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Iowa State Bank Blog

Homemade Halloween: How to Save Money

You can save money this Halloween by going homemade!

You can save money this Halloween by going homemade!

From the start of October to the very last day, Halloween is in the air. From fun-sized candy bars to spooky decorations, Halloween costs can add up quickly. The season’s memories are always cherished, so you don’t want to leave any of it out. We have ideas for you about creating a homemade Halloween. It can still be spooky and spectacular without spending too much money.

A homemade Halloween costume is the answer when you are looking to save money. Some kid’s costumes can cost upwards of $50 for one night of fun and then they end up in the play room. Pinterest is a great resource for homemade Halloween costumes for you, the kids, and toddlers. Not only will the costume be one of a kind, it is also a good time for you and your little one to bond.

Get the whole family together to make homemade decorations. What’s more fun than letting the kids be creative and make Halloween decorations. The big box stores are filled with expensive decorations, so save money by making them at home.

Since we have a few weeks before Halloween, it is the perfect time to stock up on the candy. Prices spike on candy during October because it is in high demand. Save money by looking for coupons and stores that have the best prices. Here are some more great tips on saving on Halloween candy, so your October budget doesn’t take a hit.

From costumes to crafty decorations, a homemade Halloween can be more fun than store bought items. You can save money and get the kids involved with decorating and costume design. Planning ahead is important if you want to save money and time this October. Check out Iowa State Bank’s Facebook page this month about safety tips for trick-or-treating. Come to Iowa State Bank for all of your personal, business, and agricultural banking needs.

Tips from Iowa State Bank: How to Raise Your Credit Score

Raise your credit score with these tips.

Raise your credit score with these tips.

In a previous post, we talked about the makeup of your credit score and what goes into it. Your credit score is important for many reasons and today we will talk about how to raise it. An improved credit score means you are more likely to receive better rates on everything from mortgages and credit cards to loans.

There is no magic formula and major improvement on your credit score takes time. Some of the following tips may seem like small things, but doing them consistently goes a long way to helping your cause. By using these tips from Iowa State Bank you can put yourself on the right track to improving your credit score today.

Tips on raising your credit score:

  1. Never miss a payment, even if you’re only paying the minimum. Commit to making a payment every month, and when you’re done paying down your balance, you’ll seem like much less of liability to lenders than if you consistently miss payment dates.
  2. Only use about 10 percent of what your credit limit is. The smaller the percentage is, the better your credit score. For example, if you have a store credit card that has a $4,000 limit, only use around $400 of that and pay it off right away.
  3. Pay off cards with small balances. Gather up all those credit cards and pay off the balances, so you are not piling so many cards onto your score. Choose one or two cards that you can have as go to cards for purchases.
  4. Only open new credit accounts as needed. Opening various store cards or other types of credit cards can hurt you. Make sure you keep track of your finances and use those cards rarely.
  5. If you don’t have a credit card, apply for one and use it lightly. Use it for something like filling up for gas every week. This is an expense that’s already in your budget, so using your credit card then immediately paying off the balance is an easy way to use credit without it getting the best of you.

Raising your credit score can benefit you greatly when it is time to buy a new house or new car and you need a loan. Again, this process takes time, so give yourself about six months of hitting all the above milestones. Then, contact Iowa State Bank if you have a loan need and we can we see what kind of rate you are eligible for.

Home Improvement Projects to Do This Fall

Improve your home before the winter weather hits.

Improve your home before the winter weather hits.

The fall weather in Iowa is ideal for spending time outside with the family for barbecues, tailgating, and hiking. Fall is also the perfect time for home improvement projects. Your home needs to be ready for the winter ahead that is just around the corner. From checking a few things off your to-do list to tackling larger projects, this is the perfect time to get going on home improvement projects. Here are a few ideas from your friends at Iowa State Bank:

•Install and maintain pathways. With winter coming up, it is a good time to consider laying a new path to your front door. Not only will your home feel more welcoming, it will also be safer to get to your door during the colder months of the year. If your pathway is already installed, maintain it by patching rough spots.

