Foundations of Financial Literacy


Do you remember when you were learning how to read? When you were just starting, you probably didn’t like to practice very much. However, when you had an understanding of the words and became literate, reading probably became more fun! Just like when you learned to read, learning to be financially literate takes some practice. However, you will be thankful when you have an understanding of how to wisely manage your money.  In order to become financial literate, you must understand some principles of financial literacy. We will talk about four foundational principles in today’s blog.

The Difference between an Asset and a Liability

An asset is anything that puts money in your pocket. A liability is anything that takes money out of your pocket. To illustrate the difference, we will use your home as an example. Many people think of their house as an asset. This isn’t really true because your home takes money out of your pocket each month in the form of taxes, maintenance, etc. But if you own rental properties, tenants pay rent, maintenance costs, taxes, and more. This is money going into your pocket each month, making these properties an asset.

Cash Flow versus Capital Gains

When investing for capital gains, you invest your money and hope that the price will go up. The problem with this is that you don’t have any control over whether or not the price goes up. Investing for cash flow gives you more control over your income. For instance, you could buy investment real estate, have tenants to pay the expenses, and collect rent each month. This makes it an asset. If there are capital gains in the end, that is a bonus.

Using Debt to get Richer

Debt isn’t typically viewed as a money maker. However, it can be used to create wealth. There are two kinds of debt – good and bad. Bad debt comes from borrowing money for liabilities such as using credit cards to buy big TVs or borrowing a line of credit on your home. This is the debt you want to stay away from. Good debt is used to purchase assets. Think of our previous example of purchasing rental property. When you purchase that property using the bank’s money, you can collect money from your tenant to pay off debt and then pocket the profit.

Learn How to Make Your Own Financial Decisions

If you aren’t confident in your financial knowledge, ask experts for help. They will help you learn how to make financially intelligent decisions that can give you the confidence to think for yourself. The wisdom needed to be financially literate only comes from the desire to learn about what courses of action are best.

April is Financial Literacy Month and Alpine Bank wants to help all of our customers gain a fuller understanding of wise financial decisions. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Alpine Bank Accepting Monetary Donations for Tornado Victims

road to recoveryAt Alpine Bank, our thoughts continue to be with the victims of last Thursday’s tornadoes.  We have many employees and customers affected by this disaster.

Therefore, we have partnered with the Village of Kirkland to establish funds for victims of tornadoes that ravaged the Kirkland/Fairdale area on Thursday, April 9.  A Go Fund Me account has been set up and can be found at  Alpine Bank will cover the administrative costs of the fund, allowing 100% of all monetary donations to be distributed directly to the families.

Accounts have also been established at Alpine Bank to aid affected residents.  You can stop into any of our 15 branches and make a donation.  You may also mail a donation to:

Alpine Bank
Fairdale Relief Fund
PO Box 280
Kirkland, IL 60146

According to the Village of Kirkland’s Tornado Recovery Information page, donations of goods are no longer being accepted, since there is no room left to store these items.  However, monetary donations will continue to be accepted.

If you have any questions, please contact the Village of Kirkland at 815.522.6179 or visit their website at

What to Do with Your Tax Refund

Are you getting some money back from Uncle Sam this year? We have some wise ways you can spend that extra cash.

Are you getting some money back from Uncle Sam this year? We have some wise ways you can spend that extra cash.

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!

Alpine Bank To Host Annual Spring Community Shred Day April 25

iStock_000002827290LargeAlpine Bank and Paper Recovery Service Corporation, a secure shredding solutions company, are partnering together again to hold Alpine Bank’s annual spring Community Shred Day on Saturday, April 25, 2015, from 9 a.m. to Noon in the North parking lot of Alpine Bank’s East State Street Branch at 6838 East State Street in Rockford. In conjunction with Money Smart Week Northern Illinois, Alpine Bank’s Community Shred Day is a FREE event open to the entire community. Attendees, without leaving the comforts of their vehicles, will be able to drop off their documents at the “shredding drive-thru” and watch Paper Recover shred them during the event on site free of charge.

People are invited to bring a maximum of 2 boxes of the following materials to be shredded: clean paper of any color, file folders of any color, papers containing staples, paper clips, rubber bands, and/or small binders. Materials that cannot be shredded include: trash, cardboard, telephone books, hardcover books, hanging folders, 3-ring binders, lever-arch binders, and any plastics, including computer disks, CDs, DVDs, VCR tapes, ID badges, x-rays, transparencies, and etc.

