Save Money and Go Green with these 7 Tips

Green living tips from Alpine Bank

Going green can be an easy and frugal change to your lifestyle.

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!

Attention Users of Trusteer Rapport

Alpine Bank has received notice that IBM Trusteer has become aware of a phishing e-mail campaign targeting IBM Trusteer. The campaign started on May 9, 2014.

The fraudulent e-mails appear to come from Trusteer with the sender’s e-mail address masquerading as support@trusteer.com, an e-mail account that is no longer in use.

These e-mails are part of a spear phishing campaign that uses IBM Trusteer’s brand to distribute a malicious executable file.

The emails are addressed directly to recipients containing their full name and e-mail address. The content of the message requests that recipients run the attached file in order to upgrade their IBM Trusteer Rapport software version.

Please note that IBM Trusteer will not distribute Rapport updates as email attachments.

In response, IBM Trusteer has already begun rolling out an update that will protect users from accidentally opening the malicious file. Further recommendations from IBM Trusteer are as follows:

1.        Users who received this email are requested to delete it immediately.

2.        Users who may have already launched the attached file should be instructed to refrain from Online Banking, and contact Alpine Bank’s eBanking Department at 815.398.6500 or by email at ebanking@bankalpine.com.

Chris Johnson Joins Alpine Trust & Investment Group

JohnsonChris_05_2014Bill 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.”

4 Ways to Teach Kids The Importance of Money

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.

Money habits for kids from Alpine Bank

Most kids learn money habits from their parents, so be sure you’re setting a good example

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!

Calling All High School Golfers: Would you like to play in the 2014 Rockford Pro-Am?

ProAmTeam2013

As a prime sponsor of this year’s Rockford Pro-Am, on July 14, 2014, Alpine Bank will have one foursome play in the tournament. Like the last five years, it is our desire to provide four up and coming golfers in our area the opportunity to play in this prestigious event.

All interested candidates are encouraged to apply, per the following application criteria.   Applicants must be currently enrolled in 9th – 12th grade, reside in Northern Illinois, and have previous golf experience – whether playing for a school team or independently.  Golfers who have played in one of our previous foursomes are not eligible to reapply.

The 2014 Pro-Am Golfer Application can be found at www.bankalpine.com/ProAm2014 or can be picked up at any Alpine Bank location.  The completed application, along with a one-page letter of recommendation from a non-family member regarding your golf skill and experience, can be returned to any Alpine Bank branch or mailed to Alpine Bank, Marketing Department, P.O. Box 6086, Rockford, IL 61125-1086.  The deadline for submission is Friday, May 16, 2014.

A selection committee will review all applications and the foursomes will be announced in May.

 

Learn More about the Rockford Pro-Am >

3 Negative Financial Habits You May Be Teaching Your Children

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.

Good financial habits for kids

Saving money is just one financial habit kids can learn from their parents

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

The Heartbleed Bug

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There has been a lot of talk about the Heartbleed Bug this past week.  Alpine Bank has been proactive in researching all aspects of www.bankalpine.com to view our vulnerability.  We have run diagnostic tests on our website to insure that it is not at risk to this threat.  We have also asked all of our third party vendors to complete vulnerability risks on their sites.  At this time, there are no known vulnerability threats to any Alpine Bank sites.

We will continue to monitor the situation and if the need arises, we will take the necessary steps to mitigate the threat of this bug.

Learn more about it at www.heartbleed.com.

Learn what you can do at http://krebsonsecurity.com/2014/04/heartbleed-bug-what-can-you-do/.

Learn what banks are doing at http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/179_71/ffiec-tells-banks-to-fix-heartbleed-security-risks-asap-1066839-1.html

Alpine Bank 2014 Service Star Awards

Service Star Winners Wendy Bryan Sue 22714

Bill Roop, president & CEO of Alpine Bank, announced the Employee Service Star Award winners for 2013 at Alpine Bank’s annual Employee Recognition Dinner. Alpine Bank has been awarding the Service Stars since 1998. The Service Star awards are a way to pay special tribute to those employees who really set the standard for bank employees, in the level of service they provide.

Throughout the year, Alpine employees are asked to submit nominations, called a WOW! (What Outstanding Work), in three categories.  The categories are Service to Internal Customers, Service to External Customers and Brand Champion.  At the end of each quarter a winner(s) is chosen out of the nominees to receive a quarterly award.  Out of the quarterly winners, a final yearly winner is chosen to receive the Service Star Awards.

