Category Archives: Uncategorized

Helpful tips on paying off Student Loans

Repaying Student LoansIf you’re saddled with both a degree and thousands of dollars of student debt, you’re not alone. More than 70% of Millennial college graduates leave college facing prospects of repaying more than $35,000 in student loans, a feat that can take well over a decade to eliminate. Though it may seem daunting, the financial experts at Alpine Bank recommend the following to repay student loans with minimal stress and maximum efficiency:

  • Choose your loans wisely: Calculate the cost of the necessities – tuition, room and board, textbooks, and transportation – and sign loans that cover only what you need, even if you qualify for more. A part-time job or summer position can provide funds for added nonessential expenses. Your loan might allow you to defer interest payments while you’re still in school. However, unless it’s subsidized, it will accrue interest immediately. Unpaid interest then compounds and adds to the principal, creating an even larger amount to repay. When possible, apply income from a part-time job to pay back a loan’s interest while you’re still in school to save hundreds on repayment when you graduate.
  • Increase your payments: If you’re on a 10-year installment plan, you’re paying a decade of interest on top of your original loan, adding more debt to your plate. When possible, pay back more than the minimum agreement each month and chop off extra time and interest. If you have multiple loans, direct your additional payments towards the loan with the highest interest rate. The faster you can pare down the principal, the less you accrue in exorbitant interest.
  • Make installments as often as you are able: With less time between payments for interest to accumulate, an accelerated payment plan can decrease your repayment term. By doubling your schedule of installments and making more payments over the same time period, you’re able to lessen the interest and pay your loan off sooner.
  • Track your interest: Motivate yourself with a continually updated track record of your current interest. The longer you have the loan, the more money you spend towards interest. Incentivize yourself by creating a cap for how much you want to pay in interest. Let that help guide you to make extra payments per year.

Our loan officers at Alpine Bank are here to help you not only secure the funds you need, but manage them as effectively as possible. Let us know how we can help you navigate your student loans today!

This is Not a Lehman Moment!

Certainly stock market declines of the nature that we have experienced in the past couple ofStockMarket days are unnerving.  Recollection of the 2007-2009 market decline is very fresh in investors’ minds. It is important to keep these events in perspective. The previous decline was a reaction to a financial system on the brink, a real crisis in confidence in the entire financial system. This is not the case today. In other words, this is not a Lehman moment!

So, what is going on?
>      This is merely a reset of global growth expectations. It’s becoming clear that the global economy, likely in part due to demographics, is going to be in a much slower growth pattern than has historically been the case.
>      If global economic growth is lower, then future earnings growth must be lower too. Earnings are what moves stock prices and that’s why stocks are going lower, to reset to new lower growth expectations.
>      Good news is that U.S. earnings expectations are not very high anyway, however, everyone has been suspicious of China’s reported economic data and given all the actions the government has been taking to stabilize growth, the suspicions are confirmed and China is likely growing slower than previously thought.
>      Market valuation is not at the same high level that it was in 2007, it is much more reasonable.
>      Our economy is still growing steadily. Our largest trading partners are Canada, China, and Mexico. China’s citizens are not heavily involved in their stock market so our exports to China may not even be impacted too much.
>      U.S. new home sales in July were at their highest level since July 2007; auto sales are at best pace in a decade; labor market improved.
>     Europe has become more stable despite Greece’s Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras’ recent resignation.  European growth is firming, but certainly not robust. Recent Eurozone PMI came in at 54.1, signaling the best expansion in some time for the manufacturing sector.
>     U.S. has gone 1,418 calendar days without a 10% correction, the 3rd longest in the past 50 years. The DOW and S&P 500 have now corrected 10% from their May 2015 highs. 10% corrections are normal and healthy, even though they do not feel very good, especially when they happen as quickly as this one.
>     The Fed has not been clear on its direction and that has spooked markets as well. Market volatility may push off a rate hike until at least December.
>     Most portfolios are diversified and are not fully invested in stocks. Bonds have rallied so that side of your portfolio should have gained in value to help offset equity declines.

