Author Archives: Heartland Banks Blogger

The DO’s and DON’TS of Using Credit Cards

Personal Finances

Using a credit card is a great stepping stone to help boost your personal credit history. By proactively managing your ongoing finances, you can showcase to potential lenders that you know how to fulfill your repayment promises. What many people don’t know, is that simply having a credit card does not automatically indicate an increase in your credit score. To help you succeed with your credit, Heartland Bank has put together our most commonly asked do’s and don’ts of using credit cards.

DO: Pay your balance in FULL every month or every two weeks.

DON’T: Keep a balance even if the interest rate is low

While keeping a balance less than 30 percent won’t drastically harm your credit score, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. We recommend never spending more than you can pay off each and every month. By keeping yourself to this standard you can make certain to never become a victim of expensive credit card debt.

DO: Choose a card that will compliment your lifestyle.

DON’T: Pick your credit card based on mail or TV offers.

There are countless websites and app centered around helping you find the ideal credit card. Instead of signing up for a credit card through the mail, start perusing sites like NerdWallet to discover which card fits not only your spending but your rewards preferences too! Before you start applying, remember to only apply for a credit card if you need one If you plan on using more than one, wait six months or more before applying for a new line of credit. This will help to keep your credit score on track and assist in preventing any unwanted dips.

DO: Use reward points to save money.

DON’T: Spend more just to get additional points.

While some credit card options certainly do offer some great sign-on rewards, remember that added debt and expenses are never worth the hike in points. The money you manage is yours, and it’s real! While the points are truly a great perk, never let them outweigh the tangible money you currently have in your individual accounts. If you allow this to happen you may find yourself with a mountain of debt, equivalent of half the vacation you can no longer afford to take.

DO: Have more than one card when you can pay them all off on time.

DON’T: Cancel a credit card without researching its history.

There are certain cards that boast the best rewards when utilized for specific industries, and others that can add extra perks for those all-encompassing purchases. To make the most of these various benefits, we recommend using multiple credit cards for your household’s purchases, only once you’ve maintained a zero balance on one for more than six months. If you feel confident in managing multiple credit cards, you’ll find great advantages of using the rewards behind the various programs and their associated bonus structures.  However, if you close a card, always check and see if that card holds your longest history of a credit line. Should that be the case, you may not want to cancel it, as it could create a slight dip in your credit score.

Did you know Heartland Bank offers credit cards too? If you’re looking to boost your credit or want to begin building your history with a local institution, our dedicated staff would love to help you get started. Simply stop by your nearest location, and we’ll help find the perfect fit for you and your spending.

Money Advice from the Movies

Personal Finance

Occasionally, even the best movies hold fantastic financial advice. We love these classic films and their timeless tales. At Heartland Bank, we’re excited to share their hidden financial advice, and help you make the most of your money-management, (while cluing you into some great movies to watch along the way!)

“You… you said… what’d you say a minute ago? They had to wait to save their money before they even ought to think of a decent home? Wait? Wait for what? Until their children grow up and leave them?” – It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946

Just like this movie’s protagonist, our lenders at Heartland Bank believe you should enjoy your home as soon as you can instead of waiting to pay for it in full. Our dedicated team of mortgage professionals are here to help you find the ideal lending solution to purchase the perfect home for your growing family. Instead of waiting ten, fifteen, or twenty years down the line to purchase your first house, stop in today and discover your home ownership potential.

“One more thing, they don’t want to pay taxes again, ever.” -Armageddon, 1998

Just like the heroic men of this movie, we understand you don’t want to pay any more taxes than you have to. While we can’t help you eliminate having to pay taxes, helpful savings accounts like an educational 529, or options such as a Roth IRA, can assist you in legally avoiding extra taxation later in life. If you’re curious and would like to learn more about our savings account options, stop by your nearest branch today!

