4 Reasons to Use A Piggy Bank (And What To Do Once It’s Full)

GMB - piggy bankIn an effort to further encourage all of our customers to follow our 2015 financial resolutions, we wanted to highlight one of the easiest, most convenient ways to save: the piggy bank.

Every person receives a piggy bank at some point in his or her childhood. It’s one of the most effective ways for parents to teach their children the value of saving money rather than spending it. More importantly, the piggy bank is also a good reminder for parents and young adults who may have forgotten the importance of saving.

Below are five reasons why every person, young or old, should be using a piggy bank:

  • It helps organize loose change. Rather than losing all of those nickels and dimes under the couch cushion or in your car, hold onto them and place them inside a piggy bank. Not only will this help cleaning up the house and car, it will also further reinforce good money savings habits.
  • The money adds up. When it comes to finances, it’s always important to set goals… Using a piggy bank is an easy way to help you reach those goals. Whether you’re looking to save for a new car or for a warm winter vacation, adding to a piggy bank will visually show how close (or far away) you are from making that purchase.
  • Sets a great example. Piggy banks are an easy and effective way to teach youngsters in the family about the importance of saving. They may not be saving up for a big purchase, but they certainly want to save up for something, whether it’s a new toy, a new phone, or a new video game. Teaching them the benefits of using a piggy bank will go a long way in the future.
  • Reinforces “Always Be Saving”. Saving should always be top of mind. As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “A penny saved is a penny earned”. Whether you’re depositing a portion of your paycheck into a savings account or stuffing change into a piggy bank, every little bit helps. With a piggy bank, you’re literally able to watch your money grow every time you save. This is a great habit to keep with you throughout your adult life.

Now, we know what you’re thinking. What do you do once the piggy bank is full? There are a couple of options.

  • Reward yourself with a treat! Whether it’s a new designer handbag, a lobster dinner, or a small vacation, (and put the rest inside a Great Midwest Bank savings account).
  • Donate a portion of the money to a local charity in your area, (and put whatever is left inside your Great Midwest Bank savings account).
  • Invest some of the money, (and put the rest into a Great Midwest Bank savings account).
  • Put all of it into a Great Midwest Bank savings account. If you don’t have a savings account, stop into any of our nine conveniently located branch locations and learn about our your options today.

Happy Saving!

Posted in Banking, Budgetting, Financial Planning, Just For Fun, Saving, Useful Tips | Leave a comment

Places Where Germs Hang Out

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Bacteria is everywhere—and most people talk about it in terms of making sure your bathroom is kept germ free (if that’s ever possible).

However, there are other places in the home to consider.

Door Knobs and Light Switches – Use disinfecting wipes.

Kitchen Sponges – Soak those in water with some lemon juice and then microwave for about 1 minute.  Replace your sponges every month or so.

Kitchen Drains/Kitchen Faucet Handles – Pour baking soda and white vinegar down the drain.  Wait 5 minutes and then flush with boiling water.  Wipe down handles with disinfecting wipes.

Cutting Boards – Scrub with baking soda and rinse with hot water.

Computer Keyboards – Disconnect the keyboard and spray with compressed air.  Then wipe down keys and spaces in between with rubbing alcohol.

Pet Bowls – Wash pet food and water bowls at least every week – every day would be ideal.

Posted in Homeowner tips, Just For Fun | Leave a comment

Finding Lost Money

??????????????????????????Did you accidentally leave some money stashed away in a savings account following a long distance move?  Or do you think a deceased loved-one had an insurance policy that never got paid? Maybe even stocks, bonds and retirement accounts?

Here are some links where you can do your research (maybe you’ll find your name (or a relative’s name) on the list!):

MissingMoney.com – Forgotten bank accounts, stock dividend checks, utility company deposit refunds, etc. (free)

PolicyLocator.com – Life insurance policies that have not been cashed in (costs money)

PBGC.gov – Government website to find unclaimed pensions (free)

UnclaimedRetirementBenefits.com – Government website for unclaimed retirement and 401k accounts (free)

TreasuryDirect.gov – Government website for unclaimed savings bonds (free)

Stop in to any of our branches to speak with a teller about checking and savings options at GMB or contact Dan Murphy to discuss investing.

