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What To Do If Your Purse Or Wallet Is Stolen

What do you do if your purse or wallet is lost or stolen? This is a question that usually is not asked until it happens. Keep reading to learn the steps you should take.

According to, no official surveys have been done to determine how many wallets get stolen each year, but it’s believed that:

  • Around 1,000 purses and wallets are stolen every two minutes in the U.S.
  • If this is accurate, that means just under 300,000 wallets are stolen every YEAR in the U.S. alone!

Your wallet or purse has been lost or stolen, what do you do?? DON’T PANIC!! Keep your cool and follow these steps from LifeLock:

  1. Call the issuer of your debit card – thieves can do A LOT of damage with your debit card in just a short amount of time. If you report your debit card missing within two business days, you’ll only be responsible for a maximum of $50 worth of unauthorized purchases and most banks won’t even charge you that.
  2. Call the bank that issued your checkbook – if you still carry a checkbook. You’ll need to close your account completely and open a new one. Be sure to change all your automated payments and direct deposits as well so no service is interrupted.
  3. Call your credit card companies – according to the Fair Credit Billing Act, you are not responsible for any fraudulent purchases on your credit card as long as you report your card stolen before a thief starts using it. If a thief does use it before you report it, you’ll only be responsible for a max of $50 of unauthorized buys.
  4. Set up fraud alerts with the national credit bureaus – Call one of the three national credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax or TransUnion, to request they place a fraud alert on your credit report. Lenders and creditors are then required to take steps to verify your identity before opening new credit cards or loans in your name.
  5. File a police report – If you’re a victim of identity theft, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and fill out an Identity Theft Affidavit. This affidavit allows you to fill out one form to report information to creditors and lenders regarding your case of identity theft. You might also need a police report to get a new driver’s license or social security card.
  6. Replace your social security card – hopefully this isn’t an issue because you left your social security card at home! But if you didn’t, you’ll need to contact the social security administration who will probably not give you a new number, but will give you a new card.
  7. Check your credit reports for unusual activity – you can order one copy of each of your three credit reports – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, at no charge, once a year. Visit
  8. Get a new driver’s license – Visit your local DMV for a new license. There will most likely be a fee.
  9. Change the locks – If you kept a key to your home in your wallet, or purse, it’s time to change your locks. A thief now has your address from your driver’s license and a key to your house.
  10. Make a list of what else was in your wallet – start replacing those cards you carried in your wallet like your health insurance cards. Then as needed, your library card, gym membership, grocery discount card, etc…

The Annual Cost of Owning a Dog

What is the annual cost of owning a dog? 

When looking forward to the priceless moments you’ll gain from owning a dog, be sure to consider the costs that come with taking care of your new pet as well. Costs for owning a dog can vary depending on the size, age, and health of your dog, in addition to the personal choices you make as its owner.  According to the most recent estimates by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the annual cost of owning a dog ranges between $700 and $1,100 annually.  So before bringing a furry friend home, make sure to think about how these expenses fit into your budget.

The First Year
The first year of owning a new dog can be a bit more expensive because it includes the cost of the dog and the supplies needed, whether you’re a first-time dog owner, or already have another dog at home. Dog expenses vary based on a range of factors – from the size of your dog to the average cost of the veterinarian in your area. reports that the total first-year annual cost of owning a dog is $1,270.

Some of the average expenses for your new dog could include:

  • Dog collar:  $5 to $30
  • Dog leash: $8 to $35 for one leash
  • Dog tag:  $5 to $20
  • Dog bed and crate: Prices for dog beds and crates typically depend on the quality, material, and size but the average ranges from $25 to $250
  • Food and water bowls: $10-$40
  • Dog food:  The typical price range for a 50 lb bag of dog food is $20 to $50. According to the ASPCA, the annual cost of premium dry dog food for a large dog will run you around $400.
  • and only about half that for a small dog, with food costs for a medium-size dog landing somewhere in the middle.
  • Dog toy:  $5 to $15 (Tip: We recommend you visit your local TJMaxx or Marshalls when looking for pet toys as they usually have them at a great price.)
  • First veterinarian visit, and follow-ups for vaccinations:  For vaccinations, heartworm preventative & topical flea/tick preventative, this will generally run around $250
  • Dog license: A fee around $15-25, depending on where you live

Ongoing Expenses

Once you’ve stocked up on your pet supplies, most of your ongoing expenses will involve restocking food, replacing damaged items, and the annual trips to the vet.  The ASPCA projects that you spend between $580 and $875 annually on your dog.  

