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  1. 4 Essential Things to Keep in Mind When Buying a Home

    Buying a home is quite the undertaking, one that can rattle the nerves — especially for first-timers. Fortunately, a little preparation early on can make it much easier. Purchasing a home is a big investment of both money and time, but a very rewarding one, and getting all the financial tasks completed is a good place to start. Long before you start looking at house listings, here are some steps to take to make sure you’re ready to buy a home.

    Conveniences

    1. Figure out how much house you can afford

    Start the process by gathering all your essential financial documents and tax returns and create an itemized list of all of your debts and monthly expenses. Calculating all of your assets and income will help you figure out how much you might need to borrow for a mortgage. Additionally, you’ll need to know how much of a down payment you can make and what you can afford to pay each month.

    Many lenders want to see that your monthly housing costs don’t exceed between 25 to 30 percent of your income. Your total debts plus the mortgage shouldn’t go above about 40 percent of your income. You’ll also need to factor in all your other possible expenses included in your monthly payment beyond the mortgage loan and its interest, which typically includes taxes and homeowner’s insurance.

    2. Save for a down payment early

    If you know you’re going to want to become a homeowner someday and realize this early on in your adulthood, start saving as soon as possible. You can forgo the daily latte to save for your future, right? Every little bit helps, and you’ll see your down payment savings account add up quickly especially if it’s in a high interest account. Lenders generally prefer the down payment to be 20 percent of the home’s price, so having, and contributing to, a savings account is a great idea.

    3. Check your credit report

    Your credit will be a big factor in determining how easy it will be to get a mortgage. It will also factor into your all-important interest rate. Check your credit and dispute any issues or errors on your credit report that might be lowering your score. Paring down debt will help, too, and avoid opening up new credit card accounts or taking on any loans before applying for a mortgage, as doing so may cause a temporary dip in your score.

    4. Get pre-qualified for a mortgage

    Your lender will help you figure out your situation before going into any homebuying negotiation. Getting pre-qualified for a mortgage shows sellers you’re serious about buying, and it gives you more confidence that you can swing the cost of your new home. Compare mortgage rates from multiple lenders and use a mortgage calculator to find out how much mortgage you may be able to obtain depending on the amount of your basic debts.    

    Your chosen lender can also help you determine what kind of mortgage you should get, whether it’s a fixed-rate mortgage, hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage or straight ARM. With a fixed-rate mortgage, the interest rate is set when you take out the loan and doesn’t change. An ARM starts at a lower interest rate than fixed rate mortgage but can change over time. Lower rates can help you build equity faster, too. Taking your goals into consideration and working with your lender can guide that decision and get you on the way to buying your first home.

  2. 5 Conveniences Modern Banks Offer
    You Might Not Be Using

    The days of the savings passbook, waiting for “banking hours” to start and even paper checks are largely a thing of the past. Now, Mobile Banking, Online Banking and easy-pay services at local businesses make your daily financial errands and tasks something you can take care of 24/7. Even if you like the personal touch of a real-life teller at a brick-and-mortar bank, now there are even personal FACE2FACE® teller machines that bridge the gap between technology and in-person transactions.

    Conveniences

    Here are the 5 Conveniences Modern Banks Offer…. You Might Not Be Using.

    1. Take the Bank with You

    Banking is now in the palm of your hand thanks to apps and internet-connected wireless devices like smartphones and tablets. With Online Banking not only can you check your balances and transfer funds between your own accounts, but banks with Mobile Banking also offer tools that allow you to securely transfer money to other people, even if they bank at a different financial institution. In the event you do receive a paper check, most mobile banking apps even allow for mobile check deposits by taking a picture of the front and back of the check after you’ve endorsed it as you would if you were depositing it in person.

    2. Let Your Thumbs do the Banking

    If you’re ever unable to connect to the internet and need to check your account balances, some banks offer customers Text Banking with the ability to send a text message in order to receive basic account details. If you’re worried about a check clearing or that you might be in danger of overdrawing your account, most banks that offer text-based services which allow you to set automatic alerts to be sent if your balance gets below a certain level or any suspicious activity pops up on your account.

