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Financial Education Resource Center

Information to help you meet your financial goals

Not in California?
  • Build and manage
    your budget
  • Make the most
    of your money
  • Reduce
    your debt
  • Manage account
    fees and charges
  • Protect your
    financial information

Build and manage your budget

We’ve created a five-step program to help everyone create a budget they can stick to. Use the following information and tools to help map out your short- and long-term financial goals.

  • Step 1: Set goals
    Take time to think about and visualize your financial dreams and objectives. Next, set specific goals so you can create the right budget for you.
  • Step 2: Get organized
    Organizing your finances is an important part of any successful budget. Keeping a daily spending diary can help you take control of your day-to-day spending. Our Bill Pay service also lets you pay your bills conveniently from one location and access your payment history, helping you keep your finances in order.
  • Step 3: Build a budget

    Keeping a budget that helps you track your income and expenses is easier than you think. Setting up email and mobile alerts to notify you when you reach your budget limit is a simple way to help you monitor your spending and track your progress.

    Use these calculators to help you create your budget:

    How much am I spending each month?
    How much should I set aside for emergencies?

  • Step 4: Cut spending

    Consider your needs versus your wants. Cutting back on purchases you do not really need can help you find money to save for your financial goals. Use the Account Activity page within Online Banking to track your spending and categorize your purchases to help you see where you can cut spending.

    Learn more with this helpful calculator:

    What’s it worth to reduce my spending?

  • Step 5: Save money

    Building up your savings is a great way to prepare for the unexpected and manage debt. Start small by applying for a Bank of the West Classic Savings Account.  You can use our Auto-Save program to help grow your savings by putting a portion of your paycheck into your Savings account every week or every month. Enroll in Auto-Save by signing in to Online Banking, clicking the Services tab, and selecting Set Up Direct Deposit. If you find that there are excess funds in your checking account each month, take another look at your budget to see whether you can increase your automatic savings amount.

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Make the most of your money

Look for ways to earn higher interest on your deposits. If you haven't explored our money market accounts, high yield savings, and CD rates yet, do so.

It's a good practice to evaluate the costs and benefits of reward features on your credit and debit cards by reviewing the terms and conditions of your accounts in detail.

You can lower expenses associated with debt by paying down credit card obligations quickly. Automatic payments can help make sure you don’t miss any due dates for bills and loan payments.

coins in jars

How you can grow your savings

Create a budget based on your average monthly income and expenses, including the amount you want to save each month. Limit discretionary spending to a pre-determined, budgeted amount. If your budget doesn't allow for one more night out or another fancy coffee drink, then say no to these purchases.

Another great way to help grow your savings is to automatically deposit a pre-determined amount to your savings account each month, or better yet, make an automatic deposit every payday. If you find that there are excess funds in your checking account each month, take another look at your budget to see whether you can increase your automatic savings amount.

coins in jars
Man with a parachute

Reduce your debt

First, take some time to fully understand your debt. How much do you owe to each of your creditors? What are the terms on each debt instrument—interest rate, minimum monthly payment, etc.?

Then, look at your spending. Are there steps that you can take to reduce spending so that you can use more of your funds to pay down debt? If you are in a position to pay more than the monthly minimum or even pay off one of your debts, it may make sense to tackle the debt with the highest interest rate first, although effective rate may vary based upon tax implications.

There are many considerations including personal, legal, and tax ramifications that will vary for each individual situation. A personal financial advisor may be able to help.

Manage account fees and charges

Account Fees

You may be able to avoid monthly service charges by reviewing and understanding the terms and conditions of your accounts, and taking steps to ensure that you fulfill the minimum requirements to waive a monthly service charge each month.

Review the Schedule of Fees and Charges for Personal Accounts and become familiar with fees that may apply to your account activity to determine if there are ways to reduce or avoid such fees and charges.

ATMs

You can also avoid certain fees associated with non-Bank of the West ATMs by using a Bank of the West ATM or requesting cash back when you use your debit card at participating merchants.

Overdraft Programs

An easy way to avoid returned items and overdraft fees is to record all deposits and withdrawals in your check register, so you can track your account balance and limit spending to available funds.

When it comes to overdrafts, you have options. Get the facts about our overdraft practices and programs here

Alerts help you stay on top of your finances

With alerts, you’ll get an email or textfootnote* letting you know when important Online Banking transactions occur on your accounts. You can decide how you'd like to be notified and how often.

To set up alerts, sign in to Online Banking, click the Services and Support tab, and select Manage Alerts.

    Here are just a few of the transactions for which you can receive alerts:

  • Balance alerts notify you when you have a self-identified low or excess account balance. When your balance is too low, you can stop further transactions to avoid overdrafts or transfer funds into your account. If you have excess funds, you might want to move them to a higher yield account such as a CD.
  • Payment Notification alerts notify you when a non-recurring payment was made (from a specific account).
  • Transfer Notification alerts notify you when a non-recurring transfer was made (from a specific account).
  • Payment Reminder alerts notify you when a payment is due to be processed within seven days.
  • When you have questions or concerns about a fee, talk to your banker about steps to take to avoid similar situations in the future.

Protect your financial information

Taking proper precautions with your banking transactions can help you avoid becoming a victim of fraud, giving you more control over what happens with your credit rating.

    Here are some steps you can take:

  • Set up email and mobile alertsfootnote* to notify you when your account balancefootnote** is low, warning you of a potential threat.
  • Sign up for Online Statements to help reduce your risk of account take-over or identity theft
  • Make sure that your antivirus software, browser, and system software are up to date.
  • The Security Center also has more information about fraud, along with additional ways you can help protect yourself.

Tell us where you live

Choose your state of legal residence. We can then give you information about the products and services available in your area.

Note: Bank of the West has branches only in the states listed in the drop-down. At this time, we only open accounts for individuals and businesses in these states.