Why Borrowing From Yourself Can Be a Smart Move

Terri Hanson, Vice President—Residential Lending  

With the recent appreciation in home values in our area, it’s likely your home equity has risen to a point where you’re living inside a literal nest egg. Accessing that equity to finance some of the other expenses in your life could be a smart financial move, given the current level of interest rates.

Be at Home With Your Loan: Borrowing Options

One option homeowners have for accessing the savings they’ve accumulated in their home is to refinance with a cash-out mortgage. This involves replacing your current mortgage with one that has a higher outstanding balance. It’s typically more beneficial when interest rates are below the rate of your existing mortgage.

When interest rates are rising, as they are expected to do, using a home equity loan is often more cost-effective than refinancing. Home equity loans are secured by residential real estate, which is typically your largest asset and tends to appreciate over time. So, they often have more attractive terms than unsecured personal loans or those secured by another asset, such as a car.

Home equity loans come in two “flavors”: fixed-rate home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs). Here’s what you need to know about each type.

Fixed-rate home equity loans are like having second mortgages. When you borrow, you receive a lump sum and begin repaying the loan immediately, with fixed monthly payments of principal and interest. The loans have a set maturity and are closed after you repay them.

As mentioned above, when rates are rising, home equity loans are helpful in minimizing borrowing costs. For instance, customers who don’t qualify for the best terms at auto dealerships or who buy used cars on a person-to-person basis may find using a home equity loan to buy a car could lower their cost of borrowing.

HELOCs are also secured by your home equity, but they offer greater flexibility. This is why many homeowners prefer them to fixed-rate home equity loans. They work like credit cards in that you only receive a bill when you have an outstanding balance. You can also borrow, repay and borrow again. When you borrow against a HELOC, only the interest on your current balance is due each month for a number of years before principal payments are expected. This enables you to decide how much you want to repay on the principal amount and when to do it.

Prior to retiring, many older homeowners will open a HELOC so they have access to emergency funds for unexpected repairs and medical expenses. There are no restrictions for how the money may be used. However, the interest rate charged on outstanding balances will fluctuate. At Old Second, HELOCs adjust with the U.S. Prime Rate (plus a margin). As interest rates go up or down, so will the interest due each month.

Is It the Right Thing to Do?

Building home equity creates options as you move through your financial life. In addition to the wealth you have in individual savings and investment and retirement accounts, it makes sense to manage the money you accumulate in your home as well. Whether it helps you afford college expenses, pay for a wedding, prepare your current home for sale or is a source of funds for your new home’s down payment, borrowing against your home equity can be a smart financial move. However, before taking out any loan, make sure you know your options and the terms and costs associated with each one. You can check our current rates and incentives here.

The Next Move Is Yours

To access a collection of home equity calculators that will help you understand how borrowing against your home would affect your budget, click here or contact us about your home equity loan options at 630-466-4843 (thanson@oldsecond.com). We can’t wait to talk to you about what we can do for you today.

If you are ready to start an online application, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: TransUnion HELOC Study

Are You Ready for Prime Time?

Denise Rogers, Assistant Vice President—Senior Director

Being a community bank, we’re able to offer services that are just more personal. Offering our customers membership into our Prime Time Club is one of them. The membership not only provides access to a variety of free or discounted services, it can be your ticket to some truly memorable experiences.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go

We try to keep a balance in our group travel experiences. In addition to the trips that involve relying on coach services and flying, we accommodate members who are only interested in day trips and those who want to drive places on their own.

The Prime Time Club brings you together with others in the community who share similar financial, social and travel interests. We’re able to buy tickets and arrange transportation at group discount rates to and from a variety of local venues: Broadway show performances at the Paramount Theatre here in Aurora to baseball games in Chicago, Wisconsin and St. Louis, Mo.

Among our more popular events are the FREE Rules of Road refresher courses, which help members prepare for their written driver’s test, and our two-day, AARP Smart Driver program. This longer course leads to a certificate you can present to your insurance company in exchange for a discount on your premiums.

