by Lynn Viesti Berube
There’re reasons dogs are considered man’s best friend: They give their owners unconditional love, are intelligent, provide countless hours of entertainment and are highly loyal. If you’re thinking about adding a puppy to your family unit, consider all these charming attributes. But also think about whether you can afford to own a dog. According to Pet Education, out-of-pocket expenses for just the first year of your puppy’s life can be as high as $6,600.
Certain costs, such as for services provided by a veterinarian—from vaccines to heartworm shots, to spaying or neutering—are unavoidable. Yet, you can mitigate other costs by taking the following measures:
Find an alternative to pet stores: Buying a puppy from a pet store could cost you $1,000. For a dog with a lower price tag, explore alternative options like animal rescue shelters or adoption clinics. Have a specific breed in mind? Consider contacting a rescue group. All pedigrees are available in shelters and foster homes. Adoptions are usually low cost or free.
Double your dinner recipe: Purchasing food for your dog isn’t cheap. The good news is that you can add some of the common foods you already cook—rice, vegetables and meat, for example—into their diet for a healthy and cost-effective solution. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian first, though, to make sure the ingredients you use are dog-friendly and offer enough nutrition.
Invest in proper training: Taking the time to properly train your dog will have long-lasting positive effects for all of you. Don’t think of spending money on training as an expense, but rather, an investment. If your dog isn’t taught to respect you and your property, it might behave in unfriendly, even dangerous, ways. Dog’s have lots of energy and need to learn how to channel it appropriately so they don’t do damage when you’re not around. In addition, dogs in new surroundings often experience anxiety and might express their feelings by chewing on furniture, or behaving in other destructive ways. In other words, a well-trained dog is less likely to require frequent shopping trips to IKEA.
Make your own toys: Trekking through the aisles of a pet store, you’ll see a multitude of expensive dog toys made from common household items. Instead of spending money on a piece of rope, for example, check your garage for a similar “toy” first. Another tip: Purchase out of season toys at the pet store. Your dog does not care if you give him/her a snowman toy in the summer.
Be proactive about healthcare: Just as you do for yourself, take a proactive approach to your dog’s healthcare. Regular check-ups can prevent illness from impacting your dog’s quality of life, and help you avoid more-expensive medical treatments. A balanced, nutritious diet and daily exercise will also go a long way toward keeping your pet in top shape. Also be sure to brush your dog’s teeth, administer heartworm and tick prevention medications, and strictly follow any recommendations made by your veterinarian.
These measures will ensure that adding a dog to your family won’t upend your financial stability, and will allow you to enjoy your new pet for a long time. For more ideas on managing your money as you go through life, check out the Milford Bank Learning Center.
By Jorge Santiago
While there are countless banks you can choose to protect and grow your wealth, the simple truth is that there are many differences between the global megabanks you might be more familiar with and locally-focused community banks.
The question you’ve got to ask yourself is this: which type of bank will meet the needs of you and your family?
You already know all about the megabanks. They’ve got stadiums named after them. They’ve got expensive commercials featuring famous actors and actresses. The odds are, you know all about what the megabanks can offer.
So here’s a closer look at what a community bank can provide:
- The same services as bigger banks. A smaller bank doesn’t equate to smaller financial service offerings. Community banks can provide everything you’ve come to expect: investment vehicles, insurance, business loans, mortgages, financial consultation, retirement accounts and more.
- You can get to know every employee.
- Your success is their success. The deposits made at community banks are redistributed in the form of business loans and mortgages to other members of the local economy. That means community bankers have a vested interest in your financial well-being.
- Greater investment in community events. ’re also renowned for spurring greater attention to local community events. Raising money for local causes helps bring the community together and draws on the spirit of what community banking is all about.
- You aren’t just another number. ’re really just crunching numbers. Community bankers can take the time to get the whole picture about who you are as an individual, and take that into account when working with you.
- Streamlined financial processes. ’t a dedicated branch for every service available. But that also means you won’t have to jump through hoops when you do your banking locally. You’ll be able to work with just a handful of individuals and take the time to build a relationship.
You already knew about what the megabanks were all about. Now you know what community banks can do for your family. If banking local sounds like the right choice for you and your family stop by the nearest Milford Bank branch location to you. Click here to find out more.
