Posts Tagged ‘ Citizens Bank Minnesota ’

Credit Cards

In my opinion, credit cards are a necessary option of payment in today’s highly technical world.  The key to credit cards is discipline in the use of the “plastic” (credit cards). You can hardly go shopping without being asked if you would “like to save an additional amount today by opening a credit card account” with XYZ Company.

An abundance of caution needs to be used with all the credit card temptations that are out there.  Remember that what you charge to the account still has to get paid for over time, typically, not at the most attractive interest rates.

Questions you need to ask yourself are:

1)     How am I going to use the credit card?

2)     Why am I going to put this purchase on a credit card?

There are many good reasons to use a credit card, if you have the discipline to pay it off when the monthly bill comes, there are many types of cards that have rewards tied to them, such as rebates, gifts or travel rewards offered from companies on the usage of their cards. An example would be where one to two percent of what you spend on the purchases you make, comes back to you in some type of a reward.  For someone who travels for their job and spends a great deal of money on gas, food and lodging, uses their card for payment and pays it off at the end of each billing cycle, a nice reward would be created at the end of the year. 

An example of poor use of a credit card would be to constantly charge day-to-day expenses to a credit card and not pay it off at the end of a billing cycle.  This creates a growing credit card balance at interest rates that are typically not attractive and would negate any reward that you would be receiving. 

When choosing a credit card, look at these areas and ask yourself some questions:

1)     How am I going to use this card?

2)     Why am I going to get a credit card?

3)     Is a reward card what I need or what I want?

4)     Is there an annual fee tied to this card that I am considering?

5)     What is the interest rate on this card if it is not paid off at the end of the billing cycle cut-off?

Credit cards certainly have their place in this world as a form of payment, whether you are reserving a hotel room, renting a car, buying something online or booking a flight, but I can’t emphasize enough the need for discipline in the use of the “plastic”. 

By:  Tim Hoscheit, Vice President

Preserving a Precious Commodity – Your Credit Report

We all have seen commercials on TV or in the media regarding identity theft and how that impacts you and your Credit Report.  Due to our busy schedules, many folks ignore the importance of checking their credit reports on an annual basis.  Credit reports contain your personal information and history on how you pay your financial obligations.  Obligations reported about you may vary; they could include your credit card activity, payments on your car loan, your home mortgage, student loans, etc.  More importantly, they include information about “bounced checks” written by you, that have been turned over to an agency for collection, unpaid medical bills or any other account you have incurred that has been converted to judgments against you. The report also shows if you have filed for bankruptcy protection in the past.

You may ask, “Why is this important to me?” This information is used to assist a lender in determining your credit worthiness when you apply for a loan, credit card or any other credit request you may have.  It will be used to determine if you get a preferred interest rate or if you are considered a higher risk, thus demanding you to pay a higher rate.  Your credit report may be reviewed by a potential employer when you apply for employment. A poor report certainly could negatively influence their opinion of you and the possibility of being passed over for the job.  Insurance companies use a credit report to determine how you will pay your bills – the higher your credit score, the cheaper your insurance premium may be.

It is widely recognized that a great percentage of credit reports contain incorrect information or information that is not yours.  Your credit report is yours alone. You need to monitor it closely and make sure that it accurately states your history.  If there are inaccuracies, it is your responsibility to get them corrected. The reporting agencies are Equifax, Experian or Transunion. Contact any one of them for the procedures to make corrections.  You may access your credit report online at www.annualcreditreport.com.

By: Bill Brennan, Sr. Vice President

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Investment and insurance products:

  • Are Not Insured by the FDIC or any other federal government agency
  • Are Not deposits of or guaranteed by a Bank or any Bank Affiliate
  • May lose value

Meals on Wheels

We’ve all experienced it…the aroma of oven roasted turkey wafting through the open door, the sight of enticing mashed potatoes slathered with grandma’s blue ribbon gravy.  And don’t forget the accompanying brightly colored vegetable favorites neatly heaped to cover every visible fragment of plate beneath the inviting festival of tantalizing flavors. 

Or maybe for you it’s the zesty aroma of thick-layered lasagna and the accompanying basil & garlic fragrance to tantalize your taste buds. 

Whatever your favorites, whatever your most enticing menu items, our local Meals on Wheels volunteers load up & deliver these and other tasty and nutritious meals to nearly 100 senior or special needs citizens all around New Ulm.  

