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Financial Literacy: The Haunting Facts and Resources You Need to Know

Posted on April 9th, 2014 in Financial Tips by NSBblogger | No Comments

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “debt” as “an amount of money that you owe to a person, bank, company, etc.” While most Americans know the definition of the word, what they don’t know is how to avoid it or get out of it. As of the beginning of March, Americans owed $11.52 TRILLION in debt: over $8 trillion in mortgages, just over one trillion in student loan debt, $856.5 billion in credit card debt and the rest of the total made up from a variety of sources.


Simply put, Americans are illiterate when it comes to money. It’s not an opinion, but a fact. In a 2008 report by the JumpStart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, almost three-fourths of 6,856 high school students who took a 31-question exam covering a range of financial topics, failed.  While college seniors fared better, the JumpStart report pointed out that “the good news is that most college graduates are financially literate. The bad news is that only 28 percent of Americans graduate from college, leaving nearly three quarters ill-equipped to make critical financial decisions.”


A few other shocking statistics about the lack of financial knowledge in the U.S.:

  • 56 percent of U.S. adults do not have a budget
  • 39 percent of U.S. adults have no non-retirement savings
  • 60 percent of U.S. adults have no emergency funds in place
  • 55 percent of Americans spend equal to or more than their household income


So, what does this mean to you as a customer of Northeast Security Bank? First, it means you are banking with a community bank that pursues responsible banking and lending strategies in order to prevent customers from taking our loans or mortgages that they will only fall behind on.


Second, it means we’re here to help as much as possible. The following are resources you can use to help identify your financial weaknesses and work toward a more balanced, debt-free lifestyle:

  • MyMoney.gov- this introduces the MyMoneyFive concepts and offers money quizzes and other tools.
  • JumpStart.org- even more resources and tools, as well as news and activities for people of all ages.
  • PracticalMoneySkills.com- personal finance tips, resources for educators, games, calculators and videos about a range of financial topics.
  • Wisebread.com- Financial tips and advice for personal finances and more including debt management, insurance, investments, taxes and frugal living.
  • Our blog! Our archives are full of great strategies aimed at reducing debt, spending wisely and many other aspects of your financial life.


Becoming financially literate and responsible is a team effort, and Northeast Security Bank looks forward to help you becoming more informed about the various aspects of your financial life.

The 6 Ultimate Steps to Being Ready to Buy a Home

Posted on March 26th, 2014 in Home Buying by NSBblogger | No Comments
Checklist for buying a home from Northeast Security Bank

Keeping a checklist is an easy way to mark off your progress when purchasing a home.

It is no secret buying a home is a complicated, and often long, process. With the correct preparation, however, the process can be made much more manageable. While we’re not guaranteeing that taking these six steps will make the process shorter, they are definitely aimed at reducing your stress when it comes time to purchase your new home.

Figure out how much home you need- what got most people in trouble during the housing bubble was they bought more home than they needed and could afford. Take your family’s current size and future plans into account when figuring out the size of home you need.

Improve your credit score- the higher your score, the lower your down payment and monthly payments. A score of 700 to 720 will get you a good deal, and 750 and higher is the best.

Save for down payment and closing costs- down payments are typically anywhere between 3.5 and 20 percent of the home’s value, and closing costs average between $2,300 and $4,000.

Build up your savings account- this is in addition to saving for closing costs and a down payment. Lenders want to see that you have some fall back money and aren’t living paycheck to paycheck.

Get preapproved- the preapproval process has gotten much more extensive than it used to be. Get your financing in place before you walk through your first home.

Commit to staying in one place- Buying a home is not for someone thinking they’re going to be moving around a lot. Short-term ownership is an expensive idea and should be avoided at all costs.

These are all items you need to have completed before you begin to look at houses. Your friends at Northeast Security Bank can help you with your mortgage needs should you need it, so don’t hesitate to ask. We hope to see you or hear from you soon!

The Pros and Cons of the Renting vs. Buying Debate

Posted on March 12th, 2014 in Home Buying, Mortgages by NSBblogger | No Comments
Renting vs. Buying

The decision to rent or buy depends on your family size, what your needs are and what your financial situation is like.

Spring will (hopefully) soon be upon us, meaning the start of “Home Season” isn’t far behind. One debate that comes up often at this time each year is which choice is better between renting a house/apartment or buying a home.

Northeast Security Bank wants anyone looking to change their address this spring to make the best decision possible. First, let’s take a look at some pros and cons of both renting and owning.


