Friday, November 9, 2018

The Benefits of VA Housing Loans

veteran housing

With the housing market in northern Illinois fluctuating in 2018, now is the perfect time for veterans to research the benefits of our VA housing loans. The VA home loan program was created in 1944 as a way to thank our troops returning home from WWII. VA Home Loans are provided by private lenders, such as mortgage companies and banks, and the VA guarantees a portion of the loan for veterans, enabling the lender to provide more favorable terms for the loan.

VA house loan

So what are the benefits associated with the VA housing loans? Below are just some of the ways the VA and lenders like McHenry Savings Banks show their appreciation for veterans.

  • No monthly mortgage insurance.
  • One of the considerable hurdles for first-time homeowners is worrying about the down payment. With a VA housing loan, there’s no down payment. 
  • Limitation on buyer's closing costs. Sellers can pay all of a buyer’s loan-related closing costs and up to 4 percent in concessions.
  • Since the VA guarantees a portion of every VA loan, financial institutions can offer lower interest rates to VA borrowers that are typically 0.5 to 1 percent lower than conventional interest rates. Rates are based on the inherent risk assumed by the lender to finance the loan. On a 30-year $250,000 loan, the difference between paying a 4 percent and 4.75 percent rate can mean approximately $40,000 in savings over the life of the loan.
  • Because homeowners are able to save a considerable amount of money paying off their loans early, prepayment penalties were created to protect lenders and investors from the financial loss of losing years and years of interest payments on issued loans. Fortunately for VA borrowers, there are no prepayment penalties to worry about—you can pay off your VA loan early with no fear of getting penalized. This is a huge benefit and makes VA loans so desirable. 
  • No credit score apprehension. Veterans don’t need anything near perfect credit to secure home financing at competitive interest rates despite the relaxed credit score requirements. VA loans are also more forgiving when it comes to bouncing back after a bankruptcy, foreclosure or short sale.

Veteran Housing Loan

McHenry Savings Bank has been serving the banking needs of the residents of McHenry County since 1955. We encourage veterans to research VA loans and visit one of our local branches where we can further explain the process. This Veterans Day, Give McHenry Savings Bank a call at (815) 385-3000 or visit our website to learn more about our VA loans.


Sources:
https://www.veteransunited.com/valoans/seven-decades-success-history-va-home-loan/
https://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/
https://www.valoans.com/purchase/va-loan-benefits/
https://www.benefits.va.gov/HOMELOANS/purchaseco_eligibility.asp

Monday, October 8, 2018

Six Ways to Avoid Holiday Shopping Scams

holiday shopping

In the wake of recent data breaches, shoppers should be on high alert while purchasing their presents this upcoming holiday season.

“While millions of credit and debit card transactions are conducted safely every day, it is important that consumers are aware of the potential for holiday scams,” said Jim Zak, Vice President of Retail and Small Business banking.

McHenry Savings Bank (“MSB”) offers the following tips to help consumer keep their information safe whether shopping in the store or online:

Monitor your account. 

Use online and mobile banking to keep an eye on your transactions, especially during the holidays. Notify the bank right away if there’s any fraudulent activity. If you use an MSB debit card for purchases, consider downloading the FREE SecurLOCK app. With this app you can set controls, spending limits, alerts, and turn off or on your card. Based on your customized alert setting, you receive instant notification every time a charge is placed against your debit card.

Beware of phishing scams. 

During the holidays, criminals will create a fake email for a deal that’s too good to be true. If you click on any links within the email, you may be downloading malware onto your computer or you may be asked for payment information that could lead to fraud.


Holiday shopping scams

Limit large sums of cash. 

Even though we’ve seen financial crime migrate from physical to cyber, customers should be careful not to carry around large sums of cash when shopping.

Secure your internet connection. 

If shopping online, make sure you do so from a password protected Wi-Fi network. Never access online banking from a public Wi-Fi network.

Shop safely. 

Before making an online purchase, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.

Read the site’s privacy policies. 

