CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — State Bank of Southern Utah is the hometown bank for communities from St. George to Gunnison. The bank operates more locations in Southern Utah than any other institution and has flourished by focusing on the needs of its customers for over 60 years.
“We understand the needs of the residents of Southern Utah, because all of our employees and management work, live and play here in Southern Utah,” State Bank of Southern Utah Senior Vice President Tyler Brown said. “We want to help our customers and businesses succeed because it improves the quality of life for all of us.”
To this end, State Bank of Southern Utah created the Dollars & Sense online education program that teaches life skills and various aspects of financial literacy.
‘”The bank is actively working with the high schools to teach financial skills to our students. The more information they have the better decisions they will make,” State Bank of Southern Utah digital marketing manager Tony Walser said. “We want to provide the resources to help them succeed.”
In addition to the younger generation, Walser and Bryce Drawe, digital marketing specialist for State Bank of Southern Utah, offered several other thoughts on finances and financial habits in general that are useful for young and old alike.
How do I learn healthy financial habits?
Creating healthy financial habits requires education, practice, and time. Walser said there are a few key points to keep in mind:
- Don’t spend more than you earn.
- Manage your debt, don’t let your debt manage you.
- Save for emergencies.
- Start planning for your future.
Keeping track of your monthly income and expenses is crucial, Walser said. State Bank of Southern Utah offers resources through their online banking service and mobile app for monitoring your credit score and staying on top of your budget.
What does it mean to “live within my means”?
Living within your means is perhaps the most important financial habit to develop, Walser said. Simply stated, you need to spend less money than you earn. Practicing this habit ensures that your expenses will be less than your income, which keeps you out of debt and allows you to save for the future.
Walser likened the process of saving to the fable of the tortoise and the hare. It is important to start early and consistently save for your future. Whether you can set aside $10, $100 or $1,000, any amount of savings is better than nothing. Start slowly and consistently, and you will be amazed with the results.
Saving money doesn’t have to be boring. Drawe recommends setting goals and rewarding yourself whenever you reach one of your financial goals.
“Make it an exciting process,” he said. “Saving should be celebrated instead of dreaded.”
What is debt-to-income ratio?
Your debt-to-income ratio is determined by taking your total monthly debt payments and divide it by your monthly income. This ratio is used to determine your ability to qualify for a home loan, credit card and other banking products.
You can have debt like a mortgage payment and still be financial healthy. The key is to not create more debt than you can comfortably handle with your current income.
“Just because you can afford the monthly payment doesn’t mean you should make the purchase,” Drawe said. “It is important to understand the risks associated with debt and manage that risk by not taking on too much debt.”
Why is an emergency savings account important?
If you don’t have an emergency savings fund, you aren’t truly financially secure. Where would you be today if your car broke down, you lost your job or you were hit with unforeseen medical bills? Life happens, and Drawe said that “unexpected” expenses should always be expected.
“When it rains, it pours,” he said. “Emergency savings provides peace of mind so when the unexpected happens, you’ll have the resources to get by.”
Successful savers set savings goals, create a separate emergency fund, automate their savings, earn interest on their funds and ensure that it isn’t too easy to access your savings when the temptation to splurge on an unnecessary purchase occurs.
Drawe said a good rule of thumb is to set aside at least three months of living expenses as an emergency fund. That way, you’re better prepared for whatever the future holds.
More information on healthy financial habits through the Dollars & Sense program is available to everyone in the community at no cost, not just State bank of Southern Utah customers. The self-paced learning modules, each lasting no more than 10 minutes, cover subjects such as building financial capability, making prudent investments, owning a home and preparing for retirement.
“The reason we offer this education is to help our community grow financially,” Drawe said. “We want Southern Utah to save and learn to manage their finances. We want our communities to succeed.”
For more information about State Bank of Southern Utah, visit their website. The bank is an equal housing lender and member of the FDIC.
Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.
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