Posts Tagged ‘economy’

Living within your means: Avoiding life’s spending traps

April 29, 2010

Just before the economic decline that began in the last quarter of 2007, the average personal savings as a percentage of disposable personal income for households in the United States hovered just below 1%.  Over two years later, despite high unemployment, the percentage remains seemingly unchanged.  Credit card debt.  Recession.  Real estate meltdown.  What relief do we have in the face of a steady stream of economic gloom?  We can start by setting aside money for future expenses as well as keeping in mind a number of spending traps.

What does it take to live within your means and avoid life's spending traps? Awareness of your financial situation, making sound financial decisions, and discipline to follow through with a carefully made budget are a good start.Paying off debt is much harder than taking it on

We dislike being confronted with this reality until the monthly statement arrives in the mail or their inbox.  While credit cards serve a useful purpose when used carefully and with responsible planning, we cannot forget how much they can afford to pay back.  Easy access to our money with debit cards and ATM machines do not help matters, but we can take a proactive step and setup a text message alert with our bank that notifies us of our account balance before making a purchase.

The allure of home equity loans

We like the fact that home equity loans are tax-deductible and that we can use the money to pay off a large debt like a credit card.  If we do not intend on using that credit card ever again, using a home equity loan would make sense.  However, if we fall into the trap of using our newly paid-off credit card and resume our spending habits, we would have the loan AND the credit card to pay off.

Spending unexpected income in your mind

Did you or your spouse already spend the extra money in your minds?  For example, you want to remodel the kitchen, whereas your spouse wants to take the family to Hawaii.  Before the money arrives, deduct any taxes from it, then work with the remainder.

Creating a “complete” budget

Does your budget include spending on food, housing, and transportation?  Yes, as it should.  However, is it complete?  No, especially if you excluded occasional expenses such as taxes, gifts, insurance, car repairs and family vacations.  How can you include occasional expenses practically in your budget?  Estimate how much these expenses will come to on an annual basis, then divide that figure by 12, allowing you to set aside enough money each month.

Budgets are a mutual agreement

You and your spouse are agreeing not only on the “complete” budget, but also on allowances for each of you to spend money on what is important to you or them.  Drawing up a budget that excludes these allowances would cause resentment and cause one to spend the money in other ways.

So what does it take to live within your means?  Awareness of your financial situation, making sound financial decisions, and discipline to follow through with a carefully made budget come to mind.  Understanding that using credit cards produces debt straightaway whereas spending cash is merely a reduction in assets would be a significant step away from falling into a spending trap.  You can borrow money against your home to pay off a debt, but make sure you never create that debt again, lest you have two payments, the original debt and the second mortgage, to make every month.  Finally, creating a complete budget that includes spending on regular and intermittent expenses, as well as allowances for you and your spouse, will help you both live within your means and be better prepared for life’s spending traps.

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Francis M. Unson

Union Bank: Interview with Oscar Dominguez, VP and Manager (part 3)

April 5, 2010
  1. Please retweetAre you looking to hire in the coming year?
    Yes.  Union Bank is focused on hiring as many talented individuals in banking and financial services.  The bank just added a new facility in Scottsdale, AZ, and hired 600 of the local residents.  We are a major employer in the Los Angeles area with a production center in Monterey Park.  Locally in Santa Clarita, we are looking to expand here as well.  We’ll be adding additional offices to service the communities of Saugus and Castaic and, subsequently, hire new employees.  We’re looking forward to adding value to the communities by offering ample employment opportunities.
  2. What have you done to go the extra mile for your client?  Please explain.
    One of the unique things is treating the customer as a person so they do not think that they’re just a number.  We take a personal interest in our customers.  What we do is send out Christmas and birthday cards as well as “Thank you” cards.  We want the customers to believe that our business is a partnership.  We also reach out to our customers by offering them incentives such as “Customer Appreciation Day” and offer them a gift.  We also make calls to our customers and ask them if there is anything the bank can do for them.  We are dedicated to contacting our customers on a regular basis and, rather than asking what we do well, we ask what we can do to improve their experience at the bank.  One of the critical things that Union Bank put in place is our calling efforts, where we pick up the phone, dial up our customers, and do the old-fashioned, “Hello. How are you doing?  Are we meeting your expectations?  If not, how can we provide a better experience for you?  If we are, thank you very much and please share that with others.”

