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Blog Archive 2018

7 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays Without Financial Anxiety

Holiday spending obligations can cause stress and ruin your holiday spirit. Try this advice to glide through the season without worrying about your bank account.
The Budget. When budgeting for the holidays most people immediately think of all the gifts they’ll be purchasing. While that may be the bulk of their added expenses during the holidays, there are several other extra costs that need to be accounted for. For instance, food. There is a lot more grocery shopping and eating out around the holidays. People like to have holiday dinners, ordering out, cooking extravagant food for guests or going out to dinner. Another added expense is decorations. Most can’t resist buying a few extra lights, a few extra decorations, or even hiring someone to string lights around their home. Other miscellaneous holiday expenses to consider when creating a holiday budget: holiday clothing, holiday pictures, holiday cards and postage, wrapping paper & bows, holiday baking supplies, holiday travel expenses, pet boarding, hosting and holiday entertainment.
Credit score. While this might be an unusual way to start your holiday shopping, knowing your credit score (FICO is the one most used by lenders) may be a deciding factor in how you make your purchases. You may be less likely to charge purchases or open new credit lines while holiday shopping to maintain or improve your score.
Be smart with your holiday gift list. If your list is short you can be a bit more generous. If you are extending your list to a large number of people, reduce the gift amount significantly. Your gift total should not exceed your budget total. If you feel like you’ll have a hard time sticking to your budget, bring only the exact amount of cash you have budgeted for your purchases when you shop so you won’t have a choice.
Set a per-person shopping budget. Aside from having an overall holiday budget, you should also have a per person gift budget. Once you've reached the total dollar amount, stop shopping for that person, period.
Clip those coupons. There are so many options to ensure a discount, it’s ridiculous not to use them. Paper coupons are sent in the mail, apps can be downloaded such as Retail Me Not and Snip Snap, and websites such as Ebates which will give you money back just for clicking on their website first before going to whatever site you decide to shop on. If all else fails and you find yourself at a checkout in store or online, you can even just google a promo code for that store. Taking an extra couple seconds can add up to big savings.
Do some research before you make a purchase. Online shoppers have the convenience of searching several stores within minutes for the best price for the same item. Using online shopping carts is also a good way to avoid impulse purchases because you can keep items in your cart to think about before purchasing. Additionally, many websites will  email coupons or discounts to those who have left a full cart on their site, making a future purchase less expensive.
To avoid impulse purchases for offline shoppers, try going to the stores without bringing your credit cards or cash. Just browse to see what’s out there and to get ideas. Both methods also help consumers avoid the scenario in which they buy a gift only to find something else they like better later.
Shop with a list. Try to have a list of every person you are buying for and a gift idea for each person. This will avoid wasted time roaming store to store searching for ideas and money wasted on an item that could have been purchased at a less expensive price elsewhere. Having a list will also avoid stress and overspending.
Have a plan for credit usage. While most people budget for the holidays, they also factor credit into their plan. Credit is usually used to supplement holiday spending and paid off in the months after the holidays. These options are perfectly reasonable as long as the amount of credit used isn’t more than can be repaid.
Scrap the store-bought gifts. One of the best ways to avoid being financially stressed during the holidays is to avoid overspending. This approach has benefits beyond simply saving money. Time together and memories created is the most valuable gift of all. Families can engage in crafts, baking, games, music and so many other wonderful activities that create enjoyment without the hefty price tag. Giving experiences can be just as joyful.
The holidays are approaching, but hopefully these positive tips will avoid a financially stressful situation.

