Tips for More At-Home Storage Space

Enjoy this “Closing Thoughts” guest post from OSB’s Mortgage Lender, Kacie Eberenz (NMLS# 1458409). Looking for mortgage loan advice to help you purchase real estate in Michigan’s  Lenawee, Jackson and Washtenaw Counties? Contact Kacie today!

After the hectic holiday season, the beginning of the year provides the perfect opportunity to take stock of the changes you would like to make in different areas of your life. One place where many people focus is on their home, clearing away clutter so they can benefit from a more streamlined and organized living space. This is often when homeowners have to face the reality that they could use more storage space!

According to Realtor Magazine, not having enough storage space is the source of buyer’s remorse for 80 percent of homebuyers. If you feel the pain of insufficient storage space in your home, use the tips below to help you maximize the space you already have. If you are considering moving this year, keep these tips handy so you can quickly evaluate the homes you are considering in terms of the storage space you need.

1. Turn steps into storage. You may not think about it right away, but the space under your stairs can be opened to create a closet or to accommodate shelves. In a basement where staircases are often open anyway, adding some shelves or storage chests in this alcove can give you additional places to put toys, off-season clothing and sports equipment.

2. Install ready-made shelves. Whether you’re staying in your current home or moving elsewhere, using ready-made shelves in your closets, garage, hallways or basement is an easy way to exponentially expand the space you have to put your possessions.

3. Accessorize your bedroom. Headboard storage units, modular closet shelving, under-the-bed storage boxes and divided trays that you can slide into your dresser drawers all provide additional locations to stash clothes, books, jewelry and other items.

4. Clear up kitchen counter clutter. It’s so easy to let papers, dishes and other items pile up on kitchen counters, but allowing it to happen will ultimately leave less room for the things you really need to have on hand. Once you clear the counters, employ other space-saving strategies such as putting small appliances on shelves above the counter, using inside-the-cupboard hanging knife trays and hanging pots and pans from a ceiling-mounted rack that is within easy reach.

5. Make the garage a go-to storage space. Instead of trying to keep everything inside your house, consider storing seldom used items in your garage. Hanging items on walls, putting boxes on shelves and using overhead storage spaces can make the most of your home’s storage capacity.

When you first think of reorganizing your current home or buying your dream home, it’s likely that the practical matter of storage space is not the first issue that comes to mind. However, with recent statistics showing that the average home contains about 300,000 items, you’ll likely find these tips helpful for making sure you have a spot for all of your belongings. Another tip: If you are considering moving this year, reach out to Kacie Eberenz, OSB’s Mortgage Lender/Lead Personal Banker (#1458409) today!

OSB Helps to Protect Your Holiday Purchases (including Cell Phones!)

Are you considering making a significant purchase such as a new cell phone this holiday season? If so, you’ll want to know more about how you can protect your investments with OSB’s buyer’s Debit Advantage Buyer’s Protection ProgramTM and Extended Warranty2 program.

Plus, if you are buying a the cell phone, check out the details below about our Cellular Telephone Protection Program2 included with OSB’s Advantage Checking and Advantage+ Checking accounts.

Protect Purchases with OSB’s Debit Advantage Buyer’s ProtectionTM and Extended Warranty2

OSB’s Debit Advantage Buyer’s Protection gives you peace of mind by providing 90 days of coverage for the accidental breakage, fire or theft of items that are purchased entirely with an eligible Advantage Checking or Advantage+ Checking.

OSB’s Extended Warranty benefit extends a U.S.  manufacturer’s original written warranty up to one full year on most new retail purchases if the warranty is less than five years. (Item(s) must be purchased entirely with eligible account.)

Learn How the OSB Cellular Telephone Protection2 Program Works

If you are an Advantage Checking account holder, you are eligible to receive up to $300 of replacement or repair costs if your cell phone is stolen or damaged, in the U.S. and abroad. The Cellular Telephone Protection program covers the first three phones on a cellular telephone bill paid through your checking account. Your cellular telephone bill must be paid through this account. There is a maximum of two claims per year.

Cellular Telephone Protection increases to $400 and covers up to 4 phones for Advantage+ Checking account holders.   
OSB Gives You Peace of Mind While You Shop this Holiday Season

More than just a checking account, Advantage Checking or Advantage+ Checking accounts can help you reduce the risks associated with the theft, loss or breakage of your purchases, including new cell phones, all year long. Both of these accounts come with many other benefits, which are summarized here.

Visit your local OSB branch today to open your account and get peace of mind while you do your holiday shopping.

