3 Things to Consider When Buying Generic

Wednesday, August 07 at 02:00 PM
Category: Personal Finance

Love them or hate them, generic brands have been around for decades and are here to stay. But they have come a long way since they made their entrance in the market thirty-plus years ago. Strolling around your local grocery store aisles today, you will see a wide variety of colorful packages and enticing names on products that appear to more closely compare with their name brand counterparts. With ever-growing options for groceries from fresh and frozen food to health and wellness products, it can be difficult to determine when it is worth it to buy generic. Below are some factors to consider to make the most of your money and effort when shopping.

Price

The appeal of generic brands is the cheaper price. Consumers often reach for the store brands to save money and meet their family’s needs, but it may not always be the least expensive option. Be sure to calculate the price per unit when comparing products even if the packages look the same. Some stores place the unit price on the label, but if they don’t, use a calculator. Divide the price of the item by the number of units in the package (i.e., ounce, cup, etc.). Also, check coupons and store circulars for savings on name brands and find stores that will double or triple those coupons or allow you to stack using manufacturer, store, and even online or app coupons and rebates. A little extra research may yield even greater savings.

Taste

Taste is ultimately a personal preference. A Consumer Reports taste test* found that store brands were equal or superior to name brands in many staple grocery categories and are an average of 15-30 percent lower in price. Check the ingredients and nutrition in generic or store brand items to see how they compare to the name brand item. If you are craving a unique flavor or if you have a particular loyalty to a brand, the name brand may be the better option. If the ingredients match and you don’t have a brand preference, go with the less expensive option. If you’re having trouble deciding between generic and name brand options, consider buying both and conducting your own taste test at home.

Quality

Historically, name brand products were perceived as higher-quality premium items compared to generic or store brands. Today, however, generic brands offer more premium items and more product choices than ever before. A recent survey* indicated that 75 percent of consumers perceive store brands as equal or better in quality compared to name brands. New generic products are available in “healthier” categories such as organic, plant-based, vegan and natural. Generic brands are required to meet the same standards as name brands and are tested by independent companies before they become available for purchase. So even if you’re trying to eat healthier, high-quality foods, generic brands might save you some money.

Which Products to Buy Generic

Below are a few staple grocery products* that are nearly always worth buying generic – they are typically as good or better than their name brand counterparts and usually cheaper.

  • Milk and Juice
  • Seasonings and spices
  • Frozen fruit and vegetables
  • Canned vegetables and beans
  • Baking and cooking supplies (baking mixes, flour, sugar, salt)
  • Snack foods (spreads and dips, dried fruit, pickles and olives, nuts and cookies)
  • Fresh produce
  • Cereal

When choosing between generic brands and the equivalent name brand products, consider price, taste and quality. Generic products are usually the cheapest, but it can save you even more to check coupons and specials on name brand items. Compare ingredients and nutrition and, if you can, sample multiple products to see which taste you prefer. A generic label doesn’t always indicate a lower quality and might even exceed the name brand. A little time and research might satisfy both your taste buds and your wallet.

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

Tags: Financial Education
 

How to Identify Student Loan Assistance Scams

Wednesday, August 07 at 02:00 PM
Category: Personal Finance

Arvest Bank is warning consumers about student loan assistance scams.

In these types of scams, borrowers receive phone calls, emails, letters, and/or texts offering them relief from their federal student loans or warning them that student loan forgiveness programs would end soon. Usually, the so-called student loan debt relief companies offering these types of services don’t offer any relief at all. Often they’re just fraudsters who are after your money.

Here are some signs to help you identify a scam by a student loan debt relief company:

  • They require you to pay up-front or monthly fees for help. It is illegal to charge an up-front fee for this type of service, so if a company requires a fee before they do anything, that’s a huge red flag—especially if they try to get your credit card number or bank account information. In some cases, they may even step in and ask you to pay them directly, promising to pay your servicer each month when your bill comes due. Free assistance is available through your federal loan servicer.
  • They promise immediate and total loan forgiveness or cancellation. No one can promise immediate and total loan forgiveness or cancellation. Most government forgiveness programs require many years of qualifying payments and/or employment in certain fields before your loans can be forgiven. Also, student loan debt relief companies do not have the ability to negotiate with your federal loan servicer for a “special deal” under the federal student loan programs. Payment levels under income-driven payment plans are set by federal law.
  • They ask for your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID. The U.S Department of Education or its partners will never ask you for your FSA ID password. Your FSA ID is used to sign legally binding documents electronically. It has the same legal status as a written signature. Do not give your FSA ID password to anyone or allow anyone to create an FSA ID for you. If a company has access to your FSA ID information, they can make changes to your account without your permission.
  • They ask you to sign and submit a third-party authorization form or a power of attorney. These are written agreements giving the third party legal permission to talk directly to your federal loan servicer and make decisions on your behalf. Debt relief companies often want these authorizations so that they can change your account and contact information, so you don’t realize that they aren’t actually paying your monthly student loan bill.
  • They claim that their offer is limited and encourage you to act immediately. Student loan debt relief companies often try to instill a sense of urgency by citing “new laws” or discontinuing programs as a way to encourage borrowers to contact them immediately.
  • Their communications contain spelling and grammatical errors. While many of the communications sent out by these companies look very formal (for example, fold-and-tear letters with safety patterns), they often contain spelling and grammatical errors. If you notice unusual capitalization, improper grammar, or incomplete sentences in the communication you receive, that’s a red flag.

