5 Things You Need to Know About Valentine’s Day

The National Retail Federation found that Americans spend over $17 billion on Valentine’s Day celebrations. But showing love on Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean you need to blow your budget. Let Alpine Bank help you. Check out some of the facts about buying a Valentine’s Day gift this year.

  1. Gender counts

In 2014, gift givers planned to spend an average of $134 on Valentine’s Day, with men saying they would spend an average of $108.38 while women said they would spend $49.41. Additionally, research from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management found that men tend to spend more on gifts when there is a lower female population near them.

  1. Roses may be cheaper

The price that florists pay for roses can double on Valentine’s Day, which carries over to consumers. But since Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday this year, prices may be lower. Why? When the holiday falls on a weekend, there is 20% less demand because men have more time to plan.

  1. You’ll pay more for chocolate

The cost of cocoa rose sharply in 2014 due to the rising global demand and fear of depleting supply. In July, Hershey’s started charging 8 percent more for their goods while the price of Mars products increased by 7 percent. The National Retail Federation found that almost half of all romantics buy chocolates for Valentine’s Day.

  1. Quality time is more precious than money

If you are reluctant to drop too much cash on a decadent box of chocolates or bouquet of roses, don’t feel bad! Activities that bring you closer together often make loved ones happier than buying expensive gifts.

  1. Talk money

Having a discussion about money may not sound very romantic, but a 2014 survey by the credit bureau Experian found that 73 percent of women and 60 percent of men found their significant other more attractive when they were willing to talk about personal finances.

Don’t get so caught up in the gift-giving part of Valentine’s Day that you forget about its real purpose. Turn it back into a celebration of love, not an empty bank account. Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your loved ones from Alpine Bank!

The Face of Our Dollars

In February, we celebrate the historical leaders of our country on President’s Day. To celebrate these great men, Alpine Bank decided to look at some of the presidents who are featured on our money. Treasury.gov says that their records don’t suggest why specific presidents and statesmen were chosen for each bill. Let’s take a look at some of the facts about our past presidents to figure out how they came to be on our money.

George Washington – America’s first President and Founding Father was put on the dollar bill in 1869 – seven years after the bill was first printed. He appeared on the quarter in 1924 after Congress created the US George Washington Bicentennial Commission to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth.

Abraham Lincoln – The 16th president is credited with preserving the Union and ending slavery in the US. He has appeared on the $5 bill since 1914. Teddy Roosevelt commissioned Lincoln to be on the penny as well in 1909 in honor of Lincoln’s 100th birthday.

Andrew Jackson – Jackson’s face replaced Cleveland’s on the $20 bill in 1928. Since then, several petitions have circulated to have this controversial political figure removed from the bill.

Ulysses S. Grant – Civil War general and 18th US President Ulysses S. Grant first appeared on the $50 bill in 1913. Legislation to put Ronald Reagan on the bill instead of Grant was voted down by Congress in 2005 and 2010.

Benjamin Franklin –One of only two non-presidents featured on our paper money, Franklin is thought to be “the only President of the United States who was never President of the United States.”  His picture first appeared on the $100 bill in 1914.

Paper money has changed a lot in the last 100 years. It will be interesting to see what changes are in the future! At Alpine Bank, our goal is to keep as many of these President’s faces in your wallet as possible! Contact us for tips and advice about saving.

Alpine Bank Announces Commercial Officer Promotions

Matt Roegner, Executive Vice President & CLO of Alpine Bank, has announced the promotions of five Commercial officers.  Don Banks, David Sobojinski and Rhonda Sunden were promoted to Senior Vice Presidents of Commercial ServicesCarl Dumoulin was promoted to Senior Vice President of Ag and Commercial ServicesBrenten Witherby was promoted to Vice President of Commercial Services.

BanksDon2008_1962re_3x4Don Banks has over two decades worth of experience in helping customers with their commercial lending needs. Mr. Banks earned his BA in Business Management from Western Illinois University.  He is also a graduate of the ABA Commercial Lending School and the CBA’s Illinois Midwest School for Community Bankers.

