• Saving for a House in Five Easy Steps

    April 25, 2018, 1:23 PM

    Saving for a house

    There are some attractive mortgage loans that don't require as much of a down payment as in the past, but you will still need to have some cash on hand to buy a home. Even with a low down payment loan, you may need 5%-10% down. Most experts, however, recommend that homebuyers put 20% down to avoid private mortgage insurance and other fees.

    No matter which mortgage product you settle on, gathering funds for a down payment can be a challenge. Even so, this is certainly something that can be achieved with some careful planning. Here are just five simple steps that can help you bulk up your savings so that you'll be ready to make that home purchase.

    1. Determine your budget. It's easier to reach for a goal if you define it first. Make a list of your "needs" and "wants" for a new home and then do some thorough research on your market. Find out how much a typical home costs that meets your needs and figure out your budget for a down payment.

    2. Review your current savings. You may be tempted to tap into your existing retirement account or emergency fund to finance your home ownership dream, but this could be a mistake. It's important that you keep those items designated for their intended use. Instead, think about opening a new savings account that you will use solely for your mortgage down payment.

    3. Cut back on expenses. Home ownership is a major accomplishment that could involve some sacrifices to achieve. This means that you should carefully examine your existing expenses and see where you can cut back for the sake of your dream. Maybe you don't need 500 cable channels for now and can do without the gourmet lunches for a while. If you want to go extreme, you could move into a smaller apartment and even think about taking in a roommate for a short period.

    4. Boost your income. Another way to save for a house is to find new ways to make money - legally, of course. Get a second job that you can work weekends or in the evenings. Now that we have a growing gig economy, you can look into driving for a ride sharing service or even research ways to make some extra cash online.

    5. Keep the change. If you are someone who shops with cash, it might be tempting to squander those loose bills and coins. These add up! Instead, set them aside and begin depositing the money into your down payment savings account. When you combine this technique with some of the others, you will reach your goal even sooner.

    Open an Account to Begin Saving for a Home

    If your goal is to buy a home, there is no better time than the present to begin saving to make that dream a reality. At City Bank, we offer a variety of products to help you achieve your financial goals including a personal savings account and competitive mortgage loans when you are ready. Open a savings account now or come into one of our local branches to discuss your options.
  • Our website address is changing on May 1st

    April 03, 2018, 8:31 AM
    Dot-bank Headline Graphic

    Our web address is about to get short and sweet.

    On May 1st, citybankonline.com will change to city.bank.

    City Bank will be performing a significant upgrade that positively affects customers’ online security when interacting with the City Bank website and Online Banking. Effective May 1st, 2018, we will transition our current website domain citybankonline.com to our new online home at city.bank. On or after this date, if you access citybankonline.com, you will be automatically redirected to city.bank.

    The new dot-bank domain extension is different than dot-com as it incorporates added security requirements specifically for the banking industry. An enhanced level of verification, authentication, and security will help reduce phishing, spoofing, internet scams and malicious emails. This change will also allow our customers to interact with us through a trusted, verified, more secure, and easily identifiable location on the Internet.

    How will this affect customers?

    The migration to the new domain will be seamless, but we recommend you create a new bookmark for city.bank. This will not affect our current online and mobile banking solutions. Apart from seeing a different web address, you should not notice any disruption of service.

    How will this affect Online Banking?

    Along with this web address change, Online Banking will also have a new URL, https://secure.city.bank. Because of this, customers will be prompted to re-register devices used to access Online Banking through the authentication process.

    There is no ".com" at the end of ".bank"

    Remember to NOT add ".com" at the end of this new web address. There's no need. Adding ".com" at the end of our new web address will result in the inability to access our website after the change occurs.

    Customers should make sure they are using a current, updated browser.

    To ensure a seamless experience with the new web address, customers are urged to use a current, updated browser such as the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer 11 or Edge.

  • The Pros and Cons of Cash, Debit, Credit

    March 27, 2018, 1:34 PM

    Some people swear by their credit or debit cards while others declare that "Cash is King." The truth is that each form of payment has its pros and cons. Depending on your habits and goals, one form may be a better choice than another. Here are the pros and cons of paying with cash, debit, and credit so that you can make the most informed spending decisions.

    Paying with Cash

    Paying with Cash

    Pros:
    Paying cash for everything can help you avoid overspending. If you only have cash on hand, you can determine in advance what you are willing to spend on something, and then you are forced to stop once you hit that threshold. Some businesses today are still cash-only or have a minimum purchase to use a credit card, so cash will come in handy in these scenarios.

    Cons:
    For some, carrying around cash is a temptation. If you're holding too much cash, you may be enticed to spend it on things that you don't need. Cash can also be lost or stolen, and it's usually not replaceable once this happens. For these reasons alone, using a debit or credit card is often a safer choice.

