Congratulate New and Promoted Staff

NewPromotedStaff-Blog

We are happy to have these new employees on our team! If you’re interested in working with these local experts, find your branch.

New Staff

Katelyn Anderson Katelynn Anderson, IT Operations Coordinator, Winona
Brandy Anderson Brandy Anderson, Lead Teller, Cottage Grove
Elena Beck Elena Beck, Teller, Onalaska
Kyle Brodt Kyle Brodt, Credit Analyst, Winona
John Fitzgerald John Fitzgerald, Custodian, Winona
Cindy Grable Cindy Grable, Credit Admin, Winona
Teresa Holland Teresa Holland, Teller, Caledonia
Mark Jangula Mark Jangula, VP/Senior Regional Vendor Finance Manager, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance
Andrew Millis Andrew Millis, Teller, Onalaska
Melissa Peterson Melissa Peterson, VP/Commercial Banker, Eau Claire
Maria Skradde Maria Skradde, Teller, Eau Claire
Kayla Wegman Kayla Wegman, Credit Analyst, Winona

Transfers and Promotions

Amy Gutierrez Amy Gutierrez, Trust and Estate Specialist, Winona
Alejandra Hernandez Alejandra Hernandez, Customer Service Representative, Lakeville
KringsMarcus Marcus Krings, Credit Card Officer, Winona
ZoellnerBecky Becky Zoellner, Treasury Management Officer, Onalaska

Retirement Account Options: IRA Savings or CDs

Save Money - IRAs

It’s no secret that saving for retirement is important. Whether you’ve been saving for years or aren’t sure where to start, it’s helpful to evaluate your long-term savings strategy.

With so many retirement savings options, just getting started can feel overwhelming. And if you have a savings plan already, it never hurts to consider potentially more profitable or flexible options. Some retirement saving methods to consider:

  • Individual Retirement Account (IRA) Savings
  • IRA Certificate of Deposit (CD)

These accounts are similar to standard savings or CD accounts, but the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) determines maximum contribution and minimum withdrawal guidelines, which are designed to enhance the benefit of your retirement saving efforts. For comprehensive details on contribution and withdrawal guidelines, visit the IRS website.

The First Step: Traditional or Roth?

There are two options for IRA accounts: Traditional or Roth. There are benefits to each kind of account – consult your tax advisor regarding which account would be best for your situation.

At the most basic level:

  • For a Roth IRA you pay taxes on the money you contribute now. The main benefit is tax-free investment earnings. Since you already paid tax on your contribution, the money is not taxed when you withdraw it.
  • For a Traditional IRA you pay taxes when you withdraw money in retirement. You will not pay tax on your contributions, however, the money will be taxed when it is withdrawn.

IRA Savings for More Flexibility

An IRA Savings account functions essentially the same as a regular savings account: you can continue to make contributions as you see fit within the IRS guidelines and you can make withdrawals penalty-free if over the age of 59 ½. It is often used as a “parking lot” for funds until you’ve decided how you’d like to invest them.

You may benefit from an IRA Savings if you:

  • Are just starting to work on your retirement savings plan. This is a good holding place for your funds as you develop a more complex plan.
  • Have had a recent career adjustment – a job change or retirement – to roll accounts from your previous employer into, so you can continue to contribute or withdraw, depending on your situation.

The Pros of an IRA Savings Account:

  • More flexibility to make contributions and withdrawals as you see fit, within IRS guidelines.
  • Penalties for withdrawing before age 59 ½ are generally less compared to withdrawing from a CD.

The Cons:

  • Generally, interest rates on a savings account are lower than a CD.

IRA Certificate of Deposit for More Earnings Potential

An IRA Certificate of Deposit generally offers higher interest rates on your money for a designated period of time – that designated period of time is called the “term”. You are guaranteed to make that fixed rate on your money during the CD term.

