Are You Financially Ready for an Emergency?

by Celeste Lohrenz

By nature, personal finances are those monetary concerns that keep us, individually, up at night. We all adopt our own tactics and tricks to keep on top of our bills, rent/mortgage payments and other expenses, but some of us have more complicated assets than others and may need professional guidance from time to time. If you’re at the point where your personal wealth management has not led to the rewards you were anticipating, consider collaborating with our in-house financial advisors, John Kuehnle.

Regardless of the condition of your personal finances, John Kuehnle can help you get them in shape. After all, you never know when a situation may arise that requires someone besides yourself to sort through your personal finances on your behalf.

To avoid a worst-case scenario—where your assets are inaccessible due to outdated paperwork or ineffective management—follow these quick tips:

• Consolidate and back up: There is nothing wrong with keeping paper records as many of us do, but if you decide to go this route it is a good idea to keep them all in one organized, central and secure location. By doing so, you can easily share the information with trusted family, In Case of Emergency (ICE) contacts and financial advisors/attorneys. You may also want to make duplicate digital copies as a backup. Given how easy it is to back up your files up to a cloud server these days, taking this extra precaution may be wise. Files can be encrypted for security purposes and the cloud will keep them safe in case of a fire or destruction of your hard copies.

• Make a plan: It’s never fun to think about worst-case scenarios, but doing so ahead of time may save you many headaches down the road. It is a good idea to create a financial plan for common emergencies like serious illness, property destruction, natural disasters and any other scenario that could leave you unable to handle your own personal finances. Then, share that plan with the appropriate parties, make sure they understand how you would want your finances handled and, again, store these plans in a secure and central location for easy access.

• Continue to update: Having a budget is a smart financial decision, but many people create that budget for a designated time frame, file it away and never look at it again. It is a good idea to continually updating your budget, whether that means once a month or every six months. Having a sound financial plan that outlines when bills are due, for example, can aid others who are helping to keep you on top of your finances when you can’t do so yourself.

• Create an emergency savings account: While your personal finances should be accessible in case of an emergency, as discussed above, it is also helpful to start an emergency savings account. One that you can add to on a regular basis and has a low or no minimum balance requirement is preferred so it can be deeply tapped in case of emergency without penalty.
Personal finances can be complicated, but once you’ve gotten on top of them, they can be a piece of cake to manage. If you need help getting to a good place with your assets, reach out to us at 203-783-5700.

Three Ways to Save Energy This Fall

by Lynn Viesti Berube

With Labor Day in the rear view mirror, we’re now into fall and, with it, colder weather. After the winter Connecticut experienced in 2014, it’s safe to say that we’re all holding tightly to these last few days of warm weather. While you may not have turned on the furnace just yet, you might want to plan for the colder months sooner rather than later when it comes to financing your warm home.

To help you cut heating costs this fall and winter, here are three ways to conserve energy:

• Eliminate the cracks: You may not pay them much attention, but those tiny cracks below your door and around your windows are sucking the money right out of your home. These cracks allow conditioned air within your home to escape and cold air to seep in. By investing in inexpensive draft stoppers and by shrink-wrapping your windows, you can keep the warm air in, the cold air out and save big on your monthly energy bill.

• Optimize your heating system: One major way we waste energy and run up electric bills during the colder months is by overworking inefficient heating systems. Instead, optimize your heating system with a few at-home solutions that shouldn’t break the bank. First, consider placing area rugs in high-occupancy rooms (such as your family room) where you may otherwise have bare floors. Doing so will help retain heat and keep your feet feeling cozy. Second, change the filters in your heating system on a monthly basis to ensure you’re not forcing your system to work harder than it needs to. Finally, make sure heating vents aren’t being blocked by furniture—it may keep the couch nice and warm, but the furniture will draw the heat out of the air and keep the temperature in the room down.

• Opt for electronics with batteries: It’s no secret that during the colder months many of us prefer to wrap ourselves in a warm blanket and watch Netflix, rather than bundle up and brave the elements. However, the extra time we spend in our homes can have a major effect on our electric bills, based on our increased use of electronics alone. Instead of turning on the TV, or heading to your desktop computer this season, opt for electronics with batteries, such as laptops, tablets and other mobile devices. These devices often cost less to charge and, as long as you unplug the charger after you’re all juiced up, will save you big bucks over the course of the next few months.

As the holidays approach, don’t let good tidings be overcome by high electricity bills! These three steps will help you save on your monthly bill while staying warm. And, if you ever have a question of what to do with your new-found savings, consider a Milford Bank savings account!

Want more tips on energy efficiency and saving money on your power bills? Visit our Green Fair on November 14th!



Three Things You Need to Know About Your Credit Score

by Trish Townsend

If you have aspirations of one day owning a home, leasing a car or paying for college (either for you or your children) then you know the road to obtaining these goals leads directly through your credit score. Your credit score is the numerical evaluation of your lending history, and it is often the determining factor when lenders accept or deny your loan request. With a good credit score the sky is the limit; however, a poor score can make a task as simple as applying for a credit card become nearly impossible.

Considering how important a credit score is to an individual’s future, it’s surprising to discover that nearly 60 percent of adults haven’t checked their score within the last year. In the spirit of educating our account holders, here are three things you may not know about your credit score:

• Payment history: The largest chunk of your credit score—35 percent in fact—is based on your payment history. This should not be confused with your history of repaying loans, but rather it includes bill payments of any kind. That means if you still have that library book from high school in the back of your closet that’s rung up unimaginable late fees, it is possible that it could end up on your credit score and negatively affect it. Likewise, medical bills, parking tickets and even a late cable bill can be factored in to your credit score.

• Free reports: Your credit report—detailing your credit score and how it was calculated—can be freely obtained three times a year; one each from the three major credit-reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. While you can contact the credit-reporting agencies individually, they can more easily be obtained through, the only website explicitly directed by Federal law to provide credit reports. Knowing your score is the first step to improving it, and it’s a great way to monitor against identity theft.

• Constant change: Your credit score is alive, and it’s changing almost every single day. Many people are unaware of how a change in their credit score actually occurs, so having this knowledge will be helpful when seeking loans. As a best practice, check your credit score by using one of your free reports as soon to applying for a loan as possible. Doing so will allow you to address any glaring inaccuracies, as well as will offer you a better picture of how much money you’ll be allowed to borrow.

Your credit score can be your best friend or your biggest foe, but you’ll never know until you find out more.