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Education

Benefits of Paperless Statements

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Times are changing and so are the ways that people prefer to receive their banking statements. You might be asking yourself what the real benefits of going paperless are. We have compiled the top 4 benefits for you below:

  1. Decrease the clutter

Paperless billing helps decrease all of the piles of papers that you have sitting around. It will also reduce the risk of losing a statement due to clutter.

  1. Retrieve your records anytime, anywhere

With paperless billing, you can retrieve your statement 24/7 from any location. This adds to the convenience of paying your bill and decreases the chances of you missing a payment.

  1. Increased security

Mail theft is one of the most common ways people can attempt identity theft and fraud. With paperless statements, you don’t have to worry about someone stealing your statement through the mail.

  1. Save the environment

PayItGreen claims that Americans save 452,819 trees per year for every 5 percent of households that switch to electronic bills, statements and payments. Switching to paperless statements is an easy way to have a significant impact on the environment.

 

As you can see, there are many benefits of breaking away from traditional paper statements and opting towards paperless statements. Going paperless not only reduces environmental impact but also increases convenience and enhanced security. Learn more about going paperless on our website and see if this is the right switch for you!

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What Lowered Interest Rates Means for Small Businesses

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We all know that low-interest rates are usually a good thing but how beneficial can low interest rates be for small businesses? The answer might surprise you! Here are some of the top implications of low-interest rates for small businesses. 

Less Expensive Loans

Most small businesses need a loan sometime in their lifetime. As interest rates decrease, so does the costs of loans. When interest rates are lower, so is the cost of paying back loans. This means that they take less time to pay off. Also, it will be easier to take out new short-term loans to help pay for unexpected expenses.

Low-Interest Rates Can Spur Consumer Spending

When interest rates are low, consumers tend to borrow more money. They then put that money back into the economy by spending more on products and services because they have more disposable income. This is extremely important for small businesses as it can mean that their customers have more money to spend in their business. 

Low-Interest Rates Can Spark Business Growth

Low-interest rates make it more beneficial for a small business to take out new loans to invest in expansion. Capturing a lower interest rate means your loan will cost you less in the long run. You may also be able to refinance some of your outstanding loans during a period of sustained low-interest rates to help stabilize your company’s debt load. Also, when rates are low, you can take the available cash your business generates and place it in high-yield accounts to generate more capital.

In times with low-interest rates, it’s important to take that opportunity to evaluate your business to see if it is the right time to expand and grow your business. At Points West Community Bank, we are always happy to answer any questions you may have. Contact us today!

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The Perks of Online Banking

Man holding phone in one hand and credit card in the other hand

The world of banking is changing and it is becoming less common for a person to physically walk inside a bank. Now, there are so many other options to make banking more convenient for you as the customer. One of these options is online banking. Online banking offers many benefits and gives you more flexibility overall. We’ve compiled some of the top perks of online banking. 

Around the Clock Access to Your Account

With online banking, you have 24/7 access to your account and the ability to make changes to it. This means that there is no need to make the typical bank schedule work for you. You get to decide when to do your banking no matter what time of day it is. This gives you more flexibility and puts banking back in your hands.

An Increase in Speed and Efficiency 

No bank near you? No problem! With online banking, there is no need for driving all over town only to wait in line during your small window of free time during the day. Now you can use that time more efficiently by making any bank transactions online without any extra stress added.

Increased Organization

Online banking can help you better organize your finances and make it easier to avoid any late payments and the fees associated with that. Online banking allows you to set up automatic payments and gives you a platform that makes it easy to track these transactions. This helps you stay on top of your finances without adding any extra hassle.

Security 

A common misconception of online banking is that it is less secure than regular banks. However, this is not the case, as most online banks have encryption and fraud monitoring services built into it. Both of these services make online banking just as safe as traditional banking. Just make sure to make a secure password and do not share it with anyone.

 

Learn more about online and mobile banking on our website to see if this is the banking method for you!

 

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The Benefits of Banking Local

pink piggy bank with 5 stacks of coins increasing in size in a raising the bar motion

It’s a common misconception that smaller banks and community banks can’t meet your needs. But, you’ll often find that most local banks offer essential services like checking and savings accounts that are very comparable to those of larger banks. Let’s explore the main reasons people tend to choose local banks over large banks.