Here is an idea of the average costs you may incur annually:

Food and vitamins: $120 to $550
Vaccines and routine care: $80 to $250
Heartworm and flea prevention: $76 to $367
Dog license: A fee around $15-$25
Toys and treats: $10 to $250

Extras: The optional and unexpected

Budget! Budget! Budget! You adore your furry best friend and want him to have the best of everything, however, that little avocado-looking stuffed dog toy doesn’t count as a necessity. These extras are admittedly hard to resist, so to prevent overspending, we suggest you establish an annual ‘extras’ dog budget and then honor it.

Some additional items to consider also include travel or unexpected medical issues. These are not items that you may need each year but may occur when necessary.

Depending on where you live, how often you travel, and whether you would prefer to board your dog in a kennel or leave it with a friend, these prices can range pretty greatly.

  • Average cost per day for boarding in a kennel: According to, boarding can range from $12 to $38 for a full day.
  • The average cost for hiring a pet sitter: According to Pet Sitter, the average dog sitter charges between $14 and $19 an hour, with an average cost of $16.80 per hour.

Unexpected medical issues
If your dog develops an illness or has a medical emergency, you’ll have to pay for any resulting medical care, medications, or surgical procedures out of pocket. Pet insurance can offset medical costs, but it usually won’t cover 100% of the vet bill. 

According to Dr. Louise Murray, vice president of the ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital, “Owners will likely incur at least one $2,000 to $4,000 bill for emergency care at some point during their pet’s lifetime.” If you own or plan on owning, a dog, we encourage you to set aside a pet fund, or a portion of your emergency fund for an unexpected vet bill.

Priceless Love
Overall, the annual cost of owning a dog can feel absolutely priceless.  Whether they’re begging for a taste of your dinner, or simply greeting you when you get home, dogs do all of the little things that put smiles on faces, and there is a good reason why they are known as “Man’s Best Friend”. The more you understand the annual cost of owning a dog, the more prepared you are for the priceless rewards of having a furry best friend.

Ways To Spend Less This Halloween

Tips and Tricks to save on the costumes, candy and decor.

The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend a record $8.8 billion on Halloween this year, an average of $86 per household with the top spending categories of:

  • $3.2 billion on costumes
  • $2.6 billion on candy
  • $2.7 billion on decorations
  • $390 million on greeting cards

Whoa, that’s a spooky amount of money! Here are some ways to avoid this nightmare and save some money this Halloween.

Save on the costume:

  • Get creative and make a DIY Halloween costume.  This can be easier than it sounds! We suggest looking to Pinterest for inspiration. (While you’re there, make sure to check out Bank Five Nine’s Pinterest page!)
  • Trade or buy gently used. Go online to look for local costume swap events or shop Facebook Marketplace. 
  • Check out a local thrift shop. You might be surprised at the kind of merchandise you find! Some Goodwill stores even create a separate section in their store for Halloween items during the fall season.  Since children (and adults) usually dress up as something different each year, recycled costumes can be easily found.
  • Check out TJ Maxx online for some new costumes at a discounted price.
  • Buy from the toy section, instead of the costume section.  Sometimes you can find “dress-up” costumes that are not branded for Halloween that are cheaper than the seasonal versions.

Save on the candy

If you live in a neighborhood that gets a lot of trick-or-treaters, the cost of candy can add up, and fast.

  • Shop for generic brands.
  • Shop in bulk! When buying in bulk, double check that the candy you are buying is individually wrapped.
  • Hand out something other than candy. For example, online retailers like Oriental Trading or even local dollar stores sell Halloween toys in bulk.  Keep a look out for glow sticks, stickers, jumping spiders or spider rings.   
  • Shop last minute. Retailers will be a lot more anxious to get rid of Halloween merchandise the closer the holiday gets.
  • Use a pillowcase to collect candy versus using a pumpkin bucket. (Bonus: pillowcases hold more candy!)

