Category Archives: Saving Money

5 Ways to Stay Fit without Breaking Your Budget

Budget

Holiday season means delicious feasts, scrumptious treats, and unforgettable drinks. All these added meals can only mean one thing – extra time working out! If your favorite festive foods are breaking your calorie budget, try these tips to help both you and your wallet stay in great shape.

  1. Youtube Videos.

Who said exercise videos has to be expensive? Peruse through the YouTube catalog of new and old workouts to find the perfect match for your schedule. Some great videos to start with are 10 Min Abs Workout, No Gym Full Body Workout, 30 Minute at Home Strength Workout.

  1. Running

While this option may depend on the weather, the feeling of running outdoors with the fresh air in your lungs can never compare to the jolting feeling a treadmill can bring. With the basic investment of a good pair of running shoes, and some comfortable outdoor athletic attire, you can enjoy this sport whenever the urge hits.

  1. Calisthenics

This is a great home exercise that is entirely based around using your own body weight. Through structured movements, and small equipment extras, you can complete your entire weekly workout, in the comfort of your living room.

  1. Purchase Multi-use Equipment.

When purchasing equipment, look so see how many different exercises you can complete with it. Instead of buying the the upscale item that is specifically engineered to optimize one exercise, expand your home-gym with affordable equipment that can serve multiple purposes.  

  1. Downsize Your Gym

If you already belong to a gym, and prefer the atmosphere to your home workout area, consider downsizing your gym spending, or switching to a more cost-effective workout center. If you have family members paying for gym access that never go, consider revising your plan, and incur the cost for their access only when they use it.

 

The holidays are a great time of the year, don’t miss out on any of your favorites this season, and stick to these cost-effective workout tips! If you’re looking to save for your next holiday gathering, stop in today, and we’ll help get your holiday season started out right!

How to Hit a Homerun in Retirement

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!

What Your Teen Needs to Know About Money Management

Money Management

 

Throughout their teenage years, your children will begin to grow their personal money management style. Offer them some assistance by offering these four financial lessons from Alpine Bank.

Securing Their First Job

No matter if it’s babysitting, life guarding, or bagging groceries, there are plenty of employment options for eager high school students. These opportunities typically start at minimum wage with zero benefits, but offer a foundation of experience and learning. Talk with your son or daughter, and help them select positions to apply for that resonate with them. Resources such as the Chamber of Commerce often list local job openings, and are a good place to comb for recent availabilities.

Managing Money

The younger you begin various habits, the better they stick with you. Teach your children the positive effect proper money management can have on their pocketbook. Start by opening both a savings and a checking account for your teen. Each pay period, help them figure ten percent of their earnings to put into their savings. You can also work with them one-on-one each month to help balance their checkbook and plan for any large expenditures.

Saving for College

Secondary education isn’t cheap. If your son or daughter plans on attending a college or trade school, the time to start saving is now! Work with your future student to determine an educational budget, providing an estimate of upcoming expenses. Once you know the amount needed you can set savings goals for both you and your teen to start tucking money away. The sooner you begin your savings journey the smoother the road will be to your target amount.

Making Payments

Whether it’s purchasing their first car or simply covering the cost of meals at school, learning how to maintain a payment plan is an important life lesson. Explain your personal bill paying system to your teen and see how they can tailor it to their needs. Once they have a grasp on the system itself, gradually add payments to your child’s list of responsibilities, even if you add the money to their account. This will help them learn to keep an updated payment calendar before they graduate high school.

Money management is a continual learning process. There are always new techniques or tricks to better arrange your finances. Don’t stop honing your teen’s money management after these four lessons – stop by Alpine Bank and see how you can keep growing your family’s financial skills today!

 

Save $3,500 this Year by Removing These 6 Things

Saving Money

 

Saving money is no easy task! Only after dedication and determination, can you look successfully into your account to see the difference saving can make. At Alpine Bank, we’re excited to help you achieve your financial goals, and we can’t wait to get started! If you’re looking to tuck some funds away for an emergency savings, or vacation fund, these six tips can help you accumulate $3,500 in savings over the course of the next year.