Though long and complex, privacy policies tell you how the site protects the personal information it collects. If you don’t see or understand a site’s privacy policy, consider doing business elsewhere.


MSB is committed to providing tools and services that educate and protect consumers.  To learn more on what MSB can do for you, contact a Personal Banker today at 815-385-3000 or customerservice@mchenrysavings.com. Visit us at our McHenry, Richmond or Johnsburg Branch or via the website at www.mchenrysavings.com.

Monday, September 10, 2018

6 Money Mistakes Newlyweds Should Avoid

McHenry Savings Bank offers tips for managing money together 

Summer wedding season is in full swing and newlyweds will soon be managing their finances as a pair. McHenry Savings Bank (“MSB”) is encouraging couples to waste no time addressing how they will handle money issues as spouses and financial partners.

“Developing a financial plan can often take a backseat to the excitement of a wedding,” said Jim Zak, Vice President of Retail and Small Business. “But it’s important to remember that this is not only a marriage of hearts but also a marriage of finances.”

To help couples start their journey on strong financial footing, MSB warns consumers of these post-wedding money mistakes:

1. Avoiding the money talk. Discussing your finances can be a bit uncomfortable for many couples, but those who tackle it head on will be better for it. Understand your partner’s financial goals and spending habits. While you may have different answers, this conversation can help you develop an approach to money management that works for both of you.

2. Not setting a budget. A mistake many couples make is not establishing a budget early on. After assessing your finances as a pair, determine how you’ll spend your money each month. Are there certain expenses you should be cutting back on and others you should be saving up for? Coming to an agreement on these things and setting a budget will be beneficial for the health of your bank accounts and your relationship.

3. Not having a plan for your accounts. There is no ‘right’ way to manage your accounts. Couples can choose to have exclusively joint accounts, a joint account as well as separate accounts for saving or personal spending, or keep things entirely divided. Discuss your preferences together and decide what makes you both the most comfortable.

Newlyweds Finances

4. Failing to set up an emergency fund. Life is full of surprises and unfortunately, some of these surprises can be expensive. Having an emergency fund will help you avoid precarious financial situations should something come up. It’s important that you decide together how you’ll set aside the money.

5. Not establishing a minimum cost for discussing big expenses. While not all purchases demand a conversation, more expensive ones that impact the family budget should. Determine what that threshold is as a couple. For any expenses above that cost, you both should be in agreement on whether it’s a necessary purchase.

6. Forgetting to update your beneficiaries. Now that you’ve officially tied the knot, you should likely identify your spouse as the person who will receive the benefits of your will, life insurance policy and financial accounts like your 401(k), checking and savings. Don’t make the mistake of waiting for an emergency to arise to handle this.

MSB offers a Personal Finance Manager tool to all personal customers via online eBanking. Consumers can use “Personal Finance” on eBanking to determine their net worth, create budgets, manage spending and cash flows, get alerts and more. This is an excellent tool for all customers, and especially for newlyweds who are beginning their lives together.

MSB is committed to providing tools and services that educate and protect consumers. To learn more on what MSB can do for you, contact a Personal Banker today at 815-385-3000 or customerservice@mchenrysavings.com. Visit us at our McHenry, Richmond or Johnsburg Branch or via the website at www.mchenrysavings.com

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Women’s Equality Day Today and Everyday...


Women's Equality DayWomen’s Equality Day is celebrated every August 26th, but with other days celebrating women, you may be wondering what we’re toasting to on this particular day. If you’re curious about the origins of Women’s Equality Day and what we’re celebrating, continue reading below.

The 19th Amendment
While celebrating women should be done throughout the year, Women’s Equality Day is for acknowledging the passage of the 19th amendment in particular. The 19th amendment was passed to allow women the right to vote in 1920 and was a hard fought battle that many women participated in. Before the 19th amendment women didn’t have the right to vote, which means they didn’t have a voice when it came to large decisions being made where they lived, and across the nation.

