Student Loan PSA: What Student Debt Really Looks Like

Student Loan PSA

Obtaining your secondary education can be a landmark goal on your journey to success. By opening up opportunities, and enhancing your capabilities, the study of a discipline gives you the skills you need to conquer your future ambitions. More often than not, student loans offer a helpful supplement when financing this experience. However, many students are able to obtain these financial aids without having to budget or offer a credit history, causing a higher likelihood of default among student borrowers. To help avoid this, Alpine Bank suggests answering the following questions before choosing how to pay for your collegiate participation:

What are you starting with?

The first question you should ask yourself is, ‘What money do I have to begin my education?’ If you have applied for and received scholarships, those should first count towards tuition and books. Additionally, if you have any financial support from relatives, these funds may be allocated best at the base of your budget during your college planning. By totaling the sum of these two amounts, you can determine the support outside your own savings that will be contributed towards your future learning efforts. Knowing whether or not this amount will be offered on a recurring basis can help you then decide what financial steps you need to take in order to save, earn, and/or borrow the remaining funds necessary.

How much and how often can you contribute?

After learning your total amount of support, it is now possible to create a plan of action to facilitate the rest. Depending on your length and type of education, your costs may vary drastically. When selecting both a field and institution of study, the factor of price is an important one to consider. By thinking of your education as an investment, you can ensure that you choose both a rewarding and promising career path to help you repay any debt you do incur during this time. To help decrease overall expenditures, many students take on a part-time job to supplement the costs of their education, along with the associated room and board. Utilizing this choice can decrease the overall amount of your anticipated loan, and help you avoid the additional expense of interest.

I need to Find What?! Why You Need a Life and Estate Organizer

Photo of Nicole Fasano, author of blog.

Nicole Fasano, J.D., CTFA, Vice President, Wealth Advisor & Trust Officer

“I need to find what?!” is a question often asked after a loved one’s death. From the typical documents, such as life insurance policies, to the less obvious, such as stopping automatic payments from online banking, there are a lot of papers that must be identified after a death in order to administer an estate. How will your executor or successor trustee know what insurance company or bank you used or who you used as your attorney or accountant? This can become a tangled web of information for your loved ones.

You can make this process easier by creating a Life and Estate Organizer.  A Life and Estate Organizer sets forth all the information your loved ones may need upon your incapacity or death.  Below are a few examples of the information generally put in a Life and Estate Organizer.

Contact Information

There are many people who need to be contacted upon death. Family needs to be contacted to make funeral plans. Your attorney and accountant should know of your death. Your executor or successor trustee will likely need to work with your attorney to administer your estate and your accountant to prepare your final tax returns.  Putting this information in your Life and Estate Organizer lets your executor or successor trustee know who they need to contact for funeral arrangements and further administration.  Make sure you include phone numbers and addresses.

Estate Planning

Do you have a Will?  Do you have a Living Trust?  Who is your attorney?  Where are the original documents? Your executor needs to know that they are the named executor and have a document to prove it. Make sure you have a document stating what estate planning you have, what attorney you used, and where you keep the original documents.

Personal Finance and Assets

It’s also important to document where you bank.  What bank do you have checking and savings accounts with?  What bank holds mortgages, auto or personal loans?  The banks will need to be alerted when there’s a death to stop any potential fraud and receive all of the correct information for your estate. Also, your executor/successor trustee should know where you keep your insurance policies, for your life, home and auto. Original life insurance policies generally have to be turned in to the company upon death so it’s important that your trustee knows where you keep the originals.

Digital Assets

A consideration that is fairly new, and therefore often forgotten, is your digital property. You want to make sure your executor/successor trustee has the websites and your usernames and passwords. You would need this for any sort of digital property, such as, social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), Photos (Instagram, Flikr), Online Business (Ebay, Etsy), Book, Music and Movies (iTunes, Amazon) or any other digital assets you may have.

