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Iowa State Bank Blog

5 Ways to Spend Less This Summer – Easy Ways to Save Money

Spend less money

Looking for a relaxing afternoon or a romantic date idea? Don’t break the bank – head to the nearest park for a picnic!

Summer doesn’t have to be a season of spending!  With the warmer weather and longer days, we are given a chance to discover the fun and free possibilities all around us. Here at Iowa State Bank, we encourage you to find fun and free activities to do with your family and friends. We value you and your money and understand the importance of saving wherever possible. Here we offer you five fun and free activities to do this summer.


Pack up some food from your fridge and cabinet and stroll to the nearest park. This is the perfect opportunity to fill a weekend afternoon and enjoy the weather. Take along a ball, Frisbee, or yard game and spend some time in the sun. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Make Your Own Movie Theater

Summer thunderstorms are the perfect opportunity to gather your family and friends in the basement for a movie marathon. Pop some popcorn, grab a blanket, and prepare for a show in a theater near you!

Run, Bike, Hike

Trails are open and blooming with beauty. Take a chance to get outdoors in the heat and sweat out this week’s stress. Get the endorphins pumping through your body and enjoy a guilt-free activity.

Visit the Library

There is no better way to spend an afternoon than surrounded by books filled with characters you have yet to meet. Wherever your interests lie, you are sure to find something to engage your mind. Whether it is a best seller or class novel, explore the world of reading and rediscover relaxation.

Have a Garage Sale

De-clutter your house and life by getting rid of all unnecessary items. You don’t realize how much stuff you have until it is all exposed at once. Go through your closet, junk drawers, and toy room to gather everything that is no longer of use to you. Price it, put it out, and profit.

You may be preparing to pay for college tuition, a house, car, clothes for your children, or a family vacation. With all of life’s expenses, finding small ways to save money can make a big difference. Iowa State Bank wants you to have the most fun and relaxing summer yet!

Save Money on Vacation: What to Save, Splurge, or Skip

Save money on vacation

Skip the souvenirs but splurge on a massage while on vacation. After all, it’s about relaxing!

As the summer months are setting in, it is time to start thinking about your next vacation. While you may be looking forward to the grand getaway, you may not be looking forward to the drop in your bank account. Here at Iowa State Bank, we want you to have a fun and financially responsible trip. Provided are a few suggestions to consider when determining what to save on, splurge on, or skip.


If traveling by air, research when and where to purchase the cheapest tickets 3-4 months in advance. Search for bundles on different sites that provide hotel and taxi services if needed. By being proactive about booking flights and other arrangements, you are sure to find the best deals.

Pack as light as possible! If you can take one carry-on bag or combine suitcases with a family member, do so. Luggage comes with extra costs and hassle that can be avoided.

Research public transportation in the area you are staying in and determine if it is better than renting a car or using a taxi.


Treat yourself to the steak, lobster, and gelato. While on vacation, it is encouraged to eat at local restaurants, find the hole in the wall hubs, and savor every last bite. Dinner on vacation is the perfect time to reflect on the day’s activities and plan the next day while enjoying a special meal with family or friends.

There is no better time for a spa treatment than while on vacation. Let go of all stress and guilt and indulge yourself in a massage, pedicure, or meditation.


Souvenirs may be tempting to purchase in the moment, however, spending money on an experience will be better worth your money. Nobody needs to go home with useless items to remember their trip. Spend your money on once in a lifetime experiences like parasailing, surfing, or mountain climbing, and be sure to take a lot of pictures!

Iowa State Bank wants you to relax and enjoy your vacation as much as possible without breaking the budget. We hope you take some of these considerations into planning your next trip and make memories to last a lifetime!

What is Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)?

Private mortgage insurance

Private mortgage insurance hinges on the size of your down payment.

Iowa State Bank is a one-stop shop for all your mortgage and banking needs. The team at Iowa State Bank recognizes that knowledge is power and wants our customers to make informed decisions. Mortgages can include many confusing elements such as PMI, or Private Mortgage Insurance, which we’re discussing in this post.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is insurance required on mortgages with a down payment under 20 percent of the overall mortgage value. The insurance is to provide a reduction of risk for the lender and allows the borrower ability to accept a mortgage when it is not possible to have a down payment of 20 percent.

How does PMI work?

Private mortgage insurance typically has two options: lender paid or borrower paid insurance. The lender paid insurance essentially is paid for by increasing the interest rate of the overall loan for the loans life. The borrower paid insurance is added to the mortgage as an additional payment or fee and will automatically drop off the loan after the original balance is below 78% of the loan. Private mortgage insurance also varies in price depending on the loan amount, down payment, credit score, loan rate, lender and length of the loan.

How can I eliminate the PMI?