Where many of our members see the greatest value, however, is in the longer trips we plan. For instance, in 2019, we will be heading East for a weeklong “Chesapeake Bay Getaway” (April 24–May 1, 2019). The Prime Time Club will also be traveling to Iceland next summer (July 27–August 2, 2019) and in the fall experience a “Pacific Coastal Cruise” (October 12–21, 2019). As with the day trips, we make all the arrangements, including booking the transportation, accommodations and day tours. For members, it’s a worry-free way of seeing the best of what the world has to offer.

Fellow Travelers

For me, one rewarding aspect of being the director of the program goes beyond interacting with the travelers; also watching everyone enjoying themselves is fulfilling. It’s seeing those who’ve joined us for the first time without knowing anyone return home having made new acquaintances and connections within the community. Traveling beyond their daily routines literally makes the world a little smaller.

Whether you would benefit from the discounted banking services, are transitioning toward a life of increased leisure time or find yourself at a time in your life where you would like to meet new people, consider joining the Prime Time Club. The Club has been offered to customers for 36+ years. Currently, we are 6,200 members strong, and there is always room for one more.

Membership Details

  • Membership is open to any Old Second customer who:
    • Is 55 years or better.
    • Has a checking or Money Manager account
    • Has combined balances of $10,000 in Old Second Bank or trust accounts.
  • Prime Time checking with interest.
  • Debit card with rewards.
  • Free services include:
    • Money orders and cashier’s checks.
    • Signature guarantees and notary services.
    • A financial counseling session.
    • ATM withdrawals at all O2 ATMs and MoneyPass® ATMs (up to three free withdrawals at non-O2 and non-MoneyPass® ATMs).
    • No fee on gift cards.
    • Newsletter regarding upcoming events.
    • Annual member luncheon.
  • Discounts include:
    • Safe deposit box rental.
    • Extended tours and one-day trips.

To learn more about how Prime Time Club membership would benefit you, visit our website or give me a call at 630-365-5193. For an idea of what we’ve been up to and to review upcoming performances, seminars and road trips, check out our calendar.

The Game-Changing Benefits of Predictable Cash Flow

David Mottet , First Vice President—Commercial Lending 

To understand the dynamics of small business management, you need to look beyond your revenues and focus on how quickly cash flows through your organization. Because, if your company comes up with insufficient cash to operate at the end of the month, it really won’t matter that your business’ earnings hit a new high the month before. That’s why you need to keep your eye on your operating cash cycle to get a better gauge on the health of your cash flow.

The Lifeblood of Your Organization

The operating cash cycle represents the length of time your cash is tied up in working capital, including the inventory cycle and the accounts receivable cycle. For most businesses, it takes somewhere between 40 and 60 cents in working capital investment to generate one dollar in new revenue. This is the basic premise behind achieving sustainable growth.

Your growth capacity is determined by your working capital surplus. But the “timing of cashis also a factor. Operating cash cycles are the circulatory system of your business. If cash is not flowing smoothly through the system, the patient weakens. If cash flow stops all together, the patient’s viability is at risk.

Assessing Predictability

To gauge the strength of your current operating cash cycle, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How would your day-to-day operations be impacted if your clients made their payments within 24 hours of receiving your invoice?
  • How would truly predictable cash flow affect the ability of your company to add staff or other resources?
  • How would paying all accounts within five business days impact your ability to negotiate better prices and discounts with your vendors?

If you are like most managers, answering these questions led you to a better place than you are right now. Once you know when you will receive payment, you no longer need to juggle payables and other business obligations. You begin to control your cash flow rather than being controlled by it. That’s where the value of having a predictable cash flow leads.

The Benefits of a Predictable Cash Flow

Business owners typically realize five major benefits from achieving a predictable operating cash cycle.