Posted in Banking, Budgetting, Financial Planning, Local Bank, Saving | Comments Off

Selling Your Home? Don’t Overprice it!

???????????????????????????????????????????????????We recently read an article about why sellers overprice their homes. You may not be thinking of selling your home any time soon, but we thought this was a good reminder that when it comes time for you to do so, the local real estate market dictates the price based on similar types of homes in your area. However, it is common for sellers to think that their situation and home is “special” and justify to themselves why they think their home is worth more.

Here are some of the reasons sellers provide as to why this happens:

  • They deserve to make a profit.
  • They don’t want to bring money to closing.
  • They feel their home is better than similar homes.
  • They want to recover the actual cost of home improvements.
  • They need the extra money for a larger down payment.
  • They think buyers will negotiate.
  • They think that a real estate agent should be able to sell it if only they found the right buyer.

It’s understandable that a seller considers the price they paid for the home. Add to that the real estate commission and closing costs and the desire to make a profit…However, the market doesn’t always co-operate and an overpriced home will be on the market for a longer time period. While you might have some buyers look at your home, you may not receive any offers.

If you are thinking of selling your home, we suggest that you interview at least two or three real estate agents and review their market analyses. If you’re looking for some direction, please contact one of our Loan Officers because we know some of the best, hard-working agents in the area.

Posted in Buying & Selling, Loan Officer, Local Bank | Comments Off

2015 Financial Resolutions

financeWith the start of a New Year comes a new opportunity to set financial goals for yourself.

Many New Year’s resolutions relate to exercise, work-life balance, or being less connected to technology.  We are also encouraging you to take on these five Financial Resolutions for 2015.

  • No matter how much you’re currently saving, you can always be saving more. In fact, there’s a great phrase to remind you of this financial resolution for 2015. Just think ABS – Always Be Saving. This financial resolution is at the top of the list for a reason: it should be top of mind.Work towards this by having a portion of your paycheck automatically deposited to a savings account (preferably to which you don’t have direct access to transfer funds out electronically or write checks).  Looking for a good Savings Account option?  Check out our GMB products here.
  • Cut down expenses. With the holiday season fresh in your head, you’re probably wondering, “Where did it all go?” Spontaneous purchases made in 2014 more than likely contributed to your current feelings of financial instability. To improve upon this for 2015, before making that luxury purchase ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” Challenge yourself to shop online without buying – sleep on any purchase over $100 if you can – just leave it in your cart and come back the next day.  Or walk into a store and browse.  Walk out without buying and come back when it’s convenient.
  • “A goal without a plan is just a wish”. This saying from French writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, can certainly be applied to budgeting one’s finances. Nobody is going to plan your budget for you. In formulating a plan, it’s important to create realistic targets. Once you’ve created a plan, it’s important to put it into action. Keep track of your budget using tech-friendly tools like Mint.com. Don’t have time to budget?  Then at least set a monthly savings goal.  Again, be realistic just to get into the regular habit.
  • Plan for retirement. Whether you’re just starting your career or you’re on the last leg of it, planning for retirement is a crucial step for every individual. More importantly, planning for retirement has lasting effects on not only your own personal financial stability, but also your family’s. From employer matching to claiming certain saving tax breaks, there are plenty of ways to jump-start your retirement planning. Ask our own Dan Murphy for advice along the way!
  • Set up an emergency fund. Put this money aside and only use this fund when unexpected but necessary payments appear, like a quick car fix, or major housing repair. Consider starting it with this year’s tax refund. If you’re interested in a ballpark estimate of your refund, use your last paystub to calculate it with this great tool from Turbotax.  It’s also available as a Smartphone App.  Sleep comfortably knowing that you are prepared no matter what curve balls the future has in store for your finances.

If you’re not already doing so, make sure you start following us on Twitter. We frequently post helpful tips and share great advice on how consumers can reach financial goals such as these and achieve stability. Don’t worry, we’ll be sure to check up to see how you’re doing…

Here’s to a successful and prosperous 2015!

