Save time – any time – with electronic banking tools

Gone are the days of a regular 9-to-5 work schedule. Why shouldn’t your bank work the same crazy hours you do? Today’s online banking services make it possible for you to do all your banking whenever it fits into your schedule. It’s fast and easy:

  • Convenient access from anywhere at any time. You just need an Internet connection and any device (PC, tablet, or smart phone).
  • Real time information. Our interactive OVERVIEW page gives you an up-to-date snapshot of all your accounts and transactions.
  • Advanced security options. Flexible permissions let you designate who has access to each banking function.


Safety First

Most people agree that online and mobile banking tools are convenient. The thing that holds some people back is concern over safety and privacy. In reality, transactions handled electronically travel through fewer hands, offering fewer opportunities for mistakes or security issues. In addition, State Bank of Cross Plains uses a variety of security methods to ensure your accounts are safe from online breaches:

  • Login credentials and password
  • Device ID
  • Geographical location verification


Time-Saving Tools

State Bank of Cross Plains offers a variety of electronic banking tools to help you manage your business and personal finances. Our Online Education Center hosts more than a dozen brief videos that not only explain our online and mobile banking tools, but also teaches you how to use them. Click on any of the following links to learn more:

You can also visit our Frequently Asked Questions page or call SBCP’s Online Services team at (855) 256-7328 for information or assistance.

Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender

Formula for Refinancing: How to Know the Timing is Right to Refinance Your Home

Young couple painting their apartment.

Thanks to current mortgage rates, refinancing your home could be a great way to lower your interest rate or improve your loan terms – or both! But a low rate isn’t the only number to consider when trying to decide if the time is right for a refi.

In fact, while there are good reasons to refinance, there are also good reasons NOT to refinance. Let’s take a look at both, along with some important questions to ask yourself before taking the leap.

 Good Reasons to Refinance Your Home

There are some serious benefits to taking advantage of a mortgage refinance:

  • Get a better interest rate. The amount of interest you pay can mean the difference of thousands of dollars over the length of your loan. Conventional wisdom suggests that it’s a good time to refinance if you can shave at least ½ (0.5) percentage point off your interest rate. But make sure you check out all the considerations below since there are some scenarios where an even smaller reduction may be worthwhile.
  •  Adjust the term (longer or shorter). There are good reasons to tinker with the length of your mortgage – both longer and shorter. If you’re nearing retirement, you may choose to pay off your mortgage at a faster rate. State Bank of Cross Plains (SBCP) offers both 15-year and 10-year fixed rate mortgages. On the contrary, you may be going through a period when a lower monthly payment might fit your needs better, such as freeing up money to pay for college. Spreading your mortgage out over a longer term, like SBCP’s 30-year mortgage, gives you extra money for your monthly budget. Just remember, lengthening the term of your loan means more years of paying interest (and likely means you pay more for your home overall).
  •  Convert from an ARM to a fixed rate. You may have initially chosen an adjustable rate mortgage to get a lower interest rate, but eventually you’ll want or need to switch to a more predictable fixed rate.
  •  Get rid of PMI. Most lenders require private mortgage insurance on loans with less than 20 percent equity. Some lenders will automatically remove PMI payments once you surpass 20 percent equity, but some don’t. If you have reached that magic 20 percent, a refinance will remove the extra PMI fees.
  •  Cash out. If you need a lump sum for a large purchase like starting a small business or adding on to your home, it’s possible to get a cash back mortgage by taking advantage of the equity built up in your home thanks to rising home values. However, make sure you have a plan to repay this type of loan or perhaps consider a Home Equity Loan or Home Equity Line of Credit instead. Talk to one of our loan specialists at (608) 497-4640 or visit your local State Bank of Cross Plains for more information.

Reasons NOT to Refinance

There are also good reasons to automatically skip the refinance:

  1. You have less-than-ideal (or downright bad) credit. Published mortgage rates are based on good credit scores. You won’t get those great rates with bad credit scores.
  2.  You have too much debt. Some people use a mortgage refinance to consolidate debt, but we recommend you reconsider. You won’t lose your home if you miss a few credit card payments. You might lose your home if you can’t keep up with your mortgage payments. The risk is just too great.
  3.  A move is in your near future. Most mortgage refi’s come with closing costs. You should figure out the break-even point for staying in your home to make up those costs before actually reaping the benefits of the lower rate.