The Federal Trade Commission's Guide To Developing A Cybersecurity Plan For Your Business
Businesses of all sizes can be adversely affected by a data breach. Such an attack can also negatively impact consumers, therefore it is vital to be knowledgeable and proactive to avoid such occurrences. Here is a concise summary of invaluable information provided by the Federal Trade Commission. Please follow up on their website to learn more about what can be done to protect your business and your consumers.
Most companies keep sensitive personal information in their files and databases -- names, Social Security numbers, credit card or other account data -- that identifies customers or employees. This information is used to fill orders, meet payroll or perform other business functions. However, if sensitive data falls into the wrong hands, it can lead to fraud or identity theft. Given the cost of a security breach -- losing your customers' trust and perhaps even defending yourself against a lawsuit -- safeguarding personal information is just plain good business.
Some businesses may have the expertise in-house to implement an appropriate plan. Others may find it helpful to hire a contractor. Regardless of the business size, a security plan is needed.
A sound data security plan is built on 5 key principles:
1. TAKE STOCK. Know what personal data is in your files and on your computers.
2. SCALE DOWN. Keep only what you need for your business.
3. LOCK IT. Protect the information that you keep.
4. PITCH IT. Properly dispose of what you no longer need.
5. PLAN AHEAD. Create a plan to respond to security incidents.
  • Inventory all computers, laptops, mobile devices, flash drives, disks, home computers, digital copiers and other equipment to determine where your company stores sensitive data. Also inventory the information by type and location.
  • Track personal information through your business' sales department, information technology staff, human resources office, accounting personnel and outside service providers. Get a complete picture of:
          1. Who sends sensitive personal information to your business.
          2. How your business receives personal information.
          3. What kind of information you collect at each entry point.
          4. Where you keep the information you collect at each entry point.
          5. Who has -- or could have -- access to the information.
  • Use Social Security numbers only for required and lawful purposes — like reporting employee taxes.
  • If your company develops a mobile app, access only essential data.
  • Don't keep customer credit card information unless you have a business need for it.
  • Scale down access to data. Follow the "principle of least privilege." That means each employee should have access only to those resources needed to do their particular job.
Physical Security
  • Store paper documents or files, as well as thumb drives and backups containing personally identifiable information in a locked room or file cabinet. Limit access to employees with a legitimate business need and control who has a key.
General Network Security
  • Identify the computers or servers where sensitive personal information is stored and all connections to those computers.
  • Encrypt sensitive information sent to third parties over public networks (like the internet), and encrypt sensitive information that is stored on your computer network, laptops, or portable storage devices used by your employees. Encrypt email transmissions within your business.
  • Run up-to-date anti-malware programs on individual computers and servers on your network.
  • Restrict employees' ability to download unauthorized software.
  • When you receive or transmit credit card information or other sensitive financial data, use Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption or another secure connection that protects the information in transit.
  • Require that employees use "strong" passwords. Use multi-factor authentication.
  • Adopt a company policy that prohibits employees from sharing or displaying their passwords.
  • Use password-activated screen savers to lock employee computers after a period of inactivity.
  • Lock out users who don't enter the correct password within a designated number of log-on attempts.
  • Immediately change vendor-supplied default passwords.
  • Caution employees against transmitting sensitive personally identifying data via email.
Laptop Security
  • Restrict laptops to those employees who need them to perform their jobs.
  • Assess whether sensitive information really needs to be stored on a laptop. If not, delete it with a "wiping" program.
  • Require employees to store laptops in a secure place, especially when on the road.
  • If a laptop contains sensitive data, encrypt it and configure it so users can't download any software of change the security settings without approval from your IT specialists.
  • Firewalls
    Use a firewall and "border" firewall to protect your computer from hacker attacks while it is connected to a network, especially the internet.
Wireless and Remote Access
  • Limit who can use a wireless connection to access your computer network.
  • Encrypt the information you send over your wireless network, so that nearby attackers can't eavesdrop on these communications. Look for a wireless router that has Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) capability and devices that support WPA2.
  • Use encryption if you allow remote access to your computer network by employees or by service providers, such as companies that troubleshoot and update software you use to process credit card purchases. Implement multi-factor authentication for access to your network. 
Digital Copiers
  • Buy or lease a copier with data security features such as encryption and overwriting.
Detecting Breaches
  • To detect network breaches, consider using an intrusion detection system.
  • Monitor incoming and outgoing traffic. Keep an eye out for activity from new users, multiple log-in attempts from unknown users or computers, and higher-than-average traffic at unusual times of the day. Watch for unexpectedly large amounts of data being transmitted from your system to an unknown user.
Employee Training
  • Check references or do background checks before hiring employees.
  • Require every employee to sign an agreement following company confidentiality and security standards.
  • Create a "culture of security" by implementing a regular schedule of employee training.
  • Teach employees about the dangers of phone and spear fishing.
  • Require employees to notify you immediately if there is a potential security breach.
  • Impose disciplinary measures for security policy violations.
Security Practices of Contractors and Service Providers
  • Before you outsource any of your business functions, investigate the company's data security practices and compare their standards to yours. If possible, visit their facilities.
  • Insist that your service providers notify you of any security incidents they experience, even if the incidents may not have led to an actual compromise of your data.
  • Effectively dispose of paper records by shredding, burning, or pulverizing them before discarding, even for employees that work from home.
  • When disposing of old computers and portable storage devices, use software for securely erasing data, usually called wipe utility programs.
  • If you use consumer credit reports for a business purpose, you may be subject to the FTC's Disposal Rule.  For more information, see Disposing of Consumer Report Information? Rule Tells How."
  • Have a plan in place to respond to security incidents.
  • If a computer is compromised, disconnect it immediately from your network.
  • Investigate security incidents immediately and take steps to close off existing vulnerabilities or threats to personal information.
  • Consider whom to notify in the event of an incident, both inside and outside your organization.

