Don’t Be Drained By Holiday Financial Strain

The holidays are a joyful time of year, but unfortunately they can be very stressful for some people. The pressures of gift giving and keeping up with traditions can cause a lot of financial worry, but the good news is that there are steps you can take to minimize money woes this holiday.

Piggy bank with christmas hat isolated on white background

For starters, you should get a sense of how much money you can spend. This should be a realistic number based on your finances, not one that you pull out of thin air. And remember that just because you have a certain amount of money doesn’t mean you have to spend all of it. Sometimes, less is more. And don’t even think about spending money that you don’t have. Even though credit cards make it extremely easy to spend beyond your means, you’ll pay for it later if you do. No one wants to be facing a mountain of debt once the New Year rolls around.

Once you’ve determined how much money is in your holiday fund, you should identify all of your holiday-related expenses. You should include everything you plan to spend money on during the season – gifts, decorations, Christmas cards, you name it! Once you have your expenses accounted for, you can decide how much of your holiday money you’d like to spend on each.

So what happens if it looks like your holiday money will be stretched too thin? What if you won’t have enough to cover all of your holiday expenses? The answer is… get creative! You’d be surprised how a little resourceful thinking can help you save big. Here’s a list of some ideas to help you cut down your holiday costs this season:

In the end, it’s important to remember that the holiday season isn’t about money. Reflecting on what the holiday means to you can help you overcome the financial pressures that accompany it, and find more meaningful ways to experience it. Spending time with family and friends, listening to holiday music, going to a church service – these are all ways that you can enjoy the season without racking up debt and stress. Happy Holidays!

Earn Interest with a Checking Account

It pays to have a checking account with an online bank – literally.

While many traditional checking accounts at brick-and-mortar banks do not earn any interest, online banks are a different story. Because online-only banks don’t have physical branches, they have less overhead costs than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. This allows them to offer high-yield, interest-bearing checking accounts.
Man writing a check

Many interest checking accounts require you to maintain a minimum balance in order to earn interest, and some accounts have certain requirements that must be met – such as a minimum number of debit card transactions – in order for customers to qualify for the stated interest rate. It’s important to note that some banks also cap the balance you can earn interest on. At Bank5 Connect, we try to keep it simple by offering a high-interest checking account with a minimum balance of just $100 to earn interest. There are no balance caps, and no additional hoops to jump through. There are also no monthly maintenance fees associated with the account. Learn more about our High-Interest Checking account here: http://www.bank5connect.com/home/high-interest-checking.

It’s important to keep in mind that oftentimes, interest-bearing checking accounts require you to conduct all of your banking activities online. This will probably be expected if you’re opening an interest checking account at an online bank that doesn’t have any physical branches, but it may come as a surprise if you’re opening an interest checking account at a local bank down the street. Some brick-and-mortar banks do in fact offer interest checking accounts, but it’s not uncommon for them to charge those customers a fee for in-branch transactions. They typically do this as a trade-off to help the bank offset the interest the customer is earning.

So, before opening an interest-bearing checking account, be sure to read all of the fine print to understand how, where, and when you will have access to your money. With a Bank5 Connect High Interest Checking account, our customers have free access to thousands of ATMs nationwide through the SUM NetworkAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!. And, if they use an ATM outside of that network we still won’t charge them, and we will reimburse them for other banks’ surcharges up to $15 per statement cycle.

There are many high-yield, interest checking accounts out there to choose from, so be sure to review all of your options to find the account that’s right for you. Customer reviewsAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!, and websites like GoBankingRatesAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!, NerdwalletAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon! and The Simple DollarAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon! can help you compare what’s out there.

Prepare for Opening Your First Bank Account

Maybe you’re a high school or college student. Or maybe you just haven’t had the need to open a bank account until now. Whatever your age or motivation, it’s important to “do your homework” before opening your first bank account – to ensure you get what it is that you need, and to make the account opening process as smooth and painless as possible.Happy savings

Here are some things to consider:

What type of account do you need?

Do you need a checking account, a savings account, or both? If you’re looking to pay routine bills like rent or utilities, make purchases with a debit card, or withdraw cash on a regular basis from an ATM, a checking account is likely the way to go. If your intent is to save money or establish an emergency fund, you’re going to want a savings account.

What features do you need, and what fees are you looking to avoid?

One of the biggest considerations when opening a savings account is the interest rate. When you deposit money into a savings account, you typically earn interest on that money. And the higher the interest rate, the more money you’ll earn! You should also look to see if there is a minimum balance required in order to earn interest.

