Have You Met Calan Jansen, One of Virginia’s Leading Financial Advisors?

When it comes to managing your wealth and planning for your financial future, having an experienced and knowledgeable advisor by your side is crucial. In the state of Virginia, one name stands out among the rest – Calan Jansen. With over 20 years of wealth experience and Series 66, 63, SIE, 7, and 6 licenses, Calan has established herself as one of the top financial advisors in the region.

Calan’s Background and Expertise

Raised in Shenandoah County, Calan’s roots are deeply embedded in the local community. Her career in finance has been driven by her passion for helping individuals achieve financial security and peace of mind. Calan’s extensive experience in wealth management has equipped her with a unique set of skills and insights, enabling her to navigate the complexities of the financial world with ease.

Impressive Achievements

For the last five years, Calan Jansen has consistently ranked among the top 20 advisors nationally within Osaic Institutions Inc. This exceptional accomplishment is a testament to her dedication, expertise, and unwavering commitment to her clients’ financial success. Furthermore, Calan is also proud to hold the distinction of being the leading female advisor in the state, breaking barriers and paving the way for other women in the industry.

Extensive Wealth Experience

With over 20 years of experience in the financial industry, Calan Jansen brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her clients. Throughout her career, she has honed her skills in various aspects of wealth management, including investment strategies, retirement planning, and risk management. Calan’s expertise extends to a wide range of financial instruments, ensuring that her clients receive tailored advice and guidance to meet their unique financial goals.

Thoughtful Approach

What truly sets Calan apart is her thoughtful approach to each client she works with. She understands that every individual has different financial aspirations, circumstances, and risk tolerances. Calan takes the time to listen and understand her clients’ needs, goals, and concerns, allowing her to develop personalized strategies that align with their long-term objectives. Her ability to build strong relationships based on trust and open communication has earned her a loyal client base who appreciate her genuine care and dedication.


Calan Jansen’s impressive track record, extensive wealth experience, and thoughtful approach make her the go-to financial advisor in the state of Virginia. Her commitment to her clients’ financial success, coupled with her expertise in wealth management, sets her apart from the rest. Whether you are planning for retirement, seeking investment opportunities, or looking to protect your assets, Calan Jansen is the trusted advisor who will guide you every step of the way.


Learn more about our investment products and schedule a call with Calan today!


Investment and insurance products and services are offered through Osaic Institutions, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. F&M Financial Services is a trade name of F&M Bank. Osaic Institutions and F&M Bank are not affiliated.

Securities and Insurance Products:

Not Guaranteed by the Bank | Not FDIC Insured | Not a Deposit | Not Insured by Any Federal Government Agency | May Lose Value Including Loss of Principal



Should You Buy Long-Term Care Insurance?

The longer you live, the greater the chances you’ll need some form of long-term care. If you’re concerned about protecting your assets and maintaining your financial independence in your later years, long-term care insurance (LTCI) may be for you.

Who needs it?

As we age, the odds increase that we’ll need some form of long-term care at some point during our lives. And with life expectancies increasing at a steady rate, the likelihood of needing long-term care can be expected to grow in the years to come.

But won’t the government look out for me?

Medicare pays nothing for nursing home care unless you’ve first been in the hospital for 3 consecutive days. After that, it will pay only if you enter a certified nursing home within 30 days of your discharge from the hospital. For the first 20 days, Medicare pays 100 percent of your nursing home care costs. After that, you’ll pay $204.00 in 2024 per day for your care through day 100, and Medicare will pick up the balance. Beyond day 100 in a nursing home, you’re on your own–Medicare doesn’t pay anything.

If you’re at home, Medicare provides minimal short-term coverage for intermediate care (e.g., intravenous feeding or the treatment of dressings), but only if you’re confined to your home and the treatments are ordered by a doctor. Medicare provides nothing for custodial care, such as help with feeding, bathing, or preparing meals.

Medicaid covers long-term nursing home costs (including both intermediate and custodial care costs) but only for individuals who have low income and few assets (eligibility guidelines vary from state to state). You will have to use up most of your savings before you qualify for Medicaid, and aside from a small personal needs allowance, you will have to use all of your retirement income, including Social Security and pension payments, to pay for your care before Medicaid pays anything. And once you qualify for Medicaid, you’ll have little or no choice regarding where you receive care. Only facilities with Medicaid-approved beds can accept you, and your chances of staying in your own home are slimmer, because currently most states’ Medicaid programs only cover limited home health care services.

Looking out for yourself

If you want to retain your independence, protect your assets, and maintain your standard of living while at the same time guaranteeing your access to a range of long-term care options, you may want to purchase LTCI. This insurance might be right for you if you meet the following criteria:

  • You’re between the ages of 40 and 84
  • You have significant assets that you would want to preserve as an inheritance for others or gift to charity
  • You have an income from employment or investments in addition to Social Security
  • You can afford LTCI premiums (now and in the future) without changing your lifestyle

Once you purchase an LTCI policy, your premiums can go up over time, but the rates can only rise for an entire class of policyholders in your state (i.e., all policyholders who bought a particular policy series, or who were within certain age groups when they bought the policy). Any increase must be justified and approved by your state’s insurance division.

Several factors affect the cost of your long-term care policy. The most significant factors are your age, your health, the amount of benefit, and the benefit period. The younger and healthier you are when you buy LTCI, the less your premium rate will be each year. The greater your daily benefit (choices typically range from $50 to $350) and the longer the benefit period (generally 1 to 6 years, with some policies offering a lifetime benefit), the greater the premium.


Connect with an Osaic Institutions Financial Advisor today!


Prepared by Broadridge Advisor Solutions. © 2024 Broadridge Financial Services, Inc.

Investment and insurance products and services are offered through Osaic Institutions, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. F&M Financial Services is a trade name of F&M Bank. Osaic Institutions and F&M Bank are not affiliated.