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Francis M. Unson

Union Bank: Interview with Oscar Dominguez, VP and Manager (part 2)

April 5, 2010
  1. Please retweetWhat is the niche that makes you stand out above everybody else?
    What makes Union Bank stand out is our approach to individual, family, and small business services.  While other banks offer traditional products like checking or savings, Union Bank distinguishes itself from the competition by offering programs unique to the market we share.  For example, Union Bank has catered to the senior community by creating a financial watch program dedicated to them.  It’s not exactly a banking product, but it creates awareness and assists the senior community in protecting themselves from fraud and from being taken advantaged of financially.  We have also created for the young people in the community a unique banking program that educates them in how to be smart about banking and managing their finances.
  2. What products and/or services do you offer?
    Union Bank is a commercial bank, dedicated to offering minority-owned and small business loans; lines of credit to support cashflow, credit card services, and online services such as wire transfer to help speed up cashflow to grow in a global market.  With these services, we can help small, medium, and large businesses reach their business goals.
  3. What kind of promotions do you have?
    We are always on the lookout for promotions that our customers would find attractive.  For example, we know that the interest rate market have been low, so we have been offering interest rates that look good on long-term savings such as the FDIC-insured certificate of deposit (CD), which ensures that people will have a good return on their money.  Union Bank is also offering the “Company Benefits Program”, where the bank reaches out to the local business owners in the community and offers a $50 incentive to them if their employees open an account with the bank.  We also offer a free credit card service, so if a business is looking to expand and reach out to more customers, we offer credit card services online.  We offer promotions during certain times of the year so that individuals maximize their return, employees of businesses can receive free banking services, and businesses can increase their customer base to the next level with the credit card services.
  4. What do you like about working in the Santa Clarita Valley?
    Because Union Bank is dedicated to serving the community, I think that Santa Clarita has allowed me and Union Bank to really take charge of what our mission statement is: to support the community that we serve and be an active member of the community on a corporate and local level.  Being a local resident helps me understand the community I live in not only as a resident but also as a professional in the community, which has helped me understand what role I can play as a company in Santa Clarita to help contribute to the success of our business, organizations, our youth, our senior centers and community, and having the community recognize us as a local, community bank.
  5. In terms of your business, what are you looking forward to in the coming year?
    One of the critical roles in the coming year is to help continue supporting our small business community and support the growth that is needed to help them achieve what they need as an organization.  I believe that, coming into the New Year, it would be valuable that we inform, reeducate and retrain those that take active roles years as leaders or business owners in the community.

    (to be continued…)

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Francis M. Unson

Union Bank: Interview with Oscar Dominguez, VP and Manager (part 1)

April 5, 2010
  1. Please retweetWhat is your name?
    Oscar Dominguez, Vice President and Manager of Union Bank
  2. What is the name of your bank?
    Union Bank
  3. What year did you start working in the banking business?
    I’ve been with Union Bank for seven years and in the banking industry for 25 years.
  4. How did you go about getting started in the business?
    I started in the banking business because I enjoy being around people and talking to people on a continual basis.  When I was an undergrad in college, I had the opportunity to join a bank working part-time, and so the passion of being able to talk to people was something I always enjoyed personally.  I wanted people to understand that working in the banking industry allowed me the opportunity to help them with their finances, give suggestions, recommendations, and guide them on what they could do in the future to achieve their financial goals.  The main factor of being a banker is to teach people how they can manage and accomplish their financial goals as an individual, family, or a company or organization.  So for me, that is my passion and the fulfillment that I’ve received being a banker for so many years.