Grow the Local Economy

When you bank locally, you can be certain that your money goes directly to the growth of your local economy. Community banks, on average, devote more than 50% of their lending to small businesses (compared to just 18% at the 20 largest banks). Small businesses will borrow from the local banks, create jobs in the local economy, and, in turn, help fund the community as a whole. By banking local, you will be able to see the impact that your money has on the community around you.

Personal Service

To a local bank, you are not just an account number. You are a person with a story and goals, and your bankers are just like you. Local bankers will get to know you and will be able to help you find the right services that fit your unique banking needs. You will know what to expect from your bankers and feel comfortable asking questions when you need to. This kind of service is not usually possible with larger banks.

Same Services at Lower Costs

Local and community banks are often a good bet for free checking accounts. Some offer free checking to all, while others will waive fees if you enroll in paperless statements or online banking. Local and community banks will also offer attractive interest rates on savings accounts and loans, oftentimes beating out the larger banks. This is something to think about if you are planning on borrowing a large sum of money.

Community Involvement

Since local and community banks are dedicated to the community, they often support special causes in the community. Monetary donations, volunteering, and local event sponsorships are just a few ways Points West Community Bank shows support for the community surrounding it.

 

If you’re ready to join your community in banking locally, Points West Community Bank is here for you. We have several locations spread across northern Colorado to make it convenient for you. Our local bankers are happy to help you find the right checking accounts, savings accounts, and loans to fit your unique needs. Contact us today to get started!

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Saving for College

Stacked quarters next to a mason jar filled with coins and a graduation cap on top.

How much student loan debt do you think the average college student has when they finally get their degree? $10,000? Think again! According to the Wall Street Journal, the average American college student graduates with over $37,000 in student loan debt. They will be lucky to have that paid off before their own children attend college. Saving for college has never been more important! Here are a few easy ways to get started.

Education Savings Accounts (ESA)

An Education Savings Account or an Education IRA will allow you to save $2,000 per year per child in an account that is tax-free while it grows! If you begin saving from the time your child is born up until they turn 18, that’s $36,000 invested into their future. The account would earn a better rate of return than a regular savings account, and you will not be taxed until the money is withdrawn. There are income limits placed on the account to qualify, but these are a great way to get started while your child is young.

529 Plan

If you don’t meet the income limits for an ESA or you want to contribute more per year, a 529 Plan is a great option. The best 529 Plans allow you to choose the funds that you want to invest in through the account and generally have a maximum limit of $300,000. These accounts also grow tax-free and can be transferred from child to child if need be. These accounts also receive favorable financial aid treatment and are treated as parent assets and do not have to be reported on the FAFSA when funds are used to pay for college.

Roth IRA

Roth IRAs are another good college savings option. Contributions can be withdrawn at any time for any reason and the normal early withdrawal penalty can be waived when spent on qualified higher education expenses. Most IRAs have a maximum yearly investment of $5,000, but if you begin saving from the time your child is born to the time they turn 18, you will have $90,000 saved for their future. The value of the account is not counted as an asset on the FAFSA, but withdraws to pay for college will be counted as income on the FAFSA.

It is never too early to begin saving for college. Talk to your local banker about these options to find the one that makes the most sense for you and your family. The bankers at Points West Community Bank are your resource for all your personal savings needs!

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5 Things to Know When Buying Your First Home

A small house decoration on a desk with someone handing keys over.

Buying your first home can be exciting and stressful all at the same time. Before you start working with a realtor and attending open houses and showings, you should first make sure that you are financially ready to buy a home. Here are 5 things to know when you’re looking to buy your first home.

Check Your Credit Score

Getting a mortgage requires a good credit score, so we recommend checking your credit report. Look for any errors in your report that may be dragging your credit score down. Most errors can be fixed, and by monitoring your credit before applying for a mortgage, you will avoid any surprises. If your score is less than you’d like it to be, try paying down any credit cards and stop using them for a couple of months. Also, avoid opening any new lines of credit until after you have closed on your new home.

Save for a Down Payment

In addition to making sure your credit score is in order, you will also need to think about the down payment that you will need in order to make your first home a reality. Down payments are typically between 3.5% and 20% of the purchase price of a home. For example, for a $300,000 home, the minimum down payment you will need is $10,500. You should also be sure to save more than your minimum down payment to pay for closing costs.

