Monthly Archives: January 2018

What Mad Money is and Why You Need It

Paying off debt can be daunting, and budgeting for it is even more stressful. In order to be a winner with your budget, you must add Mad Money to your life – and no we aren’t talking about the TV show. Mad Money is, “A small sum of money carried or kept in reserve for minor expenses, emergencies, or impulse purchases.” There is no restraint to what you can purchase with Mad Money, only that you spend the allotted amount. This should be a small percentage of your monthly income.  Here are three simple reasons why you need to have some undefined fun with your budget.

1). It Incentivizes Your Budget.

So you’ve created your tight budget that you plan on sticking with in the New Year. As you work on creating new purchase habits, you may find yourself quickly becoming deprived of spontaneity and a social life. Some of you may already have a large portion of debt paid off, and room in your budget to go out with friends or establish a spa fund. However, you need this money too! This is not to be spent to fill in the gap of any other category, but only for you to splurge. It can help incentivize you by cutting back in other areas of your budget, in order to make room for even more madness!

Having the ability to be “mad” will give you the encouragement needed to stick to the rest of your budget. Want that morning pick me up from your favorite coffee shop? Go for it! You will feel satisfied that you were able to have some fun, but none of the buyer’s remorse.

2). It Fosters Creativity.

While the goal of fun money is to enable yourself the freedom to think less, you may find your craft wheels turning before you make a purchase with the fun money. You may be surprised how many items you can DIY that will bring so much value in the long run. Instead of that morning coffee splurge, you might discover a way to make a copycat recipe at home that guests will LOVE you for! This madness is already helping you save.

3). It Can Reduce Stress.

The importance of budgeting cannot be ignored. If you want to decrease your financial stress, one of the best things that can be done is to craft a budget. However, we recognize the realities of what comes with always saying “no” to purchase desires. Adding Mad Money into your monthly budget will help to remind you that splurging days are not over. You can still “treat yo’self.” This will help to reframe your mindset from deprivation to occasional indulgence. You have the security of knowing you are building yourself a strong future, without the baggage.

Be sure to contact Heartland Bank to set up a checking or savings account for this allowance. Only YOU are in control of your madness. Have fun with it!

The Digital Age: Social Media Security for Parents

The rise of digital communication has been a tremendous benefit to all ages. It has changed the way we communicate and the expanse of who we communicate with. With all of the doors this technology has opened, it has created an increasing burden on parents to shelter and protect their kids in ways they’ve never had to before.

Nearly 75 percent of teens have or have access to a smartphone and 92 percent go online daily.  71 percent utilize more than one social networking site. With figures as high as these, parents want to be aware of the stakes and safeguards for their children.


Most experts agree that having open communication with your kids is one of the best security measures you can take. Let them know from an early age what is and isn’t acceptable. Remind them of these values by having consistent conversations with them about their social media habits. Creating an open space for them to speak honestly will help to establish reciprocal trust. This will also enable you to be on the alert if there is cyber-bullying happening.


While it may seem like your kids know more than you when it comes to technology, that doesn’t mean that they understand the responsibilities and risks that come with using social media. Remind them that there is such a thing as “too much information” and what is posted online is forever.  Even when sites like Reddit which give the users the ability to remain anonymous, there is always a way to find out who they are. Alert them of potential scams, legal accountability and to refrain from completing questionnaires or giveaways, as most of them are seeking access to their personal information. The “don’t talk to strangers,” adage should still hold true online. Kids need to be aware of phishing scams and that they are a target because of their age.


There are ways in which you can safeguard your children. Update their privacy settings frequently and make sure they create strong passwords and share them with you. Depending on the age, it would be wise to only let them have access to the computer when adults are around. Facebook has a minimum age restriction (13) for a reason. It can get tricky when it comes to mobile devices, but establishing a cut off time for electronics is a good way to safeguard their nightly web surfing. Only 55 percent of parents limit their child’s screen time. With parental assistance programs like Net Nanny and Mobile Watchdog, you are able to monitor internet usage without having to constantly look over their shoulder-something nobody likes!


Finally, one of the best ways to keep your children safe is like any other hobby they are interested in – get involved! It is critical that parents become familiar with the social platforms their children are using. Even if you are not tech-savvy, get those apps downloaded and follow your kids! Awareness and education will keep you prepared for knowing the risks your children face in the digital age.

Creative Money Making Ideas for Teens

If you’re a teen, you know that making adequate money for your college fund and paying for the rising cost of items is challenging. School has never been as time-consuming and with the economic pressure to go to college and the rising rate in unpaid internships, you may be at a loss as to whether flipping burgers will help you in the short and long term.