Mr. Banks stays active in the community as a trustee for Flora Township and a member of the Kirkland Lions Club.  He is also a member and past president of the Boone County Historical Society, a board member for the Greater Kirkland Area Chamber of Commerce and president of the Flora Cemetery Board.  He serves as president of the Belvidere IOU Club and is a board member for the School District #100 Charitable Foundation.

DSobojinski_09.14David Sobojinski has 25 years in the financial industry, with 16 of those years in commercial lending.  He is a graduate of University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh with a degree in Finance and Management Information Systems.   He takes the extra time necessary to understand a company’s business and providing financial resources and tools to assist the owner in achieving their goals.

Mr. Sobojinski follows the Alpine Bank philosophy of helping people, businesses and our community. He is currently a member of Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful. He is a past treasurer of the Beloit YMCA board, past member of Kiwanis and former loan committee member of the Rockford Local Development Corp.

SundenRhonda 2009Rhonda Sunden has two-plus decades of financial service experience, giving her a keen eye and great sense of how to best serve the customers she works with. She attended the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR with a degree in Business Management.  She is also a graduate of ABA National Commercial Lending School.

Ms. Sunden is also busy in the community, serving as a board member of the Rockford Downtown Rotary and member of Women of Today’s Manufacturing.  She also participates on the United for Youth Capital Campaign for the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.  Ms. Sunden is a past board member for the Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois.  She has worked with the United Way of Rock River Valley, Junior Achievement of Rock River Valley, and the YMCA of Rock River Valley.

DumoulinCarl_01_2013Carl Dumoulin got his start in finance with his BS degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois and continued his education at the Bank Administration Institute Graduate School of Banking at UW-Madison. Combined with his 30-plus years of experience, Mr. Dumoulin is a great resource for our customers with lending needs.

Mr. Dumoulin stays active in the community as treasurer for the Belvidere Lions Club and as a board member for the University of Illinois Extension Council serving Boone, DeKalb and Ogle Counties.  He is a current member of the finance and audit committees of the Rockford Area Literacy Council and a member of the Knights of Columbus. He has also been involved with the St. Joseph Hospital Foundation Council in Belvidere.

WitherbyBrenten_11_2012Brenten Witherby has lived in Winnebago County his whole life, which provides an extra benefit when working with our local small businesses. Mr. Witherby’s BS and MBA degrees, as well as his specialty in working with U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) lending programs, allow him to help small and medium-sized businesses find success.

Mr. Witherby’s community involvement includes being a Trustee and member of the Executive Committee of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois. He’s also a member of the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders (NAGGL) and is a graduate of the 2014 Chamber of Commerce Leadership Rockford program.

3 Steps to Start Planning for Retirement

Do you find yourself thinking about what’s next?  No matter how old you are, it is never too early to start thinking about the future and planning for a comfortable retirement.

Whether you are in your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, or 60’s, there are some behaviors you can start now so you are set up for a happy retirement. Follow these practices and you will be on your way to relaxing after many years of hard work.

Find three core pursuits

Core pursuits are more than hobbies. They are the things you are passionate about! Whether it is travel, volunteering or sports, your core pursuits should help you find purpose in each day and define your priorities.

Create multiple streams of income

Having multiple streams of income is the best way to feel financially secure. Utilize social security, pension income, income from investments, and government benefits. Think of it like many small tributaries flowing into the same river. If one tributary dries up, you still have others to keep your financial river flowing.

Plan for retirement

Commit to spend five hours each year planning for retirement. Saving throughout your working life is the best way to ensure that you will be able to live your golden years on your own terms. Think ahead about what you want your retirement to look like. Use this goal to generate ideas about how you can save enough money to achieve it. Everyone’s plan will be different but we should all have one!

Retirement should be something we all look forward to whether it is next year or in another 30. We know you work hard and Alpine Bank wants you to enjoy every year! No matter your age, we have a savings account that will help you plan for your future.