Additional Considerations

Once you’ve determined that your reasons for refinancing your mortgage are solid, here are some of the things to consider before taking the plunge. Use this information to determine your financial break-even point and the best place to get your mortgage refi (SBCP, of course!):

  • What is my credit score? Good credit = better mortgage rates.
  • What are the closing costs? Divide this number by the amount you save per month to determine how long it will be before you start saving money from the refi.
  • Should I pay for “points”? Paying for points is a way to pay 1 percent of your loan in cash to reduce your interest rate long-term. In most cases, it’s worth it to pay a few points if you can afford the upfront cost.
  • How much equity is in my home? You usually get the most out of a refinance if you have at least 20 percent equity.
  • How much can I save? Use our mortgage refinance calculator to figure out how much a potential refinance is worth to you. If you’re changing the length of the loan, be sure to evaluate the numbers based on paying the loan back in the same number of years for an apples-to-apples comparison.
  • Is the mortgage serviced locally? All mortgages from State Bank of Cross Plains (except VA, FHA, and USDA loan products*) are serviced locally. Why should you care? It’s part of our mission to help our local communities thrive and our neighbors succeed. We put our trust in you so you can put your trust in us. And you get to talk to someone face-to-face if you have questions or problems with your mortgage. Local management matters.

Getting Help

Want help running the numbers? Visit our mortgage refinance calculator to find your break-even point. Or make an appointment with one of our mortgage loan specialists by calling (608) 497-4640 or your local SBCP office.

* *VA, FHA, USDA Loan products are not serviced by the State Bank of Cross Plains

Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender.

Online Banking: Integrate online services into your business bookkeeping

Banking online has become extremely popular for personal use, but businesses of all sizes may have even more to gain from online banking services:

  •  Save time. Eliminate time-consuming trips to the bank and schedule/pay bills quickly and efficiently. Plus, 24/7 access means you don’t have to get to the bank before it closes.
  •  Stay organized. File and track financial information electronically.
  •  Get convenient access. Enjoy immediate access to vital financial information.
  •  Go green/eliminate wasted paper. Go as paperless as possible to save money and the environment.
  •  Improve security. Paper copies travel through much less secure routes with an increased chance of getting lost or stolen. In addition to sophisticated online security systems, businesses can monitor accounts online easily and can set alerts for unusual activity or low balances.
  •  Manage cash flow. Built-in reporting helps you easily monitor and analyze income, expenses, current balances, and real-time cash flow.



Getting Started

The right tools not only make any job easier, they should also produce a better result. Online banking tools are no different. Our website redesign is focused on bringing you the right tools in an easy-to-use format that are intended to help you do your job better.

If you’ve never banked online before, here are some basic tools to help you get your feet wet:

1. eStatements allow you get rid of the paper clutter and receive your statements electronically each month. You can view information online or download eStatements to save and file on your computer.

To get started: Click BANKING LOGIN on any page on the State Bank of Cross Plains website. Either login or click on ENROLL along the bottom of the box. Once you are logged into your business account, click on ADD eSTATEMENTS. Complete the enrollment form. At this point you can view your account activity at any time and will receive automatic email notifications when your eStatement is available each month.

2. My $ – Money Manager is a finance management tool that provides a place for you to collect account data for all your different types of accounts whether they are housed at SBCP or elsewhere. Pull your corporate credit cards, investment accounts, mortgage, insurance, and retirement accounts into one interface to track progress, plan your portfolio, and analyze information for budgeting and cash flow.

To get started: Log into ONLINE BANKING and select BUDGET from the home screen. Once enrolled, simply select ADD ACCOUNTS to begin collecting account data in one location.

3.  Bill Pay enables you to store information about regular vendors in your online account so that paying an invoice comes down to entering the amount and choosing the date to send payment. That’s it. The money is either sent by check or transferred wirelessly. You can even schedule regular payments – such as utilities – so they get paid automatically each month. Efficiency at its best!