Determine How Much You Can Afford

With rent prices on the rise in Colorado, it may actually be cheaper to buy a home than continue to pay rent. However, you want to be sure that you buy a home that you can afford today, not 5 years from now. You can estimate what you can afford by calculating 30% of your gross monthly household income. Any more than that could leave you with financial stress.

Learn About Mortgage Types

Mortgage types can vary and it may be confusing to compare one mortgage to another. Take time to learn about the differences between fixed-rate mortgages and adjustable rates. Mortgages can also vary in length from as little as five years to as much as 30 years. Most first time home buyers opt for fixed-rate 30-year mortgages. There are also different mortgages available to first-time home buyers. For example, an FHA mortgage requires a small down payment, which means that your monthly payment is a little more expensive because you have to pay for private mortgage insurance. Do your research on all of the loan options available to you.

Get Documentation In Order

Once you’re in the right place financially to purchase your first home, it’s time to get documentation in order. You can get a pre-approval from a bank like Points West Community Bank, or from a local loan officer. This will help you submit your offer on the home you want to purchase. To close on a home, you will need copies of paystubs, W-2’s, bank statements, and if you’re self-employed, copies of your last two tax returns.

At Points West Community Bank, we are your resource for financial knowledge. If you have any questions about how to save money for a home or improve your credit score, talk to one of our friendly bankers at your local Points West Community Bank! With several locations across Northern Colorado, we’re easily accessible.

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How to Save Money for Travel

Family on the beach

Are you dreaming up a vacation, but you’re worried about how to afford it? What if we told you that you could start saving travel right now? Well, you can, and here’s how.

Assess Your Monthly Expenditures

The amounts of money that are automatically debited from our accounts are often forgotten about. Go through your monthly statement, and see what you can cut back on. It is common that expenses such as gym memberships, magazine subscriptions, music streaming services, or even cable can cost you a large amount of your monthly allowances. Cancel some of these services or re-negotiate costs.

Create a Budget

Start with the most important categories first: mortgage/rent, groceries, gas, utilities, credit card bills, etc. With the money that you have left at the end of the month, decide where it is allocated, and do not budge. You can re-evaluate at a later date if you find that you have less/more money than necessary. The money that is extra in each category now goes straight into savings.

Set Up Automatic Transfers

If you have a direct deposit set up with your employer, change the way it is being deposited into your account. For example, automatically set your direct deposit up so a certain percentage or amount is put into your savings account instead of your checking. You will be saving money each paycheck without even trying.

Cut Out Convenience

Your morning coffee runs always seem like a small expense at the time, but let’s break it down. Spending $3.50 on coffee Monday thru Friday morning totals to $17.50 a week. That is $70 a month. If you often eat lunch out, cut that cost as well. Bring coffee and lunch from home, and you will be able to put those amounts straight into your vacation fund instead.

 

If you don’t have a savings account already, get in touch with your local banker today.

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Common Mistakes to Avoid When Paying Off Your Student Loans

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Paying Off Your Student Loans

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Paying Off Your Student Loans

After graduation, paying off student loans can be a hard journey to keep on track. As long as you avoid making the common mistakes below, you will set yourself up for success to pay off your loans in the quickest and most efficient way.

Not Budgeting Before Graduation – Creating a financial plan before graduation gives you a realistic map on finances after turning that tassel. Avoid unnecessary purchases and consider having a roommate to be able to pay your monthly student loan payment and still have money left over for your savings.

Delaying Employment – Use your degree you spent 4+ years obtaining and find a job to kick start your career. Finding a job will allow you to start making payments on your student loans and give you stability after graduation.

Late Payments – All it takes is one late payment and your credit score is damaged. One way to ensure your monthly payments get paid is using an auto draft. An auto draft will automatically transfer the payment from your bank account to the lender.

Using Credit Cards to Pay Off Debt – Do not use a credit card to help pay off your student loans. Credit cards make it so easy to spend outside your means, stick to debit cards when it comes to monthly bills and monthly spending.

Not Making Extra Payments – Making extra payments each year or every other year is a faster and more efficient way to pay off student debts. You can make payments on your student loans at any time!