    Using a Debit Card

    Using a Debit Card

    Pros:
    Because funds from a debit card transaction come directly out of your bank account, using this method could help you avoid overspending. Debit cards can be used in places where cash isn't accepted. You also have some federal protections should there be fraudulent use of your card, although these aren't as strong as those in place for credit cards.

    Cons:
    You need to keep close track of your checking account balance so that you don't overdraw your account. When you pay for things like gas and hotels with a debit card, there's a chance that the business will place a hold on your account until your final purchase clears. This could affect your checking account balance and even trigger overdrafts.

    Paying by credit card

    Paying by Credit Card

    Pros:
    Some businesses, such as rental car agencies and hotels, require that you use a credit card to book or pay in advance. Your credit activity is reported to the three major credit bureaus, which gives you an opportunity to build a healthy credit history and score. Many major credit cards offer incentives for their use such as cash back, sign-up bonuses, travel rewards, price protection, and additional product warranties. Finally, credit cards provide the strongest consumer protection against fraud thanks to the Fair Credit Billing Act.

    Cons:
    If you are an undisciplined spender, having a credit card can be a temptation to purchase more than you need. When you carry over a balance on a credit card, you will pay interest charges and could harm your credit with any late payments. Credit cards are best used when their balance is paid in full at the end of each billing period.

    Mobile payment options

    Mobile Payment Options

    Pros:
    Many businesses are now offering mobile payment options such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. These are cardless payment systems that work through an app attached to your smartphone or wearable device. They use a technology called near-field communications (NFC) to transmit your stored credit or debit card information when you wave it close to the retailer's payment terminal. The biggest benefit to those payment systems is convenience. You can literally leave your wallet at home and still have the ability to shop, eat out, and even transfer money. They are also considered secure because NFC encrypts your payment data.

    Cons:
    There are just a few cons associated with mobile payments like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. First, they still aren't widely available, so you may have to search to find a place to pay with your phone or smartwatch. Second, they are slightly awkward, where you need to turn your phone or wrist a certain way to register the payment. Finally, they are available only on some of the newer smartphone devices such as the iPhone 6 and above and the Samsung Galaxy S6 and up.

    Consumer Credit Cards from City Bank

    Consumers who want to establish and grow their credit through the responsible use of a credit card can now take advantage of City Bank's new partnership with MasterCard. City Bank is offering several MasterCard consumer credit cards that offer several choices in benefits such as a low-rate introductory APR, cash back rewards, and travel points. Apply now for your low APR personal credit card from City Bank.

    *Subject to credit approval. Ask for details.

  • Quick Steps to Creating a Budget

    March 15, 2018, 3:16 PM
    Creating a budget

    There is a common misconception about budgets only being for people going through financial difficulties. The truth is that a well-planned budget is one of the best ways to help you reach your financial goals and live the lifestyle of your dreams. The good news is that preparing and sticking to a budget isn't as difficult as it sounds. Here is a step-by-step guide to creating a budget and finding some extra cash each month.

    Step 1: What is Your Take-Home Pay?

    Too many people make the mistake of creating a budget based on their total salary when this is not the amount of money you will have to cover expenses. Your take-home pay, or net income, is the money that you have left each month after taxes and deductions for things such as medical insurance, Social Security, and 401(k) contributions. Use your net income for all budget calculations.

    Step 2: Track Your Spending

    It's useful to identify the places that you are spending the most money each month so that you can budget properly and even think about making some adjustments later. You can separate your expenditures into fixed and variable expenses.

    Your fixed expenses are things that remain the same from month to month such as rent, car payments, and some utilities. Variable expenses change, and these include gas, groceries, and money for entertainment. Review bank and credit card statements to create these lists.

    Step 3: Establish Some Goals

    When you create a budget, it helps to have some financial goals. These are both short and long-term targets for your monthly spending and savings. The kinds of things that you might want to include in your goals are contributing more to an emergency savings account, starting a college savings fund for your children, or saving money for a home mortgage down payment.

    Step 4: Create a Plan

    You can begin to put your plan into action by paying closer attention to the way you spend each dollar. It's also important that you take some steps to move forward with some of your goals. For example, if you want to establish an emergency fund or save for a new home, now is the time to open a savings account and set up an automatic deposit after each payday. The idea of "paying yourself first" gets put into action here.

    Step 5: Adjust Your Spending

    Use the list of fixed and variable expenses that you've made to figure out your future spending. Your past spending is the best predictor of future spending, but you can make changes. For example, you can categorize some of your expenses between "needs" and "wants." There may be some "wants," such as your morning latte, that you can eliminate so that you can meet your goals.

    Step 6: Continue to Evaluate

    A budget isn't a one and done process. You should plan on reviewing your budget regularly to make sure that you are on track and to see if there are any other ways that you can improve your financial position. As with most things in life, circumstances change. You may switch jobs, get a raise, or move to a more expensive apartment, all of which require that you adjust your plan.