There are a few ways to eliminate the private mortgage insurance. The first method, and easiest, is to make a 20 percent down payment of the principal of your mortgage. This eliminates the need for private mortgage insurance. The other option is to have your home reappraised with the hope of the value of the home increasing 20 percent. There are additional costs associated for reappraisal which vary depending on the lender and company appraising it, so be aware of that before contacting your lender for more information on reappraising your home.

Mortgages can be confusing, especially trying to understand meanings for all the terms and fees associated. Let Iowa State Bank lead the way with our mortgage application process paired with our loan officers. Rest assured, Iowa State Bank will individually assess your mortgage situation and answer all your questions to make sure you understand all aspects of your mortgage. Apply online or come by to get started today!

5 Considerations for Buying an Older House

Old home buying tips from ISB

Older homes come with charm, but also some unique challenges.

The great thing about the communities Iowa State Bank serves is their rich history. Burlington, Wapello, Morning Sun and Mount Union each have their unique places in the history of Iowa and have been home to people of all walks of life. A lot of this history has been preserved in buildings and homes throughout the area.


Many of these older homes are still in good enough condition to be lived in. There is a certain charm about a home that is part of an area’s history, but that doesn’t mean they are the best to live in. “Home Season” has begun, and as a community mortgage lender, Iowa State Bank wants you to be aware of certain items that need to be considered when looking to purchase an older home.


Is the foundation solid?

A solid foundation is important for a solid home. Inspect the foundation walls for cracks or chipping as these can be signs of foundation problems. In general, repairs to a foundation are expensive, especially if the house needs to be lifted off the foundation. Consult a mason or carpenter for additional concerns and estimates for repairing the foundation.


How old is the wiring?

Older homes originally had a knob and tube wiring system that works well, but it can be a fire hazard, especially in locations such as the attic. Additionally, the older knob and tube wiring system may not be wired to handle some electrical loads sufficiently which also poses a fire hazard. If you see the knob and tube wiring, consider the cost of updating the house’s wiring.


How old is the plumbing?

If the house still has the original cast-iron pipes, you may want to anticipate replacing them as they are subject to mineral buildup and leaks. Check the exposed pipes for any leaking. Unfortunately, the buildup inside the pipes will not be noticeable until your drains become slow.


How is the house heated?

Look to see if the house has an old boiler unit or forced air heat. Boilers, especially if it is original to the house, can be very inefficient and expensive to run. If the house has a forced air furnace, check the age of the unit and consider having a professional assessment on the furnace. Replacement of a furnace can also be very expensive.


What is the condition of the roof?

Check the roof and the attic carefully for leaks or rolled shingles. Replacement of a roof is considered one of the most expensive repairs on a house.


Getting an assessment by a home inspector is recommended, as they will help you check for many of the concerns of older homes. Iowa State Bank is your mortgage center with calculators, current rates and other resources. Iowa State Bank also has loan officers available to step you through applying for a mortgage, so give us a call or come by today to get started!

New Financial Habits, A Better You

Everyone has some bad financial habits, whether it is unconscious acts, laziness or a result of wanting convenience. These financial habits cost the average American thousands of dollars each year. Iowa State Bank want to help you rescue your finances by sharing some tips that can help you break those bad habits.  Fix your bad financial habits

Take a minute to sit back and look at the money that flows in and out of your checking and savings accounts. Are there things you could eliminate, change or do without to help your finances? Try these bad habit breaking tips to put some money back in your wallet.

Form New Habits. Instead of trying to eliminate bad financial habits, try creating new, financially sound habits to replace them. By replacing the old ones, it will prevent you from falling back into your old habits for lack of having something to do. Studies show that it takes 21 days to break a habit. Just remember three weeks to a better you and a healthier wallet!

Commit To The Change. As you’ve probably heard, it’s easier said than done. Yes, that is correct, but nothing will ever change about your finances unless you are committed to making the change. Create a plan of how you will spend your money and post it in prominent places for a constant reminder of the new habits you are trying to implement into your life.

Distinguish Between Actual Wealth and Credit. Avoid making short-term credit card purchases that are unreasonable to your monthly salary. By doing this, it ensures that you can pay the balance each month and avoid accrual of long-term debt and interest.

Take Only The Cash You Need. Going to dinner or shopping? Only take out the cash you need and leave your credit and debit cards at home. This will force you to think before spending and will enable you to make more sound decisions and get the most bang for your buck!

Now that you have some tips to get your bad financial habits under wraps, it’s time to utilize them. Make a change and eliminate your bad habits this April for Financial Literacy Month and live a happier, less stressful life.

We hope to hear your financial success story soon. Good luck from Iowa State Bank!

