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  • April is Community Banking Month

    One of my Economics Professors liked to say that people vote with their feet. Where you choose to bank is a vote on where your money goes. Your hard-earned deposits are either reinvested back into our community or they aren’t. I challenge you to think about how banking in Gothenburg can go a long way to help our community prosper.

    When you deposit funds into a community bank, your money is being invested back into Gothenburg in the form of loans to fellow residents and entrepreneurs. We also help finance local projects by purchasing municipal and school bonds. This cannot be said for big box banks. Who knows where that money is going or what it’s financing? By the way, does the entity that you bank with pay a comparable share of income taxes on their profits that community banks do?

    Since 1906, First State Bank has had the privilege of serving Gothenburg residents and their families by making loans that help them buy a farm, home, business or vehicle. We’ve served many of the local farms and Ag related business that have been part of our community for generations. During April, which is Community Banking Month, I encourage you to think about where you bank and how your money has the power to make a meaningful impact on our community. Consider the following points:

    • Relationships Matter. Community bankers know their customers and understand their financial needs, unlike some larger institutions that take a transaction-based approach to banking. You are more than a number to a community bank. We take the time to get to know you personally. 

    • Local Economies Matter. Community banks are small businesses. We are also a resource for entrepreneurs looking to launch a small business. A recent study from seven Federal Reserve Banks found that small businesses that apply for loans with community banks are the most successful and most satisfied. By the end of April, First State Bank will have had a hand helping three small businesses open their doors to Gothenburg residents in 2018. 

    • Giving Back Matters. First State Bank recently hosted the 25th annual community Easter Egg Hunt. We are now preparing to participate in Teach Children to Save Day at Dudley Elementary. An event we have been a part of for over 20 years. In 2017 we hosted a Solar Eclipse party for the entire community to enjoy. Since 2014, our employees have donated almost $10,000 to various charities, organizations, or people in need in our community through our monthly jean day donations. And as you walk through the doors of the brand new YMCA this month, appreciate the vision of our employees and Board of Directors who made it possible for First State Bank to be the first to pledge $500,000 to this project.

    Making our community better and stronger is something that we all have a vote in. We hope you will join us in continuing to make Gothenburg thrive and prosper for years to come!

    Aaron Coleman
    Market President
    First State Bank
    Gothenburg, Nebraska 


  • Equifax Data Breach

    You have likely heard about the recent Equifax data breach, as this unfortunate event affects approximately 44% of Americans. Equifax was compromised and the personal information of approximately 143 million consumers was stolen. The information leaked may include: Consumer names, Social Security numbers, Birthdates, Addresses, Driver’s license numbers.

    This was NOT a compromise of First State Bank and no information was taken from our systems. We wanted to share this information about Equifax to ensure you are aware of the issue and take the proper precautions to reduce the chances of fraud and identify theft.

    Equifax has set up a special website to provide updated information to consumers:

    In addition, Equifax is suggesting you take the following steps to protect yourself:

    Equifax recommends that you remain vigilant for incidents of fraud and identity theft by reviewing account statements and monitoring your credit reports. You may obtain a free copy of your credit report from each company listed below once every 12 months by requesting your report online at, calling toll-free 1-877-322-8228, or mailing an Annual Credit Report Request Form (available at to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA, 30348-5281. You may also purchase a copy of your credit report by contacting any of the credit reporting agencies below:

    PO Box 740241
    Atlanta, GA 30374

    PO Box 9554
    Allen, TX 75013

    PO Box 2000
    Chester, PA 19016

    If you believe you are the victim of identity theft, you should contact the proper law enforcement authorities, including local law enforcement, and you should consider contacting your state attorney general and/or the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”). You also may contact the FTC to obtain additional information about avoiding identity theft.

    Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Response Center
    600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20580; 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338)

    State Attorneys General: Information on how to contact your state attorney general may be found at

    You may obtain information from the FTC and the credit reporting agencies listed above about placing a fraud alert and/or credit freeze on your credit report. Please also visit the “State Information” tab of this site.

    Please contact Equifax for specific questions about the Equifax breach and its effect on your information. Equifax has set up a dedicated call center, which you can contact at 866-447-7559.

    What can First State Bank do for you?

    SecureChecking®: First State Bank would also like to remind you of our Secure Checking account we offer that includes IDProtect® - Identity theft protection, Credit File Monitoring, access to a free credit report every 90 days or upon receipt of a credit alert, reimbursement coverage, and fully managed recovery if your identity is stolen. Secure Checking comes with many more great features that you can learn about HERE. Please contact your nearest First State Bank location and ask about Secure Checking.

  • FDIC Encourages Consumers to Save Automatically to Achieve Financial Goals

    The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) encourages consumers to commemorate America Saves Week by taking advantage of automatic savings to achieve financial goals. Over time, small automatic deposits into a retirement or savings account can add up with compounded interest, helping consumers cover unexpected expenses and build wealth.

    FDIC Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg said: "During America Saves Week, I encourage everyone to establish a financial goal and then make a plan for automatic, recurring deposits into a savings account to help achieve that goal. This is an opportunity for people of all ages. In fact, parents and guardians can guide their children in learning about saving by establishing or strengthening savings account relationships with banks."

    There are a number of ways to take advantage of automatic savings. Consumers who use direct deposit might ask their employers to direct some of their paychecks to retirement accounts or savings accounts. They also might ask their financial institutions to set up recurring transfers from checking accounts to savings accounts.