Teaching Youth the Value of Money
In an ever-changing world of new currencies, technology and more credit options than ever before, one factor remains constant: financial management skills are extremely important!
Considering how essential knowledge of the economy and managing personal finances is, it’s surprising that it is so briefly touched upon in school. For this reason, it is not shocking that students owe 1.1 billion in student loan debt and Americans overall owe almost 9 times that amount in credit card debt.
Therefore, it’s up to us as parents to educate our children. We must prepare them to be good managers of their financial resources.
How do parents go about this task? Keep in mind that as with most things, parents are the prime example for their children. By being sensible with your finances you are providing the best example for your child.
Remaining within your budget, and perhaps pointing out an item you want but don’t buy because it would be over budget, would be another great way to demonstrate mindful spending. Money should be discussed with your children openly. Children should understand the hard work that goes into earning the money that is deposited into the bank account that funds the swipe of the credit card they witness. Appreciation for what they have should be acknowledged. The difference between what they need and what they simply want is another important concept that should be addressed.
The value of money can and should be taught beginning at a very young age. It is much easier to establish a good habit early than to try to change a bad habit later on.
Here are a few age appropriate lessons that can be implemented at various age levels.
Preschool - Saving to Buy Something You Want
Delaying indulgence is an important concept. Kids at this age need to learn that if they really want something, they should wait and save to buy it.
Before walking into a store, the purpose of the visit should be clear. If you are purchasing a gift or simply grocery shopping state that before the visit. Children need to understand that every trip to the store will not result in an item being bought for them. If they see an item they truly want, they can set a plan with you to save up for that item or do chores or tasks to earn the right to eventually have that item purchased. The financial examples demonstrated at this age set the precedent for future lessons.
A great way for a young child to understand how to understand the value of money is to use 3 clear containers.
Label each Saving, Spending and Donating. Each time your child receives money, for doing chores or as a gift, divide the money equally among the containers. Have him/ her use the spending money for small purchases, like candy or stickers. Donating money can go to someone special in need. The saving container should be for more expensive items he/she is saving up for.
Elementary School - Making Choices About How to Spend Money
Around this age, children should be given the opportunity to make choices regarding money so they can better understand its limits. For instance, engage your child in the decisions you make while grocery shopping, explaining the reason you might choose to purchase a fruit that is in season rather than one that is not because of the huge price difference. Ask them to choose a vegetable or dessert that would serve the entire family that is within a set amount. Point out the reasoning of buying certain items in bulk but not others. Ask them where the best store to purchase an item would be based on price.
This is also a great age to introduce them to banking. The containers they’ve been using can be transferred to actual checking and savings accounts.
Pan American Bank & Trust has designed an account specifically for this purpose: The Relationship Junior Savings Account.
This account can be opened for anyone from age zero through 21. There is no minimum balance for this completely free account and it earns an Annual Percentage Yield (APY) of 0.35%1. 
Excited account holders can deposit as little as they’d like to see their total grow, even 50 cents!
Middle School - Understanding Long Term Goals
By this age they are old enough to understand more mature concepts such as compound interest. Parents can explain the idea of earning interest both on your savings as well as on past interest from your savings.
For instance, starting at 14 years old, if you saved $100 every year, you’d have $23,000 by age 65. In comparison, if you started at age 35, you would only have $7,000 by age 65. Encourage your child to do more compound interest calculations with different amounts. It may motivate them to save their money, rather than spend it on the latest gadget.
High School - Planning for College Costs
College expenses are intimidating but without a college degree, most will have a harder time finding a job and their pay over the span of their career will average too much less.
Every family’s circumstances are different but communication is the key to tackling the hardship of college tuition. Have an honest conversation with your child regarding your intended contribution towards their education early on. If your child knows before even applying to colleges it can help them decide where the best choices would be. Some schools are more generous with financial aid, scholarships and grants. This will also give them plenty of time to seek outside sources for financial assistance. 
This is also the point where your child will most likely need a debit card to facilitate day-to-day expenses while they are at school. Those lessons they learned as a child of dividing their money into savings and spending still apply, and the savings account they’ve had accruing interest might not meet their needs any longer.
Pan American Bank & Trust offers a Relationship Student Checking Account specifically for this reason. Both parent and student are named on this free account with no minimum balance that offers an APY of 0.10%2. The student can use his/her debit card at any ATM (fees up to $25 will be reimbursed per statement cycle). For convenience, account holders can download a mobile app to access their account.
College Grad - Credit Cards
The worst situation your college graduate could be in is to have both credit card debt and student loans. Aside from risking their credit score if they can’t keep up with their payments, which could affect their long-term financial goals, you want to avoid starting their adult life on the wrong foot.
When choosing a credit card, do your research. If possible, select one that that offers a low interest rate, no annual fee and cash back rewards. Reserve the credit card for emergency expenses, not daily use.
1APY may change after account is opened. Rates are accurate as of 6/5/2017. Fees may reduce earnings.
2APY may change after account is opened. Rates are accurate as of 6/5/2017. Fees may reduce earnings.

