Author Archives: Bank Alpine Blogger

5 Simple Steps to Organize Your Finances TODAY

 

Keeping your personal finances organized can save you money and stress

Keeping your personal finances organized can save you money and stress.

Are you a purger or a hoarder? Either way, important financial documents are probably being ignored. This can result in late fees, overdraft charges and other costs that could be prevented if an organization system was set in place. Use Get Organized Week as an opportunity to start fresh and try some of these tips from Alpine Bank to organize your personal finances.

  • Choose a system that works for you. There are many free web-based solutions that allow you to record your bills and payments online. Other people choose to use the classic paper and pencil method. Whichever method you choose, commit to it.
  • Get the tools you need. This may mean getting folders to organize each payment into categories such as taxes, credit cards, investments etc. It is important to establish a uniform way to store all of your paper bills and documents to prevent them from being misplaced or ignored.
  • Pay your bills as soon as they come. Getting the payment out of the way helps to prevent papers from piling up on the counter where they can easily be lost or thrown away. Many late fees are charged because the bill was simply forgotten about.
  • When possible, pay bills online or through email. Digital payment systems help cut down the clutter as well as the chances of losing a paper document. An automated payment system can be handy for fixed monthly costs too!
  • Keep everything in one place. Some people choose to organize bills into folders or a single notebook while others scan and save bills into a designated computer file. Even something simple like keeping receipts in a shoebox or designated desk drawer can help keep track of your files. There are many different methods so you can choose which is best for you.

Organizing your finances may seem like a daunting task but once you get in the swing of a certain method, you will notice that it is an easy way to cut back on the clutter and stress that fills your life.

Preventing a Financial Fall

Don't let low temperatures raise your bills this fall

Don’t let low temperatures raise your bills this fall

As the leaves begin to change and the countdown to Halloween begins, there is no doubt that fall is here. The change in the seasons also brings different expenses you’ll have to account for when budgeting during the fall months.

Alpine Bank wants to make sure you’re financially prepared for the coming months, so let’s take a look at some expenses you and your family could be facing in the next couple of months.

Heating- Farmer’s Almanac and other forecasts are predicting that we will be pulling out our snow shovels a little earlier than usual this year. This means you will also be relying on your furnace more. A thorough maintenance examination by a technician is a good place to start, and changing out the filter each month will help air flow efficiently so you spend less on heating.

Electricity- As the days grow dark earlier, you’ll be flipping on light switches and lamps earlier in the evening. Be smart about what lights you have on and off, and create a plan for keeping unused appliances unplugged to help with energy savings.

Warmer clothing- When you’re out shopping for pants, sweatshirts and jackets, try retailers that routinely mark down prices and have sales. Many companies now have apps and websites that make it easy to compare and find the best price.

Food- If we face the predicted severe fall and winter, you could see rising food prices at the grocery store. This calls for a shopping list filled with items that can easily be made into casseroles or crock pot recipes that can feed your family for more than one meal. Again, you may need to comparison shop at different stores for the best deals.

Through smart budgeting and careful planning of how your heating and electricity are used, you can make it through the fall with relatively little change in your expenses. If you need help with your finances or have additional questions, ­­­­­­­Alpine Bank would be glad to help!

5 Tips for Home Buying Success

Before buying a home, ensure you are prepared financially and in every area of life.

Before buying a home, ensure you are prepared financially and in every area of life.

Beginnings are a fun, exciting, and challenging time of life. Whether it’s your first day of school, a career, or buying your first home, change can be exciting and difficult. One way to make transition periods easier is by preparing as much as possible.  Staying organized with what is important to you and keeping your finances in check are both important to ensure you will have a smooth transition.

