Monday, March 23, 2020

Helping Farmers on National Agriculture Day

Open farm land for farm loans in Illinois

National Agriculture Day is on March 24th this year and is a day where we take the time to recognize and appreciate farmers across the United States. Agriculture plays a crucial role in the economic and food security in our country. Without farms, our struggles would be great and our world very different.

With all that farmers do for our economy today, it is only right that we as banks help them financially. McHenry Savings Bank is now offering Agribusiness and Farm Loans. The long term rates are remarkably low right now, and you could lock them in for up to 30 years if you qualify.

If you have tried to finance between 10 and 100 acres of agricultural-related land, I’m sure some folks have run into problems.  Working with McHenry Savings Bank, which has access to FarmerMac’s programs, will add flexibility which can help you get past these problems. You will not have to continually renew or refinance your loan every 5 years. Instead through Farmer Mac, we can offer several loan terms, some up to 30-years.

SVP Tim Kempel, Agribusiness Lending at McHenry Savings BankTim Kempel, SVP Director of Agribusiness Lending at McHenry State Bank says, “McHenry Savings Bank is one of a handful of banks to make the commitment to work with Farmer Mac to be able to offer you a full range of alternatives in farm financing. We understand each client has a unique set of circumstances and we can bring our experience to find the best available approach that fits your needs.” 

With the products that Farmer Mac’s programs offer, all you need to do is be able to prove is that your farm could generate $5,000 of annual income. This means that it just needs to have the potential and does not have to actually earn $5,000. 

However, there are a few limitations to financing these properties and McHenry Bank can’t provide financing for every deal. Here is some general insight on financing these properties from Tim Kempel.
  • If you have strong personal credit and equity in the property, and the loan balance will be less than $750,000, we can work with a short application and likely receive a decision within 24 hours.
  • Loan balances up to $1,500,000 are available with a slightly more detailed application and 2 years’ worth of tax returns, and the limited underwriting process will take approximately 10 days once all required information is received.
  • Depending on the exact loan structure that works best for you, required income levels (from all sources) can range from 1x to 1.5x debt costs and the amount of equity required will vary.
  • Loan rates can be locked for 3,5,7,10,15,20,30 years and balances amortized 10,20,25, and 30 years
At McHenry Savings Bank, we care about farmers and want to help them as much as possible. Tim Kempel is also a farmer who has over 35 years of experience and the knowledge to find the best available approach for your needs. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your specific objectives call or email Tim at 815-331-6406 and At McHenry Savings Bank, we work hard to earn your trust!


Photo by: Federico Respini

Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Best Ways to Save Money

jar of change McHenry, Illinois

Are you looking at your bank accounts and wondering, “how can I save money?” Managing your money doesn’t have to be tricky or stressful. The professionals at McHenry Savings Bank (MSB) are here to help you. Try some of these tips to help get control of your financial life, and start saving today. 

Create a budget
Managing your finances doesn’t have to be stressful. Creating a budget is a great way to take control of the finances in your life. Consider sitting down every month and analyzing  how you are spending your money.. MSB’s online eBanking allows for you to categorized each expense occurring on your account (checking, ACH or debit) so you can create meaningful categories and types of expenses customized to your needs.  You can then create reports which show you how funds were utilized. This might be a helpful tool in creating your budget and understanding your spending habits. One recommendation is to try the 50/30/20 budget. In this budget, you spend 50% of your after taxed income on all your necessities; no more than 30% on your wants and 20% goes into your savings or towards debt repayment. If those percentages do not work for you, create your own – but stick to it!

Another suggested budgeting tip is using envelopes marked for specific expenses. This method allows you to visualize and maintain a flexible budget. By using this budgeting technique you are able to prioritize certain categories of different household expenses and put the correct amount of money towards each. It also allows you to save money for that vacation you have been dying to take or that brand new toy you just have to have. 

