7 Ways to Enjoy Today and Plan for a Comfortable Retirement

Planning for retirement shouldn’t be a stressful proposition – especially if you start early enough. By taking the time to identify ways you can save money now, reduce the amount of interest you will pay in the future, and identify the best places to invest your retirement savings, you will be able to rest easy knowing that everything is handled properly. Here are seven tips for building a fiscally sound future.

401k Contributions

This retirement planning tool has grown in popularity throughout the country as companies stopped offering traditional defined-benefit pension plans. Check with your employer to see what plan is available through your workplace and check to see if the employer will “match” a set percentage of your contributions.
Since 401k contributions are made on a pre-tax basis, this tool can be used to lower your tax burden for the current tax year – saving you even more money! There are limits on how much you may contribute, based on your age.


Roth IRAs


Roth IRAs

Roth IRAs, like the 401k plans, are tax-advantaged plans that can be used to grow your retirement nest egg. However, since the initial contributions are made with post-tax dollars, you can relax knowing that everything in the account is considered completely tax-free upon retirement.
An interesting twist is that you are able, under certain conditions, to withdrawal the initial capital from Roth IRAs without incurring any tax penalties. To qualify, the Roth IRA must be open for at least five years, and the distribution must meet specific criteria.
This plan is a favorite among many people who are self-employed or those with small business income, providing the potential for ample growth while not locking you out of your already-taxed money when you need it most.


Automatic Savings

One piece of advice that is true for savers of all ages – make your savings plan automatic. You should always pay yourself first, and the best way to consistently save is to automatically divert into your savings account a set amount of your paycheck.


Planning for College

Planning for College

Paying for a child’s college expenses can easily be among the most stressful endeavors that the average American family will experience. A 529 college savings plan is a popular option, and South Carolina currently offers two different 529 college savings plans. Both of these financial instruments offer a tax advantageous way to build a nest egg for covering tuition, books, and boarding for your young adult.


Pre-Paying for Vacation

It is tempting to put a vacation on a credit card and pay for all the expenses when you return from the vacation. However, when you make payments over a period of months, you incur a mind-boggling amount of interest.
Prevent the extra interest expense by planning out your vacation a year or so in advance and sticking money back to pay for it. An added nicety of building a cash reserve is that it enables you to make reservations or buy plane tickets when they are at their lowest – making the long term savings even more beneficial to you and your family!


Save Money on Cars by Paying Cash

Save Money on Cars by Paying Cash

Those low monthly payments on car loans may make getting a new car appear affordable, though if you take the time to crunch the total amount you will be spending, it quickly becomes apparent that you are throwing thousands of dollars out the window.
Car replacement should be a major savings goal. Every dollar you have available should be put down on the purchase of a car to limit the amount of the loan. This plan will provide you with significant savings throughout the typical five-year car loan.
The savings for car replacement can even help in instances where your car suddenly breaks down or needs a new tire. Cash, stored in a moderately liquid account bearing a reasonable interest rate, can be used to keep you from having to get a loan or use a credit card.


Plan Gift-Buying to Save Money

The perfect gifts for those you care about most are, surprisingly enough, typically available throughout the year. We highly recommend that people budget a set amount for each item and save accordingly, making it possible to obtain the gifts when the price is at its lowest. After all – why should you risk paying a premium for something when it was on sale just a month earlier?

Visit Arthur State Bank Today

Visit Arthur State Bank Today

Arthur State Bank is your community-focused, family managed bank serving South Carolina. Stop by to see how we can help you make the right choices for today, tomorrow, and the years to come.

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AnnualCreditReport.com is the only source for free credit reports authorized by the federal government. Every 12 months, you can get a free copy of your credit report from each agency.

Your credit report has your credit history for all of your credit accounts as well as any credit inquiries and public record court information such as collections. In addition, the report provides personally identifiable information such as your name, address, and employment.

Be sure to carefully review all three reports to identify any problem areas that you may need to clean up prior to applying for a mortgage. If there is any incorrect information, follow the reporting agency’s rules to correct it or add a notation to the report to explain the situation.

Your FICO Score is a score combines data from several areas include payment history, the amount owed, length of credit history, new accounts. Many lenders use this score as a guide. This score is not provided as part of the free annual credit report.

Learn more about how your credit score impacts your ability to secure a loan.


Couple looking over finances

Primary considerations for setting your housing budget require an assessment of your income, debt and current savings for the down payment on the home. The following are generally recommended guidelines; however, you should meet with an Arthur State Bank lender to get personalized mortgage information.


Couple meeting with lender

The pre-qualification/pre-approval letter is included with any offer you make on a house to inform the seller that you have met with a mortgage lender and you are prepared to make an offer. The letter states that based on certain assumptions, the bank is prepared to lend you up to a specified amount of money for a home mortgage.

When choosing a loan officer, we recommend going local to work with someone who understands your community’s real estate market. This blog on first-time home purchases includes questions to ask your lender that may be helpful when preparing for your meeting.

Helpful Resources:


Realtor shaking hands with a client

When a house is sold, the seller typically pays real estate commission to both the listing agent and the selling agent. It is extremely beneficial for the buyer to use their own real estate agent. Loan officers can often recommend selling agents in the area; ask your officer about realtor referrals when discussing your loan.