We often forget how much information we have stored mentally. That all goes with us at incapacity and death. At Alpine Trust & Investment Group we provide the necessary resources to create your Life and Estate Organizer, helping you to plan for the future. Although it can be a tough subject to broach, it’s important to understand how important this will be for your loved ones, providing them a little peace of mind and clarity in an otherwise difficult time.

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

Best Part Time Jobs for Students

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College is a time period in which you begin to choose your path in life. With decisions ranging from effort in class, extracurricular participation, and money management style, you will find yourself gaining more and more responsibilities each and every day. Continue to build your college experience with a part-time career to help you better manage your money, and support some fun on the weekends!

1. Dental Receptionist: With one of the best hourly wages for college students, this part-time job will help you learn the basics of scheduling and time management while allowing you to maintain flexible hours throughout the school year.

2. Library Assistant: On campus jobs are a great way to reduce transportation costs. Snagging a job at your university library can help you with your classes too! After being trained on all the offerings the library has available, you can have primary access to all the additional resources and study materials – not to mention great pay!
3. Restaurant Staff: Offering flexible hours, and potentially reduced food costs, this is a popular and reliable option for students. Especially useful for those looking to become restaurant managers or chefs, this employment can serve as a great stepping stone to future opportunities.
4. Tutor: Not only as a community service, but also as a career, this valuable job enables students to continue learning outside of their classes, and get paid doing so. By continually explaining processes and concepts to others, you can increase your knowledge on the subjects as well!

5. Bank Teller: Filled with customer interaction, number crunching, and accountability, this position will help teach you all about money management, and the responsibility of being accurate. Not only does this position offer a good wage and flexible hours, but it also boasts an added opportunity to network with impactful members of your community.

6. Bartender: Favored by many students, a position at your favorite college bar can provide flexible hours, socialization, and nightly tips to add to your pay. Remember to choose a bar with high traffic flow, to ensure a steady source of tips, and an increased potential to move up the rankings.

7. Fitness Instructor: Getting paid to work out almost sounds too good to be true! For those select few who have fantastic charisma and a killer routine, this is the perfect employment for you! With many students and community members searching for exciting new workouts, most college campuses are searching for students to fill rotating fitness class roles. Pick and choose the classes you want to teach, and have some fun!

8. Social Media Manager: Now that social media is practically a mandatory part of any business, the need to manage those accounts is climbing faster than ever. Put your online skills to use, and see which local businesses could use your help. This innovative career can be completed from your room, or the storefront, so working for multiple entities could be a great opportunity!

If you’re ready to start searching for your next job, try browsing your college careers page! With campus wide services, there are always opportunities to find employment. At Alpine Bank, we encourage students to learn about how to save and spend their money responsibly, using a monthly budget. If you’re curious on how to set one up for your personal finances, stop in today!

Which Subscription Service is Worth Your Money?

Holiday Shopping

The concept of subscription packages isn’t going away anytime soon! Offering the convenience of shipping, and the added surprise of finding out what’s inside, these clever subscription services keep you wanting more. With so many to choose from, how do you know which box is a worthwhile spend for your family? At Alpine Bank, we’re excited to share our favorite options, and how they can help improve your budget:

Blue Apron: Out of all the make your own meal plans, this one by far stands apart! With plans as low as $8.74 per serving, these step-by-step culinary creations not only help you eat better, but spend better as well! Reduce wasted money and food with their pre-portioned delivery system – and shipping is always free!

Bark Box: This box will have your furry friends waiting for the mailman every month! At $20 a month for a yearlong subscription, these fun-filled packages are stocked with nutritious treats and toys for your pup to enjoy. Check out their BarkShop page too, and see if your dog is a fit perfect for their Destroyer’s Club!

Dollar Shave Club: This popular grooming subscription is the perfect fit for men and women seeking a smooth shave. With options starting as low as $3 a month, this offer makes it simple to always have a fresh blade when you need one. If you do choose to upgrade, your product ships for free! Give it a try for a month, and adjust your shipments as needed, depending on how quickly you use the razors.