  1. Reduce managerial stress. Just as with personal finances, a lack of money can lead to stress in a business. You start to worry about your employees just as you would your family.
  2. Build stronger business relationships. Once you take control of your operational cash cycle, you can begin to nurture valuable relationships with both vendors and clients. This can often lead to earning better pricing through prompt payment.
  3. Experience debt reduction. Predictable cash cycles in a business enable you to pay down term debt more quickly, as well as other short-term obligations. In time, your business can become totally debt free, and, as an owner, you become an investment and cash management client rather than strictly a borrower.
  4. Improve staffing flexibility. During times of uncertainty, the last thing a business owner wants to do is commit to paying annual salaries for new employees. Predictable operational cash flow enables you to hire with confidence as growth opportunities arise.
  5. Realize growth in sales. Businesses must have working capital to support expansion. By making operational cash cycles more predictable, one key barrier to growth is removed. Consistent cash cycles provide you with the opportunity to expand your sales more easily, given market demand.

To gain firm control of your operational cash flow and the resulting benefits of predictable payments, Old Second offers business clients access to the BusinessManager® program. This online program allows you to get cash for your accounts receivable deposited directly into your bank account by selling them to the bank at a discount. Essentially, it allows you to quickly turn your invoices into cash, makes your cash flow more predictable and enables you to negotiate better terms from your suppliers. The result is a much stronger operating cash cycle and healthier finances.

To learn more about this game-changing program and the other cash management strategies available at Old Second Bank, contact your lender to set up an appointment. We can’t wait to show you the difference it can make.

Attracting and Retaining Skilled Employees

Sean O’Connor, First Vice President/Retirement Benefits 

With the current robust economy comes a tight job market. While that may be great for revenues, it also brings the added pressure of attracting and retaining skilled staff members. Whether you are trying to entice good workers to leave the jobs they have to join your firm or want current employees to stay, it takes a more than salary and a pleasant workplace. Having a good employee benefit plan helps make your case.

The Thing About Millennials

Millennials, the generation that is currently flooding workplaces as the pace of Baby Boomer retirements starts to percolate, may have a reputation for being swayed by the promise of an office foosball table and Taco Tuesdays, but that is not all they want. A key characteristic for this demographic is that they are savers, and many have already begun saving for retirement. As self-guided learners, they are already looking for more sophisticated strategies and advice on retiring. They want to be prepared to “win” retirement—and a potentially early retirement at that.

As an employer, this makes your plan, and its attractiveness in meeting your staff members’ long-term goals, even more critical to your company’s continued growth and expansion.

Closing the Gaps

As a wealth management firm, we have been creating and administering employee retirement plans for decades. That includes establishing, monitoring and administering defined contribution plans, or 401ks and 403Bs, for our business and municipal clients.

With a highly “seasoned” staff—some of us started our careers with larger global consulting firms and research groups—we have an unexpectedly deep bench when it comes to our in-house capability for structuring customized new employer plans for clients. We can also provide consultative services that lead to recommendations for strengthening the retirement plan you already have in place to make it more appealing to participants of all ages.

Easy Access to Answers

Recently, we’ve been making the biggest difference for our plan sponsor clients by bringing their plans up to the technological standards workers expect, especially those that are younger and tech savvy. Millennials, in particular, are information miners. They expect to find the answers they need to questions as they occur to them, online and through a mobile device. Then, they want to be able to contact a person for a one-on-one conversation. We accommodate that.

Through a variety of vendor relationships, we strive to create a seamless and intuitive experience for your plan participants. This enables them to trade online and access research on their own. It also provides the tools and apps that help them focus on achieving their financial wellness goals. Given our own community banking heritage, we are also available to take calls and meet on-site to address their questions and provide the educational assistance that enables participants to get the most out of their employer plan.

Investment Guidance

As a division within a commercial bank’s trust department, we also offer two more advantages. Fiduciary duty is part of our DNA. We are required by law to operate with fiduciary responsibility at every level of our business. This isn’t something new for us; it has always been part of our service.

Secondly, being a wealth management provider, we are also able to leverage the market research and investment knowledge of in-house experts to the advantage of your plan. That expertise can help in structuring the plan and choosing the most cost-effective investment options for you to offer. Beyond fund selection, the fact that we monitor markets and investments daily can lead to a quicker reaction to shifts in market and economic fundamentals. Many of our plan sponsor clients find that added responsiveness and proactive involvement relieves them of the extra responsibility and pressure to conduct their own monitoring and investment reviews.