With the generous funding efforts of the United Way, Kraft, 3M, and others, the Lutheran Social Services Senior Nutrition Program has worked tirelessly to provide a wide variety of these nutritious tidbits, and here at Citizens Bank Minnesota, we’ve teamed up with other New Ulm volunteers to deliver those nutritious meals to the shut-ins who are depending on them.  

Once the lunch bug hits and one of our 20 volunteers opens the door of the New Ulm Community Center, the aromas tickle the sensations as the piping hot meals are wrapped and boxed into coolers to keep them warm inMinnesota’s frigid winter temperatures.  But whether we deliver in -30° F or in 90° F, the results are always the same:  Smiles and greetings, thankful recipients, and warm and satisfied stomachs! Many THANKS to all of our generous community volunteers! 

By: Judy Hahn, Loan Processor

The Savings Force

Today, April 25, 2011, we celebrate the introduction of The Savings Force! Our former Junior Banker President, Breezie, has retired and these Superheroes are coming in to teach our youth bankers how important it is to save. Here is a short story of how they came to Citizens!

The Story of Citi & Zen 

In the village of Bankland, not far from here, lived a young girl named Citi and her best friend, a boy named Zen.  They did everything together – riding bikes, playing soccer and just having fun.  But their favorite thing to do was searching for adventure, and that’s just what they planned to do.  They packed lunch bags with sandwiches and juice.  They each had a couple of dollars to spend, just in case they found something they wanted to buy.  They set out on their bicycles to a nearby village, named Squanderville, hoping that it was a good place for an adventure.    

There were so many things to do in Squanderville.  They spent the morning exploring the town and decided to visit some of the stores after lunch.   The first stop must surely be the candy store.  There were shelves full of bins with candy in every one!  Some of the local children were buying bags full of candy, emptying their pockets and spending all the money they had.  Citi and Zen weren’t sure about spending all their money on candy so they decided to shop some more.  

The next store Citi and Zen went into was a toy store.  It was full of toys, from floor to ceiling – everything a kid could ever want!  Again they saw some of the local children emptying their pockets to purchase toys.  Citi and Zen saw a few things they wanted, too, but still waited to see what else they could buy in Squanderville. 

After a few more stores, Citi and Zen looked at each other and realized they didn’t really want to spend their money that day.  They decided to save it for something special that they may want to buy in the future. 

Citi and Zen returned to their homes in Bankland to tell their parents about their adventure in Squanderville.   They explained how the other children had foolishly spent all of their money on candy and toys, and how they had decided not to spend their money today, but save it for a special purchase later.  The parents told Citi and Zen that they were proud of both of them for being so responsible, saving their money wisely and waiting to buy something they really wanted. 

Citi and Zen saved their money for several months.  They decided to return to Squanderville to teach children there about saving money and how to spend it wisely.  But how would they get the children to listen?  They knew what to do…their fist stop would be the costume store, where they found exactly what they were looking for- super hero costumes!  They would become The Savings Force!   Citi became Lil’ C and Zen became Super Z.  The Squanderville children gathered to listen while Lil’ C and Super Z explained the importance of saving money.  They told of the day they visited the village and watched as many of the children emptied their pockets and spent all of their money on candy, toys and other things.  They pointed out that there was nothing wrong with spending some of the money on these items once in a while, but encouraged them to save some for the future.  In time, there would be enough money saved to buy something really special!      Citi and Zen were happy to help the kids in Squanderville and decided to help other children as well.  

Before Breezie retired, he invited Lil’ C and Super Z to come to Citizens Bank Minnesota to help YOU learn how to save money, too!   We hope you get a chance to meet them – they would love to meet you!!

By: Missy Marti, Assistant Marketing Director & Kelly Blick, Marketing Assistant

Be Prepared To Buy A New Home

Whether you are a first time home buyer or are looking to move to a different home, beware that we are in a different environment than we were 2-3 years ago.

Key items you should know before purchasing a home:

1) Know your own credit: You may obtain a free copy of your own credit report annually from www.annualcreditreport.com.  It is important that you have credit and that the credit you have is clean. You should get copies of your credit report a few months before you start house hunting.  Make sure all the facts are correct and fix any problems you may discover.

2) Have some savings or equity that you can use towards a new purchase: You will need money for the down payment, closing costs, and the first year homeowner’s insurance. You also want to have a reserve fund in the bank after your new purchase.  As a homeowner, you never know what you may need to repair.

