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  • Being Green

    Friday, October 7, 2011

    “It’s not easy, being green…” lamented Kermit the Frog, in the Muppet movie.  Well, it’s not easy being a banker these days either.   A 24 hour news cycle does its best to hype up the changes in the banking industry so that by the time a customer comes into a bank, they are already annoyed.

    You hear it from everywhere; Banks are charging for everything now!  Next they will charge you to breathe inside the branch!  OK, maybe this is an exaggeration, but it’s the feeling consumers have.  It’s not easy being me!

    Well, it is easy to be a customer at MutualBank.  Mutual’s new changes to checking accounts give you the opportunity to keep your checking account free by doing what most people do anyway.  For instance you can avoid a monthly fee on one of our customizable checking accounts by simply using your debit card 8 times a month and getting eStatements.  I don’t know about you, but I use my debit card way more than 8 times a month.  And eStatements?  Not wasting all that paper is great for the planet as well as your filing cabinet!  Simple right?  Not only that, but we also reward you for using that debit card!  With our Uchoose Loyalty Rewards you get points for using your debit card that you can exchange for almost anything from a gift card all the way to airline miles. 

    Yes, there have been some major changes in banking lately.  But even Kermit would agree that its not so bad to be green when your green is with MutualBank.

     

    Written by Debra Jones-Price, Manager at MutualBank's Bethel Financial Center in Muncie, Indiana.

  • What Do You Want From Your Bank?

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    I was visiting with a colleague after a networking meeting last week.  After conversing for a few minutes, I asked her, “What do you want from your bank?” She replied, “I want to get money every time I swipe my debit card.”

    She went on to explain how she pretty much only uses her debit card and it would be great if she could get something in return for doing so.

    In March of this year, CBS News posted a video and news article about how banks are cutting back on their debit card reward programs.  The reasons for the cut back include both a downward economy and the interchange regulation changes.

    The conversation with my colleague jogged my memory of this article and got me thinking about MutualBank’s debit card reward program. Here is my colleague, living in a community where MutualBank resides and she’s banking with another institution that doesn’t give her what she wants. Am I the only one who thinks there is something wrong with this picture?

    I proceeded to tell her about MutualBank’s debit card reward program. MutualBank has offered a debit card reward program for over three years.  They've always appreciated their customers. But over the last year, MutualBank evaluated how they could express that appreciation in a way that would positively impact their customers.  They wanted to physically thank their customers for their loyalty to MutualBank. So what did they do? They expanded the debit card reward program to be a full scale reward program, solely based on loyalty. 

    I shared with my colleague that not only does she get points for using her debit card, she also would get points for the balance in her accounts, balances on mortgages, auto loans and investments.  My colleague is a younger professional who does not yet have a mortgage.  The great thing about MutualBank's loyalty reward program is that they're here to grow with her. As she obtains new accounts at MutualBank, she gets bonus points.  And after she earns all of these points for all the different relationships she has with MutualBank, she can redeem the points for just about anything she wants.  She can redeem her points for gift cards, plane tickets, hotel stays, a new laptop, really, almost anything!

    So…are debit card reward programs extinct? Nope. Not at MutualBank, at least. In fact, MutualBank’s debit card reward program is not only alive, but it’s an advance loyalty program designed to say one thing…

    Thank you
  • $10 Makes a Difference

    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    2011 marks Muncie's Habitat for Humanity 25th anniversary of serving families in our community with 'a place to call home'. 

    In October of this year Muncie Habitat will build a home for its 100th family! Muncie Habitat is inviting the entire community to ‘Make a $10 Dollar Difference’ and support the funding of this house. In just one week (This week - September 12-17), Muncie Habitat and local media outlets are campaigning to raise $50,000 through $10 donations from 5,000 people in our community.

    On Monday, September 12th, the 'traveling wall' made it's appearance at the Downtown Muncie office! 

    MutualBank and Habitat for Humanity have been longtime partners. In fact, for their entire existence in this community, MutualBank has supported Habitat for Humanity. MutualBank has worked with many of Habitat’s partner families.  MutualBankers have donated both work time and personal time to help on worksites. Additionally, MutualBank has helped Habitat for Humanity secure grants for funding. 