Posted in Budgetting, Checking & Savings, Financial Planning, Local Bank, Saving | Comments Off

Have a Simply…Local, Simply…Merry Christmas!

christmasThere’s not too much we love more around here than the holiday season! If you’re following us on Facebook, you’ve most likely seen us getting into the holiday spirit in more ways than one this year.

Why do we love this season so much? Well, not only is there an abundance of cookies and desserts to devour, but there are also plenty of holiday and Christmas memories to share! Below are two such stories from a couple of our most beloved GMBers.

Have you ever heard or seen of the movie Four Christmases? Well, Michele Martin, a Loan Processor in our Brookfield branch, knows the feeling the couple in this film went through. This is how she celebrates the holidays with her family every year, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

michele“Our family has a pretty traditional Holiday. We always spread out the Holiday Cheer by celebrating 4 Christmases within a week (Ty loves it!). We always start out with my side of the family, then Christmas Eve is spent with Rob’s extended side of the family. On Christmas morning, we always open up our stockings first, then pass out all the presents. Then, we go around the room and each of us will open up one present at a time. We actually take a break for breakfast, were we always have Quiche. After breakfast, we will continue opening presents. In the afternoon we will go out to my In-Laws house and sort and open even more presents, the same as at home. For dinner we always celebrate by feasting on a delicious meal of steak and shrimp.

It is a very busy week, but I love spending so much time with my family!!!”

 

lynn zLynn Zabel, a Loan Representative at our Brookfield branch, remembers Santa visiting them on Christmas! She says this childhood memory was just part of the holiday magic. Here’s her holiday story.

“Christmas as a child was always a magical, sparkly time. Aunts, uncles and cousins all gathered together at grandma and grandpa’s house for the festivities. We would sing Christmas carols and it never failed… every time we started singing Jingle Bells the back door would fly open and in would be Santa Claus with a joyful “Ho ho ho!!!”  He had presents for all of us kids and knew us all by name! I remember thinking how very special we must be for Santa to come and visit us every year. It was many years before I realized that Santa Claus bore a striking resemblance to my godfather, and that he was always mysteriously missing when Santa was there. The memories bring back both smiles and tears.

The magic is long gone, and so are many loved ones, but I still try to make the holidays sparkle for my grown kids and their significant others. I LOVE to give gifts to the ones I love and make each package look like its own masterpiece. Mimosas and cinnamon rolls are a Christmas morning tradition, and so is the food coma after eating Christmas dinner. Our lives are far from perfect, but two things we do very well: Laugh and Love. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Every family has their own special holiday traditions. Lynn’s and Michele’s are just a few we’ve had the pleasure of hearing about over the years. Whether it’s a childhood memory or a new family tradition, it’s always great to spend time with loved ones this time of year.

Since we’ve shared some of our stories and memories, we’re interested in hearing some of yours! Visit our Facebook page and tell us your fondest holiday memory or share a favorite family story.

From Wisconsin’s Simply…Local, Simply…Social Bank, we wish you and your family the happiest of holidays!

 

Posted in Holiday Season, Just For Fun, Local Bank, What Makes Great Midwest Bank so Great? | Comments Off

The Credit Scoring Mystery

?????????????????????????????????????????How your credit score is calculated is like the secret formula for Coke –  the average consumer doesn’t really know!

However, FICO has provided five categories that are considered when determining a credit score.

Payment History: 35%
Length of Credit History: 15%
Amount Owed: 30%
Types of Credit: 10%
New Credit: 10%

What follows is a short synopsis of each category:

Payment History – Notice that this category holds the most weight. It looks at late payments. Thirty days late is not as significant as 60 to 90 days late. It also looks at the last time the payment was late—the more time that passes, the better. They also consider how many times a payment has been late. Let’s say you’ve made 56 payments on time, with only one of them being late — that has less impact than if you’ve made 56 payments and 12 of them were late.

