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.
The summer season holds new beginnings for many people. Whether you recently graduated, started a new job, got married or are taking time for a mid-year financial checkup, the summer is a great time to evaluate or start new financial habits. Continue reading
Whether you are ready for it or not, tax season is upon us! While this time of year makes most of us want to let out a groan, there is a bright side to remember: you may be getting a refund.
You may want to start looking at making some kind of big purchase with the money, you need to step back and look at the big picture. Getting a tax refund is an opportunity to better your financial situation and make wise decisions. If you just waste the money that you get back, what was the point in getting it back in the first place?
If you’re fortunate enough to receive a tax refund this year, consider putting it towards one of these suggestions from Alpine Bank. These will benefit your family and start you on a good financial path for the rest of the year.
Make home improvements- Whether it is a minor do-it-yourself fix or a major project, keeping your home updated will increase its value and also prevent future problems from occurring. This will mean more cash for you if or when you decide to put your home on the market.
Make extra payments- Making extra payments on your mortgage, credit card debt or loans may not be fun, but it will save you money in the form of less interest down the road. Plus, you will have all of your debts paid off sooner!
Put it away for your kids’ college education- College tuition is always rising and this trend doesn’t look like it will be stopping anytime soon. Consider setting aside some extra money into an education savings account.
Contribute to your retirement fund- If you are looking towards long-term goals, contributing to your retirement account is a good way to ensure that you feel secure when you are done working.
Build your emergency fund- Your emergency fund should have at least three months’ worth of living expenses saved up in it. If you have had to dip into your emergency fund lately, this is the time to start rebuilding it.
Which of these ideas do you think would benefit you most? If you are looking for some advice about saving now or later down the road, contact Alpine Bank. We would love to talk it over with you!
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.
Do you fear getting your monthly bank statement? Does it feel like there is a weight on your shoulders any time you think about money? Do you feel hopeless about your current financial situation? If so, you are suffering from financial stress, and you are not alone.
A 2013 study by Financial Finesse found that 83 percent of employees report some financial stress, with 16 percent saying it is high or overwhelming. Financial stress’s consequences aren’t limited to your bank account, either; it can translate into physical health symptoms, causing high blood pressure and other health issues.
Since May is National Blood Pressure Month, Alpine Bank thinks this is as good a time as any to help you keep your blood pressure in a healthy range by lowering your financial stress levels. Here are a few tips for those of you stressing about your money situation to hopefully get you back on solid ground.
- Look for ways to reduce your debt- is there anything you can sell to help pay down your debt? You can also try refinancing your debt through your creditors, who may give you a better rate if they know you’re looking to refinance.
- See where your money goes- scour your debit and credit card statements to see where you are racking up the most spending. You can also use free websites like Mint to help, and keep receipts for every purchase you make.
- Cut costs- once you see where your money is going, see which expenses you can cut or eliminate altogether. Even small savings can add up to a lot over time.
- Prioritize your spending- make sure the essentials – rent/mortgage, food, utilities, student loans – are covered before you pay down your unsecured debt, such as credit card debt, which can generally be negotiated.
- Learn to haggle or ask for help- you can try negotiating with your creditors directly or ask a non-profit credit counseling agency for help.
- Build an emergency fund- having $1,000 in your savings account can go a long way to giving you some peace of mind and reducing your anxiety.
Being stressed from your finances can seem like an inescapable trap. However, by creating a logical, step-by-step plan, you can free yourself from the crushing weight of debt and other stressors. Just be aware that it may take some time and lots of willpower to do. If you need help, Alpine Bankwill gladly help in any way we can. We look forward to seeing you soon!
There’s little doubt that spring is a very beautiful time of year here in our part of Illinois. The grass is green, flowers have bloomed, and soon the recently planted fields will start growing in. But nature isn’t the only thing that can get greener this time of year.
Your home and how you live are also two things that can “go green” while also helping you save some green. This is a win-win situation, because not only does Alpine Bank advocate smart financial decisions, but also living responsibly in regard to our environment. That’s why we have come up with a few ways you can help out Mother Nature and save a little money as well.
Seal up the cracks- this not only keeps cool air in as it warms up, but it also keeps cold air out in the winter. And there’s an added bonus: it can help you save up to 30 percent on your heating and cooling bill
Go for a low-flow showerhead- the name says “low-flow” but there doesn’t feel like much difference with most low-flow heads. Also, showerheads with the WaterSense label could save up to 2,900 gallons per year on average.
Revamp your thermostat- a programmable thermostat will help you maximize the efficiency of your heating and cooling, meaning less waste and more money in your pocket.
Nix the disposable household products- paper plates, paper towels, napkins, aluminum foil, and zipper bags can all be replaced with alternatives that you can use multiple times.
Repurpose- before tossing anything out, ask yourself if there is another purpose it could serve. A lot of the time the answer will be “yes.”
Buy used- there may be a stigma to buying second-hand goods, but you can’t argue with the savings you’ll find at Goodwill or other thrift stores.