Small Business Strategies for Success
For most new entrepreneurs, the dream of starting a new business is just as exciting as it is daunting. While you may have no doubts as to your dedication and willingness to put in the long hours needed, you hope you’re making the right decisions to give your business the most financial advantages. There are so many aspects to running a successful business, especially when you’re first starting out and doing most things yourself. It is easy to fall into bad habits due to lack of time and to lose sight of important tasks that will lead to consequences down the road. We’ve summarized a list of the most crucial points a new business owner must consider to guarantee financial stability as he/she launches and grows.
Seek Expert Advice
Small business owners often find themselves in situations in which they don’t realize the implications of their decisions. This is why it is essential to have an expert available to ask questions in the key areas where a wrong decision could lead to a long term consequence. Your network of experts should include at the very least a lawyer, an accountant and a tax advisor.
Also keep in mind that having a great relationship with your Pan American Bank & Trust representative is key as you navigate through the changing needs your business will require as it grows.
Plan Ahead for All Possible Scenarios
Inevitably, your business will have to suffer through periods of higher expenses or lower profits in order to reach certain goals or milestones. A successful business owner will be prepared for lean times, knowing they are a fundamental aspect of a business' long-term existence. Ideally, attempt to have at least 6 months of your expenses in liquid reserves. Also, do not minimize the importance of having the correct protections and plans set up, such as disability and health insurance.
Use Tax Advantages
Your tax consultant should ensure you and your business are paying the minimum tax you are required. Also make it a priority to establish tax-advantaged retirement plans such as IRAs and self-employed 401(k)s. Ensure your tax consultant has all of your tax information in plenty of time to be filed to avoid any surprises. Small business owners must take the initiative and project what your business will make in the coming year. To save yourself an overwhelming tax bill, be extremely conservative with your estimate. Be aware of the 9 percent failure to comply penalty if you don’t pay 90 percent of what you owe. Also, you may have to pay additional self-employment taxes, which includes the Medicare tax and the Social Security Tax. Your tax advisor will be especially important to your business, therefore choose an expert you trust to guide you through this process.
Put Yourself on the Payroll
Most small business owners believe they should sacrifice by reinvesting all their profits into the business. By denying yourself pay, you are risking personal financial crisis, which in turn will inevitably affect your business finances. Also, while this may seem the best way to help grow your business, it is only a short-term strategy. At least 10% of your gross income should be allocated for your long-term goals.
Separate Personal And Business Finances
Intermingling obligations and assets often is a result of an insufficient amount of money coming in to meet either household or company expenses. This includes expenses, inventory and debt. Mixing the two domains can lead to strict tax, liability and accounting problems. Try to avoid this scenario by having at least six months worth of both business and household expenses saved before opening day.
Adhere to a Budget
Budgeting is the basis by which a business owner can track crucial data to carry a business forward. Budgeting can tell you if you’re making a profit, client spending habits and the result of business decisions.
Planned budgeting helps you assess expenses over time, so you can avoid excess spending to increase your profit margins. You can also use it as a tool to determine whether you have enough funds to grow your business or perhaps consider a loan to reach your next career step.
Know Your Business!
As skilled as you may be in your trade, you must also know how to manage the financial aspects of your business. Even the most talented chefs and artists need to comprehend the balance sheet information of their business. Not understanding the basic concepts of accounting means you must completely trust others that do not have the passion for the business you are laboring for. 
Understanding how money flows through your business or where it is tied up will help you run your business more efficiently. Perhaps you have accumulated too much inventory or you have allowed too much credit to be owed to you? Take an active role in your business’ finances even if your main focus is a service or product being sold. Knowing the financial basis of the business will help you adjust how you manage your trade, ensuring a more cohesive business strategy.

Guide to Using Credit Cards to Your Advantage (While Avoiding The Disadvantages)

The use of a credit card in your planned spending may be a valuable asset in enhancing your financial goals. Many enjoy several perks such as free vacations and gift cards from purchases they would have made regardless. Credit cards are also great tools for budgeting and to track spending. In order to reach such goals, one must have a clear understanding of how credit cards function and your personal financial limits. Without such discipline and knowledge, credit card use can quickly lead to debt.
According to the most recent statistics, the average American household has about $7,200 in credit card debt. A study by Drazen Prelec and Duncan Simester titled "Always Leave Home Without It" came to the conclusion that individuals using credit often spend twice as much for the same exact item. The fact that you have the possibility of spending more, even if it isn't within your realistic budget, entices most to overspend.
Here are a few simple rules that will allow you to fully take advantage of all of the perks of using a credit card without falling prey to the many pitfalls.
Never, ever pay your bill late
Avoid paying your credit card bill late at all costs! Aside from high late fees added to your bill, late payments affect your credit score. This is very important because a third of your credit score is based on your payment history.

You can also use this to your advantage. Paying all of your bills on time and keeping your interest rates low is a great way to improve your credit score.
Pay your bill in full every month
First and foremost, you must stay out of credit card debt! The only way to do so is by only charging as much as you can afford and paying off your entire balance each and every month. You may even pay this off multiple times per month. This also avoids you paying more for your purchases than they actually were by not accruing interest. The jeans you bought on sale for 20% off aren't a deal if you are paying an 18% finance charge.
Use your credit card for set costs only
Set up automatic payments such as tuition, utilities, insurance payments, etc. to be paid on your credit card. The same day your credit card is charged, have an automatic payment scheduled from your bank account sent to your credit card to pay off the balance in place of the payment you would have sent to the school, utility company or insurance company. By doing so, you've accrued points or miles, but not increased interest or debt on your card and stayed within your budget.

This also allows you the benefits of using your card without the accumulated debt that results from unexpected expenses and expenses with undetermined amounts such as groceries, gifts and entertainment.
Be diligent and mindful of your budget
If you don't trust yourself to stay within budget, ask your credit card company to lower your credit limit to an amount you know you can easily pay off on a monthly basis. You can also self-impose a limit restraint by checking your spending on a daily basis and removing the card from your wallet and use when you've reach your spending limit.
Check your account regularly
Another reason credit cards can be a valuable budgeting tool is because it is easier to keep track of all of your purchases. You can check your online account to see exactly what you've spent as often as you'd like, which will help you keep track of how much has been spent for various categories.

If you've overspent, avoid using the card until you're able to pay off the balance. Most credit cards offer powerful tools on their websites to track your spending, yet another advantageous budgeting tool.
Do your research, which card is right for you?
Those who benefit the most from credit card perks do their homework. Before choosing a credit card, determine if it is in your best interest. Are the perks it offers really beneficial to your lifestyle? Some credit cards even offer perks such as free travel insurance, rental car coverage and extended warranties, even if you pay your card in full and do not have a balance. If you are not one that travels often, it may be best to choose a card that offers cash back bonuses. Some prefer the gift card options so they can be used as gifts. When choosing cards that offer miles, be sure to read the fine print. You don't want to have accumulated several thousand miles only to find out that because of blackout dates or restrictions, they are practically useless. By researching the various options offered, those that are smart and stay within budget can enjoy the rewards.
Credit card rewards and budgeting tools can be a wonderful bonus to any budget or lifestyle if used as a tool and not abused. Rewards and perks can be forgotten if you accumulate debt and have the misfortune of accruing interest, resulting in a financial pitfall. Before using a credit card as part of your budget, be sure you plan to use it accordingly. If you find that it is not working favorably in your budget as planned, return to using debit cards and cash. The rewards are not worth the debt.