Some benefits require registration and activation. For complete details of this checking account, speak with an OSB representative.”
 Special Program Notes: The descriptions herein are summaries only and do not include all terms, conditions, and exclusions of the Benefits described. Please refer to the actual Guide to Benefit and/or insurance documents for complete details of coverage and exclusions.  
 2IDProtect service is a personal identity theft protection service available to personal checking account owners and their joint account owners. For revocable grantor trusts, the service is available only when a grantor is serving as a trustee and covers the grantor trustee(s). For all other fiduciary accounts, the service covers the beneficiary, who must be the primary member (Fiduciary is not covered). 
IDProtect included with Advantage Plus Checking is also available to account owners’ eligible family members. Family includes: Spouse, person qualifying as domestic partner, and children under 25 years of age and parent(s) who are residents of the same household. 
Advantage / Advantage Plus Checking accounts are not available to businesses, clubs, organizations and/or churches and their members, schools and their employees/students.
3Credit file monitoring may take several days to begin following activation.
 Insurance Products are not insured by FDIC or any Federal Government Agency; Not a deposit of or guaranteed by the bank or any bank affiliate.

Strategies to Make Your Home Key to Your Success in 2018

Enjoy this “Closing Thoughts” guest post from OSB’s Mortgage Lender, Kacie Eberenz (NMLS# 1458409). Looking for mortgage loan advice to help you purchase real estate in Michigan’s  Lenawee, Jackson and Washtenaw Counties? Contact Kacie today!

The old saying, “Home is where the heart is,” still holds true for many of us; but did you know that with the following organizational strategies, your home can also be key to your success? Whether you are looking to buy a new home, or maybe refinance or spruce up an existing one, these tips from Marie Kondo’s best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing can help you create an environment to support greater success in the year ahead:

Tackle categories instead of rooms in your home. One of Kondo’s key strategies is to tidy things up by category instead of room by room. For example, start with your clothes, then move on to books, then photographs, etc. Doing so will allow you to have a feeling of accomplishment by getting one area done at a time—a strategy that you can use to tackle work projects and the items on your resolution or goal lists, too.

Respect your possessions. While it may seem a little odd at first, Kondo encourages people to consider how their physical items feel about how they are stored in their homes. For example, do clothes crammed into a messy closet look happy? Likely not—so use this “personalization” of your clothes and any other items to set things right, to weed out what you don’t need and to bring harmony to your environment.

Let go of the past. Just like hesitating to leave an old home for a new one, hesitating to part with sentimental “stuff” will only hold you back from the future.  As Kondo says in her book, nostalgia is not your friend when it comes to creating an environment that supports your success. Be selective in what physical memories you keep and get rid of those that don’t truly stir positive emotions.

Seek joy from your surroundings. According to Kondo, you should focus on keeping only the things that give you joy or are truly necessary. In short, when you organize your possessions you should discard anything that you don’t absolutely need or love. The same theory can be applied to the people, places and work that you do when you focus on creating more success in your life and career.

Applying Kondo’s strategies for organizing your home can help to make it key to your success. It will also help to create mental clarity about what you need to do to achieve your objectives. If buying a new home is one of your goals in 2018, an OSB mortgage can help clear the way to make it a reality. Contact Kacie Eberenz, Mortgage Lender/Lead Personal Banker (#1458409) at 517-592-3205. today to get your mortgage approval process started.

Avoid Holiday Debt by Getting a Handle on Your Financial Emotions

Enjoy this “Closing Thoughts” guest post from OSB’s Mortgage Lender, Kacie Eberenz (NMLS# 1458409). Looking for mortgage loan advice to help you purchase real estate in Michigan’s  Lenawee, Jackson and Washtenaw Counties? Contact Kacie today!

Most of us are well aware that we shouldn’t spend more than we have. Yet many of us spend more than we should—or we can afford—especially around the holiday season. Financial experts estimate that last holiday season, about 25 percent of American consumers went into debt to purchase gifts and other seasonal items—why is this?

Accumulating holiday debt is often a tied to self-defeating emotions related to money that kick into overdrive once the season of indulgence arrives. While this time of year may push some consumers over the edge financially, it doesn’t have to. The key to controlling spending during the holidays (or any other time of the year) is understanding why you are prone to overspending and participating in other negative financial behaviors, such as not saving enough money.

Here are some tips to help you reduce holiday debt and identify the emotional financial triggers that may lead you to overspending:

Make a holiday budget and shopping list. This may seem elementary, but many people do not set a budget for holiday spending or shop from a list. This is the first step in eliminating self-defeating spending behavior. Determine what you can afford, then make a list when you are in a rational, rather than an emotional mood. Put the list in your wallet and use it to check off the items you need, so you can see visually what you should be purchasing, rather than shopping spontaneously.

