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Android Users...We Have an App for You!

Beginning today, February 27, 2012, Android mobile phone users will be able to download an application designed specifically for Google Android devices.

For users already enrolled in MutualMobile, follow these easy steps to getting your app!

  1. Log in to your online banking and access Mobile Banking, via ‘Options’ and 'Manage Device(s)'. 
  2. Select the “I want to change my Mobile Banking services” option to add the downloadable application. (You may also notice that we have modified the “Select Services” page to better assist you with your mobile banking options.) 
  3. After you have changed your services, we will send you a text message with a link that takes you directly to our Android application, TouchBanking, in the Android Market.

If you have not yet enrolled in MutualMobile, it only takes a few minutes! (And it's FREE!)

Log in to online banking and choose ‘Options’ to register today. Need help? Contact us at 800-382-8031 or CustomerSupport@bankwithmutual.com.

Learn more about MutualMobile.  

Monday, February 27, 2012

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Healthy Savings

Have you ever thought about how much your prescription or doctor visits cost your employer?  Many people who have a traditional insurance plan know they pay a $20 or $30 co-pay then they go about their day.  But have you ever looked at the amount your company pays?

Insurance costs have skyrocketed over the past decade and companies have tried to find a way to still offer benefits to their employees.  The solution has been to offer a high deductible insurance plan.  These types of programs are often accompanied by something called a Health Savings Account (HSA).  Simply put, a HSA is a checking account where money can be deposited and used for medical expenses. (You might have heard of a Flexible Spending Account, FSA, which is similar to a HSA, but different. FSAs require you to use your money set aside before the year ends. HSAs allow you to roll money over year after year. There are other differences as well. Learn more about HSAs through the Treasury’s website.)

So, are HSAs a good idea?  Yes!   HSAs make us better consumers of our health care.  We look closer at a bill or prescription if we know it will come out of our pocket.   We take the time to make sure if a generic medicine is just as good as a name brand, or if we truly need to go to the doctor for our sniffles.

The beauty of a health savings account is that the money grows tax free as long as we use it for qualified medical expenses.  So not only are we being more proactive with and aware of our healthcare, we are being smart about our money as well!

Together, a health savings account and a smart consumer make for very healthy living!

If you have questions about your HSA or want to learn more, chat with us! Your local MutualBanker is here to help you live a better life!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

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Simplify...Using my Bank to Make my Life Easier

My age is on my mind.  I’m 50, my favorite (& only) hubby just turned 50.  I need to simplify my life.  I need ‘easy,’ so I can spend more time doing the things I need and I want to do, like:

  • Hanging out with my family (need & want)
  • Getting myself back in shape (need)
  • Enjoying time with friends (need & want)
  • Stressing less (need & want)
  • Preparing for retirement (want sooner, rather than later, if possible).

When it comes to my finances, the benefits of having multiple relationships with my bank are many – everything is in one place; I don’t have to work to remember which loan is where; which financial institution my checking, savings, CDs are – and ditto for my family.  After all, my 50-year old brain is getting full, and I do have ‘senior moments’ on occasion.

I admit I have had multiple relationships with other financial institutions.  Why?  Mostly, my laziness in moving accounts when I built my current banking relationship and just letting them “be” when I knew it was just making my life more complicated.  I got numerous paper bank statements – mine, my husband’s, my daughter’s.  Translation – more paper for me to file, keep track of, give to my accountant, shred, or heaven forbid, lose….

Having one bank is oh, so much easier.  I’m a convert to electronic banking and all that entails – bill pay, e-statements, automatic deposits.  And if you’re worried about security, yes (my age-level friends) – it is safe.  With FDIC insurance on deposits and multiple electronic safeguards in place to keep my information safe, I’m comfortable – albeit it was not initially easy to convince me.  I have had, knock on wood, no instances of fraud or theft since moving to electronic. 

Now, I have password protected access to my internet banking, from anywhere, including my cell phone – where I can see on one page – my checking account balance & transactions; my savings account; CD; mortgage, and personal loan.  I know, at any point in time, my total balances in each of those.  I get most bills electronically (remember – less mail to sort through = more time for ME), and can set up a payment for future dates.  My life is incrementally simpler, in many ways thanks to my bank. 

