Matt Andresen

Former mascot, banker, co-owner of web analytics co. and financial advising co. Currently PR, content and analytics marketing dude with Cleland Marketing.


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4 New Year resolutions for consumers to try, in order to save money in 2014

Another year is over and it’s time to start on a fresh note again. We are a week removed from New Year’s day and it’s high time to start following the resolutions rigorously. Every new year provides you with an opportunity to boost finances and live healthy and wealthy. It’s all about how well you grab the opportunity to keep your finances on track. However, it’s a general habit to make new year resolutions and leave them in midway. Saving money should be a habit too!  So I pray you get back in the habit or start a habit of saving money.  Think of it as paying yourself to stick to your resolution.

4 Resolutions that you must follow rigorously in 2014 to save more

Around 54% of Americans consider financial resolutions to be extremely important. Well, financial resolutions are important and you must follow them to keep your finances healthy. So, here are 5 most essential financial resolutions that you must follow to keep your savings growing. Have a look at the 4 resolutions below:

401(k)1. Be resolute to save enough for your 401 (K) plan: Apart from your liquid savings account and emergency fund, it’s important to save in 401 (K) plan as well. 401 (K) is a specific retirement savings plan provided by most of the employers. This is a great way to secure financial life after retirement. So, this year make it a point to max out your contributions to the 401 (K) plan. Talk to your employer and start savings on a regular basis.

Credit cards2. Make it a point to use credit cards as little as possible: Be more resolute this year to manage your credit cards carefully. Take care of the cards and it’ll be easier enough to tame the bills. Keep checking your account statements every month, don’t shop beyond 30% of the credit limit and pay all the bills in full before the due date. These habits are essential to make the most of your credit. In this way, you’ll be able to control your credit card debts and your credibility will increase along with your savings.

Debt-blocks-3. Get rid of the habit of debt accumulation: Neglecting debt is something that can ruin your finances beyond your imagination. Many people are there who come up with the resolution to eliminate debts every year but right after a few months, they start falling behind. If you’re also a part of that group, then make sure to change your habit. Consolidate your due bills or arrange a settlement with your creditors. These are the most effective ways to eliminate debts gradually.

Coupons4. Be a bit more responsible as a consumer: Apart from everything else, the best new year resolution can be controlling your spending habits. When it comes to saving money, nothing can be more effective than controlling your expenses. If you’ve already spent a lot for your New Year bash, then make it a point to keep your expenses low for the coming months. Pay off your due bills first. Only after clearing your dues you should think of spending. But never spend beyond the limit of your affordability.

So, with the arrival of a new year make it a point to follow these 4 resolutions and save money to secure your financial future.

 

 

Author Bio- Andrew Jackson is a financial writer who loves to analyze personal finance and credit card relate issues to help consumers manage their money. He regularly contributes to numerous informative blogs and financial websites.To get the more information on personal finance & credit card debt issues you can join the Google+ Page of Ovlg.

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Financial Education: A Bank Do-It-Yourself Project

Me at CV1

Repping my Brass T-Shirt during a financial education discussion at my alma mater, Crescent Valley High School in Corvallis, OR

Benjamin Franklin said, “An Investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”  Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), furthered this sentiment with bankers at the American Bankers Association’s annual convention on Monday, when he told bankers to “push for financial education for young people at the state level in order to bring up a new generation of responsible borrowers.”

This is all well and good, but how many times do speakers stand up in front of a crowd and inspire them, yet only give very general and unspecific solutions?  I would say most of the time.  Here, Cordray went on to say that, according to a recent article by Philip Ryan, an Associate Editor of Bank Innovation; “Financial responsibility, fostered by education, is far better. Bankers should realize, however, that not all participants in the financial system will receive financial education in the home, and that, therefore, an effort must be made to get this education into the schools so that young people learn the virtues of saving and responsible borrowing early in life.” This may still seem general and unspecific, but it’s a start.  The solution lies within the commitment of the banks.

There is a very specific solution, but it only comes from consistent action.  At Brass we have one such solution; the Brass Student Program, but don’t think we are the only one.  If anything it serves as an example of a program that works by creating a stronger relationship between the bank and local high schools. When looking into other programs or when you are looking to create one yourself, make sure you understand that, for a bank, there are NO SHORTCUTS to being involved yourself.  This is not like doing a home project yourself to save money.  Curing this problem comes down to relationship building, something that was stressed every hour of every day when I was a banker. I think millennials are starving for banks to put in more authentic time with them to foster a relationship and to help them with money, as seen in this short case study of 6 young adults.

