The Tale of the Creepy, Credit Monster

Tanna Yerger

Tanna Yerger

Post written by Tanna Yerger, Digital Media Coordinator

October is Get Smart about Credit month as well as Halloween! Even though these two events fall in the same month, it doesn’t mean that they both have to be scary.

Credit is an important part of your financial health. To learn more about credit and to remove the fear of the scary credit monster from everyone’s closet, I spoke with Jeff Weber, Customer Service Representative, at our Billings King Avenue bank!

“Nothing stresses people out more than money. If I can help resolve that stress, that’s a good feeling.” – Jeff Weber

T: How long have you been in banking?

J: Since January of 2016

T: What is the best part of your job?

J: When I have a cranky customer and they walk out of here happy. Nothing stresses people out more than money. If I can help resolve that stress, that’s a good feeling. They’re walking out of here in a better mood than when they came in, and that’s pretty cool.

Jeff Weber

Jeff Weber

T: Do you mentor your customers when they ask for help?

J: Definitely. We have people come in with questions like “I don’t have any credit and I’m trying to get an apartment. What do I do?”

T: What do you tell them?

J: It’s tricky because you’ve got to have credit to build credit. One thing I always recommend is to apply for a credit card. You can get credit cards with no credit. You might only have a $200 limit, but if you spend $100 on gas every month, just use that credit card and pay it off*. (For people with little to no credit, the American Bankers Association (ABA) also recommends applying for a loan with a co-signer who has a good credit history.)

T: Do you get questions about credit?

J: Yes. How do I build it? How do I get my credit back up to a good score?

T: Generally, how do you answer those tricky questions?

J: I know it sounds simple, but you’ve got to pay your bills on time. That’s really what it boils down to. You’ve got to go out and check your credit report, and if you have something outstanding, get it taken care of. Credit can be tricky. I compare it to a Jenga game because it’s so easy to destroy and it takes a lot of time to get it put back together.

“I compare credit to a Jenga game because it’s so easy to destroy and it takes a lot of time to get it put back together.” – Jeff Weber

Jenga and credit

T: Where do you recommend customers go to check their credit score?

J: The ABA recommends using annualcreditreport.com.

T: Do you have a credit success story that you can share with me?

J: A relative was looking to get a mortgage. He didn’t have any credit and asked me what he should do. His mom told him that he wasn’t responsible enough for a credit card. She might not have been wrong, but she wasn’t considering the bigger picture. He ended up getting a credit card with a $500 limit and did exactly what I told him to do. He used the card for fuel. After a couple of years of this, he was able to sign off on his first mortgage at age 25.
(There is a popular belief that leaving a small balance on a credit card each month will help to increase your credit. Per Experian, this is a myth. It is important to pay off your credit card balance each month to help foster a healthy credit score.)

T: How often do you get questions on credit?

J: Probably once per month I will have someone specifically sit at my desk and ask questions about credit.

T: So, credit is on their minds but not necessarily the main reason for coming in.

J: Yes. It’s definitely something that people care about. If they have specific credit needs, I refer them to a commercial, consumer or mortgage lending specialist.

T: Any final thoughts?

J: If you are concerned about identity theft and fraud, I always recommend freezing your credit report. (In an article shared on the ABA’s website, it explains how a security freeze can protect against identity theft and the opening of fraudulent accounts.) Most people know well in advance if they’re going to have their credit pulled. They can just lift the freeze. Keep in mind that there can be a time delay thawing your credit with all reporting agencies. When I’m done doing what I need to do, I get back online and freeze it again. The only way you can freeze your credit is by going to each credit bureau page.

In an Experian article, it’s mentioned that credit thawing can take a few days if it’s done via mail. Credit thawing via their website or phone generally takes anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.

(Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.)

Thank you, Jeff, for offering your expertise to our readers about credit. There are so many ways to “get smart about credit” and take control of your financial future. We have 34 banks across the state, with experts who are willing to talk and assist with financial questions and concerns. Stop by and let us help you understand that credit isn’t a scary monster in your closet.

For other questions regarding credit and cybersecurity, the ABA and Experian are excellent resources. Visit their websites to learn more.

*Credit card products may charge annual fees, cash advance, and various other miscellaneous fees. Prior to accepting a credit card offer, be sure to review on all fees, APY, and other fees associated with the credit product.

Fall Home Maintenance: Building Equity in Your Home

Michael Mitchell

Michael Mitchell

Post written by Michael Mitchell, Real Estate Loan Officer

As I was preparing to write my first-ever blog, I began researching what a blog is and how to structure it.

Then, as I was throwing my dog his ball last night, I figured I would just write down my own home maintenance issues and see how they might apply to others. Here goes!

Clean your gutters!

Gutters are those things attached to your roof that are supposed to provide safe passage for rainwater and melting snow down a fun little water slide and out into your yard!

I was lazy last fall and didn’t bother cleaning mine out. Well, to my surprise, that was not a good idea! Therefore, this Spring during one of the worst rain storms in recent memory, my gutters looked like Niagara Falls running off the roof of my home.

So there I was standing on a 10-foot metal ladder in the middle of a torrential downpour dodging lightning strikes while I scooped clumps of dirt, leaves, and tree branches out of the plugged gutters.

Not fun, but if I hadn’t braved the elements, my basement would have flooded for sure.

Clean your gutters!

Maintain your deck!

Our deck got pretty beat up in some of the past few hailstorms and I didn’t bother to do anything about it because we plan on replacing it “someday”.

