Tips for Saving on Bank Fees

These 3 simple tips are very basic, but worthy of a reminder and a monthly check-up.

1. Read the information you receive from your bank. Remember to check your monthly account statements for new deposits or withdrawals that you did not know about.

2. Protect yourself from overdraft fees. Keep up-to-date records of your transactions, and make sure you have enough money in your account to cover checks you have written or other types of withdrawals.  If your funds are running low, consider a cheaper alternative to overdraft protection, such as, a checking account linked to a savings account or a small dollar loan.

3. Protect yourself from ATM fees. Only withdraw cash from your own bank’s machines.  If you have to use another bank’s ATM in an emergency situation, be aware of the fees you may be charged. Also consider checking with your bank to see if any products are offered that may refund ATM fees.

By Linda Kretsch, Cashier

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FDIC Insurance Coverage

Do you feel your money is safe and protected when you walk through the doors of your bank, much safer than if you kept it under your mattress?  You should, especially if you are a customer of Citizens Bank Minnesota.  By being FDIC insured, Citizens Bank Minnesota is committed to keeping its customers money safe and protected. 

What does being FDIC insured mean?

The FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) is an independent agency of the United States government that protects you against the loss of your deposits if a FDIC insured bank or savings association fails. The FDIC was created in 1933 in response to the thousands of bank failures that occurred in the 1920s and early 1930s.  FDIC insurance is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government. 

FDIC insurance covers all deposit accounts at insured banks and savings associations, including checking, NOW, savings, money market deposit accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs) up to the insurance limit.  The FDIC does not insure non-deposit products such as securities, bonds, safe deposit box contents, mutual funds or other similar types of investments that banks may offer.  The standard insurance limit is generally $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank, for each account ownership category.  The FDIC’s online Electronic Deposit Insurance Estimator (EDIE) located at:  www.fdic.gov/edie can help you determine if you have adequate deposit insurance for your accounts. 

Citizens Bank Minnesota is also participating in the FDIC’s Transaction Account Guarantee (TAG) Program.  Under that program, through December 31, 2010, all noninterest-bearing transaction accounts are fully guaranteed by the FDIC for the entire amount in the account.  Also included in this coverage are NOW accounts with interest rates no higher than .25% and Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA).  This coverage is in addition to and separate from the standard FDIC insurance coverage. 

No worries when you bank with Citizens Bank Minnesota, we have you covered!

By: Stacy Merkel, Auditor

Four Ways for Your Business to Survive and Thrive in a Down Economy

As a business owner, bad news on the economic front causes worry—worry about you and your family, about your business, and about your employees.  Question is, what can you do about it? 

Four Ways to Survive and Thrive in a Downturn

The biggest mistake that business owners make in a downturn is to be overly optimistic and do nothing—to simply wait for things to improve.  Oh, you might think that your business is “recession-proof”, or that you are better-prepared than your competitors to weather a downturn.  But are there signs of trouble?  Are incoming orders declining, or are customers lagging behind on payments, or are inventory levels slowly creeping up?  Rather than ignoring these signs, now is the time to really put your ear to the ground and find out what your vendors, suppliers, and customers are saying.  Listen to your front-line employees.  Then:

1.  Begin by building contingency-planning into your business plan.  What if your customer can’t pay that large account receivable on time?  What if your sales staff doesn’t reach established sales goals?  What if that new line of inventory doesn’t sell before you have to make your vendor payment?  Can you stay in compliance with your loan covenants at the bank?  Now is the time to pro-actively enlist the help of your banker and your other advisers–knowing that you are looking ahead and positioning your business for a downturn will give them confidence in you, and they will be more able to help you during difficult times. 

2.  Keep in mind that cash is king, and anything you can do to maximize cash will put your business in a position of strength.  Get rid of slow-moving or obsolete inventory through special sales.  Think of other uses for inventory that might create sales in non-traditional markets.  Monitor your accounts receivable and demand payment on time.  Don’t become your customers’ banker—expanded terms mean expanded risk.  Be prepared to cut off, go COD, or file a mechanic’s lien if necessary, as a customer who is solvent today may be in bankruptcy tomorrow.  And finally, look at your fixed assets with an eye to selling anything that is non-productive.

3.  On the expense side, use a critical eye in determining your cost structure.  Do you have the right people in the right spots?  Are your employees performing at their maximum?  Are you organized properly? Ask your employees to look at their job descriptions and duties—are they doing something because “it’s always been done”, or are there some duties that can be dropped or done more effectively?  Is there duplication of efforts anywhere?  Have your expenses been creeping up?  Find out why.  From this analysis, identify 5-7 expense-reducing opportunities and make them happen.

4.  Identify your most profitable product and service lines, and those with the most potential to grow. Contrary to what many believe, those who thrive in a downturn avoid diversification and, instead, focus intensely on those products and services that make up their core business.  If possible, sell off—for cash—those lines that you don’t feel contribute to your core value as a business.  Save the cash, or use the proceeds to invest in assets that will further what really makes you money.  And for goodness sakes, don’t cut the advertising budget for those revenue lines that will keep you in the industry forefront.

Move Forward Enthusiastically

At this point, make sure your entire workforce is engaged and moving in the same direction—develop a mission and vision to sell the profitable products and services upon which you have built a solid reputation.  Generate enthusiasm for the task at hand—after all, being part of a company that is moving ahead in a downturn vs. simply digging its head in the sand is exciting!  And be sure to celebrate small successes and milestones along the way. 

If you’ve done these things, be assured that you are doing everything you can to survive and thrive in a tough environment.

By: Julie Baumgartner, Vice President

Welcome to Citizens Bank Minnesota’s Blog

Citizens Bank Minnesota is a community-owned and operated bank, with its main office located in New Ulm and branch offices in Lafayette, La Salle, and Lakeville, Minnesota. In June of 2009 we opened our newest online branch, eWorld. Chartered in 1876, Citizens Bank Minnesota is one of the oldest banks in Minnesota with over 130 years of strength and stability. We take pride in the fact that not only are we a community bank, as demonstrated by our aggressive participation and assistance in the growth and prosperity of the communities that we serve, but also that we are community-owned, with our stock widely held by residents of this area. Community ownership requires us to be sensitive to the needs of our customers and to provide our services at reasonable costs. It also allows us to be flexible to meet your unique financial needs.

Bauer Financial, an independent bank rating company, consistently awards Citizens Bank Minnesota their highest 5-Star rating. This rating is based on liquidity and several measurements or safety and security. For more information on the ratings and what they mean, click here to visit Bauer Financial.

This blog is Citizens’ newest way to keep in touch with our customers.  Each week, one of our officers will post an entry that they feel will be of value to you.  It is our hope that you will find it to be both informational and user friendly.

Your feedback is important to us. After you have toured our blog, website, and Facebook page, we would appreciate any comments you may have as to how we can make our Internet service the best possible.

We are confident that we are able to provide you with the best online banking experience available.

Sincerely,

Lou Geistfeld
President

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