    So the question is...why? Why are we so involved? It's simple. 

    "Homeownership makes a difference in the lives of families. A decent place to live is the foundation for a better life."

    Habitat for Humanity has this statement on their website and it is the exact reason why we support Habitat for Humanity. We support home ownership and want to help people live better lives. So we'll do our part, it's your turn to do yours. If you'd like to support Habitat's efforts to build their 100th home, you can donate in three ways:

    1. Habitat for Humanity's website
    2. Any MutualBank location -in Delaware County
    3. Any of the locations of the traveling wall
      1. Wednesday 9/14 - 3p-6p Dillman's Furniture
      2. Thursday 9/15 - 4p-7p Texas Roadhouse
      3. Friday 9/16 - 3p-6p Victory Honda
      4. Saturday 9/17 - 3p-5p Glass & More Factory
    Will you join us in helping others in our community live a better life?
  • Happy birthday MutualBank!

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday MutualBank. Happy birthday to you!

    On September 7, 1889, the Mutual Home and Savings Association was formed. The purpose of Mutual Home over a century ago was very simple. The Association provided a safe place for saving money and a source of funds available to the community for the building and purchasing of homes.  122 years later, we still serve that purpose, but are better equipped to serve all of the needs of our customers of today.

    As one of the oldest businesses in our markets, MutualBank has grown and prospered over the full course of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century, meeting the financial needs of its customers through times of war and peace as well as prosperity, recession and even depression. While on the surface this proves we are a bank that meets the needs of our customers; there is something greater that exists below the surface. There is a culture that unless part of the MutualBank family, you might not know exists. When you become part of the MutualBank family, you learn that this is much more than a job that earns a paycheck. You learn about the essence of MutualBank – heritage and personal responsibility.

    Heritage. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines heritage as “something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor”. After 122 years in business, we realize there were many before us who paved the way and created a culture in helping our neighbors. Our entire organization was founded on the premise that it could help people improve their lives. One of my favorite stories over our history is of a time during the Great Depression. It is told as follows:

    “Even a greater problem which people encountered during the 1930’s involved meeting their mortgage payments. Once again, however, Mutual Home fared reasonably well; but, unquestionably, people who were unemployed found it extremely difficult to make their mortgage payments. If a delinquency became too serious, the usual policy called for the property to be deeded back to Mutual Home, which, in turn renovated and rented it, sometimes to the original purchaser with an option to re-acquire it at a later date.” Walter Burt, who was a member of the board of directors at Mutual Home said of that time, “We just had to be flexible and patient and work out the best arrangements that were possible. In time, most people got back on their feet. Many repurchased and eventually paid off their loan.”

    To understand the heritage of MutualBank automatically changes what we do from just “a job” to something personal. MutualBank is a mid-sized community bank. We have checking accounts, loans, and mobile banking just like other banks. So what makes MutualBank special? Our employees are dedicated and take personal responsibility to continue moving forward with our already established culture. If we take personal responsibility to provide the best service, do what is right and have compassion and respect for our customers, we believe our customers would not want to bank with anyone else but us.  

    Obviously, we believe our duty and our role in the community is much more than providing financial services. We are people and a company seeking to help people, to help our neighbor. We’re just using banking as a platform to do so.  And that’s always been the case. We know, understand and consciously make decisions based on the fact that if it weren’t for our customers and our community, we wouldn’t be here. It is truly a tribute to our customers and our communities that we have been in business for 122 years. Our hope is that the partnership between MutualBank and the community has been mutually beneficial.

    We thank you for taking a moment with us and celebrating the success and longevity of MutualBank. 

  • Do you 'Google' it?

    Monday, August 29, 2011

    Did you know the Merriam-Webster dictionary now references google as a verb?

    Definition of GOOGLE
    transitive verb:  to use the Google search engine to obtain information about (as a person) on the World Wide Web

     

    I find this interesting because I google everything! I have a BlackBerry, so it makes it easier for me to google things I'd never think to google. Yesterday I was having lunch at a local restaurant. A song came on the restaurant's satellite station that was playing as background music. Two people at my table were having a friendly debate about who sang the song and what decade it was released. Not being a music connoisseur, I was clueless of the answer. So what did I do? I grabbed my phone and it became a race for me to identify the correct answer by googling it before the debate was over. (For those that have to know, I did find the answer and could affirm the one individual who was arguing that Robert Palmer sang "Bad Case of Loving You".)

