Category Archives: Retirement

How to Hit a Homerun in Retirement


Winning in a baseball game or in your retirement savings is no easy feat! It takes dedication and determination to seal the win. As you begin to reexamine your retirement plan try these key pointers from Alpine Bank to coach you along the way!

Load the Bases

If you have available resources, make sure you’re using them! Just as a batter is primed to score with his bases covered in players, so are you by capitalizing on your 401(k), IRA, personal savings, and structured investing plan. Score extra points by taking advantage of your company’s 401(k) which matches your monthly contributions up to a certain percentage of your salary. Those are free dollars to aim towards your retirement!

Pitch a No Hitter

Don’t let the opposing team get ahead; work to pitch a no hitter by setting up your emergency savings fund. Instead of walking any unexpected expenses, such as auto repairs or medical bills, send those players back to the dugout with an added savings curve ball. You’ll be protecting your savings and racking up points, while staking your claim to your space in the hall of fame.

Build a Winning Team

Just as you would compile your fantasy team around leading scorers and left handed pitchers, the same applies to your financial team! At Alpine Bank we have a well-rounded lineup of personal bankers, wealth advisers, and lenders to help you make it to the big leagues.

Play Extra Innings

Even in retirement, there’s no rule against a little over time! Take up a part or full-time job you enjoy to cover living expenses before you have to dip into your savings account. You and your spouse could land a home run in the bottom of the 10th with some additional income at the start of your retirement.

No matter if you’re swinging for the fences or just trying to get on base, our experienced team at Alpine Bank can help craft a game plan for your retirement! Give us a call at (815) 398-6500  or stop by the bank today!

Time Can Be a Strong Ally in Saving for Retirement

ABANK_16_Facebook_v4Father Time doesn’t always have a good reputation, particularly when it comes to birthdays. But when it comes to saving for retirement, time might be one of your strongest allies. Why? When time teams up with the growth potential of compounding, the results can be powerful.

Time and money can work together

The premise behind compounding is fairly simple. Your invested dollars may earn returns from those investments, then those returns may earn returns themselves–and so on. That’s compounding.

Compounding in action

To see the process at work, consider the following hypothetical example: Say you invest $1,000 and earn a return of 7%–or $70–in one year. You now have $1,070 in your account. In year two, that $1,070 earns another 7%, and this time the amount earned is $74.90, bringing the total value of your account to $1,144.90. Over time, if your account continues to earn positive returns, the process can gather steam and add up.

Now consider how compounding might work in your retirement plan. Say $120 is automatically contributed to your plan account on a biweekly basis. Assuming you earn a 7% rate of return each year, after 10 years, you would have invested $31,200 and your account would be worth $45,100. That’s not too bad. If you kept investing the same amount, after 20 years, you’d have invested $62,400 and your account would be worth $135,835. And after just 10 more years–for a total investment time of 30 years and a total invested amount of $93,600–you’d have $318,381. That’s the power of compounding at work.

Keep in mind that these examples are hypothetical, for illustrative purposes only, and do not represent the performance of any actual investment. Returns are likely to be different each year, and are not guaranteed.

Investment and insurance products are: not FDIC insured; not guaranteed; and, may be subject to investment risk, including possible loss of principal.

Retirement Plan Considerations at Different Stages of Life

Throughout your career, retirement planning will likely be one of the most important components of your overall financial plan. Whether you have just graduated and taken your first job, are starting a family, or are enjoying your peak earning years, your employer-sponsored retirement plan can play a key role in your financial strategies.

Just starting out

If you are a young adult just starting your first job, chances are you face a number of different challenges. College loans, rent, and car payments are competing for your entry-level paycheck. The decades ahead of you can be your greatest advantage for your retirement fund. Through the power of compounding, you can put time to work for you. Compounding happens when your plan contribution dollars earn returns that are then reinvested back into your account, earning returns themselves. Time offers an additional benefit–the potential to withstand stronger short-term losses in order to pursue higher long-term gains. That means you may be able to invest more aggressively.

Getting married and starting a family

You will likely face even more obligations when you marry and start a family. Mortgage payments, higher grocery and gas bills, child-care, family vacations, college savings contributions, and home repairs and maintenance all compete for your money. Although it can be tempting to cut your retirement savings plan contributions to make ends meet, do your best to resist temptation and stay diligent. Your retirement needs to be a high priority. While you’re still approximately 20 to 30 years away from retirement, you have decades to ride out market swings. That means you may still be able to invest relatively aggressively in your plan.

Reaching your peak earning years

The latter stage of your career can bring a wide variety of challenges and opportunities. Older children typically come with bigger expenses. You may find yourself having to take time off unexpectedly to care for aging parents. On the other hand you could be reaping the benefits of the highest salary you’ve ever earned. With more income at your disposal, now may be an ideal time to increase your contributions. If you’re age 50 or older, you may be able to take advantage of catch-up contributions, which allow you to contribute up to $24,000 to your employer-sponsored plan in 2016, versus a maximum of $18,000 for most everyone else.


Investment and insurance products are: not FDIC insured; not guaranteed; and, may be subject to investment risk, including possible loss of principal.

Investment Planning: The Basics

ABANK_24_Facebook_v3Why do so many people never obtain the financial independence that they desire? Besides procrastination, other excuses people make are that investing is too risky, too complicated, too time consuming, and only for the rich. The fact is, there’s nothing complicated about common investing techniques, and it usually doesn’t take much time to understand the basics. One of the biggest risks you face is not educating yourself about which investments may be able to help you pursue your financial goals and how to approach the investing process.

