Keep Your Financial Sleigh on Course During Holiday Shopping

Monday, November 23 at 09:35 AM
Category: Personal Finance

Holiday shopping can easily get out of control when you have a long list of gifts to buy, and you’re easily enticed by the latest gadget, toy or trend in the store window. Review these tips to rein in your spending before your financial sleigh gets off course.

Set a budget. This basic principle often gets abandoned when you have the non-routine expenses of the holidays. BEFORE you begin shopping, decide how much you’re going to spend on each person. Don’t forget your co-workers, babysitter, housekeeper, lawn maintenance person, postal delivery worker, etc. Allocate some money for people you may have forgotten when making your list. 
 
Start early. When you keep your eyes out for gifts, even before the holidays, you give yourself time to find a good deal so you’re not pressured to overspend on a gift at the last minute. 
 
Take advantage of free shipping. Many online retailers offer free shipping during the holidays. Take advantage of this offer, and it’ll save you the cost of gas and parking associated with going to a brick and mortar store. 
 
Team up with a friend. If you find buy one get one free sales or discounts for buying in bulk, then team up with a friend to share the goods and the savings. 
 
Accumulate rewards. An indirect way to save money is to earn money! Consider opening an Arvest Credit Card with Arvest Flex Rewards which can be redeemed for travel, shopping and dining rewards. Apply online
 
Don’t indulge. Your child doesn’t need every toy he or she desires. Just because an item is on someone’s wish list doesn’t mean you have to buy it for them, especially if his or her list is long.
 
Personalize it. Buy basic gifts and then add a personal touch at home. For example, buy plain stationary and then use letter stamps to put the receiver’s initial on each card. The receiver will appreciate the personalized touch and your wallet will appreciate the money saved from not buying customized items. 
 
With some conscious planning and forethought, you’ll hear the sleigh bells and change in your pocket jingling as a reminder to enjoy the season by shopping within your means. Come January you’ll feel like you’re riding along in a wintery fairyland when you see a positive balance in your bank account.
 
Blog edited by Blog Admin 1/4/16.

Tags: Arvest Flex Rewards™, Arvest Rewards, Budgeting, Credit Cards, Financial Education
 

Developing and Using a Wise Borrowing Strategy

Monday, August 18 at 11:40 AM
Category: Personal Finance

The sensible use of debt should be part of any sound financial strategy. Debt enables you to enjoy things that otherwise are beyond your current reach, but it can also have an ugly side. Too much, too expensive or the wrong kinds of debt can make life miserable. 

The basics

Borrowing costs money. That is not necessarily bad. It just means that when you pay it back, you have to pay more than you borrowed. The components of a good debt strategy are quite simple: 

  • Choose when to borrow and what to borrow for carefully.
  • Find the best interest rate and terms, based on your needs and wants.
  • Live up to your repayment responsibilities.
  • Periodically review your debt. Refinancing your mortgage or an auto loan may save you money.

The importance of a good credit record
Most lenders use your credit record to determine credit limits and what rates to charge. A good credit record will make future credit approvals easier and save money with lower rates. A program enables you to get a free credit report once a year so you can know your own credit record. You can request your free report at www.annualcreditreport.com.* Otherwise you can order a report from one of the following three large credit reporting agencies:

  • Equifax (800) 997-2493
  • Experian (888) 397-3742
  • TransUnion (800) 888-4213

Common sense borrowing habits

  • Never borrow what you cannot repay.
  • Never borrow for a luxury if you cannot afford the necessities.
  • Prioritize your borrowing based on the long-term value of what you are buying.
  • Reserve some borrowing capacity for emergencies.

Getting help if needed
Take action immediately if your borrowing is getting out of control. If credit cards are the problem, stop using them or even cut them up. Contact lenders to develop a workable repayment plan. A qualified credit counselor can help. 

Consider all the terms
Comparing credit cards’ interest rates, fees and rewards can be confusing. Choose a card that reflects how you use it. If you pay the full balance monthly, the interest rate is of little concern. Focus on any annual fee and benefits such as airline miles or cash back features. If you carry over balances, the interest rate should be a top concern. 

Conclusion
Be an informed borrower by using common sense, knowing your credit score and considering all the terms. If you feel overwhelmed by your debt, then seek help to get your debt under control.