American Author Napoleon Hill once said, “It takes half your life before you discover life is a do-it-yourself project. ” So if you, as a bank, are really serious about relationships, make sure the only shortcut you take is not waiting half your life before realizing the obvious…with help of course.


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Money Talks: Your Kids and Money

So 73 percent of parents keeping their kids in the financial loop…big deal. It shouldn’t be much of a celebration. According to the Alliance for Excellent Education only about 75 percent of students earn their high school diplomas nationwide.  Are we celebrating that too?  During my VERY brief stint as a personal trainer in college, I had very a hard time working with clients because while they listened to me in the gym during their workout, they didn’t when they got home.  They didn’t have someone at home willing to keep them accountable. My point is that kids may pay attention in class, but without the parents help at home, we are going nowhere fast!


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With A Little Help From My (Community) Friends…

Scientific Method - DougIn all of my schooling (from Kindergarten through my bachelor’s degree in college and continuing through current life learning) the successful epicenter of it all came from one man whistling “Dixie.”

“Over 20 years ago, teacher Doug Eldon was having his sixth grade students work from a big, beautiful, new, thickly illustrated textbook. The problem was too many students couldn’t remember or understand what they had just read, even though they used the materials with hands-on activities. Students were overwhelmed by the amount of information. So Doug started whistling “Dixie” one day in the shower and soon came lyrics all about the scientific method. Eventually he had a nine verse song which he offered to those who were having difficulty learning, and to make a long story short, they understood and remembered the information, as demonstrated by the improved test scores (and their confident smiles).” – Lyrical Learning Website

Doug Eldon was my six grade teacher and I was one of the students having difficulty learning. Science quickly became one of my favorite subjects.  If only finance was too.  Now, while most parents want want their kids to make their own mistakes, I am sure running up huge credit card debt (like I did) wasn’t what they had in mind. Mr. Eldon was only one man and he developed this one great idea.

What I am asking for here, is not to have teachers simply step up their creativity (by cloning Eldon’s creativity), but for community members (such as financial institutions) to supplement teachers in their efforts to provide life lasting moments.  These community partners could easily help provide helpful financial content.  Think of it this way; teachers  are like a 747 airliner traveling through the sky without time or money to land for gas.  Now what if there was a community partner acting as a refueling plane, that can provide gas in mid-flight? I think you get my drift…

It has been over 20 years since I first participated in Mr. Eldon’s lyrical science learning, but I remember nearly every word to those songs.  Its direct science benefit ended in my singing under by breath in my college science classes.  I never had a community partner help in the way I suggested above, so all I can do is wonder what I could of avoided if Mr. Eldon had taught economics.

A musical excerpt of the scientific method: http://lyricallearning.com/songs/scimethod.mp3


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Movenbank On The Future Of Financial Services

Alex Sion, President and Managing Director of MovenBank, talks about the future of financial services.  MovenBank is seeking to provide customers with an entirely digital banking experience.  MovenBank is currently in Beta.  Sion says that the future of “banking is going to become less about product innovation and more about innovation for the client experience.”

Click image above to watch the short 4 minute video.

I had the privilege of listening to Brett King, MovenBank’s CEO and founder, talk at the ABA Marketing Conference this last September.  While I didn’t agree with everything he said, Brett provided a much needed wakeup call to banks that are behind the times.  King seemed to understand that banks are slow to change and that time was NOT on their side. King went on to say that in 1995 the average customer visited the bank 2-3 times per month.  In 2011 it was 2-3 times per YEAR!  Going to the bank is no longer defined by walking into a branch, bu rather using the bank’s services including the ATM.

ABA Marketing Confernce - Brett King

Brett King speaking at the 2012 ABA Marketing Conference

In a prior post I quoted Rob Poyhard (professor of business administration at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business) saying that “In today’s world, we are all interconnected. Companies that are thinking about this proactively are the ones that are probably going to have an advantage in leveraging this technology. I’d be surprised if the first few companies that get in there don’t have a lasting competitive advantage.”

So if you are one of the banks that are “behind the times,” don’t panic yet.  You still have time to get in the new marketing game.  I recommend a sound written strategy of what, how and when.  What is your strategy?  How are you going to implement it and when is this going to be put into action?  You don’t need to take a giant leap into this lifeline of social media, just try baby steps like Bill Murray tries to do in the movie, What about Bob?  While a giant leap could just make you frustrated and cause interuption to an otherwise calming experience.


