Singing for your supper and other Season to Share traditions

By: Gretchen Stenehjem, Marketing Manager, First International Bank & Trust, Member FDIC

What’s your favorite holiday tradition? Like you, our family has many, and in this season of sharing, we invite you to share yours. Comment here, or on our Facebook page.

Meanwhile, here are a few Stenehjem family holiday traditions:

On the first day of Christmas…
My mother gave me two sets of “12 Days of Christmas” glasses. There is one day or verse of the song depicted on each glass. So on Christmas Day, we sing the entire song: You sing what is on your glass! We have many friends who are like family, and they spend Christmas with us—including singing their verses. Also, as our kids have grown up and we’ve added family members, I hear there has been a bit of panic on which verse a new spouse may get. We all have fun memories of that tradition.

Stenehjem family

Cookies, of course
The neighbors tell me they love the homemade sugar cookies I bake, decorate and deliver to them. If you’d like to try it, here’s the recipe:

Sugar cookies

1 c. butter

1 c. white sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

3 c flour

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream together butter, white sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Mix together.  Dough will be stiff.  Roll out the dough on the countertop or board.  Use Christmas or holiday cookie cutters to cut the dough into shapes.  Bake for 8 minutes on parchment paper.

Frosting:

2 c. powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Whipping cream (I never measure)

Mix all ingredients together until the frosting is stiff and easy to spread on the cookies.

Oh, Christmas tree
When our four kids were younger, we all slept under our Christmas tree: sleeping bags all over the living room floor. A lit, decorated tree looks so magical to kids, and we all have fond memories of those nights.

Luke and lutefisk
Christmas Eve always includes a traditional Norwegian dinner, with oyster stew, lefse, meatballs, scalloped corn and of course lutefisk. I’m in charge of that! Before we serve dinner, the head of the family reads Luke’s version of the Christmas Story from the family bible. Steve does that now, just as his father did before him.

Winter picnics in the Park
Speaking of Steve, he grew up with the tradition of a family picnic in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park sometime in December. We’ve tried to continue that. We put a tarp over the shelter, build a roaring fire in the shelter fireplace and, as Steve’s dad used to say, “enjoy some libations.” That keeps the -20 degree temperatures bearable! Of course we bring most foods already prepared, but we do try to grill steaks on the grill. The Park is a very different place in winter, and it’s wonderful to enjoy the beautiful scenery and wildlife.

This year, we leave right after Christmas to celebrate a wedding in Arizona. But like you, I’m hoping we can fit in most of our most treasured holiday traditions. Please, share yours!

Ease your home buying process through our mortgage relationships

By: Patti J. Helm, Assistant Vice President Mortgage Lending Southwest, Fargo, First International Bank & Trust

You’re hearing it from every angle these days: Now is a great time to buy or build a new home.

It is.

But here’s something else we’d like you to know, especially if you’re buying your first home: Our bank can get you through the home buying process much more smoothly and quickly. That’s because we have our own processing and underwriting staff members in-house, which reduces turn-around and wait times for home loans.

We relate well.
Our Mortgage Officers have the right experience & resources to keep current regarding loan programs, and pricing options that will be best suited for your situation, as well as  programs that offer special grants to assist qualifying homebuyers.. We have loan officers whose focus in Mortgage Lending has been driven by customer service through the last several years. That’s impressive, since it was the most tumultuous time in the industry in decades—if not longer. Our loan officers clearly have the right expertise to guide your home buying process.

Buying your first home?
Unfortunately there are not many existing homes for sale in the Fargo – Moorhead area, so New Construction & Construction lending is a popular option. I’ve also built several new homes myself, and I love helping others through that experience.

Mortgage

Step by step to your new front steps
Here’s the general guide for buying your first home:

1. Complete our online home mortgage application
This is more user-friendly than ever. And it’s free! The application links right to our system so we get an email when you submit it; we can fine-tune or complete your application together if necessary (either in-person or by phone) and submit it for pre-qualification right away.

2. Come in to one of our locations and we’ll find you a home loan expert who fits your style, since we have mortgage officers of every age, personality, and communication style.  We’ll be talking to each other often, so we need to get just the right fit.

3. We may work with you to fine-tune your application. We’ll discuss the types of loans, loan programs, grant programs, and pricing options, to find the one that best fits your situation.

4. We will coordinate all the details from gathering any other financial information that may be necessary to the final closing.

These steps are similar for purchasing your second, third, tenth or any other home. Even if you have purchased a home before, we urge you to balance information from trusted, experienced mortgage professionals with information from realtors, neighbors and quick Internet searches.

It’s exciting that most young people who come in for a home loan these days have a nice level of education about credit scores, banking and lending in general. We just need to guide them through the details.