Saving versus investing

Both saving and investing have a place in your
finances. Saving is the process of setting aside money to be used for a financial goal, whether that is done as part of a workplace retirement savings plan, an individual retirement account, a bank savings account, or some other savings vehicle. Investing is the process of deciding what you do with those savings. Some investments are designed to help protect your principal–the initial amount you’ve set aside–but may provide relatively little or no return. Other investments can go up or down in value and may or may not pay interest or dividends. Stocks, bonds, cash alternatives, precious metals, and real estate all represent investments.

Why invest?

You invest for the future, and the future is expensive. Because people are living longer, retirement costs are often higher than people expect. Though all investing involves the possibility of loss, including the loss of principal, investing is one way to try to prepare for that future. You have to take responsibility for your own finances. Government programs such as Social Security will probably play a less significant role for you than they did for previous generations. The better you manage your dollars, the more likely it is that you’ll have the money to make the future what you want it to be. Because everyone has different goals and expectations, everyone has different reasons for investing. Understanding how to match those reasons with your investments is simply one aspect of managing your money to provide a comfortable life and financial security for you and your family.

What is the best way to invest?

  • Get in the habit of saving. Set aside a portion of your income regularly.
  • Invest so that your money at least keeps pace with inflation over time.
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
  • Focus on long-term potential rather than short-term price fluctuations.
  • Ask questions and become educated before making any investment.
  • Avoid the urge to invest based on how you feel about an investment.

Before you start

Organize your finances to help manage your money more efficiently. Make sure you have an adequate emergency fund, sufficient insurance coverage, and a realistic budget. Also, take full advantage of benefits and retirement plans that your employer offers.

Understand the impact of time

Take advantage of the power of compounding. Compounding is the earning of interest on interest, or the reinvestment of income. For instance, if you invest $1,000 and get a return of 8 percent, you will earn $80. By reinvesting the earnings and assuming the same rate of return, the following year you will earn $86.40 on your $1,080 investment. The following year, $1,166.40 will earn $93.31. (This hypothetical example is intended as an illustration and does not reflect the performance of a specific investment).

Consider whether you need expert help

If you have the time and energy to educate yourself about investing, you may not feel you need assistance. However, for many people it may be worth getting expert help in creating a financial plan that integrates long-term financial goals such as retirement with other, more short-term needs. However, be aware that all investment involves risk, including the potential loss of principal, and there can be no guarantee that any investment strategy will be successful.

Investment and insurance products are: not FDIC insured; not guaranteed; and, may be subject to investment risk, including possible loss of principal.

Three Rules for Retirement Savings

Michael St. John, CPA, CRPS®, Vice President & Retirement Plan Services Manager

Michael St. John, CPA, CRPS®, Vice President & Retirement Plan Services Manager

For most of us, saving for retirement is a necessary step in ensuring a comfortable lifestyle as we grow older. Despite competing demands for our money, ultimately we must commit ourselves to saving for retirement.

You likely have an employer sponsored retirement plan at your place of work where you can save a portion of your paycheck directly into an account set aside for your retirement (401k, 403b, SIMPLE). And don’t forget about Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). If you do not have a retirement plan at work you might consider regular contributions to an IRA.

Follow three basic rules to boost your retirement savings.

  1. Start Early

Save as much as you can, as soon as you can. The sooner you start, the longer compounding can work in your favor. Don’t assume that you can put off saving for retirement and make up the difference later with larger contributions. Waiting too long to start saving can make it very difficult to catch up. Only a few years could cost you tens of thousands in accumulated savings at retirement age. Start saving today!

  1. Increase Contributions

Sometimes we cannot save as much as we should early in our working years. If you are not saving as much right now, make a plan to increase your contributions each year or every time you receive a raise or promotion. Always be aware of employer matching contributions. Your first goal should be to contribute the amount that will ensure you receive the maximum employer match.

If possible, you should increase your contributions enough over time that you reach the maximum allowable contribution in your plan. Increasing just one or two percent of your pay each year can quickly get you on your way to a savings rate that can make a big difference in reaching your retirement goals.

  1. Don’t Stop

It can be tempting to reduce, or even stop contributing when we change jobs or experience other life changes such as getting married or having children.  It’s easy to stop, but much, much harder to get started again.

We may also feel inclined to stop saving when investment markets take a downturn. Downward trending markets can actually signal a great time to even increase your contributions. By investing consistently through down market cycles, you purchase investments at a lower cost, buying more shares with each dollar, and allowing for greater potential growth of your account in the future.

Reducing or stopping retirement savings in your employer sponsored plan can also reduce employer matching contributions. Make sure you contribute at least enough to receive the maximum match allowed under your plan.

Make saving a priority! By saving what you can now, increasing your contributions over time , and remaining consistent with your current plan, your savings can really add up over time.

The information contained in this article does not constitute tax or investment advice.  The above statements do not include all rules that may impact your contributions and tax benefits. To confirm what options are available to you, please consult your tax advisor or one of our wealth advisors or retirement planning specialists.

Michael St. John, CPA, CRPS® is a Vice President & Retirement Plan Services Manager at Alpine Trust & Investment Group. He has more than 25 years of experience in accounting, income tax and retirement planning.

Investment and insurance products are: not FDIC insured; not guaranteed; and, may be subject to investment risk, including possible loss of principal.


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.