Hidden Ways to Save Money Each Month

By Lynn Viesti Berube

Today’s difficult economic climate has affected many individual’s finances. And it certainly doesn’t help that the prices of everything—from gasoline (did you know gas costs consumers 5 percent more this year than last year at this time?!) to electricity to food—seem to be increasing.

At The Milford Bank, we understand harsh realities inherent in today’s economy. We also value each and every one of our customers and want nothing more than to see all of their savings accounts grow every month.
While we might not be able to control your rising expenses, we can offer some advice as to how you can save more money. In this ongoing series, we’ll highlight a few tips that we hope will help:

• Shop your car insurance. We’ve all heard the commercials, but how many of us actually shop car insurance? The truth of the matter is that, with the chaos and rush of day-to-day life, we’d rather let our policies automatically renew simply because it’s easier. But there are so many insurance companies out there, and they all want your business. Who knows how much money you stand to save annually by switching insurers?

• Consider who produces your electricity. More than a decade ago, Connecticut deregulated the electricity market, allowing small energy producers to send their electricity over infrastructure owned by the utility companies. Did you know that you’re able to shop around and choose who produces the electricity that powers your home? It’s likely that you can find cheaper rates and switch providers at no cost.

• Cook more meals. Sure, going out is fun. It’s nice not to have to cook, and perhaps even more so not to have to clean. But let’s say you spend $50 every time you go out to dinner, and you go out twice a week—that adds up to a hefty $5,200 a year. You can certainly reduce that expense by cooking more meals at home. And there’s a good chance it will be healthier for you, too.

The Milford Bank: Focused on Turning Your Children into Cent$ible Kid$

By Bob Russo

Recent research indicates that 27 percent of parents with children who are minors don’t have any money saved for them. What’s more, in 2012, the average financial literacy score for high school students was a “D.”

It’s never too early to start learning about finance. That’s precisely why we at The Milford Bank launched our Cent$ible Kid$ program in 2008, designed to educate our community’s children about the importance of saving money. As participants in the program, kids in Milford and Stratford schools are able to open savings accounts that they can put money into each week.

We believe that it doesn’t matter whether those deposits are 50 cents or $10. What’s important is having children begin the process of understanding their finances. Smart savings habits will help sculpt future shrewd behaviors related to spending, saving and investing.

Three-quarters of adults indicate they believe that it’s important to offer financial advice to our children, but only 36 percent of them do. We’re trying to bridge that gap with Cent$ible Kid$.

In addition to giving them the opportunity to save, we also use Cent$ible Kid$ as a platform through which to offer comprehensive bank-related education to today’s youth, like how money is protected in a bank thanks to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, how it grows with interest and more.

From piggy banks to pads and pens and everything in between, members of our program will also get freebies with coupons in our seasonal newsletters. Click here to learn more about the program.

Have you heard of Popmoney?

By Celeste Lohrenz

At The Milford Bank, we understand that your banking needs have evolved in a way that corresponds with our increasingly digital world. And that’s exactly why we’ve added Popmoney to our portfolio of financial services.

Popmoney is a peer-to-peer payment service that lets you send money to your friends and family—or anyone else, for that matter—via email or cell phone no matter where they happen to be located. In an instant, money can be digitally transferred from your bank account to theirs. Once it arrives, it’s theirs to spend.

The feature is standard in all of our checking accounts, so if you have one, you already have this amazing banking capability.

Imagine that your children are off at college. We all know how tight money can get during those days. The last thing you want as a parent is for your kid to need money and for you to be left scratching you head as to how to get it to them quickly. The good ole’ wire transfer won’t cut it, after all. Rather than having to send a check through the mail, Popmoney allows you to simply “send” money through a text message or email from your computer or mobile device, giving your child the money he or she needs the moment it’s needed.

Popmoney can also be used to send gifts to loved ones, issue payment to your landscaper, pay your old college buddy back for dinner or make sure your landlord gets the rent money on time, among a myriad of other things.

The service is easily accessed through our online banking system. What’s more, all of your information will be kept safe, secure and private during each transaction.

What Do You Know about Defunct U.S. Currencies?

By Pam Reiss

Today, for the most part, we exchange bills that bear the visages of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant and Benjamin Franklin during financial transactions. Occasionally, you might also stumble upon a $2 bill adorned by Thomas Jefferson.
But did you know that the United States also had five larger currencies in circulation years ago? Though President Richard Nixon discontinued them in 1969—so as to discourage large scale black market transactions from occurring—they’re still legal tender. But because they’ve become collector’s items, it’s likely whoever has their hands on them won’t be letting go anytime soon.
Let’s briefly explore these five bills:
• The $500 bill had a few iterations, with Chief Justice John Marshall depicted on the 1918 version and a scene of Hernando de Soto’s 1541 discovery of the Mississippi River on the back. In 1928 and 1934, the bill was updated to feature President William McKinley, who was assassinated in 1901.

• There were also two modern versions of the $1,000 bill that were circulated (other iterations were introduced in the 1800s). The first one was featured Hamilton on the front and a bald eagle on the back and was released in 1918. In 1934, President Grover Cleveland adorned the bill.

• America’s fourth president, James Madison, is featured on the $5,000 bill, which was printed in 1918 and 1934. The first printing’s backside featured a scene of Washington’s resignation.

• You might be surprised to that the $10,000 bill—the largest bill ever in public circulation—features a not-as-popularly-known figure in U.S. history, Salmon P. Chase, who was a senator, governor, treasury secretary and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The 1918 version of the bill’s backside featured a Pilgrim-related scene.