 To get started: This one might be the easiest of all. Once you’ve logged into your business account click on the BILL PAY tab.



Getting Help

Not tech savvy? No worries. Call our Business Online Services number at (855) 256-7328 for information or assistance. You can also visit our Frequently Asked Questions page. We’re here to help.

These are just a few of the basic tools to get you started. Visit with our VP-Treasury Management for a personalized review of how to integrate our full array of online banking tools into your business. You can reach us at (855) 256-7328.

Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender.

The Importance of Asset Allocation: Finding the Right Investment Mix for Your Account

2013 has been an excellent year so far for investors, with the S&P 500 up over 23% and the Dow Jones up nearly 19% as of the end of October. Despite this outstanding performance, we have also seen periods of significant volatility this year and over the past several years since the beginning of the “Great Recession.” Most recently, the government shutdown, talk of an end of the Federal Reserve’s stimulus program, and concern about rising interest rates have caused volatility in both the equity and bond markets during the past few months. These periods of volatility can cause significant concern in investors, and highlight the importance of a basic investing concept: Asset Allocation.

Asset Allocation is the mix of stocks, bonds, and cash equivalents in an investment account. The mix is determined through an evaluation of an investor’s goals, tolerance for risk, and investment time length. The goal of the process is to determine the appropriate percentage to be allocated to each of these asset classes to balance the amount of risk that an investor is willing to take with the return potential of the portfolio.

More simply stated, an investor’s asset allocation should provide the investor with an investment mix that provides investment returns with a level of risk and fluctuation that you are comfortable with. For example, an investor who is uncomfortable with large declines in their portfolio’s value should have an allocation with a significant percentage of investments in less-volatile bond investments rather than the more risky and volatile equity investments. Alternately, an investor who is comfortable with such fluctuations may have a larger allocation to stocks in their accounts.

Having the proper asset allocation in your accounts can provide some peace of mind for you as an investor. If your investment mix provides returns with fluctuations that you are comfortable with, you should have less concern during short-term periods of volatility that are almost certain to happen over the course of a year.

If you are unsure about what the right asset mix is in your own accounts or if you have been uncomfortable with the up and down volatility in your portfolio when you’ve opened your account statements this year, it is a good idea to discuss this concept with your Wealth Manager or Financial Advisor. Year-end is a good time to review your goals and investment mix to ensure that your current portfolio is right for you.

Successfully Transferring Wealth to the Next Generation

You’ve tirelessly worked and sacrificed to care for your family and accumulate wealth.  Now comes the hardest part:  successfully transferring that wealth to future generations.  It’s hardest, because a successful transfer involves much more than a smartly designed estate plan. 

 So…how will your children handle their inheritance?  Will they use it to enhance their financial and personal circumstances, or will it dissipate along with their work ethic and sense of personal responsibility?

 Not sure?  The statistics are grim!  They suggest that seventy percent of heirs will lose their entire inheritance within a few years, often destroying family harmony in the process.  Additionally, ninety percent will abandon their parents’ advisory team shortly after receiving their inheritance. 

 Why does this happen?  The answer is simple:  many families fail to plan for the conservation, growth, and transfer of wealth. 

 Here are several things you can do right now to help ensure that your children appreciate and appropriately utilize the fruits of your labor.

 1.  Educate your children.  This means formally teaching them about the responsibilities associated with an inheritance and instilling a commitment to respect and preserve all aspects of your family’s legacy.  This process should begin during early childhood and become more specific as they mature.

 2.  Never underestimate the value of asset protection!  Nasty “stuff” happens…even in the best of families.  Adult children are often confronted with creditors, problematic spouses, spendthrift lifestyles, and the challenges of substance abuse. The solution?  Leave a portion of your estate in a flexible, long-term trust.  This will allow your family to enjoy the benefits of their inheritance while protecting them from the afore-mentioned dangers.

