Shot of colleagues working late at the office

Should small businesses owners offer HSA health plans to employees?

If you’re a business owner, figuring out how to reduce costs associated with employee healthcare benefits is probably a top concern.

One option might be to provide your employees with a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) along with a Health Savings Account (HSA).

HSAs are employee-owned savings accounts that can be established by individuals with a qualified employer-sponsored HDHP.  The high deductible limits associated with these plans prevent most medical expenses, with the exception of preventative care, from being reimbursed. HSAs give employees the opportunity to be financially prepared for these expenses, and they offer several additional benefits for both employees and employers.

Employer Benefits:

  • Neither the employer nor the employee pay taxes on contributions made via payroll
  • Employer HSA contributions may be deducted from federal taxes
  • HSAs are easily transferred between qualifying HDHPs, usually without penalty
  • Helps attract and retain employees with concerns about rising healthcare costs

Employee Benefits:

  • Contributions are made pre-tax when deducted directly from payroll
  • Dividends paid on account balances accumulate tax-free
  • Pay no taxes on withdrawals for qualified medical expenses
  • Employees have the freedom to decide contribution amounts up to legal maximums as well as when and how funds are used
  • Contributions never expire

With all the savings opportunities and tax benefits available to both employers and employees, HSAs are pretty much win-win.

If you’re an employer looking to provide HSAs to your employees, IHMVCU can help. We offer competitive rates and a streamlined onboarding process so you don’t have to waste time tracking down employee account information.





Lindsey Ramos
VP, Business Development
(309) 793-6200 ext. 72175

Share Button

How to protect yourself from credit card fraud

A major company carrying your sensitive information gets hacked. A scam email or phone call tricks you into giving away your account number. A thief ruffling through the trash finds a discarded billing statement.

Credit card fraud affects millions of Americans every year in a variety of ways, and unfortunately some cases can’t always be prevented. Thankfully, most financial institutions offer services to protect against fraud and safeguard your identity.

While your financial institution is probably always monitoring your account for unauthorized charges, it never hurts to play it safe. Though your chances of encountering credit card fraud are actually pretty low, practicing these six tips will ensure those odds stay in your favor:

1. Monitor your online information.
Many of us do the bulk of our shopping and banking online. With all that personal information floating around it’s a good idea to change your login and password information periodically–especially if you’re not known to use really strong passwords.  That way you only fall victim to amazing Amazon deals, not hackers.

2. Check your bank and credit card statements often.
View your statements and accounts regularly so you’ll know if something looks off—like a storage fee for that private plane you never knew you owned.

3. Review your credit reports.
Fun fact: every year you’re entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies: Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. Check them for accuracy and make sure all the accounts are ones you recognize. Information can vary from report to report, so it’s important to check all three agencies’ reports.

4. Shred important documents.
Invest in a shredder and regularly shred any outdated bank or credit card statements, or other personal documents you have. This extra measure keeps your information from falling into the wrong hands.

5. Notify card issuers if your address changes, or if you’re traveling.
Nothing appears more suspicious to a financial institution than if one of their members or customers is making purchases in another state or country. Avoid an awkward situation where your card is suddenly denied at the checkout counter or hotel desk by notifying your bank or credit union if you’ve moved or before you take that much-deserved vacation.

6. Be wary of unexpected emails or senders you don’t know.
Luring you into sharing your information or clicking a link through an email is an excellent way for hackers to gain access to your private information. If anything about an email seems off, whether it arrives at a weird time of day, asks you to do something, or comes from a company or person you don’t know, do yourself a favor and delete it.

Following these tips will go a long way toward keeping your identity and private information safe, but it’s still no guarantee. Call your card company right away if you suspect your private information may be compromised. Most financial institutions have fraud-prevention policies in place and will help you through the process of preventing or clearing responsibility from fraudulent transactions.

Looking for more info on how to protect yourself from scams and hackers? Check out our other blogs in this series:

how to detect a skimming device

How to detect a skimming device

protect yourself from text scams

How to protect yourself from text scams

Share Button

How to protect yourself from text scams

By now you probably know about a lot of scams thieves use to steal personal information from their victims. From ATM skimming devices to phishing emails and world-wide data breaches, thieves are finding new ways to get their hands on sensitive data every day.

