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In The News

In The News

January Hometown Happenings

Wednesday, January 9

SRR Kindergarten Registration

2:30-6PM / At each Elementary building / More info



Saturday-Sunday, January 12-13 

2nd I.C.E. Fest

Annual Sunny Zwilling Memorial Ice Carousel Extravaganza
Green Prairie Fish Lake / More info

 

Thursday, January 17 

SRRHS One Act Play Performance

7-9pm

 

Friday, January 18 

Friday Morning Little Falls Chamber Coffee

Schlenner Wenner & Co / 7:30am-9am

 

Saturday, January 26 

Pierz KC Buffalo Feed & Raffle

4-8pm / Pierz Ballroom / More info



Beware Tax Refund Scams

The tax filing deadline is right around the corner, and that means only one thing — the scam artists are lining up to steal refunds, grab personal information and make the lives of ordinary taxpayers even more difficult. Whether you have already filed your taxes or are still sorting through the paperwork, it is important to be on the lookout for IRS scams.
 
These IRS scams take many different forms. Some scam artists rush to file bogus refunds using real taxpayer information, grabbing the money and leaving the real taxpayer high and dry when they try to file their returns. Others call unsuspecting taxpayers and try to extort money under threat of arrest.
 
No matter what form these scams take, it is important to protect yourself and keep your money safe. Filing as early as possible is one ways to avoid being a victim, especially if you believe your Social Security number or other personal information has been compromised.
 
Filing early, before the bad guys have a chance to, gives you a level of protection, but what do you do if you receive a suspicious email or phone call from the IRS? These scams are growing in sophistication, and the latest iterations even spoof the real IRS phone number. You can no longer rely on your caller ID to tell you what is really going on.
 
What you should know is that the IRS never initiates collections activity over the phone or via email. If you do owe money to the tax agency, they will let you know with a good old-fashioned letter. If you receive a phone call or email from the IRS threatening arrest or prosecution, you can safely assume it is a scam.
 
If you do receive a phone call purporting to be from the IRS, the tax agency wants to know about it. You should contact the IRS at their actual phone number, and never return the call you received from the scam artists. The IRS continues to battle these scam artists, and the more information you can provide, the easier their job will be.
 
Above all, do not fall from the extortion tactics these IRS scammers use. The only reason these types of scams continue to rise is that people keep taking the bait.
 
It is easy to see why people fall for these kinds of scams. Being contacted by the IRS is the worst nightmare of many taxpayers, and it is tempting to just pay the money and move on. Just know that the real IRS does not operate in this manner, so report the scam and keep your money in your pocket.



Ways you're wasting money every day

 

Where does your money go? While you are aware of your spending when you make a big purchase, you are probably losing money in smaller ways that you don't even see. If money seems to be leaking out of your life, here are some mistakes you may be making.


1. You buy too much coffee. 
 
Stopping for a cup of coffee seems like a small expense, but that money adds up quickly. You can save yourself a lot by simply making your coffee at home.
 
Do you really need to buy coffee at all? Many work places, business offices and even retail stores offer coffee for free? If you frequent places with free coffee, take advantage of that.
 


2. You throw out good food. 

 
If you often find yourself throwing out food, you need to take a look at where you're going wrong. You are obviously overestimating how much your family will consume. 
 
You may also be taking the expiration dates on food too seriously. Those dates are simply a suggestion. Food does not suddenly become inedible because the date on the container has passed. Many foods are still good long after the expiration date.
 
As long as your food doesn't smell weird or look wrong, it's more than likely just fine to eat. If fruits or veggies have rotten spots, just cut them away and eat the good parts.
 

3. You don't wait for sales. 
 
Make a habit of creating a meal plan based on what is on sale at your grocery store. Avoid paying full price for anything. Most products go on sale eventually. Be willing to try a different brand if it is on sale.
 
When shopping for clothing or electronics, it's always a good idea to wait for a sale. It will not only save you money, but it gives you time to consider whether you really want to purchase the item or were just caught up in shopping.
 

4. You buy because of sales. 
 
Use sales to buy what you would normally buy anyway but resist the urge to buy something extra just because you find it at a good price. This is how many people end up with wasted food or a closet with more clothes than they can wear.
 
No matter how good the sale it, you are still spending money. Only buy what you need.
 

5. You're not paying attention to your thermostat. 

Heating and cooling your home costs a lot of money, especially here in Minnesota, when it seems like it's either extremely cold or extremely hot. You can save by adjusting the temperature just a few degrees. 
 
Also consider adjusting the thermostat during times when you aren't at home. If no one is at your house during the day, there's no reason to pay for more heating and cooling than you need. Most thermostats allow you to program them in advance. Modern wifi-enabled thermostats make programming very easy — even when you're not home. They can pay form themselves in the long run.
 

6. You eat out. 
 
It's fun to go out to eat, and it's convenient to buy food that is already prepared, but it costs you a lot more money than it would to prepare your own food at home.
 
Cut back on eating out as much as you can, and the savings will add up quickly. Even if you think you can't cook, find someone to show you how to prepare simple meals. You'll find that it's much easier than you realize.
 
 
7. You buy convenience snacks. 
 
Picking up snacks at the gas station or in the checkout line is a bad habit that is costing you money. If you need snacks on the go, keep some in your car. No matter what you're snacking on from the gas station, you can buy the same thing for a lot less at the grocery store and carry it with you.


8. You buy drinks. 
 
Look at your next grocery store receipt and you will probably see that you spent a large percentage of your money on drinks. If you can bring yourself to give up the soda, juice, bottled water and energy drinks you will find that you save a lot of money. Replace these drinks with tap water, and you'll be healthier as well.
 