Well, someday never comes and every winter I cuss under my breath each time my snow shovel slams into all a nail heads sticking up. Oh and let’s not forget about all the paint peeling up with the ice & snow… and the dry rot getting worse with every rising sun.

Maintain your deck!

Hand tools for fixing old Deck

Seal cracks and holes!

For the past five years, we’ve dealt with a massive spider invasion. Our home literally felt like the house in the movie Arachnophobia. I was ready to burn the house down!

It was becoming a nightly ritual to just cruise through the entire house with a shoe in one hand and a rolled up newspaper in the other smashing bugs. Then, last Fall I decided to take some time and find the actual problem.

There were several gaps around water and gas lines. Doors weren’t sealed properly, and the crawl space vents had holes in them. I fixed all that and haven’t seen a spider inside since.

Seal those entry points!

Home Maintenance

Fall maintenance not only saves you from lightning strikes and spider bites, but it also helps you build equity or at least maintain the equity you have built up in your home.

Spend a couple fewer Saturdays on the couch watching the Cats win while the Griz lose and a few more days outside working on your home. This will save you from a costly flooded basement, a complete deck replacement, or pest infestation.

Happy fall 2018!  Go Cats!

The views expressed in this blog concerning the MSU Bobcats and the UM Grizzlies reflect the views of the author, not Stockman Bank. We understand rivalries and remain neutral on the subject of the Cats and Griz. We support and cheer on all collegiate teams throughout the state, as well as all our high school, middle school, grade school, kindergarten, and club teams. Whew!

Small Towns. Big Hearts! Part 3

Small Towns. Big Hearts. (Part 3)

Janine Merrill

Janine Merrill, Marketing Officer

Post written by Janine Merrill, Marketing Officer

Well, folks – this is the third and final installment of Small Towns. Big Hearts!

(Click here to read Part 1. And click here to read Part 2.)

It’s been a wonderful journey exploring the smallest towns where Stockman Bank has branches. Here are the final two “Bigs of the Smalls!” (Did you guess the right towns?)

WIBAUX – population 589

Located on the eastern edge of the state along the North Dakota border and an exit off I-94, Wibaux is the county seat of Wibaux County.

Coming into town, travelers are greeted with a tin man sculpture. It’s just one of many interesting items located around town.

Wibaux-Tin Man

Originally named at different times (Keith, Beaver, and Mingusville), the town is named after prominent local cattle rancher Pierre Wibaux, who immigrated to the area from France.

Wibaux Statue

Wibaux became a major cattle shipping center for the Northern Pacific Railroad.

Many of the cattle came from the infamous Theodore Roosevelt ranches near Medora, North Dakota. Several cattle drives of the 1880’s passed by Wibaux on their way from Texas to the northern ranges.

The Pierre Wibaux House Museum complex is a popular tourist attraction and tells the story of Pierre Wibaux and his life.

The museum houses farm and household exhibits of early settlers. It also includes Indian artifacts and an old-fashioned barbershop, livery stable, a railroad caboose, and gardens.

The Centennial Car Museum, a railroad car, was on display at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City.

Home to the Class C Wibaux Longhorns, the community is steeped in a rich tradition of high school sports including football, volleyball, basketball and track.

During any given week of the year with Montana 8-man football, there’s always a good chance that the Longhorns will be sitting at the top of the polls!

According to Stockman Bank Branch Manager Wanda Van Vleet, the town really comes alive for game day to support “the Horns!”!

Wibaux Group

TERRY – population 605

Last, but certainly not least, is Terry. Beautifully situated off I-94 between Miles City and Glendive, Terry is the county seat of Prairie County.

Terry Sign

The site where Terry is located was first called Joubert’s Landing. This was in recognition of a man who built a supply point along the Yellowstone River for freighters traveling from Bismarck to Miles City.

It was renamed Terry in 1881 when the Northern Pacific Railway’s transcontinental rail line arrived. It was named after Alfred Howe Terry, a General in the Union Army who commanded an 1876 expedition to the area.

The Terry Badlands and the Evelyn Cameron Museum attract visitors from all over the world each year. Evelyn Cameron was a photographer who documented her life as a pioneer near Terry from the 1890’s onward.

Evelyn Cameron

Her work includes photos of settlers in Eastern Montana. In addition, there are photos of cowboys, sheepherders, and many other scenarios of life back in the day.

The Terry Badlands Trails is also a huge scenic attraction.

Several events are held in Terry each year according to Stockman Bank Operations Officer, Cindy Kiosse.

The 4th of July is a huge celebration in terms of activities at the local park and around town. Additionally, the Terry Yippee Community Appreciation Day and class reunions are local favorites.

Terry Veteran's Park

The Prairie County Fair is held each summer and draws people from all over.

The Prairie County Hospital Foundation’s “Fun for All” fundraiser is another big event that raises funds for hospital improvements and the medical scholarship fund.

Terry Group

As in all small towns, the schools and sports teams play a large role in the town’s culture. Interestingly, Terry is in a co-op with Dawson County High School in Glendive for Class A football. However, they remain the Terry Terriers for all other sports- competing as a District 4C school.

terrier_logo_color

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this three-part series on our smallest town banks as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Small town life in Montana is alive and well and worth the time to experience.

Next time you’re traveling along I-94, I-90, I-15, Highway 80, 87 or any other Montana Highway, take some time to exit and explore the beauty, uniqueness and most importantly the people who are the heart of small towns in Montana!

Bank Disclosures