More recently, police all over the world have seen a rise in cellphone identity theft scams—particularly those that originate through text message. It’s no surprise, considering there are almost as many active cellphone accounts as there are people in the world.

It might sound scary, but like any other identity theft scam, knowledge is your best weapon. So how are hackers using text messages to steal identities and other sensitive data?

Here’s what you should know:
There are a lot of variations, but ultimately you’re sent an unsolicited text message prompting you to call a 1-800 number to provide personal information, like your credit card number, PIN or social security number.. Hackers may pose as your financial institution saying that your account or card has been compromised, or they may claim to be the IRS seeking back taxes.

If you ever receive a bogus text like this, the best way to protect yourself is to remember these 2 things:

1. The IRS does not use unsolicited email, text messages or any social media to contact you about your personal tax issues.

If you receive a text message from someone claiming to be the IRS and demanding payment, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1.800.366.4484 or

2. Your financial institution should never ask you to input private information (like your credit card or account numbers) via text, or call you asking for personal information.

If someone ever calls or texts you about your account and it seems suspicious, hang up and call your financial institution’s published phone number. If they’re contacting you, it’s safe to assume they know your account information already; so while it’s reasonable for them to ask you some questions to verify your identity, asking for your full account or card number is a red flag.

If you get a text referring to accounts at an institution you’re not associated with, don’t assume they know something you don’t. Do a quick search on the internet to find that institution’s public phone number and call to verify the information. Don’t call any phone numbers given in the bogus text.

Bottom line? If something seems suspicious or out of place, it probably is. Don’t respond to suspicious texts, and instead call a publicly published phone number for whatever institution or company the texter claims to be associated with.  When it comes to your private information, you’re always better off safe than sorry.

Share Button

5 questions to ask before opening a business account

Whether you’re just starting up and only need a simple checking account for your business, or you’ve been in business for several years and are looking for a change, there’s a lot you should consider before opening or moving an account.

The kind of account you choose can make or break your business. Here’s what Evan Muench, a commercial loan officer at IHMVCU, thinks you should know before opening or switching your business accounts.

1. Does the account have a minimum balance requirement?
A minimum balance is one of the most common qualifiers for checking and savings accounts. For some accounts it’s simply the initial amount required to open the account, but others you might be charged a fee if your balance ever falls below that amount.

2. What’s the fee schedule?
Understanding the fees and costs associated with an account is the best way to avoid surprises down the road. A financial institution should provide you with a fee schedule before the account is opened, but it’s always good practice to ask for it just in case. So what should you be looking for when you read the fee schedule?

  • Monthly maintenance fees
    Are you being charged a fee just for having the account?
  • Overdraft fees
    How much will you be charged if your account is overdrawn?
  • Cost of checks
    Some accounts offer free checks when the account is opened, but charge a fee if the order is replenished.

3. What are the minimum transaction amounts? Maximum transfers?
Some checking and savings accounts require a minimum number of transactions to be eligible for the account perks (like earning dividends, ATM fee reimbursement, etc.). Other accounts, like Money Markets, might restrict the number of transactions you can make in a month. Knowing these requirements up front will allow you to make an informed decision based on your business’s needs.

4. Is the account interest bearing? How is interest calculated?
It’s important to know if you’ll be paid dividends on an account and what must be done in order to receive them. Typically, interest is calculated based on the Average Daily Balance of an account. You should confirm how that interest is calculated and if there are any eligibility requirements, like a minimum balance or transaction limit, so you can position your business to take advantage of this perk.

5. Is online banking available? What does it cost?
Online banking is a key platform in today’s culture. Many people prefer the convenience online banking provides over visiting a branch in person. While almost all financial institutions offer some form of online banking, it’s important to make sure it’s available with the account you need and that it offers the features you want—like mobile banking and remote deposit.  You should also find out if there’s a cost associated with having that access.

If you already have a business account, it’s good practice to review the terms at least once a year to make sure the account still fits your needs. If you can’t find the answers to all your questions by looking at your statement, make an appointment with your financial institution to have them walk you through it.









Evan Muench
Commercial Lending Officer
(309) 793-6200 ext. 70110

Share Button

[INFOGRAPHIC] Why you should choose a credit union for your business banking

Share Button

How to detect a skimming device

Probably one of the most frightening things to think about is the possibility of someone stealing your private information—whether it’s through a major international data breach or a totally avoidable mistake like losing your debit card.