Save on the décor

  • Shop the dollar store: You can save a good amount of money by buying more of your accent decorations from the Dollar store. Some great Halloween items to buy at the dollar store include:
    • Black and orange paper plates
    • Cups and silverware
    • Halloween garland
    • Fake cobwebs
    • Balloons
    • Candles
    • Vases and candle holders
  • Plan ahead and buy your decorations a year earlier, or buy for the next year at the end of the season!  A large number of stores slash their prices the closer the holiday gets, and especially after the holiday is over.
  • Pumpkin carving is fun and also a great way turn that fun into decor for your porch!
    • After you pick and carve your pumpkins, consider roasting the seeds. This makes a cheap and fun Halloween snack that is not just pure sugar. Click here for some seed recipes.

Personal Money Pits

Little things that cost a lot. Everybody has those things we spend little amounts on regularly, maybe it’s lunch, coffee, manicures, golf, pizza, music, or movies.

It’s hard to imagine how it all might add up. And the reality is that each dollar spent today isn’t available for something else tomorrow. These little purchases may have a way of robbing us of the things we really want.

Most people haven’t stopped to consider whether that daily coffee is truly precious to our well-being, or if it’s just a habit. If it’s precious, it’s worth doing – at least part of the time. But is it worth giving up that convertible you could have otherwise purchased?

The presumption of these is that if you hadn’t spent the money, you would have saved it and earned an average of 8% on your investments. That’s probably high, but for example purposes, it’ll do.

Some spending habits to consider (CBS News):

ExpenseToday10 Years30 Years
Pizza Delivery$25/week$20,211$171,928
Lunch at Work$10/day$37,231$316,983

This is an average of $34,000 over 10 years. How could you spend this wisely?

  • Save for retirement
  • Save for a down payment
  • Pay off debt
  • Enjoy a more comfortable lifestyle

How could you spend this on more fun stuff?

  • 2019 BMW 2 Series or 2019 Infiniti Q50
  • Charter a crewed yacht in the Caribbean for 1 week
  • Rihanna’s purse collection
  • 654 pairs of Chuck Taylor shoes

Bottled water costs about $1.35/bottle. If you drink 2 per day (even though you should drink more), that’s $985/year!

  • If all the water you use at home costs as much as the average bottled water, it would cost you $9,000 (insert shocked face emoji here, are we right?!).
ItemSpent Per Year
Dining Out$1,800
Entertainment – movies, concerts, attractions…$2,500
Clothes and related items$1,700
Holiday purchases and gifts$700

Where can you cut costs?

  • Request a credit card rate reduction
    • If you pay your bill on time every month, call up your credit card company and request a rate reduction. Especially if you have a high balance. They may be willing to negotiate.
  • Sell unused items
    • Dig through closets and attics for items you no longer use that may have value, then sell them on eBay or Craigslist.
  • Energy Bills
    • Install CFL or LED light bulbs, could save you $40/year or more
    • Install a programmable thermostat, automatically changing the heating and cooling when you’re not at home or asleep so you can save.
    • Unplug unused electrical devices.
    • Lower the temperature on your hot water heater.
      • The hot water heater accounts for about 14% of energy costs.
  • Reduce or eliminate your cable bill
  • Cancel newspaper and magazine subscriptions you don’t have time to read
  • Shop around for homeowners and auto insurance, or bundle them together
  • Buy generic when you can
  • Use public transportation or carpool to work
  • Lower your cell phone bill
    • If you don’t use all your data, perhaps consider a less expensive plan without all the bells and whistles

Another thing to try is to record each and every purchase you make for a month or two by keeping a spreadsheet or using an app such as Mint or Personal Capital.

Chances are you’ll find there are ways you could cut back and save some extra money.

