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Cornhusker Bank is pleased to welcome you to our blog. You’ll find tips and advice from our collaborative associates, as well as updates on the bank and events. Cornhusker Bank associates feel it is important to share insights and we love bringing you into the conversation. Our posts on this blog are an extension of our relationship with you, and we hope you find value here which proves our commitment to your success!

Equifax Announces Cybersecurity Incident Involving Consumer Information

Due to the recent announcement from Equifax regarding a “cybersecurity incident potentially impacting approximately 143 million US customers” we want to share the following information from Equifax.

“Equifax has established a dedicated website, http://go.factualdata.com/e/213…/2017-09-08/571xtb/332299567, to help consumers determine if their information has been potentially impacted.”

Building a House on a Budget

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Once you are ready to move from the realm of renting to homeownership, the first question you face is to buy or to build. While the home buying process is far from easy and stress free, the home building process comes with its own set of challenges. One of the main headaches people face when building their home is staying on budget. Building a house is a costly undertaking, and getting nickel and dimed during the process can really add up. Here are some tips to staying on budget while you build your dream home.

  1. You will be paying more than the initial price

When you are going through a builder, be aware of up sales or upgrades. Most likely the initial price you receive will be for a base model or the bare basics. Structural upgrades or interior upgrades will cost you extra, so it’s important to decide what you want right off the bat and what can be added on later.

  1. Use a certified contractor

The old adage is true; you get what you pay for. Choosing the right contractor up front may cost a bit extra at first, but save you headaches and money in the long run. Having to redo or replace a shoddy job by a cheaper, less experienced contractor can cost more than just hiring the right person in the first place.

  1. Decide ahead of time

Sit down with your builder and nail down exactly what you want done. Any changes to the plans or materials will delay your projects months and can cost an arm and a leg. The entire process will go a lot smoother if you can make a plan, and stick to it.

  1. Don’t do it all at once

If there is something you really want, like ceramic or hardwood floors, try for a cheaper alternative initially and replace later. Going with a vinyl floor will be a lot cheaper initially and provide a great foundation for adding in hardwood or ceramic flooring.

Building a house can seem extremely daunting if you have never done it before, but the upside is you can build it to be your dream home. You get to choose the location, color scheme, design, everything. Don’t let the hassle deter you from going out and building your dream home!

How to Pivot from Being a Spender to an Investor

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We have all heard the expression “Make your money work for you”. Most of us having savings accounts, and a lot of people associate saving and investing, but the truth is they are quite different, and they both have a place in your portfolio. While they do both have a place in your finances, it is important to understand the difference.

Everyone knows what a savings account is, and most of us have them, but in short, saving means putting cash into an extremely safe account. Savings accounts are great for having a reserve of quick cash that you can access at any time, but typically have a very low interest rate.

Investing your money includes more risk than just setting aside money, but this is how you really make your money work for you. With investments, there is never any actual guarantee that you will get a return, which is why you have to do your research before investing. The most common forms of investment are stocks, bonds, and real estate.

Since we all try and save money, how can we make the pivot into investing our money? As a general rule of thumb saving should always come first. Your savings account is your fall back plan in case of emergencies, and if possible, you should have enough saved to cover at least six months’ worth of living expenses. Any goal you have in life that can be fulfilled within five years should be based on saving, not investing. Investing is safest and has the greatest return when done long term, you don’t need a get rich quick scheme. Think saving for a new car versus saving for retirement.

Once you are stable savings wise, then it’s time to put money into investments. Like we said before, you want to think long term here. The stock market can be extremely volatile at times and if you are playing the short game you can lose out big time. Investing in long term assets is a great way to set up your financial stability as you start focusing on retirement.

Top 4 Ways to Prepare for Retirement

Regardless of your age, it is never too early to start saving for retirement. Being financially secure for retirement doesn’t just happen overnight, it takes a good plan and commitment to stick to that plan. Did you know that around half of Americans have not calculated how much they need to save for retirement? The average American spends around 20 years in retirement, that’s a lot to plan for. It may seem daunting to save enough money for 20 years, but with a few simple tips, you can do it.

  1. Start saving now

If you have not started saving yet, now is the time, and if you are currently saving, keep going! Start saving a small amount each month with the goal of increasing it a little bit each following month. Before you know it you will see your savings grow! The main thing is having a plan and sticking to it, and it is never too early or too late to start saving.

  1. Know your needs

Like we said before, the average American spends 20 years in retirement, and that can add up. The goal is to maintain your standard of living once you retire, which is usually between 70%-90% of your preretirement income. Plan ahead and know your retirement goals.

  1. Use your employer’s retirement plan

Most employers nowadays will offer a retirement plan or a 401k. If your employer does offer a retirement plan, contribute as much as you can to it. Overtime the compound interest will make a huge difference.

  1. Don’t touch your retirement savings

It can be tempting to tap into your retirement, but anytime you withdraw from your savings, you are losing out on all of the interest you would gain.