Length of Credit History – While the percentage is on the lower end of the scale, it still matters. They consider when you first started using credit, the number of accounts and how long you’ve had them. If you’ve just started using credit, it’s possible to still obtain a good credit score, but everything else has to be positive.

Amount Owed – If there are high balances or credit cards have been “maxed out,” the credit scoring formula figures that it is a greater risk and the credit score will be lowered. As a side note, closing a credit card account – or paying an old collection – that currently has an outstanding balance can actually HURT your credit score.

Types of Credit – This is one of the areas driving credit score confusion because the scoring models do not reveal what “mix” of credit helps or hurts a credit score. Typically, they are looking for auto loans, the number of mortgages loaned, installment loans and credit card accounts, and whether those are “balanced” versus having 5 car loans and no credit cards.

New Credit – Opening new accounts is not a bad thing, but it may hurt a credit score if a person applies for a lot of credit in a short period of time. They consider how many accounts were applied for, how many new accounts were opened, and over what time period the new accounts were opened. Inquiries (meaning if you were shopping for the best rate for a car loan and talked with 5 banks, same for a mortgage in a 30 day window) do not have as much impact as if you applied for 5 different credit cards.

If you’d like to know more about credit scoring, visit MyFICO.com. If you’re thinking of starting the home buying process, we suggest you watch this short video with Madison Loan Officer, John Schroder, for helpful tips on credit reports and how they can affect the mortgage process.

Posted in Banking, Credit, Loan Officer, Mortgages | Comments Off

All Credit Scores are Not the Same

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Credit scores are one of those things that has consumers (and sometimes lenders) scratching their heads and saying “How did they come up with THAT credit score?”

The one you hear about the most are FICO scores (acronym for the Fair Isaac Corporation, the creators of the FICO score). It’s the one that most mortgage lenders use as one of the benchmarks to see if you qualify for to refinance or purchase another home. Usually 3 scores are provided and the lender uses the middle score as the basis for granting (or denying) a loan.

However, not everyone uses FICO scores as a guide. Here are some other credit scoring models that are used:

Auto Loans: If you apply for an auto loan thru a dealer, they have developed their own credit scoring models which are completely different from those used by lenders.

Insurance Companies: Your insurance premium you pay for homeowners or car insurance also depends upon the credit score model that insurance companies use. Oh, and it will vary with different insurance companies.

Vantage Scores: If your occupation/employment requires you to be “licensed” (especially in the financial services industry) and one of the requirements to obtain (or maintain) your professional license, Vantage Scoring model software is used.

Free Credit Reports: According to law, you are entitled to one free credit report (per bureau) every year. While it won’t be exactly what lenders see when they order a credit report on your behalf, it will be “in the range” and is a good indicator of what to expect.

You are entitled to one free credit report—PER BUREAU. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com and you can request one credit report from EACH of the bureaus listed.

A word of caution! Be careful when signing up for offers to provide you with a FREE credit report. If you are asked to enter your credit card number, what you are really signing up for is a credit monitoring service—that may cost you over $300 per year.

Please let us know if you’d like us to review your credit report. We may be able to make suggestions on how to increase your credit score. Sometimes it just takes a little tweaking to increase it by 25 to 50 points.

Posted in Credit, first time homebuyers, Mortgages | Comments Off

OUR CUSTOMERS ARE SO GREAT!

GREATOver the last couple of months, we’ve been asking one very clear and simple question: “What Makes Great Midwest Bank…GREAT?”

From comments and reviews on social media to over 300 completed customer surveys, we’ve received some truly GREAT responses.

  • I have been with Great Midwest Bank for 30 years. To me it is the best bank in Wisconsin. Now if this was not the greatest bank, do you really think l would stay with them all these years. Every one is very friendly and greets you with a smile. GREAT MIDWEST should be everyone’s bank.
  • The staff is always so friendly and helpful. My husband and I actually like going to the bank because we feel like family.
  • GMB lenders are helpful in answering questions, always respond in a timely manner, and give clear explanation to new buyers/customers about their mortgage process.
  • The friendly, personal, and feel-at-home atmosphere that accompanies the professional service we receive.
  • The friendly environment. I needed a loan for my condo and it was accomplished it less than 30 days.