By JoAnn Sabas
After the purchase of your new home, you’ll likely experience an adjustment period during which you learn how to alter your budget and lifestyle to accommodate the new expenses in your life, such as mortgage payments and property taxes. One thing you’re probably not counting on, however, is a major household repair.
But even if you purchased a move-in ready house that doesn’t need any immediate repairs, the truth is that a major unexpected expense could surprise you at any time. For instance, a brand new furnace can malfunction just after the warrantee expires. A storm can do structural damage that your insurance company will only partially cover. In truth, there are many expenses waiting for you when you purchase a new home. If you prepare, you’ll be ready when they happen.
Here are three ways your family can be ready for a major household repair when it happens to you.
- Add repairs into your monthly budget proactively. There are two popular schools of thought for budgeting for home repairs. Some say that you should sock away 1 percent of the cost of your home each year to prepare for maintenance (if your home cost $200,000, put aside $2,000 each year). Others say you should save $1 per square foot each year (so if your home is 1,500 square feet, you should save $1,500). You may not always use the full amount, but that just means you’ll be better prepared the following year.
- Get at least three quotes on any work you contract. ’re handy around the house, doing your own repairs can come back to haunt you down the road. If you plan to resell your home soon, there’s a good chance you’ll need to verify the work was done to code by a licensed professional. When you do reach out to have work done, be sure to get at least three quotes. This will help you get a truer sense of how much your repairs actually cost, and give you leverage to negotiate the cost of the job.
- Purchase your own parts. If you let a contractor do the shopping for you, you might end up with a more expensive furnace than your house really needs. When possible, purchase your own parts so your expenses end up going primarily to labor. You can often find better deals for used goods online, wholesale supply stores, or even outlets, where a brand new, fully functioning appliance may be marked down drastically simply because it was returned.
While there are many benefits to owning your own home, the responsibility of maintenance is certainly not one of them. But as long as you prepare for the inevitable, and respond responsibly when something goes wrong, you won’t put yourself, or your family, at risk of having to sacrifice your quality of life.
By Kristine Rodriguez
If you’re among the 72 percent of Americans with a smartphone, we’ve got great news for you: Managing your finances with The Milford Bank has never been more convenient. Thanks to recent upgrades to our mobile banking application, our customers can now complete financial transactions whenever and wherever they choose. We provide this functionality for iOS and Android smartphone and tablet users alike. We’ve even got you covered if you use one of Amazon’s Fire tablets.
With Milford Bank’s mobile app you can:
- Check your account balances.
- Review recent account activity.
- Transfer funds among your Milford Bank accounts.
- Pay a bill or set up automatic payments.
- Make changes to pending payments.
- Find the nearest ATM or branch location.
- Make deposits.
But that’s not all. We recently added a feature that should evoke an even more positive experience for our customers: Instant Balance!
Have you ever needed to determine your account balance quickly, but your cellular signal wasn’t strong enough to open your applications or connect you to the Internet? Or perhaps you forgot your login information for the Milford Bank mobile application. You’ve got to make a purchase but are hesitant to do so without knowing your balance for fear that you might drain your account.
With the Instant Balance feature, you can tap an icon right on the logon page and a pop-up box will provide the balances for all your Milford Bank accounts. For security, the pop-up box will not reveal your account numbers in full, nor will you be able to use this feature for any other banking function.
You’ll have instantaneous access to your account balances, giving you the flexibility to complete transactions, and the peace of mind from knowing exactly how much money you’ve got to spare. You won’t hold up the line at the grocery store, and you’ll greatly reduce the risk of bouncing checks.
We understand that our customers don’t want banking to be another item on their to-do lists. We would much rather be helping them cross things off those lists. With the technology available today, the financial services you need should be convenient, seamless and always there, moving as quickly as you do. That’s why we’ve taken the time to provide a mobile application that supports those objectives.
To learn how to bank mobile and download the Milford Bank mobile application, click here.
By Patty Gallagher
Even from the time your child enters high school, teachers and advisors are beginning to prepare your children for higher education. The idea that your son or daughter is going to graduate might seem far off then, but by the time he or she enters junior year the prospect starts to get real.
All of a sudden, you start researching the cost of tuition—between $21,000 and $23,000 for one year at Connecticut’s state schools—and wonder how you’ll be able afford higher education. But don’t be alarmed by the sticker shock. There are ample resources available to your family to ensure your child can get a college degree.
