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 You will not pay tax on your contributions, however, the money will be taxed when it is withdrawn.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.

Prevent Fraud on Your Debit Card with Just a Tap

mymobilemoney

Controlling and monitoring your personal or business debit card usage anywhere, anytime has never been easier with My Mobile Money Access, available now for all Merchants Bank customers. With My Mobile Money Access you can protect yourself or your business from fraud by setting custom alerts and controls per debit card to determine how your card can be used. Plus, you’ll have the ability to turn your card off when you’re not using it, and turn it on only when you are.

Our Top Features
Over the past two months, Merchants Bank staff has successfully tested the different alerts and features of My Mobile Money Access. Here are four key areas you can use to ensure you’re getting the most out of My Mobile Money Access.

Manage Your Spending
With customizable controls, alerts for spending limits, and easy-to-find account balances, you can make sure you’re always on track with your budget.

Keep an Eye on Your Card with Transaction Alerts
A wide range of alert options make My Mobile Money an app that meets the specific needs of your business. Choose to set alerts for:

  • All card activity
  • Spending limits
  • Transactions where your card is not present
  • International transactions
  • Specific Merchant category purchases, such as gas stations, online purchases, etc

Card Controls Help Protect Your Account from Fraud
You can even set the app to deny a transaction before it takes place, based on criteria you set. Turning your card on and off will deny a fraudulent transaction before it takes place and, along with other card controls, will not interrupt recurring bill payments like rent or monthly subscriptions.

Account Management Keeps You in Control
My Mobile Money Access also has these account management features:

  • MoneyPass® ATM locator
  • Balance inquiries
  • Transaction history
  • Low balance alerts

You can download My Mobile Money Access for your personal or business debit card now. If you are a business with multiple employees who have individual debit cards, each employee can download the application on their own phone and set up an account while the business owner can add, view and control multiple cards for the entire business.

To learn more about My Mobile Money Access, visit our website. If you have questions about downloading the app or would like additional recommendations on it’s use for you or your business, contact your local Merchants Bank and ask to speak to a Customer Service Representative.

Are Idle Balances Costing Your Business Money?

eNewsSweep

Did you know there are several easy, automatic ways to manage the cash flow of your business? You can use sweep, target or zero balance accounts to efficiently direct your money. Here’s how it works:

Sweep Accounts: A Cash Management Sweep account allows your business to earn income on its extra balance. Your Business Checking account is reviewed daily and excess funds are automatically “swept” into a savings account to earn interest or to a Line of Credit to pay down balances. When you need the funds, the money is swept back in to your Business Checking account. This is a great way for your business to optimize its cash flow. Merchants offers two types of sweep accounts to fit your needs.

Target or Zero Balance Accounts: A Target or Zero-Balance Account is a business checking account that is automatically maintained at a “zero balance” or at a target balance that you specify. Target/Zero-Balance Accounts allow businesses to maintain separate accounts for various divisions, locations, or functions such as payroll, while automatically consolidating cash from those accounts.

If you’d like to learn more about how easy and convenient sweep and target/zero balances accounts could be for your business, contact one of our Cash Management specialists today.

First-Time Homebuyer? Mortgage Pre-Approval is the First Step

MidwestHouse

Where is your dream home? What does it look like? It would be a shame if when you found it, someone else’s offer was accepted before yours because you didn’t have mortgage pre-approval. With mortgage pre-approval you can:

  • Be confident when making an offer on your first home
  • Know how much money you can borrow
  • Show home sellers and realtors that you are serious about making and offer and ready to move forward today
  • Potentially be selected over other home seekers who make an offer who haven’t been pre-approved

Apply for Pre-Approval Now Schedule an appointment with one of our experienced mortgage lenders, or choose a lender and start the process by applying online. Get started.

Start Saving for Your Down Payment According to RealtorMag, it can take an average of 12 and half years for first-time homebuyers to save a 20% down payment for a house.* You can start saving more each day with a Home Buyer’s Certificate of Deposit.** This CD is a smart way to put away money for the future:

  • Interest compounds quarterly, and the CD is renewable every 12 months.
  • Higher rate than a normal 12-month CD.
  • Early withdrawal penalties are waived if the money is used to purchase a residential property financed by Merchants Bank.
  • Start with a $100 minimum deposit and then continue with a minimum deposit of $100 per month.

Click here to start the process for opening your Home Buyer’s CD today.

Loans are subject to credit approval.
*http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2014/11/07/20-down-payment-takes-12-years-saving
**12 Month Home Buyer’s CD requires a $100 minimum opening deposit and a $100 minimum monthly deposit. Additional deposits may be made at any time. Withdrawals prior to maturity will not be subject to penalty if the funds are used to purchase a primary residence that is financed through Merchants Bank, unless funds are withdrawn within 6 days after initial deposit. In this case there is a minimum penalty of 7 days interest. If funds are withdrawn prior to maturity for any other reason a penalty of 180 days interest will be assessed. When funds are withdrawn, either prior to or at maturity, the entire balance must be withdrawn. Partial withdrawals will not be allowed. Mortgage loan is subject to credit approval.

Home Construction Loans: The Basics

Construction loans at Merchants Bank

Have you always dreamed of building your own home, but you aren’t sure where to start? Follow this easy guide to learn the basics of construction loans.

What is a construction loan?
A construction loan is a loan used to pay for the cost of building a new home. When construction on your house is complete, you’ll need to obtain a new loan to pay off the construction costs. At Merchants, we offer construction to permanent financing, which allows customers to borrow for the construction phase and modify that loan to allow them to pay off the construction costs in one simple process.

How does it work?
For qualified applicants, Merchants requires a minimum down payment of 5% if the purchase price is under $484,350 (certain programs may allow for a minimum down payment as low as 3%). With a 5% down payment, you will have a single permanent loan with mortgage insurance at 95%.*

Once you have obtained financing for your construction loan, the builder will typically take draws (payments) throughout the construction phase. During the construction process, you will only be charged monthly interest payments on the amount of the loan advanced.

How do I apply?
Apply online at www.merchantsbank.com or visit your local Merchants Bank to speak to a mortgage lender. After reviewing your application and other information, you will be notified if you’ve been preapproved for both a construction and permanent loan.*

Read our complete guide for successful construction or remodel through the construction loan process, which covers:

  • What information is needed upon application
  • Bids, draws and cost overruns
  • Appraisal value
  • And much more

*Subject to credit approval.
Maximum financing is the highest loan-to-value which varies based on the loan product

 

Is ACH Fraud Affecting Your Business?

ACH Fraud Detection Merchants Bank

Use a service like Merchants Bank’s ACH Blocks and Filters to detect fraud on a daily basis.

What is an ACH Block or Filter?
ACH Blocks and Filters help you detect fraudulent electronic transactions that are presented on your account. By setting up ACH Blocks and Filters, only ACH transactions that you have told us are allowed post to your company’s checking account. All other transactions must receive authorization from you or will be sent back to the originator.

How does it work?
Simply let Merchants Bank know which, if any ACH transactions should be allowed to post to your company’s checking account.

  • ACH Block – You can completely block all ACH debits and/or credits from posting to your account.
  • ACH Filters – You can set parameters that allow certain ACH debits/and or credits to post to your account, while at the same time excluding other debits and/or credits from posting.

Why should my business use it?
With ACH Blocks and Filters, you can virtually eliminate the possibility of fraudulent ACH transactions being posted to your business account. Plus, in addition to the money you’ll save by preventing fraud, there is no need to purchase additional equipment to use ACH Blocks and Filters.

How can I start using ACH Blocks and Filters?
Contact one of our Cash Management specialists today.