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Hills Bank and Trust Company

HBT Connect eNewsletter from Hills Bank and Trust Company

  HBT Connect  
Volume 3, Issue 1: January - February 2013  

  Resolve to Establish an Emergency Fund for 2013

There is no shortage of financial advice available, including paying off debt, maxing out your 401(k), paying off your mortgage, and improving your credit score. One of the most important things you can do to improve your financial health is to establish an emergency fund.

The purpose of the fund is to save for a rainy day so if an unexpected situation arises, you are able to handle it without compounding a financial disaster to your emergency. An emergency can turn into a larger financial problem if you are forced to rely on credit cards, dip into your retirement account, or take out a home equity loan in order to pay for unexpected expenses. Not having an emergency fund can jeopardize all your other financial goals. An established emergency fund is the foundation of good financial health.

Know the reasons for your emergency fund.
You're either starting an emergency fund or adding to it. Congratulations! You realize the importance of an emergency fund, but do you know what constitutes an actual "emergency?" It may be tempting to dip into your emergency fund to put a down-payment on a new car, get the latest tablet, remodel your bathroom, etc., but those items don't constitute an "emergency." Reserve your emergency fund for unexpected medical bills, job loss, auto repairs, or a broken furnace—things that are unexpected and an actual emergency.

How much do I need?
You may think you can't afford an emergency fund, but the reality is you can't afford not to have one. Starting small is better than not starting at all. Make it a goal to get your emergency fund up to $1,000. Once you reach that point, try to expand it to cover three to six months of living expenses. Some experts even suggest having enough to cover one year's worth of expenses, a hefty goal, but worth serious consideration, especially in the current job market.

How do I get started?
The best place to keep your emergency funds is in an easily accessible account where the money can be withdrawn without penalty. Make it simple by scheduling automatic deposits so you don't forget to save. After a while, you won't even notice that you have scheduled $20 a week to go into your emergency fund, and by the end of the year you'll have $1,000!

To help you keep on track with your savings goal, Hills Bank has created the Savers Club account. You select a plan option where you save $5 - $250 per week in $5 increments. If you meet or exceed the balance equivalent of 50 weekly deposits based upon the plan you've chosen, Hills Bank will make an additional bonus deposit into your account. It's a great way to meet your saving goal. Learn more about the Savers Club and start saving today!


Financial Planning: 2012 Year-End Tax Planning Guide

We have now officially entered tax season. Below are a few helpful tips to keep in mind while preparing your 2012 taxes.

  • Use your 2011 tax return as a helpful guide for filing your 2012 taxes.
  • Remember, the IRS will not contact you by any electronic communications for personal or financial information, including email, text messages, or social media channels.
  • Consider contributing to an IRA before April 15, 2013 to start tax-free compounding interest and lower your tax bill.
  • Consider donating to area charities to help reduce your annual tax bill.
  • Organize your tax documents with the Tax Form Checklist available from the IRS. Need help organizing your financial documents? Download Hills Bank's Personal SAFEkeeper today to help you get organized with your financial documents.
  • File electronically, it's faster. Paper returns take time, usually 6 weeks. If you file electronically, it usually only takes 3 weeks to get your return.
  • Double check your identification numbers and figures on your return. Also, don't forget to sign your return! That is one of the top reasons for delays in tax refunds.
  • Starting January 30, 2012, you can check your status online or by phone with the IRS. Simply visit irs.gov and click the "Where's My Refund?" link on the homepage, or by phone at 1-800-829-1954.

Visit the Financial Resource Center's 2012 Year-End Tax Planning Guide for more tips on how to take advantage of favorable federal tax law provisions.

Be sure to secure professional tax advice before attempting to implement any of the ideas presented.

  Java Vulnerability

A vulnerability has been found in Java version 7, update 10. The Department of Homeland Security has issued an alert about this vulnerability and provides suggestions on how to defend against it.

You can identify your computer's version of Java and disable it, if you choose. In Mac OS X, go to Applications → Utilities, then search "Java Preferences." In Windows, go to Start → Settings → Control Panel → Java Control Panel.

If you choose to disable Java from your computer, you may notice changes in how websites look; images may not load, or some websites may not function properly.

As with all software, keep your browser, operating system, and all enabled plug-ins up to date to help defend your computer against vulnerabilities.

For more information and updated alerts about the Java vulnerability, visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security at us-cert.gov.


The Greater Iowa City Area Home Builders Association Home Show

See thousands of home, remodeling, landscaping, and decorating ideas come to life at the 2013 Home Show. Plus, you can learn from local experts to gain advice for your home related projects.

This year, the Remodelers Council of the Greater Iowa City Area is organizing a Garage Sale to raise funds for the Residential Construction Academy supported by Kirkwood Community College. Learn more about the Home Show and Garage Sale or attend at:

Coralville Marriott Convention Center | 300 E 9th St, Coralville
• Friday, March 1: 5 – 9 pm
• Saturday, March 2: 10 am – 6 pm
• Sunday, March 3: 10 am – 4 pm


Holiday Schedule

The bank will be closed on the following holiday:

President's Day
Monday, February 18th

Even though we will be closed, you can still do your banking at over 90 Hills Bank ATMs in the Cedar Rapids - Iowa City Corridor, Hills Bank Online, via mobile banking, or through Push Button Banker.

View the complete Hills Bank holiday schedule.


Want $20 when you open a new Hills Bank account? Get your $20 opening deposit coupon!
  Savers Club Hills Bank


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