The Suffrage Movement
Women’s suffrage, also known as the political fight to enfranchise women, is widely believed to have started at the Seneca Fall convention in 1848. During the convention, organizers drafted a “Declaration of Sentiments, Grievances, and Resolutions” that greatly reflected the beginning words of the Declaration of Independence. This catapulted the movement into the spotlight, and from the movement emerged a group of women that would take on the fight as their own. These women included: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, and Carrie Chapman Catt. They led the charge by lobbying Congress and at the White House, and used their voices to give women in America a chance at equality.

Bella Abzug Women's Equality Day
Representative Bella Abzug
Women’s Equality Day
In 1970, over 50,000 women marched in New York City at the Women’s Strike for Equality March, fighting for a change in childcare and abortion policies in the United States. A year later, in 1971, Congress passed a resolution designating August 26th as Women’s Equality Day. The law was first introduced by Bella Abzug, and technically states that the president, “authorized and requested to issue a proclamation in commemoration of that day in 1920 on which the women in American were first granted the right to vote.” While this is not law, every president from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama has declared August 26th as Women’s Equality Day.

McHenry Savings Bank applauds how far women have come and celebrates them on this day and every day. Visit us online today at www.mchenrysavings.com or call 815-385-3000. At McHenry Savings Bank, we are committed to customers and our community.





References

Monday, July 2, 2018

6 Smart Money Moves for New College Graduates

College graduate tips
More than 70 percent of college graduates began their career owing more than $37,000 in student loans in 2017. Considering the additional living expenses they’ll soon face, new college graduates would be wise to focus on their financial future right now, says McHenry Savings Bank. McHenry Savings Bank (“MSB”) has highlighted six smart financial decisions college graduates should consider to position themselves for financial success as they embark on their next phase of life.
“The habits new graduates develop right now will have a big effect on their financial future,” said Jim Zak, Vice President of Retail and Small Business. “Living expenses add up quickly once you’re out on your own, and many young adults who didn’t plan ahead are delaying major milestones like getting married or buying a home because of their financial situation. The good news is that you can have a bright financial future if you think strategically about money right out of the gate.”

College Graduates

McHenry Savings Bank recommends the following financial tips for new college graduates:
  • Live within your means. Supporting yourself can be expensive, and you can quickly find yourself struggling financially if you don’t take time to create a budget. Calculate the amount of money you’re taking home after taxes, then figure out how much money you can afford to spend each month while contributing to your savings. Be sure to factor in recurring expenses such as student loans, monthly rent, utilities, groceries, transportation expenses and car loans.
  • Pay bills on time. Missed payments can hurt your credit history for up to seven years and can affect your ability to get loans, the interest rates you pay and your ability to get a job or rent an apartment. Consider setting up automatic payments for regular expenses like student loans, car payments and phone bills. Take advantage of any reminders or notification features. You can also contact creditors and lenders to request a different monthly due date from the one provided by default (e.g., switching from the 1st of the month to the 15th).
  • Avoid racking up too much debt. Understand the responsibilities and benefits of credit. Shop around for a card that best suits your needs, and spend only what you can afford to pay back. Credit is a great tool, but only if you use it responsibly.
  • Plan for retirement.  It may seem odd since you’re just beginning your career, but now is the best time to start planning for your retirement. Contribute to retirement accounts like a Roth IRA or your employer’s 401(k), especially if there is a company match. Invest enough to qualify for your company’s full match – it’s free money that adds up to a significant chunk of change over the years. Automatic retirement contributions quickly become part of your financial lifestyle without having to think about it.
  • Prepare for emergencies. Hardships can happen in a split second. Start an emergency fund and do your best to set aside the equivalent of three to six months’ worth of living expenses. Start saving immediately, no matter how small the amount. Make saving a part of your lifestyle with automatic payroll deductions or automatic transfers from checking to savings. Put your tax refund toward saving instead of an impulse buy.
  • Get free help from your bank. Many banks offer personalized financial checkups to help you identify and meet your financial goals. You can also take advantage of their free digital banking tools that let you check balances, pay bills, deposit checks, monitor transaction history and track your budget.
Learn more about how McHenry Savings Bank can assist you in meeting your financial goals by visiting the website or call a Customer Service Representative to learn more at 815-385-3000.