Become aware of the feelings that accompany emotional holiday spending. Identifying the emotions that lead to spending more than you should is essential to getting to the root of the problem. Do you find yourself spending more when you are stressed, sad, happy or angry? If so, give yourself an alternative to spending when you are feeling these emotions like taking a walk or writing holiday greetings to family and friends. If you’re spending to try to compete with others, acknowledge this as a poor strategy that is only going to get you deeper into dept.

Identify external emotional spending triggers. Your feelings can certainly drive impulsive spending, but there are likely external influences as well. If you find that you spend more at a mall or browsing online, or when you receive promotional emails, avoid those triggers and find alternative places to get the things on your list that you really need.

Ask for accountability—and support. It’s too easy to overspend and mismanage money when you are only accountable to yourself. Enlist the support of family or trusted friends to help you curb your spending habits. They can help you avoid situations when you may be prone to overspending and help to remind you about your financial limits and goals!

The holiday season can be a tough time on anyone’s budget, and if you are prone to letting your emotions get the best of you when it comes to spending, it can be even more challenging—but it’s not impossible. Use the tips above to help you manage your emotions and your money. If you do, you’ll be feeling much happier and in control when January rolls around and you have little or no holiday debt!

Use OSB’s $hopping Rewards Benefits to Make the Most of 2017 Black Friday and Cyber Monday Savings

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner and if you’re an OSB Advantage Checking or Advantage+ Checking account holder, this year you may be able to stack your savings even higher to score lower prices using your $hopping RewardsTM benefits.

As a member of OSB’s $hopping Rewards program, you have access to exclusive offers and discounts at thousands of leading online retailers including these and many more:

  • Home Depot
  • Target
  • Macy’s
  • Best Buy
  • Banana Republic
  • Rockport
  • Nine West

Use OSB $hopping rewards for more 2017 Black Friday and Cyber Monday savings.

Once you complete the online registration for the $hopping Rewards program, all you need to do is shop your favorite retailers online using the customized shopping portal and you will receive cash back. Your cash back rewards will be held in your $hopping Rewards account to use toward future purchases or they can be conveniently sent to you as a check.

While you are making your 2017 Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping plans, be sure to add registering online for $hopping Rewards to your list of must-dos. If you are not already an OSB Advantage Checking or Advantage+ Checking account holder, don’t delay opening your account! Visit your local OSB branch today to get your account in time to use the $hopping Rewards for Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping.

Additional tips for shopping 2017 Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

In addition to using your $hopping Rewards to get the best deals, use these tips to make sure that your Black Friday and Cyber Monday bargain hunting is successful:

  • Create a holiday shopping plan prior to making purchases by researching deals in advance.
  • Screen all direct mail and email offers against your shopping list, so you buy only things you really need.
  • Be sure to check social media for exclusive deals, too.
  • Enlist a buddy if you need moral support to avoid unnecessary purchases.

If you are like many southeastern Michigan shoppers, you are planning to kick-off your holiday gift buying this Thanksgiving. Be sure to use your OSB $hopping Rewards to maximize your savings. If you have questions about OSB Advantage Checking or Advantage+ Checking accounts and the $hopping Rewards program please contact your local OSB branch.

Simple Fall Decorating Tips to Help You Celebrate the Harvest Season

Enjoy this “Closing Thoughts” guest post from OSB’s Mortgage Lender, Kacie Eberenz (NMLS# 1458409). Looking for mortgage loan advice to help you purchase real estate in Michigan’s  Lenawee, Jackson and Washtenaw Counties? Contact Kacie today!

Now that Halloween is over, many of us are looking to transition from spooky to more seasonal fall décor. Fortunately, decorating for fall occasions and family gatherings like Thanksgiving doesn’t have to mean spending hours on Pintrest or lots of money, especially if you try these simple tips for fall home décor which tap into the bounty of the harvest season.

1. Hold on to your pumpkins (and gourds)! If you already have uncarved pumpkins and gourds from Halloween or a trip to a fall fair or orchard, then you can easily transition these items into your Thanksgiving and fall decorating scheme to frame your doorway, accent your porch or interior areas of your home. Small pumpkins and gourds look great on a mantle or dining table, too.