 3.  Protect young heirs…from themselves.  The number one mistake made by most heirs is spending heavily and quickly.  Young adults need time to emotionally mature, establish their careers, develop sound financial habits, and…understand the value of living below their means.  Once again, a long-term trust with flexible distribution standards provides opportunity for heirs to mature before having unrestricted access to their full inheritance. 

 4.  Teach your heirs about the value of trusted advisors.  Heirs often try to manage their own investments.  They take more risk, since they didn’t earn the money.  This often leads to poor investment choices, strategies that expose them to undue volatility, or unscrupulous advisors.  Make sure that they have a relationship with your family’s advisors (wealth manager, attorney, insurance specialist, CPA, etc.). 

 Remember – your heirs are the stewards of your family’s legacy!  Prepare them now, and they will be far more likely to enrich their lives and those of the next generation.

Estate Planning: Moving Beyond the Taxman!

Mention estate planning, and conversations invariably turn to taxes. Thankfully, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 ushered in several sweeping and permanent changes. 

 For example, the amount exempt from federal estate, gift, and generation-skipping taxes is set at $5 million, indexed for inflation ($10 million for married couples).

 Although taxes are important, there are other equally critical considerations. Here are other estate planning objectives that most of us deeply care about:

  • Care for loved ones,
  • Pass on your legacy,
  • Avoid probate and intestacy,
  • Plan for disability, and
  • Peace of mind.

 Not sure if your current estate plan addresses these objectives?  Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who will receive my (family) assets?  When?  How?
  • Will my children share equally?
  • How can I shield my child from a financially predatory spouse?
  • How can I provide for a child with substance abuse issues?
  • Should I provide for grandchildren?  How?
  • How can I ensure that an inheritance is a financial legacy rather than a short-term windfall?
  • Who will care for me and my spouse if I/we become disabled?  How have I ensured this?
  • Can my business remain in the family?
  • How will successor management be identified and developed?
  • How can I fairly treat my children who do not participate in the family business?

These are important objectives and questions.  If you can’t answer these questions or don’t like the answers, it’s time to seriously review your estate plan.  Our Trust Officers will be pleased to discuss these matters with you, keeping in mind that you should always consult with an experienced estate planning attorney before finalizing your plan. 



You, The Deficit, and Medicare Costs: Serious Stuff!

The anticipated growth of Medicare costs is the largest contributor to our country’s long-term budget deficit issues.  Few of us will pay sufficient taxes and premiums to cover our eventual Medicare costs. 

All of this spells big trouble.  Here’s a quick Medicare primer that explains why.

Is Medicare truly a bigger long-term problem than Social Security or defense spending?   Yes!  The Congressional Budget Office projects that Medicare spending will rise to 6.7% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the next 25 years…from 3.7% this year.  Some believe that is a conservative estimate.

Why is Medicare so problematic?  While rising Social Security costs are driven primarily by the ‘number’ of elderly people, Medicare costs are driven by two factors:  the number of elderly AND rapidly rising medical costs. 

Don’t most Americans cover their Medicare expenses via payroll taxes during their working lives?  Not even close!  According to a study by the Urban Institute, a married couple (both 66) with average earnings will pay roughly $122,000 in dedicated Medicare taxes through the payroll tax (including their employers’ share).  That couple is likely to receive nearly $390,000 in benefits, adjusted for inflation, during their lifetimes.

 Why are healthcare costs rising so quickly?  This is a “Good News/Bad News” story.  The good news is that our medical system has developed more sophisticated and successful means of treating serious illnesses like cancer, heart disease, and other maladies.  These means are expensive!  The bad news is that our system wastes enormous sums of money without enough bang for the buck.  Countries like Canada, Britain, Australia, Germany, France, and Japan all enjoy higher life expectancies…while spending less per capita!

 What are possible solutions?  Here’s where it gets complicated.  We could pay more in taxes;  however, higher taxes alone will not suffice unless the increases are much higher than anything currently being debated.  Other options include raising the eligibility age, more competition, restricting payments on treatments not proven to be more effective than less costly alternatives, and reducing benefits for the affluent. 

 Fixing Medicare will not be easy!  Let’s hope that Congress and the President take seriously every budget negotiation as an opportunity to fix a problem that promises to get much worse over time!