Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Our Switch Kit contains all the forms you need to move your accounts to GCF Bank without a hassle. Find tools to open your new account, change your direct deposit and autopay withdrawal instructions and much more!
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Now that tax season is fading away pleasantly into the past, it's time to get rid of those unnecessary documents and file those that you will want to keep around for future reference. However, if you are like the 2 in 3 Americans who filed their taxes online last year, you may want to consider adding the task of cleaning your digital files to that spring-cleaning to-do list. Along with the news of 2.2 million Sony Playstation Network consumers who had their credit card information stolen by hackers last week, you might as well add security to that list too. Here we'll discuss some tools that will keep you secure online and help get your computer organized.
First, you may want to consider participating in our Verified by Visa program. Through Visa, GCF Bank offers our customers an additional layer of security during online e-commerce transactions by requiring a password of your choice in addition to the numbers on your card. This service is free and will reduce your chances of fraudulent activity related to online purchases. You can find more information here.
Next, correctly balance your checkbook and keep an eye out for fraudulent transactions anytime, anywhere, by signing up for online banking. You will get current account balances, current and previous month's statements as well as the ability to transfer money between accounts. In the event of fraudulent activity, you will be armed with up-to-date knowledge of where your money is at all times. According to a Javelin Strategy & Research Report, 71 percent of fraud incidents began occurring in less than one week from when the data was first stolen. So, with online banking, you can prevent fraudulent activity before it gets worse, rather than waiting for your statement to come in the mail weeks later.
Finally, now that you are helping preserve the environment one tax return at a time by filing and saving your return digitally, reward yourself by organizing your files in a way that will help you easily retrieve and save them. Right now, your desktop may consist of an assortment of reports, financial documents, applications and photos all congregated in disarray. It is much easier to go to your Summer Vacation folder to find the pictures you want, as opposed to having a hunch the picture you want is located slightly to the left of your credit report but below the funny picture of your pet.
Start out by moving your files to the appropriate folder. For example, if you are a Microsoft Windows user, move pictures to your Pictures folder, word and excel documents to your Documents folder, music to Music folder, etc.
Use consistent methods for file and folder naming. It should be a short, yet descriptive name that will describe the contents of the file at a glance. Don't be afraid to include dates in your file names, especially when handling time sensitive documents such as reports and presentations. Also, let your folders do the talking by naming them in ways that will describe the documents located within the folder. For example, instead of having '2011MyFederalTaxReturn1040A.pdf' saved away on your desktop, you can go to 'My Documents,' then 'Finance' folder, then 'Tax Returns', 'Federal' and simply save the document as '2011.pdf'. This way, the folders have already done the talking for your file and when 2012 comes around, you will already have a file system in place, saving time and keeping you organized. Note that aside from the 'My Documents' folder, you must create your own custom folders to store your documents in, such as 'Finance', 'Tax Returns', and 'Federal'. How you organize your files is fully customizable and completely up to you, though.
With these tools, you will have an easily accessible folder structure, hassle-free organization for the future, a secure online presence when purchasing online products, and the peace of mind of knowing that with online banking, you can monitor your transactions real-time, reducing the amount of time a thief can have to make a fraudulent purchase with your dollar. Together, these tools will help you immediately and in the future. And, as companies start preferring paperless statements and bills rather than their tree-based counterparts, the amount of time you spend now setting yourself up for success will save you many hours of catching up down the road. Stick around next time for more tips on how technology can make your life easier and your wallet more secure.
Any readers who have vacationed in Florida have only one man to thank. The place was barren marshland until it captured this visionary's heart.
Flagler, the son of a struggling Presbyterian minister, was born in Hopewell, New York on January 2, 1830. His story is one of ambition, innovation and courage.
He left school after the eighth grade to work for extended family members in Ohio, arriving almost penniless. Flagler found work on a barge traveling the Erie Canal, then traveled to work at a small family store with his half-brother.
He worked hard to learn the business and was soon promoted to manager. He remained there for five years until he had saved enough money to buy out a partner in another family operation.
Flagler had become an entrepreneur. The business expanded into the grain and distillery businesses, which they sold after making a considerable amount of money. One of the grain brokers he shipped product to was John D. Rockefeller.
The Civil War brought a huge demand for salt. What did Flagler do? He formed a salt producing company.
But when the war ended, so did the demand for salt. The company went bankrupt, leaving Flagler $50,000 in debt.
He returned to the grain business and the profits began rolling in. Enough to pay off his debt, and enough to invest in a new venture.