We Simplify Plan Sponsors’ Lives

We also help keep compliance testing in line with ERISA compliance and monitor costs related to the investments and to the plan’s operation. After all, controlling costs creates more of a growth opportunity for participants. Although, we also recognize it isn’t always about the price. It’s about being able to deliver participants to their goals and providing plan sponsors with the services and support they need—from access to the best investment platforms to on-site education and consultations.

Whether you want to ensure your current plan remains competitive in today’s battle for workers or you think it’s time to add a plan, visit us here or, better yet, give us a call at 630-844-8655. We can help you stay competitive and keep your employees on track to achieve the retirement goals.

The Generation Gap in Wealth

Rich Gartelmann, CFP®, Senior Vice President and Head of Wealth Management Rich Gartlemann Bio Picture

Money may be ageless, but how it’s viewed, invested and spent can depend on when we were born. Attitudes toward money develop early and are influenced by our parents. They can also be shaped by the social and political events that affect “our” generation as we enter adulthood.

This combination can also affect how we plan our financial futures, the amount of risk we are willing to take and, ultimately, the types of investments that enable us to sleep well at night. If left unchallenged, some of these tendencies may also keep us from realizing our financial goals.

Looking Through Different Lenses

At a very high level, it helps to consider how financial experiences may have varied across the last several generations—generations to which many of our family members belong.

The Silent Generation

For many in this age group, their earliest memories involved economic hardship due to the Great Depression, followed by rationing during World War II. Their early adulthoods then coincided with more “war” years— Korean and Vietnam. It’s little wonder that these experiences seemed to find expression in a tendency to be conservative and save both cash and provisions for the next threat. Many ended up being able to retire early, supported by company pensions, Social Security benefits and interest on their savings, though perhaps they didn’t take the risks or have as many experiences as they would have liked.

Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers grew up under very different circumstances. Their childhoods coincided with a post-war boom, while their adulthood coincided with a time of high inflation. It conditioned many to buy what they wanted “now” since they might not be able to afford it later, which may have led to the material-driven lifestyle choices associated with this generation. As they head into their retirement years, some Baby Boomers may still focus more on enjoying what they have while they can. As a group, they tend to tolerate more risk and be more trusting of the stock market and of things working out. For many, retirement can be more about what they will do next than actually a time for slowing down.

Gen X

As teens and young adults, Gen Xers witnessed—and many have been victims of—multiple manias and crashes at key times in their financial lives. These include the 1987 market crash and subsequent recession as well as the bull market of the 1990s, followed by the dotcom debacle, not to mention the many Wall Street scandals. Then, they experienced the 2008 recession and housing crisis! Because of the timing, many in this generation have had a harder time accumulating wealth than those in the Baby Boomer and Silent generations. Overall, Gen Xers are often characterized as distrustful when it comes to wealth and investing. Some may even need to be convinced the future is something you really can successfully plan for.

Millennials

Millennials were children or just entering adulthood at the time of the September 11 attacks. They may have seen their parents and their friends’ parents struggle with unemployment and housing issues during the recession and housing crisis of the late-2000s. As young adults, many continue to deal with student loans. In general, they have been slower to reach traditional milestones—from marriage and starting families to buying a home. However, they are moving forward and seem focused on planning ahead and perhaps having a side gig, just in case.

Gen Z

Gen Z, today’s children and emerging adults, has never known an app-less life. Even more than Millennials, they trust technology and “off-the-grid” solutions, including cryptocurrencies, virtual payments and crowdsourced funding. They are also said to be savers and leery of debt, determined not to repeat the “mistakes” of generations before them.

Customized to You

When you look across generations from this very high level, what becomes clear is that aspirations, needs, comfort levels and attitudes toward risk can vary widely. While intentions may be good and accepted actions logical in the context of the times, each group can benefit from taking a broader perspective when planning ahead. Creating that broader perspective is what advisors do especially where multigenerational family wealth is involved.