“You know why the Yankees always win Frank?” “Cause they have Mikey Mantle.” “No, it’s ‘cause the other teams can’t stop staring at those… pinstripes!”  -Catch Me If You Can, 2002

Instead of choosing your personal loans or mortgages based off of flashy deals or specials, choose a reliable lineup with our team of community focused professionals at Our goal is to help you have the best experience possible alongside our local lenders, without the need for door-buster deals. Before you start your search for financing, ask yourself if you’re searching for the ideal teammate, or if you’re just staring at those dang pinstripes.

“The moment you become embarrassed of who you are, you lose yourself. I changed the house, the way I dressed, the way I ate – and for what?” -Oceans 13, 2007

If you haven’t heard already, keeping up with the Joneses is overrated. A high amount of debt, low savings, and never feeling like you have enough; there aren’t many upsides to this eternally competitive contest of who has what. Instead of trying to compare and contrast your belongings, instead, focus on the experiences and essential items that mean the most to you and your family. These fundamentals can help you structure your financial well-being and focus your earnings on things that mean the most to you, not your neighbors next door.

We love the movies showcased above! Are there any movies you find yourself watching time and time again? If you notice any great financial tips or tricks, be sure to post them to our Facebook feed. At Heartland Bank, we’re always searching for new and exciting ways to help our customers save!

Saving for Tuition 18 Years in Advance

Educational Savings

After you get to see those little eyes open, it’s like a whole new world has unfolded before you. When you’re elbows deep in changing diapers, cleaning up whoopsies, and trying to sleep more than four hours a night, the last thing on your mind is college savings. At Heartland Bank, we understand the chaos which ensues with each new addition to your family. To help you prepare for this upcoming transition, we’d like to help you find the best educational savings account for your little bundle of joy before he or she arrives!

There are two primary types of accounts when it comes to saving for your child’s ongoing education. Similar to retirement savings accounts, both of these options do require various stipulations when it comes to distributing the saved funds. Here we’ll show you the pro’s and con’s to each option, to help you better determine which option will suit you and your needs best.

The Coverdell Savings Account: This account option utilizes after tax dollars, which means there are no taxes on distributions when the funds used for education. The account does have a nationwide $2,000 a year contribution limit, in addition to various income restrictions. While you and your spouse may manage and contribute to the fund, once the child turns eighteen, he or she will own the account and all the funds within it.  However, the child once of age may only use the funds for education related expenses without incurring an additional distribution tax.

The 529 Savings Account: This account option also utilizes after tax dollars, which again indicates no future taxes on distributions if the funds are used for education. The account does not have income limitations, however, each state stipulates their own yearly contribution limit, typically ranging from $100,000 to $350,000 per year.  For this account type, the physical savings account, and the funds within it, remain yours, only designated toward a specific beneficiary (which you can change up to once per year.)

Let’s compare the two when looking at national average college costs across the U.S.

If you choose to save using the Coverdell account option, suppose you save $2,000 per year for eighteen years, yielding a total of $36,000 of total out-of-pocket contributions. Add in the compound interest of those eighteen years, and you’ll find yourself with approximately $80,983 in total educational savings. Fun Fact: The national average for a year of in-state public college in the U.S. is $20,090 or $80,360 for a four year degree.

Alternatively, if you choose to save with a 529 account, you can save more than $2,000 per year, say $3,500 per year instead. Multiply those contributions by eighteen years, and you’ll have $63,000 in total out-of-pocket contributions. After calculating your compound interest into the equation, you’ve grown up to $141,562 in total educational savings. Fun Fact: The national average for a year of any college in the U.S. is $35,370, or $141,480 for a four year degree.

As you can see, both of these accounts allow you to make much more through the benefit of time and compound interest. Just like your retirement savings, the sooner you start contributing, the more interest you can earn. While the Coverdell allows you to give the account to your child, the 529 shows better savings opportunities, allowing you to maximize your potential interest.

If you’d like to learn how you can start saving for your upcoming chick-a-doo, stop by and speak with one of our dedicated personal bankers at Heartland Bank today! We’d love to help your family continue to grow!

Eat This Not That

Budgeting

Like many Generation X’ers, we grew into adulthood alongside this viral diet book, which showcased the epitome of dieting in the late 2000’s. Now a decade or two later, there are still some relevant tips and tricks we’re excited to share here. See how Heartland Bank can help you switch up your spending, by eating THIS instead of THAT, to put some extra bang in your buck.