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

Blog edited 9/25/14.

Tags: Arvest Rewards, Credit Cards, Credit History, Debt, Financial Education
 

Small Business Credit Card

Wednesday, February 05 at 09:25 AM
Category: Business Banking

Small business plays a vital role in today's economy. It is now easier than ever to establish a new business. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses pay over 45 percent of the U.S. private payroll. Small businesses also employ over half of all private sector employees and have provided 60-80 percent of new jobs over the past 10 years. With about 28.5 million small businesses in the U.S. alone, virtually all financial institutions now offer small business loans to qualified business customers. So why apply for a small business credit card?

Keep Track of All Your Small Business Expenses
The first and most obvious reason for a small business credit card is to separate personal finances from business related purchases. Most credit card issuers offer a credit limit for employee cards as well as different methods to monitor how the card is used. With your small business credit card, you can make transactions by phone, internet or in person. Periodic statements will detail all of these transactions. You no longer have to dread the year-end nightmare of trying to track where and when you spent your money. It's like having all your book-keeping done automatically for you! In a digital world, why should your business have to collect every last printed receipt?

Establish Your Small Business
A credit card with your business name on it gives your business credibility. A business credit card looks a lot more professional than paying from your own wallet. Just by owning a business credit card, your business can build credit, if used properly. So when you need that business loan, you may qualify for a better interest rate and higher loan amount. As your credit builds you might also qualify for a lower interest business credit card.

So even if your business doesn't have a six-figure budget, a business credit card could help your business grow. You never know when your business might suddenly need extra money. Office equipment might need immediate replacement. Without a business credit card, financing could drastically interfere with your daily routine.

Earn Rewards with a Business Credit Card
You can also save money and earn rewards. Some cards give you airline travel rewards just for using your credit card. For instance, if your company has frequent business plane trips, then small business credit cards that offer travel miles, hotel accommodations or travel insurance are most suitable. This type of credit card could give you travel discounts, free flights, free companion travel or upgraded flight seating.

Arvest Corporate Credit Card and Rewards
Feb. 1 through March 31, 2014, Arvest is offering 12,500 Rewards points, which can be redeemed for a $100 gift card, and a year of Arvest Rewards for free when you sign up for a new Arvest Corporate Credit Card with Arvest Rewards.*

Plus, our Corporate Credit Card rewards your small business with:

  • No annual fee
  • 0 percent introductory rate
  • 24/7 online account access

Stop by your local Arvest Bank and ask an Arvest associate how to apply today.

See if a Corporate Credit Card is Right for You
Not only does a small business credit card provide convenience and rewards, it also helps to build business credit for the future of your company as you watch it grow! Research the business credit cards available and find the card that best suits your business needs. Finance your business for today and tomorrow.

*Annual Rewards membership fee of $49.95 waived for the first year. 12,500 Rewards points redeemable after the first transaction from a variety of merchants. Offer valid through March 31, 2014. After six months, your annual percentage rate adjusts to an A.P.R. based on the current Prime rate at that time. Examples of current rates are 10.24% A.P.R. variable for Elite Corporate VISA accounts and 14.24% A.P.R. for Premier Corporate VISA accounts.

The views of this article are for general information use only. Please contact and speak with a subject expert or your banker when specific advice is needed. Find articles like this and much more in the online
Arvest Biz Center.

Tags: Arvest Biz, Arvest Rewards, Business Banking, Credit Cards
 

Tips for Holiday Shopping with Credit Cards

Monday, December 09 at 10:50 AM
Category: Personal Finance

The holiday season is in full swing. As you join the ranks of Christmas shoppers, you'll find plenty of ways to spend your hard-earned money. Using a credit card makes shopping easy; so easy, in fact, that many Americans will spend too much this month. Yet Christmas shopping does not have to lead to credit card debt. This year, you can take steps to avoid a gloomy credit card statement in January.

Create a Budget

Before you set out on a shopping spree, think about how much you plan to spend. Make a list of the people you need to buy gifts for. Set a limit for each present. If you're on the hunt for decorations, baking supplies or wrapping paper, then add those items to the list and estimate your total costs.