Saving Money On Groceries

Groceries. Some people love going grocery shopping, others absolutely despise it. For most, it’s just a necessary part of our weekly routine. But how much we actually spend on groceries varies dramatically from one household to the next. According to a USDA report released in July of 2018, Americans spent between 12.4% and 33% of their household income on groceries per month. For a household that brings in $2,000 per month, that’s up to $660 just on groceries!

Interestingly, GO Banking Rates conducted a survey of 1,009 people and found:

  • Women spend 11% more per month than male respondents
  • 57% of women clip coupons compared to 41% of men
  • People making more than $150,000 annually spent $450 per month, 66% more than the lowest wage earners
  • People living in the Midwest had the second highest average grocery bill at $305, the South was #1 at $308
  • According to average food prices on Numbeo, the Midwest and the South have the lowest grocery prices nationally and the highest rate of obesity according to the CDC

So groceries are an expense we can’t avoid completely, but an expense we actually have quite a bit of control over. By shopping smarter, there are ways to stretch your grocery dollars when you’re shopping, and even after you get your food home. We’ve compiled a list of tips from to hopefully help you save a couple bucks the next time you’re roaming the aisles. 

  1. Plan meals and make a list.
    • Don’t shop on an empty stomach, it leads to impulse shopping, which leads to spending way more than you should.
    • Set aside a few minutes each week to plan meals based on coupons and deals offered in the store circular.
    • Try to incorporate ingredients into multiple meals so you don’t waste produce, dairy and other perishables.
  2. Stick with seasonal produce.
    • Thanks to modern technology and speedy shipping, grocers can stock just about anything, any time of year. But it’s going to cost you to eat asparagus in fall or berries in winter.
    • Know your produce seasons and shop accordingly.
  3.   Shop sales, but read the fine print.
    • If a sale says 5 for $10, don’t feel obligated to buy all 5. Check the store policy. Usually you will get the same discount even if you just buy a single quantity.
    • The same goes for limits. A sale on soda might say limit 6. This is a way to keep the item stocked for more customers, but it also triggers an impulse in shoppers to buy all 6. Only buy what you need.
  4. Ask for a rain check. 
    • Say everyone does go soda crazy, meets the limit and next thing you know, they’re out of stock before you could get your bargain cola. That’s OK. Ask for a rain check. This is a voucher that entitles you to the sale price whenever the item is back in stock.
  5. Avoid the cost of convenience.
    • Just about every time something is peeled, cut or individually packaged, the price goes up.
    • When you get home from the store, divvy a box of crackers into individual portions you can throw in lunchboxes. Or take a bag of carrots, peel and cut them into carrot sticks for an afternoon snack.
  6. Take a chance on chicken.
    • Bone-in chicken is typically less expensive (it’s that convenience factor again)
    • A lot of people are intimidated by bones and opt for the much more expensive boneless chicken breast.
    • The closer the chicken is to its original form, the less you will pay. Learning how to break down a whole chicken will save you big money over time.
    • Boneless chicken breasts cost nearly $2 more per pound according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  7. Befriend your butcher.
    • Ask your butcher what time of day meat is typically marked down. This is meat discounted because it’s approaching its sell by date, but it should still be good if you cook it that night or freeze it for later.
    • Typically, a large cut of meat will be cheaper than the same amount cut into smaller pieces. But some butchers will be happy to cut it up into smaller pieces for free, especially if you’re buddies!
  8. Read expiration dates. 
    • When stocking shelves, they push the older merchandise to the front and put the new items, with later expiration dates, to the back. Go for the back of shelves and read expiration dates to make sure you’re bringing home the freshest, longest-lasting products.
  9. Read unit prices.
    • On the price tag, you will see a price per ounce (or other unit of measurement). This is the best way to compare prices between brands.
    • Product packaging can be misleading, so it’s very possible that the 12-oz bag of chips just looks bigger than the 16-oz. Read unit prices to find out which brand has the best deal.
  10. Family size is not always the best size.
    • Read unit price. Sometimes if the regular size is on sale or if you have a coupon it is actually less than the family size.
    • Other times it’s the same exact price, and let’s face it, most of us would rather store a 2 lb. bag of flour in our pantry than find room for a 10 lb. sack.
  11. Create less food waste.
    • One of the best ways to stretch grocery dollars is to waste less.
    • Many people know that after roast a chicken, you should hold onto the bones and trimmings to make chicken stock. Do the same with your vegetables. Veggie “waste” like carrot peels and broccoli stalks are actually a great way to flavor your broth. Keep a bag in the freezer and load it up till you’re ready to make soup.
  12. Freeze more.
    • Practically anything can be frozen, if stored properly.
    • A vacuum sealer is a great investment piece if you want to get serious about freezing.
    • FoodSaver estimates you can save up to $2,700 a year when you buy items in bulk, on sale and prevent waste by freezing food in airtight packages.