    The reason why googling is so successful is that you can find everything you could ever want to know, just by searching a few words. But let me ask, how accurate are the results? To be honest, they are pretty accurate, especially on simple things. But have you ever thought about googling your financial questions?

    As I mentioned, I google just about everything. But when it comes to my money, I want to be sure I'm getting 100% accurate information. Sometimes I prefer to talk to someone face-to-face. And more often than not, I don't want to share personal financial questions unless it's with someone I trust. I have worked hard for my money and I want to be sure the answers I receive are customized to me and my situation. But there are many times I want to research options and give myself time to ponder before I take time to meet with someone. Sometimes, I want to be educated and have an idea of what I want or need before someone tells me.

    Are you like me? Do you want to take time to research options and advice before you're ready to take the next step?

    If so, MutualBank is taking steps to meet your needs. On October 3rd, MutualBank is releasing an Education Center designed for you. The Education Center will have articles to help you research that next financial step in your life. It will have calculators to help you determine what makes sense. For example, one calculator can help you determine if refinancing your mortgage is right for you.

    Get the best of both worlds: the ability to research your options before you take the next step and research with someone you already know and trust. Because at MutualBank, we're here to help you live a better life.

  • Economic Turmoil

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    There have been a lot of concerns surrounding the current US economic situation. While it is serious, there are a lot of different views that are creating more confusion. Here are some quick thoughts that I believe will shed some additional light on the situation.

    Debt Ceiling

    In the first few days of August we heard that we had reached our debt ceiling and that if it was not raised, the US would be in default on its obligations.  There is some truth, but also some misconceptions in that thought.  Assume you are utilizing a credit card to pay bills, etc with a $10,000 limit and you currently have $9,500 balance on the credit card, you have $500 remaining prior to hitting your personal debt ceiling.  What are your choices if you want to continue to use the credit card? {Get another credit card, get a line increase}.  If you have the ability to get another card or get a line increase, you will not default on the payments you are making, but payments may be delayed or delinquent until you get the new card or a line increase.  You would still have the ability to make payments on your bills rather than using your credit cards you will be limited to what is in your checking account or the cash you have available.  Congress needed to increase the “credit line” or debt ceiling so the US Treasury could continue to borrow.  While the US was not bankrupt like other European nations, without the increase the US Treasury could not continue to issue debt to pay the bills.  While the US Treasury would still have been able to pay some bills due to revenues, other bills could not be paid because the government is paying more out than they are receiving in revenues.  This practice of paying out more than revenues at the current pace is not sustainable and Congress must find a way to match revenues and expenses in the near future (balanced budget).

    S&P Downgrade

    S & P reduced the ratings of the US government due to the above discussion.  In normal situations, a downgrade of a company’s rating would result in the company to pay higher interest rates due to being seen as a riskier investment.  After the S & P downgrade the US Treasuries interest rates actually decreased due to it being the most liquid currency and the faith put into the US economic system around the world.  So, while a decrease in the S & P rating should not be taken lightly, due to the increasing debt of the US, we should not allow others to convince us that the sky is falling.  The most liquid, secure investment continues to be US debt (Treasuries) and other corporate debt will continue to be priced off of US Treasuries.

    Conclusion

    Congress must find a way to reduce the increase in the US debt.  The final outcome will probably be increased revenues (tax increases) and expense reduction (reducing government programs) to help balance the budget.  The current level of expenses versus the revenues generated is not sustainable and a balance approach to solving this issue is necessary.

    Chris Cook, CPA, MBA
    Senior Vice President, Treasurer and Chief FInancial Officer
    MutualFirst Financial, Inc. and MutualBank
    Email Chris 

  • Christmas in July

    Friday, July 29, 2011

    It is hard to think about Christmas when it's over 90 degrees outside.  Let me give you a reason to start thinking about snow, get togethers, Christmas cookies and the holiday season...

