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Iowa State Bank Blog

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?

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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

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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!

Beneficial Home Improvements on a Budget

In our last blog post we discussed mortgages for those who resolved to finally get that new home they’ve been talking about for far too long this year. But perhaps you don’t need a new, but just want to make a few improvements. Well, you’re in luck because Iowa State Bank is offering up some great home improvement tips for those on smaller budgets.

There are many small home improvements you can make yourself -- like changing your faucet -- that will provide some new life to your home.

There are many small home improvements you can make yourself — like changing your faucet — that will provide some new life to your home.

Caulk windows and weather-strip doors- help boost the energy efficiency of your home by shutting out the cold winter weather. A caulk gun and 12 caulk cartridges costs around $50, and you can give an exterior door a new threshold and weather-stripping for around $65.

Updating handles on kitchen cabinets and drawers- this is a simple fix that can give your kitchen a fresh look for much less than a full remodel. Handles and knobs run between $5 and $10 each depending on the finish.

Tile backsplash for the kitchen- another way to freshen up your kitchen for less. The average cost for a 10-ft. long by 12-in. high tile backsplash done by a professional is $388 according to DIYorNot.com. However, motivated and skilled homeowners can generally do this type of project for less.

Replace your bathroom fixtures- energy-efficient models provide a new look plus savings on the utilities they use. Energy-rated toilets can start as low as $140, faucets at $32 and tub faucet and showerhead combo at $50.

Painting interior walls- one of the most visual upgrades you can make, adding a fresh coat to your walls also provides could return on investment if you want to sell your home. Costs vary because of paint expenses, but be sure to factor in paint, primer, brushes, rollers and tape.

Of course, if you have a larger budget and need the funds to improve your home, Iowa State Bank can assist by providing a home improvement loan customized to your needs. Our knowledgeable lenders can help make your home improvement dreams a reality, so call or come by any of our offices today!

Learning the Mortgage Basics to Start the Home Buying Process

If your New Year’s Resolution was to purchase a new home this year, then congratulations! That’s a huge step to take in life, and, depending on the state of your current home, could mean a step up to a better fit for you and your family.

There are a lot of factors to take into account figuring out which type of mortgage is best for you

There are a lot of factors to take into account figuring out which type of mortgage is best for you

At Iowa State Bank, we like to make the mortgage part of this process as easy as possible, so we’re offering up some pros and cons of the various loan types out there. Hopefully they’ll give you a head start in your home buying process!

Fixed-rate mortgages- your interest rate stays the same through the life of your loan.

  • 30-year: pros- borrow money long-term without change in interest rate, lower monthly payments because amortization is spread out, higher interest bill reduces tax bill; cons- builds equity slowly, higher interest rates, more interest paid over the life of the loan.
  • 15-year: build equity quicker, pay less interest over life of the loan, lower interest rates; cons- higher monthly payments than 30-year, restricts you to smaller homes you may be able to afford with a long-term loan.

Adjustable-rate mortgages- interest rate and monthly payment fluctuate with market changes. Pros- initial interest rate is lower and stays the same for a certain period of time. Cons- the risk of higher interest rates after initial rate period ends.

  • Popular ARM types: 1/1, 3/1, 5/1, 7/1, 10/1- the first number refers to the number of years the initial interest rate stays constant.

Other loan types

  • Jumbo- mortgages higher than the limits set by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Pro- can buy larger, more expensive home. Con- higher interest rate to offset the risk inherited by the lender.
  • Balloon- Borrowers get lower rates and payments for a specific period of time, usually three to 10 years. At that point, a borrower has to pay off the principal balance in a lump sum. Pro- save on initial mortgage costs. Cons- changing plans can leave you having to pay a lump sum or refinance it.

We hope these pros and cons help you to begin your planning for your mortgage and the home buying process. If you have any questions about how Iowa State Bank can help with your mortgage needs, just contact your nearest office today!

5 Signs You Need Help with Money Management

Have you ever been in a situation where you have a problem, but just don’t know or can’t figure out a way to solve it? When it comes to finances, this is a common problem for many Americans. It’s part of the reason most Americans are financially illiterate, have so much debt and aren’t prepared for the future.

Sorting through all of these financial items and creating a plan goes a long way toward reducing money stress.

Sorting through all of these financial items and creating a plan goes a long way toward reducing money stress.

In the spirit of setting goals for next year, Iowa State Bank wants to help you identify whether you need help when it comes to managing your money. Hopefully these signs will motivate you to take more control over your money in 2014.

You don’t know where your money goes- we all have a general understanding of how much money comes in. Where it all goes, however, may not be as easy to identify. Blindly spending money is the basis of poor financial management. Your solution: create a budget that breaks down your weekly/bi-weekly/monthly expenses.

You don’t know if you’re prepared for retirement- if the fact that you should be planning for retirement now is news to you, you’re already behind. Your solution: start contributing to an IRA, 401(k) or other retirement account as soon as possible.

