Investing Insights

Ways to Boost Your Earning Power - Early Spring 2015

Increasing your worth in the job market can lead to a secure financial future for you and your family. From investing in continuing education to finding a part-time job that will further enhance your qualifications to finding a mentor within your company; you can easily work towards boosting your earning potential.

Continue your education: Invest further in your education to develop new skills that are in-demand. An MBA may help you excel in your current company, or you may be able to build upon your current education and change career fields with some additional education or training, such as learning a new language or getting a new certification.

Expand your network: Networking is a free, simple way to meet new people, sell yourself and discover new opportunities. Creating a lasting impression and maintaining communication with the right contacts can potentially land you a higher-paying job down the road.

Make yourself an expert: Look for opportunities within your company or industry where there is a knowledge gap. Take it upon yourself to become the resident expert and leader. Differentiating yourself will help get you noticed when the opportunity for a promotion comes around.

Find a mentor: Develop a strong relationship with someone in your field who you respect, trust and admire. A mentor can not only provide solid career advice, but can introduce you to his or her network of contacts.

Find a part-time or volunteer position: Take time outside of your normal 8 to 5 workday to find a part-time or volunteer position that will further enhance your qualifications. A little extra time now can pay off in the long run.

Speak up: Make it known to your manager that you are willing to work hard for a promotion or raise. Take on extra projects and be a team leader to create your brand and make yourself known.

The key to boosting your earning power is stepping out of your comfort zone and always being ready for the next move. Leveraging your worth can allow you to increase your earning potential and continue building a secure financial future.

All About IRAs - Winter 2014

It’s never too late to start investing in your future to reach your long-term savings goals. Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) are commonly used investment accounts that allow you to put your retirement and your financial future in your own hands. Before picking an IRA to meet your financial goals, consider the following specifications, benefits and potential drawbacks of each type.

Traditional IRAs

Specifications: Traditional IRAs are a way to save pre-tax dollars for retirement. You can contribute up to $5,500 of earned income (up to $6,500 if you are 50 or older) until the age of 70 1/12.

Benefits: Contributions are tax-deductible, depending on income, filing status and whether you or your spouse are covered by a retirement plan at work and whether you receive social security benefits. You are also able to contribute the same amount to your spouse’s IRA. You are able to withdraw funds without penalty beginning at age 59 1/2.

Potential Drawbacks: If funds are withdrawn before the age of 59 1/2, the funds are subject to a 10 percent penalty. Distributions must begin by April 1st of the year following the year you reach age 70 1/2.

Roth IRAs

Specifications: A Roth IRA offers tax-free income in retirement. Anyone with earned income is eligible for a Roth IRA and you are able to invest up to $5,500 of earned income, tax-free (or up to $6,500 if you are over age 50).

Benefits: Roth IRAs allow you more discretion over when you can take distributions from your retirement account than a Traditional IRA. Unlike Traditional IRAs, you are not required to take distributions at age 70 1/2, and you can continue making contributions with earned income at that point. A qualified distribution may be withdrawn tax and penalty free.

Potential Drawbacks: Contributions are not tax-deductible upfront. If funds are withdrawn before the age of 59 1/2, the funds are subject to a 10 percent penalty. Traditional IRAs can generally be converted to Roth IRAs, although tax consequences may apply.

Simple IRAs

Specifications: Small business owners who are not currently sponsoring a retirement plan commonly use Simple IRAs as a start-up savings plan. The employer is required to contribute each year either a matching contribution up to 3 percent of compensation or 2 percent non-elective contribution for each eligible employee. Employees may elect to contribute and are always 100 percent vested. The amount an employee contributes to a Simple IRA cannot exceed $12,000.

Benefits: Simple IRA plans do not have the start-up and operating costs of a conventional retirement plan. There are no filing requirements for the employer.

Potential Drawbacks: The employer cannot have any other retirement plan and there are lower contribution limits than some other retirement plans.

Castle Bank wants to help you save for your future. Learn more about our retirement accounts and contact us today to discuss more about which IRA is right for you. Start planning for a secure financial future for you and your family.

College Savings Tips - Fall 2014

The overall annual cost for a college education ranges from about $7,000 for community college to $35,000 for a private school, according to U.S. News & World Report. While investing in your own education or your children’s education is important, it can also be a financial obstacle. The following tips can help lessen the financial burden and lead you down the path of a successful financial future.

1. Start saving early: It’s never too early to start saving for your child’s future education. Start saving at an early age to create a stable foundation for college savings.

2. Fill out the FAFSA: All future and current students should fill out the Free Application for Financial Student Aid, regardless of whether or not they plan on taking out loans or grants to help pay for their education. The FAFSA is required to receive federal grants and loans and can help to get free money or low-loans for education expenses.