  1. EAT Dried Beans NOT Canned Beans: While many Americans are used canned beans as a pantry staple, you can save more than 50 percent when you take the time to cook with dried beans instead. According to the Bean Institute, dried beans typically run about $0.15 per serving, with canned store brands bean coming in at $0.34 per serving and your national brand of canned beans costing approximately $0.48 per serving. Additionally, if you cook your beans in a stock you can add additional flavor to your dish for only pennies per serving.
  2. EAT Bulk Sized Snacks NOT Pre-packaged Portions: When trying to pack a child’s lunch, or meal prepping for yourself, it can be easy to turn to those pre-packed time savers. However, if you’re looking to lessen your grocery spending for the month, we recommend buying your family’s go-to snacks in bulk. Great retailers such as Sam’s Club, Costco, and Amazon offer great bulk pricing to help your household reduce their monthly expenses.
  3. BUY Store Brand NOT Name Brand: Speaking of name brand, forget your brand loyalty and seek out the options that truly stretch your dollar the farthest. Great pantry staples like canned tomatoes, sugar, flour, stock, etc are consistently less costly than their national brand counterparts. Enjoy those extra dollars somewhere else in your budget, and see how much you can save off your grocery bill using this simple switch.
  4. EAT Bread & Butter Roast NOT Flank Steak: Although these two cuts come from differents parts of the cow, they do offer very similar tastes. The bread and butter roast runs typically a few dollar less, but is still just as tender and buttery when sliced thin. Both options offer a great beef taste, however, when shopping for the entire family, this bread and butter alternative could save you several dollars per person!
  5. EAT Ground Pork NOT Ground Beef: Many people are familiar with ground pork when it comes to meatballs or brats, however, did you know you can supplement ground pork for beef in many other recipes? Something as simple as Hamburger Helper can be used just as easily with this more affordable alternative. If you purchase the ground pork unseasoned you can ensure it only has the flavors you and your family want, compared to it’s spicy Italian sausage counterpart.
  6. EAT Frozen Pizza NOT Delivery Pizza: Often you can find a frozen pizza at your local discount grocer for approximately $3.33 each. However, if you choose to purchase from a national chain you could be paying as much as $10.99 for a medium pizza depending on  your brand. An added benefit of frozen pizzas is the sales cycle of many chains. If you wait until this frozen entree goes on sale you could snag them for as little as $2.50 each or less!
  7. EAT Frozen Fruits and Vegetables NOT Canned Fruits and Vegetables: Not only do these frigid foods save you money but calories too! While the canned items can offer more convenience, they typically contain syrup or oil to help keep the produce fresh. Avoid these extra calories and costs by purchasing the frozen option instead.
  8. EAT Whole Chicken NOT Rotisserie Chicken: This change-up is purely time related. You can cut the cost of your meal in half or more by taking the time to roast your own whole chicken at home instead of purchasing one which has already been prepared. While you may need additional ingredients such as olive oil, herbs, and spices, they come at a fraction of the cost, and can be used for countless other dishes in your kitchen. Not to mention you can make your own stock with the scraps!

We love cooking, and we can’t wait to hear how these tips and tricks can help your family succeed! Be sure to share your favorite success stories and recipes on Heartland Bank’s Facebook page. We’d love to see which hacks have helped your household the most.

The Basics Behind New Business

new business

A mouthwatering dish your grandmother made you, a leaf falling across the park, or one of the endless questions your preschooler has begun to ask you; the truth is great ideas can come from anywhere. If you have a concept you are itching to turn into a reality, there are some key components you’ll need to make it happen. At Heartland Bank, we were founded upon our commitment to small and medium sized business, and we are thrilled to help you transform your inspiration into a live entity.

