Citizens Bank Minnesota hosts Ag Seminar

Citizens Bank Minnesota hosted an Ag Seminar at the Best Western Plus, in New Ulm, on the morning of January 12, 2017. With over 200 participants, the topic of the event was “Positioning for Success”. Senior Vice President Tim Hoscheit welcomed the participants and thanked everyone for coming, speaking briefly about Citizens Bank Minnesota and its commitment to agriculture. Next, Vice President Kevin Yager introduced the Keynote Speaker, Dr. David Kohl.

Dr. Kohl, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural and Applied Economics at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA, captivated the audience with Global and National outlooks and statistics. He addressed global economic trends and what to watch for in the major trade countries. Dr. Kohl also addressed the national concern with the agricultural economy. He noted that some of the adjustments the top half of producers are making include cutting rent and input costs by $50/acre along with implementing marketing and risk management programs along with diversifying income streams. Health care and insurance cost concerns were discussed as a major expense for most farm families along with the general need to monitor all family living expenses. Dr. Kohl spoke on the trend of millennials in the workplace and farming operations. The need to implement innovation and technology for the sake of efficiencies was discussed as well as the need for “knowledge transfer”. With as many as 21% of American farms not having a next generation to carry out business, the need for transition planning is great. Dr. Kohl suggested getting the next generation active in the business planning early on, working with the 4 cornerstones of success: Planning, Strategizing, Monitoring, and Executing.

Vice President Duane Laffrenzen introduced the next speaker, David Scheibel, from Minnesota West Ag Services. David is a grain marketing consultant offering brokerage and accounting services. With the USDA January reports coming in just minutes before David spoke, he was able to give a brief analysis of the results and the projected outcomes for the 2017 crop year. He spoke on trends, costs and breakevens, as well as risk management options for the upcoming marketing year.
The 2017 Ag Seminar was a great success!

By: RoseAnn Wendinger, Assistant Vice President

Dustan Cross elected as Chairman of Citizens Bank Minnesota Board of Directors

Citizens Bank Minnesota Board of Directors Chairman, Dustin Cross

Dustin Cross

Citizens Bancorporation of New Ulm, Inc., parent company of Citizens Bank Minnesota, held its annual meeting on Tuesday, January 10, 2017. Citizens Bancorporation is owned by approximately 350 shareholders from the New Ulm and surrounding area.

Re-elected to three year terms were incumbent directors Lou Geistfeld, Bob Hinnenthal and Ted Marti. Other directors not up for election include Bill Brennan, Bryon Christenson, Dustan Cross, Mark Furth, Walt Luneburg and Jim Schuetzle. Dustan Cross was elected to serve as Chairman of the Board, replacing Mark Furth who will be retiring from the Board in March.

Stockholders in attendance were provided with a complete review of the financial performance of the bank for 2016. Highlights of the financial report were that the bank has grown to over $369 million in assets, has total equity capital of $38,930,000, and a net profit in 2016 of $2,770,581. Dividends paid to stockholders in 2016 totaled $0.76 per share.

Citizens Bank Minnesota was chartered in 1876 and has offices in New Ulm, Lafayette, La Salle and Lakeville.

How to Cure Your Post-Holiday Financial Hangover

Ask anyone you know, and everyone seems to have a cure for a hangover. Some of the more traditional fixes include aspirin or ibuprofen, lots of water, coffee and lots of food. Then there are more unusual remedies, like drinking pickle juice. But how do you cure a financial hangover? You overspent before the holidays, and now the balance on your credit card bills looks terrifying in the sobering light of January.

At least with a typical hangover, if your attempts to alleviate the pain don’t work or you simply don’t fight it, the misery will end sooner rather than later. Doing nothing when you have a financial hangover can make your situation worse (i.e., your debt will grow), and even if you try to immediately cure it, the effects can last for months (i.e., the debt may be gone, but money may still be tight). So if you spent a little too much leading up to the holidays – or went way overboard – here are some options to help you undo the damage.

Return some items. This may not be much of a solution since you can’t very well go to your friends and family and ask for your gifts back, and you certainly don’t want to suggest to your children that Santa might want to repossess a few presents. Still, it’s a strategy worth a few seconds of consideration. If you got carried away and made some expensive purchases for yourself in December, keep in mind that most stores have at least a 30-day return policy.

Utilize your credit cards. Yes, your credit cards may have gotten you into this mess, but they may be able to help get you out of it. Randy Hopper, vice president of credit cards at Navy Federal Credit Union in Vienna, Va., suggests a balance transfer. That is, if you have a credit card with one of those low- or zero-interest deals, many of which are up to 18 months, and you can transfer the balance of your other credit card, you’ll have a place to put your debt, with low to no interest, while you try and pay it off. But Hopper warns: “Be mindful that once the initial balance transfer period is over, the interest rate will jump to a higher rate.”

