In the hoopla surrounding the holidays, “it’s better to give than to receive” can sometimes take a seat on the back burner. While you’re trimming the tree or cozied up next to loved ones around the table, others are experiencing a much different celebration season. Medical conditions, job loss, and other unforeseen circumstances can limit an individual or family’s ability to experience December festivities – and that’s where you can step in to spread cheer.
This season, scope out opportunities in the community for you and your family to lend a hand. At Alpine Bank and Trust, we suggest looking into some of these possibilities to add holiday magic into the lives of neighbors in need:
- Make food and dish it out- cookies and casseroles can be great gifts this time of year. You can provide them for those who don’t have the means or are short on food, as well as to firefighters, police officers and other public servants.
- Pack stockings for the homeless- pick out some cheap stockings and fill them with practical items. These can range from food and drink (granola bars, bottles of water, etc.) to gloves, socks and hygiene items.
- Donate old toys- kids’ toys and games can get pricey in a hurry. Purge your kids’ toys to donate to kids who aren’t as fortunate.
- Pay a visit to a local nursing home- the holidays can be tough times for elderly people living in nursing homes. A small visit or gift from a stranger could brighten their day, or even make their entire week.
- “Adopt” a family- there are many ways you can support families in our community. A food pantry would be a good place to start to find out about families in need and support them throughout the winter, the toughest time for families in need.
- Donate to a food bank- winter, especially in our area, is a difficult part of the year; it is far worse if you don’t have enough food. Food banks and food pantries could put your donation to good use.
- Have family members make a donation in your name- replace one thing on your Christmas list with the wish that in lieu of a present, a donation is made in your name to the charity of your choice.
Which of these opportunities strikes a chord in you?
As you go throughout the usual chores and activities of the holidays, remember to think of those who aren’t as fortunate as yourself. Our community is only as strong as we make it, so let’s work together to strengthen and uplift those who need it most.
Alpine Bank and Trust, Equal Housing Lender, Member FDIC
“Holiday season” can mean totally different things for you and your child. While visions of Sugar Plums dance in their head, those visions are replaced with dollar signs in yours as you mentally tally the cost of the most magical time of year.
Find common ground by using this season to show your kids about tracking, saving, and giving money with these pointers from Alpine Bank and Trust:
- Create a budget: Squeeze the most magic out of the holidays by creating a battle plan. Let the kids listen as you and your partner settle on a budget for the month, breaking it down into categories like food, gifts, parties, and decorations. Once they understand how their parents create a budget, turn them loose to make one of their own, allotting a dollar amount on gifts for each person on their list.
- Get crafty with gifts: If you haven’t been accumulating gifts as they’re on sale throughout the year, your wallet can take a serious hit when prices spike during the holidays. Try your hand at homemade gifts, ranging from thoughtful cards to favorite family recipes, most of which can be created with supplies lying around the home or purchased for cheap. Your kids benefit when they unleash their creativity and see the thoughtful effort of a gift crafted by hand.
- Shop smarter: Don’t leave your kids in the dark with the money you plan to spend. When you head to the store, be upfront about how much you plan to spend on what purchases and why. With that knowledge in mind, they can help you spot sales as you cruise the aisles. Turn your shopping adventure into a game by challenging them to find the best deal or most creative alternative, and pay with cash to give them practice counting money and deducting coupons.
- Give, give, give: It’s better to give than to receive, and the holidays are the perfect opportunity to show your kids this principle in action. Explain that other families may not be in the same financial boat as you, and build on this lesson in empathy by choosing an organization like Toys for Tots or Operation Christmas Child to purchase gifts for a child in need. Have your child help pick out and deliver the purchase to experience the joy of giving firsthand.
Make the holidays not only the most wonderful time of year for you and your children, but the most frugal. Alpine Bank and Trust is always here to help your family make the most of your financials to start you strong in the New Year!
Alpine Bank, Equal Housing Lender, Member FDIC
Goblins and ghouls may rule October, but there is a scarier threat out there than kids in costumes. Cyberattacks have the potential to throw a wrench to both your finances and your life.
October is Cyber Security Month, so there is no better time to assess your cyber security vulnerabilities than now. Whether you are lacking in protecting your home or laptop computer, or you just need to be more aware of what systems pose a threat, the following tips can help you stay more secure.
Julie O’Rourke, Executive Vice President and Senior Trust & Investment Officer, is pleased to welcome Elizabeth “Betsy” Pierson, Senior Vice President & Chief Investment Officer, to Alpine Trust & Investment Group.