Securities and Insurance Products:

Not Guaranteed by the Bank | Not FDIC Insured | Not a Deposit | Not Insured by Any Federal Government Agency | May Lose Value Including Loss of Principal

Clean Up Your Credit Score

Whether you’re preparing to apply for a loan or reeling after a credit application rejection, if you are looking to improve your credit, you aren’t alone. According to Experian, about 30% of adults have scores of less than 670—the standard minimum for a conventional home loan approval. The good news is that credit scores are always in flux—and that means that your score can change for the better, with just a bit of effort.

In this post, we’ll give our best advice on how to fix bad credit, discussing tried and true credit repair strategies for short-term improvement and long-term gains. Keep reading to learn how you can clean up your credit score!

Understanding Your Credit Score

Firstly, knowing how credit scores work, what factors go into their calculation, and how your financial habits affect your score are all crucial to improving your credit standing.

What is a credit score?

A credit score is a numerical calculation based on your credit report—a history of your credit reported by a variety of creditors. These can include lenders, credit card companies, financial institutions, utility companies, and even healthcare providers. Credit scores take your payment information, as well as details about how long you’ve had accounts and how much debt you hold, and turns it into a number.

Ideally, your credit score is an accurate reflection of your tendency to pay back your debts. When paired with income data, it can help lenders make informed decisions about loan approvals. Major components of credit score calculation include your payment history, the amount of debts you owe/percentage of credit used on cards, and the length of credit history.

While there is more than one provider of credit scores, FICO is the most commonly used scoring system in the US. FICO scores range from 300 to 850, with scores above 800 being considered “excellent.”

Range of credit scores

What is a credit score used for?

Your credit score is used as an aid in determining:

  • Credit card and loan approvals
  • Interest Rates
  • Insurance premiums
  • Rental worthiness for homes and apartments
  • Utility fees

Employers may also check your credit, especially if the job at hand involves financial tasks.

Assessing Your Credit Report and Score

Credit reports are available for free, and reading your own report can help you see where improvement is needed to elevate your score.

Where do you find your credit report and score?

While there are many paid services that offer to provide your credit report, score, and even credit monitoring, it’s not necessary to pay for your report.

At www.annualcreditreport.com you can request your report from each of the three main reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion) once each year.

While they generally contain the same information, there may be discrepancies. Requesting all three at once can give you the most definitive understanding of your credit picture. When rebuilding your credit or tracking your credit growth, you may wish to take an alternative approach. Requesting one report every four months or so can allow you to see changes in your credit history over time.

Credit reports can also be requested by phone or by mail:


Annual Credit Report Request Service

P.O. Box 105281

Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

When requesting by mail, you’ll need to print and complete the form found on the annualcreditreport.com website. You will receive your reports by mail within 15 days of their receiving your request

Credit scores, on the other hand, are not available for free through this service. So how do you get them without paying?

  • You can use the free version of credit monitoring services, such as Credit Karma, to have a good sense of your score (though it won’t be identical to the one lenders use)—but watch out for fees and upcharges.
  • If you have a credit card, the credit card company may also provide a free version of your score in your online account or on your monthly statement.
  • Lastly, if you apply for a loan or credit card, the company is required to provide you with the score they used to determine your approval. Request it if it is not automatically provided.

Ultimately, however, everything you need to know about improving your credit is available for free on your report.

what to do with your credit report

Strategies for Credit Score Improvement

Now that you know how to obtain your credit report, how your your credit history is used to calculate your score, and how your score can affect different aspects of your life, it’s time to take a look at the methods you can use to improve your credit over time, as well as things you can do that will have the greatest immediate positive impact.

Long-Term Strategies for Good Credit

Good credit is a long-term process that requires constant engagement with responsible financial habits. Here are 5 things you can do to gradually build and maintain excellent credit and increase your chances of getting approved for a loan.

  1. Pay your bills on time:

    Your payment history counts for 35% of your credit score. Do your best to pay all accounts on time or as soon as possible if you miss a payment date—but never skip payments altogether. Bills paid within 30 days of their due date will not be reported, though any late payments may incur fees.

  2. Regularly review your report and address issues:

    Identity and credit card fraud often go unnoticed until an individual spots unusual activity on their credit report. And sometimes companies report issues erroneously. If you see something wrong, dispute the error right away.

  3. Keep accounts open.

    It may be tempting to close that old credit card, but the longer you keep accounts open, the better it is for your score.

  4. Maintain a good mix of credit.

    Having just one kind of credit can have a negative impact on your score. Having both revolving accounts (like credit cards) and installment accounts (like loans) is important, to show you are capable of handling both kinds of debt.

  5. Build a savings cushion.

    Not only will this prevent you from relying on credit in the case of an unforeseen circumstance, it will also show lenders that you have resources to lean on to ensure ongoing financial stability.

How to Boost Your Credit Score Quickly

If you’re hoping to apply for a loan in the near future or just looking to make the biggest immediate impact on your credit score, here are 5 steps you can take to raise your credit score quickly.

  1. No credit? Bad credit? Get a secured credit card.

    Lest you get a rejection in your application, it’s important to apply for a card that you will likely get approved for. A secured credit card from your bank, which uses an existing account for collateral, can be a great place to start with credit score building or rebuilding. But only open one new account at a time!

  2. Become an authorized user.

    An alternative way to build credit is to become an authorized user on a credit card account (a spouse or family member) with a high limit and good history. It’s not even necessary for you to use the account to receive this benefit.

  3. Keep your credit utilization rate down.

    Credit utilization is the amount of credit you used, vs. the amount available to you. For instance, a card with a $10,000 limit and a $2,500 balance would have a 25% utilization rate. Keep rates across accounts below 30%. To do so, either pay down higher balance and maxed out cards, or ask for a higher limit.