Come on, fellow 50-year olds – I know we are on the cusp of liking the old ways – paper checks, snail mail, filing, and more filing.  But, wouldn’t you like more time for yourself?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

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I Love Free Stuff - Using Your Debit Card Rewards to Your Advantage

My husband and I just returned from an awesome vacation.  It was sunny and warm and a great break this time of year.  Do you know what was even better? The free stuff!  We are points people.  We saved up enough points so that we both had free airfare and five nights hotel stay in a super nice resort.  How awesome is that?

We have friends who use their points for upgrades when they travel.  Another friend used their points to go parasailing while on vacation.  I have a very practical friend who uses her points for gift cards to buy the everyday stuff her family needs. The greatest thing about points is that we can use them for whatever we want.  That is what we love about UChoose Loyalty RewardsUChoose Loyalty Rewards is more than a debit card rewards program.  It rewards us for our loyalty to MutualBank, for our deposit, loan and investment balances.  It also gives us points when we open up new services AND we earn points when we use our debit card.  Woo Hoo!  That is so awesome!

UChoose Loyalty Rewards just became even more awesome and I wanted to tell you some of the new things that make the program even better:

  1. UChoose Rewards now has featured merchants who will give you special offers and bonus points for shopping with them.  Check out the special offers when you log in at UChooseRewards.com
  2. Now you don’t have to worry if you don’t have quite enough points for the item you’ve been saving for.  You can go ahead and get it now, and buy the rest of the points needed with your debit card.
  3. If you are impatient like me, you don’t even have to wait for your gift card to arrive in the mail, you can get it electronically in minutes delivered to your email.
  4. Oh, and speaking of impatient, if you don’t want to wait for your item to arrive by mail, some of the products have in store pick up, once you’ve paid for it with your points.

UChoose Loyalty Rewards just keeps getting better and better.  So I have to ask the question, are you signed up for UChoose Loyalty Rewards?  If not, let me remind you it’s free. If you’re already signed up, awesome.  Tell me what you love about UChoose Loyalty Rewards or how you use your points at marketing@bankwithmutual.com .   I love to hear your stories. 

If you’re not signed up, do it now, don’t wait!  Once you register your debit card at UChooseRewards.com you’ll start earning points right away.  Maybe you’re thinking that you don’t need it because you use your credit card to accumulate points, that’s great!  A lot of people do the same thing.  But don’t you want to earn points on the items that you do purchase with your debit card? I know I do.  Besides, if you don’t sign up, you miss out on the rewards you can get for your account balances and the bonus points for new services and shopping at select retailers.  Don’t throw away the points you could be receiving.  Start earning today!

Learn more about UChoose Loyalty Rewards.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

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Social Engineering...Don't Be Fooled and Keep Your Banking Information Safe!

What is social engineering? 

CSO Magazine defines Social Engineering:

“Social engineering is essentially the art of gaining access to buildings, systems or data by exploiting human psychology, rather than by breaking in or using technical hacking techniques. For example, instead of trying to find a software vulnerability, a social engineer might call an employee and pose as an information technology (IT) support person, trying to trick the employee into divulging his password.”
– CSO November 2011

Social Engineering can take on many forms and fraudsters can be very successful using this method since it is very low tech and costs very little (if any) money to do. When it comes to banking online, it's even more important to understand the risks and how to keep your information safe and secure.

Here are some common methods of social engineering: 

  • Posing as a bank employee and calling you to trick you into divulging your personal financial information.
  • Posing as a relative calling you to say that your nephew, cousin, aunt, etc. has been stranded in Europe and needs money wired to them in order to get back home.
  • Facebook or Twitter scams such as free gift cards, phony charities, “watch this amazing video” are all used to trick people into again divulging private information to steal identities.

Protect yourself from social engineering:

  • MutualBank will not call or email you asking for personal, financial, or username and password information.
  • If you are suspect of a call you’ve received, insist on calling back with the published phone number of MutualBank or in the case of a relative the number that is known to you.
  • If it’s too good to be true…it probably is. Be very leery of extremely cheap or free products / services advertised on Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites.

At MutualBank, we strive to keep you educated of new scams or frauds.  For more information about protecting yourself visit our Alerts and Security information.  
Visit our Alerts anytime at bankwithmutual.com and click on "Alerts and Security". 

MutualBank customers can always call 800-382-8031 to report any instances of fraud or suspicious calls. Together we're working with you to keep your information safe.

Monday, January 30, 2012

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Holiday Debt Woes

Now that the Holidays are over, it is now time for those credit card bills to arrive and the determination of what was actually spent on holiday gifts become reality. 