Have an emergency fund
Life has a way of throwing surprises your way when you least expect them. Make sure you have money saved up in an emergency fund, for those unexpected times. You might be asking yourself, how much am I supposed to set aside for an emergency fund? To start, you’ll want to make sure that you save more than just for a rainy day. It is recommended that you have 3-6 months of monthly expenses saved up in case of injury or job loss. Having 3-6 months covered will prevent you from having to dip into your retirement funds, liquidating your investments, and/or having to open more lines of credit. 

man on phone banking app

Use online banking apps
Today, banking online is made easy for you using mobile apps. There are many benefits to using a mobile app. Some of these benefits include being able to transfer funds, pay bills, check your account balances, look at recent transactions, block ATM cards, etc. Seeing your accounts online puts you more in touch with your money and gives you greater control of how you spend. It is a great budgeting tool and can help you save your money. 

Paying off credit cards
Paying off your credit cards may seem like an impossible task for some people. Here’s a little trick to help you out. Line up your credit cards from the least amount owed up to the one with the most amount owed. Don’t worry about interest rates at this time. You will want to make minimum payments on all cards except the smallest card. Instead, you should go after that card and try to pay it off with everything you can. Then you can close the account and take the money you were using to pay off the smallest card and start using it towards the second smallest card. This process continues until you have all your cards paid off. 

Now that you know a couple of tips to help you save your money, it’s time to put it to action. Create that budget and emergency fund, pay off those credit cards, and download the mobile banking app. If you have any questions, the professionals at MSB are here to help with whatever you need. Give us a call at 815-385-3000 or visit our website. We also have many tools and calculators to help you budget your money. At MSB we work hard to earn your trust. 

Photo by: Michael Longmire

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

My Identity Was Stolen...Now What?

Woman biting pencils over identity theft

In this digital age, identity theft can happen to anyone despite your best efforts to prevent it. If you’ve been in the unfortunate situation where your personal information has been stolen, you know how violating and frustrating it can be.  

The good news is there are things you can do to clean up the mess, especially if you detect the fraudulent behavior early.  If you believe you’ve been a victim of identity theft, the experts at McHenry Saving Bank suggest the following tips to get back on track:
  • Report the identity theft. Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report your identity theft.  Complete the online form or call 877-438-4338 and provide detailed information. Once the report is filed, you’ll receive an FTC recovery plan and an Identity Theft Report. The latter serves as proof that your identity was stolen. After you’ve filed with the FTC, report the incident to your local police department. By filing a police report, you protect yourself from additional damages from identity fraud and/or theft. Keep both of these reports in a secure place in the event you need to access them at a later date. 
  • Contact your financial institution and creditors. If you believe your accounts have been compromised, it’s in your best interest to report the incident(s) as soon as possible. A majority of credit cards have protections in place for identity theft, including zero-liability policies. The Fair Credit Billing Act also protects consumers in this situation, with a $50 maximum liability for any unauthorized charges. However, if your debit card is compromised, there is only a 1-2 day window to report unauthorized charges. Once reported, you are not liable for any charges after that date. A copy of your filed police and identity theft report should also be shared with your creditors. 
  • File a fraud alert on your credit report. If you are not 100% sure you’ve been a victim of identity theft, placing a fraud alert on your credit report can give you peace of mind. You can request a fraud alert by contacting one of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion), which will, in turn, put the alert on all three of your credit reporting files. The alert will stay on your reports for one year and can be renewed annually. 
  • Review credit reports. If you set up a fraud alert, each of the three credit reporting agencies will grant access to your free credit report. Review the reports for any fraudulent activity, including unknown inquiries, new accounts you didn’t open, and incorrect personal information. If you noticed fraudulent or incorrect information on your report, contact the credit bureaus to have that information removed. The FTC has a sample letter you can use on their website. When you send the letter, also include a copy of your Identity Theft Report as well as details about the fraudulent information. As a consumer, you are entitled to an annual free credit report, so use this opportunity to review your report and protect your identity.
  • Freeze your credit. Placing a freeze on your credit and putting a lockdown on all your information, can prevent the release of your credit report to new creditors. Freezing your report is free and can be requested by contacting the credit bureaus. Additionally, you determine when the freeze is lifted, putting you in control of your credit information. 
  • Change passwords. This should not only be done on the affected accounts but ALL your accounts. When creating passwords, choose unique alphanumeric combinations and avoid using personal information (i.e. address, date of birth) and using the same password across accounts. Its best practice to change your passwords every three months.
  • Replace stolen identification. Contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles to report your stolen license and get it replaced. If your Social Security card was stolen, it can be replaced online. In the event your Social Security number was used fraudulently, notify the Office of the Inspector General to request a copy of your Personal Earnings and Benefits Statement. (Note: Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet).
Having your information stolen can leave you shaken, that is why you should turn to the experts who work hard to earn your trust. McHenry Savings Bank (MSB) offers security resources that include a “Taking Charge: What To Do If Your Identity Is Stolen” guide to answer those tough questions and assist you in the recovery process. Visit MSB today or call 815-385-3000.