  4. Pay off accounts in collections.

    Once you get your credit report, you may see accounts in collections. These will have an outsized impact on your score. Getting accounts out of collections as quickly as possible will minimize their impact.

  5. Start paying your bills on time.

    Your most recent payment history matters more for your credit score calculation than your distant payment history. Start paying bills ontime if you have a pre-existing pattern of late payments.

A credit builder loan can be useful if you have no credit history

Professional Credit Building Resources

Struggling to untangle credit problems? Not sure where to start? There are numerous national and local resources that can help you with your credit score repair. They include:

You may also want to consider using services like Experian Boost which can allow you to get credit for bills you pay on time that haven’t already been reported.

(Re)Build Your Credit with F&M Bank

At F&M Bank of Virginia, we want our customers to have the best chances to achieve their financial goals, whether it’s getting a good interest rate on a personal loan or buying their own home. And we know that good credit is integral to long-term financial success.


From low-interest credit cards to help you build your credit history to financial tools to protect your finances and prepare for the future. Questions about credit? We’re only a phone call or short drive away. Reach out to us at one of our branch locations throughout the Shenandoah Valley today.

F&M Bank to Host VBA Bank Day Student Scholarship Program in March

F&M Bank is excited to partner again with the Virginia Bankers Association Education Foundation (VBA) to offer your seniors a unique scholarship opportunity on March 19, 2024 called Bank Day.

What is Bank Day?

The third Tuesday in March was declared Bank Day by the Virginia General Assembly in 1991.  Through this program, high school seniors learn about banking, financial services, career opportunities within the banking industry, and the vital role banks play in their communities.  From their experience, the students are required to write essays on their experiences. Thirteen scholarships will be awarded based on the essays.

Students will have access to a VBA-created Bank Day resource webpage during the month of March. This resource page will house relevant information that students will need to research to complete their essays for a chance to win college scholarships. F&M Bank will also be hosting students in-person, 9:00am-1:00pm on Tuesday, March 19, for an opportunity to learn more about our bank, the banking industry in Virginia, how we support our community, and financial career opportunities. More information about this gathering will be shared with students upon registration.

How much scholarship money is available?

A total of $26,000 will be awarded to twelve students across the Commonwealth.

  • Six honorable mention winners, each winning a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Six regional winners, each winning a $2,500 scholarship.
  • One of the regional winners will also be named the statewide winner, earning an extra $5,000 scholarship for a total of $7,500 in college scholarships!

How can your students participate?

To participate, students must be currently enrolled as seniors in a Virginia high school with cumulative GPAs of 3.0 or higher. Interested students must register online by March 3rd through the VBA using the following link: VBA Bank Day Scholarship Program – 2024 Student Registration Form (formpl.us).

Contact marketing@fmbankva.com for more information!

Tax Considerations When Buying and Selling Real Estate

Purchasing real estate—whether for your home or other personal use or as an investment—comes with many complex tax implications. From property taxes you’ll need to pay as part of your mortgage payment to understanding strategies to avoid capital gains on investment property, taxes can make a significant impact on your bottom line or monthly budget.
This article offers some introductory insights to keep in mind when buying and selling real estate, with tips that can help optimize your financial position while navigating the complex terrain of property transactions. Keep reading to learn key insights that can potentially save you money and enhance your real estate investment journey!

Types of Real Estate Transactions

Before we delve into real estate tax considerations, let’s take a moment to review the different kinds of real estate purchases. The kind of real estate and purpose of its ownership can make a drastic difference on the types of taxes you’ll need to pay.

Traditional Sale: What most people think of when discussing buying and selling a home, traditional sales involve two parties (homeowner/sell and buyer), and are usually orchestrated by real estate professionals who represent each party. These sales usually have some kind of contingencies built into the offer, including an inspection of the property and financing approval.

As-Is Sale: When a home is sold as is, there is no warranty and no desire to make repairs or changes—though the buyer may choose to have an inspection for their own informational purposes. Homes sold as is usually either need drastic repairs and updates or the owner needs to sell quickly, without waiting for the usual sales timeline. If purchasing an as-is for rental, you may be able to deduct improvements on future tax bills (we’ll talk about this more later).

Short Sale: In a short sale, the property is sold for less than what the current owner still owes. Short sales are often done by the homeowner in an attempt to sell the property before it’s foreclosed upon by their lending company—with all proceeds going to the lender. Short sales are often as-is. When purchasing a short sale, it’s important to make sure there are no tax liens on the property.

Foreclosure: With a foreclosure, lenders seize a property when homeowners fall behind on their loans, selling to buyers–-sometimes below market value. As with short sales, it’s important to work with a title lawyer to ensure there are no tax liens on the property.

Cash Flow Investment: This kind of investment involves purchasing a property for income, leasing it to bring in cash each month.

Turnkey Investment: Some investments, especially homes that are sold “as is”, will require a lot of work to get them ready to rent out. While buyers will often pay a premium for this, a turnkey property is fully functional and ready to go to lease at closing. In fact, it may already have tenants.

Vacant Land Acquisition: Real estate sales of land are a growing form of investment, whether buying a lot to build a home, land for agricultural purposes, commercial development, or to hold onto for later use or resale.

Types of real estate transactions infographic

Tax Benefits of Owning a Home

If you itemize your federal tax deductions (in other words, you don’t simply take the standard deduction) you can deduct:

• Mortgage interest
• Home equity loan interest (if loan is used to make improvements to your residence)
• Property taxes
• Mortgage insurance premiums

Note, for many individuals the standard deduction ($21,900 for married-filing-jointly in 2024) will offer better tax breaks than itemizing, but this will vary from individual to individual.

