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After the holiday celebrations, many people end up with more debt than they would like. January is a good time to think about ways to manage debt and make resolutions to achieve financial stability.

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Understanding the ins and outs of credit is easier said than done, but following some basic steps can get you on the path to success. Use this list of credit dos and don'ts to help you get started.

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DO


• DO know the power of credit. Creditors look at your credit history as an indication of your future financial behavior. By using credit wisely, you can build a good credit history -- making it easier to get loans with low interest rates, rent an apartment, purchase a car or home, and may even help you get a job.

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Commonly Asked Questions!

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Should I get a savings account or a checking account?

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Financial Tips for Young Adults

Starting Out on Their Own

With another school year just around the corner, students are preparing to head back to classes—and some may be leaving home for the first time. While everyone can benefit from learning about money management and taking a more hands-on approach with their finances, young adults—including those just starting college—have plenty to gain by learning to be smart about money, and a lot to lose by making uninformed decisions. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

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10 Money-Saving Tips for Back-to-School Shopping

To your kids, shopping for new clothes, gear and school supplies may be the only good thing about going back to school, but that doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune every year. Start your back-to-school shopping with a game plan to save money and make your life easier. Here are 10 tips to help you get started.

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With another spring cleaning season mostly behind us, maybe you cleaned out a few closets or even made some extra cash through a garage sale. But did you take the opportunity to clean out your financial records? Before your paper shredder goes to work, check this list from Iowa Jump$tart on how long to keep financial records. Then consider opting for electronic statements to reduce your paper load.Keep these records until you've reconciled your statement:

  

  • Bank deposit slips
  • Credit card receipts
  • Monthly bills and credit card statements (keep statements and receipts you may need to prove tax deductions)

Keep these records for the calendar year:

  • Bank statements
  • Pay stubs (consider opting for direct deposit into your bank account)
  • Investment/broker statements, including 401(k) plans

Keep these records for seven years:

  • Tax returns and supporting documents
  • Bank statements needed to prove a deduction on a tax return

Keep these records forever:

  • Employer-defined benefit plan communications
  • IRA contributions
  • Brokerage statements (document gains/losses until sale)
  • Life insurance policies (most recent copy)
  • Loan documents (until paid and you have title)
  • Home improvement records/receipts (keep seven years after you sell)
  • Savings bonds (you can convert paper bonds to electronic)
  • Safe deposit box inventory

For more information on Iowa Jump$tart and to access other financial education resources, visit iowajumpstart.org.

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ATM Safety Tips

Automated teller machines, or ATMs, have made banking more convenient than ever before. With the touch of a few buttons, you can withdraw cash, make deposits and transfer funds virtually anywhere an ATM is located. But with that convenience comes a need for some extra safety precautions. Follow these tips to help keep yourself and your money safe.

  

  • Keep your PIN a secret. Never write it down or share it with anyone -- not even family members.
  • Be aware of your surroundings, particularly at night. Make sure the ATM is free of sight obstructions. If you observe suspicious persons or circumstances, do not use the machine.
  • Have your ATM card ready and in your hand as you approach the ATM.
  • Use your body to "shield" the ATM keyboard as you enter your PIN.
  • Always take your receipts or transaction records with you.
  • Do not count or visually display any money you received at the ATM. Immediately put your money into your pocket or purse and count it later.
  • If you are using a drive-up ATM, be sure passenger windows are rolled up and all doors are locked. If you leave your car and walk to the ATM, lock your car.
  • If an ATM looks suspicious -- for instance, if it has a discolored card reader or an unresponsive keypad -- use another machine.
  • Regularly check your monthly statement for strange withdrawals, and contact your bank immediately if you notice something suspicious.
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There aren’t too many things worse than the panicked feeling of a missing wallet or purse —especially when you’re not sure if it’s just misplaced or if it could be in the hands of a criminal. Follow these tips to help minimize the damage of a lost or stolen wallet and to give you peace of mind.

 

  1. 1.       Limit the amount of confidential information in your wallet. Only carry the identification, checks, credit cards or debit cards you really need. The rest, including bank account numbers, personal identification numbers, passwords and—most importantly—your Social Security card, are best kept elsewhere in a safe place. Don’t pre-print your Social Security number or driver’s license number on your checks, because either one could help a thief apply for a loan, credit card or bank account in your name.
  1. 2.       Copy everything in your wallet (except the cash). Copy or scan both sides of credit cards, insurance cards, IDs and any other important documents kept in your wallet, and store the copies in a safe place. If your wallet is lost or stolen, knowing exactly what was in it will make suspending accounts and getting replacement cards much easier. Note that the customer-service number you need to call to report a compromised card is often on the back.
  1. 3.       Review your credit card bills and checking account statements as soon as they arrive. Make sure that no fraudulent activity is taking place and you’re not being billed for purchases you didn’t make.
  1. 4.       Periodically request your credit reports. Look for signs that someone may have obtained loans or tried to commit other fraud in your name. By federal law, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call (877) 322-8228 to order your free credit reports.
  1. 5.       If your wallet is missing, take steps to limit your liability. Immediately call your bank and credit card companies to report lost or stolen cards.

Being proactive and taking precautionary steps to protect yourself from the damage of a lost or stolen wallet may seem like it will take a lot of time and effort—but it’s nothing compared to the many hours you would spend trying to recover a stolen identity. Learn more ways to avoid identity theft online at www.ftc.gov/idtheft.

These tips are provided by the Iowa Bankers Association (IBA), representing banks and thrifts in the state.  The IBA serves it members by providing legislative advocacy, training, regulatory compliance and other services designed to enhance the ability of banks to serve their communities.  Learn more at www.iowabankers.com.

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Memorial Day weekend offers a time for families and friends to gather together to enjoy each other’s company and to honor those who are serving and have served our country. Whether you’re traveling this weekend or hosting a cookout in your own backyard, here are some ways to save this Memorial Day weekend.

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10 Money-Saving Tips for Spring 

Spring has officially arrived! To celebrate the warmer weather and add some money to your pocketbook, here are a few tips to help you save some cash this spring:

 

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