We’re honored and humbled to receive such a positive reaction from our customers. This reminds us of the impact our hard work and dedication has on the lives of others in every Simply…Local community from Chilton to Madison and Milwaukee. We’ve been proudly serving Wisconsin homeowners since 1935 and we look forward to serving many more.

If you know someone that needs assistance in the home buying, refinance, or construction loan process, send them to Wisconsin’s Simply…Local Bank for a GREAT experience.

Posted in Banking, Customers, Just For Fun, Local Bank, What Makes Great Midwest Bank so Great? | Comments Off

Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving

tgivingFrom setting the dinner table to putting up holiday decorations, there is plenty to do this time of year. Planning to host Thanksgiving dinner? Well, then there’s even more work to get done.

Lucky for you, you’ve made it to our blog! Below is a list of five tips you’ll need to host a successful dinner party this Thanksgiving:

  • Set a schedule and start time. Most recommend having guests arrive sometime in the late afternoon. This allows the host all day to prepare for guests and hopefully some of the little ones will have worn themselves out by then. Key word: hopefully.
  • Put down the devices. The holidays are a time to spend together, not looking down at a phone or tablet. Make sure everyone in the family, especially the little ones, knows that Thanksgiving dinner is one of those times.
  • Have a fun game or activity planned that everyone can participate in. Not everyone watches (or likes) football. Often times this will lead to the start of a family Thanksgiving tradition.
  • Before you start carving, let the turkey rest after it comes out of the oven. This is a good time to use the dripping to make gravy, make some mashed potatoes, or warm up desserts in the oven for after dinner.
  • After a long day of hosting, it’s time to kick back and relax. But only for a few minutes, because you’ll soon have to get ready for the holiday shopping season. There’s plenty of time to sleep in 2015, right?

For more tips, visit us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. We’ll be posting fun, creative, and interesting articles throughout the week.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Posted in Holiday entertaining, Just For Fun, Thanksgiving | Comments Off

How to Shop for a Real Estate Agent that’s Right for You!

???????????????????????????????????????????Buying or selling a home can be exciting.  But it can also be a mixture of fear, anxiety and anticipation because it means a new chapter in your life.

So, choosing the right real estate agent is one of the first things to consider when making a move.

While friends and family may refer a real estate agent to you, recognize that their home buying or selling needs may be different than yours. The Internet is a good way to do your research, but you should only consider it a starting point in your search for a real estate agent that represents your interests.

First of all, there are many intangibles that you’ll need to consider:

  • Is the agent’s personality compatible with yours?
  • Do you sense they are honest and trustworthy?
  • Does the agent have a clear understanding of your objectives and needs?
  • Do they have a list of references?

Here are some additional items for you to verify when shopping for an agent to represent you:

Licensing – While a real estate agent must pass certain tests and must be licensed by the state, you should also check to make sure their license is valid and in good standing. Have they had any complaints filed against them?

Education & Specialization – It’s important that real estate agents continue their education. They can also take courses if they’d like to “specialize” in certain categories of a real estate practice, like “short sales/foreclosures” or “senior housing.” Ask if the person has any educational designations and what areas of real estate they special in.

Local Knowledge – A good agent will have local information at their fingertips, including housing trends, how many houses on the market versus the percent sold, sales price trends, and a list of professionals that they do business with to help make your real estate transaction as seamless as possible.

Experience – While a certain amount of experience is important, it should be only one of the things to consider. Good agents are highly motivated and eager to earn your business in hopes of future referrals.

Posted in Buying & Selling, Customer Service, first time homebuyers, Homeowner Info, Local Bank, Real Estate Agent | Comments Off

Is it Time to Build a Home? Questions to Ask Yourself!

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There comes a time in your life when you might ask yourself, “Is it time to build a new home?” It can be a tough decision. Your current home may be “good enough.” Or you look around and there are some things that you would change to make it more livable for you and your family.

Building a home is much more time-consuming than buying an existing home. You’d need to have meetings with the builder. Make inspections. Change things. Pick out cabinets, sinks, countertops, flooring. It could take 6 months to a year.