Identity theft continues to be a serious growing crime in the United States. As noted on the TransUnion website, nearly 9.9 million Americans are victims of some form of identity theft each year. Shredding personal documents and information is just one way to avoid becoming a victim.  Alpine Bank hosts two Community Shred Days each year – one in the spring and one in the fall.

More Information
For more information about this Community Shred Day, visit or call 815.398.6500. For more information about identity theft and other important security tips, visit

About Paper Recovery Service Corporation
Based in Loves Park, IL, Paper Recovery Service Corporation provides solutions from secure document destruction to recycling for businesses in manufacturing, retail, or professional services.

Tips to Save On Your Next Big Road Trip

If you are hitting the road for spring break this year, check out some of these money-saving ideas.

If you are hitting the road for spring break this year, check out some of these money-saving ideas.

A road trip is a great way to spend more time with your family, see a lot of the country and make fun memories. Many families want to take a trip like this but don’t think they can afford the meals, hotel stays, entertainment, and transportation costs. But Alpine Bank has some tips that will let you hit the highway without blowing your budget.

Drive a larger vehicle – Though it may seem counter-intuitive to drive something that will guzzle more gas, the money you will be able to save by packing an extra cooler of food or making room for some camping equipment (check out the next tip!) will make up for the cost of extra gas.

Consider camping – While hotels are convenient, setting up camp is a fraction of the cost. Camping is an especially great option if you want to explore National Parks that have limited accommodation for miles. If you don’t own any camping equipment, you probably know someone who does that will let you borrow it for a week.

Pack your food – Even fast food meals add up quickly when you are eating them three times a day. Having a cooler full of sandwiches, drinks, and snacks will be much cheaper and healthier than stopping for a burger every few hours.

Stop by free attractions – While there are probably specific sites you want to see and pay for, there will also be times when you need to pull over for a break. Instead of pulling into another rest stop, make a memory and stop by one of the many roadside attractions on your way. The Roadside America app is full of quirky roadside attractions – most of which are free!

Get your vehicle checked before you go – Nothing ruins a good road trip quite like car problems. Calling a tow truck, relying on a new mechanic and possibly staying the night while you wait for repairs to be made can add up to a huge expense. Having your vehicle checked out before you leave can save a lot of money and stress.

Road trips are all about making great memories (and some not so great ones that you will laugh at in a few years). If you are ready to hit the highway, we wish you safe travels! For more tips on saving for your family’s next vacation, talk to the experts at Alpine Bank.

Branch Managers Promoted at Alpine Bank

Alpine Bank has announced the promotions of three branch managers.  Melissa Beatty and Natasha (Tasha) Ferguson were promoted to Assistant Vice Presidents & Branch ManagersRachel Parry was promoted to Assistant Vice President & In-Store Branch Manager.

Melissa BeattyMelissa Beatty, born and raised in Rockford and now residing in Pecatonica, has been with Alpine Bank for over a decade.  Ms. Beatty manages the Retail branch on East State Street, in Rockford.  She has her Associate’s Degree from Rock Valley College, carries an Illinois Insurance License and is also a notary.

Ms. Beatty helps out her community by volunteering with Visiting Nurses and is a board member for Just Goods in Rockford.

FergusonTasha Ferguson, a lifelong resident of Belvidere, has been in the financial industry for nearly two decades.  As a member of the Alpine Bank team, she runs the Cherry Valley branch and assists customers with their personal financial needs.

Ms. Ferguson helps out in the community by volunteering with the Boone County CASA, Blue Thunder Booster Club and stays busy with kids’ sports.

ParryRachel Parry grew up in Chicago before moving to Marengo, then to Loves Park in 2002.  Her educational achievements include a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Columbia College, and she is currently working on her MBA.  Ms. Parry’s decade-plus experience in the financial industry has helped her become a valuable member of the Alpine Bank team.

Ms. Parry is very involved in the community.  She teaches classes for  Family Credit Management.  She is also a trustee on the board for the North Suburban Library District and secretary of the PTA at Loves Park Elementary.


URGENT: Beware of Phishing Emails

It has recently come to our attention that several phishing emails are being circulated.  A sample of one of the emails is seen below.  If you receive one of these emails, DO NOT click on any links or open any attachments. DELETE immediately. If you have clicked on any links, please contact your IT department or provider.

These emails are not specific to Alpine Bank customers.  Reports from many institutions have surfaced.  The safety of our community is important to us.  If you have any questions on these types of emails, please feel free to contact our Electronic Banking Department at 815-398-6500.

For more information on Online Security visit



(Click on image to enlarge.)       

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. 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.