and 2011 - Times Republican

and 2011 - Times Republican

Money and Finance

2011 Times-Republican | Money & Finances | Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011 | 2

Digitize and organize your finances in the new year

Being smarter about

money is one of the

most common New

Yearʼs resolutions,

whether itʼs cutting back

on spending, saving

more, or making sure to

pay bills on time to

avoid late fees. Making

good on those promises

is easier than ever,

thanks to the gadgets

that are constantly by

our sides or in our

hands. Consumers looking

to take control of

their money and

improve their financial

health should look no

further than their digital

devices to get the tools

and advice they need.

“Educating consumers

and providing

innovative tools to help

them manage their

finances whenever,

wherever and however

Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees

So Let


Help you save & utilize yours with

our full range of services.

• Certificates of Deposit

• IRAs

• Mastercard

• Home Equity Loans

• Home Improvement Loans

• Consumer Loans

-New & Used Auto

-Recreational Vehicles

-Bill Consolidations


• 1st Mortgage

• Consumer Purchasing Info

• Debit Cards

they want is critical in

todayʼs digital economy,”

says Mike Upton,

emerging channels

capabilities executive at

Bank of America. “The

proliferation of digital

910 S. 12th Ave


or 1-800-245-6199

1724 S. Center St


tools encourages consumers

to take control

of their finances and

helps them manage

their money effectively

and securely.” Upton

offers the following tips

• Credit Life & Disability Insurance

on Loans

• Share Draft (Checking)


• Travelers Checks

• Money Orders

• Public Notary (No Charge)

• Check Cashing

• Drive-Up

• After Hours Depository

• Safe Deposit Boxes

• Financial Counseling

Branch Offices

Ames . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 515-232-0085

Boone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 515-432-1062

Traer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 319-478-8044

Iowa Falls . . . . . . . . 641-648-2331

Eldora . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 641-939-7604

for people looking to

maximize digital financial

tools this year.

1. Use mobile options

for quick access and


Many banks offer

Loras Neuroth


Sue Gannaway


Tyler Stahlin


Paul Beals


mobile Web, mobile

applications and text

banking that empower

customers to make

transactions and check

their accounts whenever

and wherever they

choose. As mobile

banking becomes

increasingly sophisticated,

with some banks

offering mobile bill pay,

it is important to look for

a bank that supports a

wide range of carriers

and devices (Bank of

Americaʼs platform is

compatible with more

850 devices, for example)

and offers the highest

level of security.

More banks are offering

smart phone applications

that enable customers

to access their

accounts and use geolocation

banking center

and ATM locator tools.

Dan Mead


Mark Rohde


11 East Church Street • Marshalltown, IA


Auto • Business • Life • Homeowners • Crop/Hail

• Farm Property & Liability

Medical • Workers Compensation


Text banking, which is

becoming more popular

and common, gives customers

a simple and

convenient way to

access account balances,

recent transactions

and credit card bill

information from their

cell phones.

2. Sign up for alert

services to protect


These alerts offer

customers a selection of

text and e-mail alerts

that can be sent directly

to their mobile devices

in the event of a suspicious

or potentially

fraudulent activity, if an

account balance is too

low or if there has been

recent account activity.

3. Use online bill pay

to streamline and save

This type of service


Lance Horbach


Patrick Hageman


Rich Mohon




lets customers pay virtually

any company,

set up recurring payments

and set up bill

pay reminders. Setting

up automatic payments

can help people pay

their bills on time to

avoid late fees and

protect their credit

scores. It can also help

with budgeting by capturing

all bill information

in a single place.

4. Create a budget

online to manage

spending and saving

The first step to

almost every financial

plan is to create a

budget. First, go to

your bankʼs website to

learn the full range of

their digital banking

services and specifically

look for a personal

budget planner.

Bank of Americaʼs free

money management

tool is called My Portfolio,

which enables

customers to view

spending, balances

and account activity.

Use this financial

snapshot to better

understand and set

financial goals, such

as reducing debt,

adding to savings or

growing net worth.

5. Test knowledge

Learning about personal

finance and

budgeting is easy

online, and it can be

fun. Take online

quizzes such as those

offered by MSN Money

or at

to evaluate financial literacy,

spending habits

and money personality,

and to get suggestions

for better money management.