  • Pros: generally less expensive; gives you the freedom to move around quickly; landlord often makes/pays for repairs; almost no monthly fees, taxes and expenses besides rent and utilities; less stressful.
  • Cons: less stable- you’re at the mercy of your landlord; usually can’t make modifications or personalize the property; proximity to neighbors; have to deal with noise of neighbors next door, above or below you.


  • Pros: gives you great stability – you’re not at the mercy of a landlord; you can modify, add to or personalize a home your own as much as you want; you can choose how much space is between you and your neighbors.
  • Cons: generally more expensive; ties you down to one spot; must hire a professional to make repairs or do them yourself; more expenses to pay each month – mortgage payment, principal interest, property taxes, property insurance, homeowners association fees and maintenance; purchase and ownership can be very stressful.

So, which is best for you? The answer depends on a lot of independent factors, such as your age, financial situation, career situation, family, and more. However, there is a way to see whether homes in your area are fairly priced called the price-to-rent ratio (P/R ratio).

Find two similar houses, condos or apartments, one for sale and one for rent. Divide the sale price of one divided by the annual rent for the other. For example: divide a $200,000 house for sale by a house that rents for $1,000 a month ($12,000 annually). The result is a ratio of 16.7:1. If you find the ration to be higher than 20, that means ownership will cost more than renting.  A “normal” ratio is between 10 and 14.

If ownership turns out to be the right move for you, Northeast Security Bank would be glad to help with your mortgage needs. Just get in touch with any of our offices for assistance. Good luck, and we hope to see you soon!

Breaking the Mold: How NSB Does Customer Service Better

Posted on February 26th, 2014 in Customer Service by NSBblogger | No Comments

Banks and customer service traditionally have never been best friends. If you search “worst customer service” on Google, you are most likely to find many lists of companies with awful customer service, and banks are guaranteed to be on the list. The only industries with worse customer service than banks are airlines and phone/communications companies.


The banks that do make those “worst” lists are national banks, with offices across the country and huge call centers with 1-800 numbers for customers to call.


As we talked about last month in our blog post entitled “Banking with NSB in 2014: Exactly What You Need, Nothing You Don’t,” Northeast Security Bank provides banking services to our friends, family and fellow members of our communities, not across the nation. When it comes to customer service, we work every day to remain as far away from the reputation of bad customer service national banks have earned.


Our goal, whenever you call us, come to the drive-thru window or walk through our doors, is to provide you with the best value possible. We do this by focusing on:

  • Providing you with a knowledgeable staff ready to help
  • Treating you as we treat a friend – with respect and kindness
  • Serving you not in order to make money, but in order to ensure you achieve your goals
  • Offering the best banking services and hours for greater convenience and options for however you choose to do your banking


Whether you’ve been a loyal customer for years or have just started your partnership with us, your experience will be the same: a smile and greeting when you come through the door, quick service and maybe some cookies, popcorn or flavored coffee if you come on the right day. This is how we break the mold on customer service as a bank.


Northeast Security Bank looks forward to a year full of serving our customers – our friends, neighbors and family members – and to help them achieve their goals. We hope to see you at one of our branches soon!



Community Love: Why NSB Loves Our Communities

Posted on February 14th, 2014 in Communities by NSBblogger | No Comments

We won’t kiss you (probably) but we do love every one of our customers!

You know those candy hearts that are popular around this time of year? The ones with the sayings on them? Some of the sayings are cheesy, while some are more romantic; however they all are about how much someone cares about you.


Northeast Security Bank is the same way in how we feel about our customers and the communities we serve: we have a serious side, but can also gush worse than little schoolboys talking about their crushes if we felt like it. With corniness and Valentine’s day in mind, here are a few of those famous phrases you can find on conversation hearts and how they make us feel about YOU!


It’s Love- sorry, but we can’t help but feel a slight attraction to our customers. Okay, maybe it’s more than a slight attraction. We love our customers! Getting to talk to you all and catch up on everything going in your lives is often the most interesting part of our day.


Call Me- yes, please call us! The NSB staff would love to help you with any questions you have.


For You- the banking services we provide are all for you! From checking and savings accounts to mortgages and loans, Northeast Security Bank offers everything you need to succeed!


My Hero- where would we be without our customers? We see and hear all the great things you do with your time and energy, and how eagerly you pitch in to help us whenever we want to give back to our communities.


You Rule- our customers are definitely a passionate bunch. Whether they’re supporting our local sports teams, working on their farm or helping their neighbors and friends, they put their hearts into it.