3) Meet with your banker and be pre-approved: Meet with someone that you know will have your best interest in mind.  They will go through your credit, look at your current payments and determine what you can afford for a house.  A good rule of thumb is to compare your current house or rent payment to your new proposed payment.  Do not try to buy more house than you can afford since you will have these payments for a longtime.  Rely on your banker to lay out product options for you and then together you can determine which loan is right for you.

4) Plan for your future: When you become a homeowner, you are responsible for all the maintenance, yard care, property taxes and homeowners insurance.  All of these items should be factored in as an expense in addition to your monthly principal and interest payments.

Purchasing a new home will be one of the most important purchases of your life.  Work with someone that you know and trust to provide you with a good experience.

By: Maria Anderson, Asst. Vice President

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National Teach Children To Save Day

For the past six years, Citizens Bank Minnesota has participated in “National Teach Children to Save Day”. In that time we have reached out to 4,800 students between all of our locations. The purpose of “National Teach Children to Save Day” is to help raise awareness about the importance of saving money as well as to teach youth how to develop lifelong savings habits early in life. 

Citizens has chosen to focus on second graders for “National Teach Children to Save Day”, so every April, a group of bank employees go and visit all of the elementary schools in the surrounding areas. We present them with a fun, interactive 30-minute presentation. We start the presentation by asking them if they know what it means to save. We also ask them if they know the different places they can save their money and then we jump into a fun game. The game consists of splitting the class of second graders into two different groups; one group represents a savings account at a bank and the other group represents saving in a piggy bank. We pass out pretend money, using Laffy Taffy, and students take turns making deposits into either the bank or the piggy bank. After each round, we show them how the bank adds interest to the bank account, by adding more Laffy Taffy. At the end of the game, the bank account is over flowing in comparison to the piggy bank.  We then ask the students where they would like to save their money. They all undoubtedly respond “the bank” because they can see how much more the bank account has accumulated from earned interest, whereas the piggy bank does not. 

We also teach the students about the safety of keeping their money in a bank versus a piggy bank at home and also about savings goals. One thing that absolutely amazes me each year when we do the presentation is the response we get when we ask the students what their long term savings goals are. College is usually the number one response to this question which, I think, is great for second graders! 

At the end of the presentation and after all of the students’ questions have been answered, we give them a coupon to come see us at Citizens so we can start a savings account for them. 

Learning the importance of saving early is crucial for a lifetime of good financial habits and participating in “National Teach Children to Save Day” is one way Citizens is helping raise that awareness while giving back to the community at the same time. 

By: Pamela Stoltenberg, Personal Banker/Assistant Branch Manager

Citizens Bank Minnesota Partners With Farm Service Agency Lending Programs

Citizens Bank Minnesota assists borrowers who utilize Farm Service Agency Lending Programs.  This assistance can range from beginning Farmer Loans to FSA Guaranteed Operating and Real Estate Loans.  Citizens is a Certified Lender with the Farm Service Agency which means that the application process is streamlined with minimal paperwork.  We have several lenders trained to walk you through the process.  A current popular lending partnership that the Bank has with Farm Service Agency is the Beginning Farmer Down payment Loan Program.  This program enables a beginning farmer who has less than 10 years experience to purchase a farm with favorable loan terms.  Terms and conditions of the loan program are as follows:

  1. Loan funds must be used to purchase farm real estate.
  2. Purchaser must have at least 5% cash down.
  3. The Bank will finance 50% of the purchase price with a 1st mortgage on the property with the loan begin repaid over a 30 year period.  Interest rates are at the Bank’s normal rates and terms.
  4. The Farm Service Agency will finance 45% of the purchase price at an interest rate fixed for 20 years.
  5. The borrower must qualify as a beginning farmer, which means that he cannot have operated a farm for more than 10 years and he does not own a farm greater than 30% of the median size farm is in his county.
  6. The beginning farmer may be required to be enrolled in an Adult Farm Management Program.

In addition to the Beginning Farmer Down payment Loan Program, Citizens can also provide Farm Service Agency guaranteed operating and farm ownership loans.  Guaranteed loans cannot exceed $1,119,000.00.  Loan purposes can be for annual operating needs, equipment purchases, real estate purchases or debt refinance.  Our Bank lending officers fully understand the Farm Service Agency loan programs.  We are here to assist you in filling out the necessary Balance Sheets, Cash Flows and Application forms.  Our Certified Lending Status makes the application process much easier than applying directly with the Farm Service Agency.  Citizens will be happy to assist you.

By: Kevin Yager, Vice President

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