Made in Michigan Recipes Perfect for Days at the Lake

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

Summer’s almost here and the temperatures in southeast Michigan have already heated up! This means that for many of us it is time to head to the lake and enjoy time with family, friends, and of course some delicious food. There’s no better way to celebrate the season than with Michigan’s finest fare, so take note of some of our State’s most notable noshes to create your own menu for all of the lazy, hazy lake days ahead.

Grill some Michigan whitefish. Whether you catch your own, or buy some fresh Michigan whitefish at the grocery store, there’s nothing easier or tastier than this recipe that can be made on a grill and topped with a tangy tomato relish. You can also add a side of homegrown Michigan asparagus.

Make ahead pasties. Pasties are the ultimate handheld device for taking with you on lake adventures. Whether you are boating or taking a stroll to a picnic spot, you can make pasties like these ones from ATasteofHome.com ahead of time and then serve them cold for a delicious lunch at the lake.

Blueberries and cherries. Michigan is known for these fruits, so if your lake house is near a pick-your-own site, you can make an afternoon of blueberry or cherry picking, then enjoy them as part of your lakeside dining. Of course, you can also get them at your local grocery store, too, along with some whipped cream for a special touch.

No time to cook? If you are short on time…or the inclination to cook, consider ordering some deep dish “Detroit-style” pizza to feed your friends at the lake. Many local pizzerias offer delicious pan pizzas as well which can help you feed a hungry crowd after a fun day at the lake.

Pass around a fudge sampler. Nothing says “summer in Michigan” quite like sweet memories of Traverse City and other lake towns that you may have visited or are planning to visit this summer. If you are visiting friends at the lake or having them over to your place, finish off your meal with a platter of various flavors of Michigan fudge. This makes an easy and fun end to any meal at the lake.

Cool off with a Boston cooler. Don’t let the name fool you! These cold and creamy drinks were first conceived in Detroit and are a big hit with young and old lake lover’s alike! The recipe is simple: mix ginger ale and vanilla ice cream together for a delicious and cool beverage.

Long, lazy, hazy days at the lake are what summer in Michigan is all about! Try some of the foods above to create the perfect menu for your next lake get together. If you’re looking to purchase a Michigan lake property, be sure to contact OSB’s Mortgage Lender, Kacie Eberenz (NMLS# 1458409) at 517-592-1058 to get your mortgage pre-approval today.

Four Easy Ways to Keep Your 2018 Budget and Savings Goals on Track

If you started 2018 with a goal of sticking to your budget so that you can save more, evaluating how you are doing a few weeks into the year is key to make sure you remain on track. Take a few moments now to consider if you are meeting the savings goals you set back in January. If you find that you are having trouble maintaining your financial discipline, the following tips can help you shore up your budget and increase the dollars flowing into your savings account:

1. Review your savings goals. Although it may have been a few weeks ago, think back to the reasons that fueled your savings resolutions. Maybe you need to save for a new car, a new home, your child’s college education, or you want to enjoy a debt-free vacation. Reconnecting with the “why” of your savings goals can help re-energize your focus on achieving them.

2. Automate your savings routine. One of the easiest ways to make sure you add to your savings each month is to set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account. OSB’s online banking tools—especially the mobile banking app—make this easy to do. Simply set up a recurring transfer each month so there are no excuses for not executing your savings plan.

3. Choose a bank account that helps you save. While having a handle on what you are spending is certainly helpful, so is having a bank account that also supports your savings. For example, OSB’s Advantage+ Checking Account pays you interest—money that can help your savings grow over the long term.

4. Take advantage of loyalty rewards and other savings programs. Spending less than you earn is the cornerstone of any successful savings strategy. One way to lower your monthly spending and keep your budget in check is to take advantage of money-saving reward and discount programs that can help lower the cost of necessary expenses. OSB’s Advantage and Advantage+ Checking Account holders can save with the following benefits:

  • $hopping RewardsAs a member of OSB’s Advantage and Advantage+ Checking accounts, you have access to our $hopping Rewards program, where 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

Once you complete the online registration for the $hopping Rewards program, you can simply shop at 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. (Registration/Activation Required.  Available Online Only).  *Retailers are subject to change.

  • Cellular Phone Protection2 Covers the first three phones (four phones with Advantage Plus Checking accounts) listed on your cell phone bill that is paid through your Advantage or Advantage+ Checking Account you’ll receive up to $300 of replacement or repair costs ($400 with Advantage Plus Checking) if your cell phone is stolen or damaged, in the United States and abroad. There is a maximum of two claims per year.
  • Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance2. As an account holder, there is no need to spend your hard-earned dollars on AD&D coverage. You will receive (at no additional cost) up to $10,000 24-hour Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance. (Coverage divides equally on joint accounts and reduces by 50% at age 70). Advantage+ Checking Account holders receive up to $20,000 24-hour Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance.
  • Health Discount Savings (This is NOT Insurance). Medical bills can add up! With savings on vision, prescriptions and dental services you can lower your health-related expenses. (Registration/activation is required.)  This is NOT insurance.
  • Don’t let your 2018 savings resolutions fall to the wayside! Recommit to your budget and your savings goals. A great way to keep more money in your bank account is by using the money-saving benefits offered with OSB’s Advantage or Advantage+ Checking Accounts. See full details on all the benefits of OSB’s Advantage or Advantage+ Checking Accounts on our website. Contact your local branch today to open an account and let us help you achieve your savings goals!

    2Special Insurance Program Notes:  The description herein is 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. Coverage is provided through the company named in the Guide to Benefit or the certificate of insurance.
    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.

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!