This new venture involved petroleum and a man he previously sold grain to - John D. Rockefeller. They formed the RAF Refinery along with Samuel Andrews. The RAF Refinery became the Standard Oil Company in 1870.
Flagler's wife, Mary, was fighting a declining battle with tuberculosis. Her doctor suggested she seek a warmer climate during the cold, winter months. The family headed to Jacksonville, Florida in 1878.
They were shocked at what they found there, believing Florida to be the most backward state on the Atlantic Coast. The state's largest populated city was the port city of Key West at about 10,000. Miami was just a settlement at the time, not yet a city.
There were few amenities for vacationers. And Flagler set out to change that.
Heading just a bit further south, he built two hotels in St. Augustine and purchased a third. Along with them, he built several churches, a hospital, waterworks, electric and sewer utilities and a family home for the winter.
It was then that Flagler embarked on a project that would forever mark history.
Needing a means to travel between points in Florida, he bought a railroad. The previous owners refused to make the upgrades Flagler requested so he bought it outright and went about renovations.
He extended his railroad south to Ormond Beach, then further to Palm Beach. Along the way, he either purchased or built new railroads.
In each town his train stopped, Flagler built schools, hospitals, churches, fire stations, city halls, courthouses and utilities. He erected luxury hotels in every town. He built the entire east coast of the State of Florida.
The winter of 1895 was exceptionally harsh. A freeze destroyed most of the orange crop the state depended on as a cash crop.
Word reached Flagler that the region south of Ft. Lauderdale was unharmed.
After acquiring enough land, Flagler pushed on to Fort Dallas. There he continued his pattern of building essential community services and hotels of the high quality he wanted to stay in. In July 1896, over a single weekend, Fort Dallas became incorporated as the City of Miami.
In 1903, the United States signed an agreement to construct the Panama Canal. This visionary realized the potential for the booming city of Key West. It was the perfect site for a hub linking South and Central America with the U.S. and Cuba.
If he could extend his railroad to Key West, goods could be delivered throughout the east coast. Flagler, now 74 years old, was about to embark on the most challenging project he would face in his lifetime.
The route would take him across the water. Land masses were built using material dredged from the sea bottom to serve as foundation for the rail bed. Existing land had to be cleared as settlers had not yet ventured south of Homestead.
Bridges had to be built to connect the land masses. The largest of which spanned a full seven miles.
Huge floating concrete mixers had to be constructed before the bridges could even be started. Special concrete was imported from Germany that could withstand the harsh, salty environment.
Many of the transport ships in the Atlantic were employed solely to transport supplies and materials for Flagler, creating a shortage for transporting other goods.
Labor camps had to be built along the way, along with supply depots to support the workers. The pay was $1.25 per day with food, lodging and medical care. An estimated 40,000 men were employed for this project, but never more than 5,000 at a time.
Labor, lack of fresh water, brutal heat and mosquitoes were a constant problem. The 1906 Hurricane, with 130 lives lost, nearly put a stop to their efforts. Four smaller hurricanes during the period were mere bumps in their path.
Flagler pushed on, determined to see the railroad to Key West completed in his lifetime.
On January 22, 1912, mere weeks after his 82nd birthday, Flagler rode into Key West on engine number 201's maiden journey.
Every penny of the estimated $50 million spent by Flagler in building the entire Atlantic coast of the State of Florida came out of his own pocket. He never borrowed money, applied for grants or sought partnerships. He built the resources he would need one step at a time, always focused on the big picture.
Henry Flagler died in Palm Beach, Florida on May 20, 1913.
Inflation: The word shows up in the news and often has a negative connotation associated with it. In a very real sense, the result of inflation is that a dollar today will not buy the same amount as it did before. However, the central banks worldwide use the underlying interest rate to manage the economy.
The primary tool used by the U.S. government to track domestic inflation is the Consumer Price Index (CPI), produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In March, consumer prices increased 0.5 percent just as they had the month before. These are the largest jumps since June 2009. The food and energy components increased by 0.8 and 3.5 percent while the month before they rose 0.6 and 3.4 percent.
In our global economy, inflation around the world impacts the U.S. as well. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reported that annual inflation in developed nations rose by .3 percent since the month before to 2.7% as of March. They report that this international composite rate of 34 member countries is now at the same rate of inflation as the United States with food and energy the major contributors to the increases.
Generally, economists seem to feel that a low, level rate of inflation seems to keep the economy on a steady growth pattern. It is high rates of inflation or even deflation that can cause concern.
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