Avoid shopping. Try to steer clear of the post-holiday January sales. “I would encourage people not to accumulate additional debt,” says Clare Levison, a Blacksburg, Va.-based certified public accountant and a member of the National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. “Even though winter stuff might be on clearance, which seems crazy with the temperatures we’ve been having, try to resist going after the bargains.”

Do your taxes now. If you have a big, fat refund coming, Levison points out that it could be the cure to your post-holiday hangover. “And anything you have that’s left over, I, of course, have to suggest that you should put into savings,” Levison says.

Bring in some extra money, creatively. It may not solve all of your problems, but you could try to raise some extra income quickly, suggests Andrew Johnson, spokesperson for GreenPath Debt Solutions, a nationwide nonprofit headquartered in Detroit that helps consumers with credit card debt, housing debt and bankruptcy. “Look for unused items around the home than contain scrap materials that can be sold quickly, like iron or brass. My mother sold a roll of copper screen on her own that she found in her basement, and made some quick cash,” Johnson says. He also points out that you could try selling or pawning unwanted items.

Use this moment as the catalyst to start budgeting. If things are really bad and you want to fix your finances so this never happens again, “you’ve got to make changes,” says John McFarland, a personal finance professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. “The good news is that these same changes might lead a to a financially healthier holiday season next year if you make them permanent instead of temporary.”

While you examine your budget and decide where to make changes, McFarland suggests doing what you would do if you had binged on food or alcohol. “Unless you’re an addict, you lay off for awhile. Let’s do the same with money. Put away the credit cards, pay everything with cash except for your regular bills and begin to understand your baseline financial position,” he says.

Incorporate your debt into your other resolutions. This is a time of year when you may be resolving to lose weight or exercise. “So that makes it a great time to cut your budget in eating out and entertainment,” Levison says. “If you eat at home more often, it’ll save you dollars and calories and you can use that money to go toward your holiday bills instead.”

You could even try to convince yourself of this: All of this holiday debt you’re wallowing in could be the best thing that ever happened to you if you use the experience to make positive changes in your life, like eating less fast food or becoming better at budgeting.

As financial hangover cures go, “that is a more positive spin on things,” Levison says.

And at least you don’t have to drink pickle juice.

Article courtesy of: Geoff Williams via money.usnews.com

Citizens donates $3,000 to ISD #88 Greenhouse Project Fund

greenhouse-press-release

Citizens Bank Minnesota proudly presents a check for $3,000.00 to the ISD #88 Greenhouse Project Fund at the New Ulm High School. Funds will be used to expand and develop their Greenhouse. Pictured in the photo are members of the FFA Chapter, NUHS Ag Teacher Jeff Nelson, Citizens staff Tim Hoscheit (Sr. Vice President), Lou Geistfeld (President), Rose Wendinger (Asst. Vice President), Pat Brennan (Vice President) and NUHS Ag Teacher Kelsey Brandt.

Citizens Bank Minnesota employees donate $3,052.00 worth of gifts to families in need.

 

Citizens Bank Minnesota's New Ulm main office provided gifts for a local family in need.

Citizens Bank Minnesota's Lafayette staff provided Christmas food boxes for local families in need.

Lafayette staff prepare Christmas food boxes for local families in need.

Citizens Bank Minnesota employees were excited to help families in need this Holiday Season. Our main office in New Ulm as well as two branch locations in La Salle and Lakeville each adopted an area family. Money was donated by employees, raised through a bake sale and free-will donation luncheons, and with a bank match it made it possible to donate $3,052.00 in gifts for these families. We were able to fulfill all the needs the families had, plus more!

Citizens Bank Minnesota, Lafayette Branch, also participated in our Adopt-a-Family project.  Together with the New Ulm Jaycees and guidance from Nick Peterson, an Ag Lender in Lafayette who is involved with the Jaycee’s Christmas Food Basket Project, the Lafayette staff was able to help families in need of food for the Christmas Holiday by collecting money from employees and from fundraising.  With a matching donation from the bank, they were able to assemble 10 Christmas Food Baskets consisting of two boxes full of food, including a large ham.  The Jaycees work with the New Ulm Food shelf and families may sign up if they would like a Christmas Food Basket. The Lafayette staff distributed the baskets and enjoyed seeing the faces of grateful recipients, both young and old.

We were happy to help these families who would have had an otherwise difficult time purchasing the needed items themselves. It was also a great way to remember what the Holidays are truly all about!

Giving Just Got Easier!

Citizens Bank Minnesota is giving away $500 from our Holiday Relief Fund!

Simply use our online payment features from November 14th – December 31st and you could WIN 1 of 5 – $100 Visa Gift Cards!* Keep reading to learn more!

Are you an Online Banking user but don’t use the Bill Pay feature?  Did you know that Bill Pay is:

  • FREE
  • Easy
  • Convenient
  • Unlimited

Save time, money and frustration by paying all your bills from one secure website!