To complete the process from conceptualization to implementation, there are ten key components to ensure your business has all the legal qualifications necessary. Simply follow these helpful prompts, and if there are any components you’d like further clarification on, never hesitate to reach out! Our experienced team of commercial lenders is here to answer any questions or inquiries you or your business partners may have.smallsmall

  1. Write a business plan. Your company’s business plan should detail the purpose and differentiators associated with your business. gov is an informative resource to help you determine all the required components for your proposed document.
  2. Register as an LLC or Corporation. An LLC is the most common choice for new business because the Corporation classification does mandate a $10,000,000 revenue requirement.
  3. Finance your new business. There are a variety of ways to finance your business. Whether debt or equity based, our dedicated team can help you determine which route is best suited for your business.
  4. Determine your business location.  Keeping your budget in mind, purchase or lease the space you’ll be using for your location. If you’ll be working from home be sure to take advantage of the associated tax benefits.
  5. Register for EIN and determine payroll structure. Before you hire any employees,  you’ll need to register for your Employer Identification Number for federal taxation purposes.
  6. Register your business name. You can choose to register your business as a DBA, or Doing Business As, or you can choose to register your company name and/or logo as a trademark. Both options will allow you to operate under your desired business name.
  7. Open a designated banking and credit card account. Separating your personal finances from your business is imperative in keeping accurate accounting records. Additional tools such as Quickbooks Self Employed can help you manage all aspects of your finances at home or on the go.
  8. Complete registration for state and local taxes. Business taxes are set up differently than your personal taxes. Be sure you’re accounting for all the variables before you open the doors.
  9. Receive business licenses and applicable permits. If you plan to sell alcohol or firearms, you may need federal licenses in addition to the various state requirements.

Structure and start a marketing campaign. Marketing is an ongoing effort, but to get customers in the door, they’ll need to know you’re an option. Get the word out with a strategic marketing initiative, and make a yearly plan on how to keep new clients coming in.

10 Ways to Shop Local

shop local

Supporting our community is one of the most impactful ways we can help it grow. By shopping with local vendors and utilizing area service providers you and your family can help ensure that our community prospers and grows each year. If you want to shop local, but don’t know where to start, our team at Heartland Bank has come up with some creative ideas you may not have considered yet.

  1. Get produce at your local farmers market.
  2. Purchase floral arrangements from your neighborhood florist instead of online vendors.
  3. Work with local providers for your insurance and wealth management.
  4. Venture out for the night and tour area dining and entertainment establishments.
  5. Bank with a community bank.
  6. Buy groceries from a regional company compared to the large national chains.
  7. Like your favorite area businesses on Facebook and other social media.
  8. Shop for birthdays and holidays at your community’s downtown storefront.
  9. If you have received great service or products from a local business, recommend them to a friend or relative.
  10. Stay local when planning weddings or other milestone events and avoid online alternatives.

Owning and managing a small business may be more difficult than you think. We believe that opportunity is everywhere. Whether you’d like to open a business of your own, or simply want to support the ones you enjoy, it’s great to learn what small businesses are all about. That’s why Heartland Bank is excited to share some compelling and surprising facts surrounding the small businesses in our neck of the woods.

  • A company is considered a small business if they have less than 500 employees according to the Small Business Administration.
  • 7 percent of all active companies in the United States are classified as small businesses.
  • If your favorite retailer has been in business over ten years, they have officially beat the odds. According to the Bureau of Labor, two out of three small businesses are still operating after two years in business, and only half of small businesses have survived after being open for five years.  Approximately one-third of small businesses last ten years or longer.
  • Cash flow is cited as the more common issue regarding a business’s failure. Associated tasks such as invoicing, timed billing, and record keeping are often the most commonly linked culprits.

If your business needs to gain capital for an expansion or start-up, Heartland Bank is here to help. Our experienced commercial lenders can help you determine your ideal capital amount while also setting up valuable cash flow services Send us your information or stop in today to learn more about this convenient and affordable service.