Using a credit card to buy the goods on your list can make shopping easy. Just be sure you know what the credit limit is. Also, plan a way to pay back the credit card balance. Some experts advise spending only what you can pay off in three months. So if you can put $200 toward the credit card bill in January, February and March, then keep your spending under $600 (you may have to pay a bit more depending on your card's interest rate). Others suggest running a balance you can pay off within one month. Whatever you decide, make sure your plan is practical and works for you. With a budget set in place, you'll spend within your means and feel better about it, too. 

Get the Most Out of Your Credit Card
As you use a credit card for holiday shopping, you'll want to make sure you get as many benefits as possible from it. Check for rewards like Arvest Rewards or cash back offers; these can add up fast over the holiday season. If you plan to carry a balance for a few months, use a credit card that has a low interest rate. This will help you save on interest expense in the coming year.

Many stores offer discounts, such as 10 percent off, if you sign up for one of their cards. However, before adding another card to your wallet consider the long-term effects. Signing up for too many credit cards can affect your credit score. It may appear to lenders you are short on funds or you are overstretching your credit. Also, many store credit cards come with a high interest rate. If you do not pay off the balance right away, then you could get caught paying much more than you initially saved. Your best option might be to stick with the Visa or MasterCard that's already in your wallet.

With smart budgeting and wise use of your credit card, you can make the holiday cheer last into the New Year!
Tags: Arvest Rewards, Budgeting, Credit Cards, Financial Education
 

Makin’ a List, Checkin’ it Twice

Friday, October 04 at 10:40 AM
Category: Personal Finance

It won’t be long until the holiday lights start going up, and the merchandising in stores changes to red and green.

It seems like the holiday season kicks off earlier and earlier each year, and sometimes that also means the arrival of stress over holiday spending. But don’t let debt be the Grinch that steals your holiday fun.

Instead, follow these spending tips to make this holiday season – and the new year – a happy one:

  • Making a list is one of the best things we can do to maintain fiscal health for the holidays. By planning gift purchases, we can put aside sufficient funds to pay for the holidays and not carry over balances into the New Year. A list also helps keep us on track and minimize impulse purchasing when we just don’t know what to get Grandpa Joe. Consider using a register or tracking log to keep spending on track.
  • Many financial pundits eschew credit cards to manage spending, but consider this -- most credit cards offer some type of rewards program. As long as the credit card is paid off each month, there are no finance charges (interest) and no fees. Another good idea if you plan to buy with a credit card is to take that cash, put it aside in an envelope for that holiday gift list and use it to pay off the credit card bill when it arrives in the mail or inbox. Consider paying the bill right after the purchase to make sure the holiday money isn’t spent elsewhere and to stay ahead of the due date. Use online banking and bill pay services to make the payment any time. Then enjoy rewards points that can be used for gift cards or travel, and avoid that New Year’s credit card balance hangover.
  • Give more gift cards. It’s easy to spend an extra $5 here and $10 there as you search for just the right gifts. With a gift card, you’ll spend exactly what you intended to spend.
  • Here’s another great gift idea: Treat yourself to a Christmas Club account, available at select Arvest locations, to prepare for next year’s holiday purchases. Visit select Arvest branches to open a Christmas Club account that only allows deposits during the year. The lump sum saved throughout the year will be transferred into your Arvest checking or savings account just in time for holiday purchases. Set up an automatic transfer to the Club account each month or payday to build a holiday nest egg. It also helps develop the habit of saving.
  • Some of the most heartfelt gifts are the ones we make. Have a baking weekend with the kids! Oh what fun it is to … sprinkle colored sugar and nibble on chocolate chips as a family. The personal treasures made with love create a holiday to remember. Think of the joy a collection of digital photos will bring to family members that live far away – or even next door!
  • Instead of throwing a holiday party and buying silly gifts for friends or co-workers, why not organize a group volunteer day? Instead of wasting money on gifts that may or may not get used, spend some meaningful time with your friends or co-workers, and make the world a better place in the process. There are plenty of worthy causes, after all, and if you take a few pictures during your volunteer effort, you’ll have a truly worthy memento.

Hopefully, these spending tips will help prepare you for the holiday season and maybe even set off a few carols in your head. As the song, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” reminds us, “… makin’ a list and checkin’ it twice …” is good advice and not just for Santa and his elves!

Tags: Arvest Rewards, Budgeting, Cash Management, Credit Cards, Financial Education, Gift Cards

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