How to Have More Money without Making More Money

The economy is starting to look up for the first time since 2008 and many people are finding themselves with some extra cash. But that extra chunk of change brings some responsibilities with it. People who overspend typically don’t do so on a few major purchases. They usually spend too much on many small purchases that sneak between the cracks of their budget. Try out a few of these ideas to keep your spending in check this year.

Start a budget: Budgeting is not a new topic for our blog, but if you haven’t started or updated your budget yet, it is time to start. Keep the receipt for every purchase you make for a month. At the end of the month, add up every dollar you spent (even if it is just a couple!) and evaluate what purchases were necessary. Include these in your monthly budget and try to cut out the other stuff.

Shop Sales Wisely: We all love a good sale! But if you end up buying more because it was on sale, you didn’t save at all. Only take advantage of sales when it is for something you need.

Use Cash: Giving your plastic card a quick swipe is a lot easier than handing over some green. The best way to track what is leaving your wallet is to physically see it. Many people just click the pay button without looking at the charges on their credit card bill. When you see your wallet shrinking before your eyes, you may realize you don’t have extra money to spend on wants.

Cutting back on purchasing is not only about saving money but also accumulating less stuff over your lifetime. When we live with fewer things, it is easier to manage a simple lifestyle. Alpine Bank wants you to keep your finances organized and in check. We offer different checking and savings accounts to fit your unique needs. Stop in at one of our locations today!

Alpine Trust & Investment Group Officers Promoted

JO_ML Bill Roop, president & CEO of Alpine Bank, has announced the promotions of two Alpine Trust & Investment Group employees, Julie O’Rourke and Michele Lind.

 Julie O’Rourke, CFA, CFP® was promoted to Executive Vice President and Senior Trust & Investment Officer.  Ms. O’Rourke joined Alpine Trust & Investment Group in 2004 and has over two decades of investment management experience. She Chairs the Investment Strategy Committee, is responsible for monitoring the economy and markets, and leading department-wide portfolio strategy decisions.  Ms. O’Rourke supervises the team of investment professionals and manages the investment and financial planning processes.  She works with institutional and high net worth clients.

Prior to joining Alpine Trust & Investment Group, Julie spent 15 years serving as portfolio manager, working with both large institutions and individuals at all stages of wealth. She successfully led a team of equity research analysts as they worked together to manage equity mutual funds. Julie has counseled many different types of institutions regarding the construction of investment policies and appropriate asset allocation.

She has been quoted in several print publications and has appeared on both television and radio to speak about investments, the markets and the economy. She has presented to the American Association of Individual Investors (AAII), the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office Smart Women / Smart Money seminar, as well as to numerous economic and financial market outlook symposiums.

Julie graduated from Rockford University with a BS in Finance and attained the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation in 1995 and the Certified Financial Planner TM (CFP®) designation in 2008.  She is a member of United Way’s Impact Council and the Boone County Council on Aging Endowment Committee and volunteers at St. Mary Parish.

 Michele Lind, CFP® has been promoted to Assistant Vice President & Investment Officer.  Ms. Lind joined Alpine Trust & Investment Group in March 2009.  She manages portfolios of individual trusts and guardianships, investment agency accounts, and 401(k) plans.  She is responsible for monitoring the economy and markets as a member of the Investment Strategy Committee.

Prior to joining the investment group, Michele spent 20 years in the financial planning and investment industry with various positions in administration and marketing, sales and project management, and bank brokerage management.

Michele is a graduate of Rockford University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics/Finance.    She earned the Certified Financial PlannerTM designation in 2005 and holds Life and Health Insurance licenses for the state of Illinois.

Michele currently serves on the Finance Committee for Womanspace of Rockford.

New Year’s Resolutions For Your Finances

Are you making a New Year’s resolution this year? You may try to lose weight, get more organized, or try a new hobby. But what are you doing about your finances? If you aren’t using a budget, this is a great time to start one. If you budget already, the New Year is a great time to improve your already good habits!

To get started, track all of your spending for a week. Write down everything you pay for with credit card, debit card, cash, or check.  Keeping this record will help you track where your money is going. After you know where your money is going, you can determine where some cuts can be made.