  1. $720: Cut the cable – at $60+ each month this common expense eat up your budget in a hurry!
  2. $1400: Brew your own java – instead of grabbing a latte on your way to work make your own cup of joe and save that extra $4/day.
  3. $600: Plan Your Meals – instead of playing by ear each night for dinner, make a dedicated meal plan each week and stick to it. This will help cut costs on eating out and unused groceries. Remove one dining out meal each month and see the difference this can make!
  4. $468: Workout at home – the average gym membership runs $39/month which over the course of the year can add up quick. Try online workout videos and create a routine which uses various household items.
  5. $312: Pack your lunch – With most quick lunches running about $10/each, sneaking away for lunch could be costing you! Try packing a lunch from home to avoid these expensive dining options. Changing just three lunches each month could save you more than three-hundred dollars!

 

Learn how to open up your ideal savings account at Alpine Bank to get started on your savings dreams today!

What’s Your Spending Style?

Personal Finances

Everyone spends and saves differently. There are spending personalities on all ends of the spectrum that range from extreme spenders to tireless penny pinchers. Discover what type of spender you are with this helpful quiz courtesy of Alpine Bank.

What’s your typical lunch during the workweek?

A: A packed lunch, typically leftovers from the night before.

B: A variety of prepared lunches from home and a handful of takeout meals throughout the month.

C: I usually grab something from one of the local restaurants during my lunch break, occasionally I’ll bring something from home if it was really good.

D: I can’t get through the day without my latte in the morning, and a solid lunch out of the office in the afternoon.

How important is your credit score to you personally?

A: I live and breathe by this number, it influences almost all of my buying decisions.

B: I check my credit every month, it’s important to know where you stand.

C: I have a general idea where I’m at, but it’s not the first thing on my mind.

D: What’s a credit score?

If you want something that is $3,000 but you only have $1,500 available funds in your account what would you do?

A: Wait until I can save the additional $1,500 I need before purchasing it.

B: Compromise on a similar item that only costs the $1,500 I currently have.

C: Purchase the $3,000 item, paying $1,500 up front, and putting the rest on credit.

D: Purchase the $3,000 item and put it all on credit.

What does retirement savings mean to you?

A: Roth IRA, 401(k), stocks, bonds, and personal savings.

B: Using my work benefits along with personal savings.

C: I think I get something for retirement through my place of employment.

D: Something I don’t have to worry about until I’m older.

When you see an exciting impulse buy, how do you manage the situation?

A: I remind myself I’m here for these 5 items and nothing else.

B: I remember I already bought a small impulse buy yesterday, so this one could potentially harm my budget.

C: I made it through the work day today, I deserve this.

D: I already have 4 other things I wasn’t expecting to buy, what’s one more?

 

If most of your answers were [A] then you are a Penny Pincher: For you, finances are the key to your existence. All aspects of your financials are crafted into a strategic plan to make the most out of your various savings accounts. You’re the first to suggest a restaurant based on cost, and the last to splurge on a large purchase. Typically you’re also the person other family members typically ask for well-rounded financial advice.

If most of your answers were [B] then you are a Balanced Budgeter: In your world, the life of a budget doesn’t have to centered around a hunker down mentality. A budget is a fluid medium that is meant to be customizable to you and your needs. Occasionally an added expenses or unforeseen purchase is needed or warranted, but overall, you ensure you and your family stay on track with a well thought out financial plan.

If most of your answers were [C] then you are a Cautious Creditor: Although much of your financial expertise is based on credit card rewards, and other point benefits, you do care about your money management. While not all your choices are made to help boost your savings, there are certain measures you take on a continual basis to help push your financial goals forward.