The Service to Internal Customers Service Star Award went to Wendy Goldsworthy, Senior Application Systems Administrator.  Ms. Goldsworthy received numerous nominations throughout the year from several departments and branches.  One employee commented, “Wendy is the ‘go to’ person for any out of the ordinary supplies.  Have a button that needs to be sewed back on; Wendy has a needle and thread…”  Many others commented on her pleasant demeanor and that she is very knowledgeable and helpful.

The Service to External Customers Service Star award was presented to Bryan Gatlin, Assistant Manager – Roscoe Branch.  Nominations for Mr. Gatlin noted that he is always kind and follows through with whatever task he is given.  One coworker wrote, “He communicates well and I appreciate that so much.  I know I can count on Bryan and his kindness and his caring ways make him a wonderful asset to Alpine Bank.”

The Role Model Service Award was given to Susan Cadie, Marketing & Communications Coordinator, for her numerous nominations as Brand Champion.  Her colleagues said that she is a genuine and caring person who is always so full of excitement and exemplifies what it means to “Alpine.”  One commented, “She is the first to arrive and the last to leave a bank function, making sure it goes off without a hitch…”

In addition to the Service Star Awards, employees with 5, 10, 15, and 20 years of service received their Alpine Bank Service Pins.  Over thirty employees were also recognized for having 20-plus years of service with the Alpine Bank family.

 

Alpine Bank Community Shred Day on May 3rd

close up photo of paper that's been shredded

Alpine 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, May 3, 2014, from 9 a.m. to Noon in the parking lot of Alpine Bank’s East State Street Branch at 6838 East State Street in Rockford. Alpine Bank 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, etc.

Identity theft continues to be a serious growing crime in the United States. As noted on the Federal Trade Commission’s Web site, nearly 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. At one of our Community Shred Day events, Alpine Bank shredded a world record, collecting an astounding 253,318 lbs. of shred, which is more than the combined weight of all of the steel parts in the Statue of Liberty.

Alpine Bank hosts two Community Shred Days each year – one in the spring and one in the fall.

For more information about this Community Shred Day, visit www.bankalpine.com or call 815.398.6500. For more information about identity theft and other important security tips, visit https://www.bankalpine.com/security-privacy.

 

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.

Are You Making These 8 Common Home Buying Mistakes?

home-mistakes

Life contains certain landmark events: birth, getting your driver’s license, graduating from high school, getting married and so on. One of the most important decisions you will make in life is purchasing a home, whether it is your first home or the home you plan to live in until you die. It can be a very exciting process, but entering that process unprepared or getting caught up in it can spell trouble.

In order to help those of you looking to purchase a home this year, Alpine Bank has put together these eight common home buying mistakes in order for you to be better prepared and to make buying your home a highlight in your life.

Mistake #1, Forgetting About the Extra Costs- here’s a rundown of the costs you can expect to pay: mortgage (principal with interest), property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, utilities appraisal fee, credit report fee, escrow fee, closing costs and your real estate agent’s fee.

Mistake #2, Loving a House Too Much- getting caught up in all the features of a home can easily lead you over your budget. Stay practical with your needs.

Mistake #3, Buying More Home than You can Afford- a good rule of thumb here: if you are purchasing a home with another person, base the payment on only one of your incomes. That way, if something happens you will still be able to make payments on your home.

Mistake #4, Not Making a 20 Percent Down Payment- anything less than 20 percent likely means your lender will require costly private mortgage insurance.

Mistake #5, Not Having an Inspection Done- choose someone you trust and make sure it is done by the book. Nothing is worse than your foundation beginning to leak a year into living in your new home.

Mistake #6, Buying with Bad Credit- predatory lending is still alive, and is a sure way to end up in a home with a mortgage you can’t afford. Improve your credit score first before buying.

Mistake #7, Too Much Credit Activity- when you are in home buying mode, you should be doing two things only: paying bills and saving money. Anything else could mess with your credit.

Mistake #8, Not Being Committed to Staying Put- if you have a hard time with commitment, i.e., signing a one-year lease on your apartment makes you break out in hives, then homeownership is not for you. Make sure you are ready to live in the area for a while.

We hope recognizing these fatal mistakes helps you in your preparations for purchasing a new home, or at least gives you some guidance if the actual buying process is still a way down the road. Feel free to contact Alpine Bank’s mortgage lenders about these or other mortgage concerns.