Best Banks To Work For
Pan American Bank & Trust has been selected by the nationally renowned industry publication, American Banker, as one of the Best Banks To Work For in 2018 throughout the United States. "Being selected is a tribute to the strength of our culture, including our commitment to each other, our clients and our communities," stated Frank C. Cerrone, President & CEO of Pan American Bank & Trust. "We are truly grateful for this honor and will continue to be one of the best banks working for you!"

Pan American Bank & Trust has approximately 60 employees servicing 6 offices throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Pan American Bank & Trust's "Dream Bigger" philosophy and mission are instilled in our daily practices, reinforcing the mindset of our culture throughout every level and department. This has been essential throughout PAB&T's growth over the past ten years as we welcome new talent to the organization. Pan American Bank & Trust team members highly respect and care for one another and have created a sense of family. Aside from work hours and the numerous volunteer opportunities for which team members spend time together, they also choose to socialize outside of the office.

President & CEO Frank C. Cerrone's mindset for Pan American Bank & Trust's culture is to be positive above all else. Senior management consistently discusses issues and acknowledgements with employees. "We strive for every employee to have a voice and to work together for common goals. If every team member feels appreciated and puts forth their best effort in every task, success is definite." Ensuring an employee is recognized for their contributions guarantees their motivation to strive harder. Cerrone continued to state, "Dedicated employees at every level of our organization have, and will continue to be the goal for Pan American Bank & Trust. Add the incentive of a happy work environment and you have the ideal scenario for success."

Pan American Bank & Trust also embraces the communities it serves with its positive philosophy and it shows. With its outstanding rating as a Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) lender, and as one of only 137 Certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) in the country, Pan American Bank & Trust is centered in its mission to expand economic opportunities and revitalize the areas it serves in the process.

Taking all of this into consideration, it's no surprise that Pan American Bank & Trust was selected as one of the country's Best Banks to Work For in 2018.

The Best Banks to Work For program, which was initiated in 2013 by American Banker and Best Companies Group, identifies, recognizes and honors U.S. banks for outstanding employee satisfaction. Full results of this year's program are available at American Banker and in the September issue of American Banker Magazine.* 

"Our annual ranking recognizes the financial institutions that are committed to investing in employees' job satisfaction, career development and personal growth - a 'return on assets' that can be hard to measure by traditional means," said Rob Blackwell, editor in chief of American Banker. "One of the most valuable assets for any organization is the team of people it employs, and banks are no exception."

Determining the Best Banks to Work For involves a two-step process. The first step involves an evaluation of participating companies' workplace policies, practices, and demographics. In the second step, employee surveys are conducted to directly assess the experiences and attitude of individual employees with respect to their workplace. The combined scores determine the top banks and the final ranking. Best Companies Group managed the overall registration and survey process and also analyzed the data and used their expertise to determine the final ranking. The program is open to commercial banks, thrifts, savings banks and other chartered retail financial institutions with at least 50 employees in the United States.

*From AB Magazine, September 2018 © Source Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission and protected by the Copyright Laws of the United States.

Tips to Stretch Your Retirement Savings

Save as much as you can, at every point of your life
This may seem like an obvious piece of advice, but many people do not take into account the unknown amount of time they will be relying on retirement savings. Even during periods where you may be financially comfortable, do not take spending for granted. The extra few hundred dollars per month that you unnecessarily spend earlier on could make a difference in your quality of life down the road.

Downsize your Home
Once retired, most people prefer to use any extra funds in their budget to travel and enjoy their newfound extra time socializing with friends and family. Maintaining a home larger than needed can be an avoidable expense and use of time. Many retirees opt to move to a smaller home to reduce taxes, upkeep and expenses. Also, by doing so, they can take advantage of the equity from the larger home they sold to add to their nest egg.

Choose the Right IRA
You might also consider converting money from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA.'s articles regarding Tips for Spending Down Your Retirement Savings explains that, "Converting deductible contributions to a Roth IRA means you'll owe tax on the money. But by paying Uncle Sam now, you're cutting him out later. If at retirement you expect to be in the 25% federal tax bracket, you'll owe $2,500 to Uncle Sam when you take $10,000 out of a traditional IRA (assuming you have no nondeductible contributions). However, if you are currently in the 15% bracket, converting $10,000 into a Roth would mean you'd owe a $1,500 tax bill to Uncle Sam now. But in retirement, you could tap that $10,000 plus its earnings tax-free."

Delay Social Security Benefits
Delaying your Social Security benefits increases the monthly amount you will eventually receive. If you wait to collect after your full retirement age, you will receive an additional 8% bonus per year you wait, up to age 70, along with accrued cost-of-living costs.

Trustee-to-trustee transfers
If you decide to roll over your 401(k) to an IRA or a new 401(k) when you change jobs, take care to transfer your balance directly from one account to another via a trustee-to-trustee transfer. If a check is cut to you, 20 percent of your savings will be withheld for income tax. You only get 60 days to put the distribution, including the withheld 20 percent, in a new retirement account. If you don't meet the deadline you will owe income tax and potentially an early-withdrawal penalty on any amount that doesn't make it into another retirement account. A trustee-to-trustee transfer allows you to avoid the tax withholding and the potential to trigger taxes and fees. "You want to do a trustee-to-trustee transfer and have the check going to the new custodian directly, so that way you can avoid that withholding," says Mary Erl, a certified financial planner for Nest Builder Financial Advisors in Gurnee, Illinois U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT. 