Additional Tax Benefits of Homeownership

Self-employed and small business owners:  If you are a small business owner (including self-employed individuals) and work out of your home regularly, you can claim a home office deduction for a portion of your home. This is a tax reduction for expenses including your mortgage payment, taxes, insurance, repairs, and utilities.

Capital gains tax exclusion: Ready to sell your home? Rest assured that a portion (and in most cases all) of your profits will be excluded from federal income taxes. In fact, you don’t have to pay taxes on the first $250,000 (single) or $500,000 (married) of profit, as long as you lived in your home as your primary residence for 2 out of the last 5 years.

Energy efficiency tax credits: If you make energy-efficient home improvements to your home, you may also receive tax credits for these.

  • Energy Efficient Home Improvement Credit: Up to $3,200 (or up to 30% of improvement costs) in qualifying credits in 2024.
  • Residential Clean Energy Credit: Credits for up to 30% of the costs of new, qualified clean energy property for your home installed anytime from 2022 through 2032.
  • Additional tax incentives through the Inflation Reduction Act: From upgrading wiring to installing heatpumps, there are additional incentives (rebates and tax credits) available for the electrification and upgrade of your home to increase energy efficiency. Use the calculator on Rewiring America to see what you may qualify for.

Tax depreciation on rental property: Renting out your home? The IRS allows a depreciation rate of 3.636% each year for 27.5 years for most U.S. residential rental property. You can deduct this percentage of your property’s purchase price each year from your taxable income.

Tax credits and deductions can get complicated—especially when it comes to real estate. It’s always best to consult with a tax professional to help you navigate the regulations surrounding these real estate tax benefits to ensure you are documenting and filing your taxes correctly.

Basic Tax Implications of Real Estate Investment

There are many tax benefits associated with home ownership. But there are also a number of taxes associated with owning a home that are important to keep in mind. These can include:

Property taxes: Based on the property’s assessed value (often about ⅔ of the market value), you may have to pay a number of different property taxes, depending on your municipality, including, school, city/township, and county property taxes. If you have a mortgage, your mortgage company will add a portion to your monthly payment each month to cover annual tax bills.

Net investment income tax (NIIT): Some real estate investing will result in investment income, which requires payment of this special tax of 3.8%.

Real estate income tax: If you rent out real estate, that income must be reported and taxed as regular income.

Business income tax: If you use your residence or property for income purposes, for instance as a bed and breakfast, this income is taxable.

As with homeownership tax deductions and credits, it’s important to consult with a tax professional to be sure your taxes are filed correctly—especially if you are claiming business or real estate income.

Basic Tax Implications of Real Estate Investment infographic

Taxes on Investment Property Sales: Capital Gains Tax and 1031 Exchange

While your capital gains on the sale of your residence are often tax free (see above), when you sell an investment property and its sale produces a profit, you will be expected to pay capital gains taxes on the proceeds.

Short-term capital gains (for assets you’ve had less than a year) are taxed as income, and what you pay will depend on your income tax rate.  Standard income tax brackets are 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37%. If you are flipping a home for sale, your income may fall into this category.

Long-term capital gains (for assets you’ve held for more than a year) are taxed using a different system: 0%, 15%, and 20% (depending on your income level and filing status). As the IRS explains, “The tax rate on most net capital gain is no higher than 15% for most individuals,” unless your income is more thab $459,750 if single; more than $517,200 for married filing jointly in 2024.

A 1031 exchange allows real estate investors to defer their capital gains taxes when selling an investment property by letting them use those funds to reinvest into a like-kind property within a specific time frame, by adhering to the IRS guidelines for 1031 exchanges.This tax-deferred exchange strategy can be used repeatedly, potentially allowing investors to accumulate wealth through real estate without immediate tax obligations.

Reach Your Real Estate Goals with F&M Bank

At F&M Bank, we understand our local Virginia real estate markets, and can work with you to find the right financing to achieve your goals, whether it’s owning your first home or growing your investment portfolio. From purchase loans like Investment Property Loans and traditional Mortgages to Home Equity Loans for those energy efficient renovations, we have an assortment of affordable and flexible financing options to meet your needs.

Our experienced lenders can provide effective real estate tax advice as you weigh your options and choose your loan, partnering with your realtor to help ensure a swift and smooth closing. Reach out to us at one of our bank locations throughout the Shenandoah Valley to get started!

Safeguarding Your Finances: Protecting Yourself from Holiday Season Scams and Frauds

As the holiday season approaches, it’s important to be aware of the increased risk of frauds and scams that banks often witness during this time. Unfortunately, cybercriminals take advantage of the festive spirit and heightened online shopping activity to target unsuspecting individuals. F&M Bank offers an array of security features and tips to help you protect your identity and accounts.  In this blog post, we will explore the common scams and frauds that occur during the holiday season and provide you with practical tips to protect your personal and financial information.

safe shopping transaction alerts

  1. Be Wary of Phishing Attempts

Phishing emails and text messages are a common method used by fraudsters to trick people into revealing sensitive information. Be cautious of unexpected emails or messages asking for personal details, login credentials, or credit card information. Remember, reputable organizations will never ask for such information via email or text.

  1. Shop on Secure Websites:

Before making any online purchase, ensure that the website is secure. Look for the padlock symbol in the address bar and the “s” – When paying online, check the URL to ensure it begins with “https://”. The “s” at the end indicates a secure connection. Additionally, check that the name of the web page does not contain spelling errors or strange characters.  Avoid making transactions on unsecured or suspicious websites, as they may be designed to steal your information.

  1. Use Strong and Unique Passwords:

Protect your accounts by using strong, unique passwords for each online platform you use. Avoid using easily guessable passwords or reusing them across multiple websites. Consider using a password manager to securely store and generate complex passwords.

