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Why is Budgeting Important?

A woman typing up her budget on a laptop.

You’ve heard the old phrase a million times—”a place for everything and everything in its place.” This maxim doesn’t just apply to keeping household clutter at bay, though. Every dollar you earn deserves a designated place. Budgeting and saving are really as simple as ensuring that all your money serves a specific purpose. However, the benefits these financial tasks provide go well beyond the basics. Here at Landmark National Bank, you’ll find the budgeting tips you’re looking for and associates in bank branch locations near you who can help.

Why is budgeting important?

No matter how much or how little you make, allocating every dollar to a category can help you reach your financial and life goals. Budgeting takes the guesswork and stress out of money management. It also offers the following benefits:

  • Aids in avoiding debt
  • Helps prevent overspending
  • Is instrumental in planning for the future

Budgeting can even provide a new perspective on money. You’ll get a birds-eye view of how much money you have and where it all goes each month. This new vantage point will even give you a better idea of where your priorities lie from a financial standpoint.

What is a balanced budget?

You might be aware of this term in the context of government spending. However, personal finances can also benefit from a balanced budget. Basically, it boils down to having at least as much money coming in as you have going out. While making more money definitely helps you achieve a balanced budget, managing your finances is essential. Here are some ways to get started:

  • Open a no-fee or high-interest checking account
  • Choose a budgeting app, program or workbook
  • Make funding your savings account part of your routine

These small steps will help you get excited about taking control of your financial health. They make it easy to build momentum and find more ways to work towards an exciting, abundant future.

What is the 50/30/20 principle?

If you don’t know where to begin your budgeting and saving journey, consider using the 50/30/20 principle. More of an approach to money than a strict plan, this concept allocates 50 percent of your money to needs, 30 percent to wants, and 20 percent to financial plans.

The majority goes to house payments or rent, utilities, and other necessities. Just under a third is assigned to budget categories like entertainment, eating out and traveling. The final fifth can include socking away money for a down payment on a house, contributing to your retirement plan, or any other form of savings.

While there are books about the subject, you’ll find no shortage of free 50/30/20 rule spreadsheets to help you get started.

Customized Budgeting and Saving

Whatever your style, there’s a budgeting solution for you. From apps and software to 50/30/20 rule spreadsheets, choose a format that suits your style. Once you’ve chosen a method, establishing and maintaining a budget is easier than you might think. You’re in charge of where your money goes, so you can create whatever categories you like—think weekly movie nights, saving for vacations or dining out monthly—to ensure that you’ll stay on track.

Budgeting is also flexible. You can shift money between categories as needed, with the caveat that you should leave your savings category alone.

Budget With Landmark National Bank

Budgeting and saving provide peace of mind, help you plan for the future, and reduce the likelihood of taking on more debt. Taking action also helps you focus on reaching your short- and long-term goals.

Landmark National Bank has the financial tools you need to stay on-budget, from interest-earning checking accounts and mobile banking alerts to a debit card that rewards you for banking with us. Stop in at your local Landmark National Bank location, or open an account online today.

5 Must-Know Financial Literacy Topics

A man drawing the words "Financial Literacy" on a board.

Knowledge is power, but it’s also health. With the right information and understanding of certain subjects, the way you treat money can entirely change—hopefully for the better. It’s Landmark National Bank’s goal to make sure as many people are financially literate as possible, so we as a society can make well-informed decisions beneficial to ourselves and others.

To meet that end, in the spirit of financial wellness month, we’ve compiled a brief primer of five of the most important financial literacy topics that we think everyone should know. Hopefully, we’re able to provide you with an intuitive explanation of these subjects so that if you haven’t started to think about them yet, you can begin now.

Why is Financial Literacy Important?

Financial literacy is important because it helps you understand the best ways to use your money in both the short and long term. When you’re skilled and smart about your money, you’ll find yourself less financially stressed, less wasteful, and better able to pursue your goals as it relates to your monetary status.

#1 – Personal Financial Management and Earning Money

Also known as PFM, personal financial management is the simple practice of organizing and tracking your spending, accomplished through the use of a budget. A budget is a plan that helps an individual or family understand what they can and cannot afford, what their anticipated expenses are, and how to measure their different income streams, among other goals orbiting finances. Mastery over a budget and PFM can empower people to feel more in control of their money.

#2 – Protection and Insurance

Insurance exists as a countermeasure against potential loss. In exchange for a premium—a certain agreed-upon sum of upfront payment—as well as consistent, ongoing payments, an insurance company will agree to financially support an individual or company should misfortune befall them in the future. The exact policies and conditions are subject to change based on the insurance company, as well as the type of insurance you’re securing, so it’s important to carefully consider your needs and what insurance might benefit you the most.