But, if you truly want the “ideal home,” then consider building. You’ll have to make up your mind to be patient and devote the time it will take for you to work with the builder through the entire process.

And, if you like the home you are living in now but would like to change a few things, you might want to consider “modifying” it. Maybe you would like to add a family room. Increase the size of the garage. Add a second story. Change the kitchen layout or add a fireplace. One of the things to consider is the “market value” placed on your home improvements. Here’s a link to Remodeling Magazine’s website so you can compare:www.remodeling.hw.net.

Whether you decide to buy, build or remodel a home, please contact one of our experienced Loan Officers. We have a variety of products to fit your needs and will help you decide what works best.

Posted in Construction, Dream Home, Homeowner Info, Mortgages, Remodeling | Comments Off

How a Great Real Estate Agent Can Help You Buy Your Next Home

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Over the years, we’ve worked with a few truly great real estate agents that have helped friends and customers through the home buying process.

There are a lot of good Realtors in our communities, but if you’re hoping to work with the best, here are some things to ask your Buyer’s Agent:

  • Will they compare prices in neighboring towns, neighborhoods and subdivisions?
  • Will they honestly give you the pros and cons when you narrow it down to a few properties?
  • Will they immediately recommend properties BEFORE you find them online yourself?
  • Will they explain the purchase agreement and other documents in detail?
  • Will they preview the property BEFORE showing it to you?
  • Will they be on your side when negotiating with the seller?
  • Will they follow up with you after the sale?
  • Will they provide names and phone numbers of people they represented?

Every buyer’s situation is different, so you’ll probably have your own list of questions to ask, but, in general, these will help start the conversation when interviewing real estate agents who will do a great job representing you when you buy your next home.

Oh, and if you would like us to refer a couple of great agents that we’ve have worked with in the past, we encourage you to contact one of our Loan Officers in your area.

Posted in Banking, Buying & Selling, Customer Service, first time homebuyers, Real Estate Agent | Comments Off

Does It Really Help to Round up Your Mortgage Payment?

????????????????Recently, we’ve had clients ask us about how to prepay on their mortgage. Of course, if you have an extra $100 per month, you may just want to add that to your monthly payment.

But there’s another way…by rounding up your mortgage payment.

So, let’s say that your mortgage payment is $957. Consider paying $1000 (or $43 more per month).

Here’s the deal. You probably won’t notice the difference in your day-to-day expenses, but over the lifetime of your loan, the extra money will make a huge difference in decreasing your principal balance and save you interest. Paying an extra $43 per month adds up to $516 per year — which decreases the dollar amount you owe on the loan.

Depending on your interest rate and balance owed, you’ll also save money towards interest payments because the dollar amount of interest that you pay is directly related to your principal balance owed.

There are other ways to prepay your mortgage. You could contribute a lump sum once a year. Or make 13 payments a year (instead of 12).

If you’d like to know the difference that it makes in your mortgage, please contact one of our Loan Officers or for our online calculators click here.

Posted in Banking, Homeowner Info, Loan Officer, Local Bank, Mortgages | Comments Off

Small Remodeling Tips that Pay Big Returns

????????????????????Do you ever watch those “remodeling “ shows on TV?  It seems like they totally gut a room and then spend thousands of dollars and a lot of time turning it into something fabulous.

If you’re not quite ready to go “all in”, we’ve compiled a list of alternative, low-cost ways to get a big bang for your remodeling buck.

  • A new front door – There are lots of styles available. Consider different materials like wood, steel, frosted glass or combinations of all three. Remodeling Magazine says that you can expect a 96% return on your investment.
  • New kitchen appliances – No need to go high-end, but stainless steel and matching appliances will give you an 82% return on your investment.
  • New cabinet knobs/drawer pulls – Low cost, high impact
  • New faucets – Low cost, high impact
  • New kitchen sink – Low cost, high impact
  • Kitchen tile backsplash – Don’t go overboard with fancy tile or colors.  Choose more neutral colors and materials.
  • Re-glaze bathtubs and sinks – It can make a porcelain tub or sink look like new for a fraction of the cost of replacing them.
  • New bathroom light fixtures – Low cost, high impact
  • New bathroom faucets – Low cost, high impact
  • New lighting fixtures in hallway/dining room – You can expect to get an 87% return on investment.