    (to be continued…)

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Francis M. Unson

Union Bank

April 5, 2010

Oscar Dominguez, vice president and manager of Union Bank, has been in the banking industry for 25 years and goes out of his way to understand the financial needs of an individual, couple, or family, as well as the growth-oriented needs of business owners and small businesses.I had written a number of articles concerning financial planning, reducing medical costs, and ways to stretch your dollar.  Despite news of economic recovery and an increasing employment index, particularly in the United States, the economy still has a long way to go.  We cannot become complacent about the small gains, by no means an indicator that the economy has fully recovered, and we must continue exercising due diligence with our finances during these difficult times.

Oscar Dominguez, vice president and manager of Union Bank, has been in the banking industry for 25 years and goes out of his way to understand the financial needs of an individual, couple, or family, as well as the growth-oriented needs of business owners and small businesses.

Oscar Dominguez, VP and Manager of Union Bank

Union Bank of Newhall, CA, has taken great strides towards helping its customers throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.  Oscar Dominguez, vice president and manager of Union Bank, has been in the banking industry for 25 years and understands that personal finance is a mystery for many people.  He goes out of his way to understand the financial needs of an individual, couple, or family.  He also focuses on the growth-oriented needs of business owners and small businesses.  Working closely with the community, Oscar and Union Bank not only creates opportunities for customers to make a great return on investment (ROI) by offering FDIC-insured certificates of deposit (CD), but also community outreach programs directed towards children and seniors.  If you, your family, or your business have financial goals you wish to achieve, give Oscar Dominguez a call.  All financial goals begin with a plan, and he would be more than happy to work with you towards mapping one out.

Oscar Dominguez, vice president and manager of Union Bank, has been in the banking industry for 25 years and goes out of his way to understand the financial needs of an individual, couple, or family, as well as the growth-oriented needs of business owners and small businesses.

Oscar Dominguez, VP and Manager of Union Bank
Valencia Bank and Trust
Stevenson Ranch Office
23620 Lyons Ave.
Newhall, CA 91321

Ph. 661.287.6380
Ph. 661.253.5753
oscar.dominguez [AT] unionbank [DOT] com

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Francis M. Unson

Did your personal income or spending go up in December?

February 1, 2010

Please retweetDecember produced modest gains in personal income and consumer spending, helping the economy recover from the worst recession in decades.  While the Commerce Department indicates that personal income rose 0.4 percent against analysts’ expectations of 0.3 percent growth, consumer spending rose 0.2 percent against analysts’ expectations of 0.3 percent growth.  Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of total economic activity.  The down economy has induced Americans to watch their spending more carefully as they saved 4.8 percent of their incomes in December, a sharp rise from spring of 2008, when the savings rate fell below 1 percent.  Read more

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Francis M. Unson

Gift Ideas for Under $10!

January 28, 2010

Have you ever sat down and tried to compile a list of gift ideas for under $10 for any occasion of the year, whether it’s Christmas, Mother’s Day, or Valentine’s Day?  BetterBudgeting.com author, Michelle Jones, has compiled a money-saving list that will help you save money during this down economy.

  1. Whether you need to buy a present for a birthday, graduation, or Christmas, here is a list of gift ideas under $10 for any occasion!

    Gourmet coffees with a personal coffee cup

  2. Pound of pistachios
  3. Child’s artwork, framed
  4. Journal with special inscription inside
  5. Teacup with box of herbal tea
  6. Deck of cards and book of card game rules
  7. Homemade cocoa mix in a pretty jar
  8. Collage of special photos
  9. Gel pens and pretty stationary
  10. Bottle of sparkling cider
  11. Home baked bread, include recipe
  12. Disposable camera or rolls of film
  13. Basket filled with deli cheese and fruit
  14. Craft supplies
  15. Holiday serving bowl or platter

Read all 63 of her money-saving gift ideas here.

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Francis M. Unson

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