How to Help Recession-Proof Your Finances: Save, Save, Save
June 13, 2019
The current expansion of the U.S. economy has lasted nearly 10 years, more than double the average duration of the eight most recent periods of expansion since World War II. In a recent survey of business economists, nearly half believe a recessionary period could start in the U.S. by the end of next year1. Are you prepared for what might happen if times get tough?
What occurs during a recession?
People and businesses buy fewer goods and services during a recession, so the economy shrinks and there’s less money to go around. The stock markets typically decline; housing prices often sag, and companies may lay off employees. If you or someone in your family loses a job, it may take time to find another one. Meantime, your savings may dwindle while your credit-card debt ticks upward.
“Recessions can be hard to predict and difficult to navigate, however, you can take steps now to protect your financial health during any potential downturn in the economy,” says Leonard Stekol, Chairman, President, and CEO of Ridgewood Savings Bank. “At Ridgewood, we have many tools to help our customers weather the storm.”
Four ways to protect your financial well-being
1. Save, save, save. Then, save some more!
There’s no better time to save for a rainy day then while the sun is shining. So, if you are not saving money every month, this is the time to start. You might be surprised how fast savings grow when you consistently set aside a percentage of your pay. You can start small and add as you go.
The rule of thumb is to save enough money to cover expenses for three to six months if you lose your income. Take advantage of Ridgewood’s free Money Management (MX) program, available to all Ridgewood Mobile Banking and Online Banking users, to track spending and create a budget. MX has spending tracking and smart budget creation tools that automatically create a budget based on your spending history. Once you fully appreciate and understand where your money goes each month, you can spot potential places where you can trim expenses and save more.
Also, consider establishing and adhering to a savings schedule, by arranging for automatic weekly, biweekly, or monthly withdrawals from your Ridgewood Checking Account into one of our many savings options (i.e. vacation and holiday club savings accounts, money market or CDs that permit periodic deposits to be made prior to maturity). We have many competitive deposit offerings and are happy to work with you to find the best method to grow your savings based upon your personal needs.
Why do we do it?
2. Reduce your debt as much as possible.
Nothing strains a budget more than paying off debt, especially high-interest loans like credit-card debt. To avoid a financial squeeze in the future, consider paying off as much debt as you can now. Use Money Management (MX) to assist in tracking your debt and assessing how long a repayment plan would take to help you become debt-free. Given the choice of saving or eliminating credit card debt, the latter is usually more beneficial.
For many people, their biggest debt obligation is their home mortgage loans. Recessionary periods often lead to lower interest rates, as the government seeks to encourage business to invest. Consider whether you might benefit by refinancing your mortgage to a lower interest rate or consolidating your debt through a home equity line of credit. Reach out to our lending team, and we will happily review all options for you.
3. Make your money work as hard as possible.
You want your savings to be safe and to earn as much interest as possible. As a mutual savings bank that does not need to constantly meet the earnings expectations of stockholders, Ridgewood is able to offer great rates, fewer fees, and more flexibility than you’ll find at most banks. We invite you to discover the multiple ways you can save with us by visiting us in person at one of our 35 branches in Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester, or online.
4. Make yourself more employable.
Now is a good time to hone your skills with additional training. Earning a certification in your field can help to make you more valuable to your current employer (potentially providing more job security) or potential future employers should you seek alternative employment opportunities. Certifications in employment fields such as healthcare or education that are more stable during tough times may be particularly beneficial. In addition, start and continue networking. If a recession comes and you lose your job, you won’t be the only one unemployed. Personal connections may help you learn of a job before it is formally advertised, or assist you in promoting your resume to a potential employer.
Ridgewood Savings Bank Partners with EZShield
In this Age of Growing Identity Theft and Fraud, Service Provides 24/7 ID restoration for all checking customers
June 1, 2019
You hear it all of the time: A friend, neighbor or family member loses their credit card information, social security number or identity to a cyber-thief.
The result can be hundreds of dollars in out-of-pocket cleanup costs, not to mention untold stress and countless hour’s aggravation.
Sadly, the scenario has become all too common, as identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. In fact, 79.1 million Americans were victims of identity theft and fraud in 2017, which on average, costs them $290 in out-of-pocket costs to resolve.