    Christmas is 21 weeks away. You might not think that is very soon, but for those of us who buy gifts, make candies and cookies, host get togethers and travel, 21 weeks is right around the corner! 

    As each holiday season approaches, I realize I always forget to budget for Christmas gifts. Before I know it, it's Thanksgiving and I'm trying to figure out how much money I can spare so I can buy that special framed artwork that would look perfect in my sister's new home. This year is going to be different.  I'm planning ahead. I've come up with a few ideas to help me save specifically for Christmas. I thought maybe these ideas could help you too.  Also, I have a few ideas to help plan for the future holiday seasons! Take a look:

    • Open a savings account
      The first step in saving is having a place to put the money. (No, under the mattress doesn't count.)  MutualBank offers a variety of saving avenues from accounts to CDs.  
    • Set aside $25.00 per week.  
      Did you know: If you set aside $25.00 a week from now until Christmas, you will have saved $500 by Christmas? 
      You can save $25.00 or more per week by setting up TMS (Transfer Management System) with MutualBank. Money can be automatically transferred to another checking or savings account so you don't have to do a thing!! 

    There are other ways you can save for future holidays. Did you know we have a cd that requires a deposit weekly, biweekly or monthly? It's called the Clockwork CD. This helps keep you accountable to your commitment and can be automatic!

    The hardest step is the first step. Make a commitment to save and talk to your MutualBanker to get set up for plan that works for you. Saving doesn't have to happen overnight; it can happen $25.00 at a time! 

    Merry Summer to you!

  • How many folds?

    Monday, July 25, 2011

    Last week, we asked our Facebook Fans and you through the poll on our website:
    "The average dollar bill is meant to take up to how many folds in each direction before it rips?"

    The results:

      Answer choices:     Facebook Results:     Website Poll Results:  
    500 25% 17%
    1000 50% 28%
    4000 25% 30%
    8000 0% 23%

     

    And the correct answer is:

    4000 Folds!

    Can you believe that? According to the United States Treasury, you can double fold (first forward, then backward) a bill up to 4000 times before it rips! The reason is because currency paper is 25% linen, making it rip-resistant.

    I wonder if that number decreases if the bill has been washed!

  • What's your phone to you?

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    MutualMobile is here!

    I have been waiting for this day, the day when MutualBank has mobile banking.  My phone is so many things to me:  my watch, alarm clock, email, newspaper, search engine, navigation, and now banking. 

    Did you know that there are over 223 million US mobile phone users over the age of 13*?  There are times I wonder how any of us lived without our mobile phones, and that we can’t survive the day unless our phone is within arm’s reach.  The more I have my MutualMobile APP, the more I wonder what I did without it!  At any moment I can see my balance, transfer money, check to see where the closest MutualBank ATM is.  Hold on, did I pay my electric bill?  Yes, I did, just checked it on MutualMobile

    With my busy lifestyle, I don’t always have time to write my transactions down the same day.  With MutualMobile I can keep track of the everything clearing my account and not worry about making time to sit down at my computer verifying the transactions and balancing my checkbook.  Just the other day, I was waiting on my car to get serviced, pulled out my phone to pay my bills, transfer money, and balanced my checkbook.  WOW!  How convenient is that?

    *Statistics from Nielsen 2010 Media Industry Fact Sheet
  • Race to Syracuse Summerfest!

    Friday, July 8, 2011

    It has been just over a month since the Joplin, Missouri tornado that claimed too many lives and left the town in pieces.

    Sometimes being a community bank doesn't just mean helping the communities in which you reside.  Sometimes it means helping a community in need, no matter where they are located.  That's exactly what we're trying to do.

    The MutualBank team of Syracuse invites you to participate in a pedal cart race to benefit the Joplin Disaster Relief.  Here is all of the information you need to know:

    • Date: Saturday, July 9th
    • Time: Registration/Lunch 12:30pm - 1:30pm / Race 1:30pm
    • Address: 612 S. Huntington St. Syracuse, IN 46567
    • Teams of four may participate - Registration per team is $10.00
    • Prizes will be awarded to three teams with the best times

    Spectators are welcome! You do not have to participate in the race to enjoy this fun event. C'mon over for a fun time as we do our part to help Joplin, Missouri pick up the pieces and begin rebuilding!

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