How to Save Money While You Move

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Moving to a new home is an exciting time! Whether you are going through a career change, personal life change or just want to try something new, there are big changes ahead. Moving can also be expensive. We aren’t just talking about the mortgage or insurance, but the expenses of physically moving can really add up, especially when you have a lot of possession accumulated. Alpine Bank has some strategies that you can use to cut back on costs:

De-clutter: The time before a big move is the perfect time to go through your stuff and figure out what you need to keep and what can be sold. When selling items, Craigslist is a good place to sell larger items. eBay is more powerful for small or collector’s items. Yard sales and consignment shops are also great ways to get rid of larger bulk items like clothes and furniture.

Avoid hiring movers: Moving services can be expensive. Instead of dropping cash on movers, look into what you would need to move on your own. Do you have friends who would be willing to help for a day? Treating some friends to dinner after loading up a rental truck is a much cheaper option than paying someone to load the truck for you.

Strategize utility and service shutoffs: Many utilities require you to pay for a full month’s services at a time. If one of the services isn’t essential, cut it off before you leave rather than after so you aren’t pay for something that you aren’t using. This means you need to plan ahead and contact your service companies more than a month before your move-out date.

Be smart about finding moving boxes: As soon as you decide to move, start saving any cardboard boxes and packing materials that you can get your hands on. There are several places in your community, such as liquor stores, bookstores and grocery stores that will usually have free boxes laying around.

Moving is a stressful time and you may not have the time to use all of these strategies. But getting organized and planning ahead could help you save a bundle of money and your sanity. For more tips about the housing market, saving money and more, talk to a friendly staff member at Alpine Bank.

Money Advice for High School Graduates

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A large number of American students graduate from high school without knowing the basics of managing their money wisely. Their first step is often to take on a student loan to pay for college without understanding the scope of that debt. Whether your graduate plans to attend college, enter the working world, travel or join the military, all young people should know these basic personal finance rules.

Track your spending – Too often, people will spend mindlessly as long as there is money in their account. However, these are usually the people that can’t pay their bills at the end of the month. Keeping track of where you spend your money allows you to understand where you money has gone and where you can cut back.

Create a budget – Once you know where your money is going, creating a budget will help you designate where you want it to go. If you make a reasonable budget and stick to it, you won’t have to worry about not having enough money at the end of the month.

Earn compound interest – When you start to save or invest money, it earns interest. That interest can earn interest as well over time. This is why it is a good idea to start saving as soon as you can. Even if you can only save $5 or $10 a week, that money will add up over time.

Use cash – Research has shown that we are more careful with our money when we are handing over card than when we swipe a credit or debit card. If you do choose to use credit, never spend more on that card than what you can pay off at the end of the month. That will get you into even more problems with debt in the future.

If your child just graduated from high school, teach them what you can about what it means to manage money wisely. For help starting up a checking account, savings account, Online Banking or another financial tool, talk to Alpine Bank.

Alpine Bank Adds 55,000 Surcharge-Free ATMs

Allpoint-GrnYel-cmykAlpine Bank has joined Allpoint Network, which means Alpine Bank customers now have access to America’s largest surcharge-free ATM network, with some 55,000 surcharge-free ATMs worldwide.Allpoint Network is an affiliate of Cardtronics, Inc. (NASDAQ: CATM), the world’s largest retail ATM owner.

In addition to Alpine’s branch locations and ATMs, with Allpoint Network, our customers will never be far away from surcharge-free ATM access to their cash, especially in the United States where Allpoint offers 43,000 cash machines in places they’re already visiting as part of their daily routine. Conveniently located in destination retail outlets including major discount retailers, convenience, grocery and pharmacy stores, Allpoint Network ATMs save customers of Alpine Bank time as well as ATM fees.

“By becoming an Allpoint Network member, in an instant Alpine Bank grows its surcharge-free ATM locations to more than double that of even some of the largest banks,” said John Vanderheyden, executive vice president of Operations for Alpine Bank.  “People want a financial service provider that delivers the most convenient account access and management options, and that includes access to their cash.  With Allpoint, we can meet that need.”

How to find Allpoint NetworkAlpine Bank customers looking for the nearest surcharge-free Allpoint ATM—including 12,000 locations in Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, Australia—can do so with their smartphone using the free Allpoint Network ATM locator app. And once at the store hosting an Allpoint ATM, look for the green Allpoint logo.

Allpoint Network resources:

About Allpoint

Allpoint Network is the largest surcharge-free ATM network with more than 55,000 ATMs in leading national and regional merchant locations across the United States, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom and Australia.  Allpoint provides greater access, convenience and savings to customers of financial institutions while providing institutions the tools to compete more effectively for customers. For more information or to find the nearest Allpoint surcharge-free ATM, please visit www.AllpointNetwork.com, like us on Facebook and follow @Allpoint on Twitter. Allpoint Network is an affiliate of Cardtronics, Inc. (NASDAQ: CATM)

Thinking of Purchasing an Older Home? Read This First!

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Have you ever heard someone say “They don’t build them like they used to” when it comes to talking about old cars, appliances and homes? Whether it’s the style they were built in, the identifying features or other characteristics, there’s just something about living in an older home that has a unique history behind it.

 

However, old homes can also cause difficulties if you aren’t careful. If you are looking into purchasing an older home this spring, here are some pros and cons to consider from your friends at Alpine Bank.

 

Pros:

 

Location – Older homes were built first so they are often situated close to the action.

Cost – This is usually assumed, but you will typically pay less for an older home than a newer one of the same size.

Long-term investments – Check with other home owners in the area to see how much their home values have changed in the past decade. Old homes are often limited in supply, yet high in demand so the value may rise.

Availability – An older home is ready to be lived in. You don’t need to wait for a builder to put finishing touches or delays in the building schedule.

 

Cons:

 

Roots – Old homes often have older trees in the yard. These trees have long and deep roots that can cause problems with your foundation or plumbing systems.

Out-of-date building codes – Checkold heating, plumbing and wiring systems to make sure they are up to modern codes, along with the chimneys and windows.

Places to put your stuff – People didn’t own as much stuff when older homes were built as we do now. This means that closets and storage spaces may be smaller than what you are used to.

 

When you are looking at houses, don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions! Purchasing a new home is a big decision, so don’t leave any stone unturned.

 

The mortgage bankers at Alpine Bank can help you find the mortgage solutions you need to get your ideal home, old or new. Give them a call to get started with a free loan consultation today!

 

Foundations of Financial Literacy

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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 http://www.gofundme.com/rk72t88r.  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 http://villageofkirkland.com.

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 www.bankalpine.com or call 815.398.6500. For more information about identity theft and other important security tips, visit 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.

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.