Thursday, November 14, 2019

What can you do to Protect Yourself While Shopping Online?

Couple online shopping McHenry, Illinois

Gone are the days of thumbing through a catalog and circling items for your wish list during the holidays. Today’s consumers are hyper-connected and constantly seeking convenience when it comes to almost everything, but especially spending habits online. With many online retailers offering deals of the day, discounted or free shipping, and fast delivery, it’s easier than ever to shop online. In fact, studies show 76% of United States consumers shop online, and that number is projected to increase, there will be more than 300-million U.S online shoppers in 2023.

Today you can buy almost anything online and that’s why it’s more important than ever to protect yourself from fraud, especially during the holidays when it comes to breaches and cybersecurity attacks. Here are some tips to keep in mind when shopping online this holiday season to protect yourself from cybercriminals.

Shop reliable websites
When it comes to online offers the age-old saying if it’s too good to be true it usually is, still rings true today. While a great deal might be hard to pass up, fake companies and less-than-reputable websites take advantage of people by using fake photos of products at deep discounts to lure in consumers. Always use trusted URLs instead of clicking on links. Look for https:// (not http) in the address bar before using your credit card online.

Designate a separate card for online spending
If you’re worried about someone compromising your information you can open a separate account with a debit card specifically for online purchases. You can add funds to the account and use your card like a traditional card but the added benefit is if your account is compromised the cybercriminals won’t have access to your whole bank account, just what you have in the account which is typically less than a traditional checking or savings account.

Track spending online
When it comes to your finances it’s important to keep an eye on your spending activity so you are aware of anything out of the ordinary as soon as it shows up as a transaction and you can immediately call your bank. In addition, make sure you are regularly checking your credit report to ensure everything is in order.

Protect your passwords
As tempting as it is, try to avoid using the same password for every site. Try using the suggested passwords from sites, if they seem complicated there is a good reason, it’s for your protection. Make sure you write your passwords done and keep them somewhere safe, never on your computer or phone. A good rule of thumb is to make all your passwords long and strong. When able, try using multi-factor authentication.

Beware of seasonal scams
Unfortunately, cybercriminals use any means to scam during the holidays including fake tracking emails, e-cards, fake charities, donation scams, and more. If you are leery of a fake site always double-check to make sure it is a known and trusted URL instead of absently clicking on a link.

McHenry Savings Bank wants you to have a safe and happy holiday season. We are always here if you have a question about your cybersecurity. Visit McHenry Savings Bank to learn how you can protect yourself today, or speak with an expert today by calling 815-385-3000.


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Ways to Save For College

Saving for College McHenry Illinois
When your children are little it’s almost impossible to think about them heading off for college but it’s never too early to think about a savings plan for your child’s college education. For the freshman class of 2037, the cost of an in-state, four-year public university will run about $185,000 (accounting for a 4% increase annually). So if you have a freshman in high school or a little one starting preschool, now is the time to start saving in a college fund.

Deciding the best route for your child's future starts with knowing the financial options available. McHenry Savings Bank has compiled some recommendations to create and fund your college savings plan.