You + Me- equals opportunities! We’re excited to see where each of our customers’ dreams take them, and Northeast Security Bank is ready to help in any way we can.


Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at Northeast Security Bank, and we look forward to seeing you soon!

Easy Ways to Pay it Forward in the New Year

Posted on January 29th, 2014 in General by NSBblogger | No Comments

Have you ever been in line to pay for coffee or at a fast food restaurant, only to find out the when pull out your debit card that the person in front of you – a complete stranger – just paid for your food or drink? If you have, you more than likely want to thank this person, though many people try to do this anonymously to have you “pay it forward,” or return the favor by doing the same for someone else.

Donating blood and donating food are just two simple ways you can pay it forward to start 2014 off on a good foot.

At Northeast Security Bank, we know you want to do good and help others, but understand it is often hard to figure out how. We’ve put together a list of easy ways you can pay it forward in 2014, so give them a try! Remember to tell those you help to pay it forward to others!

Pay for the person behind you in line- whether you’re at a coffee shop or a restaurant, this is an easy way to show kindness to a stranger.

Help a neighbor with their home- if you have an older neighbor or know of someone with a disability, helping them out by shoveling snow, organizing their home or something else can go a long way for them. When they thank you just tell them to pay it forward!

Provide clothes or food to someone who is struggling- this can be an individual or taking these items to a food bank or homeless shelter.

Leave a happy note on someone’s car/doorstep/etc.- it can be someone you know or a total stranger. Just let them know they’re a great person and tell them to make someone else feel good by leaving them a note.

Donate blood- January is National Blood Donor Month, and though you can’t really personalize a blood donation, the person whose life you help surely won’t forget the favor.

You can turn almost anything into a pay-it-forward situation. Whenever the person you help says “Thank you” tell them the best way to thank you is by doing something similar for someone else who needs it. Northeast Security Bank hopes these small favors can help make our communities better places to live and help you build new relationships as well.

We hope to see you soon!

Banking with NSB in 2014: Exactly What You Need, Nothing You Don’t

Posted on January 15th, 2014 in General by NSBblogger | No Comments

Northeast Security Bankis a community bank serving the wonderful communities of Sumner, Fredericksburg, Decorah and Fairbank in northeast Iowa. We don’t run nationwide advertising campaigns, have locations in every state or buy commercial slots for the Super Bowl.

We’re here to serve the diverse banking needs of people in our communities, from young adults and business owners to families and local farmers.

We know what products and services our customers need and work every day to provide them the best that we can. We know that young adults in our communities may need help with the basics like checking and savings accounts, or need a guide to help them find the right mortgage for their first home. We understand the diverse financial needs a family with children has or that this thing called “life” will occasionally throw unexpected costs your way.

Northeast Security Bank also knows what it takes to support our local businesses and make sure they have everything the need to succeed. From new stores to expansions, we love seeing our local business owners thrive because it in turn helps our communities grow.

The same can be said about how we help our local farmers. Northeast Security Bank knows that agriculture has long been the backbone of our northeast Iowa communities, and as they go, so do the local economies.

How do we know all of this? Because we are your family, your friends and your neighbors. We’re there with you in the stands for football or basketball games cheering on our kids, or in the audience at concerts supporting our vocal or instrumental groups.

At Northeast Security Bank, we don’t bank on a national scale, but on an Iowa level. So while you won’t see us in any viral commercials on TV, you’ll see us around town or whenever you enter any of our locations in Sumner, Fredericksburg, Decorah or Fairbank. Come see us today to see how we can help you bank on your level so you have everything you need and nothing you don’t.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Gift Ideas for Your Furry, Fluffy or Feathery Friends

Posted on December 18th, 2013 in Pets by NSBblogger | No Comments

The holidays can definitely be a chaotic time of year. You need to get gifts for everyone on your list, you have to prepare the house for visitors or make travel arrangements, and your calendar can fill up quickly with various holiday related events. In all the busyness of this time of year, it’s easy to forget about the animals that play a big part in our lives.

Don’t forget about the pets or animals in your life this holiday season!

While your dog, cat, bird or other pet won’t complain about not getting a gift this year, it’s still nice to do a little something special for them during the holiday season. Here are a few gift ideas for your pet from Northeast Security Bank.

A little TLC- besides giving them food and water, we may forget about the basics for our pets during the holidays. Give your pet a day to get pampered: give them a bath, give them a good brush down, make them a favorite food (if they have particular taste) or just simply give them some good old fashioned attention. 