Learn how to cook or start a garden- the less takeout or fast food you buy, the fewer wrappers, bags, and other packaging you go through that become trash.
Are there other ways you can think of to go green without breaking the bank? Let us know by leaving us a comment on our Facebook page.
We hope these ideas have given you some inspiration to look at your home and lifestyle and find areas where you can reduce waste. If you need help increasing your financial efficiency, come by your nearest Alpine Bank office today and we’ll see how we can help. We hope to see you soon!
Bill Roop, President of Alpine Bank, has announced that Chris Johnson has recently joined Alpine Trust & Investment Group as Vice President and Trust Officer. Mr. Johnson brings with him nearly 20 years of experience in the financial industry, with 16 of those years in trust and investments. His office is located in the Alpine Bank location at 600 South State Street in Belvidere.
Mr. Johnson grew up in the DeKalb area and attended Northern Illinois University, where he received his Bachelor of Science in Finance and Master of Business Administration (MBA). He, his wife and four children are excited to be back in the area to serve the communities he calls home.
“On behalf of Alpine Trust and Investment Group, I am pleased to welcome Chris to our team of trust experts,” said Lee Mayer, Executive Vice President and Senior Trust Officer. “His expertise and commitment to his clients exemplifies our fundamental principle of people helping people.”
April is Financial Literacy Month and Alpine Bank believes it’s the perfect time to teach your kids about money. Experts say kids need to be taught that reaching their goals and aspirations requires a healthy understanding of money basics, but unfortunately many parents fall short with these lessons.
While many mom and dads give their children allowance, a recent study done by DoughMain, a financial education website, shows that only 4 percent of parents require their children to deposit money into a bank account. Regardless of whether you have a lot of money or not, starting your child’s financial habits at a young age will help them make wiser money decisions later in life.
Teaching kids financial habits at an early age can sometimes be difficult; therefore, Alpine Bank has come up with a few ways to help make this process easier.
Bring them to the bank: Open a Next Generation Savings Account with your kids. This limited withdrawal savings account helps your child start to save at a young age. Ask your banker for a savings register and when you get home, go over the importance of keeping track of money spent and their current balance. Encourage them to put their birthday, holiday and tooth fairy money into their account.
Clip the coupons: Get your kids involved with the family’s weekly grocery shopping. Have them write a shopping list and set a budget before going to the supermarket. Before you go, have your kids hunt for coupons in the paper and online for items on your list. Just be sure you’re using coupons that are for items you actually need.
Money-hungry piggy bank: Not many people like carrying change around with them, so why not give it to your kids? Empty your pockets out each night, and at the end of each week have your child count the money and put it into their piggy bank. Once a month, go to the bank and watch your child’s face light up when they see how much money they can collect just from change.
Be a role model: Remember that you have a large impact on your child’s life. Set a good example and focus on making good financial habits yourself. Statistics show that 32 percent of parents tell their children they can afford something when they really can’t. Tell the truth about your finances to prevent them from lying about their financial issues later in life.
April is Financial Literacy Month and an excellent time for you to start that money talk with your child. Alpine Bank encourages you to set a good example and help educate your kids on good financial habits this month. We hope to see you and your child soon!
Whether we want to realize it or not, the way we were raised has a tremendous impact on how we make decisions as an adult. April is Financial Literacy Month and Alpine Bank wants you to consider the negative financial habits that you may unintentionally be teaching your children.
Did you know most children’s financial habits are formed by age seven? It’s widely known that children pick up on words, dress style and food habits at a young age, but it hasn’t been predominantly communicated that financial habits were on the list of precautions to take when around children.
Children under the age of eight years old may be able to count and recognize money, but it’s suggested that they do not have an understanding of the difference between “luxuries” and “necessities”, meaning they see items, not the amount of money spent to purchase them. It is crucial that financial education starts at a young age.
Here are three common parenting behaviors that can negatively influence children’s money habits.
- You Spoil Your Children: Your child may expect that they can and should still get whatever they want when they grow up. The problem is they may not have the income to support the ability to live large. Challenge yourself to put money in a savings account for your child instead of giving them games, clothes and toys.
- You Make Financial Decisions on a Whim: Go out for dinner? Sure. Go see a movie? You bet. Go shopping for new clothes? Why not? If you are always saying yes to questions that involve buying something, you are showing your kids that financial decisions should be made without much thought. Sure, it may be fine to go out for dinner tonight, but explain to them that this means they’ll have to sacrifice that movie night later in the week.
- You are Very Frugal: Whether you need to keep a tight budget or you are a penny pincher, this money saving tactic could potentially affect your child’s spending habits in the future. It has been shown in a few studies that excessive spending can be a side effect of living an extremely frugal childhood. Talk to your child and explain the reasoning for being careful with money so that they can learn the benefits of saving and not feel resentful.
Since children learn a lot from their parents, Alpine Bank wants you to celebrate Financial Literacy Month by improving your financial habits while educating your children on how to stay financially successful. Make a commitment to help your child grow into a financially independent person this April.