9. You buy cigarettes or alcohol. 
 
Seriously consider putting an end to smoking and drinking, and it will save you big bucks. These items cost a lot of money, and in many cases, you will find yourself consistently buying more and more. Even a small change, like not drinking wine in the evening, can make a big difference.
 
If you need to cut back on your spending, consider these ways you may be wasting money. While giving up certain expenses may seem like a sacrifice at first, you will probably find over time that you didn't really need those items as much as you thought you did.



Get to know loan officer Doug Dahlberg

Get to know us

Meet Doug Dahlberg, a loan officer at our Little Falls branch!

Hometown: Columbia Heights

College: St. Cloud State University

Current city: Little Falls

How did you get into banking? When I was first going into college, two of my career goals were to own my own a sporting goods store and/or to get into the financial field. I got close to sporting goods and was either an owner/partner in a variety of businesses that were very similar. After 20 years, an opportunity arose with Pine Country Bank and I couldn’t pass it up. I consider myself lucky to have fulfilled both of my career goals!

What do you do for Pine Country Bank? My main duties are as a commercial and consumer lender. I also serve as the physical security officer for all branches of the bank.

What’s your favorite part of the job? Interacting with all of our bank customers whether they are a loan customer or someone just walking in to do their personal banking with the tellers. I also enjoy my coworkers so much. They’re an amazing group of people with great personalities and an incredible wealth of knowledge.

What’s special about Pine Country Bank? The commitment and involvement to the communities that we serve. The feedback I receive when people find out I work for Pine Country Bank is always a statement such as, “They do so much for the community.”

Favorite local restaurant: I really like spicy Thai food, and there aren’t really options for that locally. So at the risk of calling St. Cloud local, I would have to say Sawatdee.

What do you love about this community: Growing up in the cities, I never dreamed I would live in a small town. I love that I see many of the same people at the grocery store, at church or at a ball game or musical. I love the “community” feel of Little Falls and the sense of belonging that I find here.

Hobbies/free-time: I have four children, so most of my free time is spent watching, coaching or driving to their events.

What are you watching on TV/Netflix: "This is Us" and "The Blacklist."



This is Pine Country / Meet Chad Van Beck

Get to know us!

Meet Chad Van Beck, a senior business lender at our Rice branch, who came on board in 2017.

Hometown: Greenwald

Current town: Grey Eagle, Big Birch Lake

What do you do for Pine Country Bank? I help customers with their commercial and agricultural lending needs.

What's your favorite part of the job? Working with customers and being a part of their success. After working at a previous financial institution for 24 years, I made the move to PCB last April and I love my job.

What's special about Pine Country Bank? The hometown, friendly atmosphere. We truly want to meet people’s needs and help them achieve their financial goals.

Community involvement: Stearns County Dairy Advisory Committee, Millwood Township Board, St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church

Do you have a favorite sports team? The Minnesota Vikings, even though we were let down again this year.

What do you do with your free time? I like to hunt, attend sporting events and spend time on the lake in the summer with my wife and kids.

What’s your favorite local restaurant: La Casita, St. Cloud

What show are you watching on TV/Netflix now: Friends



Student Banking Powered by Pine Country Bank

Students! Open an account today and get a free power bank!

*Subject to successful qualification and opening of account, see a banker for details. Off er available to students aged 16-24, new checking account customers only.

Not valid with any other promotion or offer. Normal account restrictions and fees apply. Limit one promotion per customer. Available while supplies last.



Scams Can Happen - Learn to Spot Them

5 Simple Ways to Spot an Email Scam

1. The domain does not match up - Check who the email is from - the email domain (which is in bold below) is a dead giveaway if it is a scam, for example if you were to receive an email from Pine Country Bank it would be from an email like; info@pinecountrybank.com

2. Your full name is not used - When you open an email if it begins with "Dear user, Dear customer, etc." you should be a little suspicious. Most legitimate emails will be personally addressed to you using your full name.

3. A request for personal information to be sent via email - If a legitimate business needs you to update any kind of personal information this is almost always done on the business's website. A potential scam is if the email you receive asks you to respond to the email with any kind of personal information.

4. Poor grammar and spelling - This is one of the easiest to spot, if you open an email and it is very poorly written (spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, etc.) this is a a strong indicator that it is not from a legitimate source.

5. Requires immediate action - If you receive an email urging you to take immediate action, be wary. Call the business at their direct business line to confirm if the email was a scam or not.

There are a number of other ways you can protect yourself from email scams, but these are a few that will help you spot a scam much quicker!



Making our Communities a Better Place - One Donation at a Time

A Donation to our Friends at Employment Enterprises Inc.

 



5 Simple Tips to Save Money While in College

5 Simple Tips to Save Money While in College

1. Set up automatic transfers - Meaning, every pay day set up for "x" amount of dollars to be transferred into your savings account

2. Budget your money by using a tool like this easy to use Student Budget Calculator

3. Choose the right credit card and use it responsibly - We can help you find the right credit card, just stop in to chat with us!

4. Be mindful about taking out students loans - Meaning, take the time and choose the right loan

5. Understand wants versus needs - Ask yourself important questions before spending money, such as, "Do I really need to go out to eat every night?"

 



Donation to St. Francis Music Center

Giving Back to our Local Communities

We are always looking for ways to help our local communities and recently we had the pleasure of making a donation to our local St. Francis Music Center!

 



Giving Back to Our Communities

Giving Back to Our Communities - Donation to the boys & Girls Clubs of America