How to Save $1,000,000 for Retirement

retirement

Retirement, 401(k), stocks and bonds, the subject matter of saving for the long term isn’t often as appealing as saving for the short term. Perhaps that’s why nearly three-quarters of Americans are underestimating how much they’ll need for retirement. The United States is on the brink, if not already in, a retirement crisis. However, at Heartland Bank we believe retirement saving can still be easily accomplished, there are just a few steps to get started:

  1. The first thing you’ll need to do is determine when and how you want to retire. There are an endless variety of retirement lifestyles, each of which entail a different budget and distribution structures. Some popular options include traveling by RV, retiring in a new location, downsizing your home in the same area, pursuing a new business or passion,  and of course maintaining your current lifestyle without the need for work. By choosing your lifestyle goal we can begin to structure your savings plan around what you hope to achieve.
  2. Once you know what you want, start saving ASAP. As the old adage goes, “Slow and steady wins the race.” This phrase is the epitome of retirement. If you save less, but start earlier you will consistently save more than if you deposited higher amounts later in life. We recommend utilizing any 401(k) or retirement savings plans your employer offers. If you are self-employed or don’t have access to retirement benefits, an IRA is a great self-funded option to help you save and take advantage of valuable tax incentives.
  3. Create a goal for how much you need to save. Financial Mentor, offers great calculators to help you plan your path to retirement.  They can help you determine your strategy to become a millionaire, or show you how much you may need beyond $1,000,000. Saving more than one million could be more pertinent than you think. Today’s research indicates that millennials may need to save more than their baby boomer or gen x counterparts.
  4. Add any available surplus funds to your retirement savings. Simple adjustments like changing grocery stores, carpooling, and bringing your lunch to work can save more than you think! If you are able to find some additional ways to save, put those funds to work by contributing to your retirement accounts.
  5. Diversify your retirement savings. Instead of putting all your funds in company stock, corporate shares, or your 401(k), we suggest diversifying your savings options to ensure your risk isn’t higher than you need. Speaking with a professional adviser could help you determine what type of risk you’re comfortable with, and how you would like your contributions to grow over time.

By continuing to save each and every month you can beat the odds and have a fulfilling and successful retirement. The most important thing to do is to start. If you’d like to open a dedicated savings account, IRA, or CD, our dedicated team is here to help. Stop by or drop us a line today to get started today.

Three Things to Look for in a Starter Home

starter home

If you’re in the market for your first home, congratulations! Becoming a homeowner is an exciting step on your financial journey. At Heartland Bank, our dedicated mortgage lenders are here to help you find the best financing option for your new home. Remember to stop in and secure a pre-approval letter before you start your home search.

After speaking with a mortgage lender to help determine your family’s ideal price point, it’s time to start viewing potential homes. During this process you’re bound to find a home you’ll fall in love with, and others that may send you running for the hills. As you ride this rollercoaster of an experience, we recommend searching for the following three things in your family’s ideal new house:

  1. Good Bones. Starter homes are a great option to find a great house within an affordable budget. To ensure your investment lasts for the long-term, we recommend taking a hard look at any foundational cracks, leans, or other structural ailments. While the rest of the house could look fantastic, these three issues should be instant red flags signaling you to continue looking at other homes.
  2. Cohesive Neighborhood. The people you surround yourself with could be the individuals you see at 6:00 AM taking the trash out, or the partiers you have to ask to turn down the music at 11:00 PM. As you tour properties, don’t be afraid to chat with any potential neighbors and see if there is any information they can give on families you’ll be living alongside.
  3. Suitable Layout. While some renovations are certainly possible when purchasing a starter home, obstacles such as load-bearing walls could limit your expectations. Consider the overall layout of the home at the showing, and see if you could picture yourself the way it is. If the answer is no, then you may want to find a few backup options should the renovations not be available within your budget.

The perfect home will look different to everyone. If you’re ready to start searching for your family’s new house, our experienced mortgage lenders are here to help. We work with many successful local realtors, and we would be happy to refer you to the one that fits your needs best. Give us a call or stop by to begin the search for your home today.

Why Checking Your Credit Score Matters

Financial Education

Across television ads, online banners, and even chit-chat among relatives, the phrase, “Check your credit score,” seems to be popping up everywhere. If something so important needs constant reminders, why does it have such a key importance in your personal finances? Well, the truth is that it doesn’t, your financial actions do.