Learn more about Bill Pay!

Do you know about our other great payment features? Giving just got easier!

  • Gift Pay – Have a ‘hard to buy for’ person on your holiday gift list? Send them a Gift Check with our easy to use Gift Pay feature!
  • Donation Pay – It’s easy to send a charitable donation check personalized by you directly from your account!
  • Person-to-Person Payment – This convenient feature allows you to send a person-to-person payment via email to anyone you choose, such as a landlord, babysitter, relative or more.

Learn more about these great payment features!

Try any of these features for FREE!**

*Enter for your chance to win 1 of 5 $100 VISA Gift Cards at any Citizens Bank Minnesota location. You will automatically be entered into the drawing every time a bill payment, gift payment, donation payment, or person-to-person payment is processed using Citizens online bill payment service. The payment must be scheduled to occur between November 14 and December 30, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. CST. Drawing to be held on January 3, 2017; winners need not be present to win. No deposit required. Do not need to open an account or be a customer to win. Any payments made using online bill payment, Gift Pay, Donation Pay or Person-to-Person Payments that are made payable to yourself will be disqualified from promotion. May only win one VISA Gift Card per online banking account. Member FDIC.
**Citizens Bank Minnesota’s online bill payment services of Gift Pay, Donation Pay and Person-to-Person Payments will be free for all initiated payments for both new and existing users between November 14 and January 3, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. CST. After 2:00 p.m. CST on January 3, 2017, these product’s fees will revert back to the original amounts which are Gift Pay ($2.99), Donation Pay ($1.99) and Person-to-Person Payments ($1.00).

9 Best Ways to Save Money During the Holiday Season

holiday-saving1

Before you hit the mall or organize a big party, it can help to have a comprehensive plan in place so you know exactly where your money is going this holiday season – that way, you can ring in the new year with celebration rather than panic. Here are several ways to keep your spending under control this December.

1. Make a Budget

There are a couple different ways to set a holiday budget. You might want to establish a general spending cap, or try allocating a specific amount to each person on your gift list. Be aware, though, that while making a holiday budget is great, it can go sour in one of two ways:

  • Setting a Budget That’s Too Tight. While setting a tight budget always starts with good intentions, an unrealistic one can do more harm than good. Without a little wiggle room for last-minute purchases or enough cash allocated for your mom’s gift, you can end up very frustrated. In fact, you might get so frustrated that you just toss your budget out the window. To prevent this from happening, look over your numbers. Do you really need to spend $50 on wine, or can you cut back in order to allocate more money to gifts instead? Don’t just pick numbers out of thin air – really think things over to ensure that you make the right decisions.
  • Forgetting the Little Things. Gift giving is a huge expense during the holidays, but don’t forget the other costs you incur throughout the season. Parties, travel expenses, charitable donations, and holiday-themed activities can all add up to destroy a budget. If possible, add some money into your budget for unexpected costs so you’re not left scratching your head.

The way you create your budget is up to you, but one thing’s for sure: you need one. Create yours before the season hits full steam, and revisit it often to make sure you’re spending within your means.

2. Track Your Spending

Your budget does no good if you don’t effectively track your spending. Personally, I keep a separate Christmas fund in a dedicated bank account. This makes it easier for me to separate holiday spending from regular, day-to-day expenses. I also have my bank’s app on my phone, which allows me to check my balance and track my spending anytime, anywhere – even in line for the cashier.

Spreadsheets are also an excellent and accurate way to track your holiday expenditures. By establishing a budget and entering your real expenses, you can easily keep yourself on track. Just be sure to remain diligent. I find that if I can track my expenses in real-time, I’m much more effective than if the receipts are lying around for days before I input them into my system.

3. Cut Back on Extras

Getting lattes piled sky-high with whipped cream, splurging on a pair of shoes for yourself, paying for a photo with Santa – we’re all guilty of indulging a little more than we should simply because it’s the holiday season. However, you can’t get stuck in a trap where constant spending on “extras” eats into your budget.

Cutting back on those extras can have a big impact on your bottom line. For example, if you purchase a $4.50 pumpkin spice latte three times per week throughout December, that’s $162 you’ve spent on pricey drinks. That money could have paid for a few Christmas gifts, enough gas to get to Grandma’s house, or a generous donation to a charity of your choice. Before you splurge on a little treat or “extra” for yourself, be sure it’s really worth the price.

4. Use the “Secret Santa” Method

I have four brothers and one sister-in-law on my side of the family, and three brothers-in-law and three sisters-in-law on my husband’s side. Add in the 11 nieces and nephews, and buying for the family becomes a huge expense – not to mention a major drain on my schedule. Instead of buying for each member of the family or even pulling names out of a hat, we’ve decided to funnel our resources into a Secret Santa experience instead.