Birchbox: A traveling beauty bar for both men and women, this monthly subscription provides samples straight to your door for $10-20 each month. Complete with added membership pricing, and special offers, these little boxes pack a punch! If you discover products you simply cannot live without, simply go to their website, and select the full size version to purchase.

Raw Spice Bar: Eager cooks unite behind this affordable and delicious small batch spice subscription. Each month, they send professional and home cooks alike a mix of three regional spice blends. See how much you can grow your palette for only $8 a month!

Graze: Staying healthy can sometimes feel like a chore, especially while you’re working. Take the struggle out of hunting down those nutritious nibbles, and let graze do the shopping for you. For the low cost of $11.99 a month, you will receive 8 pre chosen snacks delivered straight to your home or office, and shipping is already included!

Gamefly: Video game addicts rejoice! Finally, there is a monthly subscription that allows you to play video games and rent movies at a low monthly cost! Starting at $15.95 you can rent one game each month with the option to return it at any time for a new game to rent. There are no late fees, and you can cancel at any time! Or for only $10 a month, you can live stream games straight to your home, 24/7!

Texture: No more magazine racks to clutter up your home, get the newest and latest news straight on your device with Texture’s digital monthly subscription. Offering the hottest magazines in every industry, this convenient service allows you to read the latest issue without the clutter of pages.

LootCrate: Allow your inner geek to celebrate for these gamer and movie centric crates! At a bargain of only $13.95 a month plus shipping and handling, these bountiful boxes offer one wearable item, a t-shirt, vinyl figure, comic book, household item, and utility item in every shipment! What are you waiting for?

Tasting Room: Nothing says relaxation like a satisfying glass of wine. Enjoy a bottle of your favorite flavors each month, through this interactive monthly tasting subscription. After the initial $9.95 tasting assessment of six personal-sized bottles, user are able to order wines to fit their personal tastes for approximately $15 a bottle.

Whichever box has begun to pique your interest, be sure to evaluate your family’s monthly budget to determine if it’s the perfect match for you.

Thanksgiving Costs Through History

Thanksgiving

Filled with laughter, good food, and heart-warming conversation, Thanksgiving is a holiday centered on all things family. Dating all the way back to 1621, this festive celebration originally began to signify a successful and fruitful fall harvest. Today we enjoy this day of thanks to remember all the blessings and loved ones in our life.

Many things have changed since 1621, or even since 1916! We wanted to see what this holiday may have looked like over the past century, to visualize how traditions and costs have changed through the years.

There are several factors when determining the cost of a Thanksgiving celebration. Today the average feast runs approximately $49. This includes a 16-pound turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, carrots, celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee with milk. However, back in 1916 this meal cost approximately $6.81, but keep in mind, the turkey then cost $4.48, or $99.23 in today’s standards.

Take a look and see how the various costs of Thanksgiving have changed over the last 100 years. You’ll be surprised at the difference!

Cost of Today’s Feast                      Cost of Past Century’s Feast

1916 – $2.21                                        1916 – $6.81

1926 – $3.59                                        1926 – $11.06

1936 – $2.82                                        1936 – $8.68

1946 – $3.96                                        1946 – $12.18

1956 – $5.52                                        1956 – $16.99

1966 – $6.58                                        1966 – $20.24

1976 – $11.55                                      1976 – $35.55

1986 – $22.24                                      1986 – $68.47

1996 – $31.84                                      1996 – $98.03

2006 – $40.92                                      2006 – $125.95

2016 – $49.00                                      2016 – $150.84

At Bank Alpine, we love learning about holidays and their history. It’s easy to see now how $6.81 can really add up! If you put those dollars in today’s standards, food costs would be astronomical! Can you imagine paying over $100 for just your turkey? This year the average cost per pound is about 93 cents, so for a 16-pound turkey, you should expect to pay around $15. Now that’s something to be thankful for!