A CD is started with one lump sum of money. That lump sum of money will sit in the CD, earning interest for the term of the account, for example, 24 months. If you are 59 ½ or more, you may make withdrawals penalty-free.

You may benefit from an IRA CD if you:

  • Have a larger sum of money that they can leave untouched for a longer period of time.
  • Are 59 ½ or more, as you may have the option to make penalty-free withdrawals.

The Pros of IRA CDs:

  • CD terms make earning interest very clear; it is guaranteed to make that interest rate when left to grow.
  • Generally, higher interest rates are paid on CDs, which could increase your earnings potential.

The Cons:

  • Withdrawing any portion of your deposit before age 59 ½ would most likely result in a large fee.

Other Retirement Options

If you’re interested in learning more or opening an IRA Savings or CD, contact your local Customer Service Representative.

If you’re looking for help creating a complete retirement strategy, visit with one of our Wealth Management experts.

Saving for Fun! The Benefits of a Winter FUNd Account

Winter FUNd

Left Photo: Sandra Pasche, CSR at Merchants Bank – St. Charles with her husband, Mike. Middle Photo: Dana Christensen, CSR at Merchants Bank – Winona with her husband, Mike. Right Photo: Kally Whalen, CSR at Merchants Bank – St. Charles with her husband, Jesse.

How relaxed would you feel if the holidays came around and you were confident you had enough money for gifts and family travel? How excited would you be before a trip if a large sum of money dropped into your account? How proud would you be if you could gift your child with a generous wedding or housewarming present?

Automated savings accounts, like the Merchants Bank Winter FUNd, can make achieving your savings goals easy.

For the months of January through October, you automate deposits into your Winter FUNd account – and that money grows. Then, the first week of November, you collect the total amount you deposited throughout the year – with interest!

Monthly Calendar

The automated process makes it so seamless, you forget you’re saving. Dana Christensen, a Customer Service Representative in Winona said, “I love the idea that the money goes right into the account from my payroll, so I don’t even miss the money. It is a great way to save money without having to think about it or remember to make the transfer.”

The Winter FUNd account has quite a few fans at Merchants Bank – some employees have had theirs for over 15 years. After all, who doesn’t want a gift you give yourself?

Travel

Want to take a family vacation this year? The Winter FUNd is great for saving for trips. Dana uses hers to escape the chill of winter:

“I really love this account! We take a cruise each year in the winter and I use this money as our final payment for our vacation since the timing works out perfectly.”

Sandra Pasche, a Customer Service Representative in St. Charles, also flies south in the winter, but her FUNd account serves to fund a different vacation expense:

“When my husband and I travel this gives me my spending money for our trip. When the money is directly deposited into the account from my paycheck, I don’t even miss it, so when the money paid out I always think ‘Wow! Here’s a chunk of change for us!’”

Holidays 

Maybe the holidays were a bit stressful last year – budgeting for gifts and sticking to it is easier said than done. But the Winter FUNd makes saving holiday money and setting that budget early a little more manageable.

Corene Richards, a Mortgage Closing Specialist in Winona, knows that being prepared makes the holidays that much more enjoyable: “I use my Winter FUNd for Christmas. It puts me at ease knowing that I will always have a set amount set aside and not have to worry about it. I’ve used this account for more than 15 years.”

The Possibilities Are Endless

Other customers have used FUNd accounts to save for projects like home remodel or family events like a wedding. Maybe you want to practice having a mortgage, so you “make payments” to a FUNd account. Then, when that money is paid out, you are that much closer to a down payment on a home. Any goal you have could benefit from a FUNd account.

Merchants Bank Winter FUNd accounts start in January – but it’s not too late to open one now! There’s only one extra month to pay your monthly contribution to catch up. If you know the total amount you’d like to save, we can help you come up with your automatic monthly deposit amount (minimum $25). To open an account or for more information, contact your local Customer Service Representative.