A good realtor will know the local market and can help you find an ideal home based on your budget, location and desired features. During your search, understand that you will most likely need to compromise on some items, so it’s important to identify your critical needs versus your wants.


Couple searching online for a home

Additionally, when you start with the house search and work backwards, homes can often go off the market while you’re completing steps 1-4. While browsing homes immediately can be tempting, we recommend following these steps in order so that, once you find your dream home, you’ll be well-positioned to take action immediately.

When you find the home you want and you think you are ready to put an offer on it, you will want to make sure you have all the information you need to make a solid offer.

  • Evaluate the neighborhood.
  • Drive by the house at different times of the day.
  • Examine how other houses in the neighborhood are maintained.
  • Consider any potential traffic or other disruptive noise.
  • Is there ample parking for you and visitors?
  • Read the details in any Homeowner Association agreements (HOA fees and rules).

Make sure to do a preliminary check of house details:

  • Check the water:
  • Does it have good pressure?
  • How long does it take to get the water hot?
  • Is it well water or city water?
  • Turn light switches on and off.
  • Open and close doors and windows to make sure they work properly.
  • Review previous utility bill expenses.
  • Consider the property tax bill.


Family meeting with realtor at new house

When writing an offer contract, be sure to pay attention to all of the details.

Offer Price:

Your agent should do a market analysis that pulls data on recently sold comparable houses. The best comparisons will come from the same neighborhood.

If you are asking for the seller to pay some of the closing costs, remember that this cost plus the sales commission determines the net amount you are offering the seller for the house.

Work with your agent on your negotiation strategy. There are many things to consider, such as how badly you want this particular house, whether it is a buyer’s or seller’s market and an assessment of the seller’s motivation to get the property sold.

There isn’t one best strategy.

Be sure to document in writing everything you want included with the house, such as appliances, etc. Your agent should guide you through the contract step-by-step.


  • Home inspection.
  • Mortgage.
  • Final walk through (24 hours prior to closing).

Proposed closing date. Typically, this is 30-45 days from an accepted offer.

A good-faith deposit is required for the offer. This is typically between 1-10% of the purchase price of the house. The deposit is kept in escrow until closing and the money is applied to the purchase price of the house at closing. If the house does not close due to one of the contingency clauses, the buyer receives their money back. However, if the buyer decides not to close on the property, the seller may get the deposit money.

Attach your pre-approval letter to the offer.


Two people in professional meeting

The clock starts ticking for everything documented in the contract, including mortgage application, inspections and closing date.


Woman advising other woman on mortgage application

You will need to decide which mortgage to select prior to the application.

Plan for the following potential fees:

  • Application fee (many banks and mortgage companies charge an application fee; however, there is not an application fee at Arthur State Bank).
  • Credit check.
  • Appraisal (may be paid at closing).
  • Loan origination fee (paid at closing).

Once you have approval for your loan, make sure you don’t change anything that will impact the status of your mortgage. Banks do a final check on credit and jobs just prior to closing, so now is not the time to change jobs or make another purchase on credit such as a car or furniture.


Home inspector going over findings with home owner

Depending on the size of the house, an inspection can cost on average between $300 to $1000.

Many real estate contracts specify how problems uncovered in the inspection will be resolved, up to a certain dollar amount. Should necessary repairs exceed that amount, the buyer has the option to cancel the contract without penalty and receive their deposit money back. Another option is for the buyer and seller to renegotiate who will pay for additional repairs.


Woman happily holding keys to her new home
  • Homeowner’s insurance is required by the lender prior to closing on the loan.
  • Turn on utilities in your name, effective the closing date.
  • Change your address with the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Make moving arrangements.

Three days prior to closing:

  • You should receive your final Closing Disclosure from the closing agency. The final Closing Disclosure shows a column for the seller and a column for the buyer. All closing charges and credits for both the seller and the buyer are documented in the closing statement.
  • Review the closing statement for accuracy prior to coming to closing.
  • The final amount in the buyer’s column shows you the amount of money you need to pay at closing.

The closing office will provide specific payment instructions. Closing funds have become recent targets for cybercriminals. If you are asked to use a wire transfer, call the office and ask to speak to someone you have been working with to double-check the instructions.

Closing day:

In South Carolina, the closing will usually take place at the attorney’s office. Everyone signing for the mortgage must be present to sign the closing paperwork. Make sure you bring the following:

  • Cashier’s check or proof of payment for wire transfer.
  • Driver’s license.
  • Checkbook, just in case there are any additional items that were not on the closing statement.

Be sure to understand this information:

  • How and when you will pay:
  • Your mortgage.
  • Your property taxes.
  • Your homeowner’s insurance.
  • Any HOA dues.
  • Who to call with any questions.

The best practice is to go through the homebuyer’s roadmap in this sequence. However, if you jumped ahead early in your journey, just circle back to address the steps you missed.

Arthur State Bank’s loan officers are closely tapped into local real estate markets and experts at helping clients get what they need on terms that work for them. We also offer mortgage specials for first-time homebuyers.

To start planning your journey to your dream home, try out our mortgage calculator. If you’re ready to talk to a loan officer, contact Arthur State Bank to request personalized mortgage information today. Don’t forget to ask about our first-time homebuyer offer.