Some common types of insurance include: health insurance, life insurance, travel insurance, car insurance, property insurance, liability insurance, and disability insurance, among others.

#3 – Spending

A woman looking at her debit card and phone.

We spend money for a nearly endless variety of reasons. We need to spend money on monthly and annual bills, subscription fees, mortgage/rent, groceries, recreation, property upgrades, medical premiums, and so on. By spending money, we’re stimulating the economy, upholding our responsibility as citizens, and enriching our lives through the things we love.

In the discussion about why financial literacy is important: this is why it’s important to spend money effectively, taking us back to PFM and the power of a good budget. When we know our money coming in versus money going out, we can take the steps to spend money in intelligent, well-considered ways.

#4 – Borrowing

Among the financial literacy topics, understanding the importance of borrowing money is critical. Poor borrowing decisions can deal tremendous damage to the long-term health of your budget and lifestyle, chaining you to frustrating, nonoptimal repayment plans. But loans themselves are not the enemy, and can serve as a boon in some circumstances.

A well-chosen loan can help you out of an unexpected emergency scenario, get your promising new business on its feet, or allow you to make an important life transition. Before committing to any new loan, ensure you understand the institution behind it, the terms and conditions, interest rates, additional costs, and any involved collateral. All of these details should be outlined in the contract you’ll be asked to sign.

#5 – Saving and Investing

Essential to the financial literacy training experience is the understanding of how saving and investing can elevate your financial portfolio. You’ll find many practices surrounding exactly how much you should save and when; but virtually every source of wisdom agrees you should be saving something.

A good savings account can provide lucrative benefits, such as making you more money the longer you have cash sitting in it. Other healthy practices include:

  • Not spending all of your money as soon as it comes in
  • Stowing part of it away in case of emergency
  • Saving money in anticipation of a large purchase, like the down payment on a car

Investing is an extension of saving. It’s wielding your money in a way that the money is allowed to grow on its own. Like everything else on this list, investing is an entire skill unto itself, and can take years to cultivate. However, a strong investment profile can create unrivaled financial security and generate you wealth in addition to your income.

Learn More and Live More with Landmark

The learning never stops. Though we’ve covered some of the basics, remember each of these financial literacy topics can go far deeper. The benefits you can reap from high-level literacy are worth the effort necessary to master each of them.

To continue in the spirit of financial wellness month, Landmark National Bank would like to encourage you to explore the benefits of our personal savings account, designed to help you earn interest and invest in your future. This is a great next step toward learning how financial literacy is important, and how it can directly improve your life.

Find a Landmark National Bank location near you to talk to a banker about your financial needs!

How to Prepare Financially When Expecting a Baby

A new mom snuggling with her baby.

Welcoming a little bundle of joy into your life is an exciting milestone. However, from diapers and formula to clothes and car seats, babies bring quite a few expenses along with them. The average cost of having a baby in the United States is about $10,800—a large price tag for such a little package!

As you get ready to become a parent, take steps to prepare your bank account for the arrival of your child, too. Discover how opening a savings account from Landmark National Bank can help you prepare for a baby financially.

Create a Baby Budget

It may sound odd, but you should create a budget for your baby. Everyone’s baby budget looks different, depending on how many children you already have, what your expenses are, and your income.

Consider having both a long-term and short-term budget. Your short-term budget focuses on the cost associated with the arrival of your baby. Postnatal care, hospital bills, or adoption fees are significant expenses at the beginning of your journey of parenthood. Your long-term budget includes:

  • College fund
  • Daycare expenses
  • Food
  • Diapers
  • Clothes

In addition to creating a budget, we’ve gathered a few cost-saving ideas to help you prepare financially for a baby:

Thrift for Baby Clothes

As a new parent, you may be tempted to treat your bundle of joy like your personal baby doll. Unfortunately, babies grow quickly, meaning that little sailor outfit or tutu may not fit for very long!

Additionally, baby clothes often get stained with spit-up and food (or worse!). Give yourself a wide variety of baby clothing options without overspending by going to thrift stores.

Use Coupons for Formula, Diapers, Etc.

Formula and diapers are two of the biggest costs associated with having a baby. If breastfeeding and washable diapers aren’t an option for you, try to use coupons as much as you can. In addition to saving money, coupons may even give you the option to purchase more baby supplies and save you a trip or two to the store.

Create a Savings Account for Your Baby

One of the biggest ways you can give yourself financial help as a parent? Open a savings account for your baby. By opening a savings account, you can create a space to track all of your baby’s financial needs. Set aside money for a college fund, build your short-term budget as your due date approaches, or build out a nest egg for the irresistible baby outfits you stumble upon.