One of the easiest ways for thieves to steal your financial information is through devices known as skimmers attached to ATMs or credit card terminals. The good news is when it comes to protecting your information, knowledge is the best weapon.

What is a skimmer?
A skimmer is a malicious card reader that grabs your data off the card’s magnetic strip. They’re usually a piece of plastic that fits over the top of a real card reader, like those at ATMs and pay-at-the-pump gas terminals, so they can harvest data undetected every time a card is swiped.

The device itself is usually no larger than a deck of cards, and is often disguised to look like part of the ATM or terminal. Thieves will also install a hidden camera that records PINs as they’re entered or a false keypad that sits directly on top of the real pad.  In order for this scam to work, the thieves must come back and retrieve the skimmer to extract the data.

Though chip cards will protect a user in many situations, classic skimmer scams are not one of them. In order to remain backwards compatible with terminals that haven’t been upgraded, chip cards still house sensitive data in the magnetic strip.

What to look for:

  • Check for any signs of tampering—damaged or wiggly parts, or parts that look out of place. Wiggly parts, especially around the card reader, are generally a really good sign of tampering.
  • If there are other ATMs next to the one you’re using, make sure they look alike. If there are obvious differences, don’t use either. For example, one might have light-up arrows showing which direction to insert your card while the other has only a solid plastic card slot.
  • Check the top, sides of the screen, card reader and keypad. If any part of it looks out of place, like an area with different coloring or an abnormally thick keypad, don’t use it.

You should also always consider the location of an ATM or card terminal before you use it. An ATM inside of a financial institution, for example, would be less likely to have a skimmer attached because of all the cameras, but one on a low traffic street corner might be more suspicious.

The best rule of thumb is to be cautious—cover your hand when you enter your PIN and don’t use your card somewhere that seems suspicious or makes you uncomfortable. While it might be less convenient to travel elsewhere in those situations, you’re better safe than sorry.

Share Button
be balanced in all things, especially money

[POP QUIZ] 14 ways to tell if you’re financially healthy

Financial health means different things to different people, but there are some universal truths. So how do you tell if your finances fit the bill? Read the comments below and see how many you identify with. While each statement doesn’t mean much individually, your finances are probably in good shape if you agree with a majority.

 1. You live within your means
You don’t overdraw your account or bounce a check, even if you have overdraft protection. You’ve got enough of a cushion that you aren’t spending down to the last penny every month. You’re able to save a bit without depriving yourself.

2. Financial stress isn’t keeping you up at night
You have enough in the bank that you’re not plagued by money worries. You know you’ve got enough to cover the bills, and you’re not ducking creditors. You don’t put off important financial conversations and you’re not just avoiding thinking about the things you can’t handle.

3. You use credit cards out of convenience, not necessity.
Using a credit card out of convenience or rewards and paying it off every month without paying interest is totally fine. Using a credit card because it’s the only way you can afford to make purchases is problematic and a good sign that you need to revisit your budget or change your spending habits.

4. You’re not worried about losing your job
Not only is your position stable, your finances wouldn’t be completely derailed by losing your job or getting laid off. Yes, you probably need to adjust your budget and change some spending habits, but you could get by for at least a month (ideally 3) while you look for replacement income.

5. You make payments on time
You’re not wasting money on late fees and penalty APRs.  You plan around your due dates and pay on time, or even in advance.

6. You aren’t living paycheck to paycheck
Part of every paycheck goes towards your savings or emergency fund. You aren’t spending down to the last penny every pay period, and you can handle an unplanned for gap in income (see #4).

7. You save automatically
Some people say to save what you don’t spend, but you know better. You’re only spending what you don’t save.  You pay yourself first. All of your money isn’t in your checking account, and you either set up transfers or have some of your money automatically deposited into savings accounts.

8. You’re not spending money on stupid stuff or to make yourself feel better
You know that retail therapy isn’t actually solving any of your problems and you’re not fooled by all the schemes retailers use to get you to spend money, like trick lighting and hypnotic music. You aren’t throwing money away on things you don’t need, clothes you won’t wear or already own in two different colors, or services you don’t use (here’s looking at you, 3000+ channel cable subscription).