As many Americans utilize credit cards to purchase gifts during the holidays and other items all year long, the repayment of that debt is always a challenge.  The excitement of the holiday season is over and the stress rises.  We use credit cards either as a convenience or because the cash is not available when we want.  Then the credit card bill arrives and we have a choice to make, pay the minimum payment and payoff the credit card in about ten years or try to make payments to reduce the balance more rapidly.  The following are a few suggestions to make the credit card debt go away and then utilize cash for the next holiday season or purchase.

  1. Have a plan and try to determine a reasonable payback period.  The quicker you pay off credit card debt, the more money you will save.  If you have $500 on a credit card and pay the minimum payment, you will end up paying over $1,200 when you eventually pay off the credit card ten years from now.  If you payback in three months, your total payback would be approximately $518. (Assuming 21% credit card rate)
    1. Use our calculator in our Financial Education Center to find out how long it will take to pay off your credit card.
    2. Once the credit card is paid off, use the payment you were making to create savings.  This will then allow you to use cash for your 2012 holiday purchases without having to resort to credit cards.
While this is easier said than done, it takes discipline.  And we’re here to help. Every year we make New Year’s resolutions, but if we are not disciplined it is very hard to stick to those resolutions.  Let’s chat. Maybe we can work together to come up with a game plan to help you pay down your debt.  Go ahead… make 2012 a year that you take control of your finances instead of your finances controlling you.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

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Businesses: I'm Talking To You!

New Year’s Resolutions... nope, I don’t subscribe to them.  I also don’t subscribe to fad diets (although there are times when I should), the latest fashions, or much else that seem to be the latest topics, trends, or crazes.  However, what I do believe is necessary and appropriate is to use the calendar as a good benchmark for various aspects of life.  Spring and Fall time changes are good reminders to change the batteries in the smoke detector.  Anniversaries are a good time to reflect and make a special effort to thank that special person for putting up with me.  Well you get the idea...

And, this is the time of year that I encourage our lending team to get out and talk to our clients and vice-versa.  Businesses traditionally are ramping up for the year and looking forward.  They are thinking about meeting with their CPA.  They are looking at the year ahead and trying to determine what sales goals are for the year.  And it is at this time of the year that bankers should be taking the time to visit with their clients.  Here is a list of conversation topics that your banker needs to be having with you (who initiates the conversation is not as important as having it).

  • How do you (the business owner) think 2011 will end up and why? (Did revenue go up, down or sideways?  What kind of bottom line do you expect and why? )
  • What are your 2012 expectations – where do you see this year differing from last and why?
  • Major acquisitions of fixed assets (equipment, real estate) on the horizon?  What will that do for the company (does it make sense to invest hard earned money into something – will it make the company more efficient?)
  • Any other potential changes on the horizon (staffing, ownership buy outs, possible acquisition of additional lines of business)?
  • Expectations of what you (the business owner) want from your banker (number of meetings each year, communications channels, etc.)

You should expect your banker to be of assistance, giving you good guidance and advice.  If the banker can’t understand your business, it is difficult for him/her to be able to help you.  Meet with your banker, make sure he/she “get it”, and open up those communication channels for both of you to succeed.  The bank doesn’t do well unless its clients do well, and businesses don’t do well unless their bank is by their side helping them achieve the goals and aspirations of their companies.

Go ahead and start these conversations today!

Monday, January 16, 2012

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Tech Savvy at 50?

I’m 50 now.  Shhh – don’t tell anyone.  My brain still hasn’t caught up with my physical age in many ways, and I kind of hope it doesn’t.   I’m actually working on just the opposite – getting my physicality in a little better shape, and a little ‘younger.’  It’s a long-term commitment, for sure.

My brain does act 50 sometimes though – when it comes to being technology-savvy, I’m a little slow to get on board.  It took a lot of poking and prodding to get me on Facebook.  I’ve been on it for a few years, and I have to face facts – my technology-driven friends were ‘right on.’  I’ve reconnected & learned more about friends -from my current pals all the way back to elementary school chums.  Facebook is as intimidating as I let it be.  I’ve learned to manage the urge to be on it incessantly.  I’ve become closer with some of my friends as a result, and I know some acquaintances better than before.