Open a Savings Account with Landmark National Bank

If you’re wondering how to prepare financially for a baby, Landmark National Bank can help. In addition to savings accounts, we offer a variety of personal banking options to help you manage finances as you prepare to have a baby. Find a Landmark National Bank branch location near you and open a savings account today!

Tips for Managing Your Subscriptions

Woman sitting on her couch choosing something to watch from her streaming service.

Subscribing to a newspaper or signing up for the hot new streaming service is easier than ever. With a few clicks, you can enjoy the latest movies, news, podcasts, and other entertainment. Free trials make these memberships even more appealing.

But that convenience is also what makes it so easy to pay for more entertainment or information than you can possibly consume. Learning how to manage your subscriptions can help prevent forgotten charges from appearing on your bank statement.

How to See What Subscriptions You Have

The costs of your $8.99 streaming service, $9.99 newspaper subscription, and $11 food delivery membership may not seem like much individually. But together, they can put a strain on your budget.

It’s easy to forget that you’ve signed up for a seemingly inexpensive service, and even easier to forget about free trials. Learn how to track your subscriptions and rescue your budget with Landmark National Bank.

Tracking Subscriptions in Your Digital Wallet

For subscriptions attached to a digital wallet, it’s relatively simple to see what you’re paying for every month. Google Pay and Apple Pay users can see existing memberships by heading to the Subscriptions section. Google users will find theirs under “Payments and Subscriptions”; it’s found under “Settings” for Apple users.

PayPal-funded subscriptions are listed under the “Payments” tab, which you can access by selecting the settings icon.

How to Manage Subscriptions

App developers took note of the challenge multiple subscriptions pose to consumers’ wallets. They responded by creating apps to track and manage memberships and automatic payments. Some options for finding your subscriptions include:

  • Mint
  • Trim
  • Subby
  • Bobby
  • Truebill
  • Track My Subs

Some apps are free; others charge a fee or offer tiered membership options. It might seem ironic to pay for a membership to an app that tracks your paid subscriptions, but if it works, it’s worth it.

How to Avoid the Over-Subscription Trap

Companies know what they’re doing. Free trials offer a great way to check out a streaming service or other membership, but they do make it easy to add another bill to your monthly budget without even noticing. Even worse, fewer companies offer the 30-day free trials that were once so common.

Instead, you get seven days of free services. If you don’t take advantage of your new service in the first few days, you’re more likely to forget you signed up for it. Before you know it, you’re paying for yet another membership without the benefit of enjoying it. Ask yourself these questions before signing on the dotted line:

  • Am I only signing up because it’s free?
  • Do I have time to use this subscription?
  • Does this membership offer benefits I really need?

Being honest with yourself can help you avoid being swamped with subscriptions and associated fees that end up doing nothing but costing you money and effort.

Eliminate Subscriptions from Your Budget with Landmark

Knowing how to manage subscriptions can help you avoid a common money trap. While the conventional money-saving wisdom once began with dropping cable TV, today’s cord-cutters can adapt the same concept to streaming services, paid podcasts, and other sneaky budget bombs.

Landmark National Bank makes managing your finances even easier with a variety of online and mobile banking. From tracking expenses via our mobile app to earning shopping points with the Landmark National Rewards, partnering with us helps you protect and grow your finances.

Visit your local Landmark National Bank branch location and enjoy access to other financial tools and products.

How to Save Money by Cooking at Home

A man with his son making vegetable salad.

Most of us enjoy dining out, at least once in a while. And takeout makes our lives infinitely easier. But for many, eating out isn’t a special treat; it’s a regular habit. The average American eats food from a restaurant nearly six times per week. Restaurant meals aren’t just less healthful in general; they’re also much more expensive than home-cooked meals.

So, how much can you save by cooking at home, especially with help from affordable meal prep? We’ll answer this question and share time- and money-saving tips.

Average Cost of Dinner at a Restaurant

Business Insider analyzed the average meal cost at restaurants around the country. In New York, a restaurant meal will set you back $12. In Kansas, that price is just under two dollars less. That may not sound like a lot, but it means the average New Yorker spends about $3,470 a year on restaurant fare and Kansas residents shell out approximately $2,167 annually.

Having food delivered doesn’t cost much less than a full-service meal, depending on whether you add alcohol to the mix. According to Money Crashers, delivery fees, tips and the food itself can drive costs up to five times more than a meal cooked from scratch.