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!

True or False: Catch Me if You Can

Check Fraud

Starting in 1963, Frank Abagnale began his criminal career. Made famous from the film, Catch Me if You Can, this mastermind of forgery made a name for himself at a young age by impersonating pilots, lawyers, and doctors. Throughout these impersonations, Frank found new and inventive ways to defraud the United States and at least eight other countries. When he was  captured at age 21, he had defrauded multiple nations upwards of $1.3 million dollars. After serving five years of his twelve year federal sentencing, he agreed to work with the FBI to help investigate and proactively protect the United States from further check fraud.

As Frank’s history with the FBI began to grow, he started to share the distinctive patterns and signatures behind the best of check fraud criminals. See if you can determine which of these check fraud facts are true and which are just cinematic magic:

True or False? Big corporations such as Panam had a much higher risk of check fraud than small mom and pop shops.

FALSE:  Although Panam was depicted as the start of Frank’s larger check fraud scheme, large scale business models face less risk than most small businesses. Did you know one in four businesses have fell victim to fraud? While larger companies have internal security and protective insurances for such instances, most local businesses rely on their employees and their customers to ensure an honest and accurate transaction.

True or False? Paper check forgery still is prominent today.

TRUE: With small businesses as the largest targets, paper check fraud is still a relevant issue, even today. Often times, the culprit can be employees who write a business check to themselves. Other instances can be a vendor who is able to alter the ink on the check to reflect an amount that they would prefer. While there are many additional cyber fraud crimes possible today, the threat of a paper check fraud is still imminent.

True or False? This movie largely encourages check fraud and teaches criminals how to hone their craft.

FALSE: While this movie does display many techniques in producing fraudulent checks, the premier intention of the film is to educate both banks and businesses in what to look for concerning false checks. There are many simple markers and signs that a check may be a fake, and while the storyline depicts the various lifestyle choices of a criminal, it reveals in the end, that Frank Abagnale began to help the FBI identify these markers to prevent future check fraud.

What to look for in fradulent checks straight from Frank Abagnale:

  • Keep any checks, deposit slips, or check re-orders under lock and key in a secure location. Many times those close to your business are the culprits in a check fraud crime.
  • Use Remote Deposit Capture from Alpine Bank. This service ensures that the check is treated just like a debit. If there are no funds in this account or it represents a false account, you will know as soon as the transaction completes.
  • When receiving a check in a transaction, scan the check to make sure it has a perforated edge, marking where it was torn from the checkbook.
  • Never cash a check you are unsure of. If something does not seem right, it is always safer to ask for further identity verification, or simply deny their request to cash the check.

If you’re curious how to keep your small business secure against check fraud, come by Alpine Bank today and speak with one of our local commercial lenders.

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!

Mortgage Loan Documentation Requirements

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Rob Grindle Mortgage Banker, NMLS #462766

Buying a house can be overwhelming. Whether it’s your very first house, second, or even third, it’s always helpful to talk through the necessary steps to owning a home. Finding the perfect home can take weeks or even months. No matter how long your search is, one thing is for certain: When you find “the one,” you want things to move along quickly to secure your financing.

An important step in maintaining a smooth, hassle free process is making sure that you have the necessary loan documents readily available. Below is a simple checklist to use when you are applying for a mortgage.

  • Previous three years of Federal Tax Returns with all schedules, A, C, E, if any
  • Previous three years of W2s for ALL jobs
  • Five recent pay stubs showing year to date earnings
  • Two recent checking and savings statements (All pages, including blank pages and cancelled check pages
  • One recent 401k, 403B and/or IRA statement
  • Photo ID

By having all of the required documents in place, the more likely the home buying process will be quick and efficient. Remember, the more organized you are prior to finding that dream home, the sooner you’ll be able to call it your own.

Rob Grindle

Mortgage Banker, NMLS #462766

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