Monday, June 25, 2018

5 Tips for Increasing Your Online Security

Right now, all around the world, there are people who want to use your personal information, sometimes in devastating ways. You may ask yourself, “Why me?” and it may have to do with how safe your information is online. By taking the five simple steps below, you can increase your online safety and not worry about possible headaches down the road. 

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  1. Change Your Passwords: you should change your passwords often when it comes to your online accounts. Change them to something you’ll remember, such as an important day, place, or event that happened. Many sites even let you use spaces in your passwords, so you can strengthen your new one even more by making it a sentence. You should also avoid using the same password for multiple sites; once a hacker has one password, they can easily figure out if it’s being used for multiple accounts.
  2. Use Two-Factor Authentication Whenever Possible: most people are aware of two-factor authentication, even if you’re not sure what it’s called. This is when you enter your password and are then directed to a page that asks you an additional question, such as “What was the name of the street you grew up on?” or “What was the name of your first pet?” This type of authentication adds another layer of defense against hackers who want your personal information.

  3. Delete Old Accounts: if you have accounts on sites that you no longer use, make sure to deactivate your account. These old accounts can contain valuable personal data, even if you barely used them, so it’s important to delete your account as soon as possible.
  4. Do An Information Check: Taking steps in protecting your information is crucial, however, what if some of your information has already been stolen? There are certain security websites you can use, like www.ftc.gov to get more information on the status of certain accounts, and lets you know if there are any breaches you should be worried about. 
  5. Start Encrypting All of Your Messages: you can add encryption to email accounts to increase security on your personal messages. Adding encryption will scramble all of your messages so that no one but the intended receiver will be able to read them.
https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/kmCVD29AtgpSLzAMkY26rIREK8hSBD6aEyqX6EQyLX4fhUGlT_js896OBTdQ_YL_iATgIOlVc8U4iUa6XxVOqadu7OZ6bFGeUlBYdMgaMs2ejkJUihtFusXMvxsh1LaFcz4hySlW
It’s important to keep all of your online information as safe as you possibly can, however, if you have questions about your banking security, McHenry Savings Bank would love to answer any of your questions. And if you have an MSB debit card, please download the FREE SecurLOCK app for mobile devices to set up alerts for transactions on your card. You will also have the ability to turn off or turn on your card right from your mobile device. Learn more about SecurLOCK at this link: https://mchenrysavings.com/msb-securlock.html Contact us today at 815-385-3000 or visit our website to learn more about our services. 



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Friday, May 11, 2018

McHenry Savings Bank Celebrates National Military Appreciation Month


 National Military Appreciation Month
Every year during the month of May, communities, businesses, families, and friends celebrate and take the time to appreciate each branch of the military. This month, we encourage you to take the time to not only honor those in and out of the Marines, National Guard, Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force, but also their families. In fact, McHenry Township will be featuring “The Wall That Heals” from Thursday, May 24th through Monday, May 28th to honor our service women, men and their families. Learn more about the event details by visiting this link: http://www.mchenrytownship.com/the-wall-that-heals.html

The History of Military Appreciation Month

In 1999, Senator John McCain decided to introduce legislation to designate an entire month to honor the military in the United States. Following this, the House of Representatives and the Senate then started new resolutions to celebrate and honor those in and out of the military. According to Military.com, “May was chosen because it has many individual days marked to note our military's achievements,” and also includes days of recognition for the Armed Forces, as well as Military Spouse Appreciation Day. 