A credit score is comprised of five different measures which indicate how you as an individual are perceived in terms of repayment and risk. Individuals who pay their bills on time, have been utilizing loans and credit cards, and don’t maintain too much debt, typically have a higher score. While the score itself is seen by potential lenders as a positive or a negative, the true meaning it portrays is to showcase whether you as an individual are a promising person to repay any funds you are lent. This score can be changed for the better or the worse depending on the actions you take.

This is why checking the report itself can be beneficial for your personal financial reputation. By reviewing your history on a recurring basis you can quickly identify any mistakes or missed payments that need correcting and do so in a timely manner.

For those who do not check their score scenarios like the following could occur:

Say you accept a job in another town, and after moving, you realize you still need to forward your mail. After a week or two in the new place, you go online and make the switch. However, unbeknownst to you, there was one last utility bill that was mailed to your prior address after you moved away. Weeks go by, even months, only now you’re connected with a new utility company, and you have new bills to pay. Behind the scenes, however, your credit score could be declining, because that one last bill has now been reported to collections. Your credit history will now note that a payment has been missed, and the longer it is missed the more it could damage your credit score.

Situations like this happen to many Americans, and while sometimes they can’t be prevented, the damage they cause can be minimized by checking your credit score on a monthly basis. Instead of allowing a payment like this to retain a balance for over 120 days, you can catch it in under 90 and minimize any potential negative effect on your score.

This is just one example in how checking your credit score can impact your financial health for the better. Other benefits include fraud prevention, better financial negotiation, and more accurate personal financial records.

If you’re ready to get started checking your credit score, we recommend Capital One’s FREE Credit Wise service, available for current and noncurrent Capital One customers. Our team at Heartland Bank would be happy to walk you through your credit report from and is always available to answer any questions you may have.

Who Says You Can’t Make a Snowball in the Spring?

Eliminating Debt

While the weather can be as predictable as the Powerball, one thing that you can always count on through the seasons is your ability to snowball anytime you want. However, before you start creating snowmen out of ice shavings, let’s first cover what a snowball is. Typically in financial terms, snowballing is an action in which you structure your debt payment to decrease the overall time and cost associated with any accounts payable you have.

Here’s how it works: To begin a snowball, you first need to know what debt(s) you have on the table. By creating a list of your known debts, and also checking your credit report for any unknown ones as well, you can ensure you have all your bases covered. Then, using that information, prioritize your debts by amount from smallest to largest. Once you have them organized you can begin to set-up or continue minimum payments across all installments.

For the next step, you’ll want to look through your current spending and earning to see if there are ways you can allocate additional funds each month to pay off your debt. Whether it’s an extra $50 or an extra $500, every penny matters!

These additional funds can then be assigned to the debt you indicated having the lowest amount. Each month you’ll have a little extra money to help pay off that expense even sooner. Once the balance reaches zero, the snowball officially begins! Now that you have eliminated one payment, you can utilize all the funds that were going towards that expenditure and push them towards the debt with the next lowest amount.

Continue to do this process until each unwanted debt is paid off. Debts such as your mortgage are a great thing to pay off early, but may not be necessary to include in your debt snowball. Our helpful mortgage lenders can always assist in restructuring your payments if you are truly passionate about eliminating all debt.

If you’re ready to get started, we have some great money savings tips to help you find those extra dollars!

  • Switch to a Discount Grocer: You could reduce your monthly grocery bill by up to half when you shop at a bulk or discount grocer instead of a brand-oriented chain.
  • Bring Your Coffee and Lunch: Both of these items could be costing you more than you think! The typical American lunch runs approximately $12.00 and an average latte could cost you $3.50 a day. By bringing both food and beverages from home you can drastically decrease your monthly expenditure for dining.
  • Take Advantage of Apps: New technology based tools like Mint, Honey, and RetailMeNot, offer continuous and unique ways to save and manage your personal finances. By taking advantage you can not only save on unexpected items but better visualize your budget through tracked spending categories.

At Heartland Bank we are excited to help you succeed on your journey toward financial success. If you’d like to set-up automatic payments, or monthly transfers, our Online Banking can help! Visit our website to get started today.