How Cooking Meals at Home Can Help

You don’t have to cook everything from scratch to save money. While affordable meal prep plans offer the ultimate in thriftiness and efficiency, a few shortcuts can make home cooking so much easier and less painful for the kitchen-phobic. Try these tips:

  • Make double batches to put in the freezer
  • Use your crockpot or InstantPot for weeknight dinners
  • Plan a leftover night or eat the remainder of dinner for lunch the next day
  • Read recipes in advance to ensure that you have the time and right ingredients
  • Keep canned tomatoes, beans, broths, cream soups, and other kitchen staples on hand

Once you discover how simple cooking can be, you might even find that you like it. And if you don’t fall in love with the culinary arts, searching for simple, limited-ingredient recipes can lessen the pain. Stick with one-pot, sheet-pan, or skillet meals if you hate washing cookware.

Affordable Meal Prep

So, how much money do you save cooking at home? One avid meal-prepper puts his average meal cost at $3.57. Of course, you do have to factor in your time, especially if you’re self-employed. But not only will you save money; you can control portion size and ingredients, which adds up in terms of healthcare savings over time.

If you’re interested in learning more about meal prepping, do a little research and start small. Start by making enough for two or three meals at a time. You may appreciate the time and money savings enough to become a prepping aficionado!

Smarter Grocery Shopping

One benefit of affordable meal prep plans is that they simplify budgeting for groceries. If you know exactly what you’re eating the following week, you can buy only what you need. Even if you don’t plan to meal-prep, try these cost-cutting tips:

  • Always make a list
  • Reduce impulse-buying temptation by shopping online
  • Clip physical or digital coupons for items on your list

Sticking to a food budget will help you stay on track. Use a budgeting app to monitor expenses and remain motivated.

Become a Savvy Shopper with Landmark National Bank

The mobile banking app from Landmark National bank makes easy work of staying on budget. Easily monitor restaurant or grocery expenses to determine your own average meal cost.

Once you discover the average cost of dinner at a restaurant in your town vs cooking at home, it will be easier to make the right choices. You’ll also appreciate having access to in-app bill payments, bank account alerts, and other convenient app features. Find your nearest Landmark National Bank branch location today!

12 Realistic Financial Resolutions

Piggy bank and stacks of coins sitting next to a man as he types on his laptop.

A new year brings the opportunity for fresh starts, resolutions, and trying new things. When it comes to financial health, there are a few New Year’s resolutions you should consider setting to make your financial health a priority. At Landmark National Bank, we’re here to help with tips for saving money in the new year.

Create a “Why” and Revisit it Often

One of the easiest first steps you can take in saving is determining why you want, or need, to reorganize your funds. Whether you’re preparing to buy your first home or building an emergency fund, having a clear purpose can help drive your efforts to an end goal.

Your reason for saving doesn’t have to be final. Taking a job out of state? Keep working toward saving a house, or shift your efforts to paying off student loans in the meantime. If you achieve your goal for an emergency fund, create a new goal that fits your current situation and work to meet that one next. Revisiting your “Why” can get you back on track if you slip up or start to waver.

Open a Savings Account

Savings accounts are a great way to put away money and earn interest without putting in any work. These accounts typically have a required opening balance and minimum balance but give you the ability to earn interest based on the type of account you have. Landmark National Bank offers a variety of personal savings account options, including an account designed just for young savers!

Create a Monthly Budget and Stick to It

The idea of making a budget can seem intimidating, so don’t be afraid to start small. There are many ways to create a budget, this means you’ll be able to choose one that works best for your needs. A couple of popular budgeting methods include the 50/30/20 method and a zero-based budget approach.

The 50/30/20 splits your income into three categories with 50% going to living expenses such as rent, utilities, and food, 20% to savings, and 30% to spend as you decide. You can even do this by hand by separating cash into envelopes so when you’ve spent one, you’re not able to dip into other accounts.

A zero-based budget approach requires you to know where every dollar goes. This type of budget is best for someone who has a set income each month and has experience budgeting, as it does take some extra work and digging.

With Landmark’s online banking, you can also categorize your transactions, and then generate a chart that shows you how much money you are spending by category every month.

Look for Ways to Boost Your Income

If there’s no wiggle room in your budget to save more than you are now, your best option may be looking into additional sources of income. This may include a second job, picking up more responsibilities at work, or freelancing with the skills you already possess.

Part-time jobs can also come with extra perks. Working the front desk at a gym may earn you a free membership, and a few hours a week at your local grocery store typically earns you a discount you can use for food and essentials.

If you have knowledge and experience in a creative field, advertise your services on freelance sites such as Upwork and Fiverr and pick up projects when you have the capacity to do so.