    If you haven't done it before, starting a budget can be a challenge. At City Bank we’ve reimagined the online banking experience to bring you more capability and insight into your day-to-day financial management with some exciting new tools. Online Banking is the free, secure way to manage your finances online from any web-enabled device from anywhere you have access to the Internet. Once you have your budget in place and the financial tools to succeed established, you will find it easier to reach your goals.

    Contact City Bank now to learn about our feature-rich checking and savings accounts as well as our other competitive financial tools.
  • 5 Smart Ways to Use Your Tax Refund

    March 15, 2018, 3:15 PM

    Tax Refund Image

    1. Pay Down Debt

    The average credit card interest rate is now over 16.8%, and many credit cards charge rates that are much higher. Paying down credit card and other debt is one of the best ways to use your tax refund. By simply paying off $1,000 worth of debt, you could save hundreds in finance charges in the future.

    2. Fund Your Emergency Savings

    Provided you don't have mountains of high-interest debt looming over your head, the next thing you should consider is using your tax return to create your financial backup plan. This is an emergency savings account that will allow you to cover unexpected events or expenses such as vehicle repairs, medical expenses, and even a job layoff. If you don't have these savings and are hit with an emergency, you would likely have to resort to using credit cards or personal loans. A good rule of thumb is to aim for having at least three months' salary in this savings account.

    3. Save for Retirement

    You are already in better financial shape than most if you've wiped out your high-interest debt and have an emergency savings account on hand. If you haven't done so yet, it's a good idea to start setting some money aside for retirement. Use your tax return to open up or contribute to a Traditional or Roth IRA. Even if you already have a 401(k), 403(b), or another employer-sponsored plan, you can open up a Roth IRA provided you meet certain income requirements as defined by the IRS.

    4. Invest in Real Estate

    Home ownership is a dream for most Americans. If you don't own a home yet and would like to, you can use your tax return to help you achieve this goal. There are many mortgage opportunities that allow for low down payment home loans, so it's a good idea to speak with your mortgage lender about the options in your area.

    5. Start a College Savings Fund

    College seems to be getting more expensive each year, so it's never too early to start saving for your children's education. Because of compound interest, the earlier you start saving, the less you will need to contribute to a college fund. Speak with your bank about common tuition savings plans, such as a section 529 plan.


    Uncle Sam may already be dropping IRS tax refunds in the mail or shooting them straight into your bank account. Come up with a sound strategy for your tax refund now so you won't feel those pangs of financial regret later.


    If you're ready to open a feature-packed interest checking account, a savings account for emergencies or college, or apply for a competitive, low-rate mortgage, contact City Bank now to find out how we can help you meet your financial goals.
  • How To Boost Your Credit Score Before Buying A Home

    March 01, 2018, 11:24 AM
    Boost your credit score

    If you are planning to finally realize the dream of homeownership, you want to make sure that there are no obstacles in your path. For some, having a poor credit score could either prevent getting a mortgage approval or mean that your mortgage is going to cost more than necessary.

    Most banks have strict rules governing their lending terms, with a majority of the emphasis being placed on your credit score. If the lowest interest rates are awarded to a borrower with a score of 760 or better and yours is 757, those three points could end up costing you thousands of dollars.

    The good news is that you can take steps to improve your credit score. This will not only improve your chances of getting a mortgage approval but also of receiving the best interest rate possible for your home loan. While credit history can't be rebuilt overnight, there are several ways that you can improve your credit score in a short time.

    Review Your Report for Accuracy. If you haven't reviewed your credit report recently, this should be your first step. You can get a free credit report each year from each of the major bureaus. Review these reports for accuracy and dispute items that are incorrect. The bureau will either need to confirm the information or remove it from your report.

    Pay Bills On Time. It's essential that you pay all of your bills on time, including utilities and any credit card payments. Any late payments will have a negative impact on your credit score.

    Lower Your Balances. One of the best ways to increase your credit score is to reduce your credit utilization. If all of your credit cards are maxed out, this shows that you are using too much high-interest revolving credit. Instead of just making minimum monthly payments, pay off as much as you can each month and avoid charging more.

    Keep Unused Accounts Open. It may be tempting to close unused credit accounts, but this action could harm your credit score. Having more available credit that you aren't using gives you a lower credit utilization rate, which is a positive factor for your credit score.

    Avoid Some Common Mistakes. Some common mistakes prior to filing a mortgage application could harm rather than boost your credit score. Among them are applying for too many new credit accounts in a short period and making a major purchase, such as a new car. You should also avoid going over your credit limit on an account, being sent to collections, or filing for bankruptcy.

    Even if you have less than perfect credit, you can still qualify for a mortgage and realize the dream of homeownership. Do what you can to clean up your credit report so that you can maximize your credit score and speak with a mortgage professional at City Bank about your options. The work you put in now will be worth the effort when you receive those keys at closing.

     

     

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