—Courtesy of ARA


take your next step...

Focus on your finances in 2011!


Feb. 3 - Mar. 29 Nurse Aide (75

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Feb. 5 - 19 Small Engine Repair

Feb. 7 - Mar. 4 Practical Math for the

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Feb. 9 On The Air Voiceovers

Feb. 14 - 18 Lead Abatement


Feb. 15 - Mar. 29 Introduction to


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in Medical Coding (online); also

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Feb. 21 - Apr. 20 Nurse Aide (Last

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Feb. 27 - Mar. 4 Entrepreneur Boot

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Mar. 14 - Apr. 26 Coaching Authorization


Tax season is a good time to check your credit score

Tax season is

approaching, and while

youʼre wondering how

your tax return will affect

your bank account, you

might also want to consider

how it could influence

another aspect of

your financial well-being

- your credit score.

Although your tax

return is not directly tied

to your credit report, it

can affect your score in

indirect ways. For example,

if you use your 2010

tax refund to pay down

some outstanding credit

balances, you could

boost your credit score.

Or, if you donʼt have the

resources to pay your

entire tax bill up front,

you may find yourself in

a situation in which itʼs

difficult to pay other bills

too, and slow or missed

payments can also

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Coding Program

Mar. 28 - May 16 Pharmacy Technician

Mar. 29 - May 31 Phlebotomy Technician

Apr. 4 - May 29 Green Buildings &

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Jan. 25 ABC’s of Making Money for


Jan. 26 How Money Works

Jan. 26 Women & Finances


Mar. 10 Wills & Disability Planning


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affect your credit score.

If you better understand

your credit, you

may be better equipped

to deal with your tax situation

if you end up

owing, and to better

take advantage of your

windfall if youʼll be getting

a refund. Websites

and monitoring memberships


can help

you to check, monitor,

read and understand

your current credit

report or score.

Keep in mind that the

three major credit


Ellen R. Bergman, CPA






Call for a consultation


123 W. Main Street Ste 2B

Marshalltown, IA 50158

(641) 753-5400

3 | Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011 | Money & Finances | Times-Republican Times-Republican | Money & Finances | Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011 | 4

Five questions you need to ask about IRAs

Even if youʼre far from

retiring, itʼs never too

early to start planning for

it. But as you may quickly

learn, it can be more challenging

than you think. It

can be difficult to know

what opportunities are

best for you when it

comes to saving for your


When considering

retirement savings opportunities

it is easy to overlook

the traditional IRA.

Many individuals assume

they are not eligible to

make contributions to a

traditional IRA, presumably

confusing the rules

regarding eligibility to contribute

with the more commonly

noted rules regarding

the deductibility from

income for contributions.

Rob Fishbein, a vice

president and corporate

counsel in Prudentialʼs

Tax Department, answers

these frequently asked

questions about IRAs:

Q: Who is eligible to


A: The surprising

answer for some people

is that if you earn income

and are younger than 70

1/2 you can contribute to

a traditional IRA, regardless

of income level and



bureaus, and several

less well-known ones, all

have slightly different

scoring models. But

some common factors

can affect your credit

score. Itʼs important to

understand how your

score works, so keep

these factors in mind as

tax season approaches:

• Your bill payment

history - Potential creditors

want to know that

you pay your bills on

time. If youʼve paid

debts in a timely manner

regardless of whether you

or your spouse are covered

by a work-sponsored

retirement account - such

as a 401(k) plan.

in the past, chances are

youʼll continue to do so

in the future, creditors

believe. Generally, your

payment history will

account for a third of

your credit score.

• Total amount you

owe - Often, the total

amount you owe is also

considered against how

much credit you have

available. You may owe

$10,000 in credit card

debt, but if you pay on

time and still have plenty

of unused credit available,

your score may be

better than someone

who has half that

Q: How much can I


A: Most individuals

have the option in 2010

and 2011 of contributing

amount of total debt, but

who either doesnʼt pay

reliably or has maxed

out his available credit.

The total amount you

owe accounts for a little

less than a third of your


• Length of credit history

- Creditors want to

know you have experience

paying bills on

time. The longer you

can demonstrate your

financial responsibility,

the less you will appear

to be a credit risk to

potential lenders. Thatʼs

why senior citizens often

have excellent credit

scores, while a young

professional who earns

more than the senior

makes, but who has

been using credit

responsibly for a shorter

time, could have a lower


• New credit accounts

- Opening too many new

accounts, or even just

applying for them, could

impact your credit score.

