4 Affordable Home Improvements for Summer

 

Cheap home improvements

Making your home look better doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive. Painting your front door is just one fun and quick way to spruce up your curb appeal.

Alpine Bank would like to offer you 4 affordable ideas for sprucing up your home this summer. With flowers in bloom and the sun shining bright, there is no better time to freshen up your house. Home is a place where family and friends gather and memories are made. Make this summer one to remember with several fun home projects to take on. Visit our site today to find services to help you with all your financial needs.

  1. Our first suggestion to creating a fresh look in your home is to paint the front door. While this may seem like a small change, it will make a big difference. A colored door can show your personality and set you aside from neighbors
  2. Our second suggestion is to add plants inside the home. A potted plant can be placed in the entrance to the home, kitchen, living room, or sun room, or anywhere it can receive proper sunlight. Plants have been shown to increase oxygen, improve mood, and increase focus. They are an easy find at any flower shop or farmer’s market.
  3. Our third suggestion is to replace old light fixtures with new. They can be installed easily and greatly change the feel of a room. A statement light shows that you care about the details of your home and value individuality. Go as extravagant or conservative as you feel to brighten up any room.
  4. Our fourth suggestion is to care for floors frequently and thoroughly. When floors are neglected, they collect dust and dirt that can cause scratching and long term expensive damage. By simply dusting and mopping a couple times a week, you will keep high traffic areas safe from scratches.

Alpine Bank encourages you to save money and make affordable home improvements this summer. We hope you keep us in mind when making financial decisions and don’t hesitate to drop in or give us a call today! Member FDIC.

3 Trends in Retirement Happening Today

Retirement trends

People are working longer than ever. Learn how trends like these can affect your retirement and what Alpine Bank can do to help!

Trends in today’s world are constantly changing. In pop culture, celebrities have a major influence of what is “in” and what is “out”. Movie star’s personal lives are studied for the smallest mistakes and political figures are distorted in messages received by the public. Our world is changing and it is important to stay in touch with areas that may affect you. Trends in retirement are changing and affect the lives of almost everyone. Whatever stage of life you are in, it is never too early to start thinking about your life after work. Alpine Bank is here to provide retirement expertise and Traditional and Roth IRA’s to fit your needs. We invite you to visit our website today and allow us to serve your financial requests.

Trend #1:

Semi-retirement is a common occurrence in the lives of many retirees. After they leave their full time jobs, they may take up part time work to make ends meet. It may be due to a lack of pension plans or forced retirement in the work place. By being aware of this, we hope you consider building a secure savings account today.

Trend #2:

A common belief is that those with higher incomes can and will retire earlier. However, those in high paying jobs often want to keep working and are able to. Individuals with lower income positions have had a different experience in the work force and may want to take advantage of retirement benefits as soon as possible.

Trend #3:

Social Security is now allowing people ages 62 to 70 to continue working while building up credit. They can keep working and receive the same lifelong benefits. Companies are also starting to allow their employees to retire when they want without the pull of a pension plan or forced retirement.

It is never too soon to start financially planning for your retirement. We encourage you to open a savings account with Alpine Bank and start saving today! Member FDIC.

Reduce Your Financial Stress with these 6 Tips

Financial stress relief from Alpine Bank

Learn how to bust financial stress and live a better life free from the worries of money!

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!

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

heartbleed_286

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