 9. You don’t panic in the face of a financial emergency
If your furnace broke or your kids hit a baseball through the kitchen window, fixing it wouldn’t put you in dire straits. That’s what your emergency fund is for.

10. You don’t feel guilty spending on special occasions
Anniversary gift? Birthday party? Night on the town? No problem, within reason. Your budget is flexible and you don’t have to rob Peter to pay Paul (or, skip the electric bill so you can order a pizza). If the thought of spending a little extra money one month to pay for a gift or dinner out makes you break a sweat, you might want to analyze your spending habits.

11. You’re not worried about other peoples’ opinion of your finances
Keeping up with the Joneses is not your game. You’re comfortable with where you are financially, and don’t feel the need to make big purchases in order to impress others.

12. Your debt-to-income ratio is below 30%
The lower your debt-to-income ratio the better, but most experts recommend keeping it at or below 30%. If yours is creeping up higher than you’d like, you either need to pay down your debts or find an additional source of income.

13. You buy assets that appreciate, instead of depreciate

Wealthy people don’t blow large amounts of money on things that quickly lose value, and neither should you. New cars and other fancy toys shouldn’t be a priority. Instead, invest your money wisely or put it towards wealth-building purchases.

14. A large purchase doesn’t deplete your savings
Your budget is fairly consistent month-to-month, but an unexpected or abnormally large purchase doesn’t throw your whole system out of whack. You’ve build a buffer that allows you to splurge occasionally, for fun or emergencies.

10 – 15
You’re the picture of financial health. You’ve figured out how to make your finances work for you, and you’re prepared to handle a financial emergency.

5 – 9 You’re on the right track to financial health. You’re living within your means, paying attention to your spending habits and using credit responsibly.

0 – 4 You’re missing that financially healthy glow. Your budget deserves a second look. You might benefit from establishing a flexible budget that accounts for saving for emergencies and spending on fun stuff.

Share Button

5 ways to make reaching your financial goals easier

Maybe you hope to someday own a house, or pay for your kids’ college education or maybe even just pay off your own student loans before your kids go to college. . .

We all have goals for our financial future, but reaching them can be really hard — especially when it comes to leaving that extra $500 or $1000 sitting in your savings account.  Turning down a new pair of shoes when you’ve had a bad day, or waiting to borrow a video game from a friend instead of buying every new release for the sake of some far off financial dream can be a daily struggle.

So how do you do it? Here’s what we suggest:

1. Get prepared.
Before you do anything else, you need to start an emergency fund.

No matter how diligently you plan, you’re bound to encounter some unexpected expenses. Whether it’s a one-time charge like a broken furnace or a major ongoing expense like unemployment or a serious illness, having some backup funds will keep you from racking up more debt or using funds planned for something more fun.

2. Set a budget.
If you’re flying by the seat of your pants every month when it comes to your finances, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

Admittedly, budgets are not fun. They can be time consuming and tedious.
But stick with us here: they don’t have to be.

We’re big fans of the 50/20/30 method. It’s a pretty simple way to categorize and prioritize your spending, plus it’s flexible. So you can easily adjust it for months when there’s unusual spending (like back-to-school time, or that summer all your friends are getting married).

3. Spend less.
This is obvious. The only way you can save money is if you spend less than you earn. Whatever your financial goals, you’ll never meet them if you’re spending every last penny.  This is where that budget we just talked about comes in. You have to track to your spending and earning to know where you’re making mistakes and learn what changes you can make in the future.

4, Get insurance.
Don’t go into debt because you aren’t prepared to cover unexpected expenses. Whether it’s auto and gap insurance in case you get into an accident, disability insurance in case you lose the ability to work or life insurance to protect your family if something terrible happens to you, insurance keeps you from taking a loss when the unexpected happens.

5. Use technology.
Technology is your friend. As an IHMVCU member, you get access to some pretty awesome features to help keep your finances in check. From financial calculators to help plan for the future to FinanceWorks, a free budgeting software available in Online Branch, we make it easy to reach your goals.

FinanceWorks automatically tracks and categorizes your spending and helps identify trends each month, allows you to set goals and will even notify you when you’re approaching the spending limits you set up.  If you’re not already enrolled in Online Branch, get started today.

