NSB Blog

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Increase your Savings by Limiting your Spending

Posted on June 25th, 2014 in Savings by NSBblogger |

There are a few easy fixes available to help you increase your savings to make your piggy bank happier!

Northeast Security Bank knows that it is always a good option to increase your savings and that takes the initiative from you to limit your spending. There are many benefits of having a savings account as a security blanket.

A savings account can protect you from financial ruin in case you were to lose your job or were suddenly diagnosed with a serious illness. Limiting your spending now could save you from a stressful situation in the future.

Northeast Security Bank has many options for you to work with as you get serious about finding ways to increase your savings by limiting your spending. We know that for your convenience, access to your accounts 24/7 is practical. That is why we have online banking services you can access virtually and you do not have to go into the bank to make transfers, pay bills, and see your statement.

Being able to access your bank information from the comfort of your home or office will give you an insider look at where you are spending your money and how much you need to be saving. We also provide e-statements to be more environmentally friendly and convenient for you.

To see all features of Northeast Security Bank’s online service, visit our online banking page.

Increasing savings at an early age will help to limit spending later on in life because you or your child will become accustom to saving money each week. Teaching children early on in life about the value of limiting their spending will surely be beneficial later on in life, especially for those teenagers who are starting their first part time jobs.

Reevaluate your current spending habits. You may not realize what bad habits you are spending your money on until you look at your expenditure trends. You might be going out to lunch one too many times during the work week or your family spends more on take out than they should. This problem can be easily fixed with a little bit of family planning.

Whether you have the goal of a family vacation in the near future or are working on increasing your savings for unknown problems, we hope these tips help you reach your goals.

Easy Home Fixes for Keeping Your Cooling Bill Low

Posted on June 10th, 2014 in Financial Tips by NSBblogger |

Keeping your home pleasant this summer doesn’t mean you have to pay a huge cooling bill!

With the summer weather finally here in full swing, your energy bill is beginning to rise because of air conditioning use.  There are some easy home fixes for keeping your cooling bill low throughout June and into July.

Eight tips for easy home fixes for keeping your cooling bill low:

  1.  Use bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans sparingly. These fans can warm an entire home within an hour if they are left running, so be careful about keeping them on for too long.
  2.  Using curtains can keep the sun from beating into your home. Be especially aware of the west and south facing areas of the home because those spaces are targeted by the sun during the day.
  3.  Weather stripping the doors will keep cool air in and seal the cracks that can quickly become costly.
  4.  Circuiting air throughout the house with box fans will increase the flow of the air conditioning to each room without paying too much on your utility bill.
  5.  Utilize your basement area. A good way to stay cool in the summertime is to hang out in the basement as it is the coolest spot of the house.
  6.  Avoid using the oven and stovetop. These appliances can quickly heat up not only the kitchen, but the entire house. Use smaller appliances like the microwave or toaster oven as they use much less energy as well.
  7. Don’t cool unused areas. Close doors and registers in rooms that are not occupied by your family.
  8. Installing an automatic setback on your thermostat so your air will start shortly before you get home. This will save you money because it cuts back on costs during times of the day that you are not around.

Northeast Security Bank knows everyone wants to stay cool when the weather gets hot, so we found ways for you to do so while saving money on your energy costs. These easy home fixes for keeping your cooling bill low will surely save some green.

Buying Local: Keeping our Communities Thriving

Posted on May 21st, 2014 in Communities by NSBblogger |

Buy local facts from NSB

If you were to walk or drive around your community past all the small businesses and restaurants, how many of them would you be able to say, “I know the owner or someone who works there” about?

 

Local businesses owned by our family members, friends and neighbors are a staple in the communities Northeast Security Bank serves. Some of them have been around for a while, while others are newer. Regardless of age, these local businesses all have one thing in common: they employ community members and help the local economy stay thriving.

 

But you don’t have to take our word for it. Here are some facts, figures and analysis that show how the local businesses in Sumner, Fredericksburg, Decorah and Fairbank are keeping the local economy going.

 

Double the Fun- according to a study done by the New Economics Foundation, when you purchase produce at a local farmer’s market or community agriculture program over a national chain supermarket, twice the money stays in the local economy.

 

Opportunities abound- think about items you have to buy from box chain stores or online because no local business offers them. Could you or another local business find a way to turn this gap into another stream of revenue that brings more dollars to the local economy?

 

Pick up velocity- buying local increases the “velocity” of money, or how quickly it passes through different people’s hands. The faster it circulates, the more people get the benefit of the money.