Most of these low-cost remodeling projects cost less than $1,000 and some of them can be completed for under $100.

You also might want to keep this list if you are thinking of selling your home in the future.  It may help you get more money and sell your home more quickly.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn for more #GreatTips on remodeling and advice on how you can improve the value of your home without it costing an arm and a leg.

Posted in Construction, Dream Home, Homeowner Info, Just For Fun, Remodeling | Comments Off

The Different Levels of Homeowner’s Insurance: What You Need to Know

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Most standard homeowner’s insurance policies cover damage to your home for theft, fire, lighting, smoke, frozen pipes, ice or certain types of weather damage. It usually covers you up to a certain dollar amount if someone is injured on your property and decides to sue you.

But, did you know that there are many “levels” and “types” of homeowners insurance? Here are your options:

HO1 – It’s the most basic with limited coverage. It’s also the cheapest, but if you have a mortgage, most mortgage companies won’t accept the limited coverage because it hardly covers anything.

HO2 – Has a lot more coverage than HO1, but still limited reimbursement if you experience a loss.

HO3 – This is the most popular with almost 80% of the homeowners’ policies sold today. This option covers “all perils and all risks” except those that are “excluded” in the addendum.

HO4 – This is a “renter’s” policy and it protects the possessions of tenants living in the home against loss. It usually includes medical and liability coverage for the renter. So if you own a rental property, you may want to advise your tenants about this option.

HO6 – This policy is for those who live in condos. It not only provides for personal property, liability and medical expenses, it covers the inside walls of your unit—which you own.

HO8 – This is for older homes and is similar to HO1. The difference is that it will reimburse the actual cash value of the home.

Shopping for insurance? Contact one of our Loan Officers for helpful information including some local, trusted insurance professionals!

Posted in Banking, first time homebuyers, Homeowner Info, Homeowner's Insurance, Loan Officer, Mortgages | Comments Off

How to Read those Confusing Credit Score Codes

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????As part of virtually every credit report that we’ve seen, credit bureaus include a list of “reason codes” with numbers and a short (very short) explanation of what the number means. So if you’ve read a copy of your credit report in the last few years, you’ve probably seen them too.

Let us give you an example of what we mean. Let’s say that your credit report listed a “reason code” of “32.” The short explanation might say, “Balances on bankcard or revolving accounts too high compared to credit limits.”

So, you might be asking yourself — what the heck does that mean?

Well, we want to share with you a website that allows you to type in the “reason code number,” which will give you the details of what it really means and what they suggest you do to improve your credit score.

Let’s go back to the #32 Reason Code—Here are the long explanation comments:

Bankcard accounts include credit cards and charge cards from a bank and are frequently revolving accounts. Revolving accounts allow you to carry a balance and your monthly payment will vary, based on the amount of your balance. You have bankcards or revolving accounts in your credit file with balances that are high compared to the credit limit on the account, which is a proven indicator of increased risk.

Here’s a tip on what to do to increase your score:

Pay down balances on your accounts and keep them below 30% of the total credit limit on that account. Over time this will have a positive impact on your score.

The website is ReasonCode.org. You’ll find videos, FAQ’s and interactive links where you can type in the reason code and the explanations appear.

Please feel free to contact one of our Loan Officers if you’d like our help in interpreting the “reason codes” on your credit report. We may be able to advise you on what to do to increase your credit scores.

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GREAT: IT’S IN OUR NAME. IT’S WHO WE ARE

From our Loan Officers to our tellers, it’s no secret that our customers think we’re not just good at what we do, we’re GREAT! Whether it’s handling a complicated refinance or a simple mortgage transaction, we’ve been proudly serving Wisconsin homeowners since 1935 with prompt and reliable service.

