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Helpful Steps offered

Another service provided by BMO Harris is their Helpful Steps or “simple steps to help you make sense of your money.” They have put together a financial toolkit to help people reduce their debt and save more each month. The toolkit helps make it easier to make informed decisions about money and helps parents to instill valuable habits in their children.

One of the features of the program is the opportunity to save money automatically and, thereby, painlessly. By signing up, the bank will transfer any amount a customer decides on from his personal checking account to his savings or money market account each month. They also offer direct deposit where a fixed percentage of each paycheck is deposited into the customer’s savings account upon request. As the booklet puts it, “Think of it as paying yourself first.” By transferring $50 into a savings account each week, a customer can save $2,600 in a year—plus interest. In 10 years, it follows that he can accumulate $26,000, plus interest.

This account can come to the rescue in emergencies as well since the money is always available.

The Helpful Steps program also helps a customer learn how to get out of debt sooner and save money, how to prepare for the unexpected and how to help children become “money smart” from little on. The Helpful Steps for Parents Web site has an assortment of articles, tools and tips, plus interactive and fun learning games.

Convenient options

Another helpful tool is online and phone banking where a customer can check transactions, account balances, transfer money between accounts and schedule payments with bill pay. With the wide variety of activity available online and by phone, it’s just like actually being in the bank but without leaving the house. The days of having to wait for the mail or go to the bank during bank hours to review a bank statement are gone. Now, customers can bank 24/7 for 365 days a year. What could be more convenient than that?

Mobile banking.

Whatever a customer can do by computer, he can do with a smartphone even on the go. In fact, it is possible to take a phone picture of a check and then make a deposit wherever the customer is. The bank will then send a return e-mail as confirmation.

Online and mobile banking is particularly helpful for college students who can interact with their hometown bank no matter where they are. And until they are 25, their checking accounts are free, Thorson said. Especially valuable to students is the ability to check their balances before writing that check.

Snowbirds who winter in Florida also appreciate online banking where their hometown facility is as close as their computer.

Even before the acquisition, M&I had always been a bank that defines great customer experience. And that stands true today. The biggest change since its becoming a part of BMO Financial Group is that a good thing just got better.

M&I of Chilton is located at 35 E. Main St. and can be reached at 849-2351.