Here are just a few ways you ensure your child earns a degree without you having to empty your savings account.
- Financial assistance: Click here to check out the scholarship finder in the left hand column of the Milford Bank Learning Center. By entering your child’s SAT, ACT and GPA, as well as the state where he or she wants to go to school, you can receive a free customized scholarship report detailing available funding emailed to you directly—and at no cost. You’ll also find educational resources to learn about student loans and grants.
- Take introductory classes at community college: Many course credits earned at community colleges will satisfy the basic requirements of degrees at more expensive schools. Learn which credits will transfer, have your child complete a semester or two at community college, and then begin applying to other schools.
- Apply as a commuter: Half the cost of tuition goes to paying to live in dorms on campus. Based on the average state school tuition, your child could commute from home and save your family roughly $900 per month. Even if he or she is adamant about moving out, a $500 per month apartment near campus would still help your bottom line.
- Make minor lifestyle adjustments: If your student is just entering junior year of high school, that means you have roughly two years before they head off to college. That’s 730 days of expensive lattes, going out to eat instead of dining in, and all the other expenditures that seem trivial until you add up the costs. By making minor lifestyle adjustments—even if just for the next two years—you can give your savings account a sizable padding.
- Select an investment vehicle: There are many ways to invest your savings. Some accrue interest more quickly than others. Speak with a bank representative about your student’s goals, your timeframe and the amount of money you’re looking to save and you’ll be able to find the right strategy for your family.
The sooner you start planning for your child’s future, the easier time you’ll have when that future becomes the present. Come down to any Milford Bank branch location and start earning your education on saving for college today.
By Paul Mulligan
The importance of having good credit cannot be overstated. Having a good credit score—at least 700 on a scale from 300 to 850—can open up a world of possibilities that might otherwise have been unavailable to you. Good credit can help you get approved for a car loan or mortgage. In some cases, employers and landlords will even use credit scores as part of their background checks. A good credit score may also help you qualify for financing and credit cards with lower interest rates.
In general, you’ll find managing your finances and improving your quality of life easier with a first-rate credit score. On the other hand, the lower your credit score drops, the harder time you’ll have qualifying for low interest rates that will help you cut into your debt.
Fortunately, you can establish a good credit score early on and keep it headed in the right direction by following these three steps.
- Apply for a secured credit card. Building credit is difficult to do without an existing payment history. One of the quickest ways to establish your ability and willingness to pay off debts in a timely manner is by using a credit card. Yet, first you have to qualify for the card, which is also contingent upon a solid history of loan repayment. In this case, a good solution is to procure a secured credit card. The lender assumes no risk with this alternative, as a sum of money equivalent to the total available balance on the card is held in an account and only released after you’ve established a track record for making regular payments.
- Pay more than the minimum on your credit card(s). Another way to prove that you’re a low-risk customer is to pay down more than the monthly minimum on any of your existing balances. You don’t need to go overboard; paying 10 extra dollars a month can have an impact.
- Leave repaid debts on your credit history. There is a difference between good and bad debt. If you’ve paid off a loan, don’t make the mistake of trying to erase the evidence that you had debt from your credit score. The fact that you incurred debt and handled it responsibly will help your score.
To learn more about the importance of credit and what you can do to improve your standing, stop by Milford Bank to speak with one of our financial advisors, or check out our Online Learning Center by clicking here.
By Rebecca Tudor
Since being launched in early July, the mobile application Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm. It took only one week for 10 million users to download the game (a new record) and has now been downloaded over 30 million times.
The odds are, you or someone you know is on the path to becoming a pokemaster themselves. Be sure to stop by The Milford Bank’s locations at some point along your path. You won’t be disappointed.
Here’s what you can expect when you stop by:
- At our downtown office, there are 12 pokestops within a half-mile radius where you can resupply yourself with pokeballs, eggs and other boosters to help you capture the monsters. There are also four pokegyms nearby where you can test your skills battling other players.
- At our Post Road West office, you’ll find one stop and one gym nearby.
- In the vicinity around our Devon location, there are two pokestops.
- There’s a pokegym very close to our Woodmont office.
- Near our Stratford location, you’ll find three pokestops and a gym.