Test Your Financial Literacy

April is here and you know what that means: spring, allergies and tax season. April also is the month we at Iowa State Bank celebrate Financial Literacy Month, a month to highlight the importance of financial literacy and to teach customers how to manage and establish healthy financial habits. The financial crisis and recession have exposed behaviors that indicate low levels of financial literacy in people across the nation. We see it as our duty at Iowa State Bank to help educate you on financial literacy.

Iowa State Bank Financial Literacy Quiz

 Iowa State Bank has set up a quiz to test your basic knowledge about managing finances.

  1. How much of your income should you spend on monthly housing expenses?
    1. 55%
    2. 47%
    3. 31%
  2. True or False: The color of your car is a factor that affects your auto insurance rates.
  3. True or False: Contributions to a Roth IRA are not tax-deductible.
  4. True or False: Never buy a house that costs more than 2.5 times your annual income.
  5. How much money should you keep in your emergency fund?
    1. 1,800
    2. Six months of living expenses
    3. Four months of rent or mortgage payments
  6. True or False: By adjusting your tax withholdings on a new Form W-4 you can increase your paycheck.
  7. Which of the following items is not part of your credit report?
    1. Your income
    2. Your current credit card balance
    3. Your payment history
  8. True or False: You only need life insurance if you have someone depending on you financially (spouse, children, etc.).
  9. True or False: Closing a credit card account you no longer use will lower the amount of credit you have available, and that can put a black mark on your record resulting in a lower credit score. 

How did you do? If you answered most of them correct, congratulations! But if you missed some, don’t worry, Iowa State Bank is here to offer a helping hand and answer any questions you may have.

Celebrate National Literacy Month with Iowa State Bank as we take this month to help members become smarter consumers.

Answers: 1. (3), 2. false, 3.true, 4. false, 5. (2), 6. true, 7. (1), 8. true, 9. true

First-Time Home Buyers: Are You Forgetting these Vital Considerations?


Buying your first home is a monumental moment in your life. You are finally becoming a homeowner, a large part of the American Dream. However, with all things in life, there is the potential for you to hit some snags along the way to owning your first home. A lack of preparation and thoroughness can doom even the most financially set first-time buyers.

Iowa State Bank is in the business of making the mortgage process, and therefore the home buying process, as easy as possible for our customers. If you are considering purchasing a new home this spring or summer, there are some vital considerations you need to keep in mind.

Ask questions-no question is a dumb question. Don’t be nervous to ask and ask often. Realtors, friends, family, and Iowa State Bank loan officers are always available to help you get answers to your questions. 

Set your foundation- first figure out a comfortable and affordable monthly house payment. This will help determine the amount of your mortgage and also the term of your mortgage. Yes, there are some numbers and math involved, but it is worth it. An Iowa State Bank lender can quote an approximate monthly payment amount and let you know a good price range of homes to look at.

Keep Calm and Browse On- rushing into a purchase is the last thing you want to do. Sure, you will have a new home, but if you settle it may not have everything you need.

The perfect home doesn’t exist- recognize that your dream home is not magically waiting for you to find it. Prioritize what you need in a home and be willing to make sacrifices. This is different than settling because you have your pros and cons already set.

Identify your expenses- buying a home comes with a few extra costs, some one-time and some recurring: closing costs, private mortgage insurance, maintenance costs, higher utilities, real-estate taxes, homeowners insurance, homeowners association fees and so on.

Have an eye for details- be sure to pay attention to any smells and anything that signals a home hasn’t been kept in the best condition. And don’t forget about a home inspection: they can be done before the purchase is final, and some sellers will agree to pay for this (inspections include termite, carbon dioxide, etc.)

While these aren’t the only things you need to keep in mind, they will help keep you from purchasing a home you will only come to regret a year down the road. The loan officers at Iowa State Bank can also provide things to keep in mind regarding your mortgage needs. Feel free to get in touch with us today, and we hope to see you soon!

Are You a Mortgage Master? Test Your Knowledge with our Mortgage Quiz


As we near another spring, the beginning of “home season” also gets closer and closer. For prospective home buyers, it can be an exciting time. But before you start the home buying process, it’s important to gauge how much you know about mortgages.

Getting the right mortgage can be the difference between saving or spending thousands of dollars. Iowa State Bank has put together this mortgage quiz for you to see how well you know mortgages.

  1. True or false: mortgage rates for all mortgage types are set once per day.
  2. True or false: law requires all lenders to charge the same appraisal and credit report fees.
  3. True or false: I have to get my mortgage from the same lender that pre-approved me.
  4. Change: True or False: Just because you are a current customer at a bank, they have to approve you for a loan. 
  5. True or false: when getting a fixed rate mortgage with your spouse, lenders look at each of your scores from the three main reporting bureaus and determine your interest rate from the lowest of the two middle scores.
  6. True or false: you cannot get a mortgage with less than a 5% down payment. (5% is required; Iowa State Bank can give you an interest credit, but 3% of your own funds is ALWAYS required in a purchase and another 2% can be gifted, so technically you always need 5%.)
  7. True or False: All mortgages have a maturity of 15, 20 or 30 years? 
  8. True or False: Appraisals have to be done on every type of home loan? 

