The phrase ‘unprecedented times’ seems to be the common lead-in to many changes occurring in our lives as we receive more uncertain news. For many of you, the low-rate environment we’ve entered into isn’t new.
The last few years of growth appeared to make those years post-recession long behind us. Yet in a few quick months here we are as the Federal Reserve set their target interest rates to zero percent in efforts to stabilize the current economic and financial fallout.
How long will this last? Our expert resources predict the next two years at a minimum to recover if we can turn this around by fall. If we remain in a pandemic, it could be longer.
As your local bank, here are five ways to make the most of these low rates.
1. Safety and Soundness are Imperative for your Savings
The banking industry has already begun the steady decline through mergers, acquisitions and in some cases, failure. Less than half the community banks that were in Ohio twenty years ago are still present today. During this spring of isolation, two large regional banks have announced a combined closure of 21 branch locations in Ohio.
Verify that your bank is FDIC insured. This guarantees up to $250,000 of your investment is secure regardless of their standings. If you have more than that amount, talk with your bank about additional options such as insured cash sweeps to gain more FDIC coverage.
2. Take Advantage of Low Interest Rates
When interest rates on your deposits drop to stimulate the economy, so will rates for loans. If you still carry a mortgage on your home, it may be a great savings to refinance at a significantly lower rate. This can more than alleviate the gap in interest on your savings account. It’s also a print to consider home improvements on your property to increase your equity.
Vehicle financing is also back to historic lows, with many of our local dealerships offering low rates on financing.
3. Keep Your Savings for the Long Haul
If you do not need to dip into your savings or investments, don’t. As the stock market ebbs and flows and interest rates drop, it will come back and give you the better return your deserve. If you opened a CD prior to this spring, your rate is locked to that agreement and will not be effected by this current environment until the renewal date.
4. Protect Your Assets and Identity
The Coronavirus, like any national/global event, created a surge unlike any other in fraud attempts. Any time there is fear, criminals take advantage of creating panic to trick you into giving away your credentials.
Fake emails such as free virus testing, Medicare offers, COVID-19 kits, unemployment updates and numerous other scams are you in to click on them and take over your computer. Phone calls are also on the rise seeking your donations, or stating your grandson is trapped in Italy. This best advice is hang up, and delete from your inbox. Report scams to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515.
5. Buy Local
The Great Pandemic of 2020 trickled down to the hardest hit of all – our small businesses. The forced shut down and further decision of outsiders to determine what businesses were essential or not rocked us hard. Our community officials have been hard at work getting roadmaps in place to allow our uptown and surrounding areas to reopen safely. Yet, we are still not at the capacity we wish we could be.
There have been stimulus programs, such as the Paycheck Protection Program. We proudly assisted 757 businesses within our markets keep 8,379 employees on payroll so far, but we don’t know how long the restrictions to keep everyone safe will continue.
There are countless selections, offers and services available in our counties. Plus, you’ll be supporting your community friends, families, and neighbors.
If you have any questions about your finances, fraud, and how you can best prepare for those uncertain roads ahead, don’t hesitate to contact your local experts at Richwood Bank. Even if you do not have a relationship with us, you are a part of this community and we want to make sure you have the tools to succeed.
Submitted by Chad Hoffman
and published in the Marysville Journal Tribune