Fall can be a good time to purchase a new home if you’ve been thinking about moving. With that in mind, Alpine Bank would like to offer you five suggestions for buying a home now or if you need to begin your preparation:

  • Start saving as soon as possible to ensure you can obtain the home of your choice. You will need to make a down payment and show lenders that you have enough money to afford living expenses. Lenders like to see you are not living paycheck to paycheck and have enough to support yourself or a family.
  • Improve your credit score. Your length of credit history, new credit, and types of credit all play a role in your score. A credit score of 720 or higher is ideal and appealing to many lenders.
  • Get preapproved for your loan before making any sudden movements. Getting preapproved will show you how much you can afford and how much you can get a loan for. Apply for a loan online with Alpine Bank and sign up for a free consultation with a mortgage lender.
  • Prioritize your needs. Make sure you have the location you want, the number of bedrooms you need, and enough counter space to make meals. Whatever is most important to you, find that and don’t settle for less.
  •  Don’t rush it. Home buying isn’t for everyone. If you do not foresee yourself moving in the near future or not having enough money to make your home what you want it, save for a couple more years and make the move when the timing is right.

Buying a home is a very exciting time of life. Keep stress at bay by preparing your finances far in advance so you know what you can afford and how to get the best loan possible. Alpine Bank has experts available to assist you with finding a home mortgage. Stop in or contact us today!

Seal the Deal: 7 Ways to Sell Your Home

Use these ideas to attract potential buyers and make your home appear as best possible.

Stress less about selling your home with tips found here.

After making the initial decision to sell a home, there are several considerations to make and steps to take.  Every situation is unique and should be approached as so. Whether the decision is made for financial reasons or for a new job, moving can be simplified with the right organization skills and professionals.

Making your home appealing to potential buyers is an important aspect in making the sale. Alpine Bank is here to offer you suggestions to do just that.

Tips for Home Sellers:

  • Find out what your home is worth and then shave 15 to 20 percent off that value. You will attract many buyers who will bid higher than what you priced the home at originally and the risk will be worth it.
  • Hire a broker that knows the area, is well educated of the housing market, and is tech savvy. A well informed broker will keep a watchful eye out on the market and ensure you are getting the best deal possible.
  • Show off the best features of your home and make it appealing to any buyer. Next to location, light is a priority for most home buyers.  Open the drapes, dust off blinds, and replace light bulbs. Do everything you can to make your home appear light, open, and cheery.
  • Storage space is important for many. Clean out your closet and neatly organize the remaining items. Show potential buyers how much room there is for their belongings and help them feel at home.
  • Simple upgrades like a new coat of paint, new door handles, new drapes, and polished floors, will help your home to look fresh without having to spend a lot.
  • Depersonalize your home to allow potential buyers to visualize themselves in it. Put away family photos, personal collections, and keepsakes.
  • Always have your home “show ready.” It needs to be in the right condition for a showing at any time. You need to be available and prepared to have a showing at any time. After all, the first impression matters most.

Alpine Bank wishes you the best of luck when selling your home. We understand this can be a stressful time of packing boxes and preparing for a big move, which is why we encourage you to do the small things right to sell your home as quick as possible. As you go on to find a home, contact Alpine Bank for a mortgage to fit your financial needs.

5 Simple Steps to Creating a Budget

Simple Steps for Creating a Budget from Alpine Bank
The first step to saving more is creating a budget for your personal finances. Knowing how to properly budget is a skill that will be helpful throughout all of life. While it is advised to start at a young age, it is never too late to learn. Whether you have been budgeting for years or are just beginning, Alpine Bank wants to offer five steps for creating a successful budget. We hope you find these helpful and incorporate them into your life.

  1. Gather all financial information from bank statements, bills, income and anything else that states where your money is going and coming from.
  2. Take note of all income. Whether you have a full time job, are self-employed, or have an occasional garage sale, write down how much you receive.
  3. Write down all expenses you have in any given month. These may be bills, groceries, gas, entertainment, college, retirement or gifts. Break these expenses into fixed and variable categories. Your fixed expenses are those that cannot change in order to live, while variable expenses can change. 
  4. Calculate the difference between your income and expenses. If your income is higher than your expenses, you are in good shape and can start saving more or paying off debt. If your expenses are more than your income, you may need to make some adjustments.
  5. Review your budget frequently to ensure your income and expenses are all lining up. Make adjustments as needed to stay debt free. Remember to prepare for expensive times of the year like Christmas and summer vacations.

Alpine Bank encourages you to take steps necessary to save more money. We know life can be busy, but taking time to create and use a budget will be beneficial in the future. Contact Alpine Bank for your financial questions and concerns. 