We have come up with a list of creative ways you can earn some extra cash – without having to sacrifice your studies. Studies show that working 10-15 hours a week during the school year will even help to improve your grades. These can even be jobs you proudly add to your resume.  With all of these ideas, be sure to check with your parents to be sure it is a safe situation!

Make Money Online

You know the older generation shreds you for it anyways – so you might as well make some money at it! There are so many legitimate ways to make money by simply being on your phone or computer. You can do this from home, so your parents don’t have to worry about where you are.

Try out Swagbucks, where you can earn free gift cards for answering surveys and watching entertaining videos. Another legitimate site is Inbox Dollars, where you take surveys and try new products. If you’re thrifty, try out Ebay or BookScouter to make a profit off of used items!  Be very careful which sites you try to work with, and double check with your parents before starting as there are many scams out there.

Start a House Cleaning Business

There are many different types of people who need help cleaning their homes. They may not have the time or be physically capable. With a little overhead of buying your own cleaning products, you could easily make $15 an hour if you are a great cleaner. Many of these people hire professional cleaning services which will charge double that, so you will be a competitive contender!

Turn Your Hobby into a Gig

Want to have your perfect employer? Go into business for yourself! This is not only a chance to earn some money loving what you do, but you will learn a lot about what it takes to be in business. You will be your own HR Department, Secretary, Marketing Department and Executive. There isn’t always a chance to do this as an adult, so go after your hobbies in full force now! You can refine your craft and find yourself accumulating many of the hard and soft skills it takes to be successful professionally.

Teach a Class

Do you have a skill that you would like to share with others? Maybe you are really good with computers. You could teach senior citizens the basics of the internet. Are you really good at math? Teach or tutor your peers. If you play an instrument, there will be hordes of parents ready to get a deal to have their children learn.

There are so many avenues of jobs you can do as a teen, although the options may seem scant at first glance. Build off of our ideas, or come up with your own. Having a worthwhile job will help to teach you independence and how to budget your money.

“Tell me and I forget

Teach me and I remember

Involve me and I learn.”

Benjamin Franklin

Web Security for Small Business Owners – What You Need to Know

It’s a typical day for a local real estate agent, until the click of an email threatens the entire business. Large corporations, small businesses and as shown in recent days, not even the government is immune to cyber attacks.

Why it’s Important

If you’re a small business owner, you may think you are too small for cybercriminals. However, the opposite is true as they don’t particularly care about the size of the data, but the value. If you have customer’s contact information, health data, credit card information or intellectual property- they want it now. Did you know that 43 percent of cyber attacks target small business, and that normal hacks to operations cost an average of $955,429 to recover? It’s of the utmost importance that your customers feel they can trust you with their information and that you follow through on that trust. Cybercrime is becoming the world’s largest business, and here is what you can do to protect your business -even if you don’t have a lot of room in your budget for security measures.

1). Tight Communication

You may not have the ability to provide each of your employees with their own technology devices, which means they may use personal devices for company use. This can open you up to many potential risks. You may want to create guidelines for using these devices and ensure that they are regularly updating passwords and following through on security updates. A Fax is still the most secure form of communication in the business world-don’t be afraid to still utilize this!

2). An Action Plan

Create a simple security plan and share it with all of your employees, so they know that everyone is responsible for protecting data. It is worth the investment to hire an IT consultant to be monitoring your protocols, but if you cannot do that at this time, designate a current employee to oversee this. They should be informed, oversee basic security requirements and ensure the requirements are updated and used. Sixty percent of businesses don’t survive a security attack. For the longevity of your business, it is incredibly important to take this seriously. Use the FCC’s helpful Cyber Planner here.

3). Strong Passwords, Patching & Encryption Software

Most business stay ahead of the game by simply creating secure passwords and patching their systems. Hackers can easily crack into your business through a weak web or email server.  As a small business, setting up a Virtual Private Server would be a terrific option combined with encryption software. So even if a hacker was able to get into your system, they wouldn’t be able to decipher the material. An additional layer of security for clients would be to adopt PayPal or Square for protecting your customer’s financial information.

4). Educate

Unfortunately, most security breaches are due to a negligent employee or contractor. This reiterates how important it is to hire people you trust. Although you may not be able to thwart off every threat, educating your employees about cybersecurity either through weekly articles or full courses will help to better protect your growing small business. These practices should be integrated across all areas of your operations as well as having a response plan if this does occur. Remember, nobody is safe from Cybercrime.

Grocery Bootcamp – Shopping Healthy on a Budget for Two

Buying groceries, healthy eating and budgeting are three challenging tasks that many people struggle conquering altogether.  Whether you and your partner have been together many years or are just starting out, we have some great tips for you both to win the war on grocery shopping. Consider us your sergeant by following this simple training method ASAP.