Below is a full list of different military appreciation days recognized throughout the month:

  • Loyalty Day: Celebrated on May 1st, Loyalty Day kicks off Military Appreciation Month. 
  • Public Service Recognition Week: From Sunday, May 6th to Saturday, May 12th, and recognizes those who work as our federal, state, and county employees.
  • VE Day: Also known as Victory in Europe, this day marks the end of WWII, which happened on May 8th, 1945.
  • Military Spouse Appreciation Day: this day was traditionally set to take place before Mother’s Day. This year, it takes place on Friday, May 11th. 
  • Armed Forces Day: this day is a single day to celebrate all branches of the military, and falls on the third Saturday of May every year. 
  • Memorial Day: this Federal holiday is celebrated on the last Monday of May, and is a day to remember those who have died while serving our country. 
Military Appreciation Month

This year during Military Appreciation Month, McHenry Savings Bank would like to personally thank the men and women who sacrifice their lives for our country. McHenry Savings Bank can assist all Veterans with applying for a VA Loan*. Those who currently serve or have served in the United States military may qualify for a VA Loan. If you’re interested learning more about VA loans and would like assistance in the application to qualify for this loan type, give us a call today at 815-385-3000, or visit our website to learn more about the services we offer. 


*VA Loan may be brokered.





References

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

5 Ways Small Businesses Benefit the Local Community

Small Business Week

The week of April 29th through May 5th is National Small Business week. Small businesses give back in more ways than one, and because we’re in a community built on small businesses, we’d like to highlight some ways small businesses give back to the community. 
  1. Community Identity: Take the time to walk downtown and you’ll see all the small businesses that are unique, whether it’s McHenry, Richmond or Johnsburg. From coffee shops and restaurants, to the unique and varied shops that bring you to the area, these small businesses help create our local identity and builds community.
  2. Community Involvement: Small business owners are an integral part of the community and they tend to be cognizant of how their decisions will impact their neighbors. With this in mind, local business owners are usually involved in the community. They may sponsor a local little league team, donate to a homeless shelter, join the chamber of commerce, participate in community charity events, or donate to local non-profit organization. McHenry Savings Bank has a long-standing history of supporting many organization that serve the community.

    Small Business Week McHenry
  3. Community Health: Local business owners are more likely to build personal relationships with their customers. Many small business owners form casual relationships with one another, and can create groups such as a merchant’s associated or one-on-one counseling or mentoring relationships. These relationships leverage the expertise of the participants to contribute to the business community’s long-term success. Networking is a real thing. If one business doesn’t have what you’re looking for, they may know someone who does.
  4. Local Jobs: Small businesses create jobs and most of them are local. Rather than having employees commute from another city, they have the benefit of working closer to home. Having these small local businesses also help keep everything local. For example, employees from one small business can go grab lunch at another small shop, and vice versa. This keeps money local and further creates a tight-knit community with stronger economic growth. Instead of the profits going to CEOs in a different state, your money goes towards paying for the neighbor kid’s sports equipment or dance lessons.

    McHenry Small Business Week
  5. Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship fuels America’s economic innovation and prosperity, and shows that the business owner is taking control of his or her future. This inspires others who have the same dream of opening a small business.
McHenry Savings Bank is committed to our customers and our community, which is why we’re here to help you with all of your personal and commercial banking needs. Visit our website to learn more about the services we offer at each of our community branches. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Start Saving During America Saves Week


Anybody that remembers the Great Recession of 2008 can really appreciate our current economy, which seems to be humming along. Unemployment is at a 17 year low and the stock market is shattering records.


Despite these great economic times, we come upon some sobering statistics. Approximately 26% of adults have no savings set aside for emergencies. Another 36% of adults have yet to start saving money for retirement. The overall adult savings rate is 4.4%, a steep decline from the 10% rate in 2012.

The last week of February is “America Saves Week” according to the American Bankers Association. This is an event created to encourage people to automatically save. Below are some ways that you can build a savings habit. 