 As a result, we’ve been fortunate and honored to receive such positive reaction from customers throughout the state of Wisconsin. Below are a few testimonials that highlight how we’ve made the banking and mortgage experience easier.

 It is our goal each and every day to deliver a GREAT experience to every customer from the moment they walk through the door at any of our nine Great Midwest Bank branch locations. It’s in our name.

You can read even more customer testimonials by visiting our Facebook page or by heading to our website here.

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MEET OUR SIMPLY…LOCAL WINNERS FROM WAUKESHA

(From left to right: GMB President Dennis Doyle, Live Mortgage Free winners Pete and Connie Swanson, and Hartland Loan Officer Matt Gaulke)

Stunned, sitting in complete and utter silence, Pete Swanson just couldn’t believe it. Our Hartland Loan Officer, Matt Gaulke, had just called him with some incredible news: he and his wife Connie would be LIVING MORTGAGE FREE for the next six months!

The timing could not have been better. Pete and Connie recently purchased a new home in Waukesha for them, their two kids, and dog. Having attended nearby Carroll University together, it felt only natural to find a bigger home in nearby and familiar Waukesha. The couple has already declared their favorite spot in the home as the backyard, which is roughly four times the size of their previous yard.

Having worked with Matt and Great Midwest Bank for the last eight years, Pete and Connie knew exactly what they were getting when applying for their most recent loan: upfront and honest communication regarding cost and rates. In speaking about Matt, who previously helped the couple refinance twice and take out a home equity loan, Pete said, “Matt made the process easy and comfortable just as he has done in the past. It was practically the same.”

Pete said it was hard to imagine winning the TURN THE KEY sweepstakes when he first heard the Great Midwest Bank radio commercial on 1250 AM. Like most people, he never puts too much thought into these types of contests or sweepstakes because “it’ll never be me that wins”. Flash forward a couple months and he’s discovered firsthand that “real people” do win.

The Swanson family will be using the winnings to remodel their kitchen floor and dinette.

Congratulations again on winning our LIVE MORTGAGE FREE sweepstakes, Pete and Connie! We wish you and your family the best in your new home.

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“Our Simply…Local events are just that, Simply…Local”

buckyHow does a Simply…Local Bank stay local? By continuing to be involved in the community, of course! Great Midwest Bank has been active in a variety of local events this past month with plenty more events on the horizon.

Those who attended the Bridal Show Expo in Brookfield and the Mad City Bridal Expo in Madison were able to taste GMB decorated cupcakes from GiGi’s as well as participate in a fun DIY stamp project to highlight their big day. Attendees called the cupcakes “the best treats there” while others said our interactive booth helped make it “one of the best at the show.” Our loan officers helped many brides-to-be and their guests learn about the GMB advantages offered to first-time homebuyers.

A number of our employees competed in the St. Paddy’s Day Dash 5K Run/Walk in Wauwatosa. We were well represented at the finish line as Melissa Zavadil, Matt Gaulke, and Dennis Doyle placed first, second, and third, respectively, in their age groups. This event was a great fundraiser for the GMAR Youth Foundation to promote scholarship opportunities for local children.

Find us at the next event in your town!

  • April 9: Great Midwest Bank’s Employee Walk at the Pettit National Ice Center to Benefit the Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity
  • April 12: Dane County Habitat for Humanity Build
  • April 26: Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity Build
  • May 22: 9 Pin Tap Tournament through GMAR
  • May 24/25: Gift of Wings Family Kite Festival at Veterans Park
  • June 1: Bridal Show Expo in Brookfield (tentative)
  • July 13: Mad City Bridal Expo in Madison (tentative)

Continue to check our Facebook page for these upcoming events and to scroll through our Simply…Local Events album. While you’re there, find out how you can Turn the Key with GMB in order to LIVE MORTGAGE FREE!

The contest runs now until July 31, 2014.  Official Contest Rules at www.facebook.com/greatmidwestbank.

Great Midwest Bank. Your Simply…Local, Simply…Social bank.

Member FDIC.

Posted in Banking, first time homebuyers, Homeowner Info, Just For Fun, Local Events, Madison, Mortgages | Tagged | Comments Off