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Hills Bank and Trust Company
HBT Connect eNewsletter from Hills Bank and Trust Company

  HBT Connect  
Volume 3, Issue 4: July - August 2013  

  Planning a Summer Trip? Read These Tips.

If you are like most people, you look forward to summer vacation with family and friends. Don’t let what should be a fun time of memories in the making turn into an opportunity for thieves. If you are planning a summer trip, read these tips:

Make Your Home Look Occupied
Ask a close neighbor or friend to visit your house to check on it during your vacation. Have them turn on lights and televisions throughout the home in different areas every couple of days. If there is any loose mail, have them bring it inside. Don’t forget to put a hold on your mail at your local post office because it’s a wealth of personal information. The post office makes it simple; you can even do it online at holdmail.usps.com/holdmail.

Do Not Travel with Social Security Cards
Keep social security cards at home, even if you travel outside the United States. A passport is sufficient. Along the same lines, do not carry anything with you containing your social security number. If you must carry something with your social security number on it, make a copy and black out the last four digits. Take the copy and leave the original at home.

Make Digital Copies of Personal Documents on an Encrypted USB Drive
Make digital copies of your passport, visa, license, health insurance card, credit/debit card (front and back), vacation itinerary, and any other important documents you may need on an encrypted USB drive or cloud. If your documents are lost or stolen, you will be able to prove your identity and call the appropriate numbers to get your identity authenticated, cards canceled, etc. If you have Hills Bank cards, print and save a digital copy of the Important Card Information brochure so you will have the appropriate phone numbers in case your cards are lost or stolen.

Do Not Log Into Personal Accounts Through a Public WIFI System
Do not log into online banking accounts, credit card accounts, email accounts, social media accounts, or anything else that requires an ID or Password using a public WIFI system. Computer hackers often use public WIFI to hack into your accounts with keystroke logging software to steal personal or financial information. Only go online through an encrypted Internet connection.

Be Smart When Using Cards
If you need to withdraw cash at an ATM, try to use an ATM located at a bank location. Another precaution is to pack a backup card and secure it in a hotel safe, so if one is lost or stolen, you will have a backup to pay for hotel rooms or other purchases. When using a debit card, keep in mind it is linked directly to your checking account, so it's important to know what is leaving your account at every transaction. You can sign up for alerts through Hills Bank Online or mobile banking to receive a text message anytime there is a change in your account. Immediately contact Hills Bank's lost or stolen debit card number (1-800-383-8000) if yours is lost or stolen so we can cancel the card and limit fraudulent withdrawals. Hills Bank has designed an Important Card Information brochure so you can print and keep these phone numbers with you.

If Traveling Internationally, Sign Up for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
STEP is a free service provided by the US Government for US citizens who are traveling to or living in a foreign country. Simply enter information about your upcoming trip abroad so the Department of State can better assist you in an emergency. Visit https://step.state.gov/step/ for more information or to enroll.

   
   
 

Tips for Money Savvy College Students

College years are a transition time into the real world. Not only will you learn skill sets to gain employment, but you will learn life skills as you start living on your own. Now is the perfect time to start building a financial foundation that sets the course for the rest of your life. The following tips will help you become a money savvy college student.

Use Credit Wisely and Sparingly
Getting a credit card can help you establish credit, but only if done responsibly. Try to resist credit card offers through your school and stores. If you do have a credit card, use it sparingly and pay off the balance each month. If not, you’ll end up paying interest on the items you purchased, and who wants to pay more for something? Certainly not money savvy people!

Set a Budget
Review your monthly expenses and set realistic expectations for spending on items like groceries, gas, entertainment, and recreation. Determine how much money you will make each month and whether or not you need to consider a part-time job. There are lots of personal finance tools available, many of which are free and fun to use. A budget will help provide a serious overview of your finances—just make sure you stick with it!

Balance Accounts Often
If you’re like most college students, you’ll probably use your debit card more often than writing a check. Even though debit cards are fast and convenient, it’s easy to forget where and what you’ve spent. Be sure to monitor and balance your accounts often, with each transaction recorded in your checkbook as soon as possible. Knowing what’s in your account keeps you from possible overdraft fees and the embarrassment of a purchase being rejected or a check bouncing.

Take Active Measures to Protect Financial and Personal Information
Awareness of how personal information is stolen, and being cautious of protecting yourself is one of the most effective tools against identity theft. Visit the Customer Protection Center for ways to protect your accounts and personal information.

Use Online Resources
Set up alerts within online banking and mobile banking for your accounts. Alerts make emails or text messages available every time a transaction is made to your account without having to wait for your monthly statement.

Get into the Habit of Saving
You may not have lots of extra cash at the end of the month, but starting early with a savings plan helps develop good habits in the future. Not only that, but the more you save now, the more interest it compounds. Even though you may not have lots of money on your side, you do have time! Consider saving as “paying yourself first” and include it as a part of your monthly budget.

Visit the School Years Life Stage for more tips and resources on how to build your financial future and become money savvy!

   
   
 

Save Your Spare Change

A cup of coffee here, a candy bar there. A magazine, a soda, a DVD, or video game rental. Have you ever thought about how much you’re spending on little things? Paying out a few bucks a day may seem like pocket change — until you start adding it up.

Bean Counting
Let’s say you spend $3 a day, five days a week on your morning coffee. That adds up to $15 a week, an average of $65 a month, and $780 a year! If you put that money into your retirement savings account instead, it could make a big difference in the amount of money you’ll have available at retirement (see chart). And that difference would be just from changing your coffee routine.

To find even more money to save for retirement, take a look at some of your other spending habits. Fast-food lunches, vending machine snacks, and take-out dinners can do a number on your bottom line if you indulge too often.

Changing Ways
Consider setting up a budget that limits weekly out-of-pocket spending to a set amount. When you reach the limit, don’t pull out the plastic — just stop spending. Do this consistently and you may be surprised at how much spare change you’ll have to save for retirement.

Investment products are not a deposit, not FDIC insured, not insured by any federal government agency, carry no bank guarantee, and may go down in value.

   
 

Holiday Schedule

The bank will be closed on the following holiday:

Labor Day
Monday, September 2nd

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.

 


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