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Get Smart About Credit

One of my favorite quotes is “when opportunity comes, it is too late to prepare.”  I think that is very relatable when it comes to credit and your finances.  October 21st is “Get Smart about Credit“ day and I would like to take a couple minutes of your time to talk about some of the things I have witnessed during my time in banking and some tips to help you moving forward.

Your credit score is one of the main factors lenders look at when making their decision on whether to extend financing to a customer.  It is an accumulation of the financial decisions you have made, put into a numeric value.  If you wait to take care of your credit score until you need a good one, it is probably too late.  Your score is calculated based on multiple factors including payment history, type of credit, how long you have had credit, and where you are receiving your credit.  In simpler terms; where do you get your loans, how long have you had them, and do you make your payments on time?

Good credit allows the consumer to have more choices, and puts you in more control of the process.  It allows you to pick the products and terms that fit better with your needs rather than having to get funding from the loan shark down the street at a high interest rate.  One of the harshest parts of credit is the fact that it takes a while to build a good score, but a short period of bad financial decisions will send it tumbling down quickly.  It is important to nip any problems in the bud and go speak with your lender if you are experiencing a difficult time.  It is much easier to fix a financial problem at the beginning instead of sticking your head in the sand and letting the issue fester.  One of the main benefits of working with a local institution is the access to the lending staff.  Utilize them for questions or concerns you may have about your finances and how to maintain a good credit score moving forward.

When looking to obtain credit, make sure you are looking at the term and interest rate not just the payment.  I have talked to many consumers who financed a vehicle through the dealership and had no idea what the interest rate was.  Just because you are approved for a loan does not mean it is right for you.  You are the steward of your own finances, we are just here to help you navigate it through the buoys.  Through my years, I have found that the customers that have a financial system and maintain a budget constantly outperform the ones that fly by the seat of their pants.

Life is full of ups and downs and your finances are no exception.  You cannot predict when your furnace might go out or your truck breaks down, but you can have a plan in place to overcome these obstacles when they are presented to you.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to any of the staff at our three locations to discuss anything regarding your financial situation.

Happy Holidays!

The holidays are quickly approaching, which of course means: SHOPPING! The Black Friday crowds may look a little different this year, but it sounds like the specials and discounts are still going to be out there waiting for customers to find them. We will see and hear the commercials on tv and how big the price cuts are going to be at the big box stores. What we may not see on tv will be the commercials for the local shops and restaurants our communities are fortunate to have.

This year has affected everyone differently, but our locally owned shops and restaurants were hit hard as they were forced to close their doors and alter the way they did business. Most of these shops and restaurants thrive on foot traffic, which again, came to a stop earlier this year. These are our friends and family that are running these businesses and what better way to spread some of the holiday spirit than to make a couple extra purchases at your favorite locally owned shop and potentially make their holidays a little bit brighter in what has been a bit of a dark year.

Often, we look to these places for support of teams, fundraisers, or sponsorships. If we can return the favor and show some gratitude by simply shopping locally we can help ensure that the same potential for that support is still there in the years to come. I think of the front of little league jerseys in the summers that are home to the names of our favorite restaurants and although they may not be operating at full capacity right now, the opportunity to purchase a gift certificate and gift that to friends and family is still there. In a year that has been lacking much joy any chance we can get to help make someone’s day should be captured.

RSB and both of its branches have been fortunate enough to operate in some of our area’s smaller communities. Our customers have supported us for many years and many of our local shops are near and dear to us. We will continue to try and return the favor as this holiday season gets going and we encourage everyone to do the same. We are very fortunate to have the options to shop local, and doing our part to keep that as an option will be something we do with a smile on our faces this year as it very well could make a world of difference for some of our friends this year.

Endorsements and Email and Wi-Fi, OH MY!

 

It is the month of pumpkin spice, falling leaves, spooky things…..and Cybersecurity Awareness. As you go about your online activities and gear up for the 2020 holiday season, there are a few steps you can take to stay safe online. Raritan State Bank wants you to remember:

Remote Deposit Endorsement requirements protect you.

Online banking is a convenient service and with this paperless platform, there are a few additional steps you may have to take when making a deposit.

Why can’t you just sign your name and submit? Including the bank name, account number and specifying a check is “FOR REMOTE DEPOSIT” ensures that checks are not inadvertently deposited more than once by an endorser.

Be careful what you share!

Phishing is real.

Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be a reputable company to try to get the receiver to reveal personal information.

If you get an email asking for personal information, make sure the sender is who they say they are. If there is any doubt, THROW IT OUT!

Keep your software up-to-date.

Install updates as they are released from the software vendor.

Upgrade or get rid of technology that is no longer supported by the maker of the software product.

In a smart world, don’t forget your smart devices!  Your router, SmartTV, Smart Lights and any other device connected to your home network need updates too.

Be careful where you connect.

Public Wi-Fi networks are not secure and other systems may not have the same firewalls as you.

Public computers can have spyware attached that captures passwords and public printers can leave sensitive documents accessible on the server.

Cybercriminals are SMART.

Be sure your computers and devices are protected. Sometimes basic or free antivirus programs are not good enough. Be certain yours is up-to-date and that all protections are turned on.