  1. Stay Updated on Security Measures:

Familiarize yourself with the security features provided by your bank and payment providers. Enable two-factor authentication whenever possible. Regularly review your account statements and transaction history for any suspicious activity.

  1. Avoid Public Wi-Fi for Financial Transactions:

Public Wi-Fi networks are often unsecured, making it easier for hackers to intercept your data. Refrain from conducting any financial transactions or accessing sensitive information while connected to public networks. Instead, use a trusted and secure network, such as your home Wi-Fi or a personal hotspot.

  1. Be Cautious of Gift Card Scams:

During the holiday season, gift cards are a popular choice for presents. However, be cautious when purchasing or receiving gift cards from unofficial sources. Scammers may tamper with the cards, steal their codes, or sell counterfeit cards. Always buy gift cards from reputable retailers.

  1. Monitor Your Accounts:

Regularly monitor your bank and credit card accounts for any unauthorized transactions. Be sure to install F&M Mobile on your mobile device to monitor your accounts and receive alerts while on the go!

  • Set up transaction alerts to receive notifications whenever a transaction is made. Report any suspicious activity to your financial institution immediately. Purchase alerts are customizable, can be received via email or text, and can be used to confirm legitimate purchases or notify you of suspicious activity. F&M Bank allows you to set transaction and balance alerts within F&M Mobile and Online Banking to stay on top of unexpected transactions on your account.

safe urls safe shopping

The Visa Payment Fraud Disruption also recommends that all consumers consider these safeguards while shopping this holiday season:

  • Do not click on hyperlinks found in emails or text messages from unknown or suspicious sources.
  • Maintain device and software security by keeping software patched and up-to-date.
  • Ensure Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is implemented on all sensitive log in environments.
    • F&M Mobile offers facial and fingerprint recognition on iOS and Android devices.  Enabling this feature on your device further protects your account from being accessed by an untrusted source if your device is misplaced or stolen.
    • With F&M Bank’s Online Banking can detect when you are signing into your account from a new device or browser.  Attempts to access your account from a new or unfamiliar device prompts our system to verify your identity with multifactor authentication and security questions you established at account opening. All information within our Online Banking uses the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocol for transferring data. SSL is a cryptosystem that creates a secure environment for the information being transferred between your browser and F&M Bank.
  • Use cybersecurity best practices, including enabling anti-phishing protection on your web browser, adding multi-factor authentication to account log ins, using unique, strong passwords for different accounts, not clicking on unsolicited links, and remain vigilant of the URLs you are visiting.
  • Contact your bank directly by using the phone number or website listed on the back of your card, rather than following guidance from an email, phone call, or text message you received.
  • Never provide a one-time-passcode to a caller, or via email or SMS text message, and do not install Remote Access software unless instructed by a trusted system support provider.
  • Check shipping details on accounts. Be aware of details in the 2nd or 3rd lines of the shipping addresses that might be used to reroute packages.
  • Review bills, bank statements, and credit reports to identify anomalies that could indicate fraud, identity theft, or if someone else has access to your account. Be sure to install F&M Mobile on your mobile device to monitor your accounts and receive alerts while on the go!
  • Update system and application software – Install the latest software on your computer, tablet, or phone.
  • Use tokens when possible. A token can be viewed as a “secret code” that contains no customer or sensitive data, which can be used to transmit a payment. Use of a token for a purchase, or tokenization, is the digital equivalent of using a card’s chip for in-person purchase. The value of the token changes with each transaction, making them more resistant to use by fraudsters.
  • Take advantage of identity and credit monitoring services. These services may be provided by your bank/credit union, credit card provider, employer, or insurance company.
  • Watch for scam indicators in the method of payment being requested: scammers often ask for payment in the form of wire transfers or other money transfers, reloadable or prepaid gift cards, cryptocurrency, or sending cash, since these formats are more difficult to trace.
  • If you suspect a scam, stop and talk to someone you trust about the situation and seek guidance from the organization’s official website before acting on the suspected scammer’s request. Call your local F&M Bank location when you suspect fraud. You can also lock your debit card, and reorder a new one at any time with F&M Mobile and Online Banking.
  • Use caution when posting on social media. Be aware that sharing sensitive personal information can provide criminals with clues to answer your security questions or craft believable, targeted scam messages.

Consumers aren’t the only targets during the holiday season.  Businesses also see an increase in fraud attempts and F&M Bank provides a robust digital suite to help our local businesses safeguard their funds.  Learn more about our business banking recourses here.

While the holiday season is a time of joy and giving, it’s crucial to remain vigilant against frauds and scams. By following these tips, you can protect yourself from falling victim to cybercriminals and safeguard your personal and financial information. Remember, staying informed and adopting safe online practices will make your holiday shopping experience more secure and enjoyable.

Teaching Kids About Money: From Birth To College

Even before your baby is born, you’re probably thinking about the financial changes a child will bring. New parents have to revise their household budgets to account for expenses like diapers, clothes, childcare, and more. You may also want to start saving for college now. But don’t forget to include your child in financial habits and literacy. Kids learn behavior from their parents, but they can’t learn anything about money if you don’t teach them and model good habits. In this article, we’ll discuss personal banking for kids and how to develop good habits from birth through college.

Start Early With Savings

The earlier you start saving, the more time your money has to grow. Even little amounts will add up over time. This is due to Compound Interest, which is when you earn interest on your initial deposit as well as the interest you accumulate. You can use this Compound Interest Calculator to show your child how much a deposit to their savings account now will grow over a certain number of years.

Building the savings habit will also help your child learn good money habits, such as delayed gratification. Saving also teaches the concept of financial planning–we are putting money away for a rainy day, for example, or saving for a specific purchase or expense.

To help your new baby or young child get an early start on savings, you could open a custodial account or start a trust fund. Both types of accounts give you control over when your child will have access to the funds. Consult with your tax advisor about the tax implications of a trust or custodial account.