 

A few facts and figures about buying locally:

  • Local businesses generate 70 percent more local economic activity per square foot than big box chain retail stores.
  • Spending $100 at an independent business equals $68 dollars in local economic activity, versus $48 when you spend $100 at a big box retailer.
  • $326 vs. negative $468: the difference in net annual return per 1,000 square feet between local shops and big box stores.

 

This all adds up to keeping profits within our community. This means local businesses stay open, and the people in our communities stay employed. Northeast Security Bank recognizes you have a choice whenever you head out to make a purchase. We encourage you to buy local when possible to keep our local economies thriving now and for our children in the future.

Financial Wisdom for Our Favorite Graduates

Posted on May 7th, 2014 in Financial Tips by NSBblogger |

Financial tips for grads from NSB

It is once again May, and along with the upswing in good weather, there is also a lot of celebrating going on. High school and college graduation mark a significant step in a young person’s life, whether they are leaving high school behind or getting ready to join the real world.

 

While various rules and responsibilities may change in these transitions, there is at least one concept that stays the same: the need for financial responsibility. Your graduate will face unique monetary challenges in college or in adjusting to the world outside of school, so Northeast Security Bank is here to help. We’ve put together this “gift basket” of financial wisdom to help the graduate in your life stay financially responsible and live a little easier.

 

A Few Financial Tips for our Graduates

  • Easy on the credit cards- you’ll be targeted by credit card companies with offers that seem too good to be true, because they are. Credit cards should be used almost exclusively for emergencies, and only if you know you will be able to pay the balance off quickly.
  • Student and other loans- sure, an extra little bit of money couldn’t hurt. Or can it? Borrow only what you need, whether it’s for tuition or replacing a totaled vehicle. Anything extra is just more interest you will have to pay out of your pocket.
  • Be smart during your grace period- if you’ve just graduated from college, you will most likely have a six-month grace period before you have to start loan payments. Be sure you are taking this time to save money and create a smart budget to incorporate loan payments.
  • Save for emergencies- cars need repairs, you can get sick or injured or you can even lose your job. Having money stashed away for these emergencies will help you keep your head above water.
  • Create good credit habits- this works into going easy on the credit cards. By using them responsibly and paying down the balance without missing payment dates you are creating a good foundation for your credit history.
  • Don’t fly by the seat of your pants- “winging it” may work for some things in life, but not so much for spending in saving. Budgeting and having specific savings goals helps you stay on track and out of the red.
  • Invest in your future- it may hurt and mean some lifestyle tradeoffs, but the power of compound interest is more than enough to make it worth it. Plus, if you think Social Security benefits will be enough for your retirement, you are sorely mistaken (if they are around at all).

 

We’re not saying you will never face financial difficulties if you follow these rules. Life happens, and new costs can pop up at inopportune times. However, if you have a solid financial foundation established, you can make it through just about anything.

 

Northeast Security Bank would be glad to help our high school and college graduates any way we can. Don’t hesitate to call or come by any of our locations today for help!

Shared Roots: Local Farmers and Northeast Security Bank

Posted on April 23rd, 2014 in Bank Services by NSBblogger |

Spring, specifically late April and early May, brings a great deal of excitement and anticipation to our communities and the rest of Iowa. Corn and soybean planting seasons are the beginning of a time that results in billions of dollars in revenue for the entire state. With much of our local economy resting on an agricultural foundation, it is critical for our local farmers to have the equipment and supplies necessary for the best crop production. That’s where Northeast Security Bank comes in.

 

Simply put, we know agriculture in Northeast Iowa. Many of us grew up on farms as part of farm families that have been in this area for decades; many of our staff members that work with agricultural customers still live on farms themselves. The relationships we’ve built with local farm families are about more than just being where you keep your money or service your loan. In our eyes, each farm family we work with is a success story in the making, another chance to help a hard working family achieve their financial and life goals.

 

Whether your agricultural banking needs are basic or a little more complex, Northeast Security Bank has a solution.

  • Personal and Interest Checking- a variety of accounts with different benefits; you work hard, so why shouldn’t your money?
  • Ag Loans- our ag lending officers listen to your unique needs and provide you with loan solutions tailored to your situation.
  • Debit Cards, Credit Cards and Online Services- the convenience these services provide help you spend less time worrying about your finances and more time concentrating on your farm.

 

Many people may think we’re in the banking business, but Northeast Security Bank is in the business of helping our customers succeed. We wish good luck to all of our farmers this season, and we’re hoping for the best possible weather for a great yield!

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

Posted on April 9th, 2014 in Financial Tips by NSBblogger |

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 |
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 |
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.

Renting

  • 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.

Buying

  • 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 |

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 |

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!