Meet with a Financial Advisor

Financial advisors can help you plan for life’s biggest events to make sure you’re making the best financial moves. Even though you may not think you need a financial advisor, it’s not always a good idea to wait it out until you need someone knowledgeable to seek it out.

A financial advisor can also help develop a strategy for upcoming events such as starting a family, buying a home, or planning for retirement. Depending on the one you choose, your advisor may even act as sounding boards to help you confidently take control of decision-making.

Review Your Subscriptions

Subscriptions and memberships can add up quickly and easily get out of hand if you’re not paying close attention to when they renew. Between streaming services, magazines, and shopping subscriptions, you may be spending a lot more than you realize. Take time to total up all the services you have and review them individually to see if you’re using it enough to justify the monthly expense.

There are even apps such as TrueBill that will find these for you so you can decide what to cut and what to keep. Instead of a cooking magazine that you may not use every month, look around for free recipes online or wait until your favorite dish is featured to pick up a copy. Some publications even offer digital versions of their work for a lower price if you still want to access the information in a different format.

Pay off Your Debt

A survey conducted by Inside 1031 found 55% of people have credit card debt that they carry from month to month. In addition, 40% of people haven’t been debt free since 2018. Whether the debt comes from irresponsible spending habits or an emergency expense, leaving it to grow and rack up interest will only cause problems in the long run. If you have credit card debt, make it a goal to pay it off.

There are many approaches you can take to paying off your debt, but two of the most common include paying off the largest debt first (the avalanche method) or paying off the smallest amount first and working up (the snowball method.)

Once your debt is paid off, you’ll have more freedom in your budget and can work toward building up savings and creating an emergency fund for the future.

Be Energy Efficient

Utility bills fluctuate throughout the year depending on your location and your preferences on heating, cooling, and appliances. While it brings an upfront cost, consider switching to energy-efficient appliances, using LED light bulbs, and buying rechargeable batteries.

These items last longer than their non energy-efficient counterparts and will save on electricity bills in the long run. In addition, unplug electronics if you’ll be gone for a long weekend and turn off lights and TVs when you’re not using them. If large windows and sunlight bring up the temperature of your home in the summer, opt for blackout curtains that not only keep out the bright rays but the heat as well.

Maximize Credit Card Rewards

Credit cards can seem intimidating when it comes to paying off debt, but they’re one of the best ways to build and improve your credit score if you can manage and pay them off on a regular basis. If you’re going to be using credit cards, choose one that offers cash back when you do. Explore your credit card options with Landmark National Bank.

Prioritize Cooking from Home

While running through a drive-thru on your way home from work may seem like it saves time, the money you pay for convenience will really add up. Cooking at home can be fun, and easy, with the help of a delivery service.

These kits can be customized based on diet preferences and have a new menu you can pick from each week. You’ll also save time when it comes to stopping at a restaurant or drive-thru, as these delivery services bring the food directly to your door. Expand your knowledge in the kitchen by sourcing favorite recipes from friends and family, so you never run out of new options to try.

Try a Savings Challenge

Money-saving may seem like a monotonous task, but it doesn’t need to be. Money saving challenges are a way to give yourself goals and switch up how, and how much, you’re contributing to your savings account each month.

A few popular variations include a no-spend challenge and the 52-week challenge. In a no-spend challenge, you don’t buy anything outside your normal living expenses. This means not spending money on clothing, take-out, or entertainment. Start with a week to see how well you do and extend from there.

During a 52-week challenge, you’ll start by saving $1 during week one and increase as you go, saving $2 during week 2, $3 during week 3 and so on. By the end of the year, you will have saved almost $1,400 that you didn’t have set aside before.

Refinance Your Home or Student Loans

Mortgage rates have been sitting at attractive levels since mid-2020, giving homeowners the opportunity to switch out their existing mortgages for a new one. If you don’t own your own home, the same thing can be done for student loans and even credit card debt.

Refinancing your loans into one single loan with a lower interest rate, or one that is somewhere in the middle of all your rates.

For some people, refinancing can mean securing lower interest rates that help them owe less in the long run. For others, the psychology of making one large payment on one account feels more successful than making small payments on many accounts.

Save Money in the New Year with Landmark National Bank

There are many approaches you can take to tackle your financial goals in 2022. Whether you’re opening your first savings account or saving for a future vacation, Landmark National Bank is here to support you through every step of the way.

Use our online and mobile banking tools to manage your money and budget on the go, or explore home loan options to see if refinancing is the best option for you. Work toward your financial goals this year with Landmark National Bank. Visit a Landmark National Bank branch location near you today!