•Weather-proof your doors. During the winter, door are one of the key places you lose heat. If you live in an older home, this is especially important. Not only will weather-proofing keep the cold winter air out, but it will keep your heat in, possibly saving you 10-30 percent on your energy bill.

•Freeze-proof exterior faucets. Living in Iowa, we know how cold it can get in the winter months. Be sure to take care of your hose faucets by replacing them with freeze-proof options. The small amount of time and money you spend doing this now is far less than the time and money you would have to spend for a burst water pipe.

These are just a few ideas; what fall improvement projects do you have in mind to prepare for winter?

This blog post from Iowa State Bank is part one of two in our series on home improvement projects to do this fall. Stay tuned as our next home improvement projects post will be in October. In the meantime, turn to Iowa State Bank if you need help with financing your home improvement project. We offer consumer loans for the project you have in mind, so talk to one of our Loan Officers today for details.

Money Tips for Settling into Your New Home

Settle into your home with ease while saving money.

Buying a new home can be one of life’s most exciting adventures. However, it does come with a financial obligation and the ability to make repairs so it is move-in ready for your family. With buying a house, saving money can become more of a priority because you are taking on a long-term responsibility. You want to enjoy your new home and add to it all while being conscious of your home improvement budget. Iowa State Bank has money tips for you to consider as you settle into your new home this August.

Money tips for settling into your new home:

  1.  Make sure your attic is well insulated. Come winter, you will be thankful for an insulated attic when it comes to the heating bill.
  2. Use smart strip plugins because they will save energy. You will save money because five electronics are using one wall plugin instead of the normal two.
  3. Plant shade trees around your house. They will eventually grow and provide savings in the summertime on your cooling bill.
  4. Take advantage of tax benefits for home improvements. There are many benefits for buying energy efficient appliances and home improvements.
  5. Check your windows for any leaking of air. This can be a huge cost saver on your heating and cooling bill in the long run. Leaking air can cause your systems to work harder and make the cost of your bills sky rocket.

We hope you settle into your new home well and save money while doing so. Iowa State Bank has mortgage lending services if you are looking into purchasing a new home. Check with us for the current rates and conditions. You can rest easy knowing you would be working with experienced and professional lenders who are here for all of your lending needs.

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Keeping your Money Safe While Traveling

Being prepared before a trip can make the vacation less stressful.

Being prepared before a trip can make the vacation less stressful.

August is filled with getting the kids ready for school and warm summer vacations. Whether you are looking to be refreshed and renewed for the coming fall or the kids need a getaway, you shouldn’t have to worry about your money being safe.

Traveling during the summer can mean worrying more about getting your card number copied or overcharged due to increased travel fraud. Keeping your money safe while traveling is a priority for Iowa State Bank and we offer many services that can help you do so. We have compiled a list of tips to keep in mind while traveling anywhere the rest of the summer.

Tips for keeping your money safe while traveling:

  1. Get a travel card from Iowa State Bank. A travel card can be loaded with the amount of money you need, so you are not worried about having all of your money with you on a trip. It can be reloaded as you need more money.
  2. Protect your important documents and papers. A money pouch can be helpful while traveling because they can be concealed under clothing. Most of the time, money pouches look discrete so you do not attract attention, like a fashionable purse would
  3. Keep valuables at home or out of your purse. You may need to bring your nice watch or other valuables with you, but it is best practice not to keep nice items with you. Nicer clothing and jewelry can attract thieves.
  4. Keep a variety of ways to pay with you. Have a bit of cash as well as a credit card, so you’re not completely out of luck if something happened.
  5. Avoid travel scams. No matter where you travel to, there is a potential for scams of all kinds. Some of these include pickpocketers, time shares, beggars, etc.. Always be aware of what is going on around you.

Traveling is a great experience and you can keep it that way if you stay aware and ready for anything. Please contact Iowa State Bank today about a travel card for your next vacation and to let us know where you’re headed and for how long.

5 Ways to Vacation for Less

Get away from the real world for a bit and take a thrifty vacation.