If you aren’t both on the same page, you will have a hard time succeeding and inevitably fail. It is imperative that you sit together to discuss what you want to get out of this and that you are mentally prepared for the journey ahead. What type of diet are you seeking to maintain? Research what type of foods you will and won’t buy so you know exactly where the line is.


  • Your Budget: The first month of Bootcamp, we only want you to keep track of your expenses both grocery and dining out. From then on, your goal should be to spend no more than that amount. An average aim for many is to stick to $100 a month per individual. This may or may not work for you, but find out what does.
  • Meal Prep: This is crucial to your success. You know what kind of diet you would like to have, so search for recipes that will enable you to have healthy, planned meals. This will help to prevent you from swinging in for fast food or other impulse buys.  Once you have the groceries, prep the food to make the week of eating easy. Be sure you eat the fruits and veggies with the shortest shelf life first.


  • Find Deals: While you may not have the time to clip out a lot of coupons, make a point to check the weekly ads to see what the deals are. Apps like DealstoMeals will even help you to find discounts in your shopping area.  Every little bit helps and this is just more opportunity the two of you have to crawl through the trenches together.
  • Make a Price Book: This is a great resource you can make for yourself to keep track of items that you habitually buy, so you know when and where to buy what.
  • Be flexible: If a needed recipe item is twice the price you thought it would be, substitute for something else. If the produce is not in season, frozen is a great alternative. Know the Dirty Dozen and how you can use it to your advantage.


You have the basics, so now it’s time for the follow through. Say no to temptation. Once you have spent your allotted budget, there is NO more going to the store. You will get better as you strengthen your skills, but until that time stay the course.

Cheap Updates to Improve your Kitchen’s Value

Mario Batali said “The kitchen really is the castle itself. This is where we spend our happiest moments and where we find the joy of being a family.” Do you find people leaving the comfort of your plush rugs and pillows to only be leaning against your laminate counter talking for long periods of time? If you find your guests and family gravitating to the kitchen, why not make it a unique experience for them?

Heartland Bank is here with some helpful ideas for how you can improve the value and experiences of your kitchen on a budget.

Having the right lighting can dramatically change the vibe of your kitchen. Even if this is the only tip you utilize, it is sure to make a difference. You can typically find reasonably priced lighting at large hardware stores, or online. Pendant lights are a current trend that people are drooling over.  If you have old-school vintage lighting, you can update it by replacing the lights with Edison light bulbs and spray painting with a metal finish or coordinating paint. Additionally, adding under cabinet lighting will help to soften the kitchen. This can help it to appear bigger and more welcoming to those large groups that always find their way into your kitchen!


Get that clutter put away! Not only will your kitchen look smaller, but having too many items on the countertops can keep it from looking modern as the minimalist look is on the rise. Look for new ways you can utilize your storage, or create more. Maybe it’s time to get rid of some appliances that you never use. You could sell these to make some extra cash to go towards revitalizing the room. You can purchase a pull out storage kit and drawer organizers to maximize what you have for space, without needing to do a complete cabinet remodel.


You don’t have to be an expert designer to use paint! Although it may be tedious, it’s a cheap way to up the value of your home by making it look fresh and clean. Here are some items you can paint to dramatically change the feel of your kitchen.

  • Cabinets- If you don’t have the money to spend to update your tired cabinets, grab some sandpaper, primer and a light colored paint. Professional designers recommend light or citrus colors. Even removing some of your cabinet doors to showcase your favorite dishes will modernize the room. Paint the inside shelves white to really make it pop!
  • Focal Wall- Paint one wall in your kitchen a few shades darker than the walls, to create an accent wall. This will give more dimension to your home and be a quick fix. Try out Chalkboard paint to make it even more fun!
  • Island- If you have an island, paint this a bright color.
  • Floors- If you have weathered floors, look into mixing it up with painting them a fun design like these. This is much less expensive than completely replacing your flooring and you can always add a comfy rug to add even more appeal.


If you don’t have the time to complete a large project, these simple additions are another option.

Put new handles and pulls on your cabinets that are sleek and current. Don’t choose anything that has too much character, as most likely whoever you are selling your home to won’t find it amusing.

You may not be a plumber, but it doesn’t take too much skill to replace your faucet. There are so many options on styles and functions, you will be pleased with how much you can enjoy this simple addition.

While you don’t want to darken your kitchen too much, adding window treatments amplifies style and privacy. You can make your own out of kitchen towels or buy roman shades.

You may not have spent the whopping average of $21,907 on a kitchen remodel, but you will definitely have added value to your kitchen and to your guests’ experiences!