There are even some checking accounts that offer interest. Online banks like Bank5 Connect typically don’t have as many overhead costs as brick-and-mortar banks, so they’re able to offer high-interest checking accounts.

It’s also important to read all the fine print associated with an account and understand any fees you could be subject to. Some checking accounts charge a monthly maintenance fee, or charge you a fee if you don’t maintain a certain balance. Luckily, many banks offer checking accounts that are free of these types of monthly fees. Bank5 Connect’s High Interest Checking account doesn’t charge a monthly maintenance fee or a minimum balance fee (however, you do need to maintain a minimum balance of $100 in order to earn interest).

How do you plan to access and manage your money?

These days there are many ways for you to keep track of your bank account. Most banks offer online and mobile banking. Through the bank’s website or mobile app you can typically check balances, transfer money between accounts, pay bills, and view statements. In some cases you can even set up email and text message alerts to warn you about low balances or suspicious activity. If you’re looking to utilize these types of tools to manage your finances, it’s a good idea to ensure your bank offers them before you open an account.

And then there’s the matter of ATMs. Your ATM or debit card will give you access to your bank’s network of ATMs, but what happens if you use an ATM outside of the network? What fees will you face? Will your bank waive those fees? If having ATM flexibility is important to you, you should be sure to review the bank’s ATM policy thoroughly. At Bank5 Connect, in addition to offering our customers free access to thousands of ATMs nationwide through the SUM ATM networkAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!, we don’t charge our customers a fee for using an ATM outside of the network. What’s more, we will reimburse them for other banks’ surcharges up to $15 per statement cycle!

What information will I have to provide the bank with?

Whether you’re opening an account online, or in-person at a branch, you’re going to need to formally identify yourself. If you’re opening your account at the bank, they’ll typically require you to show them a valid, government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, state ID card, or a passport. Some banks require a second form of ID as well, such as a social security card or birth certificate.

If you apply online, you’ll have to enter your license number, passport number, or ID card number, and you’ll have to supply additional information such as your Social Security number, phone number, physical mailing address, and email address. You may also have to answer “ID verification” questions online to prove you are who claim to be.

And remember that if you’re under the age of 18, you’ll need a parent or legal guardian to apply with you as a joint account holder. They’ll need to be with you if you apply in-person, and if you apply online they’ll need to be present to enter all of their identifying information into the application.

Lastly, you’ll need to provide the bank with money to fund the account. Some banks allow you to fund your new account with a credit card, others will require the initial funds be deposited in cash, by check, or through a transfer from an existing account.

Check Out This Checklist Of Checking Account Fees

It would be wonderful if we could live in a world free of fees. But the reality is that fees are here and they’re not going anywhere. That includes fees associated with a checking account.AdobeStock_59896391

Yes, there are checking accounts out there that label themselves as “free.” But it pays to read the fine print. Chances are there are at least some fees tied to it, depending on the circumstances. They could range from charges for insufficient funds to use of ATMs outside your bank’s network.

Here’s a roundup of checking account fees that you might encounter with your financial institution:

  • Checking account maintenance fee – Some accounts charge a monthly maintenance fee in order to keep your account active. It can often be avoided under certain conditions, such as keeping a minimum monthly balance or making a certain number of deposits into the account each month. However, most banks offer at least one type of checking account that is completely free of monthly maintenance fees, so do your homework to ensure you’ve chosen the account that’s right for you.
  • Debit card or ATM card replacement fee – If you want to replace a lost or stolen card, you may be charged for it. And if you want the new card delivered in a hurry, expect to pay even more.
  • Overdraft and Insufficient Funds fees – If you make a transaction without having enough money in your account to cover it, you could find yourself facing some hefty fees.
  • Excess transactions fee – Your account may have a limit as to the number of transactions you can conduct per month. Exceeding that limit could result in you having to pay a fee for each additional transaction.
  • Returned deposited item fee – Unfortunately, it’s not just writing a bad check that can get you in trouble. You could face a fee for depositing a check that bounces.
  • Check image service fee – Need copies of all the checks you’ve written in a month? You’ll most likely have to pay a fee for that service.
  • ATM fees – Fees typically are charged by the ATM provider as well as your own bank if you use a “foreign” ATM that is not part of your bank’s network.
  • Account closing fee – Some financial institutions charge a fee if your checking account is closed within a certain number of days of opening.
  • Stop payment fee – If you need to cancel a check you’ve written so it won’t be cashed, the average fee for a stop payment is $25.
  • Balance inquiry fee – Depending on your financial institution, you could be charged for making a balance inquiry at an ATM outside the bank’s network, even if you don’t withdraw any cash.
  • Paper statement fee – With more and more banks going the online banking route, many bank accounts now charge fees for mailing paper statements in lieu of electronic eStatements.