Hope to See You at these Upcoming Events

Save the Date - Upcoming Events

Join our staff at these great events. Be sure to follow us on our Facebook page for information on these events or pictures from other events you may have missed. 

2/22 – 2/24 Chippewa Valley Home and Garden Show at the Eau Claire YMCA Indoor Sports Center

Show Hours
Friday, February 22: 1 -8 p.m.
Saturday, February 23: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday, February 24: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Come visit us at our booth to say hello!

3/9 Lakeville Landscape & Home Show/Consumer Showcase at Lakeville North High School

9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Come visit us at our booth to say hello!

3/16 Rosemount Home and Business Expo at the Rosemount Community Center

9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Come visit us at our booth to say hello!

4/25 Picnic 4 the Pets
Hosted by Merchants Bank in Winona at Minnesota State College Southeast

3:30-6:30 p.m.

Join us for an afternoon of food, fun and four-legged friends!

4/25 Caledonia Community Appreciation
Merchants Bank in Caledonia

11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Please join us for hamburgers and refreshments!

4/26 Spring Grove Community Appreciation
Merchants Bank in Spring Grove

11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Please join us for hamburgers and refreshments!

4/27 Cottage Grove Spring Showcase at Park High School Activity Center

10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Come visit us at our booth to say hello!

Meet Dave Engstler, Consumer Banker at Merchants Bank

Dave Engstler, Consumer Banker

How long have you been with Merchants?
Dave: More than 15 years. In that time, I’ve always been a Lender with Merchants and always in our Rochester Green Meadows office.

What is your top banking tip?
Dave: Live within your means.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?
Dave: Basically, save first.

If you won the Powerball, what’s the first thing you would do?
Dave: I would make sure my son had enough money for college.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?
Dave: I really like pine trees. In Northern Minnesota, it’s pine trees and water. I love that part of the state…just smell and the fresh air.

Hope to See You at our Holiday Events in December

Save the Date - Holiday Open Houses

Join our staff at these great events. Be sure to follow us on our Facebook page for information on these events or pictures from other events you may have missed. You can also RSVP to the Holiday Open Houses via our Facebook Events page.

