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Hills Bank and Trust Company

HBT Connect eNewsletter from Hills Bank and Trust Company

  HBT Connect  
Volume 1, Issue 6: November - December 2011  

  Put Back the "Happy" in Happy Holidays

Do you wish the holidays were a little less stressful and a lot more meaningful? If so, you’re not alone. Even the most wonderful time of year can cause extra stress—making sure everyone’s gift is just right, the holiday meal is cooked perfectly, and every decoration is flawlessly displayed. Reduce the pressure on yourself and add meaning to your holidays with the following tips:

Come up with a holiday budget, and stick to it.
Don’t budget on what you want to spend on gifts, budget what you can afford. No one on your gift list wants you to go broke paying off credit card bills halfway into 2012 because you spent more than you could afford on gifts. The thought is nice, but your friends and family don't want you putting that stress on yourself OR your finances.

Buy group gifts.
Buying group gifts not only allows you to save time and money on presents, but also on gift wrapping! Give a fun game to an entire family, tickets to a favorite event or movie to your nieces and nephews, or a gift basket with goodies for co-workers at the office.

Have a potluck holiday meal.
Potlucks are low-key and less stress, which means more fun. Make it festive by having a theme and asking attendees to bring recipes for the dishes they've made. It saves money and time for the hostess and allows for more meaningful interactions with family and friends. Plus, all the recipes can be saved and reminisced about for years to come.

Turn chores into events.
Oftentimes, something that is meant to be fun turns into a dreaded chore that becomes the responsibility of a single person. Make decorating and holiday baking a family event that everyone can enjoy together.

Enjoy inexpensive holiday entertainment.
This is a wonderful time of year for inexpensive holiday entertainment, which eases pressure on the pocketbook. Check out hillsbanklivelocal.com for holiday events in the community. Don’t forget to take a few relatives and friends!

All things in moderation.
Don’t try to squeeze in too much of a good thing during the holidays, even if it all seems fun. You want to finish the holiday season feeling fulfilled, not frazzled.

Remember, it’s always the experience that make the memory, not the material things. Allow yourself to take time to enjoy the special moments this holiday season brings. Remember to laugh, have fun, and catch up with family and friends—this will truly create warm memories for you and your loved ones.

   
   
  Save on Grocery Bills During the Holidays

As the holiday shopping season begins, it’s possible to keep your grocery budget in check despite the rising cost of groceries. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner in the United States will jump 13% this year. If you are not shopping mindfully, that can be a big chunk out of your holiday budget. Below are some ideas to make the most out of your grocery money:

Do an inventory of what you already have.
Make a checklist of everything you need for your holiday meals and see what you already have on hand. This will keep you from making purchases you don’t need, even if it is a deal.

Plan your meals and make a purchase list.
Not only does sticking to a list help avoid impulse buying and ensure you get everything you need, but planning your holiday meals around specials, your pantry inventory, and your grocer's weekly sales fliers can help you save time and cash.

Clip coupons.
Take advantage of holiday sales because they are often the traditional items used for holiday meals! Purchase the Sunday newspaper, go online to compare best deals and get printable coupons, and sign up for the rewards program if your grocer has one.

Freeze foods when possible.
When there is a sale, stock up! Frozen vegetables are the next best thing to fresh and keep much longer. If you find a bargain on veggies, freeze them ahead for your holiday meal. You can also freeze breads, sauces, meat, and casseroles, which can save you money and time during the busy holiday season. The trick is to make sure all items are wrapped air-tight to avoid freezer burn.

Cut back on one-item trips.
If you find yourself needing to go back to the store for a forgotten item, problem-solve to figure out why. Are you making a good list? If not, the time you spend running to the store for one item is longer than the time it would have taken to make a good list. Also, don’t forget that many times you can search online and use a substitute so you are not wasting gas driving to the store for a single item, which can lead to other unnecessary purchases.