    America Saves Week also is an opportunity for organizations to encourage consumers to make a savings commitment and provide helpful resources. Each day of America Saves Week focuses on a different savings theme: Save Automatically, Save for Emergencies, Family Savings, Save for Retirement, Saving at Tax Time, and Debt and Credit. The FDIC offers many resources that address these themes, such as the Money Smart financial education curriculum, which includes a "Pay Yourself First" module that focuses on saving.

     To learn more about America Saves Week and savings-related resources from the FDIC, visit

  • 9 Tips for Paying Off Your Credit Card Debt

    Buried in credit card debt? You're not alone. According to NerdWallet, in 2015 the average U.S. household with debt had $15,762 in credit card debt at an average 18% interest rate. Annual interest alone was $2,630, or more than $50 a week.

    Here are nine tips on how to climb out. Remember, though, there are no magical solutions.

    Stop spending more than you make

    Tell yourself the truth. Analyze your bills to see where your money is going. Car payments, rent or mortgage, groceries and utilities are essentials; nearly everything else is subject to elimination or reduction. And don't forget those $100 withdrawals from the ATM. Create a realistic budget and declare allegiance to it. Concentrate on the little things; just knocking off a $4 latte on the way to work can save $80 a month.

    Keep paying on the cards

    Failing to pay every month on every card just makes matters worse: The interest goes up and the debt goes up. Always pay at least the minimum listed on the bill. Not doing so may ruin your credit rating, making it harder to borrow money for essentials, such as a car, in the future.

    Concentrate on paying off your smallest debt

    The typical American has about four credit cards, so try pounding away at the one with the least debt. After you pay it in full, stop using it and apply the monthly payment to the next smallest bill. This “snowball effect” is a slow cure but leaves you with a feeling of accomplishment. This method, however, may cost you more in the long run, so read on.

    Pay off the card with the highest interest

    Pretty basic math here. Eliminating debt that costs you 28% is better than killing debt that costs you 18%. Try throwing your entire income tax refund or last month's overtime pay at this bill. Then move on to the account with the next-highest interest rate.

    Consolidate onto a lower-interest card

    This can save you a ton in interest, especially if you eliminate all your other cards. Cards are available that will charge you 0% interest on the debt you have transferred. However, this rate goes up after a specified time, usually 12 to 18 months. In addition, the issuer usually charges a fee — 3% is typical — on the transferred debt. Still, this can be a great deal if you can substantially reduce your debt in a relatively short time.

    Take out a personal loan

    Many lenders, including credit unions and banks, offer unsecured personal loans, meaning you don't have to use your home or car as collateral. However, everything depends on your credit score. Below 620, interest rates will be high, although perhaps still below the rates on the credit cards it will be replacing. It's worth shopping for.

    Try a home equity loan

    This loan, tapping the difference between the sale value of your home and money you still owe on it, also is based on your credit rating, as are home equity lines of credit. In addition, you could lose your home if you default. Consider with caution.

    Cut a deal with the credit card company

    This might be a long shot, but if you have a good credit history with the company and clearly have just fallen on hard times, it might negotiate with you on a lower interest rate. Like any other company, it wants to retain good customers.

    Declare bankruptcy

    This is the nuclear option. Yes, Chapter 7 bankruptcy will eliminate all your credit card debt and leave your home protected from repossession. However, it will be nearly impossible to get a mortgage for five years, and the filing will haunt you for up to a decade if you hope to finance anything at a reasonable rate.

    © Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

  • Financial Tips for College Freshmen

    If you’re a college freshman living away from home for the first time, you’re probably taking a course you didn’t sign up for: money management.

    You won’t get academic credit for it, but learning skills such as budgeting, choosing the right financial services, and smart credit card usage will benefit you long past graduation. 


    If you’re like most college students, you need to keep an eye on your spending. You can do this by making a budget with pencil and paper, a spreadsheet or an app. 

    First, list your income: It’s likely some combination of savings, cash from your parents or a part-time job and financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants or loans. Then list your expenses, such as tuition, room and board, supplies, laundry and transportation.

    Use the amount left over after you’ve taken care of your expenses to cover food outside your meal plan and entertainment. Set a weekly allowance and hold yourself to it.

    You can also save money – and avoid debt – by using public transportation or ridesharing instead of maintaining a car. Consider borrowing books or buying used copies instead of new ones at the campus bookstore. And take advantage of student discounts whenever possible. 

    Knowing your banking options: 

    Many people still work with traditional banks and credit unions, but there are also online alternatives. And even old school financial institutions build apps that let you track your accounts and transfer funds.

    You can also download apps that let you analyze multiple accounts at different institutions, such as Level. You can find a list of some other personal finance apps here

    Building credit: 

    Having good credit can give you access to more — and more affordable— rental properties, car loans and insurance. Using a credit card responsibly is a relatively easy way to build it.

    If you can’t qualify for a credit card, either because you’re too young or because you don’t have enough credit history, you still have options. You can get a secured credit card, become an authorized user on a friend or family member’s card or find a co-signer willing to cover for you if you default on a payment.

    A credit card can give you short-term, interest-free financing – assuming you pay the balance in full each month. But paying only the minimum causes you to run up debt and interest charges and will hurt your credit. Treat credit cards as you would a debit card or cash.

    It’s always important to be careful with your money, not just when you’re in college. If you establish good habits early, you’ll be in excellent shape as you graduate and start your career.

    © Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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