Retirement may seem far off, or too big of a hill to climb, but coming up with a plan now and sticking to it will help you out immensely when it comes time for retirement. If you would like to explore retirement options, or want to come up with a retirement plan and calculate how much you should be saving, contact us today to set up an appointment with one of our bankers who can walk you through the retirement process.

Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Securities America Advisors, Inc., Kevin Deaver, Jack Becwar, and Jason Schluckebier, Representatives. Cornhusker Bank Wealth Management and Cornhusker Bank are not affiliated with the Securities America companies.
Not FDIC Insured • No Bank Guarantee • May Lose Value • Not a Deposit • Not Insured by Any Federal Government Agency

How You Can Start Saving for College

It’s no secret, college is becoming increasingly expensive every year. If you are a new parent, the idea of saving for your young child’s college education can seem daunting, seeing as college costs are increasing on average by 3.5% a year. Luckily, there are some options for putting aside money for college.

You can plan ahead now by opening a traditional savings account. While this is good and will allow you to save for the future, there are better options available to you for saving for college. Your best bet is to open a 529 College Savings Plan. What makes a 529 College Savings Plan different than a traditional savings account?

  • Earnings from a 529 plan grow federal tax-free, and the money is not taxed when it is taken out to pay for college. Other means of saving may have their earnings taxed, and will have capital gains tax taken out when money is withdrawn.
  • You get to stay in control of the account. If you open the account for your child, you are still in control and decide how to money is used when it comes time to pay for college.
  • 529 College Savings Plans are very low maintenance accounts, and only require you to contribute, then you can set it and forget it.
  • Anyone can open a 529 College Savings Plan. There are no income limits, age limits, or annual contribution limits to a 529 plan.

To see if a 529 College Savings plan is right for you, or to speak with a member of our Wealth Management & Financial Services Team, please contact us today to set up an appointment! To schedule an initial consultation, call 402-434-2265 or 800-837-4481 and ask for the Wealth Management department. You can also request an appointment while visiting any one of Cornhusker Bank’s branch locations.

Investments in 529 plans involve risks to principal and may involve additional fees such as enrollment charges and annual maintenance fees. 529 plans offer no guarantees. Depending on your state of residence and the state of residence of the beneficiary, the plan may or may not be eligible for state tax benefits.  There are exceptions to the gift tax and estate tax exemptions; please contact a qualified tax, legal or financial advisor for more information prior to investing.

10 Scams Targeting Bank Customers

Senior Man Giving Credit Card Details On The Phone

The basics on how to protect your personal information and your money.

The FDIC often hears from bank customers who believe they may be the victims of financial fraud or theft, and our staff members provide information on where and how to report suspicious activity. To help further, FDIC Consumer News includes crime prevention tips in practically every issue. As part of that coverage, we feature here a list of 10 scams that you should be aware of, plus key defenses to remember.

List of 10 scams.

To learn more about how to avoid financial scams, search by topic in back issues of FDIC Consumer News and the FDIC’s multimedia presentation Don’t Be an Online Victim. Also find tips from the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.

How to Fix Your Credit Before Applying for a Loan

If you are thinking about applying for a mortgage or an auto loan, understanding your credit score is one of the first steps. Your credit score will determine what rate you will get your mortgage at, or if you even get it at all. If you have bad credit you may be rejected or pay a much higher interest rate on your mortgage. There is good news however, a low credit score is not permanent, and there are steps you can take to raise your credit score. So whether you are in danger of not being approved for a mortgage, or you just want to improve your score in hopes of a better interest rate, here are some simple steps to follow to raise your credit score.

Check your score
This seems like a no brainer. The very first step is to see where you sit. Pull a credit report and check it for errors. Your credit report will include all of the criteria that factors into your score. Check your report to make sure account balances add up and there are no incorrect accounts reporting in your name.

Keep your credit balances low
Keep an eye on your credit card balances. The sweet spot to improve your credit is to utilize 30% of available credit. Essentially this means if you have a credit card with a credit line of $1,000 the best balance to keep on it is $300. You also want to avoid large fluctuations on your credit card, this means not charging any large unnecessary purchases to your credit card. If you have multiple credit cards, consolidate them down to one or two, this will make them easier to monitor.

Pay bills on time
This also seems like a no brainer, but essentially your credit score is letting lenders know that you have a history of paying back money you borrow. Late payments can stay on your credit report for up to 7 years. If you have a hard time making payments on time, set up payment reminders or automatic withdrawals.

Rebuilding your credit can take some time. You do not want to learn you have a low score when you find your dream home, so if you are even thinking about looking for a home it’s a good idea to check your credit and work towards starting to improve it. Payment History and Credit Utilization make up 65%  of your credit report, so consolidating debt, keeping credit balances low, and paying on time can make a huge impact on your credit score.