The Importance of Banking Locally
The benefits of banking local are advantageous not only for clients, but for communities as a whole. Pan American Bank & Trust strives to be a foundation in the communities it serves, offering support, services and resources.

Relationship Banking
Having a true relationship with your Community Bank is instrumental in the success of your small business and/or personal financial goals. For instance, your Relationship Executive has an understanding of the changes taking place in your local market and how it may affect your business or home loan, offering advice or projecting market trends to avoid issues. Your Relationship Executive can also offer a wealth of referrals and connections to other local business owners and service providers.

Reinvestment in the Community
Community Banks invest in the community by utilizing deposits to lend to local small businesses. This allows the local market to benefit from the creation of new jobs and reinforce the existing community establishments. A Community Bank's efforts function as a funnel to continuously keep money flowing locally, lending and funding in the communities where their clients live and labor, unlike corporate banks which invest nationwide.

Community Banks fund more than half of small businesses in the United States under $1 Million, according to the Independent Community Bankers Association (ICBA). The ICBA also reports that Community Banks employ 765,000 Americans and create countless jobs thanks to their role in lending to small businesses and agricultural enterprises. Without community financial institutions, which make up 99.5% of all banks, these jobs would not be possible. Pan American Bank & Trust has contributed to the creation and retention of 1,158 jobs in the communities they serve through $40.5MM in small business lending.

The Bank also produces positive outcomes for its borrowers by providing technical assistance and loan counseling. By helping borrowers increase their financial understanding in advance of their loans, Pan American Bank & Trust helps set borrowers on the path to successful repayment. The Bank estimates that a total of 411 people received developmental services in 2017, including business counseling and consumer credit counseling.

Sustained Community Organizations
Because local banks are dedicated to assisting the communities they serve, they are often dedicated and willing to donate time, funds and services to local organizations that work to reinforce the community. Pan American Bank & Trust and its employees truly want to be part of their communities at the grassroots level and do so by cleaning up parks, helping at food pantries, offering their services at senior events, sponsoring local sport teams and hosting free informational seminars. The Bank also has a network of partners through which it provides financial education and volunteer opportunities. These programs benefit over 100 individuals per year. Our goal is to help provide a strong anchor for the local economy. Corporate banks rarely give money or volunteer time at such a grassroots level. During both prosperous and poor economic periods, Community Banks remain foundations for members of their communities.

Individualized Service
As an individual or small business, choosing to utilize a local bank means you will be working with people who reside and do business in your area. Community Banks are fundamental to the communities they serve because they have personal experience and familiarity with the events occurring in the community, offering that knowledge in their daily service. They gather this information from their involvement, volunteerism and sponsorship in local events.

This type of information is priceless in determining market trends, housing decisions and business strategies. A Relationship Executive at a Community Bank is also a trusted advisor. Pan American Bank & Trust prides itself on developing relationships with each and every client, ensuring their unique needs are identified and met.

Facilitated Loan Process
Corporate banks base their decisions for small business loans or mortgages on information stated on paper such as credit scores and tax returns.

Community bankers want to know your personal history and character, taking those factors into account when deciding to approve the loan request. Often, the decision-makers are in the same building, therefore it's easier to adjust their decision based on your individual circumstances and the entire process is more streamlined.

Personal Service
Pan American Bank & Trust appreciates our clients. We strive to go above and beyond to ensure our clients have a wonderful, satisfied banking experience. We are confident that the level of client support offered by our staff is unparalleled. Come in and meet us or stop in again to enjoy a cup of coffee or lemonade while we handle your banking needs.

How CDFI Banks Help Clients Thrive
Pan American Bank & Trust recognizes that we can only thrive if our clients do. We are a grassroots bank offering our clients a personalized banking experience and customized financial resources to dream bigger.

As a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), Pan American Bank & Trust is able to make a powerful impact in our communities and to the people who need it to most. CDFI certification is a designation given by the United States Department of Treasury’s CDFI Fund to specialized organizations that provide financial services in low-income communities and to people who lack access to financing. CDFIs provide a range of financial products, like mortgages for low-income and first-time homebuyers and commercial loans for small businesses. 

CDFIs’ goal is to broaden economic opportunity by providing access to basic financial services for individuals and businesses. Pan American Bank & Trust has had proven success impacting its target market. In the last four years, Pan American Bank & Trust has originated $181.8MM in loans within its target market. It is estimated that this lending has generated the following outcomes:

304 affordable housing units created.

324,655 square feet of commercial real estate developed, based on $56.5MM in CRE lending.

1,158 jobs created or retained by $40.5MM in small business lending.

Between 2018 and 2020, our projected lending is expected to generate an additional 170 affordable housing units, 316,000 square feet of commercial real estate developed and 869 jobs created or retained.  As a CDFI, Pan American Bank & Trust contributes to building a healthy and stable local economy. And more importantly, we can help you pave a path to get you to where you want to be. Everyone flourishes by having the breadth of resources to dream bigger.