The next time your fridge is getting low, consider one or more of the above tips. It will probably only take you a few extra minutes, but could save you big bucks in the end.

School Supply Drive Overview 2019

During the last few months of summer, the Bank coordinated their annual School Supply Drive.

With the help of our employees, customers and community members, we donated thousands of items including notebooks, binders, folders, glue sticks, rulers, scissors, brand new backpacks, and much more.

Thank you to everyone who donated. All donations and proceeds will benefit the following local schools and organizations.

  • The Brookfield East Branch donated to Dixon Elementary School
  • The Brookfield West Branch donated to St. Dominic’s School in Brookfield
  • The Grafton Branch donated to Kennedy Elementary School
  • The Glendale Branch donated to North Shore Insurance Agency for the MEEMIC Foundation
  • The Germantown Branch participated in Riteway Stuff the Bus
  • The Hartford Branch donated to the Herman Neosho Rubicon School District
  • The Hartland Branch donated to Lake Country Caring, Inc.
  • The Menomonee Falls Branch donated to Valley View Elementary
  • The Mequon Branch donated to the Family Sharing of Ozaukee County
  • The three Oconomowoc Branches teamed up and donated to St. Matthew’s School
  • The West Bend Branch donated to just FRIENDS Inc.

Building the Ultimate Affordable Cheese Platter

How to Make an Affordable Cheese Platter

We live in Wisconsin, and Wisconsin is known for … cheese! A cheese platter is always a guest favorite but that can add up pretty quickly if you are unsure of what to buy.  Here are some tips for creating a beautiful and affordable cheese platter.

Our first tip is to check your own kitchen to start! Chances are, you already have a lot of ingredients on hand. Check your fridge for jams, mustards, pickles, and olives, and your kitchen pantry for things such as nuts and crackers.

Cheeseboards are typically displayed on a slate or wooden tray, but if you don’t already own one, don’t feel like you need to go out and buy one. You can also use a plate, a cutting board, or even a baking sheet to make your affordable cheese platter look the same as if you had a slate tray.


On a cheese board, the cheese is obviously the star of the show!
There’s really no right or wrong when it comes to the cheese selections, as it all comes down to what you and your guests would enjoy most. However, if you are looking for some recommendations, this is a great place to start!
Choose a variety of cheeses (but don’t buy too much)! Three different types of cheese are great for a small group of people, but if you’re hosting a medium crowd, four kinds of cheese would be perfect. When selecting your cheese, try to include a variety of textures and flavors.  For a medium-sized cheese board, we recommend splitting the cheese selections between 2 soft(er) cheeses and 2 hard kinds of cheese. When you get to the grocery store, see what deals they have and plan your cheese selections from there. (This is also a great way to find some new favorite cheeses yourself!) When looking for the classics, block mild cheddar and domestic parmesan are more budget-friendly buys and are crowd-pleasers.  

One of our favorite stores to shop at when making an affordable cheese platter is Aldi’s. They have a great selection of cheese at prices that are hard to beat. (We highly suggest checking out the Specially Selected Aged Reserve White Cheddar for $2.50 or the Specially Selected Le Gruyère which costs $5.00).

Another tip is to add a cheese spread to a small serving bowl to add to your board instead of blocks of cheese. Cheese spreads are crowd-pleasing, go far when it comes to serving counts, and are also budget-friendly. Once you have your cheeses, cut each one into different-sized slices and/or cubes (this tip is mostly for the hard cheeses on your board). This is a tip to help fill the space, but it also allows the cheese to go further in a group!