- There have even been pokemon spotted inside our Post Road East location.
We’ll even be setting up lures within our locations to draw pokemon into our offices. Be sure to look for updates by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see when a pokemon you still need to collect makes an appearance.
When you stop in to one of our branches, be sure to mention pokemon to one of our friendly representatives and you’ll even receive a free blink light so you can safely hunt after dark as well.
Speaking of safety, be sure to follow these guidelines put out by the Connecticut state police:
- Don’t play while driving.
- Don’t trespass on private property (scaling fences, parachuting, tunneling, etc.).
- Don’t fight or argue with other players.
- Don’t be lured by a beacon signal into unfamiliar surroundings.
- Stay alert near roads.
- Make yourself visible when playing at night.
- Play with friends or family.
The Milford Bank even has a few employees that moonlight as pokemon trainers that have been happy to provide a few tips on how to improve as a player yourself. But don’t be surprised to receive an invitation to test your skills as a pokemon trainer if you run into one of them.
- The pokemon eggs you collect will require you to walk a certain distance to make them hatch. Gather up as many eggs as you can before embarking on a long walk to save yourself time and energy.
- Try to be as accurate as possible when throwing a pokeball out to capture a pokemon. Not only will this increase the likelihood of capture, saving you resources, but you’ll gain extra experience points for accurate tosses, which will help you level up more quickly.
- When you’re in the heat of battle, wait until your screen starts to flash yellow and then swipe your screen to the right or left and you’ll have a chance to dodge your enemy’s attack.
To find out the nearest office of The Milford Bank to you, or to see how you can follow our social media accounts for the latest Pokemon Go updates, click here.
by Pam Reiss
Believe it or not, many people get through life without understanding the basic principles of banking. They make their deposits on payday and make withdrawals to pay the bills, and as long as the balance is in the black their finances aren’t given a second thought. But to know the “what” of banking is only half the story—understanding the “why” is equally important. By educating yourself on why certain elements of banking happen the way they do, you can become better equipped to manage your assets responsibly.
Even some of the most basic banking principles, like balancing a checkbook, have gone by the wayside—especially with the growth of online banking. Would you believe that 69 percent of people never balance their checkbook?
So let’s get back to basics and cover a few of the fundamentals of banking that you should understand about your hard earned savings.
Why do you need to balance your checkbook?
While the practice of balancing a checkbook is commonly viewed as a lost practice these days, in fact it is more important than ever. Even though there are strict procedures in place within financial institutions to protect your assets at all times, cases of identity theft and cyberattacks continue to rise. If this happened to you and you haven’t reconciled your account, you might not catch the crime until more damage has been done.
Why are there temporary holds on check deposits?
When you make a checking deposit, a portion of those funds become immediately available for use. But a temporary hold is placed on the remainder. This is important to know so that you can avoid bouncing checks with money that has yet to be transferred to your account. Don’t take it personally, though—the reasoning has nothing to do with your bank’s impression of you. In fact, your bank is simply waiting for the funds to be transferred from the payer’s bank, which can take up to several days. Your financial institution is simply making sure those funds arrive as planned.
Why pay off your whole credit card balance instead of the monthly minimum?
When you’re struggling to make ends meet, the monthly minimum payment option offered by credit card companies might seem enticing. But paying off the bare minimum has a far-reaching impact. Credit scores, for instance, are calculated largely based on the amount of debt that you carry. You also may end up owing more in the long run, as your interest rates could end up creating more debt than you’re paying off each month.
Even if you can’t pay the whole balance in full, making a payment a little above the minimum will help you avoid letting your debt spiral and will demonstrate to your card issuer that you are a responsible customer, giving you more bargaining power in the future when you look to increase your credit line or take out a loan.
For more basic banking principles, stop by a Milford Bank branch location near you or check out our Learning Center online by clicking here.
by Mark Attanasio
Summer is the perfect time to plan a getaway. You don’t need to worry about snow holding up your travel plans, or missing days of school. And the weather is ideal for all sorts of outdoor activities.
But if you are finding it tough to get away for a week-long destination vacation, there are still plenty of ways you can take full advantage of all the summer has to offer. A staycation—a vacation during which you stay close to home—is a great alternative, whether you’re tied up at the office or you don’t have a bigger trip in your budget.