Be selective about your aisle.
Items like cheese can vary dramatically from various areas of the grocery store. If you go to the exotic cheese section, you will find higher price tags versus a mainstream brand in the dairy case.

Determine if pre-packaged items are worth the cost increase.
Sure, pre-packaged and prepared foods are convenient, but determine if the cost is worth it. If you buy produce that is ready to eat, how much time are you saving? Even if it’s only $1.00 more for the pre-packaged items, you are paying someone else for the convenience of preparing your food, which adds up over the course of the holidays. Slice your own vegetables starting today, and you might save enough over the course of the year to buy yourself a nice little holiday gift.

There’s an app for that.
Your smartphone may have grocery shopping apps that make it easier to spot sales. Many apps let you make grocery lists, scan barcodes to compare prices, and put loyalty, reward, and club cards onto your phone to help free up space in your wallet.

Keep receipts and create a spreadsheet.
Just like you track your yearly budget, keep receipts from your holiday shopping and store them on a spreadsheet. It’s important to have a baseline for prices so you know what a “good price” is for the holidays to come.

It's easy to get caught up in the holiday spirit and overspend on seasonal goodies that are available only during this time of year. With a little planning, your budget will thank you for not overstuffing on your grocery bills.

   
   
 

Challenge Yourself to Live Local in 2012!

Hills Bank is proud to support and strengthen our community by living locally, shopping locally, and banking locally. By joining the local movement, you are supporting your neighbors by providing more choices and better options.

Hills Bank promotes the growth of hometown businesses and the local community by encouraging everyone to shop locally. By choosing to shop locally, you are not only helping your town prosper, you also receive benefits that only a local business can provide:

Employment.
Hometown businesses employ local residents, creating jobs for you as well as your friends, family, and neighbors.

Quality Merchandise.
When you buy locally, you know the reputation of the business. If you are unhappy with a purchase, they will make sure you are satisfied.

Economic Development.
Every dollar spent here will circulate numerous times throughout the community. This economic growth will attract businesses, create jobs, and improve the quality of life.

Personal Service.
Local merchants combine expertise and personal attention to create a memorable shopping experience. They will always help you find what you are looking for.

Similarly, there are many benefits that come with banking at a community bank. By choosing to bank locally, you get a relationship-based banking experience and receive benefits such as:

Community Growth.
Every dollar deposited with Hills Bank is lent back to the community for homes and other needs.

Local Businesses.
Hills Bank helps local business get started and grow with commercial loans and cash management solutions.

Social Responsibility.
Every year, Hills Bank donates thousands of dollars to local schools and community organizations.

Personal Service.
Hills Bank staff is part of the community that you live in and we pride ourselves on treating you like the neighbor that you are.

For more ideas on living locally, visit hillsbanklivelocal.com for more ideas on shopping locally, giving back to your community, and experiencing local life. Join Hills Bank in taking pride in the Eastern Iowa Corridor and challenge yourself to shop locally, bank locally, and live locally this holiday season into 2012 and beyond.

   
   
 

Holiday Schedule

The bank will be closed on the following holidays:


Thanksgiving Day
Thursday, November 24th

Christmas Holiday
Monday, December 26th

New Year's Holiday
Monday, January 2nd

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Monday, January 16th

Even though we will be closed, you can still do your banking at over 70 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.


Be Vocal for Shop Local

Be Vocal 4 Shop Local and you could win $10!
Simply wear a Shop Locally button or sticker, get spotted by a
Hills Bank employee, and receive a coupon for $10 cash! Get
your button or sticker today at any Hills Bank location or
participating business!
  Visit ShopLocalStories.com and tell us why you shop locally. If you do, you'll be entered into a drawing for a $100 Visa Gift Card!
Send us your feedback!

Send any comments, suggestions, or ideas to enewsletter@hillsbank.com.
We are always trying to improve our eNewsletter and would love to hear from you!


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©Copyright 2011 Hills Bank and Trust Company. Member FDIC.

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