Not Living – Don’t let your student loan hinder your lifestyle. Having loans only means you have to live within your means. Continue to have fun, socialize and focus on your career development and experiences that will make you a more valuable person, employer and partner in life.  

Although Points West Community Bank does not make student loans, we can help you avoid common mistakes when paying them off. Get in touch with your local banker to find out more!

 

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Are Savings Accounts Worth It?

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A savings account allows you to grow your money over time and can help you plan for short-term goals such as an emergency fund or a rainy day fund. Many people overlook savings accounts because of the relatively low long-term returns that one can expect from a savings account compared to the anticipated returns of other long-term investments. Before you place your cash in a standard bank account, here are some pros and cons to having a savings account.

Benefits of savings account

  • Low-Risk Investment
    • With long-term investments, you’ll usually lose money over the course of days, weeks or months, but with a savings account, your balance will only go up – that is, unless you withdraw money from it.
  • Easily Accessible Account
    • Most savings accounts can be accessed at any time through an ATM. This is why a lot of people use a savings account as an emergency fund – you can easily access your funds and immediately have the cash to deal with an urgent problem.
  • Earn a (Small) Return
    • Some savings accounts can earn up to 2% interest. Although it’s a small return, every little bit helps and the more you put in your savings account, the more interest you will earn.
  • Low to No Minimum Balance
    • Most banks offer savings accounts with an extremely low minimum balance and in many cases, you can open a savings account with $100 or less.
  • Safe Way to Save Money
    • The money that you deposit into a savings account is automatically protected by the FDIC up to $250,000. This means that if your bank goes out of business, the money in your account will be safe.

Concerns of a savings account

  • Low Return
    • Savings accounts differ from other types of investments and the full potential of your money isn’t always realized, especially when you compare it to other investment opportunities.
  • Limitations
    • Some common limitations include having a minimum dollar amount to activate the account, requiring a minimum balance in the account at all times – or else penalty fees are charged, and limiting the number of transactions in a particular period.
  • Easier to Spend
    • It is a lot easier to spend your money when it is so easy to access. If this is something you’re worried about, consider choosing a Certificate of Deposit versus a regular savings account. CDs offer a higher interest rate and you lose immediate access to the funds unless you’re willing to pay an early withdrawal penalty.

At Points West Community Bank, we offer a variety of Savings Account options, such as:

  • Student Savings Account
  • Savings Account
  • Corporate Savings Account
  • Individual Retirement Accounts
  • Health Savings Account
  • Certificate of Deposits

Let us help you accomplish your financial goals and open up your savings account today. Get in touch with your local banker to find out more!

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What Documents Do You Need to Apply for a Home Loan?

Home Loan image with small house and set of keys sitting on money

Congrats, you’re finally ready to buy a house! But, before you can truly start looking – you’ll need to get pre-approved for a mortgage loan. Whether you’re applying for a home loan for the first time, or you’re an experienced buyer, there are some important things to keep in mind to make sure the process is simple. Here are some examples of what your mortgage lender will need when you are applying for a home loan.

Tax Returns

Mortgage lenders typically want to see one to two years worth of tax returns to make sure your income is consistent and that there aren’t big fluctuations from year to year.

Pay Stubs, W-2s or Other Proof of Income

While your tax returns help give your lender a clear idea of your overall financial health, pay stubs help them gauge your current earnings. If you are self-employed or a contract worker, make sure you have paperwork showing your earnings from the past year and a Year-to-Date Profit & Loss statement. If you rely on other income, such as social security or alimony, a statement of benefits would be requested.

Bank Statements & Other Assets

Bank Statements and other assets including investments and life insurance are necessary to verify the down payment. Bank lenders may also want to make sure you have several months worth of reserve mortgage payments in your account in case of an emergency.

Credit History

Lenders will often pull your credit report in order to assess you as a borrower. You may need to explain negative items on your credit and prepare a written statement. If you don’t have a credit report, your renting history or canceled checks can be used instead.

Photo ID

You’ll need to provide a photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport, to prove your identity.

The exact forms you will need for a home loan will depend on your situation and speaking with your mortgage lender or bank will help you assess exactly what you need to apply.

When it comes to home loans, Points West Community Bank can help you find the right loan for your needs. We take pride in our helpful staff and the products we offer. Please contact one of our friendly loan professionals today.

Points West Bank is an equal housing lender.

 

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