While members of each generation may seek different things from their money, we know they all want the same thing from their advisors—sound advice customized to their unique circumstances, attitudes, aspirations and needs. That advice often needs adjusting for personal preferences and to create a shared appreciation of how different members’ perspectives factor into a family’s plan for the future.

For more information on our approach to delivering goal-driven wealth management services across all generations, visit us here or call 630-906-2000.

Second to None By Putting Clients First

Juwana Zanayed – First Vice President – Director of Treasury Management Sales 

When the word “second” is in your name, it isn’t really a matter of trying harder—it’s about taking a “second-to-none” approach in everything you do. For this $2.3 billion bank, that means not just keeping pace with industry innovations, but also finding ways to get the latest products and services to our clients as soon as they emerge.

Local to You

This concept of timely delivery is a key component in serving as a niche provider for mid-market businesses. Old Second’s local executive management team helps deliver solutions when the client needs them. From Aurora to Chicago, from Elgin to Joliet, Old Second has provided timely solutions for our local clients.

Businesses also want an accessible treasury provider, not a distant figure you might expect from a large bank, headquartered far away. Availability is one of the hallmarks an Old Second client can depend on, year after year.

Being local to our clients also means our business operates in the same market their business operates. We understand market forces that are unique to our geographic footprint. That firsthand knowledge of the client’s immediate market puts us at an advantage over an out-of-state decision-maker.

Consistency Works

Over 50 percent of our current commercial banking clients have been with us for more than 10 years. Such continuity in a relationship means familiarity. As a business, you don’t want to retell your story over and over. You’d rather work with a bank that already knows you, where you’ve been, how you’ve grown and where you’re headed.

Lasting relationships also mean our clients like what we’ve done for them. We like to think of the longevity of our client relationships as a signpost to the effectiveness of our solutions. Think of a product you have used for years when you could have chosen an alternative. You stick with what gets the job done. Our years of client loyalty speak to the success of our business model.

Decisive and Customized

That’s why customization to the client’s business makes sense. Our loan officers and treasury management advisors are empowered to take direction from their clients. Because we are local, accessible and have a large suite of innovative solutions, we are equipped to provide fitted solutions.

We consider many aspects of a business, including cash flow, automation processes and mechanisms of fraud prevention. And, each aspect of the business is examined in light of maximizing the client’s bottom line.

Once a specialized product suite is assembled, each client is able to manage every aspect of their business via O2 Online Banking. It’s a one-stop-shop dashboard that puts control in the client’s hands. We consider it all part of our “second-to-none” approach.

For more information on our treasury management and commercial banking services, click here, or contact a Treasury Management Advisor directly at 877-866-0202. We can’t wait to talk to you about what we can do to keep your business growing.

National Data Privacy Day: 8 Tips for Keeping Your Personal Information Safe

Robert M. Duplessis, CRISC, CISM, CBVM, Senior Vice President—Information Security Officer 

January 28 is National Data Privacy Day. Its observance serves as a reminder that maintaining the privacy of your personal information is a year-round responsibility.

What’s at Risk

At the heart of the battle for your privacy is your personally identifiable information (PII). PII is any combination of data points that can lead to your identification. The more information a hacker can pull together on you the easier it becomes to obtain more, with the goal being to steal your identity.

This information may include your email address and full name—data readily available online. But, it also includes your:

  • Social Security number
  • Driver’s license
  • State identification
  • Financial account numbers
  • Medical information
  • Passwords
  • Address
  • Cellphone number

Companies like ours work diligently to protect your privacy and your data. We only collect the information we need to do business with you. We safely dispose of personal information when it is no longer needed. Unless required by law, we do not share your information without your permission or knowledge. (For more on Old Second’s privacy policies, click here.)

Every website, health care provider, insurance and financial company you deal with should have a similar policy. If they don’t or there is something about their policy that makes you uneasy, you should consider doing business elsewhere. However, it isn’t just businesses that collect data you need to be concerned about.

What You Can Do

Protecting your privacy is a shared responsibility. Every time you share your dog’s name or your child’s photo on Facebook, post vacation photos on Instagram or update your new job title on LinkedIn, you are adding to what hackers can find out about you and those you tag. Consider what Alexa and Google Home know! Then, consider how much information would be needed to start guessing your passwords.