The idea is that if you

obtain a lot of new credit

all at once, the temptation

to overuse it may

cause you to make poor

decisions about credit


$5,000 to a traditional

IRA, or $6,000 if you are

age 50 or older, and

enjoying tax deferred

earnings. This is a powerful

savings opportunity

that should be used to

the maximum extent possible.

Q: How can an IRA

impact my tax liability

People often confuse

the eligibility rules with

the deductibility rules.

Whether you can deduct

the contribution from

income depends on

whether you or your

spouse are covered by a

retirement plan at work. If

neither of you are covered

by a plan then you

can take a deduction for

an IRA contribution no

matter what you earn. If

both of you are covered

by a plan, or if only the

spouse making the IRA

contribution is covered by

a plan, then for 2010 you

can still take a deduction

if you make less than

$89,000. But you lose eligibility

to take a deduction

if you jointly make

$109,000 or more. In

between those two numbers

you can take a partial

deduction. Similar

rules with different

income limits apply for

single taxpayers or where

the spouse making the

contribution is not covered

by a plan.

• Type of credit youʼre

using - Some types of

debt that are attached to

a tangible asset, such

as a mortgage or car

loan, are perceived as

“good” credit and can

actually raise your

score. High amounts of

unsecured debt, like

credit cards, may

adversely affect your

credit score.

Credit monitoring

products can help you

better understand the

factors that affect your

credit score, monitor

your credit and obtain

your full credit report

Q: Why should I make

the maximum contribution

each year

A: Even if you are not

eligible to deduct your

contribution to a traditional

IRA, the traditional IRA

offers a way to grow your

savings for retirement on

a tax-deferred basis,

since income earned is

only subject to income

tax when distributed.

Second, you can convert

the traditional IRA to a

Roth IRA because the

income limits that previously

were in place for

Roth conversions have

been eliminated. This

means that even if you

make too much income

to contribute to a Roth

IRA directly, you can do

so indirectly and enjoy

tax-free earnings after the

date of conversion.

Q: How can I get started

A: The first call to

make should be to your

financial planner or tax

adviser to review your

personal circumstances

and to make sure that

starting or contributing to

a traditional IRA makes

sense for you.

—Courtesy of ARA


and scores. At Free-, you

will also find a calculator

that can help you estimate

how certain financial

actions may affect

your credit score.

While tax season is

often a stressful time,

you can reduce some of

the worry and better

understand your credit

by checking your credit

score and report now,

and educating yourself

further on how financial

decisions impact your


—Courtesy of ARA


Tips to save time and money this tax season

New for tax year

2010, the IRS is no

longer automatically

mailing tax forms to taxpayers.

This move is

expected to save the IRS

$10 million. If it encourages

more people to

electronically file (e-file)

tax returns online, it also

will save the IRS time

and taxpayers as well.

This income tax return

filing season, taxpayers

should be asking themselves

what they can do

to save time and money.

“Most people probably

spend more time dreading

their taxes than it

would take to actually do

their taxes and get back

to the things they enjoy,”

says Gary Lundberg,

product management

director for Complete-

Tax, an online tax preparation

and e-filing software

program. “They

may end up waiting until

the last minute and rushing

through the process

only to spend more time

and money than they


A few things people

can do to save time and

money this tax season


1. Get ready. Spend a

few minutes up front to

gather the information

you need to do your

taxes, for example, the

W-2 form from your

employer and any 1099

statements from your

bank or other financial


2. Start early. Historically,

prices for tax software

go up as tax season

progresses. Starting

early can help you save

• Breaking news

• Video

money. Check to see if

your program guarantees

that the price will

remain the same from

the time you start doing

your taxes to the time

you finish.

“When you start

preparing a tax return

online, you want the

reassurance that you

can come back a few

days or weeks later to

finish up without it costing

you more,” says

Lundberg. “Youʼll want to

look for an online tax

preparation solution that

guarantees not to

change prices on you

after you start a return.”

3. Use the tax program

thatʼs right for you.