• The largest bill ever printed by the treasury was the $100,000 bill, a gold certificate featuring President Woodrow Wilson. The bills, which were only printed for three weeks, were used to facilitate large transactions between different Federal Reserve branches.

Three Things You Wish You Knew about Finance in Your 20s

Hindsight is an amazing thing, particularly in the world of finance. Take our word for it because we’ve lived through those years: There are a whole lot of things we know now about finance that we wish we did when we were in our 20s. But, like you, we were too busy getting our first jobs, moving into our first places and starting families of our own.
The world of finance is complex, and the list of advice we could give you could span volumes. But we figured to start small, so here are three things those in their 20s should take to heart right away:
1. It’s never too soon to start saving. Many people live paycheck to paycheck. While some have to, others don’t. The fact is you’ll never amass the kind of fortune you want if you don’t spend less than you bring in. Whether it’s choosing to cook dinner at home a few times more a week or waiting an extra year to upgrade your smartphone, make sure to put money into a savings account to build up a nice cushion. You can do that by moving in with your parents for a few years after college or at least living with roommates for a bit, too.

2. Start putting money in your 401(k) as soon as possible. When you get your first job out of college, retirement is probably the last thing on your mind. But if your employer offers a 401(k) plan, you should take advantage of it. Trust us. These retirements accounts are tax-deferred, meaning your pretax dollars are invested in mutual funds and grow accordingly over time. Sure, you’ll have to pay taxes when you withdraw from the account in retirement, but your money will grow significantly before then. What’s more, many employers offer matching plans, meaning they will contribute to your account in some fashion. Consider it a bonus of sorts.

3. There is something called compounding, and it’s a beautiful thing. Money that is invested grows over time. Consider this: If you were to open a Roth IRA investment account with the $5,000 your generous grandmother gave you on your college graduation day and you earned an average of eight percent on that investment each year, by the time you retired, the money will have grown to $154,000. If you were to wait to do the same thing on your 40th birthday, however, that money would grow into a little more than $34,000 by the time you turned 65.

Homeowners: Is it Time for You to Refinance?

Buying a house is a major decision for anyone. But over time, that decision—no matter how complex—pays dividends as your house becomes your home.

For many Americans, home ownership is most likely the greatest expense they will undertake during their lives. Although the market has shown vast improvement—recent research shows that only 4 percent of homeowners are behind on their mortgages—there is still room for progress. For instance, some homeowners may have all their money tied up in the walls, meaning they are stuck when it comes to figuring out how to pay for life’s other great expenses such as college tuition, vacations, and that new car, to name a few.

A number of situations may mean that it’s time for you to consider refinancing your mortgage, or replacing your current mortgage with a new one. After all, the last thing you want is to risk losing your home or be unable to fund your daughter’s wedding. But before you take that next step, you should know precisely what it means to refinance so that you end up in a better position financially when all is said and done.

Refinancing is the process of replacing a current mortgage in order to reduce monthly payments by obtaining lower interest rates. Nobody likes paying more than they have to for anything, and lower rates usually translate to lower monthly payments. For example, if you took out a $100,000 loan with a 6.75 percent interest rate, you’d have a monthly principal and interest payment of $649. If you were to refinance that loan at 4.5 percent, your monthly payment would shrink to $507.

The price of your home is likely to increase in value over time, generally speaking. If you’re about to send the kids off to college or want to pay for that long-awaited retirement trip, for example, you can take out a home equity loan while refinancing as well.

Would you like to lower your monthly payment? Are your interest rates too high? Is it time for you to take some equity out of your home?

We at The Milford Bank will answer all of your questions regarding mortgages and home equity loans and help you get the financial security you and your family deserve. Click here to meet our mortgage specialists or to access our free prequalification form.

Why Nonprofits Need a Personal Financial Touch

By John Kuehnle

At The Milford Bank, we pride ourselves on our commitment to nonprofits—and a large number of them have certainly captured our attention and hearts.

Nonprofits are just like any other business in the sense that they need help with managing their finances and investments. After all, the more money such organizations are able to generate and save, the better position they are in to fulfill their mission. But just as it’s imperative for donors to find the right nonprofits to support—those that resonate with their core values—it’s important for nonprofits to find the right financial advisors that seem aligned with the organization’s mission. For nonprofits, it’s not about seeing a quick return necessarily; rather, it’s about helping position themselves in ways that ensure long-term financial vitality.

Our customers take comfort in the fact we are so immersed in the Milford and Stratford communities, one we know so well and have served for over 140 years. We participate in the Boys & Girls Club Pumpkins on the Pier; the Milford Rotary’s Lobster Bake; and the Devon Rotary’s Oktoberfest, among other events. In other words, we welcome the opportunity to give back. Because of our rich history, we offer a personal touch that our competitors simply cannot. We do more than simply hand out donations to help organizations grow. We protect your assets and enhance your visibility. We offer solutions. We look out for your best interests and are wholeheartedly committed to helping you thoroughly accomplish your goals.

No matter the mission of the nonprofit, organizations must manage their finances under the specific constraints of the 501(c)(3) tax code. Rather than directing lots of organizational resources toward understanding the complexities of such a code and navigating under its structure successfully, nonprofits should partner with knowledgeable financiers who have navigated such waters countless times.

Nonprofits certainly have a lot of options regarding the banking institution with which they choose to partner. But a majority of those banks will simply offer traditional accounts and investment services—and nothing more. With our intricate knowledge of what makes Milford and Stratford tick, we at The Milford Bank are confident that we’ll be able to help your nonprofit organization attain the financial security you deserve.

You’ve got questions, and we’ve got answers. We can’t wait to get the conversation started.