  • Health Savings Account (“HSA”). Why pays taxes on money that is going towards health expenses? An HSA is an interest bearing, tax deferred account for the purpose of saving for and paying the expenses associated with a High Deductible Health Plan (“HDHP”).
    • A key aspect of an HDHP is your ability to set aside money to be used to pay your deductible or qualified medical expenses. 
    • Contributions to an HSA are tax deductible or, in the case of an employer sponsored plan, made with pre-tax dollars.
    • Withdrawals from an HSA used to pay qualified healthcare deductibles and qualified medical expenses are tax and penalty free.
    • HSA funds that are unused at year end are carried forward into future years. Unused funds can even be used to supplement your retirement income.
  • Minor Savings Accounts. Start your children on the path to saving and financial responsibility while they are young. By providing the financial education and tools for saving now, you're contributing to your children’s financial freedom later. Parents and guardians can open a minor account at MSB with as little as $10.

  • Certificate of Deposits (“CD”). A certificate of deposit is a time deposit with specific terms and Annual Percentage Yield assigned to the length of time money is placed in the CD. This is a financial product commonly sold in the United States and elsewhere by banks, thrift institutions, and credit unions. CDs are similar to savings accounts in that they are insured "money in the bank" and thus virtually risk free.

  • Christmas Club Savings. This is a way to safeguard your money, usually from yourself, so you have enough funds to spend for gifts or even travel during the holidays. This is also a way of shielding yourself from a pile of credit card debt in January.

  • Individual Retirement Accounts ("IRA"). If you’re thinking it is time to start saving for retirement, you want to consider an IRA. An IRA is an account in which you sock away money for your future retirement. Depending on the type of IRA you have, you will either have tax-free or tax-deferred growth. 
At McHenry Savings Bank (“MSB”), we are a full service financial institution with a complete line of automatic saving products. MSB is a FDIC insured financial institution that provides federally backed insurance up to $250,000 per account owner. Your money is secured and insured. MSB has been serving the banking needs of the residents of McHenry County since 1955. We are local people making local decisions. Call us (815) 385-3000 or visit our website at www.mchenrysavings.com to learn more about saving specials and rates offered.



Sources: 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

New Year, New Plan - Financial Resolutions for 2018

New Year’s Resolutions are easy to make. Publicly claiming “I will eat more kale” might earn you some brownie points with the health gurus, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll go through with it. Or you could start off the year strong, working out daily, and two weeks later you haven’t given the gym a second thought. So when people say “2018 is the year that I’ll save more money,” what are some actual ways of putting their money where their mouth is?

Financial Resolutions


Determine Your Priorities
Drawing a line between necessary expenses and everything else will help you paint a picture of your savings potential. Sitting down and accounting for your monthly payments matched to your income also allows for a bit of spring cleaning and clarity to then grow from there.

Set Specific Goals
Now that you have an idea of the monthly costs that can’t be changed, it’s time to determine what you’re hoping to accomplish. Resolutions that are specific are typically easier to stick with. “I will save more this year” is great, but “I’d like to put $100 into a savings account each month” is a tangible goal that can then be worked out. 

Target Areas of Change
Just as important as identifying the spending that can’t be changed is identifying the habits that CAN be changed. This could be something as simple as looking at how often you go out for lunch or dinner; if you go out often after work or on the weekends; tiny things like how often you buy coffee vs. how often you make your own. If saving is important, then frivolous spending, no matter how small, should be considered a habit that can be changed to accommodate a new savings strategy.

Find Alternatives
Spending $10/day on lunch and coffee? Make coffee in the morning before you leave, or cook meals at home that can make plenty of servings for work lunches. Tallying up how much you spend on buying lunch each day can quickly add up. Doing this exercise gives you an idea of what you’d save with a packed lunch. Buying an afternoon soda to stay awake? Drink more water and go for a brisk walk to perk you up. 

Have a Buddy System
Have someone keep you accountable for your habits. It could be your significant other, it could be a family member, friend or coworker, but having a second pair of eyes on those unconscious spending habits can help curb a bad habit. 

The above examples are simple suggestions for making changes in your life, but if you are looking for financial advice that you can pair with your New Year’s resolutions, McHenry Savings Bank is here to help. We have been serving the banking needs of the residents of McHenry County since 1955.  Call us (815) 385-3000 or stop in at any of our locations.

Sources:

Sent 21 hours ago