2. Take a fall stroll and gather foliage and other natural items. The best fall décor may be right in your own backyard, or as close as a local park. Beautiful fall leaves, acorns and pinecones are in abundance right now and make lovely additions to centerpieces, so round up the family and take a walk to enjoy the autumn weather while scooping up these natural (and free) decorations. If you are worried about insects or allergies, you can also use artificial leaves and decorations, many of which can be found at your local dollar or discount store.

3. Get your groceries and beautiful autumn decorations. With all of the fall fruits, veggies and flowers in season, your local grocery store can be one of the best places to find décor to bring the fall season into your home. A few ideas: Place a gorgeous display of apples in a wicker basket or seasonal-themed bowl on your Thanksgiving buffet; tie colored corn in a bundle to use in place of a wreath on your door, or to accent a pumpkin display on your porch; and don’t forget some hardy chrysanthemums which can brighten up your home inside and out.

4. Raid the kids’ Halloween candy—or buy fall sweets on clearance. It just isn’t fall without candy corn, is it? If you agree, now is the time to sort through your kids’ Halloween haul for it (they won’t miss it!) and use it to decorate fall treats, or simply put it in a pretty bowl as a decoration. Check the kids’ candy loot for other treats, too, that are autumn themed but don’t “scream” Halloween. No kids around? Then head to the grocery or dollar store to get clearance-priced fall treats!

5. Hang up some hand towels and throw some pillows. Another easy and inexpensive fall decorating idea is to use throw pillows (or blankets) and hand towels featuring fall patterns and colors around your home. If you keep these items specifically for the season, they’ll last a surprisingly long time while adding a festive fall refresh to your home’s décor each year.

6. Surround yourself (and your guests) with scents of the season. Great fall décor goes beyond the visual to entice all of the senses. Try infusing seasonal scents such as pumpkin spice, apples, cinnamon and woodsy scents into your autumn decorating with candles, essential oils, air fresheners and fragrant room sprays. Before guests arrive you may want to mull some cider or bake an apple pie for a truly delicious addition to your fall decor that everyone will enjoy.

Beautiful fall décor sets the stage for memorable harvest season celebrations and family gatherings such as Thanksgiving. Using the simple fall decorating tips above will ensure that you don’t spend too much time or money on your autumn décor—so you can truly enjoy this special time of year with family and friends.

Worried About Data Breaches? Protect Yourself with these Tips

Recent data breaches have many of us worried that our most sensitive personal and financial information is at risk—with good reason.

For our part, OSB is continually working to ensure that your data remains secure. One way we are doing this is with the introduction of our new Community Checking Account options. Both our Advantage Checking and Advantage Plus Checking accounts feature IDProtect® which includes comprehensive identity theft monitoring and resolution services as well as other features to help you keep your identity safe. You can review these account options here.

Our Online Banking system is also designed to protect you from data theft. It has many safeguards to secure your account information including authentication, SSL, exclusive encryption software, high-end firewalls, and automatic sign-off. For additional details please review the security information on our website.

If you are not utilizing IDProtect® through our Advantage or Advantage Plus checking accounts, here are some other tips you can use to help keep your sensitive information safe:

  1. Monitor your accounts regularly. Keeping an eye on your bank and other financial accounts is part of being fiscally responsible and allows you to take prompt action if unauthorized activity does occur.
  2. Report suspicious account activity immediately. If you believe that your OSB Online Banking access ID or passcode has been compromised, or if an unauthorized transaction has occurred, let us know within two business days to mitigate your financial exposure. If you think that your credit information has been stolen, contact one of the major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion) and the FTC Identity Theft Hotline at (877) IDTHEFT (438-4338).
  3. Set up automatic fraud alerts. In addition to self-monitoring your bank and credit accounts, set up automatic fraud alerts using tools offered by financial services providers like OSB. The three major credit reporting agencies listed above all offer free fraud notifications, too.
  4. Consider a credit freeze if you are concerned. If you believe you have been impacted by a data breach, you may want to contact each of the credit reporting agencies to ask for a lock on your credit files to stop any new credit information releases until you can determine if your information was actually stolen.
  5. Check your credit report. Each year, you are entitled to one free credit report from all three major reporting agencies at Requesting these reports should be a regular practice to proactively monitor the security of your information.

Unfortunately, data breaches are becoming more commonplace in our digital world. That’s why it’s absolutely critical to take every measure you can to protect yourself from identity and data thieves. Choosing one of our Community Checking Accounts with IDProtect® services is a great first step as is implementing the tips above. If you have any questions about our Advantage Checking or Advantage Plus Checking accounts and the protection they provide or OSB’s commitment to your security please contact us.