529 College Plans
Illinois is one of more than 30 states which offer a 529 college savings plan, sometimes referred to as the Qualified Tuition Program (QTP). With a 529, post-tax money is invested in the plan. Once your child starts college, you or your child are able to withdraw the funds, plus investment gains, tax-free to use for tuition, books, and any other qualified education expenses. 

There are no income requirements to set up or contribute to a plan. The funds in an account only have a nominal effect on financial aid; a maximum of 5.64% of 529 counts toward the expected contribution. If you have $100,000 saved, your financial aid only takes a $5,640 hit. A 529 plan’s account beneficiary can also be transferred to another family member if the child receives a scholarship or doesn’t plan on using the money.

Fees and operating costs vary per state. Contribution limits also vary per state but are significantly higher compared to a Roth IRA. In Illinois, the tax benefit is $10,000 annually for single filers and $20,000 for joint filers. Additionally, these contributions often are considered gifts, and thus qualify for the gift tax exclusion ($15,000 in 2019).

Roth IRA
Similar to a 529 plan, post-tax money is contributed and can be withdrawn tax-free (plus any investment gains) once the owner turns 59-½. However, a Roth allows withdrawals (tax- and penalty-free) for qualifying educational expenses after five years. The benefit is that is if your child opts not to attend college, the funds can be used for retirement (or a down payment for a second home).

While a Roth IRA account won’t initially hurt your financial aid eligibility, withdrawing any funds will be applied to your income.

The Roth has greater income and contribution limits compared to the 529. The contribution limits are $6,000 annually ($7,000 if over age 50). Plus if you earn $129,000 single / $193,000 jointly, you are not eligible.

Prepaid College Tuition Plans
This plan is pretty self-explanatory: contribute to your child’s college tuition now while locking in 2019 prices. For example, if in-state tuition is currently $15,000, a $7,500 contribution will get you a semester’s worth of tuition.  If the tuition cost is $30,000 when your child starts college, your initial $7,500 contribution will be worth the same 50% - or $15,000. This protects you from inevitable tuition hikes, especially if your child is in the freshman class of 2037.

Similar to a 529 plan, any financial gains from investments are usually exempt from federal taxes. The CollegeIllinois! Program is currently on hold, pending discussions with policymakers to help strengthen the program.

Now that you have set up a college savings plan (and recovered from sticker shock), it’s time to maximize your savings potential. Here are five things you can do to help you save what you need:

  • Set up your checking account to automatically transfer funds into your college saving plan account.
  • Invite family members and close family friends to contribute. A majority of 529 plans have ways to accept gifts, plus a contribution makes for a great birthday or holiday gift. 
  • Ask your employer if they match 529 plan contributions. (Note: only 1% of companies do, but it doesn’t hurt to ask). 
  • Periodically keep an eye on the account’s progress, but don’t overthink it. A simple strategy is to save one-third of the cost of tuition. Determine the amount by multiplying your child’s age by $3,000 for an in-state public school. For example, if your child is 10 you would need to save $30,000.

Visit McHenry Savings Bank today to learn how you can save for your child’s college or to speak with an expert please call 815-385-3000.

In addition, McHenry Savings Bank, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, McHenry County Investment Services Inc. (MCIS)1, provides options for our customers with investment and insurance needs, including college planning assistance. Our president, Richard Hedlund, is available to take appointments at any of the MSB locations to discuss your personal financial goals. Please call to make your appointment today at 815-331-6464.

1Securities offered through Registered Representatives of Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a broker-dealer member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Cambridge and MCIS, Inc. are not affiliated. Non-deposit investment products are not FDIC insured, not bank guaranteed and may lose value.


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

What You Need to Know About Health Savings Account

Doctor McHenry County Health Savings Plan

If you’re fresh out of college or recently joined a new organization, you may have overheard someone mention the term HSA and you find yourself a little lost. An HSA isn’t a government organization or debilitating ailment—quite the opposite! HSA stands for “Health Savings Account”. This type of account helps you stay healthy and helps you afford unforeseen (and often expensive) medical costs that pop up when you least expect them. Let’s take a quick look at what exactly an HSA is and why you should consider it. 