Fridays in December Cottage Grove Holiday Open House
9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Merchants Bank in Cottage Grove
Please join us for cookies and refreshments. We will also be collecting monetary donations and toiletry items for the 10 Days of Giving to support the Friends in Need food shelf.
12/3 – 12/7 Rushford Holiday Open House
Lobby Hours
Merchants Bank in Rushford
Please join us for cookies and refreshments. We will also be collecting monetary donations and non-perishable food items to support the Semcac Food Shelf.
12/3 – 12/7 Lanesboro Holiday Open House
Lobby Hours
Merchants Bank in Lanesboro
Please join us for cookies and refreshments. As part of Christmas in Fillmore County, we will be accepting toy donations in our lobby.
12/7 Hastings Holiday Open House
9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Merchants Bank in Hastings
Please join us for cookies and refreshments in our lobby. We will also be collecting non-perishable food items and cash donations to support the 10 Days of Giving food drive benefiting Hastings Family Service.
12/7 Caledonia Holiday Open House
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Merchants Bank in Caledonia
Please join us for cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby.
12/7 Caledonia Winter Wonderland Parade
7 p.m.
Downtown Caledonia
Find yourself surrounded by holiday spirit at the Winter Wonderland Parade in Caledonia. Hot chocolate and cookies with Santa will follow the parade in Gazebo Park.
12/7 St. Charles Holiday Open House
10:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Merchants Bank in St. Charles
Please join us in our lobby for cookies and refreshments. We will also be accepting donations for the 10 Days of Giving food drive benefiting the Hometown Resource Center.
12/8 Rushford Christmas Wonderland Parade of Lights
7:00 p.m.
Downtown Rushford
Rushford comes alive with the Spirit of the Holidays! Have a night of family fun beginning with the Parade of Lights, followed by a visit with Santa, hot chocolate and cider, cookies, and caroling at the Rushford Fire Hall. Please bring monetary donations for the Semcac Food Shelf.
12/8 Winona Holiday Lighted Parade
5:30 p.m.
6th Street in Goodview
Enjoy the dazzling lights, Santa and Mrs. Claus and refreshments at Merchants Bank in Goodview. After the parade, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be at the Elks Lodge to greet children. Please bring monetary gifts or non-perishable food items for the 10 Days of Giving food drive.
12/14 Eau Claire Holiday Open House
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Merchants Bank in Eau Claire
Please join us for cookies and refreshments in our lobby.
12/14 Spring Grove Holiday Open House
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Merchants Bank in Spring Grove
Please join us for cookies and refreshments in our lobby. Santa will join us from 12 – 2 p.m. for photos.
12/17 – 12/21 Onalaska Holiday Open House
9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Merchants Bank in Onalaska
Please join us for cookies and refreshments in our bank lobby.
12/17 – 12/21 Winona Holiday Open House
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Merchants Bank in Winona
Please join us for cookies, refreshments and music in our bank lobby.
12/17 – 12/21 Rochester Holiday Open House
8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Merchants Bank locations in Rochester
Please join us for cookies and refreshments in our lobbies.
12/19 – 12/24 Red Wing Holiday Open House
Lobby Hours
Merchants Bank in Red Wing
Please join us for cookies and refreshments in our lobby. We will also be collecting hats and mittens to donate to those in need in our community.
12/20 Cannon Falls Holiday Open House
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Merchants Bank in Cannon Falls
Please join us in our lobby for cookies, refreshments and live music. We will have a variety of holiday musical guests including: St. Pauls Lutheran School Choir, Cannon Falls High School Flute Choir, Jane Bracken, Shelly Schroeder and John Anderson.There will be live holiday music in the lobby throughout the day: 11:00 a.m. – St. Paul’s Lutheran School Choir; 1:00 p.m. – Cannon Falls High School Flute Choir; 2:00 p.m. – Holiday music featuring Jane Bracken on piano; 3:00 p.m. – Holiday Music featuring Shelly Schroeder on flute and John Anderson on guitar
12/20 – 12/21 La Crescent Holiday Open House
8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Merchants Bank in La Crescent
Please join us for cookies and refreshments in our lobby.

Make Gift Giving Easy with Our 3 Tips

Gift Giving Guide

Still a few people left to buy for on your holiday shopping list? Get those gifts done in no time with our three easy ideas.

Turn Rewards Points into Gifts

With your Merchants Bank Visa ScoreCard Credit Card*, you can redeem earned points for merchandise, travel rewards, or even gift cards. Simply login to your ScoreCard Rewards account to use your points for holiday gifts for our loved ones – or even yourself.

Here’s how:

  1. Go to scorecardrewards.com.
  2. Login to your account.
  3. Click on the “Go Shopping” button under “ScoreMore.”
  4. Add items to your cart and checkout using your points when finished shopping.

If you don’t yet have a Merchants Bank Visa ScoreCard, apply online or contact us and we can help you apply.

Buy the Gift that Always Fits

You can never go wrong with a gift card. It’s always the right size, color and style for anyone on your list. Plus, it’s easy to wrap!

Did you know you can purchase Visa Gift Cards at all of our Merchants Bank locations? Just visit your local branch and see one of our tellers to purchase your gift card(s), available in even dollar amounts between $10-$1,000.

Shop Small with a Local Cookbook

If you’re looking for a unique item for the cook or baker in your family, our Merchants cookbook makes a great holiday gift or stocking stuffer.

The Merchants Family Cookbook was first published in 2005 and is a collection of recipes shared by Merchants’ staff, family and friends. Now in its second printing with over 400 pages of recipes, the cookbook is available at all of our locations for just $10 each.

Happy holiday shopping and Merry Christmas from your friends at Merchants Bank!

*Credit cards are subject to credit approval.