Unlike packaged software

that you have to

purchase and install,

most online tax preparation

programs let you try

them out before requiring

you to pay. So, if a program

seems complicated,

move on to one

thatʼs simpler.

“Those who are

unhappy with the price or

performance of their current

tax software should

also shop around. You

may even get a free

return for switching,”

says Lundberg. “But be

sure to look for guarantees.”

4. Get the help you

need. Different taxpayers

want different types of

help. So, itʼs important to

ask yourself what type of

support you expect. For

example, do you want to

reference or search an

online tax guide on your

own, chat with customer

support or have the ability

to speak directly with a

tax professional if you

have a question Then

make certain your tax

program offers the help

you expect youʼll need.

“Youʼll want a program

that offers affordable

access to a tax

expert to provide tax

help if, when and where

you need it,” Lundberg

says. “Even if you donʼt

think youʼll have questions,

itʼs a good to know

itʼs there just in case -

but steer clear of those

that charge per question

or per session.”

5. Claim all the tax

credits and deductions

available to you. The

average federal tax

refund for 2009 was

about $3,000. Still, many

taxpayers believe they

may not be realizing all

the tax breaks they

should be getting. The

interview process in the

online tax preparation

program should help

make sure you are maximizing

your credits and

deductions and some will

even guarantee they are

providing the maximum

tax refund. Also, make

sure the program

includes charitable

deduction tools to help

you substantiate the

value of goods you give

to charity so that you can

claim the full charitable

contribution deduction

you deserve.

6. Donʼt pay more

than you have to.

Depending on what your

tax situation is, you may

be able to prepare your

federal tax return for

free. For example, programs

like CompleteTax

offer a basic version for

free, as well as free use

of higher-end programs

for people who were

unemployed in 2010 or

owe the IRS on their

2010 returns. Even if you

have to pay, it should

cost less than $60 to

prepare a federal and a

state tax return.

7. E-file and use direct

deposit. About 70 percent

of taxpayers e-filed

last year, with about 35

million people doing so

from their home computers.

Itʼs easy, secure and

accurate. And, if you e-

file your tax return and

choose direct deposit,

you can get any refund

coming to you in as little

as eight days deposited

right into your account.

—Courtesy of ARA


• Blogs

• CU Galleries

5 | Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011 | Money & Finances | Times-Republican Times-Republican | Money & Finances | Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011 | 6

Dive into your finances and start stretching your dollar

The beginning of a

new year is a great time

to do some self assessment

and figure out how

you can make the next

year even better than the

last. Itʼs also a logical

time to take a look at

your familyʼs budget and

figure out how you can

make your money go

even further next year.

Since youʼll soon be

digging into your financial

records in order to

file your taxes, why not

take a little extra time to

set a budget and identify

some areas where you

and your family can save

a few dollars Here are

four simple ways to get

more for less this year:

• Take an inventory of

monthly expenses. Itʼs

always a good idea to

take a look at your regular

expenses at least

once a year to see if

thereʼs somewhere you

could be saving. Maybe

you are no longer bound

by a cell phone contract

and could get a better

deal elsewhere. Or perhaps

itʼs time to reevaluate

insurance options. It

could also be something

as simple as evaluating

how often you dine out

or stop for a gourmet

coffee and changing

your habits to save a few

dollars by cutting back.

• Let the coupons do

the work. While clipping

coupons might seem like

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online at



Green Mountain

Member FDIC

Equal Housing Lender

a thing of the past, itʼs

easier than ever to save

using coupons. Coupons

can be found in traditional

places like the newspaper,

as well as online,

often from the manufacturerʼs

website. Another

place to look is right on

Who Saves Money

Every Sunday





the packaging of your

favorite products. For

instance, where available

in certain retail store

locations, Procter &

Gamble is currently

offering coupons for

other P&G brands within

specially marked products

from Crest, Pampers,

Olay and Charmin,

among others - with

coupon values up to $80

in savings when they are

all used.

• Save by using the

Internet. By signing up

for e-mail newsletters

from manufacturers and

local businesses you can

access special offers

that you might not be

able to find elsewhere.

For example, you can

sign up for regular notification

of promotions for

products you use every

day at


businesses on

Facebook and Twitter

can also help alert you to

special offers.