The good news is, if you take advantage of online banking you can avoid a lot of these fees. For example, you can print out statements and copies of checks, and review your account balance online. Many banks also have online ATM locators that can help you find the nearest in-network ATM.

If you’re looking for a checking account with few fees, consider a Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking Account, which has no monthly maintenance fee, and access to the SUM ATM NetworkAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!. Bank5 Connect will also never charge you for using an ATM and will reimburse other banks’ surcharges up to $15 per statement cycle. For more information on a Bank5 Connect High Interest Checking Account, visit http://www.bank5connect.com/home/high-interest-checking.

Streaming TV Can Be a Money Saver Compared to Cable

First there was broadcast TV, which consists of basic channels like CBS, ABC, NBC, and PBS. It’s considered “free TV” because all you need is an antenna to watch programming, since advertisers fund your viewing pleasure.
Male hand holding TV remote control.

Then along came cable TV, which delivers television programming through a coaxial cable system to paying subscribers. Cable providers include Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and COX.

While cable TV provides a broader spectrum of programming than broadcast television, that extra programming comes at a cost. And that cost seems to be climbing higher and higher. According to a report by Leichtman Research Group, the average American household with cable pays $103 a month for the service. Imagine if you could turn that $103 monthly bill into a $12 or $20 monthly charge? Your savings account would thank you!

The good news is that cutting out the cost of cable is easier than ever before, thanks to a wide variety of video streaming services that allow you to watch your favorite programming at a fraction of the cost. From Netflix to Hulu, the variety of video streaming services is mind-boggling. And the competition seems to grow every day.

So what is a video streaming service? It’s basically an on-demand online entertainment source for TV shows, movies and other media. If you have a computer, smart phone, or electronic tablet, you can take advantage of video streaming. The services you decide to use will depend on what you’re looking for and what you’re willing to spend. But the bottom line is that video streaming services are starting to replace cable TV for a lot of Americans.

NetflixAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon! is a popular choice, with countless movies, television series, children’s programming, and documentaries to choose from. Netflix offers three different pricing tiers to suit your needs. Their “Basic” plan is $7.99 per month and allows you to stream video content on one device at a time in Standard Definition. If HD is more of your thing, you can try their $9.99 per month “Standard” plan, which allows High-Definition viewing, and streaming on up to 2 devices at the same time. And they also offer a “Premium” plan for $11.99 per month that allows you to stream on up to 4 devices at a time in HD.

If you’re looking to get a lot of bang for your buck, you may want to look into Amazon Prime VideoAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!, which comes included with an Amazon Prime membership. Amazon Prime Video gives you access to a wide array of television series and movies, and your $99 per year Amazon Prime membership also grants you access to free two-day shipping on eligible purchases on Amazon.comAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!, the ability to borrow free e-books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, commercial-free access to Prime Music, and unlimited photo storage with Prime Photos.

HuluAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon! is another option, which allows you to watch episodes from both current and past seasons of your favorite TV shows. They also offer access to movies, and Hulu-original programming. Access to the service costs only $7.99 month, and if you’d like to eliminate commercials you can do so by paying $2 more a month. And if you’ve been hanging onto cable because you just can’t part with HBO or Showtime, you can add those to your Hulu subscription as well! Hulu even has a new live-TV package for $39.99 per month. “Hulu with Live TV” includes Hulu’s regular on-demand video streaming, but also allows you to stream live television channels to supported devices such as Apple TV, Xbox, PlayStation, Fire TV, and Roku.

Slightly newer services that also offer live TV streaming include Sling TVAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!, owned by Dish Network, and YouTube TVAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.Bank5Connect.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Bank5Connect.com. Come back soon!, a paid-subscription version of the popular website.

The traditional networks like CBS and ABC have jumped onto the streaming bandwagon, too. By visiting their websites, or downloading their apps, you can tap into shows that recently aired. And premium cable channels like HBO, Starz and Showtime are in on the game too. All of them offer stand-alone paid viewing packages that give you access to a broad selection of original programs, special shows, and movies.

So if you’ve been debating whether to stash away some significant money each month by ditching your high-cost cable provider, there’s not much to debate anymore. Streaming is the new way to save!