The Fruit
The great thing about adding fruit is it adds some color and the perfect touch of sweetness to your board!
Depending on the season, purchase what is the best price at the store when considering fruit for your tray.  (It’s almost always cheaper to buy fruits and veggies when they’re in season). For example, buy apples for your cheese board in fall and strawberries in summer.
We suggest slicing an apple, adding some grapes (with stems on), or scattering strawberries throughout the board. We generally choose two fruits, but one is certainly enough when enjoying a smaller board.

Crackers / Bread
Add a bit of crunch, texture (and of course a vessel for the cheese) by adding crackers or bread.
However, when staying on a budget, the majority of your money should be spent on the cheese, not the crackers.  Aldi (again, one of our favorite stores for creating an affordable cheese platter) has great cracker assortments that are super affordable and gives a great variety without breaking the bank. However, if you are buying individual packages, pick up a budget-friendly classic favorites such as Wheat Thins or Ritz.
Another great idea is to add a baguette or some French bread.  Bonus: A lot of times you may even find some marked-down pieces of bread in the bakery department of your grocery store.  Adding just baked (but completely cooled) bread to your board is a great touch and is a terrific way to fill some space. 

Now that the big pieces are on our cheese plate, it’s time to have some fun and start filling in the gaps! This is where a cheese plate really starts to come together and adds that wow factor.
Most of the time there is no need to go buy new jars of fancy preserves. Most likely you have a spread you can use at home! You can use honey, whole-grain mustard, or just a classic jam from your fridge or pantry. Scoop your spread of choice into a small serving bowl and serve on the board with a spoon or knife, and you’re good to go!

Most grocery stores have pre-sliced packages of prosciutto, salami, or pepperoni. We suggest salami or pepperoni as prosciutto can be a bit pricey. Salami runs around $5.00 per pound and when you slice it thin it will fill a lot of space on the board.
You can add your meat to your plate in a few different ways: In a simple stack, fanned out in a line or our favorite is by folding larger pieces into triangles (this way takes up less space and adds some visual interest).

Nuts, Pickles, and Olives
Pickles: Pickles are a fan favorite, budget-friendly, and can be eaten alone once the party is over! We suggest the small dill pickles as grocery stores generally carry small containers of them and they fit well next to the other items on the cheeseboard.

Nuts: If you don’t have any nuts at home, instead of buying a whole container of them, we suggest purchasing the small one serving bags. The nuts in these small packages are normally costly pistachios or macadamia nuts and will give your board more gourmet appeal – but on a budget! Another idea is to purchase trail mix!

Olives: Olives can be bought in small containers, stuffed or unstuffed, but if your grocery store has one, we recommend hitting up the salad bar for smaller portions of olives and freshly made mozzarella.

Lastly, throw a few sprigs of fresh rosemary or thyme from your summer garden to cover “blank space” on the board and voila, a fancy budget-friendly, sure to impress, affordable cheese platter!

One final extra tip for your cheese board: Let your cheese sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to an hour before serving. We promise your cheese will taste even better!

Our grocery list (with prices) for both our large and medium cheese boards is listed below. All items were purchased at Aldi’s.  There was also plenty extra of all items for replenishing. 
(Remember, you don’t need each and every item on these lists when building your affordable cheese platter!)

Medium Cheese Board

Havarti Cheese$2.99
Aged White Cheddar$2.49
Brie Cheese Round$2.99
Extra Sharp White Cheddar$1.99
Fruit Spread (Jam)$1.99
1.5 oz of pistachios$1.19
6 Cracker Assortment$2.95

Large Cheese Board

Havarti Cheese$2.99
Aged White Cheddar$2.49
Brie Cheese Round$2.99
Extra Sharp White Cheddar$1.99
1 lb Green Grapes$2.33
Fruit Spread (Jam)$1.99
1.5 oz of pistachios$1.19
6 Cracker Assortment$2.95
Stuffed Olives$2.89

Off to College – Mastering Financial Responsibility

It’s that time of year again. You’re planning your last few days of summer activities, getting ready to pack the car, prepping yourself for good-byes, and buying the necessary school and dorm room supplies. Supplies that always cost more than you think they will.