• Develop a grocery

shopping routine. Plan

weekly meals and shop

accordingly. If possible,

find out what items are

on sale each week at

your grocer before making

the list, so you can

take full advantage of the

sales. Stock up on nonperishable

items when

they are on sale.

With a few changes to

your shopping and

spending habits, you

may find yourself with a

healthy chunk of extra

cash next year that you

can either stick into savings

or spend on something

special as a reward

to your family.

—Courtesy of ARA


Do you fit the profile of an identity theft victim

Do your address, job

and interests make you

more likely to be a victim

of identity theft Recent

research shows that

may, indeed, be the


A disproportionately

high percentage of identity

fraud victims live in

affluent suburbs and

high-density metro

areas, have an

advanced degree and a

spouse, and are interested

in politics, leisure

activities such as tennis,

and the arts, according

to data compiled by


“While identity fraud

can happen to virtually

anyone, anywhere,

Experianʼs analysis of

data from our Fraud

Information Services

group and Experian Marketing

Services makes it

clear that affluent suburbanites

top the list as the

most at-risk consumers,”

says Jon Jones, a senior

vice president at Experian

Decision Analytics

which helps consumers

and business detect and

prevent identity fraud.

Identity theft continues

to rise, and affected

more than 11 million victims

in 2009, according

to Javelin Strategy &

Research Centerʼs 2010

study. In fact, the problem

has become so

prevalent that one out of

every 10 people has

been affected by it, says

the study.

Victims of identity

theft - the unauthorized

use of oneʼs identity by

another for financial gain

or to procure services -

have a distinct profile,

according to the Experian

study. When compared

to non-victims,

Do You Need Help With Your



Brandenburg Tax

& Accounting

• Personal & Business Preparation

• 20 Years of Tax Return Experience

• All Out-Of-State Returns Accepted

• Available All Year Long

• FREE Electronic Filing When We Prepare Your Taxes

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identity theft victims are:

• 43 percent more

likely to live in affluent


• 73 percent more

likely to have an

advanced degree

• Residents of neighborhoods

where the percentage

of luxury vehicles

is 26 percent higher

“While it wouldnʼt be

practical or even desirable

for anyone in the

highest-risk demographic

to change their address,

job or lifestyle out of fear

of identity fraud, these

people - and all of us -

should take reasonable

fraud protection steps,”

Jones says.

Here are several

steps consumers can

take to protect themselves

from identity


• Do everything you

can to protect your

2 Convenient


To Serve Your

Financial Needs.

Come See Us. Today!

Main Bank

123 W. Main St.


Social Security number.

Never carry your Social

Security card in your

wallet. Never use your

Social Security number

and card as a substitute

for other forms of identification

like your driverʼs

license or insurance

number. Be particular

about what businesses

you share your number

with; ask why they need

it, if itʼs optional to provide

or required to provide,

and what might

happen if you choose not

to share it.

• Shred bills, receipts,

copies of credit applications,

insurance forms,

physician and bank

statements, and any

other document that has

identifying information on

it before you throw it

away. Identity thieves

pick through trash and

recycling bins to find personal


• Use complex passwords

for online

accounts and verify the

source of any request for

personal or account information

before you share

this information over the

Internet - or by phone or

even mail. Businesses

with which you already

have an existing account

should not ask you to

provide account or personally

identifying information.

Such a request

may actually be coming

from an identity thief posing

as a legitimate business.

Many consumers are

also relying on identity

theft protection products, to

reduce their risk of exposure

to identity fraud. The

product helps stop identity

theft by monitoring

your credit daily through

all three major credit

bureaus, scanning the

Internet daily to search

for fraudulent use of your

identifying information,

and notifying you when

anything is found. Fraud

resolution agents provide

subscribers with personal

assistance in resolving

identity theft issues and

in protecting information

if a memberʼs wallet is

lost or stolen. If youʼre a

small-business owner,

ProtectMyID can also

help protect your customers

(and you) from

identity theft risks. Log on


to learn more.

If you suspect you are

the victim of identity theft,

contact the credit reporting

agencies immediately.

They have plans in

place to address fraud.

—Courtesy of ARA


Marshall Town Center

2500 S. Center St.


7 | Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011 | Money & Finances | Times-Republican Times-Republican | Money & Finances | Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011 | 8

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