The Benefits of Banking With a CDFI
When it comes to helping a community, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) can provide enormous benefit. These private financial institutions are a dedicated force in helping communities enter and stay in the economic mainstream. What benefits are there to banking with a CDFI? Let's take a look!

CDFI's Specialize in Helping Disadvantaged Sectors
A CDFI is dedicated to helping low-income and low-wealth parties to achieve a stable financial foothold. Many times, these groups are not able to be serviced by standard banking methods. A CDFI can reach into a distressed community, giving it the tools and resources to grow from within.

Opportunities can flourish in places where none existed before, all from internal community growth. This directly impacts the residents of a community, allowing for reinvestment back into the area. In turn, this maximizes the potential for the funds invested.

CDFI's Put the Community First
CDFI's are designed to maximize the community response, not their own profits. While CDFI's are a profitable business model - they need to be able to stay in business, after all - their focus is the community. CDFI's serve as a spark to ignite developmental growth, creating the jobs that are the lifeblood of a vibrant community.

CDFI's Focus on Community Businesses
Banking with a CDFI creates jobs and community growth by focusing on the businesses of the area. Small businesses and microenterprise can lead development in a community, and CDFI's strive to give them the resources they need to flourish.

Nonprofits and affordable housing is another area that CDFI's help grow. Nonprofits often provide essential services that provide a higher quality of life to the people that live in an area. People also need a place to live, and this is where the affordable housing helps. Together, these can make a community a very desirable place to live once the opportunities start to build.

CDFI's also invest in commercial real estate for a given area. Businesses need a place to blossom and grow, and commercial real estate gives them a place to call home. An active commercial real estate market in a community acts as an invitation for even more businesses to come into the area, bringing jobs and other opportunities to the region.

CDFI's Tap into the Pioneering Spirit
Many times, a new business will fail to get the funding it needs from banks. If the struggling small business is forced to turn to the high-interest market for funding, their chances for success are minimized. In the past, exceptional ideas have failed to find their way because of high debt from such predatory institutions of lending.

Instead of turning to high interest and online funding solutions, those businesses can turn to CDFI's for help. In many cases, small businesses aren't even aware of the assistance available from the community centered CDFI!

These small businesses that can be helped by CDFI's represent the pioneering spirit that created the country. These dreamers and builders hold the keys to an imagined yet unrealized future of prosperity, and CDFI's can help to make it a reality.

Smart Banking with a CDFI Through Pan American Bank & Trust
Pan American Bank & Trust specializes in communities. We are an Equal Housing Lender and a Member FDIC. To better serve our communities, Pan American Bank & Trust has invested in six locations in very diverse areas. We understand and believe that our greatest asset is the people of the community, and we back up that belief with both investments and services to make those dreams come true.

Pan American Bank & Trust works hard to build a healthy and beneficial relationship with every one of our clients. We dedicate ourselves to our clients living their dream. That is the high mark by which we judge ourselves, and together we know we can be very successful. Don't just take it from us - please take a look at our testimonials to see how we've helped a multitude of clients achieve their dreams.

Our Premier Money Market Account is a Powerful Savings Tool

Though you may have heard about interest rates rising recently, they remain near historical lows. This poses a challenge for finding a home for your savings. On one hand, you want the safety, security, and liquidity that a traditional savings account can give you. On the other hand, it would be nice to earn a return on your hard-earned nest egg.

A Premier Money Market account from Pan American Bank & Trust may be the right option for you. In this article, we explain what a money market account is, what it's not, and how it can help you meet your savings goals.

What is a Money Market Account?
As this page from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau explains, a money market account is an account offered by banks and credit unions that pays interest based upon current money market rates. It is FDIC insured just like a traditional bank savings or checking account, and has many of the same functional features as those accounts, such as check-writing ability and ATM withdrawals. However, there are certain limits on how many withdrawals you can make from a money market account per month, and minimum deposit amounts do apply.

For example, our Premier Money Market account requires a minimum $2,500 deposit to open, and features money market interest rates, complete liquidity, tiered interest rates as your balance rises, and no minimum balance fee so long as you maintain at least a $2,500 balance.

What is the "Money Market"?
The "money market" is a financial market in which participants buy and sell short-term highly liquid debt securities, such as certificates of deposit or commercial paper to meet their short-term financial needs. The rates paid in the money market determine the interest rate your money market account funds will earn. You can learn more about the money markets in this detailed publication from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

What is the Benefit of a Money Market vs. a Traditional Savings Account?
The principal benefit of a money market account over a traditional savings account is that, historically, the rates paid for funds in the money market -- and paid to you on your money market account deposits -- are higher than the rates banks pay depositors on savings accounts. The minimum balance and fees offered in a money market account may also be more suited for your savings needs than a traditional savings account, particularly when -- as with our Premier Money Market account -- you can earn higher interest rates and your balance rises. And, because a money market account is FDIC insured, it offers the powerful combination of both security for your savings and a desirable rate of return.

If you are weighing your savings options and think a money market account may suit your needs, stop by a Pan American Bank & Trust location today. Our friendly bankers will be happy to walk you through your options and select the savings vehicle that meets your needs. With our competitive rates and attractive terms, we're confident you'll find a solution that works for you.

Financial Terms You Should Know but Don't and Are Too Afraid To Ask

Principal - The original amount of money put into an investment or borrowed from a loan.