Family around piggy bank

Open a Youth Savings Account

Let your child in on the fun! Kids savings accounts are a type of joint account–both you and your child must be on the account, so take them to the bank with you and let them participate in opening the account. You can also take them to deposit funds and use the coin counter machine. Make banking fun so your child will take an interest and want to continue with saving as they get older.

Our Treehouse Club is a special savings account for kids aged 6-18. It comes with a piggy bank for saving at home, a passbook for recordkeeping, and a prize every five deposits. There are no minimum balance requirements or service fees. Learn more about the perks and benefits of Treehouse Savings.

Learn About College Savings Accounts

In addition to general children’s savings accounts, parents can open a college savings account to prepare for future educational expenses. Even if your child ends up taking a different path, the funds can be used for a sibling’s college education. These educational savings accounts can also be used for K-12 private and religious school costs. A college savings account can also be closed and the funds disbursed, although tax penalties will apply.


Also known as a qualified tuition program (QTP), each state has its own 529 plan to help residents either prepay for college tuition or save for higher educational expenses.


Earnings on your 529 plan accumulate tax free while in your account. Withdrawals for qualified higher education expenses are not taxed. 529 plan funds can also be used to make payments on the beneficiary’s or a sibling’s student loan (limited to $10,000).


If your child doesn’t use all of the balance for educational expenses, and there is no sibling to transfer funds to, you can close the account and use funds for other expenses–subject to a tax penalty and other terms.

Coverdell Education Savings

Contribute up to $2,000 per year and enjoy tax-free withdrawals for qualified educational expenses.

Teen managing bank account

Kids’ Checking Accounts

As your child gets older, they may start working to earn their own money. And they may want to spend some of the money they’ve been learning to save. This is the time to open a checking account for your teenager. Learning how to manage a checking account is an important part of financial literacy and well-being. They can use a debit card, keep track of the money coming in and going out, and reconcile their account to avoid overdrafts. As your teen accumulates some of their own expenses, such as a car or cell phone, they can also learn to budget for monthly income and expenses. Remind them that “saving should always be your biggest expense.”

Jars with coins with little girl behind them

Financial Responsibility

As your child gets closer to adulthood, it becomes more and more important to teach them financial responsibility. As they grow, you can build upon lessons you taught them when they were young.

  • Teach budgeting with an allowance. Kids know how much they will get each week and can decide what to spend and how much to save.
  • Incentivize saving. Show your kids their savings account statement so they can see compound interest in action. Offer a “match,” such as one dollar or a few dollars for their savings deposits.
  • Encourage generosity. Have your kids contribute to a family donation to a local charitable cause. Ask them to use their own money to buy holiday or birthday gifts for a sibling or other relatives.
  • Talk about spending as a series of choices. Instead of saying “we can’t afford that,” you can say “we’re choosing to use our money for ___ instead.”
  • Offer opportunities to earn more. Whether or not you require chores for your child’s regular allowance, you could offer occasional chances to earn extra money for help around the house.
  • Explain how debt works. Your kids may see you using a credit card to pay at a store and think that money is “free” or “grows on trees.” Talk to them about how you pay off your credit card charges each month or, if you don’t, your credit card will charge a high interest rate to carry a balance and that interest compounds, too.

Open a savings account for your child!

Set your child up for future financial success by opening a college savings account. At age six, take your kid(s) to your local F&M Bank branch in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, to open a Treehouse Savings Club account. Have questions about youth savings accounts or other aspects of your family’s finances? Give us a call or visit your nearest branch location.


F&M Bank Named “Best of Virginia”


Virginia Living Magazine has released its annual 176-page statewide guide listing the more than 1,500 winners from its January readers’ survey. Nearly half a million votes were cast in 104 categories, covering the best in Food & Drink, Living & Recreation, Services, and Shopping across the Commonwealth’s five regions.

“We are delighted to be among the top three financial institutions named Best of Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley region. Since 1908, our team has been grateful to play a part in the growth of the Shenandoah Valley economy and today remains more committed than ever to the success of our neighbors, the agricultural industry, small business ventures, and the nonprofit sector,” said Holly Thorne, F&M Bank’s director of marketing.

The twelfth annual Best of Virginia issue is available by subscription and at newsstands, including select Barnes & Noble, Kroger, Wegmans, Publix, Harris Teeter, Books-A-Million, and Target stores. Learn more at VirginiaLiving.com. View the digital edition here https://issuu.com/capefear/docs/2023_bov_issuu

Press release content courtesy of Virginia Living Magazine. CONTACT: Vayda Tarleton, Associate Editor, Special Projects, VaydaTarleton@CapeFear.com, 804-343-0778

Understanding Inflation as a Small Business Owner

When it comes to inflation, small businesses are more vulnerable to the challenges of rising prices than larger companies. Not only does it increase your cost of doing business; it may also deter your customers from spending as much as they usually would. It’s important to know that you’re not alone as a small business owner grappling with the effects of inflation. In this article, we’ll share the best inflation strategies for keeping your business running smoothly.

What Is Inflation?

Inflation refers to an overall rise in prices within a certain period of time. As prices increase, individuals’ and businesses’ purchasing power falls. For example, if it costs more to fill up your gas tank or buy a week’s worth of groceries, you have less money to spend on other things.

The federal government tracks inflation through the Consumer Price Index, which tracks prices paid for certain goods and services over time. As of March 2023, prices were 5% higher than the previous year.

The Federal Reserve’s target inflation rate is 2%–enough to keep the economy growing steadily each year without causing the kind of financial pain we’ve seen over the past year or so. That’s why the Fed has been raising interest rates, increasing the cost of borrowing money but also delivering higher interest rates for savers.