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Print is dead? Not when you get down to Brass tacks…

Print is not dead, but it seems to be getting demoted and in the case of newsweek…fired! In a recent article by Kai Ryssdal, Newsweek magazine calls it quits, Kai points out what many are calling the inevitable, but is hesitant in his praise of the move saying, “Newsweek may or may not make it, but what this does is say — more and more and more —  that news and media are going to live digitally. That’s where we have to go.”

I believe print should still exist and folks should transition into digital slowly, or “have a high tolerance for unproven investment,” according to Barry Diller, whose company IAC has a controlling stake in Newsweek Daily Beast. Although some have been saying print is dead since 1984: Egon’s thoughts on print in Ghostbusters.

At Brass Media Inc., the digital transition was happening as I first began working for the 10-year-old company.  At Brass we believe print is important, but it may be better suited existing as  a co-pilot. Brass started out as a magazine and now their secret sauce is in an Exchange of information.  Our target audience are young adults and our goal is interesting topics on the Money side of Life.

Forbes put forth a short article, Print is Dead? Not so Fast., gets to the point better than I do. They talk about some of the advantages of print, like tangibility, credibility, branding, target marketing, more engaging and less print ads and show an example of how QR Codes could play a role in bridging the digital gap.  In the end, as the article concludes it perfectly: “Finding the right balance between various media will ensure a steady revenue flow, an increase in sales and new customers.”  So think twice before delving into dogmatic change.


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Bank Spotlight: Middleburg Bank – The Mascot Approach to Marketing

Adopting a mascot at your financial institution could significantly help engagement with your customers, while making your branding efforts easier.  One financial institution, Middleburg Bank, has not necessarily out foxed anyone, but rather out focused other banks in their marketing approach around their “spokesfox”, Mosby.

As Mosby says on Middleburg Bank’s Website: ” I have been associated with the Bank since 1924, when the first office of Middleburg Bank opened across from the Red Fox Inn. ‘Why is a fox associated with Middleburg Bank?’ you might ask. Well, for generations, we foxes have long been a part of the culture of Middleburg and the surrounding areas of Virginia. As the fox is an intelligent, resourceful animal (if I do say so myself), I was chosen to represent the spirit of the bank and I’ve been an integral part of the Bank’s identity for many years. A couple of years ago, the Bank wisely made the decision to feature me as their “spokesfox” and since that time, my role within the Bank has continued to grow. In fact, last month Gary let me take over the Bank’s Facebook page and interact there with our many clients and fans.”

I’m on hundreds of bank websites/social media pages each week and Middleburg Bank really stands out, thanks to Mosby.  In talking to Robert Miller, Chief Marketing Officer at Middleburg Bank, he says that without Mosby, their marketing would look very different “with messages built around products, rates and commitment to the community.  While we still touch on some of those things in our
current marketing, using Mosby has allowed us to develop a distinctive identity, voice and personality.  We believe that over the long haul, this approach will drive the brand’s likeability and help separate us from the pack.”

I can identify with this, stemming from a couple of my own experiences.  Universities use mascot’s for the same purpose as banks; to symbolize the identity of the group, school, city or community for which it represents.   I was the Cougar mascot (Butch T. Cougar) of Washington State University.  I was surprised about how much time I had to put in to understand the personality of Washington State’s beloved mascot.  The Cougar mascot before me was Blitz the Seahawk for the Seattle Seahawks and he helped train me.  This may sound silly, but there were three of us all playing the role of Butch T. Cougar and we all needed to have the same walk, mannerisms etc.  They took this serious enough that I was not allowed to tell anyone who I was.   It was to remain a secret until right before I graduated.

Yet another example comes from when I did a couple of appearances as Chase the Dog, while working for Chase Bank.  Now, I was there during the “fun” occupy movement and let’s just say Chase wasn’t seen as the best bank in the universe, yet there was more engagement happening in our branch around a mascot that couldn’t talk then we had prior.  People could identify with the personality of a dog; loyal, happy, loveable and eager to meet new people.

So what’s the point?  Well, so many financial institutions have enough people working on marketing, that it’s hard to find one voice or one personality.  Having one voice and personality is so important and nobody knows what that voice and personality looks and sounds like better than the bank.  There is an Irish Proverb that says, “The fox never found a better messenger than himself.” This is so important because if someone else does all the work, you may have a very different voice/personality and this could compromise your brand.  When asked by folks why I love Washington State so much, all I have to do is describe the personality of the mascot I worked so hard to become; Courageous no matter what, community focused, VERY spirited, kind, and willing to waive the flag anytime, anywhere.  How do you easily describe your bank’s voice/personality without your financial institution just adding to all the white noise? I know how Middleburg Bank does…

Middleburg Bank’s Website Logo