I have a Smartphone, read books and magazines on my Kindle, am on LinkedIn (the professional social network, so they say), and I do most of my banking via the internet.  I get my bank statements via email, and I have to stop sometimes as I flip through my mail at home – and ask myself why haven’t I signed up for almost everything to come electronically?   So much paper is wasted….

Truth is, I’m not quite as tech-savvy as I could be, but I’m solidly above the bottom of the matrix.  Maybe I’m in the ‘first quartile’ of tech-savvy?  I don’t tweet, use Foursquare or Hootsuite, and frankly, don’t even know what a couple of those are.  But I’m trying. Are you?

The New Year gives us the little nudge we need sometimes to try something new. Maybe you’ve been thinking about trying online banking or online bill pay. Maybe you’d like to use mobile banking, but you’re just not sure. Do it. Take that leap and try something new this year. Who knows, maybe you’ll be like this 50 year old and find that technology can be good. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

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Now That The Holidays Are Over...

You’ve made it through Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, holiday gift exchanges, holiday dinners, family gatherings, post-holiday sales, gift returns, refunds, exchanges and you ask yourself now what?  Well, there’s no doubt that during all of the holiday festivities that you have most likely used your MutualBank debit cards, credit cards, and checks.

You’ve probably used your MutualBank financial tools more over the last several weeks than the previous couple of months put together.  This means unfortunately there are more opportunities for fraud to occur during the holiday season.  Fraudsters and hackers are always attempting to get bank account information, especially during the holidays. One of the most important resources MutualBank has are our customers. That's why you will see us continue in the fight to protect consumers against fraud. 

You are part of our front line defense against consumer financial fraud.  Our job is to make sure that our customers, like you, are informed to protect their financial assets against fraud.  A simple first step is to make sure that you know your spending habits.  The easiest way you can do this is to carefully review your bank and credit card statements that cover the holiday time period.

Tips on reviewing your holiday spending:

  • Use your statements or MutualBank’s Personal Online Banking…are you signed up for eStatements yet?  
  • Look for extra charges from retailers that you visited.
  • Pay close attention to your online purchase listings. 
  • View your cleared checks to make sure that they were not altered in any way to change the payees or dollar amounts.
  • If you see any debits or charges on your statements that look suspicious please notify our Customer Support area immediately by email or by calling 800-382-8031. Additionally, we welcome you to stop by any of our locations!

If you are a victim of online fraud you should also file a complaint at the Internet Crime Complaint Center

Like what you read today? Stay tuned. At the beginning of every month, we’ll provide you with new security tips. Just one more way we’re trying to help you live a better life!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

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Last Minute Christmas Shopping

Are all of your gifts bought and wrapped? If so, I’m impressed!

Generally speaking, I am shopping all the way up to Christmas day. Sometimes it’s because I can’t decide what to buy and sometimes it’s simply because I haven’t made enough time to shop. Either way, there have been times I’ve found myself in a bind. It’s Christmas Eve and I finally decide what I want to give, but I can’t purchase it before the store closes. So what am I to do?

This year, I started shopping a couple of weeks ago and throughout one of my purchases, I had an experience I couldn’t resist sharing with you. Did you know you could use your UChoose Loyalty Reward points for gift cards? Did you know you could get some of those gift cards the same day? Let me share with you about my recent Christmas shopping experience.

I was using my lunch hour to complete some online Christmas shopping.  It just so happened that I could get four different gifts for people on Amazon.com. Once I confirmed my soon to be gifts, I proceeded to checkout.  As I arrived on the page asking for my debit or credit card number, I realized I could get a gift card with my UChoose Loyalty Rewards. It only occurred to me while I was checking out because a day earlier, my coworker said you can get UChoose Loyalty Reward gift cards emailed to you rather than wait the 7-10 days for a plastic gift card to come in the mail.

So I hopped over to the UChoose Loyalty Reward website to purchase a gift card with my points. I found the Amazon gift card, selected the amount I wanted, chose how I would prefer to receive it (mail or email) and added it to my cart.  (Side note: I found in most cases, it was cheaper, less points that is, to choose the email option than the plastic option.) After I confirmed my purchase, I went over to my email and lo and behold, there it was!  I used the gift card immediately and was able to complete my Amazon purchase.

As Christmas is only five days away, I thought you needed to know about this convenience. If you’re anything like me, still sorting out who to buy for and what to get, keep in mind UChoose Loyalty Reward gift cards. You could order it and receive it in less than 15 minutes.

Go ahead…finish that last minute Christmas shopping today!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

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