The reality is that none of us will stop posting, sharing or using products that enhance our daily lives. What we can do, however, is take some precautions before we do. Here are some things to consider adding to your regular routine that can help safeguard your PII and that of your family members and friends.

  1. Revisit your social media settings. Make sure you know who you are sharing information with and whether you really want to. Also consider living less “in the moment.” Share photos and locations after you’ve left them.
  2. Tag only with permission. Not everyone wants their location and activities broadcast or their children’s names made public. Be respectful of the privacy of others.
  3. Manage your passwords. Change them regularly and refrain from using one to access everything. Many companies and services now use double authentication options. Consider opting into them.
  4. Monitor your credit reports. Whether your information was involved in a data breach or not, take advantage of your ability to order a report for free from each of the three reporting agencies each year. A credit-monitoring service, while an added expense, also may be warranted if your information was hacked, since hackers do not necessarily use your information right away. They may sit on it until your free year of monitoring is up.
  5. Keep your software and apps current. Updates and patches are intended to address vulnerabilities in the system. Also, uninstall apps and programs you no longer use. Hackers could use them as back doors into your system.
  6. Check your credit and debit card charges regularly. As soon as you see something odd, call your card issuer and cancel your card. Replacement cards arrive within days.
  7. Use caller ID. Every piece of information, including your voice, is fodder for scammers. If someone calls you and you don’t recognize the number or the caller’s name, do not feel compelled to pick up. Often, by entering the number in a Google search, you can confirm it was a fraudulent call.
  8. Refrain from clicking through links in emails. While legitimate companies provide links for convenience, you are better off signing onto your online account the way you typically do, just to be safe, or calling the customer service number you have on file for them.

For more tips and information on keeping your personal information safe, we maintain a variety of resources on our website. Also, feel free to call 877-866-0202 . We are always happy to talk through your concerns, privately.

The Truth About Student Loans and Mortgage Applications

David M Kozuh, First Vice President Sales—Residential Lending David Kozuh, Vice President—Residential Lending   Things have changed. But, not in the way many potential borrowers think. Many still think it’s harder to get a mortgage than it used to be. Not necessarily. Despite the Financial Crisis of 2007–2008, banks have been helping homebuyers and owners take advantage of the low interest-rate environment all along. Even Millennials, despite their student debt loads, have been getting approved for mortgages. It’s also still possible to get a mortgage with a down payment of less than 20%. And, first-time homebuyer programs that provide money for down payments may even make it a little easier to afford a new home than in 2008. What Has Changed Since the crisis, the process of applying for a loan has improved. Many lenders, Old Second included, have made initiating a loan request even easier, leveraging online and mobile technology for applications, document gathering and communication. But, the biggest change involves the way an application is now processed. It takes longer…much longer. What could be done inside of 30 days in 2008, may now take longer. No home loan lender is immune—we are all subject to the same regulations. And, it’s about to get a little worse. It’s Not You, It’s the New Federal Regulations Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or an experienced homeowner, in the aftermath of the financial crisis there has been a return to the kind of lending standards—operational checks and balances—that most of us have used to apply to loans for decades. Those standards require time to analyze and verify that each mortgage applicant is qualified for and entering into the right type of loan for their financial circumstances. As of Oct. 3, a new rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, “Know Before You Owe,” will take effect. It is intended to offer additional protection by ensuring you understand the terms and consequences of your loan agreement at closing. This new rule will add a few more days to the closing process for all mortgage lenders no matter how automated their internal processes are. While a degree of patience has re-entered the mortgage process, we believe it ultimately ensures that you’ll gain full advantage of our expertise. Whether it’s a 30-year fixed mortgage, an adjustable rate, a line of credit for remodeling or a refinancing into a 15-year loan that will help you retire mortgage-free, our goal is—as it’s always been—to make sure you enter into the right financing structure.

Student loans are a reality for millions of Americans, many of whom are Millennials with dreams of becoming homeowners. However, contrary to a widely held belief, the two things—student loans and homeownership—are not mutually exclusive. You can afford to have both, even when you use a mortgage to buy your home.