If most of your answers were [D] then you are a Debt Developer: Often times you spend more than you intend. Between check-out line snacks, and lunch time splurges, your bank account just tries to keep up. Understanding your financials isn’t necessarily first on your list of priorities, but there are certainly some things you know you could improve. You appreciate the things you purchase and genuinely enjoy the experience of shopping.

No matter what type of spender you are, Alpine Bank is here to help you succeed. For everything from setting up savings accounts, to consulting on wealth management, we have everything you need to continue your financial success. Give us a call at (815) 398-6500 or stop by today to get started!

 

How to Create your Emergency Fund and Know When to Use It

Savings

Creating a structured savings plan is one thing that can set apart the financial dreamers from the financial doers! By setting strict guidelines and ensuring the correct follow-through with a backed up savings plan, you can be certain you’ll be properly prepared for the unexpected. One of the biggest obstacles individuals will face is often the unforeseen, fortunately there is a way to manage even that. Using a well-rounded emergency fund can ensure that you don’t dip into saved funds for unexpected costs such as auto repairs, or medical emergencies. Want to get started setting up your emergency fund today? Follow these simple steps and you’ll be on your way to financial success!

  1. Open a dedicated savings account.
  2. Deposit Funds each month without withdrawing anything.
  3. Start by saving $1000.

- Next save 3 months’ worth of income and expenses.

- Finally maintain 6 months’ worth of income and expenses.

The reason you have this fund is simple, to prepare for the unexpected. Whether it’s an unanticipated job loss, a costly home repair, or other unplanned expenses, your emergency fund can help you stay afloat when the waters get rough.

The main objective of this account is to have it work for you and your needs. By specifically determining what you do define as an emergency (job loss, vet bills, auto repairs) and what doesn’t (last minute birthday gift, broken TV, new clothes) you can generate a structured list to know when you feel safe using those funds, and when perhaps its best to leave them untouched. The idea of the emergency fund is to have it when you need it, so don’t spend in on anything unnecessary.

By generating your own emergency fund you can continue to save for milestones and pay bills, without worrying about the “what ifs” that are bound to come along down the road. Get started with your emergency account today at Alpine Bank, we’ll help you get to your next savings goal!

7 Ways to Decrease Your Gardening Costs this Season

spring

Gardening season is upon us! Whether you’ve been gardening for decades or are flexing your green thumbs for the first time, save some green as you grow it this spring with these helpful tips from Alpine Bank:

  1. Study the sun. You can burn hundreds of dollars by accidentally placing plants in areas that receive too much or too little sunlight. Take time before planting to make notes on the sun’s path across your yard, scoping out key sunny and shady spots along the way.
  2. Invest in mulch. A layer of fresh mulch aids inprotecting against soil erosion while cutting the costs of weed killer.
  3. Reuse newspapers. Before you lay down protective mulch, spread layers of old newspapers directly onto the soil to block weeds and lock in moisture. Eventually the newspaper decomposes while saving on water costs in the long-run.
  4. Try natural bug protection. Instead of buying pricey pesticides and bug zappers, place fabric softener sheets next to outdoor light fixtures to deter flying insects.
  5. Make your own weed killer. Eco-friendly and inexpensive, you can create your own weed killer by mixing 1 gallon of white vinegar with 1 ounce of liquid dish soap. Put this mixture in a spray bottle and directly apply to weeds for the maximum effect.
  6. Start composting. Create nature’s best fertilizer in your own backyard by forming a small compost pile of kitchen and yard waste. Not only do you reduce your footprint by saving space in a landfill, but your homemade compost saves you money and increases the yield of your plants.
  7. Plant the pricier edibles. To save money, time, and precious garden real estate, invest in planting herbs and vegetables that would normally cost you a bundle at the grocery store. Grow pricier crops such as raspberries, shallots, and basil yourself and buy cheaper produce like lettuce, carrots, and parsley at your local farmers markets.

At Alpine Bank, it’s always growing season when it comes to building your wealth. If you’re looking to prosper you financial gains stop by and give us a call at 815-398-6500 today!