    3. Take Care of Bills, No Stamp Required

    There’s no need to fret about paying a bill on time or having to buy stamps and get to the post office to mail off a check-stuffed envelope. Thanks to Online Bill Pay, you can easily pay your bills from the comfort of your own couch. If you’re worried about remembering when a specific bill is due, often times you can even schedule automatic recurring payments to either pay a set amount of money or a minimum payment amount, which can be useful for bills that might change every month like credit cards or utilities.

    4. Personal Teller Machines

    Not everyone wants to go without the human aspect of traditional banking but when you still want the convenience technology brings, one new advance in modern banking bridges high-tech and personal interaction. Interactive teller machines like South Shore Bank’s FACE2FACE® feature live personal banking advisors who can see and hear you just as you see and hear them. With FACE2FACE® teller machines, South Shore Bank clients can talk to a live person who can answer banking questions, cash checks, accept deposits, transfer funds and complete most other banking tasks you would be able to in person from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

    5. On the Fly App Payments

    With most of the latest smartphone devices, you can now enjoy the convenience of making safe and secure payments from your phone without taking out your credit card thanks to technologies like near field communication, your mobile phone is now your wallet. With the touch of your phone on a device or a laser read of a code, a payment is made quickly and securely anywhere that accepts this type of payment. You’ll have an immediate record of your transaction, too.

  3. Cash Management Tips for Your Small Business.

    There is no overstating the importance of accurate and efficient cash management when it comes to running a small business. Especially if you are just getting started, good cash habits are crucial to the success of your operation.

    Man at Work.

    Whether your small business is new or has several years under its belt, here are a few cash management tips you should be practicing.

    1. Keep your payment system organized>

    You can’t pay your bills if you don’t have cash coming into your business, and the primary way to do that is by getting paid for the goods or services you have sold. Ensure that your payment system is clear, organized and immediate — invoice your customers as soon as possible, as opposed to days or weeks after the sale. The faster they are invoiced, the sooner they can pay, and the more time they have before their payment is considered late.

    To ensure that you’re receiving your payments quickly, consider taking advantage of technologies that allow for you to speed up the collection of payments. Your bank may offer Automated Clearing House services, which allow you to initiate your collection of payments electronically through your bank’s secure online banking system. You can also work with your bank to set up remote deposit, which allows you to conveniently deposit checks through a secure online system.

    Finally, be sure to put penalties in place for late payments so customers are encouraged to pay on time — you can even offer incentives for a small percentage off their purchase if they pay right away, with cash.

    2. Monitor and analyze your cash flow at all times

    It’s critical to remain vigilant with your cash flow — knowing exactly what’s coming in and what’s coming out, including profits, overhead costs, vendor payments, debts and investments. Your finances should never catch you by surprise. Keep your records accurate and up-to-date — it’s best to update your records weekly or monthly, at the most.

    It’s also critical to keep an emergency fund ready, consisting of at least three months’ worth of expenses. Also, be ready to analyze your inventory to know what’s selling and what’s not and make adjustments as needed to cut costs.

    3. Cut expenses where you can

    As obvious as this is, sometimes the expenses that can be cut are not always obvious. Can you install a smart thermostat that can be programmed to reduce energy outside working hours, when the office is empty? Reduce paper use by discouraging the printing of emails. If possible, consider telecommuting or using a shared office space. If you do need to work out of an office, try purchasing used office furniture. If you hold events, see if you can find sponsors willing to chip in for the event. The little things can add up.

    4. Use your money to make money

    By placing your cash in interest-earning accounts, you can use your money to make money by receiving interest on those balances. Many banks offer savings and checking accounts geared specifically toward businesses; features of these include earning interest, no transaction limits and no monthly service fees.

    One feature of a business bank account is Earning Credit Rate, which will offset all or part of the activity fees associated with your account. With a commercial checking account, you may get unlimited transactions — including checks, deposits or withdrawals — and get an earnings credit allowance based on your account balance. Consider opening a commercial account to take advantage of these options to benefit your small business.

    Are you the owner of a small business and looking to successfully manage your cash flow?

    South Shore Bank can help.

    We have plenty of options available for small business banking, including business-specific bank accounts, business credit cards and lenders who are eager to work with you. Visit our website or contact us today.

    With 17 convenient locations in Massachusetts, South Shore Bank is dedicated to helping you achieve your financial goals. South Shore Bank is a regional banking leader with a presence in the community since 1833. Contact us today to discuss how we can serve you in your pursuit of a strong financial future.