3. Apply for scholarships: Apply for scholarships to help offset the costs of education since scholarships don’t need to be paid back like loans. There are thousands available with all kinds of criteria, both at the local and national levels, for certain areas of study, ethnicities, locations and even more additional criteria.

4. Find a part-time job: Future college students can contribute to their savings by finding a part-time or summer job and putting away savings for their future education each month. Current college students may qualify for federal and state work-study programs to help supplement their tuition costs.

5. Borrow only what is needed: Borrowing more than you need now will cost you more in the long run.

6. Take classes at your local community college: High school students and first-year college students can save money by taking prerequisites at a local community college at a lower cost than private or state universities.

7. Take advantage of education tax credits: The American Opportunity Credit allows you to claim up to $2,500 per student each year for the first four years the student is working towards his or her degree. The Lifetime Learning Credit allows you to claim up to $2,000 per student each year for any college tuition, fees, books, supplies or equipment that were required for the education received.

8. Apply for multiple schools: Make a list of your top colleges or universities to apply to and carefully examine the costs and financial aid offers before choosing one.

9. Create a budget and stick to it: Keep track of your income and expenses and commit to a budget. Look for expenses that can be cut and continue to contribute to a savings account to help pay for your educational expenses. Healthy spending and saving habits can lead to a secure financial future after college.

Maximize the Financial Benefits of a New Job - Summer 2014

If you are contemplating changing jobs in 2014, there are many factors you should consider when making the transition. Maximizing the following financial benefits can help lead to a healthier, more secure financial future for you and your family.


Find out when you are eligible to enroll in any retirement plans to ensure you are maximizing your time and contributions. Always confirm if your new employer matches 401(k), IRA or other retirement contributions. Employer contribution is a valuable benefit that you should always take advantage of to help boost your retirement savings. Also, ask about any internal retirement or pension plans that are available.

Direct Deposit

Direct deposit allows employers to electronically pay employees, send expense reimbursements and award bonuses directly to an employee’s bank account. Direct deposit offers many advantages including eliminating paper checks that can be lost or stolen, speedier posting to an employee’s checking account and reducing wait time in lines at the ATM or bank to deposit checks. Set-up direct deposit into your Castle Checking Account with no monthly fees, no minimum balance and no strings attached.

Stock Options

Inquire about employee stock purchase plans if your employer is a publicly-owned company. This is a simple, convenient way to purchase stocks at a discounted price. Employees contribute to the plan with an automatic payroll deduction, and, at the end of the offering period, your employer will purchase stocks with the funds.

Tuition Reimbursement

An important financial benefit to take advantage of, if offered by your employer, is tuition reimbursement or assistance. If you are interested in continuing your education, this is a great benefit that can help lift the financial burden of getting an advanced degree. Be sure to ask about requirements and eligible programs to ensure the educational options are benefiting both you and your employer.

For more information and guidance on financial planning and investments, contact Castle Bank Investment and Planning Services today.

Why You Should Purchase Life, Disability and Long-Term Care Insurance - Early Spring 2014

It’s important to prepare for the unexpected, and life, disability and long-term care insurance can all help you ensure a secure financial future for yourself and your loved ones. Insurance plans can cover unexpected expenses, estate taxes and pay off debts. Consider the following benefits and guidelines when choosing the right plans for you and your family.

Life Insurance

Benefits: Life insurance can help you ensure financial security for your loved ones and help offset the impact of estate taxes upon death. Life insurance can help your family maintain their current lifestyle, continue paying the home mortgage, help pay off debts or estate taxes or go towards future education costs. As long as you pay premiums, permanent life insurance provides coverage throughout your life, regardless of whether your health or personal situations change.

Guidelines: To determine how much life insurance you need, consider what your beneficiaries would need to cover expenses in the event of your death, and also to live comfortably. Keep in mind education and retirement savings. Also, decide if you need permanent or term life insurance. Permanent life insurance offers protection for your entire lifetime while term life insurance offers coverage for a certain time period, from 10 to 30 years. Choose a longer-term policy if you have young children. If your children are adults supporting themselves, a short-term policy may be acceptable.

Disability Insurance

Benefits: If you are unable to work due to an illness or injury, disability insurance can help you maintain your standard of living. It can allow you to continue to pay your expenses, including car and mortgage payments and additional living expenses including food, gas and utilities. It will help replace any income lost while you recover from your illness or injury.

Guidelines: Check with your current employer to see if there is group disability coverage available to you. If you are considering purchasing your own policy, be sure to receive quotes and policies from at least three different insurance companies to compare pricing, coverage and whether the policy is noncancelable or guaranteed renewable. Noncancelable policies are the best option as the insurance company is not able to cancel your policy or change your premiums as long as you are paying your premiums on time. Also, purchasing a policy at a young age can save you money as insurance costs typically rise with age.