Ms. Pierson joined Alpine Trust & Investment Group earlier this month. She is responsible for overall investment strategy, as well as client relationships.
Ms. Pierson has been involved with the investment process, asset allocation and strategy decisions for over three decades. She has worked alongside institutional and high net worth clients to help them achieve their long-term financial goals. In addition, she has extensive knowledge in the fixed-income area, having managed bond mutual funds and a fixed-income collective investment trust fund for employee benefit plans.
She graduated from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana with a Bachelor of Science in Finance. She attained her Chartered Financial Analyst designation, in 1991.
She has served on non-profit boards in the past and is looking forward to more opportunities to serve the community.
Over the last couple of days, there have been media reports about known “malicious software” from the App Store. Apple has been vigilent in removing these known apps. As most of these malicious apps are from outside the United States, Alpine Bank Mobile Banking App was not affected.
Because of the discovery of these apps, Apple recommends that all Apple users update their current apps to the latest version, to negate further risks from these apps.
We encourage you to learn more on this subject, by reading 9to5mac.com’s current article.
Prepare your home for the cooler months ahead.
Now that we are in the autumn season, you may be kicking yourself for not finishing up your summer home improvement projects. Don’t worry! Alpine Bank is here to help.
Explore what football can teach us about our finances.
It’s that time of year again: football season! From fun tailgating and exciting games, football is one of the best parts of the fall season.
Certainly stock market declines of the nature that we have experienced in the past couple of days are unnerving. Recollection of the 2007-2009 market decline is very fresh in investors’ minds. It is important to keep these events in perspective. The previous decline was a reaction to a financial system on the brink, a real crisis in confidence in the entire financial system. This is not the case today. In other words, this is not a Lehman moment!
So, what is going on?
> This is merely a reset of global growth expectations. It’s becoming clear that the global economy, likely in part due to demographics, is going to be in a much slower growth pattern than has historically been the case.
> If global economic growth is lower, then future earnings growth must be lower too. Earnings are what moves stock prices and that’s why stocks are going lower, to reset to new lower growth expectations.
> Good news is that U.S. earnings expectations are not very high anyway, however, everyone has been suspicious of China’s reported economic data and given all the actions the government has been taking to stabilize growth, the suspicions are confirmed and China is likely growing slower than previously thought.
> Market valuation is not at the same high level that it was in 2007, it is much more reasonable.
> Our economy is still growing steadily. Our largest trading partners are Canada, China, and Mexico. China’s citizens are not heavily involved in their stock market so our exports to China may not even be impacted too much.
> U.S. new home sales in July were at their highest level since July 2007; auto sales are at best pace in a decade; labor market improved.
> Europe has become more stable despite Greece’s Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras’ recent resignation. European growth is firming, but certainly not robust. Recent Eurozone PMI came in at 54.1, signaling the best expansion in some time for the manufacturing sector.
> U.S. has gone 1,418 calendar days without a 10% correction, the 3rd longest in the past 50 years. The DOW and S&P 500 have now corrected 10% from their May 2015 highs. 10% corrections are normal and healthy, even though they do not feel very good, especially when they happen as quickly as this one.
> The Fed has not been clear on its direction and that has spooked markets as well. Market volatility may push off a rate hike until at least December.
> Most portfolios are diversified and are not fully invested in stocks. Bonds have rallied so that side of your portfolio should have gained in value to help offset equity declines.
Investors in the equity markets know that long term value is achieved only when a long term perspective can be maintained. Volatility like this is difficult to tolerate over the short term but might be easier if the media was as vocal about the gains in your bond portfolio that were serving to mitigate some of the short term equity declines.
Investment and insurance products are: not Alpine Bank products, not FDIC insured; not guaranteed; and, may be subject to investment risk, including possible loss of principal.
Pat Peterson, Senior Vice President, is pleased to announce Jennifer Sipes has been promoted to Branch Manager of the Roscoe branch, located at 5023 Rockrose Court.
Ms. Sipes began her career in the financial industry 14 years ago. In 2005, she joined the Alpine Bank family as a teller, after which she held positions as Teller Supervisor and Assistant Branch Manager.
Born and raised in Northern Illinois, Ms. Sipes understands the needs of the community she serves. She is currently a member of Alpine Kiwanis, volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association and volunteer with the Hononegah High School – Readiness in the Workplace Program. Ms. Sipes can also be seen volunteering at numerous Alpine Bank events.
Going to the grocery store doesn’t have to break your budget each month.
Everyone knows how expensive it can be to go grocery shopping, especially if you are shopping for a family. Even though we know it’s coming, it still hurts to pay that large bill each time we visit the grocery store.