Check the answers below. How well did you do? If you got most of the questions, then congratulations, you have a solid understanding of the mortgage process. If you didn’t get that many questions correct, don’t fret. You now know the answers, and the Iowa State Bank loan officers can also help you with any other questions you have. If you’re ready to apply for a mortgage at Iowa State Bank, follow the link to our easy online mortgage application.

We hope to hear from your soon!

Answers: 1. False, 2. False, 3. False, 4. False, 5. True, 6. True, 7. False, 8. False

11 Essential Documents for Getting a Mortgage

If you are preparing to purchase a new home, or refinance your existing home all the lenders at Iowa State Bank strive to make the process simple and timely. One of our main goals is helping customers find a mortgage that fits their needs. To help the process along, we offer a short list of documents you may be asked to supply before your mortgage can be processed. mortgage-documents


  • Signed and completed application-either online at IAStateBk.com or in paper format.
  • Driver’s License (both sides)- we’ll need this to help verify your identity.
  • Secondary IDs- these documents, such as a social security card or passport, also help to verify your identity (we may or may not need these, but it would be wise to have them on hand just in case)
  • Most recent paystubs- if you are paid a W2 salary or hourly wage, we need these for the last month to see what kind of income you have.
  • W2 forms for the last two years- these not only document your earnings history, but also your employment so we can ensure you’ve been employed steadily in the last two years.
  • Tax returns- we will need your signed federal tax returns with all pages and schedules for the last two years.
  • Bank and asset statements- the most recent versions of these for a period of two months helps us see if you have sufficient assets for down payment, closing costs and reserves. Any large deposits will need to be verified.
  • Fully executed purchase agreement for the property you are buying- this serves as a baseline for appraisal and loan constraints (for home purchases only)
  • Contact information for your lawyer- we will need their name, address, phone & fax numbers and email addresses to coordinate the closing (for home purchases only)
  • Insurance Agent Information-having their name, address and phone number allows us to verify your current or new insurance.
  • Realtor Information- we will need their name, address, phone & fax numbers and email addresses to coordinate the closing. (Purchase ONLY)

We understand that obtaining a mortgage for both a purchase and a refinance can require a lot of paperwork; this is why our lenders try to make the process as simple as possible. As the weather gets warmer, predictions are purchases and refinances will increase. Do not hesitate to check out our blogs and Facebook updates for more helpful tips.

We hope to see you soon!

Common Banking Questions and Answers at Iowa State Bank

While the name “Iowa State Bank” essentially tells you we are a bank, it does not tell you that we are really in the customer service business. Customers come to us for help with their banking, insurance, mortgage or other loan needs, and we provide them with the solutions that best fit their lives.bank-faqs


Continually improving our customer service and keeping healthy relationships with our customers is something we strive for at Iowa State Bank. It is because of this commitment to customer service that we would like to provide you with some frequently asked questions.


How do I open a checking account at Iowa State Bank? You can stop by any location during their open lobby hours. Please bring with you an unexpired identification card or drivers license and $100.00 check or cash and we can get started. The process is very simply and takes approximately 15 minutes.


I am under 18, can I open an account? Yes, but you will have to have an individual above the age of 18 on your account.


Do I have to pay a fee to have an account? We offer a large range of accounts, some with fees and some without. We do offer a “Totally Free Checking,” that has no monthly or yearly fee. You can use your debit card and write as many checks as you would like. The “Totally Free Checking” also offers 6 boxes of free checks per year!


What accounts do I have to have to use Online Banking? You can have a checking account, savings account or both to use Online Banking from Iowa State Bank. Loans, CDs, Money Market and Health Savings accounts also allow you to have online access.


Which mortgage is the best? Mortgages depend on a number of factors including your income, ability to make payments and credit history. The knowledgeable mortgage lenders at Iowa State Bank can help you determine which mortgage program best fits you.


What happens if my debit card is stolen? You should notify us immediately so we can block your debit card. We will then have you sign a form stating we have your permission to order a new debit card. This debit card will be tied to the same checking account.


What happens if my account is hacked? You should notify us immediately. Depending on how exactly your account was hacked will determine our next step. If it is found that charges on your account do not belong to you, Iowa State Bank will personally refund those charges.


What are your lobby and drive-thru hours? Each of our locations have different hours, but you can view them by going here and selecting your nearest branch.



If you have any other questions not listed here, please don’t hesitate to contact the nearest Iowa State Bank office; we’d be glad to help!  We look forward to seeing you soon!

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