Long-Term Care Insurance

Benefits: Long-term care insurance differs from traditional health insurance and is available to help you cover long-term personal and custodial care services and support, whether its in your own home or another facility. Policies can be used to cover daily living expenses such as nursing home or assisted-living services, bathing, dressing or eating. It’s never too early to start planning for your long-term care.

Guidelines: Review the average costs for long-term care to estimate how much coverage you may need on your long-term care insurance policy. Keep in mind that any long-term care insurance policies have limits on how long or how much they will cover. You should designate an individual to be the decision-maker for your long-term care in the event that you are medically or mentally unable to make your own decisions. Consider consulting an eldercare attorney for advice and guidance on selecting the right policy for you and your family.

Castle Bank's Investments and Planning Advisors can help you get started today on securing your financial stability for tomorrow and beyond. Learn more about our investment and planning options.

Setting Goals for Retirement - Winter 2013

By setting reasonable retirement goals, you can break your big-picture objectives into smaller, more manageable goals. An attainable retirement plan should be based on estimating how much to save and where to invest it, tracking your progress, monitoring your plan and adjusting as necessary.

Set a goal: By setting a retirement goal for yourself, you are more likely to become engaged in your retirement savings and be more motivated to stick to effective savings habits. Set a realistic goal for what you can afford out of your monthly budget, but also make sure you are aware of approximately how much you will need in retirement. Put aside a set contribution amount for each paycheck and have funds directly applied to a 401(k) or IRA. This will help you stick to your plan and continue working towards your goal.

Track your progress: You should continually track your progress to ensure you are accounting for any significant market changes or changes in your own finances. Retirement cost estimates will continuously change throughout your lifetime and will be influenced by multiple factors. Consider inflation, healthcare expenses, rise of cost of living and any other expenses you may possibly incur during retirement. Also ensure you are not withdrawing any funds out of your retirement fund before retirement. You will lose a significant portion of your investment and will be subject to tax penalties.

Adjust your plan: After setting your initial plan and choosing your investments, it’s still important to revisit your retirement funds on a yearly basis. You may find that you need to increase your savings or rethink your target retirement date. You also may want to consider diversifying your investments. While you may want to invest some funds in a 401(k) or the stock market, you also can utilize IRAs, Certificates of Deposits and money market accounts.

Castle Bank is here to help you set goals and achieve financial security for your retirement. Contact us today to get started on planning for the future needs of you and your family.

Why Do I Need an Investment Planner? - Fall 2013

An investment planner can help you plan for a successful financial future, and help you prepare for retirement, education, protection and estate planning or for managing mutual funds, stocks & bonds or IRA’s. Whether you need help getting started or guidance on how to manage the investments you already have, a 3rd party evaluation of your situation can help you make the most suitable decisions to stay on track reaching financial independence.

Selecting an Investment Advisor
You may benefit from an investment planner if you have little experience with finances, don’t have an interest in learning the in’s and out’s of investments, or have a complex financial situation. It takes time to plan and manage investment accounts, but it’s important to make the time for it regardless if you seek out a professional planner or not. When selecting an investment advisor, you should ask for his/her main areas of expertise, professional designations, services offered and payment structure. It's important your goals align with the past experience of your planner. No two investment strategies are alike as every investor has his or her own unique goals and plans for the future. Castle Bank Investments and Planning advisors will work closely with you to develop a successful, customized investment plan.

Developing Your Plan
Once selecting an investments advisor, you will work closely with him or her to outline your current financial situation to better address your goals. You will need to share certain information; including net worth and earning statements, tax returns and your responsibilities, as well as with the level of risk you're comfortable. You will then discuss what barriers may exist to reaching your goals, such as inflation or taxes. Castle Bank Investments and Planning advisors will help you identify these obstacles and find a way to get past them and develop a comprehensive financial plan to reach your goals.

Benefits of an Investment Advisor
By working closely with an investments planner, your plan will be continually monitored as your personal and economic situations change. The best-laid plans can be thrown off course if not monitored on a regular basis. Having an advisor who is aware of your situation and your end goals can help you make revisions to your plan, when needed.

Securities products and advisory services provided by Raymond James Financial Services Inc., a registered broker/dealer and registered investment advisor. Member FINRA & SIPC. Advisory services may only be offered by Investment Advisor Representatives in connection with an appropriate FNCM Advisory Services Agreement and disclosure brochure as provided. Investment products are: Not a Deposit • Not FDIC Insured • Not Insured by any Federal Government Agency • Not Guaranteed by the Bank • May Go Down in Value

Securities products and advisory services provided by Raymond James Financial Services Inc., a registered broker/dealer and registered investment advisor. Member FINRA & SIPC. Advisory services may only be offered by Investment Advisor Representatives in connection with an appropriate FNCM Advisory Services Agreement and disclosure brochure as provided. Investment products are: Not a Deposit • Not FDIC Insured • Not Insured by any Federal Government Agency • Not Guaranteed by the Bank • May Go Down in Value