We love closing day.
Our favorite times are helping those with the final home buying process step: closing day. We’re right there, explaining all the forms, answering every question (there are simply NO dumb questions, especially when it comes to home mortgages! That’s exactly why we are here.) and making sure you have a trusty pen for all the signatures.

If you’re considering buying your first home (or building your 10th home!), please come talk with us. Things are changing every day, and our timely knowledge can really make a difference for you.

Patti_Helm_FIBTPatti grew up in the Bismarck – Mandan area, where her father built homes and her parents paid up to 23 percent in home mortgage rates! She started her career at The Title Company. She has lived & worked in Fargo – Moorhead for 22 years. These days, she focuses on Construction Lending & Residential Home Lending. She has even built several homes herself, working through a contractor. Patti and her team are eager to make your new home dreams come true. Patti’s NMLS #: 629513EHLlogo

Benefits of GAP and Credit Life

By: Trevor Keney, Assistant Vice President, Consumer Lending Manager, Fargo, First International Bank & Trust

Do you really need Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) and Credit Life and Disability Insurance? Customers ask me this all the time, and the best answer is to explain how these products can help protect customers’ finances.

Protection that pays: Credit Life and Disability Insurance
This coverage is one of our insurance products that can help protect you and your loan from unexpected death or disabling injuries that could result in financial hardship. People take out loans for vehicles, special vacations, home renovations and other enhancements for their lives. Credit Life and Disability Insurance helps protect these loans.

If your income is suddenly reduced or gone, due to an unexpected death or disabling injury, your family’s financial picture can change dramatically. Your family will already be grappling with emotional stress, and may be struggling to make loan payments and trying to avoid damaging their credit history. They could be digging into savings to meet daily living expenses and the standard of living you’ve worked so hard for might be in jeopardy.

What will happen to your family if your income is reduced or eliminated due to a disabling injury, illness or your unexpected death? Do you have a plan?  It’s a smart idea to add credit life and disability insurance to your loans to help your family maintain their standard of living in the event of a personal disaster.

If you’re disabled due to injury or sickness, your monthly loan payments will be paid until you’re no longer disabled, your loan is paid, or you reach the policy’s maximum benefit. If you pass away and your claim is payable, your eligible loan balance is reduced or paid off. This helps conserve your family’s savings and allows them to use other insurance funds to meet day-to-day living expenses, preserving the standard of living you worked so hard to achieve.

Other features of Credit Life and Disability Insurance that our customers appreciate: It does not require a full physical for “proof of insurability,” you simply have to answer a few questions related to your general health history;  we will finance it for you by adding it to your loan amount; the premiums are included in your monthly loan payment, making the cost affordable. We explain all of the details and costs when we discuss the loan.

We encourage people to think of Credit Life and Disability Insurance as peace of mind. Unfortunately, we all know someone who has unexpectedly passed away or had a debilitating injury. This insurance protects your standard of living by not making an already tragic time even worse. Ask us about this important insurance for your new and existing loans.

Covering the auto insurance gap
Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP), covers your vehicle if it is accidentally damaged beyond repair, stolen or declared a total loss. Here’s how it works: GAP pays the difference between your primary insurance settlement, which is typically the actual cash value of the vehicle, and the loan balance (if it’s higher).

For example, let’s say you bought a new car for $20,000. You made a $2,000 down payment, so you financed $18,000. A couple of months later, you get into an accident. Thank goodness, no one was hurt—but your car is totaled. Now, your car is valued by your insurance company at only $15,000. In those two months, you’ve made two car payments of $450 each—and you haven’t made much of a dent in your principal. Now, you owe a lot of money on a car that doesn’t exist anymore. That’s where GAP coverage would kick in, helping you to avoid paying out of pocket for a car that’s been destroyed.

Other features of GAP that our customers appreciate: It has a 60-day “free look” period so if you decide it is not for you, you can cancel it for a full refund; we offer rates that are generally more competitive than most protection products sold by auto dealerships; we will finance it for you by adding it to your loan amount; the cost is included in your monthly loan payment (sometimes for as little as $5.00 per month), making it affordable;  it can cover multiple pieces of collateral, so if you have four vehicles, GAP can cover all four.

See why my colleagues and I think GAP and Credit Life and Disability Insurance are important products to consider? Call or stop by to visit with us about peace of mind for your loans.

Trevor Keney

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Trevor grew up in Bismarck, N.D., earned his Business Management degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM) in Moorhead, MN and has worked in financial services ever since, including mortgage refinancing, debt consolidation, and now the last eight years focused on consumer lending for our Fargo customers. Trevor’s NMLS  #:  766448

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