact can take many forms and will usually be more effective if it is consistent without becoming an intrusion to the prospect. Developing a system that includes several of these ideas and then following that system can make the process easier and more productive.

Tags: Arvest Biz, Business Banking

Mason and Medley Join Arvest Private Banking in Greater Kansas City

Tuesday, October 28 at 06:20 AM
Category: Arvest Community News

Arvest in Kansas City is happy to welcome Shelli Mason and Len Medley to Arvest Private Banking.

Shelli's 17 years of banking experience will provide her the tools she needs to best service our private banking customers. She began her banking career 17 years ago as a branch manager and has served clients in private banking for the past 12 years. Currently, Shelli serves as president of the board for Young Women on the Move* and has been involved with this organization since 2009. She has a deep passion for empowering girls to lead healthy lives and believe in themselves.

Shelli resides in Olathe, Kan., with her three children. In her free time, you will find her at her kids’ sporting events, reading, running or cooking.

Len's 16 years of banking experience will help him achieve his goal to be considered a trusted advisor to all his clients. Over the past 16 years, Len has successfully worked in the banking industry meeting the financial needs of his business customers and the families that own those businesses. Len consistently identifies customer needs and aligns them with applicable product solutions. Len has created and cultivated alliances with clients ranging from businesses, business owners, title companies, underwriters, investors, real estate professionals, technical support staff and physicians.

Len is a lifelong Kansas City residence and currently calls the Northland his home.  His “home team” consists of his wife, Sandy, and two daughters, Averie and Madelyn, all of which keeps him on his toes.

Len is active in the community supporting and volunteering in organizations such as the American Cancer Society, Habitat for Humanity and general outreach programs.

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

Tags: Associates, Kansas City

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