How Student Loans Impact Mortgages

When you apply for a mortgage, the lender will look at your existing debt. That typically includes outstanding credit card balances, car loans and student loans (whether they are deferred or not). We then look at what you are paying toward each on a monthly basis, versus what your make, to determine how much would be left over to make payments on a mortgage.

Generally, lenders are required by the loan programs not to accept an application if your existing debt-to-income (DTI) ratio will exceed a certain level. The last thing we want is to create financial stress by letting you borrow more than you can comfortably afford to repay. However, there are ways to decrease your DTI that can make it easier for you to both afford and qualify for a mortgage.

Manage Your Student Debt

Student loans, especially those that are part of the federal loan programs, tend to have low interest rates and long payback periods. There are also several repayment options available to you to ensure your payments are affordable. Among these is an income-based option, which ties your monthly payment to your income. As your income changes over time, the payment adjusts to what you can afford. For many, this means that they have lower monthly payments in the early part of their careers. That can leave them with enough discretionary income to make mortgage payments while repaying their student loans.

Student loans can also be deferred, which frees up monthly income. Although, when you borrow, we will still consider the loan in our calculations, typically using a figure of 1 percent of the outstanding balance in our analysis of your monthly debt load. However, if you are considering applying for a mortgage through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) program, your deferment will not be a factor in the DTI calculation.

Other Preventive Measures

Often, the bigger obstacle to qualifying for a mortgage is not how much student debt you have but how well you’ve handled it and how much non-student debt you are carrying. Before applying for a mortgage, it helps to address these factors first.

For instance:

  1. Have a year or more of on-time payments. Know what you owe, when it is due and whom you are expected to repay. Missing payments or a history of late payments will come back to haunt you when you apply for a mortgage.
  2. Manage your debt. Repay credit card balances and establish a pattern of paying them off in full each month. If you are working through an outstanding balance, look for options that might lower your rate and allow you to speed up your payback period.
  3. Carry only your debt obligations on your record. If you have debt but your parents are repaying it or a portion of it, it should be shifted off your record, where it counts toward your DTI, and into their names. Depending on the circumstances, there are a variety of ways to do this. It’s something your lender can discuss with you.
  4. Don’t focus so much on the down payment. There are many first-time homebuyer programs that were designed to make monthly payments affordable, using a low down payment. For some student debt holders, therefore, it may make sense to save for a 3 percent down payment and direct the rest of their discretionary income toward paying down their student loans before applying for a mortgage.
  5. Don’t assume; talk to a lender. We have access to a variety of loan programs and strategies and know which local incentives you may qualify for that would help your cause. As bankers, we are also able to look at your total financial picture for ways to set you up for long-term financial success.

To learn more about your best options for qualifying for a mortgage, whether you have student loans or not, give us a call at 877-866-0202. Let’s sit down and talk about what we can do to help you realize your homeowning goal.

Getting the Most from Holiday Shopping

Jodi McKinley, Branch Manager—Oswego 

Spending during the holidays can be both freeing and terrifying at the same time. It’s nice being preoccupied with thoughts of what others might enjoy and need, but it tends to feel like money is leaking from your wallet. To help you maintain a sense of control, here are seven tips to keep your spending and holiday enjoyment on track.