The current streak of inflation can be traced back to the beginning of the pandemic, when people stuck at home started buying more stuff than usual with the money they weren’t spending on going out. Demand for consumer goods such as furniture and more grew faster than supply, leading to higher prices. A labor shortage during the pandemic also caused many companies to increase their wages and salaries. Then the Russia-Ukraine war contributed to a spike in energy and wheat prices. With a global supply chain, disruptions in one country or industry have a ripple effect everywhere.

How Does Inflation Affect Small Businesses?

Just as a family’s budget can be squeezed by inflation, small businesses may have to make some changes as well. Unlike larger companies, small businesses may not have as much of a cash cushion either in savings or with their cash flow.

Higher operating costs (for labor, materials, services, utilities, etc.) may cut into whatever cash cushion you do have, forcing you to try and cut costs, raise prices for your goods and services, or both. Or you accept smaller profit margins to avoid passing costs onto your customers.

Inflation also causes uncertainty about the future. When prices change quickly or unpredictably, it’s harder to plan and forecast for the months or year ahead. Luckily, there are steps you can take as a small business owner to lessen any negative impacts of inflation on your business.

Woman doing bills in small business

Budgeting For Inflation as a Small Business Owner

A solid budget provides a roadmap, with room for flexibility, for your business operations.

  • Create and stick to a business budget.
  • Leave room in your budget for monthly adjustments as costs rise and fall.
  • Involve your employees–your budget and company’s success affect you and everyone who works for you.
  • Make employees aware of changes to ensure everyone is working towards the same goal.
  • Employees on the ground may also offer new insights or creative solutions.
  • Overestimate your expenses. It’s better to have leftover funds than to not allocate enough.
  • Don’t plan on running perfectly on budget–there will almost always be an unexpected cost.
  • Understand the ebbs and flows of your market. Not every month will show growth–most businesses will have a “slow” season.

If you’re experiencing a cyclical or temporary cash flow shortage, a commercial line of credit gives you the flexibility to tap working capital when you need it, pay back what you borrowed, and use the credit line again.

Inflation-Proofing Strategies for Small Business Owners

Beyond budgeting, here’s what you can do to “inflation-proof” your business.

  • Consider long-term vendor contracts to lock in pricing. That will help prevent your business costs from rising faster than inflation.
  • Cut down on unnecessary expenses or switch to cheaper options, such as with office supplies.
  • Communicate with your customers about any inflation-related challenges you’re facing and why you need to raise prices accordingly. Your customers will appreciate the honesty and they want to see you succeed.
  • Re-evaluate your vendors. As your business changes, so do your vending needs. There may be a new vendor who can help you cut costs in your market.
  • Invest in automation and technology. This can help reduce your overhead and increase productivity. For example, F&M Bank’s Cash Management services for businesses can help you automate everyday tasks such as depositing checks and more.

Man holding packages looking at laptop

How to Stay Ahead of the Curve

We want to help your small business not just survive but thrive. Inflation isn’t the only curveball that life can throw your business. Here are some ideas for helping you get ahead.

  • Invest in your employees. Losing experienced employees can set a business back, as well as the expenses that come with training a new hire. Focusing on retention will save you money in the long run and help protect you against the costs of recruiting and training during a time of inflation.
  • Put extra money in an interest-bearing savings account. As the Fed raises rates to help fight inflation, let your extra cash work for you. It will take some time to see a gain, but in the long run you can come out ahead. For example, interest rates on Business Certificates of Deposit (CDs) are very competitive.
  • Improve your Accounts Receivable Turnover Ratio. With the availability of ACH and credit card payment solutions, giving customers 30 or 60 days to pay a bill may be unnecessary. Shorter payment terms (such as 20 days), down payment requirements, and upfront payment for new clients with no credit history can result in an improved AR Turnover Ratio. You could use that increased monthly cash flow to reduce your dependency on credit cards. Depending on the increase in cash flow, improving your AR turnover may be enough to support additional staff who can drive more business.
  • Build your inventory of supplies. Before price increases and shortages hit, have a stable of necessary supplies stored safely and out of the way to be prepared. This is especially helpful when preparing for a busy season such as the holidays.

F&M Bank can help your Virginia small business succeed!

F&M Bank has helped generations of small businesses in the Shenandoah Valley and we can help you, too. Check out testimonials from our business customers to see how we meet the banking needs of local businesses and help them grow. Contact us to discuss your specific pain points around small business inflation and find the right solutions to get back on track.

Spring Clean Your Finances

Spring is a natural time to start planning for the upcoming year, whether you plan to buy a home, return to school, or simply map out your summer vacation. Just like you clean your house and switch out your wardrobe, now is the perfect time to clean up your finances, help you prepare for tax season, and get things in order for the year ahead.

Conducting your own financial spring clean doesn’t have to be hard or overwhelming, and each time you do it the easier it will get. If it’s been a while, begin small, setting aside a half hour to conduct an easy check, gradually moving onto larger tasks as you gain momentum. Let’s start with a simple task—reviewing your credit score.

Checking credit score

Review Your Credit Score

At the minimum, you should check in with your official credit record once a year. This is especially important if you plan on applying for a loan in the near future, as your credit score is one of the most important deciding factors for both approval and determining your interest rate.

Why check your score?

You may pay your bills on time every month and be responsible with your use of credit, but it’s vital for your financial health to both be familiar with your score and understand the factors that go into your particular score—taking corrective actions to improve it when necessary. Even if you’ve never missed a payment, there are other things that can lower your score, from maxing out or carrying large balances on your credit cards, opening too many accounts, or even being the victim of identity theft. Knowing your score and its breakdown can help you address any issues that are dragging it down.

How to check?

You can check your credit report from each of the three major reporting agencies (Experian, Transunion, and Equifax) for free, once a year, at AnnualCreditReport.com. Your report will show your full payment and account history, pointing out aspects of your credit that could be improved.