Reaching your goals is a lot easier when you’re prepared. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t start working right away—mastering personal finance management takes time, but we promise it’s worth the effort.

Share Button

How to create a back-to-school budget that works for you

Back-to-school time is the perfect opportunity to start talking about everyone’s favorite subject: budgets.

Depending on how organized your finances are, this time of year might come with a lot of unplanned expenses—and we all know how those notebooks, binders, markers and glue can add up. If you’re someone who is always caught off guard by these once-a-year type expenses (see also: birthdays, baby showers, graduations etc.), you might be in need of a flexible budget overhaul.

When it comes to building a budget that can handle almost anything life throws at it, there’s one formula most experts recommend: the 50/20/30 method.

Here’s how it works:
50% of your budget should go towards essentials. This includes housing, groceries, utilities, insurance and so on. There aren’t many gray areas in this part of the budget. If you have to ask yourself if something is essential, it probably isn’t.

20% is reserved for priorities like paying down debts, college savings, retirement accounts and your emergency fund.

30% is for optional expenses like vacations, hobbies and going out to eat, as well as one-off expenses like (you guessed it!) school supplies, birthday presents etc.

So what makes this plan so flexible? If you’re feeling like the budget is a little tight, you already know which portion gets cut back to pay for that “surprise” expense. Eliminate some of the optional expenses, by say eating at home a few more nights this month and skipping those morning lattes, and suddenly there’s room for the kids’ new gym shoes without the stress of paying the power bill late.

If moving things around in the “optional” category still has you feeling strapped, you know to plan differently for next year. Maybe set up a school supplies savings account in the priorities category, and start contributing a little bit each month.

Keep in mind that these guidelines are helpful, but they’re not hard and fast rules. Make adjustments based on your family’s needs. Whatever changes you make, just make sure it all adds up to 100%.

Try IHMVCU’s budgeting and saving calculators to find out what would happen if you changed your money habits. IHMVCU members also get free access to FinanceWorks, a budgeting tool within Online Branch. FinanceWorks tracks your income and expenses, allows you to set realistic spending goals, and even alerts you when you meet or exceed your spending limits.

Now that you have a place to start, calculate your current spending and see how it compares to the recommended percentages. No matter what adjustments you need to make, keep in mind that every month will be different. The most important thing is to be diligent.

Share Button

Crash Course in Credit, Lesson 4: Fixing Damaged Credit

There’s no quick fix for damaged credit. In Lesson 2 of our Crash Course in Credit you learned that nothing falls off your credit report quickly—good or bad, most things stay for at least seven years. But there are things you can do in the meantime to fix your broken score.

Step 1: Check your credit report.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not bad to check your own credit report. It’s something you should do at least once a year. You’ll never know what’s hurting your score if you don’t look. You can get a free copy of your report from all three credit bureaus once a year at

Got your report? Good. Now look for any mistakes, like falsely reported late payments or accounts that aren’t even yours. If anything is amiss, you can dispute errors with the creditor and have it removed.

Step 2: Set payment reminders.
A good payment history is a huge part of your credit score. If late or missed payments are your problem, automatic payments might be your solution. As long as you actually have the money in your account, it’s a fool proof way to guarantee your bills are paid on time. You can set up automatic payments through Bill Pay or, depending on what services are available, directly through your lender.

If you’re not comfortable having your bills paid automatically, or you aren’t certain the funds will be available when the due date rolls around, try setting up payment alerts on your phone’s calendar. You can set them up however you like, but a good idea might be setting an alert the pay period before a bill is due. That way you’ll know to budget around the upcoming payment.

Step 3: Call your creditors.
If you’re really struggling to make your payments, burying your head in the sand will only make things worse. All creditors and lenders have at least one thing in common: they want you to pay them back. Many will work with you to set up a modified payment schedule that works for both of you, even if it’s just for a couple months. Yes, you could end up paying more in interest in the long run but you’ll at least have a chance to get back on your feet. So how do you know if your lender will be willing to work with you? You have to call and ask.

Looking for more credit advice? Check out the rest of our Crash Course in Credit:
Lesson 1: The Basics
Lesson 2: Common Credit Myths Busted
Lesson 3: Good and Bad Debt

Share Button