  1. Have a total figure in mind. When you know how many gifts you need to get and how much you want to spend on each one, it’s easier to afford your own generosity.
  2. Work those discounts and promos. Study the Black Friday promo flyers, which many stores release weeks in advance, and check for promo codes and in-store coupons either before shopping or while you wait in the register line. Researching purchases before you leave home can pay in another way in that many stores will price match.
  3. Remember to redeem. The holidays are also a good time to see if any of your loyalty programs allow you to turn points into gift cards. You can redeem the cards at stores you’ll be shopping at or give them as gifts.
  4. Stay safe. You may want to rely more heavily on your credit card during the shopping season and carry less cash than usual. With a credit card, if something were to go wrong, such as your wallet being stolen, your liability would be zero, provided you report the occurrence to the issuer promptly. With cash, there is no recourse.
  5. Freeze right there! Old Second debit cardholders can also download the SecurLOCK™ Equip app. At the first sign of trouble, you can lock your debit card down while you determine if it is misplaced, stolen or comprised. If you find it later, you have the option of unlocking it again.
  6. Add up the “damage.” When the bills come in, take a moment to add up what you spent and use this total to help budget for the 2018 holiday season. Options like the Old Second Club Savings Account can help. This is a limited-duration account that pays out your accumulated balance once a year in time for holiday spending. It is available through our branches and enables you to use automatic transfers to put aside money for use next year.
  7. Be careful about your credit limits. Spending up to your limit on a credit card may make sense to you, but it can lower your credit score. It’s best not to use more than 35%–50% of your available credit in any one month, especially prior to an anticipated big purchase like a car or a home that will involve a loan request.

Whether today finds you in a spending or saving mode, we have the strategies and services that can help you do both well! Give us a call at 1-877-866-0202 or visit any Old Second Bank branch to talk about what we can do to help you achieve your spending and savings goals.

 Holiday Shopping Stats

Consumers expect to spend as much or more in 2017 as they did in 2016, when they spent an average of $1,189 each.Source: PwC 2017 Holiday Outlook Report, page 6, Viewed 10/09/2017 https://www.pwc.com/us/en/consumer-markets/2017-holiday-outlook.html

Is a Home Equity Line of Credit Right for You?

Jackie Link, Branch Manager—Sugar Grove (NMLS# 996284)

Unless you’ve bought or sold your home recently or know someone in your area who has, you may be pleasantly surprised by its current market value. In fact, selling prices have been on a multiyear rise.

While the added appreciation in home equity is nice, it also means you may have additional borrowing power. That’s something you may want to gain access to through a home equity line of credit. (HELOC).

How a HELOC Works

A HELOC is a tool that allows homeowners to borrow a percentage (typically 70%- 90%) of the difference between the amount they have outstanding on their mortgage—if they have one—and the current market value of their home. As a revolving line of credit, it bears resemblance to a credit card but with a much higher borrowing limit.

Unlike most credit cards, the interest rate you are charged on a HELOC is lower since the line is secured by a home. For most homeowners, the interest is typically tax deductible, making it even more cost effective. However, you will want to verify with your own tax professional to make sure you qualify to take this deduction.

The rate on a HELOC will vary with the general level of interest rates. At Old Second, we use the U.S. Prime Rate as our benchmark and then add a fixed-margin rate to that, based on your financial information. We make the process easy and walk you through every step.

Although HELOCs are offered on a variable-rate basis, our clients can always switch to a fixed-rate option if they are concerned interest rates will rise. Instead of having the flexibility of paying only interest each month, payments under the fixed-rate option will include a specific amount of principal as well.

While different lenders offer different structures, Old Second’s HELOC provides 10 years of access. You can borrow and repay as often as you want during that time. If the line isn’t renewed after 10 years, it converts into a loan with a 20-year repayment plan, behaving like a second mortgage.

Qualifying for a HELOC is like qualifying for a mortgage, though a little less intense. There are no upfront fees and we charge a $50 annual fee (with the first year waived) as long as it remains open along with a pre-payment fee when applicable.

When to HELOC

As a personal cash management tool, you can access your line pretty much whenever you want by writing a check or calling to arrange a transfer. We see our clients using them to:

  • Spend before receiving, such as taking a vacation before receiving a year-end bonus.
  • Fund remodeling and home repair expenses.
  • Repay higher interest loans or credit card balances.
  • Cover large or unexpected expenses, from weddings and college tuition to replacing a car or paying medical bills.
  • Make a down payment on a vacation property.

Because HELOCs are both flexible and reusable, many homeowners take them out before they have an actual need. That way, they have a ready source of funding whenever the need arises.

To talk about how you might benefit from adding a HELOC to your financial toolkit, give us a call at 1-877-866-0202 or visit any Old Second Bank branch. Let’s talk about what we can do to help you achieve your goals.