Financing a college education is far more than just the tuition and housing costs. There are the costs of everyday living – laundry, toiletries, computers, haircuts, seasonal clothing, doctor visits, etc. Then, there are the extracurricular activities – fraternities, sororities, school functions, sports events, and any educational or recreational travel. Costs can get out of control very quickly.

Here are a few tips to help you maintain control of your finances, cut a few corners, and not feel like you’re missing out.

Tip #1 – Bring as much from home as you can – bedding, trash cans, extra hangers, dishes, towels, and shower accessories are sometimes items you can find around the house. There’s no need to buy new what you already have.

Tip #2 – Ask for gift cards for birthday and holiday gifts. Gas cards, gift cards to coffee shops, restaurants and laundry mats will help you get through the daily cost of living and help you budget.

Tip # 3 – Think carefully about getting a part-time job. If the class-load is too much, find employment over college breaks. Consider babysitting, pet sitting, or a seasonal job such as retail during the holiday season. 

Tip #4 – When buying your books, investigate buying used vs. renting them. Most of the time you can sell them at the end of the semester if they are still in good shape.

Tip #5 – Ride your bike, use public transportation, or walk.

Tip #6 – Cut out cable, and cut back on your cell phone bill. Use your school computer or campus Wi-Fi instead. You can often watch television shows and movies on your computer for a fraction of what it costs to get cable or a large mobile phone data plan.

Tip #7 – Don’t automatically buy the largest meal plan. Buy a small meal plan and adjust it once you’ve figured out how often you need it.

Tip #8 – Shop where student discounts are offered. In most areas your college ID will get you discounts on purchases. Do your homework and take advantage of these opportunities.

Tip # 9 – Sell what you no longer need for extra cash.

Tip #10 – Use a financial tool to keep track of your spending habits. If your financial institution doesn’t offer one, there are many free apps out there.

Tip #11 – See if testing out of classes is a possibility. Why pay for a class if you don’t need to?

Tip #12 – Consider becoming a resident advisor in your dorm – many get free or discounted room and board.

Tip # 13 – Set up a checking and a savings account. Be sure to use your savings account so you can earn interest on your money.

Tip #14 ­­– Do your homework on grants and financial aid. There are a lot of hidden grants out there, and you shouldn’t automatically assume you don’t qualify for assistance. Check in with a school financial advisor to make sure you are taking advantage of every opportunity.

Tip #15 – When shopping for groceries, make a list, don’t go to the store hungry, and consider splitting the cost of meals with a roommate or friend.

Tip #16 – Avoid getting a credit card if you can, as they can get out of control easily. However, if you can pay them in full every month, handle the responsibility of making on-time payments and not overcharge, consider getting a credit card that gives you points or pays you cash back.

It’s to your advantage to get informed, get organized, and be mindful every day of the difference between wants and needs. Remember, you’re there to get education, and that should include learning healthy financial habits (and a little fun).

As always, we’re here to help! If you need assistance with college funding call or stop in today.

Youth Sports Today

Back in the 70s and 80s there weren’t as many organized team sports. Schools, not city leagues or traveling teams, were the hub of youth sports. Most practices began after school and took place on campus, or very close-by. Kids even got to play different sports each season, not forcing one to pick a favorite at a young age.

Now, it seems, those times are long gone. Motivated in part by ambitious parents and in part by a sports and academic culture that pressures children to excel earlier, kids are flocking to team sports sooner. According to The Sports and Fitness Industry Association and the Women’s Sports Foundation, between 21.5 and 29 million American kids between the ages of six and 17 participate in organized sports.

The benefits of organized sports for kids are numerous. According to Science Daily:

  • Studies show that structured extracurricular sports help teens develop the discipline they need to engage effectively in academics.
  • A broad body of research also shows team sports can help concentration, have a positive effect on classroom behavior, and deliver special and psychological benefits including higher self-esteem, goal setting, and leadership.
  • Fit kids are also more likely to be fit adults.