Compound Interest - This term pertains to investments, deposits or loans. It's best defined using an example: if you invest $100 with a compound interest rate of 10% per year, after one year your investment would now be worth $110. Since compound interest accrues based on the new value of the investment, next year's value would add 10% of $110 (equaling $11), rather than the original $100. So at the end of the 2nd year, the investment would be worth $121. This means the investment grows at a faster rate, which can really make or break your finances when it comes to larger investments or loan rates, depending on the situation.

APR - APR stands for "annual percentage rate" and applies to loans, mortgages and credit cards. Regarding credit cards, it's best expressed as the cost that you pay for borrowing money, aka your interest rate. But for mortgages, it's a bit different. Interest is the cost of borrowing money based on the principal loan, making it easy to figure out your monthly payments, whereas APR is based on the total cost of the home buying process -- broker fees, closing costs, mortgage insurance premiums, etc.

Credit Score - A number representing your financial history, indicating your ability to repay debts in a timely manner. It takes into account payment history, debts owed, length of history, new lines of credit and types of credit used. the number is used by lenders to determine if you qualify for loans, mortgages or credit cards.

Assets - An economic resource that's owned by an individual or business. For most individuals, assets include bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts and their home.

Liabilities - Financial debt or obligations.

Equity - The value of an asset after taking into account its liabilities. Simply put, Assets - Liabilities = Equity

Amortization - This refers to loan payments over a determined period of time. An amortization schedule will allow you to see how much you owe and when you owe it during the course of any given loan. For example, if you take out a 30-year mortgage for a new home, your amortization schedule will outline what you'll owe each month during the course of that 30-year loan.

Loan to Value Ratio - The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is a financial term used by lenders to express the ratio of a loan to the value of an asset purchased. The term is commonly used by banks and building societies to represent the ratio of the first mortgage line as a percentage of the total appraised value of real property. For instance, if someone borrows $130,000 to purchase a house worth $150,000, the LTV ratio is $130,000 to $150,000 or $130,000/$150,000, or 87%. The remaining 13% represent the lender's haircut, adding up to 100% and being covered from the borrower's equity. The higher the LTV ratio, the riskier the loan is for a lender.

Debt to Income Ratio - Your debt-to-income ratio is all your monthly debt payments divided by your gross monthly income. This number is one way lenders measure your ability to manage the payments you make every month to repay the money you have borrowed. To calculate your debt-to-income ratio, you add up all your monthly debt payments and divide them by your gross monthly income. Your gross monthly income is generally the amount of money you have earned before your taxes and other deductions are taken out. For example, if you pay $1,500 a month for your mortgage and another $100 a month for an auto loan and $400 a month for the rest of your debts, your monthly debt payments are $2,000. ($1,500 + $100 + $400 = $2,000.) If your gross monthly income is $6,000, then your debt-to-income ratio is 33 percent. ($2,000 is 33% of $6,000.)

4 Ways to Save Money While on a Tight Budget

If you're longing to have financial success but already follow a strict budget, you may feel that your goals are too hard to attain. But this isn't true -- anybody can save money without going hungry. Sure, taking advantage of online promo codes, eating out less often and riding your bike more than driving are great ways to cut costs. But there are some more long-term money saving strategies that will make a significant impact on helping you live the dream.

Maintain good credit score.
A good credit score is an essential asset that permeates into all facets of your financial well-being. It may not be commonly considered, but a good credit score is crucial to saving money in the long run. Applying for any type of loan or credit card with poor credit means you are more likely to have a higher interest rate, meaning by the time your loan is paid off, you will have paid significantly more than if you had good credit. A lower interest rate means you'll have more disposable income to put toward your debt payments to dissolve it sooner.

Payment history makes up the largest portion of determining your credit score, so take it seriously and work on paying off your debts. Create a schedule of when you need to have all of your bills paid and plan your expenses as best you can to ensure you can pay on time.

Work on paying off debt
High interest debt can dry out the financial well rather quickly. Instead of using your credit card to purchase things outside of your means, try to put more effort into paying off your already-outstanding debts. Even a little bit goes a long way. Switch to paying for daily expenses with cash only and put any extra toward your debts. It'll make saving easier and it's good practice toward saving for an emergency fund once your debts are close to being paid off.

Build an Emergency Fund
With an emergency fund on hand, you won't need to take out loans for everything you do. An emergency fund is a savings account you put small amounts of money into that slowly builds over time. The idea is you never touch that money unless it's an absolute emergency -- if you lose your job, if you become seriously ill or injured, if your car gets totaled, or if disaster strikes your home. Emergency funds are NOT for entertainment, eating out, vacations or shopping. Be honest with yourself about what constitutes an emergency. Rationalizing purchases is a surefire way to break the bank and normalize financial irresponsibility. As motivation, remind yourself that having a bit of financial cushion as a safety net not only eases your money stresses, but also eliminates the need for taking out payday or other high interest loans.

Switch to a community bank
Community banks are structured to benefit local communities, families, and small businesses. The loans that they grant are directly invested back into your local neighborhoods. Their everyday processes are more efficient since they aren't bogged down by corporate bureaucracy. Your banking representatives are people directly involved with, and probably live in, your community.

Certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) have a mission of expanding economic opportunity in low income and distressed communities.  Pan American Bank & Trust is a community bank and proud CDFI within the communities we serve. We live by one rule: RELATIONSHIPS -- and long-lasting ones, at that. We are committed to strengthening and enhancing every relationship we have with our clients, communities and our colleagues. When our clients live the dream, we live ours. 

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