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 annualcreditreport.com. 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.

Seeking Success? Start by Finding Your Sweet Spot

Mortgage season is definitely here, with the real estate market in full swing and interest rates poised to rise, making it the perfect time to refinance an existing loan. To help you make optimal decisions about your mortgage options, we’re featuring  this “Closing Thoughts” guest post from OSB’s Mortgage Lender, Kacie Eberenz (NMLS# 1458409).

While everyone has a different definition of success, striving for it is a driving force for many of us. Setting and achieving goals, working to bring a vision to life and making progress in our personal and professional lives are all examples of the kinds of success we seek.

Success can seem elusive as we find ourselves facing challenging circumstances and setbacks. This can be frustrating, especially when you are looking to make a career move or reach a personal goal. While there are rarely many shortcuts to finding success, finding your sweet spot can help make it considerably easier.

Your sweet spot defined. What do we mean by “sweet spot”? It’s the intersection of the things that you are good at (usually these things come relatively easy to you) and the actions that will help you achieve your particular goal. Finding your sweet spot allows you to operate with efficiency, strength and, usually, positive results. So how do you find that special place in your heart and mind that can accelerate you on the path to achieving what you want? It’s not as hard as it sounds, especially if you follow these four steps:

Visualize and write down what you want to achieve. As legendary author and inspirational speaker Stephen Covey says, “Start with the end in mind.” Many of us want to achieve goals related to fitness, finances and family, but we keep our goals in our heads and in very general terms. Covey’s advice is to envision in your mind and articulate on paper (or your electronic device) in very specific detail, exactly what you want and the steps you need to take toward getting it. While this may seem simple, it is a very powerful principle, too.

Identify your inner strengths. Once you have a specific vision and goal in your mind and in written form, you need to leverage your core competencies—the strengths that make you unique and can help you achieve your goal. Make a list of the unique talents you have that you can use to help move you in the right direction. For example, maybe you want to increase your success in your professional life by finding a different job opportunity. Without knowing what your aptitudes are and looking only superficially at the kind of position you want, rather than what will use your best skills and personal characteristics, it is unlikely that you will be successful in finding a role where you can reach your full potential  and be truly satisfied.

Listen to your family, friends and fans. While you can’t let others determine your definition of success, don’t discount what people tell you about your strengths. If the praise you receive is sincere, it can help point you in the direction of your sweet spot. Consider writing down the actions that you have been recognized for doing exceptionally well and your positive characteristics that people often comment on, then look to find common themes. These will likely be indicative of what internal strengths will help you achieve your goal with relative ease.

Put it all together. Now that you have a clear goal and a clear idea of the strengths and internal resources you have to achieve it, it’s time to use your sweet spot to activate your success. Make a plan with specific action items of what you need to do to achieve your goals and then match them up with your greatest aptitudes that will allow you successfully complete them.

Final thoughts…Nothing is more rewarding than setting a goal and actually achieving it, but sometimes we stand in our own way by not doing the work required to know where our sweet spot lies in terms of being successful. Spending just an hour or two to envision what you want and tap into the internal power you have to achieve it can make your journey on the path to success easier—and your accomplishments that much sweeter.

Simple Steps You Can Take for a Smoother Mortgage Experience

Mortgage season is definitely here, with the real estate market in full swing and interest rates poised to rise, making it the perfect time to refinance an existing loan. To help you make optimal decisions about your mortgage options, we’re featuring  this “Closing Thoughts” guest post from OSB’s Mortgage Lender, Kacie Eberenz (NMLS# 1458409).

If you think that applying for a mortgage loan is right up there with getting a root canal—you’re not alone. Many home buyers, and homeowners looking to refinance, find the mortgage application process frustrating—or even painful. At OSB, we strive to make your mortgage experience as simple as possible (see the infographic below for a complete picture of our mortgage process). In addition, taking the steps below can make your mortgage experience even smoother:

Step 1: Choose the right lender. If you’re not working with the right lender, securing a mortgage loan can be a painful process. It’s important to be comfortable with your lender. For example, if you want to have someone to guide you through the process and be able to answer your questions in a timely manner, an online mortgage option is probably not for you.

At OSB, we work to streamline your mortgage application and make getting a mortgage as easy as possible with personalized service to help you feel as comfortable and confident as possible.

Step 2: Provide your financial information promptly. Buying or refinancing your home requires that you provide significant amounts of financial and personal information to your lender. From bank statements to pay stubs your lender should let you know exactly what they need from you in order to process your mortgage application. To avoid delays, make sure you provide the specific items requested in a timely manner.

Step 3: Tackle your taxes. You will need to provide current tax returns as part of the mortgage application process and you must have your taxes filed for the past two years. If you have any delinquent tax payments or unfiled taxes, you’ll need to ensure that they are taken care of so the processing of your mortgage application can proceed.

Step 4: Manage your account balances and credit. Your bank balances and credit score will be evaluated by your lender as part of the mortgage loan decision so it is wise to make sure they are in good order.

Tip: When it comes to your bank account, it’s best not to make large deposits during your loan application, as it may affect your loan decision. In addition, avoid taking on any new debt during the loan process (e.g. Hold off on buying new furniture and appliances until after your mortgage closes.), since all of your debt will influence your debt-to-loan ratio which is a critical aspect of any mortgage loan application.

Let OSB help you smooth out the mortgage application process. Applying for a mortgage shouldn’t be a burden. OSB is dedicated to making your loan process simple and streamlined—and these tips can help you take the right steps to make your mortgage experience even smoother! Need help with a mortgage loan? Contact me at 517.592.1058 and we’ll get started!

mortgage path to the american dream