You don’t understand your investments clearly- it’s one thing to have investments; it’s completely different to actually understand them. Your solution: meet with your investment professional to ensure your investments are diversified and appropriate for your risk tolerance, goals and time horizon.

You don’t understand your mortgage agreement- the fact that you signed your mortgage without understanding it (something that doesn’t happen when you choose Iowa State Bank) is concerning. You could potentially be throwing away money every month. Your solution: meet with your mortgage broker to go over your mortgage or refinance with Iowa State Bank.

You don’t have a plan in place if you were to die or become disabled- look, no one likes to think about these things. However, having life or disability insurance in place ensures your family is able to continue paying bills and living comfortably. Your solution: get in touch with ISB Insurance to get coverage in place.

If any of these things applies to you, make it a resolution for 2014 to get them in place. Iowa State Bank can help with these and other financial management needs, so call or come by any of our locations if you want help. Have a great rest of the holiday season, and we look forward to seeing you soon!

New Year’s Resolution: Eliminating Your Debt

Debt is something that doesn’t discriminate between young and old, male or female, rich or poor. Money owed is money owed no matter who you are. However, the big difference maker between your debt and someone else’s is whether you let it run your life and your finances.

Erasing your debt is a positive step in becoming financially independent

Erasing your debt is a positive step in becoming financially independent

No one likes being owned by credit card companies, yet Americans have compiled over $850 billion in credit card debt. Debt from student loans is now up to an average of $28,000 per graduate of a four-year program, meaning most of us owe money to someone. If you’re tired of monthly bills and balances that don’t seem to get any smaller, here’s a New Year’s resolution for you: commit to eliminating your debt. Here’s how you can make it happen:

Always pay more than the minimum- paying only the minimum means you’re increasing the total amount of interest you pay over the life of the loan or on your credit card debt.

Always pay on time-missing a payment not only means you may be facing costly penalties, but it also kills your credit score, something that can come in handy when you’re trying to get the best interest rate on a mortgage.

Create a repayment plan, then stick to it- if you don’t have a budget, then make one first. After that you’ll be able to see what you can contribute to paying off your debts each month. And just like every other resolution, you need to stick to the plan to make it work.

Quit impulse-buying- if you’re already in debt, why are you spending more money you don’t have? If it’s not in your budget, forget about it. This may mean you have to sacrifice the latest and greatest in gadgets or new clothes every month, but it will be well worth it when you’re debt free.

Use common sense- the number one reason people accumulate so much debt and stay in debt is because they don’t use common sense. All of the above tips are geared toward helping you make smarter financial decisions so you can get out of debt. If you’re serious about eliminating your credit card or loan debt, it pays to stop and think before making a purchase.

Iowa State Bank hopes these tips help you develop a strategy for paying off your debt in 2014, or at the least, get you thinking about what it will take to clear the red from your ledger. We wish you good luck in achieving your financial goals in the New Year, and we look forward to seeing you at one of our locations soon!

Surviving the Holiday Shopping Storm

The holidays have just finished, the family is gone and all the presents have been opened. Life is beginning to get back to normal until you get a bill in the mail. Then another. And another. You slowly begin to regret having to charge all of your holiday purchases to your credit cards. If only you’d been smarter about your holiday saving and spending!

Curb holiday overspending by carrying only the amount of cash you need for your gifts.

Curb holiday overspending by carrying only the amount of cash you need for your gifts.

Well, this year you’re in luck because Iowa State Bank is here to help you make it through the holidays in a thriftier manner. The following are a few budgeting and financial tips to help you save some change and avoid those annoying post-holiday bills.

  • Save for a holiday budget- ideally you would’ve been doing this for a little while now, but it’s not too late. You may have to make a few sacrifices like eating out, Netflix or other luxuries.
  • Make a list for every person- know what you’re going to get each person, then look on online for price comparisons to find the best deals. Then, you should…
  • List what you need from each store- nothing contributes more toward overspending than buying things you don’t need. Make a list for each store you visit and stick to it.
  • Create a spending plan- can you financially handle buying all your gifts at one time, or does your income require you to spread it out? You don’t want to stretch yourself too thin.
  • Take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday- yes, it can be majorly stressful. But you can’t argue with the deals, and even getting to stores around 10 or 11 a.m. will give you access to steals on all sorts of gifts. Great deals can also be found at online retailers, with many offering free shipping to entice you to buy.
  • Go cash only- to prevent overspending, bring only as much cash as you’ve budgeted for; leave the credit and debit cards at home.

As financial guide Dave Ramsey says, “budgeting is just spending your money with intention.” By taking time to budget and prepare yourself for holiday shopping blitz, you can make these holidays and the few months after a happier, less stressful time. Good luck from Iowa State Bank, and we look forward to seeing you soon!

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