It’s not fair to innocent victims, and it can be a serious nuisance to fix.
We get it. That’s why Ridgewood Savings Bank, the largest mutual savings bank in New York State, is offering our checking customers EZShield Identity Theft ProtectionÒ – the sophisticated platform that delivers prompt restoration assistance to fraud victims.
“By offering this service to our customers, we are providing a critical added layer of security that will help save them time, money, and endless frustration,” notes Leonard Stekol, Ridgewood Savings Bank President, CEO, and Chairman. “So, you should consider this community bank as your ally in minimizing customer risk of identity theft, fraud, and lost or stolen personal information.”
Through our partnership with industry leader EZShield, Ridgewood Savings Bank provides all of our checking customers with free access to EZShield ID Restoration which includes 24/7 live support with a US-based Certified Resolution Specialist to restore identity through a 32-step restoration process.
Ridgewood’s Premier Checking customers also receive free access to EZShield ID Protection Plus—a powerful suite of protection services, which include:
- ID restoration;
- Dark web monitoring (daily monitoring of customer personal information on black market websites)
- Credit monitoring (daily scans that monitor for changes and activity on customer credit reports)
- And identity theft insurance with up to $1 million reimbursed for identity theft-related expenses, including lost wages incurred during the time period a customer is protected by EZShield.
Why do we do it?
It’s part of Ridgewood’s value proposition for a diverse base of customers, which include senior citizens, working millennials, growing families and successful business owners.
“Ridgewood Savings Bank truly understands the stress that identity theft and fraud create for our customers,” Mr. Stekol says. “While everyone’s financial needs may vary, they share a common desire for protection, security, and peace of mind. That’s something you can’t put a price tag on.”
EZShield ID Protection Plus is also available to other Ridgewood checking customers, non-checking customers, and business customers for a fraction of the retail price of these services if purchased by a consumer independently.
Putting the Community in Community Banking
February 10, 2019
Walk into any of Ridgewood Savings Bank’s 35 branches across New York City’s five boroughs, Long Island or Westchester, and you’ll be sure to be met by one of our friendly community bankers. Chances are, the person greeting you might even be a neighbor or active at a local civic association, as many of our bankers live in the communities they serve.
Community banks are vital to Main Streets, downtowns, small businesses, and families all across the United States. And Ridgewood Savings Bank, the largest mutual savings bank in New York State, remains a pillar in the communities we serve. Why? We rely on relationships.
We use our core deposits to fund loans for mortgages, small businesses and housing development. In fact, you can literally see where we are putting our money. In 2017, the Bank financed over $200 million in multi-family housing in moderate and low-income neighborhoods and invested another $7.5 million to build or rehabilitate affordable housing for New Yorkers.
Community banks like Ridgewood see things differently than the so-called “Big Box Banks.” We invest in our neighborhoods and offer competitive rates, and new products and services. We care about helping folks to finance their dream of homeownership. Leonard Stekol, chairman, president & CEO, calls it “Ridgewood’s Value Proposition.”
Part of that Value Proposition translates into competitive deposit offering rates, friendly terms on our loans, lower fees, and better service.
Traditional phrases such as “You can bank on it,” or “Take it to the bank” implied banks were viewed first and foremost as havens of stability and trustworthiness in the community. Due to the rising prominence of e-commerce, today’s customers are most readily enticed by convenience. Our values and business model remind members of our community that we will always be there for them, and will constantly seek to earn and keep their trust.
However, we certainly don’t ignore the critical importance of convenience as we continue to enhance our highly rated mobile and internet banking applications and offer customers access to over 55,000 surcharge-free ATM’s.
But even those numbers don’t tell the entire story:
Ridgewood Savings Bank employees dedicated 2,788 volunteer hours – including 845 hours at local soup kitchens – and contributed $57,000 in charitable donations to local community organizations. We contributed $577,000 in corporate giving and charitable donations and dedicated $140,600 in community reinvestment.
As bankers, we know that numbers tell a story. At Ridgewood Savings Bank, they also describe how we feel about the communities we serve.