5 Ways to Save More this School Year

Save with with these back to school tips from Alpine Bank
As the school year approaches, you may be calculating the
many expenses to come. While this can be an exciting time of year, it can also
be very expensive. At Alpine Bank, we
understand the importance of saving and budgeting for all of life’s demands. While
your schedule may be filling up with school activities and sports, we hope you
keep in mind simple ways to save.

  • Before buying new school
    supplies, take inventory of what you already have around the house. You
    will be surprised with the pens, paper, and other items you find from
    previous years that are still in good shape.
  • Shop alone to avoid
    pressure from kids to buy items you don’t really need. Kids may also ask
    for the more expensive option and cause your bill to sky rocket. Shop
    alone to purchase only what you need at the lowest price.
  • When the school shopping
    rush is over, hit up the stores to find bargains on supplies to use down
    the road.
  • When looking for back to
    school clothes, look first at second hand and consignment stores. They
    offer reasonable prices and have items your kids are sure to love.
  • Compare the cost of school
    lunches to sack lunches from home. By packing a lunch every day, you may
    save money and provide a healthier option for your children. Write a
    little note and stick in their lunch for some mid-day motivation.

Alpine Bank
understands you are busy, which is why we hope to serve all your financial
needs. We encourage you to lay out your finances for each month and plan ahead
to ensure you are fully prepared. Take steps to save this school year and have
more to spend in places that matter most. Alpine Bank can be reached at
815.398.6500 or stop by one of our locations today to see how we
can help.

7 Steps to Successfully Complete a No Spend Challenge

Saving money

Make up for overspending this summer by completing a No Spend Challenge for 30 days! It’s easier than you think!

It’s easy to spend a ton of money during the summer. You want to vacation, attend county fairs and concerts and splurge on new summer clothes. Alpine Bank doesn’t want you to put yourself in a rut, but how can you break your bad spending habits and save? We’ve got answers for you. Complete a 30-Day No Spend Challenge! It sounds intimidating, but it can be done if you follow these guidelines. If it’s just too difficult, start slow. Complete a 7-Day No Spend Challenge, take a break, then try to abstain from spending for two weeks. You can work your way up to the 30-Day Challenge.

If you’re ready to take on 30 days of no spending, check out these tips to make sure you’re successful.

Don’t purchase anything you don’t need to live for 30 days straight. This limits you to food and medicine.

For food, only buy what you need to complete recipes you can make with mostly ingredients you already have. We all have cabinets full of canned food, pasta and other non-perishables that we don’t put to use. If you can, don’t buy any new food at all throughout the 30 days. Make it a goal to use up everything you already have. Get creative with your meals and use leftovers for lunches instead of making sandwiches, which forces you to run out of bread, cheese and meat quickly.

No new toiletries – make do with what you have and samples.

Try public transportation for 30 days. For close trips, use a bike or walk.

Cancel your cable and Internet for 30 days. Complete your online work AT WORK or start going to the library.

Need entertainment? Reorganize and de-clutter. You’ll find old treasures, like old movies and books, that you can enjoy. If you know you won’t enjoy them anymore, donate them.

Focus on projects you can do around the house to keep you busy. Scrapbook, write down recipes, keep a journal, paint or read. You can do these things without spending money and they’ll make you feel productive.

Don’t stockpile! Stockpiling with food and other supplies before you begin your 30 days defeats the purpose of the challenge. It’s meant to help you use up all the great food and products you already have and help you save.

Completing a 30-Day No Spend Challenge will show how much money you spend on things you don’t really need, and maybe don’t want. Living the “simple life” for 30 days might make you happier too, and give you more quality time with your family and friends.

4 Free Workouts for This Summer

Cheap workout ideas

If you want to save money and skip the gym membership this summer, check out these workout ideas that are free, like water aerobics.

Everyone is talking about their summer workout plan and getting that bikini body, and all you can think about is how expensive those fitness classes and boot camps are! Alpine Bank understands. We know you want to save this summer and still be active and fit. Instead of spending your summer trapped in the gym, why not enjoy the great outdoors and get a workout at the same time, for free?! Check out our list of totally free workouts!