Investors in the equity markets know that long term value is achieved only when a long term perspective can be maintained. Volatility like this is difficult to tolerate over the short term but might be easier if the media was as vocal about the gains in your bond portfolio that were serving to mitigate some of the short term equity declines.

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


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.

Thinking of Purchasing an Older Home? Read This First!


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.




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.




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


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.

5 Things You Need to Know About Valentine’s Day

The National Retail Federation found that Americans spend over $17 billion on Valentine’s Day celebrations. But showing love on Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean you need to blow your budget. Let Alpine Bank help you. Check out some of the facts about buying a Valentine’s Day gift this year.

  1. Gender counts

In 2014, gift givers planned to spend an average of $134 on Valentine’s Day, with men saying they would spend an average of $108.38 while women said they would spend $49.41. Additionally, research from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management found that men tend to spend more on gifts when there is a lower female population near them.

  1. Roses may be cheaper

The price that florists pay for roses can double on Valentine’s Day, which carries over to consumers. But since Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday this year, prices may be lower. Why? When the holiday falls on a weekend, there is 20% less demand because men have more time to plan.

  1. You’ll pay more for chocolate

The cost of cocoa rose sharply in 2014 due to the rising global demand and fear of depleting supply. In July, Hershey’s started charging 8 percent more for their goods while the price of Mars products increased by 7 percent. The National Retail Federation found that almost half of all romantics buy chocolates for Valentine’s Day.

  1. Quality time is more precious than money

If you are reluctant to drop too much cash on a decadent box of chocolates or bouquet of roses, don’t feel bad! Activities that bring you closer together often make loved ones happier than buying expensive gifts.

  1. Talk money

Having a discussion about money may not sound very romantic, but a 2014 survey by the credit bureau Experian found that 73 percent of women and 60 percent of men found their significant other more attractive when they were willing to talk about personal finances.

Don’t get so caught up in the gift-giving part of Valentine’s Day that you forget about its real purpose. Turn it back into a celebration of love, not an empty bank account. Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your loved ones from Alpine Bank!

The Face of Our Dollars

In February, we celebrate the historical leaders of our country on President’s Day. To celebrate these great men, Alpine Bank decided to look at some of the presidents who are featured on our money. says that their records don’t suggest why specific presidents and statesmen were chosen for each bill. Let’s take a look at some of the facts about our past presidents to figure out how they came to be on our money.

George Washington – America’s first President and Founding Father was put on the dollar bill in 1869 – seven years after the bill was first printed. He appeared on the quarter in 1924 after Congress created the US George Washington Bicentennial Commission to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth.

Abraham Lincoln – The 16th president is credited with preserving the Union and ending slavery in the US. He has appeared on the $5 bill since 1914. Teddy Roosevelt commissioned Lincoln to be on the penny as well in 1909 in honor of Lincoln’s 100th birthday.

Andrew Jackson – Jackson’s face replaced Cleveland’s on the $20 bill in 1928. Since then, several petitions have circulated to have this controversial political figure removed from the bill.

Ulysses S. Grant – Civil War general and 18th US President Ulysses S. Grant first appeared on the $50 bill in 1913. Legislation to put Ronald Reagan on the bill instead of Grant was voted down by Congress in 2005 and 2010.

Benjamin Franklin –One of only two non-presidents featured on our paper money, Franklin is thought to be “the only President of the United States who was never President of the United States.”  His picture first appeared on the $100 bill in 1914.

Paper money has changed a lot in the last 100 years. It will be interesting to see what changes are in the future! At Alpine Bank, our goal is to keep as many of these President’s faces in your wallet as possible! Contact us for tips and advice about saving.

Alpine Bank Announces Commercial Officer Promotions

Matt Roegner, Executive Vice President & CLO of Alpine Bank, has announced the promotions of five Commercial officers.  Don Banks, David Sobojinski and Rhonda Sunden were promoted to Senior Vice Presidents of Commercial ServicesCarl Dumoulin was promoted to Senior Vice President of Ag and Commercial ServicesBrenten Witherby was promoted to Vice President of Commercial Services.

