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In The News

In The News

November Hometown Happenings!

November Community Events

As Your Hometown Bank, we want to keep you informed of all that's happening in our great communities!

 

Friday, November 2 

EEI Comedy Fundraiser

5:30pm–9pm / Falls Ballroom / More info



Saturday, November 3 

Zion Luthern Church Bazaar 

9am-1pm / More info

 


Thursday, November 8–10 

LFHS Fall Play 

7–8pm



November 8–10 + November 15–17 

Steel Magnolias Play 

5pm Door, 6pm Dinner, 7pm Show / Great River Arts / More info

 

November 9–10 + November 16–17 

SRRHS Fall Musical 

7–10pm

 

Sunday, November 11 + November 18 

Steel Magnolias Play Matinee

2pm Show / Great River Arts / More info

 

Saturday, November 17 

LF Growers & Makers Market 

10am-3pm / More info

 

Sunday, November 18 

SRRHS Fall Musical 

2-5pm

 

November 19–20 

LF HS Marching Band Concert 

7-9pm

 

Wednesday, November 21 

Rice Area Chamber of Commerce Meeting 

12-1 / Contact Angela at 320.291.1889 for locations

 

Thursday, November 22 

Happy Thanksgiving! 

 

Tuesday, November 27 

SRRHS Band Concert 

7-9pm

 

Friday, November 30 

SRRHS No School

 



It's National College Savings Month!

September marks a month of new beginnings for many. Students head back to school and many enter college for the first time. It’s no surprise that along with these new beginnings students and parents are concerned with paying tuition and other college costs.

This is why September is National College Savings Month. In an effort to raise awareness of college savings, many states and financial institution share resources, knowledge and even hold giveaways all in the name of education.

As a result, it’s the perfect time to start funding your child’s college education!

Understanding College Savings Accounts

The most popular way to save for college is through a 529 savings plan.

A 529 savings plan is a tax advantaged savings plan used specifically for education expenses. With a 529 you pay no federal taxes on the investment earnings and many states also allow income tax deductions up to a maximum contribution amount. 

You can open up a 529 for your child or even yourself to use toward education expenses. Here are some of our most helpful resources covering the ins and outs of 529 plans.

Everything You Need to Know About Prepaid Tuition Plans – When it comes to saving for college the options can be confusing. This post discusses all the common questions regarding prepaid tuition as well as state specific information.

How Much You Should Have in a 529 Plan by Age – Wondering how your current savings stack up? Check this article to see if your college savings are on target.

The Order of Operation for Saving for Your Kid’s College – While college savings is indeed important, it’s not THE most important part of your personal finances. Read about all the things you should have in place before you open a 529 plan.

How to Increase Your 529 Contributions

If you’re like me you’re not inherently wealthy and have to plan to be able to save. The good news is that no matter your budget you can find creative ways to save more in a 529 plan.

The Power of Starting Small When Saving for College – You don’t have to be super-wealthy in order to save your child’s education. In fact, the small savings you make now can grow into something substantial over time.

4 Effective Ways to Boost 529 Savings – If you think your budget is too tight to begin saving for college you’ll definitely want to check out this post. Learn four effective (and creative) ways to boost your 529 savings.

Using a 529 to Save for Yourself – If you are thinking about furthering your education you can open a 529 for yourself. There are many benefits of doing so. Even if you don’t end up using all of your 529 savings you can change the beneficiary on the account.

— From giftofcollege.com



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."



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.



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!



Saving Money During Summer Vacation

Summer is the time for vacations, but how do you go about saving money during this time of year?

Here are some simple tips and tricks for saving money even when you are planning a vacation:

1. Get a credit card with rewards - the more you use it responsibly the more you get back

2. Have money automatically transferred to your savings account regularly - Example: every pay day take "x" percentage and put it into savings

3. Plan ahead, if you need cash for your vacation, stop by your local bank first to avoid ATM fees

4. Take advantage of coupons - many local newspapers and inserts include gas coupons to help you save on that upcoming road trip

5. Find free activities - during the summer months there are tons of free things to do such as planning a beach day at the local lake or taking a bike ride with the family



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