    All content contained in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon to make any financial, accounting, tax, legal or other related decisions. Each person must consider his or her objectives, risk tolerances and level of comfort when making financial decisions and should consult a competent professional advisor prior to making any such decisions. Any opinions expressed through the content in this blog are the opinions of the particular author only.

  4. Strong Financial Future: 5 Things Millennials Should be Doing with Their Money

    "It's never too early to start saving for your future, no matter the amount you're able to set aside. You'll probably be surprised how quickly your saving will grow".

    Man using tablet.

    About 40% of millennials have absolutely no savings at all, according to a 2017 GoBankingRates survey — which isn’t surprising in the face of rising costs of living and stagnant salaries. Add on student loan debt and saving money may feel like a pipe dream. But there are clear, manageable steps you can take now to build a healthy savings account and financially comfortable future.

    To start on the path to a strong financial future, follow these smart guidelines

    1. Start saving for retirement now

    At the exciting beginning of your career, retirement may be the last thing on your mind. But if you want to enjoy a stress-free retirement, it’s never too early to start saving. With fewer employers offering pensions and other retirement packages, saving for your golden years is up to you. One of the best options for retirement savings is an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Your IRA may come with a slew of tax advantages that you can capitalize on when buying your first home or when you cash in your account upon retirement. A personal banking manager or retail officer can consult with you about these possible perks and help you decide which type of IRA may be right for you.

    2. Pay yourself first

    You’ve probably heard the phrase “pay yourself first” but what does it actually mean? Paying yourself first means setting aside a chunk of money from each paycheck before any of your other bills are paid. Sound difficult? It doesn’t have to be if you set up an automatic monthly transfer from your checking account to your savings account. You can also arrange a split direct deposit to ensure that a portion of each paycheck is secure within your savings account. For example, you could opt to have 90% of your paycheck direct deposited into your checking account and the remaining 10% sent to savings. Saving money will then become automatic to you, and you may be surprised at how quickly your savings can grow.

    3. Resist frivolous purchases

    How much do you spend on your daily cup of gourmet coffee? Multiply that number by 365 and you might be shocked. David Bach, bestselling author and financial expert, coined the term “Latte Factor” to underscore how people waste excessive money on unnecessary purchases like morning coffee that can be brewed at home. These purchases may seem small in isolation, but they can total an astonishing sum of money. Besides your daily caffeine fix, here are some other expenses that fit into the “Latte Factor:”

    • The newest smartphone or other electronic gadget
    • Take-out meals and expensive lunches
    • Lottery tickets
    • Online shopping with incentives to fill up your cart
    • Banking fees (look for free checking accounts)

    You don’t have to swear off all these purchases but rather reduce them. Instead of getting takeout lunch five times a week, indulge in it only once and bring a brown bag lunch the other days. Modest steps may add up to major savings over the long-term.

    4. Make the move from renter to homeowner

    With housing prices at an all-time high, new homeownership is at a historic low, notably among the millennial generation. But rental prices are also climbing, especially in hot urban markets like San Francisco and Seattle. It might pay, therefore, to invest in a house and say goodbye to your landlord. Applying for a mortgage may seem complicated, but a good personal banker will simplify the process for you.

    5. Keep credit card balances at bay

    The average American consumer carries a crushing $6,375 of credit card debt, according to a 2018 Experian study. High credit card debt is a culprit in preventing many people from saving money. The money you spend on staying afloat with minimum payments and interest rates would be better put to use in an investment for your future. However, credit cards can be a useful tool to build your credit profile by making small purchases that you pay off each month. Choose wisely when selecting a credit card and look for features like fraud protection, low APRs, and rewards.

    The earlier you start to plan for your future, including retirement, the stronger your finances are likely to be. Small and simple steps like saving money from each paycheck or opening an IRA could be your springboard to financial freedom.

    With 17 convenient locations in Massachusetts, South Shore Bank is dedicated to helping you achieve your financial goals. South Shore Bank is a regional banking leader with a presence in the community since 1833. Contact us today to discuss how we can serve you in your pursuit of a strong financial future.

    All content contained in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon to make any financial, accounting, tax, legal or other related decisions. Each person must consider his or her objectives, risk tolerances and level of comfort when making financial decisions and should consult a competent professional advisor prior to making any such decisions. Any opinions expressed through the content in this blog are the opinions of the particular author only.

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