However, according to John Engh, executive director of the National Alliance of Youth Sports, more and more, “Instead of focusing on having a good, quality program, the people running the leagues start to choose kids who can afford to pay for the tournaments.”

Nationwide, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reports that only a quarter of middle and high school students from lower income areas participate in sports, due largely to pay-to-play fees, transportation issues and equipment costs. In fact, these costs add up to a $15.3 billion industry that has nearly doubled in the last ten years, according to TIME Magazine.

A Utah State University study found:

  • Between league fees, camps, equipment, training and travel, families are spending as much as 10% of their income on sports
  • The average family spends $2,292 per year on sports
  • The maximum spending among respondents was close to $20,000 per year (travel and personal training)

According to a TD Ameritrade study in 2016, the typical parent spends between $100 and $500 per month on youth sports, but $1,000 per month per child is not unheard of.

And spending money on the sport itself is unfortunately not the only cost to consider. About 40% of emergency room visits for children ages 5 to 14 are for sports related injuries. The ER might not be the last stop either. Many injuries come with a prescription for physical therapy and sometimes even surgery.

Many parents will tell themselves they’re going through all this in the hopes that their kids might snag an athletic scholarship, but that’s not very realistic.

  • The NCAA estimates that only 3% of high school basketball players play in college. The percentage of high school basketball players who play professionally is less than 1%.
  • According to the publisher of
    • Just 2.3% of undergraduate students in bachelor’s degree programs received athletic scholarships, an average of roughly $12,000 per recipient.
    • Most parents would be better putting the money they currently spend on youth sports into a college savings plan

This is by no means an article on how not to involve your kids in sports, just a cautionary tale on ways to avoid having those sports take over your life. You can even prevent them from taking over your monthly salary with a few helpful suggestions from author Dave Ramsey:

  • Buy used equipment
  • Sell used equipment
  • Consider recreational leagues
  • Pick a sport (or two)
  • Be realistic

Most of all, remember, competition isn’t everything. Fun goes a long way in life as well.

Financial Safety Tips For Travel

Whether your travels take you across the globe or across state lines, Bank Five Nine and the Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) want to remind consumers to plan carefully to keep their money safe and summer vacations on track! 

Most financial experts advise limiting the use of cash and paying with a debit or credit card for major purchases. That’s because credit and debit cards come with additional protections, such as zero-liability for fraud-related charges, which can offer greater peace of mind while traveling.

Here are some additional travel tips for consideration before taking off for a much-anticipated vacation!

  • Share your travel plans with your community bank to avoid account holds or transaction rejections when out-of-the-ordinary transactions are presented for processing or posted.
  • Contact your bank to request a chip-enabled card particularly if your travel plans take you overseas where chip-enabled technology is quickly becoming a card acceptance requirement, for all card transactions.
  • Carry at least two cards with you so you have a backup. Families or couples may get even greater back-up coverage if each person takes a different card.
  • Set up transaction alerts for credit and debit cards. If you suspect your information has been compromised contact your bank and credit card provider as soon as possible.
  • Bring a list of emergency phone numbers, but remember, 800-numbers can only be used in the United States and Canada. Be sure to get a number for your bank that you can call if you are out of the country.
  • Inquire whether your credit card provides travel accident insurance and traveler’s assistance. Ask your community bank what special services are available.
  • Know the limits on how much you can withdraw and save your receipts.
  • Thoroughly check any ATMs that you use. Ensure the card reader does not look like it has been tampered with. When in doubt choose another terminal.
  • Lock away valuables such as passports, backup credit cards, copies of financial information and extra cash in your hotel safe.
  • Use social media with care. Posting your pictures or whereabouts during travel could leave you susceptible to home invaders.
  • Don’t wait for your monthly statement. Upon returning from your vacation, review your purchases and ATM withdrawals with your bank and credit card companies.

Remember, in the event that something unfortunate does occur, contact us. We are ready to lend a helping hand.

For more information about what to do in the event of a lost or stolen card, visit or

Source: ICBA