The Pros and Cons of Having Several Bank Accounts

Do the benefits outweigh the drawbacks of having multiple bank accounts?

The answer? That depends on you and your individual needs. But to get a better understanding of the pros and cons, let’s take a look at both sides of the equation.Large group of pink piggy banks

Multiple banks accounts can help you with:

  • Keeping long-term and short-term financial goals separate. It may make sense to have separate accounts for each of your major financial goals, rather than muddy the waters by lumping all of your funds into one account. Long-term savings goals might include saving for retirement or buying a home, while short-term objectives could include putting aside money for a dream vacation or home renovations.
  • Separating business finances from personal finances. A business owner is better equipped to track their company’s finances by having an account separate from their personal ones. Plus it makes sense from an accounting perspective.
  • Taking advantage of tax incentives. If you itemize your deductions, if could be helpful to have separate accounts to keep track of certain expenses like healthcare, work-related costs, or education.
  • Saving for your dependents. It’s never too early to set up accounts for your children. For instance, a savings account in their name will encourage them to do just that – save. But keep in mind that most bank accounts established for a minor will have to be held jointly with a parent or guardian.
  • Creating an emergency fund. Financial experts recommend setting aside three to six months of regular income for emergency situations. Placing that money in a separate savings account would be a wise move, especially if the account yields high interest.

So what are some of the drawbacks of having too many accounts?

  • More accounts to monitor. Any bank account you have needs to be checked on a regular basis to ensure you don’t overdraft your account, and so you can spot any errors or suspicious activity in a timely fashion. If you find it difficult to manage the accounts you already have, it’s probably not a good idea to add more accounts to the mix.
  • Could potentially result in more fees to pay. Depending on the types of accounts you’re looking to open, you could end up paying more fees each month. Before you open new accounts, be sure you fully understand what fees, if any, are associated with them, such as monthly maintenance fees, or minimum balance fees.
  • Potential impact to your credit score. For the most part, having multiple bank accounts won’t cause damage to your credit history, however there are some specific instances where it could be affected by new accounts:
    • Some financial institutions require a pull of your credit report before they will open a new account for you. This type of “hard inquiry” doesn’t generally have much noticeable impact on your credit score, but having your credit report pulled by multiple financial institutions over a short period of time could temporarily drop your score.
    • If an account reaches a negative balance and stays there for a long period of time, the bank could consider it a delinquency and refer it to a collections agency to retrieve the amount owed. The agency, in turn, may report this delinquency to the three credit bureaus, resulting in a negative mark on your credit score.

Whether you decide to utilize multiple bank accounts to manage your finances, or keep it simple with just one or two accounts, knowing the pros and cons of both options will help you to make the decision that’s right for you.

Equifax Data Breach – What to Do after a Compromise

You’ve likely heard about the recent Equifax data breach, which is thought to affect nearly half of the country’s population. The breach at Equifax isn’t the first time sensitive personal information has been compromised, and unfortunately it won’t be the last. Data breaches are compromises are on the rise – so what do you do?
computer security breach

First, you should check with the company that suffered the breach – they may have instructions and offer free credit monitoring services. You can find more information about the Equifax breach here: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/As a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.BankFive.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of BankFive.com. Come back soon!.

If you believe your social security number was breached, it’s also a good idea to notify the three major national credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – and ask to have a fraud alertAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.BankFive.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of BankFive.com. Come back soon! placed on your credit report. A fraud alert requires creditors to verify your identity before approving any new credit. You can contact the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus at:

  • Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
  • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
  • Experian: 1-888-397-3742

Monitor your credit report regularly following the loss. Every year you’re entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus, and you can stagger those free reports so you have access to one every four months. You can access your free reports at AnnualCreditReport.comAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.BankFive.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of BankFive.com. Come back soon!.

Check your credit report for any irregularities, including accounts you didn’t open, addresses or aliases you don’t recognize, or hard inquiries you didn’t initiate or permit.

If you’re particularly worried about becoming a victim of identity theft following the loss of your wallet, you may get some peace of mind by placing a security freezeAs a courtesy, you will be leaving Blog.BankFive.com and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of BankFive.com. Come back soon! on your credit file, or enrolling in a credit monitoring and identity theft protection service like LifeLock. Each of the three major credit bureaus also offer similar monitoring services.

It’s also a good idea to monitor your bank and credit card accounts closely following a breach. If you notice anything suspicious related to your Bank5 Connect accounts, please contact us immediately at 1-855-552-2655.