Renting Vs. Buying a Home

Should you rent, or buy a home? Eventually most people are faced with this question, does it make more sense financially to rent or buy. Each decision has its perks. By renting property you have a landlord who takes care of maintenance issues, whereas owning your home means you are responsible for home improvement, but by owning a house it becomes an asset. Everyone’s situation is different and there is not a one size fits all plan for everyone.

While there are many things to consider when deciding if homeownership is right for you, here are a few things to think about:

1.  Do you have a steady job or income? 

Do you have a job with a certain sense of security? Do you plan on changing jobs anytime soon? These can be huge factors in getting approved for a home loan as well as being a successful homeowner.

2. How long do you plan on staying? 

If you are planning on living in a city for just a few years, it can make more sense to rent, as you are not tied down to a specific area. If you are ready to put down some roots, then it may make sense to purchase your home. If you plan on staying in one spot for a prolonged period of time, then it may not make sense to have expensive rent payments when you could be putting it towards a mortgage.

3. Responsibility vs. flexibility 

Would you prefer the responsibility of owning a home or the flexibility of renting? If you own a home and have to move for work, it may take a long time to sell your house, whereas it may be easier to pick up and move when renting.

4. Freedom

Owning a house means that you are free to make any changes you want, big or small. Want new appliances or to put holes in the walls? Want to repaint or have pets? When you own a home you really are the master of your domain, and you do not have to seek permission from a landlord before doing anything to the house. Freedom to be free of answering to others can make home ownership worth it to some people.

How to Protect Your Accounts from Fraud

In today’s day and age, cyber security threats are extremely serious and are continuing to grow every day. The sophistication of cyber threats is increasing and in today’s increasingly digital world they can be hard to avoid. Many of these threats are targeting people’s identities and bank accounts, so it’s important to know what’s out there before you wade out in to the internet. Here are some of our tips to safeguard yourself against fraud:

– If someone calls you, do not give out personal or sensitive information.

If you did not initiate a call, it’s usually best practice not to give out any sensitive information. If you are unsure of the legitimacy of a call, hang up and call them back at a phone number you can independently verify, ie. The phone number on the back of your credit card.

  • Do not send information via email.

If you can avoid it, it’s best not to send account or personal information via email, as it tends to be an insecure channel of communication. If replying to an email requesting information, be sure to verify that you are speaking with the true person.

  • Monitor your account online

While your bank does have fraud detection in place, the easiest way to stop anything before it gets too serious is to check your accounts regularly to make sure all transactions are legitimate.

  • Review your credit report

You can receive a free credit report once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus. Pull your credit report to ensure there are no fraud accounts opened up in your name.

  • Use a unique username or password for each account

It can be tempting to reuse usernames and passwords across website profiles, but this means if one account is compromised, then all of them can potentially be compromised.

  • Do not open suspicious looking emails

If you think an email is suspicious, or has attachments and is not in your address book or is not someone you know, do not open the email or download any attachments. Email is the perfect way for scammers to deliver malware straight to your computer.

When online, it is always best to err on the side of caution, especially when it comes to your personal or financial records. Taking a few minutes to be careful today can save you hours of hassle and clean up should your identity or account be compromised. If you are in doubt, or worried that your account may be compromised, contact us today to discuss your options.

5 Steps to Take Before Buying a New Car

young african woman showing her new car key

Buying a car is a huge decision, but it doesn’t have to be as difficult as you think. As long as you do your research it can be a pain free experience. We have compiled the steps to make your car buying experience as easy as possible.

  1. Research Vehicles

Not sure exactly what you want yet? First step is to research what type of vehicle will suit your lifestyle best. Once you decide what type of vehicle you want, figure out your price point and what features you want in your vehicle.

  1. Get Pre-Approved for a Loan

Once you decide on the vehicle you want, figure out your budget. Getting pre-approved for an auto loan will give you an idea on how much you can spend and what your APR will be on the loan. To be pre-approved you will need to provide your loan officer with employer and salary information as well as balances of other debts you may have. This can help narrow down your vehicle selection and allow you to make an offer on a vehicle on the spot without having to go to the bank to be approved for an auto loan.

  1. Figure Out Your Trade-In Value

If you are going to trade-in your current vehicle, determine the value of your car. This will help in deciding if you want to trade-in your vehicle or sell it on your own separately.

  1. Negotiate a Sale Price

After you have test driven the car and have decided you want to buy it, it’s time to negotiate a price. You should price out the car online and figure out the blue book value to make sure you are paying a fair price.

  1. Close the Deal

If you like the car and the price is right, it’s time to close the deal. Before you sign you should ask for a breakdown of all of the fees and taxes you will be paying to ensure you are not blindsided by hidden fees. After you sign all of the paper work it is time to take delivery of your new car!

Once you decide that you are in the market for a new vehicle, call one of our loan officers to set up an appointment to get pre-approved.