Self warming pet bed- these can be especially useful during the cold Iowa winters we always get. The bed’s lining reflects the heat from the animal, allowing stay warm as they sleep through the night.

Bedding, kennel or cage- having a clean house and bed is a treat for you, so give your pet the same luxury.

Salt licks- if you’re best animal friend is a horse or cow, salt licks are good way to ensure that they get all the vitamins and minerals they need for good health at a relatively low cost.

The perfect toy- just like you, your pet enjoys playing around and getting a little exercise as well. Whether it’s something as simple as a small ball for your cat to bat around, a thick piece of rope for your dog to chew on or a ball hanging at the end of a string for your horse to knock around, there are plenty of options to choose from.

If you view your pet as a best friend or even a member of your family, don’t forget to do something special for them this holiday season. Happy holiday shopping from all of us at Northeast Security Bank, and we look forward to seeing you soon!

5 Tips to Help Manage Holiday Spending

Posted on December 4th, 2013 in Holiday Shopping by NSBblogger | No Comments

There may be nothing that diminishes the cheerful spirit of the holiday season than getting a huge credit card bill or spending way more money than you intended. It doesn’t seem like a fair fight sometimes with all the special deals and advertising thrown at you from every angle.

It’s easy to get caught up in the craze of the holidays and overspend.

However, with a little preparation and some creativity you can make it through the holidays without busting your bank account. Here are five tips from Northeast Security Bank to manage your holiday spending this year.

Set limits for total spending- there’s no easier way to ensure you don’t overspend than by setting an overall spending limit. Figure out who all you have to shop for and then set your spending limit.

Make your own “naughty” and “nice” lists- there’s no need for you to buy presents for the whole world. If you have more than five people outside your immediate family on your shopping list, you need to cut it down. You can always bake some cookies for those who got cut.

Budget based on your finances- sure, it would be nice to buy all the best gifts for everyone on your list. However, it’s not worth going into debt just to buy gifts.

Go for personal gifts over expensive ones- those trendy department starts are enticing, but do the people on your list really need what they’re offering? Personal gifts can be just as satisfying as a big ticket item.

Hunt for coupons and coupon codes- sales aren’t the only way to get deals when you’re out shopping. Keep your eyes peeled for coupons and coupon codes for discounts.

What strategies do you use to keep your shopping expenses down? Whichever strategy you use, Northeast Security Bank hopes both your holiday shopping and the holidays in general go smoothly. Good luck with your shopping, and we’ll see you soon!

Starting Young: Banking Services for College Students and Young Adults

Posted on November 27th, 2013 in Bank Services by NSBblogger | No Comments

Being a college student or recent college graduate is a great time in life. Opportunities seem endless and you feel like you have your whole life ahead of you. Worrying about money is something for people much older than you.

Banking with Northeast Security Bank

The average college student graduates with over $28,000 in debt. Northeast Security Bank can help you manage your finances for a happier financial life!

However, if you take the right steps now you’ll never have to worry about money. Northeast Security Bank can help you start off on the right path by providing the services you need like: 

Checking and Savings Accounts- the foundation of personal finances, Northeast Security Bank’s personal checking and savings accounts are a great way to start managing and putting away money for current and future expenses. Our “It’s Your Choice” account gives you free online banking plus the ability to pick from other options like ATM or debit cards, online bill pay and more.

IRAs- sure you may be thinking “What’s an IRA?” or “Why do I need one?” The answer: compound interest. The earlier you start contributing to the account the better, even if it’s just a little bit. Example: if you contribute $1,000 a year (about $83 per month) from age 25 to 65 in an account earning 7 percent you’ll have $213,610; waiting ten years to start saving nets you $112,537 less.

Online Banking- access your account from your laptop whether you’re at home, work or studying in the library. You can check your account balance, transfer money between your accounts more easily and quickly. You can also view your statements online to help create a budget and spend smarter.

Mobile Banking- get the same services as Online Banking but delivered on your phone. You can download the Northeast Security Bank mobile app, login to your account via our mobile site or bank via text message.

Service- look, we understand that you may not know everything about banking and finance. That’s okay! If you have questions, any of our staff members will gladly help you find an answer as quickly as possible.

Whether you’re a college student at Luther near our Decorah branch or a young adult living in or around our other branches in Fairbank, Fredericksburg or Sumner, we’re here to help you live a life free from financial worry. Contact the Northeast Security Bank location nearest you to get started!