BanksDon2008_1962re_3x4Don Banks has over two decades worth of experience in helping customers with their commercial lending needs. Mr. Banks earned his BA in Business Management from Western Illinois University.  He is also a graduate of the ABA Commercial Lending School and the CBA’s Illinois Midwest School for Community Bankers.

Mr. Banks stays active in the community as a trustee for Flora Township and a member of the Kirkland Lions Club.  He is also a member and past president of the Boone County Historical Society, a board member for the Greater Kirkland Area Chamber of Commerce and president of the Flora Cemetery Board.  He serves as president of the Belvidere IOU Club and is a board member for the School District #100 Charitable Foundation.

DSobojinski_09.14David Sobojinski has 25 years in the financial industry, with 16 of those years in commercial lending.  He is a graduate of University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh with a degree in Finance and Management Information Systems.   He takes the extra time necessary to understand a company’s business and providing financial resources and tools to assist the owner in achieving their goals.

Mr. Sobojinski follows the Alpine Bank philosophy of helping people, businesses and our community. He is currently a member of Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful. He is a past treasurer of the Beloit YMCA board, past member of Kiwanis and former loan committee member of the Rockford Local Development Corp.

SundenRhonda 2009Rhonda Sunden has two-plus decades of financial service experience, giving her a keen eye and great sense of how to best serve the customers she works with. She attended the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR with a degree in Business Management.  She is also a graduate of ABA National Commercial Lending School.

Ms. Sunden is also busy in the community, serving as a board member of the Rockford Downtown Rotary and member of Women of Today’s Manufacturing.  She also participates on the United for Youth Capital Campaign for the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.  Ms. Sunden is a past board member for the Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois.  She has worked with the United Way of Rock River Valley, Junior Achievement of Rock River Valley, and the YMCA of Rock River Valley.

DumoulinCarl_01_2013Carl Dumoulin got his start in finance with his BS degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois and continued his education at the Bank Administration Institute Graduate School of Banking at UW-Madison. Combined with his 30-plus years of experience, Mr. Dumoulin is a great resource for our customers with lending needs.

Mr. Dumoulin stays active in the community as treasurer for the Belvidere Lions Club and as a board member for the University of Illinois Extension Council serving Boone, DeKalb and Ogle Counties.  He is a current member of the finance and audit committees of the Rockford Area Literacy Council and a member of the Knights of Columbus. He has also been involved with the St. Joseph Hospital Foundation Council in Belvidere.

WitherbyBrenten_11_2012Brenten Witherby has lived in Winnebago County his whole life, which provides an extra benefit when working with our local small businesses. Mr. Witherby’s BS and MBA degrees, as well as his specialty in working with U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) lending programs, allow him to help small and medium-sized businesses find success.

Mr. Witherby’s community involvement includes being a Trustee and member of the Executive Committee of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois. He’s also a member of the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders (NAGGL) and is a graduate of the 2014 Chamber of Commerce Leadership Rockford program.

3 Steps to Start Planning for Retirement

Do you find yourself thinking about what’s next?  No matter how old you are, it is never too early to start thinking about the future and planning for a comfortable retirement.

Whether you are in your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, or 60’s, there are some behaviors you can start now so you are set up for a happy retirement. Follow these practices and you will be on your way to relaxing after many years of hard work.

Find three core pursuits

Core pursuits are more than hobbies. They are the things you are passionate about! Whether it is travel, volunteering or sports, your core pursuits should help you find purpose in each day and define your priorities.

Create multiple streams of income

Having multiple streams of income is the best way to feel financially secure. Utilize social security, pension income, income from investments, and government benefits. Think of it like many small tributaries flowing into the same river. If one tributary dries up, you still have others to keep your financial river flowing.

Plan for retirement

Commit to spend five hours each year planning for retirement. Saving throughout your working life is the best way to ensure that you will be able to live your golden years on your own terms. Think ahead about what you want your retirement to look like. Use this goal to generate ideas about how you can save enough money to achieve it. Everyone’s plan will be different but we should all have one!

Retirement should be something we all look forward to whether it is next year or in another 30. We know you work hard and Alpine Bank wants you to enjoy every year! No matter your age, we have a savings account that will help you plan for your future.