Our local church decorates a tree with ornaments, each decoration with the age, gender, and specific Christmas wish of a child in need. Instead of buying presents for my own family members, we choose to purchase gifts for the anonymous beneficiaries. The best part is that each individual family chooses as many ornaments as they can afford – some can buy for an entire family, while others can pick one or two ornaments to fit their budget. In the past, my kids and I have had fun picking out toys, clothes, and books for children of a similar age.

Not only does a Secret Santa experience help relieve some of the stress and financial burden of exchanging gifts with every member of my family, it gives us a chance to talk about the importance of service and giving during the holidays. I love that my kids get a break from the “gimmes” and get to focus on someone less fortunate.

Some other ideas for charity during the holidays include the following:

•Toy drives
•Volunteer work
•Baking treats for neighbors
•Assembling care packages for shelters, hospitals, or the armed forces
•Coat drives
•Donating to charity

Funneling what you would have spent on family gifts to those in need is a great way to give back, have a charitable experience with your loved ones, and relieve holiday stress.

5. Choose Cheaper Traditions

Traditions are what make the holidays so special, but they can be a financial burden. If your traditions include holiday travel, paying for a special attraction, or surprising your kids with extravagant gifts, you might find yourself going significantly over budget in the name of family.

While traditions are important and admirable, they don’t have to be expensive to be memorable. In fact, you might find that your kids prefer the cheap stuff to the grander gestures. So many activities and traditions are inexpensive, or even free – you just have to know where to look. By making cheaper events and traditions part of your celebration, you can save money without skimping on the festivities and memories.

Here are some of my favorite cheap activities:

•Touring neighborhood Christmas lights
•Watching a movie with hot chocolate at home
•Sledding
•Seeing Santa at the mall
•Making Christmas crafts
•Baking together
•Reading favorite Christmas stories
•Seeing a high school production, such as a play or choir performance
•Caroling
•Checking daily deals, such as those on Groupon or LivingSocial, for discounts on local attractions

Teach your kids that traditions aren’t about what you spend, but the time you spend together.

6. Embrace Potluck

We host Christmas Eve for our extended family every year at our home. I love prepping, cooking, and having everyone together for Christmas – but you know what I don’t love? How expensive all the food, decor, and activities always are. Buying food for 30 people is seriously pricey, and if not for potluck assignments, I’d be spending most of my Christmas budget on food and drink.

Now, I’ve learned my lesson – if you’re hosting an event, embrace the idea of potluck assignments. Let everyone know you’re going to make the main dish, but that you’d appreciate help on sides, appetizers, desserts, and drinks. I simply send out an email a few weeks in advance letting everyone know what their assignments are to ensure we don’t end up with five vegetable trays and no dessert.

I also assign Christmas games and activities to some of my teen nieces and nephews. They love being involved, and I don’t have to stress about keeping guests entertained.

7. Take Care Around Sales

Holiday sales can be an epic opportunity to save money – but be careful. Not all deals are created equal, and some may not even be truly discounted, as some stores keep prices the same but simply mark items with a “sale” sign.

Always comparison shop before you purchase an item during a sale. I use the ShopSavvy app – it allows me to scan the bar code of any item and see prices at nearby stores and Internet retailers to make sure I’m getting the best deal. Or, if you tend to fall victim to the festive atmosphere of a store and make unwise purchases, try shopping solely online. You can snag great deals and use coupon codes to get a lot more for your money.

Of course, you never save money by spending, no matter how significant the discount. Sales are great, but they don’t mean much if the money isn’t in your budget. If necessary, bring a printout of your budget so you can check your spending in real-time and avoid being swayed by a screaming deal.

8. Know When to Stop

When your list is finished and you’ve checked it twice, it’s time to stop shopping. Know when you’re finished, and avoid stopping by the mall “just to see what they have” – this can lead to making poorly planned purchases and blowing your budget.

I typically get the itch to shop a few days before Christmas, so I specifically save shopping for stocking stuffers until the last minute. That way, I’m still operating within my budget and purchasing something I actually need while fulfilling the urge to be part of the holiday hustle and bustle. By planning purchases and stopping when you’re done, you can be spared that holiday hangover come January.

9. Get a Head Start

The period right after the holidays is the perfect time to check over your budget and make plans for the new year. How did you do? Did you stay within budget? Were there places you could have cut back?

This is also the time to start planning a credit card payoff strategy if you used plastic to finance your festivities. In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have put anything on your credit card that you couldn’t pay off in a month, but if you went overboard, commit to a payment plan that eliminates your balances within the next three or four months.

If you’re really savvy and have the storage, the days following Christmas are also ideal for getting a jump-start on purchasing decor and wrapping goods for next year. Of course, that’s only if you’ve budgeted accordingly.

Article courtesy of: Jacqueline Curtis via MoneyCrashers.com

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