Official credit scores from the credit reporting agencies, however, are not free. You can buy access to your score through any of the reporting agencies, at any time, but there are other options. Every time you apply for a loan or other form of credit, the financial institution will disclose your credit score to you. Additionally, many credit cards will offer you free credit scores and monitoring—sometimes your score will appear right on your monthly statement. Lastly, it’s possible to sign up for free credit monitoring and get an unofficial (but still helpful) score, with an analysis. Just be sure to only sign up with reputable companies and watch out for hidden fees—they all have them.

What to check?

When reviewing your credit history, be sure that all the following are correct:

  • Payment history
  • Listed accounts
  • Accounts listed as closed (or open)
  • Credit limits and balances
  • Public records
  • Inquiries

What to do if something looks incorrect?

If there’s something wrong, you’ll need to dispute the error with the credit bureau and also report any inaccuracies to the company who reported the information (credit card company, bank, hospital, utility company, etc.). For more information on how to fix errors with your credit report, check out this excellent resource from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Is it possible to remove accurate, negative information from my credit report?

Holding credit card and phone looking at subscriptions

Revisit Recurring Payments

Recurring payments can make up a large portion of your monthly bills and can be an easy way to free up a decent chunk of your monthly budget.

Why should you check recurring payments?

Although each individual charge may be small, these payments can add up! In fact, according to a recent study the average consumer spends $273 per month on subscription services, up from $237 in 2018.

How to check?

Online and mobile banking can make recurring payments easy to check and keep track of. Log into all your bank and credit card accounts, looking for fees that appear each month in the same (or similar) dollar amount. If a line item looks familiar, conduct a web search to find out what it is.

What to cut?

To reduce spending on these recurring charges, considering canceling things you don’t regularly use or need, including:

  • Magazine subscriptions
  • Streaming subscriptions
  • Memberships (gym, club, etc.)
  • Mobile apps and games
  • Other services

Additionally, if you are looking to balance your budget, consider other regular, discretionary expenses—including holiday shopping or spring break vacations—that can be reduced. Set a budget and save for them in a designated account like a Christmas Club Savings Account, instead.

Older parents with younger couple

Assess Your Beneficiaries

When was the last time you checked who is designated as a beneficiary on your financial accounts—or that there was one listed at all? Because we never know what to expect from life, it’s important to have your financial accounts in order, should an unforeseen circumstance or event occur.

Why should you revisit your beneficiaries?

You may have experienced a major life change in the past year, like a divorce or a death in the family—or perhaps simply a minor one. Who you want to gain the benefit from your financial holdings—account by account—maybe change from year to year. And not having a beneficiary on some accounts, like IRAs, can cause unnecessary complications and delays during estate settlement.

What accounts and documents to check?

Nearly all financial accounts allow you to list a beneficiary. Look into your:

  • Bank deposit accounts: checking, savings, money market accounts, and CDs
  • Custodial accounts: accounts you hold for your dependents, or accounts where another person is or was the custodian for you
  • Retirement accounts – 401(k)s, IRAs, Annuities

Additionally, take the time to review your estate planning, including your will and any trusts you have. For more information on the many types of account ownership and designations, from estate accounts to power of attorney, check out our account ownership post.

Jar of coins labeled retirement next to clock

Audit Retirement Accounts

If you have changed jobs more than once, chances are you have multiple retirement accounts—maybe even some that you’ve forgotten all about. Take the time to round up all your retirement investments to ensure that you have the most cohesive and easy-to-manage plan in place, that also has the best financial payoff.

Why check in with your retirement accounts?

If you have multiple 401(k)s or other plans, it can be easy to lose track of them, possibly losing access to a valuable asset. Additionally, checking in with the specific mixture of investments for each plan—working with a financial advisor—can help you assess which accounts are doing the best, and which ones could use an adjustment. And keep in mind that work-sponsored HSAs belong to you (even after you leave a job), and can be valuable retirement tools for medical expenses, as well.

What to do?

Find account information for all retirement accounts, including those with previous employers. This could include 401(k)s, 403(b)s, HSAs, IRAs, and Roth 401(k)s. Most accounts will have some form of online account management. If you don’t currently have access, take steps to gain it again (by reaching out to your employer or investment company). Here are a few things you can do to manage and simplify your retirement accounts:

  • Reduce redundancies: Roll over 401(k)s and combine other similar accounts into one account
  • Check address, contact information, and beneficiaries
  • Increase your automatic contributions from your paycheck
  • Review investments and make changes to poorly-performing assets
  • Make sure recurring investments or dividend distributions are being reinvested—uninvested accounts cannot grow! 
  • For more investment tips, check out our post: Six Keys to More Successful Investing

What if I don’t have any retirement accounts?

The earlier you start saving for retirement, the better. If you don’t have a retirement plan, start one today. If your employer offers retirement benefits, reach out to them to enroll. If not, consider an individual retirement account—a Roth or Traditional IRA. These accounts allow for yearly contributions that must be completed by tax day. With a Traditional IRA, your contribution can have immediate tax benefits, too! Speak to a wealth manager to learn more about your options and create a plan that works for you.

How F&M Can Help

Spring can be a busy time of year, from tax prep to summer planning. But creating a yearly ritual of checking in with your financial accounts and revisiting your long-term plans can help you avoid pitfalls, stay organized, and increase your chances of success.

At F&M Bank, there are many ways we can help. Make an appointment and stop by one of our branch locations throughout the Shenandoah Valley to review your accounts with us, ask questions, and make any necessary changes. And while you’re there, consider meeting with an F&M financial advisor to understand the many retirement and investment options available to you to help you meet your financial goals. Reach out to us today to freshen up your finances and prepare for a new season of growth!