Get away from the real world for a bit and take a thrifty vacation.

It’s summer and you want to get away from it all. Before you book that flight to Europe though, consider these five tips to help you have the vacation of your dreams without leaving your pockets empty. At Iowa State Bank, we want you to have fun this summer as you vacation and plan your trips for the rest of the year, but we also want you to be savvy and get the best deals on your vacations.

Book a Cruise at the Last Minute

While cruises are normally very expensive, if you’re one of the last passengers to snag a spot, they can be quite affordable. Most ticket prices are cut in half as the cruise line looks to fill spots before departure. In order to avoid a planning nightmare, schedule time off when you’d like to go on the trip, but wait until a few days before to look for your cruise. See what’s cheap, and then book it. You’ll find something that sounds appealing and pay way less than if you booked in advance.

Book a Tour at the Last Minute

The name of the money-saving game seems to be “last-minute.” Tour companies are always looking to fill spots at the last second, so prices are much lower. G Adventures is a great site for booking discounted last-minute tours.

Be a Rebel

One of the best ways to save money and vacation for less is to think outside the box and not go with the crowd. Extremely popular destinations will also be extremely expensive. That doesn’t mean you have to go to places that aren’t any fun, just places that aren’t obvious vacation destinations. Instead of Paris, why not Thailand? Skip Italy and head to Greece. It’s that simple. Plus, if you travel at different times than most, you’ll save enough cash to stay longer. Flights to Europe in the summer are twice as expensive as flights in the winter. Added bonus: If you visit your vacation destination at an unconventional time, you won’t have to worry about as many tourists clogging the streets and your view.

Explore Locally

A lot of us forget about the cool places to visit right in our neighborhoods. Think about the places in Burlington and the surrounding areas that you’ve always wanted to visit and make a vacation out of it. You’ll have fun, save money and learn more about your community. This can be a money saving opportunity if you are looking to vacation for less.


Volunteering is the perfect way to get a break from your routine, experience a new place and give back at the same time. Most volunteer organizations will pay for your room and board during your stay, so all you have to do is cover your plane ticket and pick your destination and cause.

Iowa State Bank wants you to have a blast on your upcoming vacations and feel good about how much you’ve saved by booking smart and thinking outside the box. Enjoy the summer as you book last-minute trips, volunteer, and explore your neighborhood!

Four Totally Free Outdoor Workouts That Aren’t Running

Don't like running? That's fine, we have other outdoor workout ideas you'll love.

Don’t like running? That’s fine, we have other outdoor workout ideas you’ll love.













It’s a shame to be stuck in the gym when it’s so beautiful outside. Plus, working out outside of the gym means you don’t have to pay membership fees, worry about waiting in line for equipment or wiping it down when you’re done. Iowa State Bank wants you to keep up with your fitness goals this summer while saving a little green, too. We’ve got four free outdoor workouts.

Water and Sand Squat Shuffles

Use the elements to make you normal workout moves a little more difficult! Get in the water, plant your feet in the sand, squat down, and shuffle from side to side without standing up.

Speedy Geocaching

You’ve heard of geocaching – hunting for hidden objects by using GPS coordinates posted on geocaching websites. Well, with a little research and a geocaching app, you can use your smartphone to find your treasure. By working fast and scaling mini-obstacles like fallen tree trunks and streams, you’ll be burning calories without even thinking about it.

Use nature as workout equipment

Need a pull-up bar? Jump up and grab onto that low tree limb. Doing dips? Use a rock or park bench. Wrap a rope around a tree, lean back while holding it and use your biceps to pull you forward. Use a log or a rock for step-ups. Free outdoor workouts can get your creative side flowing!

Climb a tree

Skip the fake rock wall at the gym and try the real-deal by climbing a tree. Make sure to stay safe by having a buddy with you and staying on lower, sturdy branches.

You can get in shape this summer without breaking the bank or missing the fun of the outdoors. With a little creativity, you can whip your body into shape and enjoy the summer sun. Iowa State Bank is here to help when it comes to saving money and meeting your financial goals.

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!

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