What is an HSA?
When people come into McHenry Savings Bank (MSB) asking about health savings accounts, we like to simplify it by saying that an HSA is an interest bearing, tax-deferred account for the purpose of saving for and paying the deductibles associated with a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). 

Certain healthcare plans, whether through work or the Healthcare Marketplace, have much higher deductibles than traditional healthcare plans. That means you pay less in monthly costs, but you also pay more out of pocket before your insurance kicks in. With an HSA in place, you can put aside some money to help you pay for those higher deductibles with money free from federal taxes and penalties.

Health Savings Account McHenry

How Does an HSA Work?  
You and possibly your employer can pay into your HSA throughout the year, which is then used for those deductibles. The amount (or participation) of an employer typically varies from company to company. There a few things to keep in mind, though, if you’re interested in setting up an HSA. 

First, there is typically a maximum amount set that you and your employer can pay into your HSA for the year. Check with your provider to see if the HSA carries over from year to year. If you set up an HSA through McHenry Savings Bank, then it does carry over year after year and any remainder can go towards retirement.

The cost of healthcare, whether out of pocket or covered by your insurance, is something that factors into your overall financial plan. If you’re simply paying those costs from your checking account, then you are missing out on an opportunity to put aside that money into a tax- and penalty-free account, which could save you during tax season and retirement. To learn more about HSAs, call MSB today at (815) 385-3000 or stop in and speak with an expert to answer all of your questions.  

Monday, July 29, 2019

How Farm Lending Supports Local Farms and Businesses

Hay Farm Loans Illinois

While the term agribusiness often refers to the business of farming, the term isn’t often used in association with actual farms and farmers. Agribusiness typically means an agriculturally-related business that supplies the farm inputs, such as farm machinery and parts, seed, fertilizers, chemicals, feed, etc. 

Agribusiness and farm lending helps our local farmers run their farms more efficiently. It can be challenging to keep up with the ongoing costs connected with operating a farm. At McHenry Savings Bank, we recognize that farmers need agricultural loans to help them stay afloat and we try to do this with competitive pricing. We strive to be a value-added resource to help you grow and succeed
Some ways we can assist you are as follows:

Purchase Farm Land. Whether you are a new and beginning farmer trying to purchase some land, or an experienced farmer trying to expand your current farm operation McHenry Savings Bank can provide agricultural real estate loans to meet your needs.

Operating and Marketing Expenses. Farmers not only need financing for land, but they also need help covering basic operating costs, like rents, seed, fertilizer, and chemicals. Many times suppliers will offer discounts if these are paid upon ordering which saves the farmer money and we can provide a loan to help cover this cost. It also pays to market all year long and at times there is an expense to this that we can also help you cover.

Equipment loan. Equipment has become much bigger and can do lots of work in a short amount of time, which is the good news. The unfortunate part is the cost of that equipment has grown too and we can be there to craft a loan to help you keep up with the new technology or to replace those essential worn out pieces.

Agribusiness – We do also supply financing for what is referred to as Agribusiness. If you are looking to start a business supplying agricultural products or if you wish to expand your current business, we would like to help.

Illinois Agribusiness McHenry Savings Bank

At McHenry Savings Bank, we tailor financial solutions to your farming operation. We realize that no two farm operations are alike. Even neighboring farms growing similar crops will use different techniques from seeding to harvesting. We take a unique approach serving each of our agribusiness customers. Come on in and tell us your current situation and ultimate goals. We will customize a solution that meets your specific needs. We offer term loans, lines of credit, and real estate loans, designing them to do what you precisely need through Farmer Mac.

At McHenry Savings Bank, we are local people making local decisions. We have been serving the Banking needs of the people of McHenry County, Illinois, for over 60-years. With locations in McHenry, Richmond, and Johnsburg, we are a full-service financial institution with personal, commercial, agriculture and investment services. We also service areas outside of McHenry County so feel free to contact us. Please contact Tim Kempel, Senior SVP, Director of Agribusiness at 815-331-6406 for more information.