What should you do if you’ve already shared your information or paid one of these student loan debt relief companies? You need to complete the following tasks:

  • Log in to your Department of Education account and change your FSA ID. Do NOT share your new FSA ID password with anyone!
  • Contact your federal loan servicer to revoke any power of attorney or third-party authorization agreement that your servicer has on file. You should also make sure no unwanted actions were taken on your loans.
  • Contact your bank or credit card company, and request that payments to the company be stopped.
  • File a complaint with the FTC*.
  • File a report of suspicious activity through the Federal Student Aid Feedback System*.

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

 Source: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/avoiding-loan-scams

 

    

Tags: Financial Education
 

Get Out and Enjoy National Golf Month

Wednesday, August 07 at 02:00 PM
Category: Personal Finance

August is National Golf Month, and whether you’re beginner or longtime links lover, it’s a great time to enjoy the game. Summer may be winding down, but there is still plenty of sunlight to hit the course or driving range early or late. 

Those who play will tell you golf is a great sport for socialization, too, so read below for 18 ways (with help from tee-time marketplace GolfNow*) to get out and celebrate National Golf Month. 

  1. Hit the range. Practice makes perfect, and there’s no better place to work out the kinks in your game than the range.
  2. Plan a trip with friends and/or family. Is there is anything better than a golf trip?
  3. Get a United States Golf Association (USGA) handicap. The USGA is the governing body of golf for all of the United States and Mexico, and also provides a national handicap system for golfers. Visit the USGA website* to learn more about establishing your handicap.
  4. Share the love. Introduce a friend or family member to the game you love!
  5. Take a lesson. Having a pro diagnose your game and offer instruction and tips for improvement can be a game-changer.
  6. Play a par-3 course. Speaking of improvement, what better way to sharpen your iron game than by playing a course consisting only of par-3s? Find one here*.
  7. Play with your kids. The memories made with your children on the course will last a lifetime, and you just may pass along a love for a game they can play for the rest of their lives.
  8. Splurge. Play somewhere you typically wouldn’t, whether that means a course a little outside your area or one that costs a little more than you usually spend.
  9. Book the first tee time. What better way to start the day than with a round of golf? Play through the dew without waiting on anyone (except maybe the grounds crew).
  10. Play 36 holes. If you start early, you can have lunch after the first 18 and then get back at it. Just think of the memories and stories that will come from the day you played 36!
  11. Play in a charity tournament. Spend the money you’d usually spend on a round, but feel good knowing it is going to a worthy cause.
  12. Walk. Skip the cart and play the way the pros play, by walking. If you’re not sure you can walk a full 18 holes, try walking nine.
  13. Treat yourself. Invest in that golf gear you’ve been eyeing.
  14. Party time. Throw a party and watch your favorite golf-themed movies*. It’s hard to go wrong with “Tin Cup,” “Caddyshack,” “Happy Gilmore” or your personal favorite!
  15. Get tech-y. Whether you want to watch the pros when you’re away from home, compete against other golfers, or get a little help lining up that tricky putt, there is a multitude of apps that can help.
  16. Keep stats. Your score isn’t the only number that matters. Track how many fairways and greens you hit as well.
  17. Make a golf bucket list. Put together a list of golf courses you want to play sometime in your lifetime. Think: Pebble Beach.
  18. Clean your clubs. If you take full advantage of National Golf Month, your clubs are likely to need some TLC. Give them a proper cleaning* with brush tool and water. 

Interested in playing some competitive golf during National Golf Month? Check out these calendars to find an event that’s right for you:

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

 

 

 
 

Auto Loans: Bigger Down Payment or Paying Off Other Debt?

Thursday, June 20 at 01:00 PM
Category: Personal Finance

When you take out a loan for a car, some people argue you should put down the biggest possible down payment, so your monthly payments are lower and you can pay it off quicker. Others advise prioritizing paying off other existing debts over making a big down payment. In reality, the solution that’s right for you depends on your financial situation.

You can get a low APR car loan with little or money down (with good credit). Use savings to pay off credit cards or other debt, not as a down payment. Buying a car, new or used, is a financial commitment. You can make a down payment, reducing the amount you’ll have to pay monthly on the vehicle. But what if you have more pressing debt, like credit card or student loan debt?

Does it make sense to sign up for a car payment plan and use the short-term cash to pay other debts first? We’ve analyzed the pros and cons of each choice. Read more here*.

 

*Link is a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.

Tags: Financial Education
 

Reminder: Before Using Your Credit Card for Online Purchases

Friday, March 22 at 12:00 AM
Category: Personal Finance

Making purchases online can be convenient and efficient. While online shopping never has a 100% guarantee, here are five simple tips that could help keep your information secure when entering your credit card online:

  1. Shop secure sites. Check for the ‘s’ behind the ‘http’ in a website’s address. The ‘s’ indicates the site is encrypted, which provides an extra layer of security for online buys. The address bar may also appear green, confirming the site is secure.
  2. Purchase at home or on a private wireless internet connection. Using either a public computer or a public Wi-Fi network can make you an easy target for nearby scammers.
  3. Keep your social private. Nearly all online purchases can be made without entering your social security number. Don’t provide this or any other unnecessary information when making a purchase.
  4. Add additional security. Anti-virus software and strong passwords may take a little time to set up, but keeping your personal information safe is worth the effort.
  5. Use your best judgement. If a site seems questionable, don’t follow through with the purchase. Deals that seem too good to be true could cost you in the long run if your credit card and other personal information falls into the wrong hands.

If you need assistance with your credit card or wish to report a potential issue, please contact us at (800) 356-8085.

    

Tags: Financial Education

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