The Top 10 Things to Add Value to Your Home

mortgages

Just like purchasing your home, selling it is a journey all its own. Whether you’re aiming to sell your home in one year or five, you can make a number of small changes that offer a big return on your home’s value. Try these key improvements and see the effect on your next home assessment.

  1. An eye-catching entrance. As the gateway into your home, your front door will set the tone for what’s within. Update your door bell, paint the front door, and hang a spring wreath to tie it all together.
  2. Energy-efficient updates: Updating appliances, windows, and fixtures, to their more green counterparts can set your home apart with the attractive promise of future savings.
  3. Low-maintenance landscaping: While flowers are eye-catching, shrubs and drought-resistant greenery make great visual impact with the promise of less hassle.
  4. A thorough clean. A deep clean of carpets, curtains, and corners will make your home sparkle and create a positive first impression. Hiring a professional cleaning service may also help to remove hard-to-clean grime and overlooked areas.
  5. De-cluttered rooms. A tidy house doesn’t always feel open. Heavy curtains, overstuffed couches, and rooms devoid of sunlight can make buyers cautious of square footage. Rid the room of nothing but bare essentials and simplistic furniture to maximize the area of the space.
  6. Extra mirrors. To double the feel of any room, strategically place mirrors to create an illusion of extra space.
  7. Small updates to big places. Kitchens and bathrooms are focal points in the selling process. Without the time and cost of a major remodel, small updates like new lighting, fresh paint, or modern accessories can add value to your home on a budget.
  8. Revamped flooring: Thin or threadbare carpets can raise alarms for buyers as they visualize the daunting need to replace the tired flooring. As your budget allows, replace your home’s carpet beginning high-traffic areas and working outwards.
  9. Modern lighting.Updating light fixtures to a timeless and simple feel, help to elevate a home’s design and gives the potential buyer a blank canvas to imagine life in their new home.
  10. A professional opinion. In under an hour, a trained interior designer can provide suggestions for small tweaks, such as furniture arrangement or paint color adjustments, which can increase your home’s value with limited investment.

While improvements are not a guarantee of improved value, they can make all the difference when drawing in interested buyers. If some of your home-improvement projects require a bigger investment than your budget expected, our lending officers at Alpine Bank can work to help you secure the HELOC you need.

How-To Give Your Children a Financial Education with Their Allowance

Financial LiteracyAllowance, when treated as an educational opportunity, gives your child hands-on experience in budgeting, saving, spending, investing, earning, negotiating, and tracking their money. With these tactics, you and your child can make the most of their allowance while growing their financial literacy.

  • Shy away from weekly allowance. A bi-weekly or monthly allowance better reflects a real-world payment schedule than a weekly handout. Additionally, staggered money instead of a steady cash flow opens opportunities to practice budgeting for both spending and savings goals.
  • Open a savings account. It’s never too early to start saving. Open a savings account with your child and explain the power of compound interest. Establish that they pull 10% of their total monthly allowance to funnel into savings, enabling them to budget the remaining 90% while teaching the discipline and value of saving.
  • Show them the options for their funds. Teach your children the potential their money has by creating four labeled jars for spending, saving, giving, investing. Each time your kids are given money via chores or other revenue sources, have them choose which jar to put the funds in. The spending jar can be used on small purchases like candy bars or little toys, and the saving jar can be put towards larger items that take more time to save.
  • Don’t offer advances. Although children will often try to negotiate getting their allowance early in order to buy the toy that they can’t quite afford yet, don’t give in. In the long run, your kid will benefit more from understanding the necessities of budgeting. That being said, the occasional unsolicited “bonus” for good behavior, or going the extra mile, doesn’t hurt either. After all, there’s very little more motivating than hearing your boss tell you you’re doing a great job – keep it up.

With each dollar your children learn to save, they are propelling their education forward. If you’d like to get your little one’s financial education off to the right start, stop by Alpine Bank today and enroll them in their very own checking account.