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Saving Money Important During Good and Bad Times

BELLAIRE — Trying to build one’s savings for a possible job loss or anticipated big expense has always been a good idea, but doing it during a pandemic, though difficult, still is important.

To help people stay on track, two local financial institutions — Belmont Savings Bank and WesBanco — are offering tips to do just that.

Pam McKim, assistant vice president and branch sales manager at Belmont Savings Bank, said one way to increase one’s savings is to ask your employer to automatically deduct a specific amount from your paycheck. It can be done each pay and deposited into a savings account, such as a Christmas Club.

“This way, you don’t have to remember to take it out each pay. It’s a good idea to start out with a minimum of $10 if you can,” McKim said.

She recommends people use a savings account instead of a separate checking account while trying to save.

“It’s better to use a savings account when trying to save money. Sometimes you have the option to link your savings account to a debit card. If you do use a debit card, keep in mind you will be limited to the number of withdrawals per month,” she said.

McKim noted during hard times, such as the current pandemic, another reason to use a savings account is because it makes one’s money less accessible, meaning one may be less tempted to spend it.

“A savings account could be beneficial in times like these because the money is there when you need it. A savings account is meant for just that — saving. It is not as easy to access your money as with a checking account,” she said. “Also, with a savings account, once you withdraw your money, it’s gone. Unlike using a check, your money is there until the check clears the bank. This makes it difficult to overdraw a savings account, helping you to avoid overdraft charges.”

McKim noted at Belmont Savings Bank savings accounts are rewarded with interest.

“At Belmont Savings Bank our accounts reward you up to $9 per month, or you can earn interest. You can take those additional funds and put them in a savings account monthly to help you begin building a healthy nest egg. Who doesn’t want free money?” she said.

Lisa Werner, vice president and mortgage CRA officer for WesBanco, believes setting personal financial goals is the key to increasing one’s savings.

“To be successful overall, a person must establish what and why they are saving. Being in control of one’s finances is a powerful and necessary step. Once the personal goal is set, a written budget is necessary. ​I encourage enrollment in America Saves.

Enrollment is quick, easy and free. It takes just a minute to enroll, and the required personal information is extremely limited to protect against identity theft.

Types, tools, and resources will then be received via e-mail from nationally acclaimed experts,” Werner said.

Werner believes people should have both a checking and savings account.

“I recommend having both and to keep only a limited amount of funds in the checking account to protect against ID theft. Mobile and electronic banking make it very easy to move funds from savings to checking should it be needed,” she said.

“​Keeping the bulk of funds in a savings account makes it necessary for a person to transfer funds to the checking account when it runs low. This makes it necessary for someone who is trying to save to give conscious thought to purchases and can help curtail unnecessary spending.”

Lerner noted WesBanco has a range of products and services to help all of its customers. This includes financial advice and digital and mobile services.

“We have applications such as mobile banking that tracks our categories of spending and customers identify areas in which they need or would like to cut back.

“We offer a special WesBanco Savings account that can be opened with a nickel with no fees for mobile or electronic banking,” she said.

“Customers are enrolled in America Saves at the time the account is opened.

Also, we have a written template of a budget along with the instructions on how to create one that we can provide, as well as employees who can assist with the task.”

Following are some additional tips from Werner:

Consider saving at least part of stimulus payments if there is not an immediate need for the funds;

Funds that normally would be used for dinners out, gym memberships, shopping, gasoline costs, etc. may be used to jump start savings;

Plan weekly meals in advance and make a grocery shopping list; and, stick to it while shopping and avoid impulse buying;

Comparison shop between name brands and store brands;

Consider cooking in bulk and freezing leftovers for future use;

Search for coupons in newspaper circulars for items you use often.

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