The good news is there are tons of nearby, affordable destinations that you and your family can enjoy for the day or a week. Here are five places you can go to have an unforgettable staycation this summer.
- Camp out at Hammonasset Beach State Park: You may know Hammonasset for the swimming, but did you know there are also hundreds of camping spots, ranging from cabins to tent sites, located Madison State Park? Enjoy an Oceanside sunset or hike along miles of beautiful Connecticut shoreline. A nightly lot reservation costs as little as $20, making it a very affordable option.
- Double up with a daytrip to Mystic: Head up 95 North into Mystic and you’ll find two of the state’s unforgettable destinations: Mystic Seaport and the Mystic Aquarium. Located just minutes apart, you can see both in one day if you’re limited for time. At the seaport, you’ll be transported back into the 1800s as you tour the village and old sailing vessels. At the aquarium, you’ll have a chance to see all the unique creatures under the water.
- Travel back in time at the Peabody Museum of Natural History: Located at beautiful Yale University in New Haven, the Peabody is the only place you can find mummies and dinosaurs together in the state. Admission prices range from $6 to $18, which means you’ll still have some extra cash left over to head down to Wooster Street later for a pizza.
- Get your thrills at Lake Compounce: For the thrill-seeker, check out Lake Compounce in Bristol. Some argue that it is the oldest operating theme park in the country. Regular admission starts at $42, but there are a number of summer-long deals available so keep your eyes peeled. Lake Compounce also hosts events and concerts, so if you’re not a roller coaster enthusiast there are still plenty of fun things to do.
- Take a romantic trip along the CT Wine Trail: Connecticut may not have the recognition of Napa Valley, but believe it or not there are 25 wineries and vineyards throughout the state that make up the Connecticut Wine Trail. If you’re looking for a romantic date idea, ditch the highway traffic and drive along the state’s country roads, taking in the sights as you make your way from stop to stop. There are plenty of local inns along the way should you need them.
A fun-filled summer doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. There is so much to see in Connecticut that it might even take a few staycations to see everything. To find out more about how you can improve your quality of life without sacrificing your savings, check out our website for more tips, or stop by any of our office locations.
by Lynn Viesti Berube
If you’ve stopped by one of our office locations and spoken with one of our experienced and friendly employees, you already know about the superior financial services The Milford Bank can provide to help you make the most out of your money. But did you know that there are a variety of resources located on our website for your convenience as well?
In the interest of helping you get the best education possible, we’ve filled our website with financial resources that you can access conveniently anywhere you go. From programs to teach your children about savings, guides to teach you about saving for retirement and everything in between, your Milford Bank experience isn’t complete without checking out all our website has to offer.
In case you’ve missed them, here are some of the hidden treasures placed on our website to help you and your family make smart financial decisions.
Cent$ible Kid$: Teaching your children about the value of saving money can be difficult. That’s why we created the Cent$ible Kid$ program. Your kids can learn how to manage and reinvest their savings with three interactive games right on our site. The program also comes complete with a child-friendly quarterly newsletter full of advice for your kids. As a Cent$ible Kid$ program member, you and your children will also qualify for incentives and special offers from Milford Bank. You can check out the Cent$ible Kid$ program here.
Learning Center: If you’ve got a financial question you need answered but it’s after hours, head to the learning center. You can find answers to your questions easily, whether it’s as simple as explaining how savings bonds work or as complex as planning your estate. There are a dozen unique sections in the learning center that cover a wide variety of topics, each complete with its own downloadable guide. You can reach the Learning Center by clicking here.
Financial Calculators: Are you curious about buying a house and want to quickly figure out the price difference between a 15 and 30 year mortgage? Are you trying to determine whether or not to consolidate your debt? Do you want to know how long it would take you to become a millionaire with your current saving strategy? You can use our financial calculators to get a quick answer to these questions and many more by simply clicking here. Using financial calculators can help provide context to the financial decisions in your life that seem too large to wrap your head around and give you a clear directive on how best to proceed.
At The Milford Bank we want you to have an unforgettable and informative experience with us, whether you’re depositing a check with one of our tellers or skimming over our website on a mobile device from the comfort of home. That’s why we’ve populated our website with these features. But there are even more hidden treasures than those mentioned above. Check out our page here and see what else you can find!