To start 2015 on the right foot, commit to making one or two of these money-saving resolutions:

Own up to splurges – Everyone has weaknesses – a fancy cup of coffee every morning, expedited shipping, appetizers more expensive than your meal.  You don’t need to cut these out completely. Sometimes we all need a little reward! But don’t forget to include them out of your budget. Be honest with yourself about the small splurges you make and include these expenses along with your more practical expenses.

Pack a lunch one day a week – While this may seem simple to those who regularly pack their food, it seems like a lot of work if you aren’t used to it. The extra time brown-bagging it takes intimidates many of us so we don’t bother and hit the drive thru again. Plan ahead and build more time into your schedule for shopping and meal preparation. Ease yourself into the routine. Just bring your lunch from home one day a week. Try bringing in some leftovers from the night before or a frozen dinner. If the savings drive you to brown-bag your lunch more often, that is an added bonus!

Use comparison shopping apps – If you are part of the smartphone world, you can use your high-tech device to help you save money. Many major retailers have their own apps with special deals and coupons. There are also apps available that allow you to scan a product’s barcode and it will tell you if the item is cheaper somewhere else.

Go generic on one name-brand item – We aren’t saying you need to stop buying name-brand products altogether. Start small. Pick just one thing to switch over to generic. Maybe something like your shampoo? Fancy coffee creamer? What about your household cleaner? If you notice the difference in taste or performance, you can always switch back. But you may find that the only thing you are missing out on is the higher price tag.

Learning how you really spend your money is the first step towards saving. If you need any help with your budget or personal finances, contact Alpine Bank. Our friendly staff would be happy to answer any questions you have.

Shop Smarter, Not Harder

Before you have even had time to finish your Thanksgiving leftovers, the Christmas shopping season is here! Even if you have a long Nice List this year, there is no need to stress. We have some tips on getting through this holiday shopping season without running your wallet and your sanity dry.

Make a list: Write down everyone that you will be buying a gift for – even if it is something small! Jot down some gift ideas for each person along with the maximum amount you can spend on their gift. If you tip your mail carrier, baby sitter, or doorman at Christmas, don’t forget to include them on this list. This will help you determine your holiday budget.

Spread out your shopping: Even if you won’t listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving, you can still start your holiday shopping before December! Keep your eyes open all year for the perfect thing for your loved ones. That way when December arrives, you will already have a head start on your shopping and can avoid some of the hassle. Make sure you put all the early purchases in a designated space so you don’t forget about what you bought earlier in the year.

Do your research: If you aren’t sure what specific brand or type of item to buy, check online for reputable reviews. Sites like Amazon.com offer user reviews and ratings that make it easy to see feedback. Comparison sites like Pricegrabber.com can help you find the best online price as well.

Take advantage of no-cost holiday shipping: Many retailers will offer last-minute shoppers the gift of free shipping that is guaranteed to arrive on or before Christmas Eve. If you prefer to shop early, many websites offer free shipping when you spend a certain amount or more.

Don’t let holiday shopping get the best of you or your budget. With a little extra effort and planning, you could save yourself some money and stress. For additional budget tips, talk with a member of our staff at Alpine Bank. We are always willing to help with any of your personal finance concerns.

Alpine Bank Announces New In-Store Branch Officer

WandellShondra_11_2014Alpine Bank is pleased to announce Shondra Wandell has been promoted to In-Store Branch Officer, at the Schnucks East State branch located at 6410 East State St., Rockford.  Ms. Wandell has been in the banking industry for over 9 years, with nearly six of those years with the Alpine Bank family.  She is a lifelong resident of the Rockford area and received her Associates of Arts degree through Rock Valley College.

Ms. Wandell stated, “I’m lucky to be a part of a company that cares about their employees and is very involved in the community…We give our time and attention to show [our account holders] we really are a bank you can actually like.”

She remains committed to the area she has always called home, by continuously volunteering at Alpine Bank sponsored events.  She is also secretary for JuBell-ee Festival, a non-profit which holds a concert once a year to raise money for local charities.