Go Geocaching

Geocaching is just a cool word for treasure hunting with GPS coordinates available on geocaching websites. Look online for local parks with geocaching opportunities. Make it a workout by trying to reach the stash in a certain amount of time.

Get Climbing

Who needs the gym rock wall when you can climb a tree? Have a buddy on stand-by just to be safe, and only climb trees with sturdy limbs.

Use Water (and Sand!) Resistance

Get in the water, squat, and shuffle from side to side, staying low. Try going faster or digging your feet into the sand for more resistance.

Get closer to nature

Who needs gym equipment? Use rocks, park benches and logs for dips and step-ups. Use a low tree limb as a pull-up bar. If you want a bicep workout, throw a rope around a tree and over a low branch. Hold the ends of the rope and stand where there is only a little slack. Lean back and use your biceps to pull you upright. Try using one leg and bending the other for a harder challenge.

You can get in shape this summer and still save money! These workouts give you a chance to enjoy the summer weather while being active. It’s all about being creative with your workouts and thinking outside the gym!

4 Affordable Home Improvements for Summer

 

Cheap home improvements

Making your home look better doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive. Painting your front door is just one fun and quick way to spruce up your curb appeal.

Alpine Bank would like to offer you 4 affordable ideas for sprucing up your home this summer. With flowers in bloom and the sun shining bright, there is no better time to freshen up your house. Home is a place where family and friends gather and memories are made. Make this summer one to remember with several fun home projects to take on. Visit our site today to find services to help you with all your financial needs.

  1. Our first suggestion to creating a fresh look in your home is to paint the front door. While this may seem like a small change, it will make a big difference. A colored door can show your personality and set you aside from neighbors
  2. Our second suggestion is to add plants inside the home. A potted plant can be placed in the entrance to the home, kitchen, living room, or sun room, or anywhere it can receive proper sunlight. Plants have been shown to increase oxygen, improve mood, and increase focus. They are an easy find at any flower shop or farmer’s market.
  3. Our third suggestion is to replace old light fixtures with new. They can be installed easily and greatly change the feel of a room. A statement light shows that you care about the details of your home and value individuality. Go as extravagant or conservative as you feel to brighten up any room.
  4. Our fourth suggestion is to care for floors frequently and thoroughly. When floors are neglected, they collect dust and dirt that can cause scratching and long term expensive damage. By simply dusting and mopping a couple times a week, you will keep high traffic areas safe from scratches.

Alpine Bank encourages you to save money and make affordable home improvements this summer. We hope you keep us in mind when making financial decisions and don’t hesitate to drop in or give us a call today! Member FDIC.

3 Trends in Retirement Happening Today

Retirement trends

People are working longer than ever. Learn how trends like these can affect your retirement and what Alpine Bank can do to help!

Trends in today’s world are constantly changing. In pop culture, celebrities have a major influence of what is “in” and what is “out”. Movie star’s personal lives are studied for the smallest mistakes and political figures are distorted in messages received by the public. Our world is changing and it is important to stay in touch with areas that may affect you. Trends in retirement are changing and affect the lives of almost everyone. Whatever stage of life you are in, it is never too early to start thinking about your life after work. Alpine Bank is here to provide retirement expertise and Traditional and Roth IRA’s to fit your needs. We invite you to visit our website today and allow us to serve your financial requests.

Trend #1:

Semi-retirement is a common occurrence in the lives of many retirees. After they leave their full time jobs, they may take up part time work to make ends meet. It may be due to a lack of pension plans or forced retirement in the work place. By being aware of this, we hope you consider building a secure savings account today.

Trend #2:

A common belief is that those with higher incomes can and will retire earlier. However, those in high paying jobs often want to keep working and are able to. Individuals with lower income positions have had a different experience in the work force and may want to take advantage of retirement benefits as soon as possible.

Trend #3:

Social Security is now allowing people ages 62 to 70 to continue working while building up credit. They can keep working and receive the same lifelong benefits. Companies are also starting to allow their employees to retire when they want without the pull of a pension plan or forced retirement.

It is never too soon to start financially planning for your retirement. We encourage you to open a savings account with Alpine Bank and start saving today! Member FDIC.