“I am very happy about the positive impact on my credit score. Credit-building was important to me and part of why I took out the loan. Between paying down student loans and paying off the first Employee Opportunity Loan, my credit score is increasing.” — Jessica, Administrative Assistant at BronxWorks and Employee Opportunity Program client. 

The financial wellness of your employees matters. It matters to their families; helping to relieve stress, the ability to succeed at work, and to plan for a comfortable retirement. Unfortunately, as inflation rises, a steady salary in New York City does not always mean financial stability. From unmanageable student debt, to medical bills, unforeseen family expenses, and retirement, money remains the number one cause of anxiety for Americans. The data tells the story: 67% of Americans earning over $50,000 would have trouble paying for an unexpected $1,000 expense.

That’s why we know the Employee Opportunity Program can be an essential part of your commitment to your employees; consider it a core part of your larger employee benefits package. Through our Employee Opportunity Program, you can help your employees learn to build credit, receive free financial counseling, cover unexpected expenses, use our Employee Opportunity Loan, and plan for the future without taking on high-interest debt.

We are proud to be a financial wellness partner with over 38 business and nonprofit organizations across New York City, including: BronxWorks, The Doe Fund, Jetro/Restaurant Depot, UnCommon Goods, Floating Hospital, Greyston Bakery, and Grand Street Settlement House. Over 3000 New York City employees have taken advantage of our Employee Opportunity Program. They are now experiencing an increase in their credit scores, a clearer understanding of their financial picture, and more peace of mind. The program starts with one-to-one financial management, and opening a personal savings account. 

“Spring Bank helped me get my bills in order through the Employee Opportunity Loan Program. Katherine was on the phone with me step-by-step to apply for the funds as I often get anxious with the computer.  There was no stupid question and she helped my co-worker, too. Katherine is very patient, and I’m so glad I worked with her,” shares Jereny V., Sr. Case Manager at The Doe Fund and Employee Opportunity Loan Program client.

Katherine Martinez, Consumer Lending Associate, and our Consumer Lending Team will help you and your employees with every step. We’ve built a custom, easy-to-use loan platform with our fintech partner that’s accessible on mobile, too. Jessica, Bronxworks Administrative Assistant and Employee Opportunity Loan Program client, has recently taken advantage of our Employee Opportunity Loan twice to cover moving expenses. She shares about her onboarding experience:  

“It was easy to apply and fill out the required documentation. Spring Bank got back to me quickly, and once the documents were processed, it was only a few days before the money was deposited.”

Not only did Jessica receive the funds she needed to cover her relocation costs in only a few days, but she also saw a steady increase in her credit score. 

“I am very happy about the positive impact on my credit score,” explains Jessica. “Credit-building was important to me and part of why I took out the loan. Between paying down student loans and paying off the first Employee Opportunity Loan, my credit score is increasing.”

Let your employees know you care in a tangible way. Help them access funds to manage unforeseen expenses and avoid cycles of debt and stress. Join our Employee Opportunity Program. Watch a short animation about our commitment to the future of employee financial wellness as a community bank in New York. 

Looking for other types of personal loans NYC? We offer credit-building personal loans and can help you apply for a personal loan, too. Reach out to our team for more information.  

 

In Partnership with GreenPath Financial Wellness 

As the summer months approach, unplanned expenses, such as summer camp, beach days, and new sandals for your kids, may sneak up on you and take you off budget. Get ahead of summertime costs now by using a budgeting tool. Whether you prefer an app or the back of an envelope, here are a few tips as you consider both digital and analog tools:

Prioritize Accordingly

There are many financial resources designed to make money management stress-free, but regardless of what budgeting tool you choose, consider the following features:

  1. Goal Setting 

Creating and reaching financial goals for yourself is why most of us budget in the first place! Support this aspect of your financial story by choosing a tool that allows you to set goals, whether saving up for a milestone purchase or paying off credit card debt. Choose a tool so you can monitor your progress and edit your goals when circumstances change.

  1. Methodology

Based on your goals, you may use the traditional envelope system or focus on zero-based budgeting. Choose a system that offers flexibility, allowing you to experiment with different methods until you find the one that works best for you.

  1. Affordability

Before you commit to a paid subscription, research free or free trial periods of budgeting apps to determine whether the functionality is worth the cost. Many apps offer free features (like goal setting) with the option to upgrade later to unlock additional features.

  1. Security 

Given the sensitive nature of financial information, security is essential when choosing a budgeting tool. Ensure that the app employs enhanced security protections such as encryption, multi-factor authentication, and regular updates and notifications to protect your financial data from unauthorized access. Learn more about our commitment to your financial security in this great YouTube series.

  1. Interface

User-friendly, intuitive design ensures you can navigate the app effortlessly, saving you time and frustration. Look for apps that allow you to quickly input transactions, set budgets, and track your spending without a steep learning curve. Some apps even offer interactive tutorials to guide you through the setup process.

 

Before investing time into learning or creating a new budgeting tool, check out a few free resources that can help you with summertime spending. All customers have access to the following:

  • Spring Bank Mobile App for instant access to your personal savings and checking accounts online
  • Free financial counseling with our partners at Ariva & GreenPath Financial Wellness
  • Free access to Autobooks for all customers with a small business bank account
  • One-to-one customer service. If you need help creating your financial goals or getting clearer on how to achieve them, our team is here to help you. Visit us in person, or give us a call at 718.879.5000

 

Spring Bank Staff Feature, Yahaira Peralta, Operations Clerk

As one of the few community banks in Bronx, New York, our team is the heart of our institution, each member contributing to the success of our mission. Today, we spotlight Yahaira Peralta, Operations Clerk, who has been an integral part of our team for the past three years.

Yahaira’s journey began as a teller during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the unusual and difficult circumstances, her dedication and passion for people’s financial wellness shone through. After three years of exceptional service, she was promoted to her current role as an Operations Clerk.

In her day-to-day responsibilities, Yahaira verifies checks, handles online banking, and assists with online account openings.  As we continue to grow, so do Yahaira’s responsibilities. She is enthusiastic about embracing new challenges and seizing opportunities to expand her knowledge base in the financial industry, including helping our clients by supporting them once they’ve opened a new business bank account.

“I miss working with our customers one-to-one, but now I am learning something new, and I am growing professionally at Spring Bank,” she says, reflecting on her promotion.

Banking has been a long-held dream for Yahaira since she moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic. Relocating to New York City fourteen years ago, Yahaira overcame language barriers and developed her career step by step.

“For me, banking has always been one of my dream professions. I saw people who could manage money and wanted to build that skill and offer it to others,” she says.

A friend recommended us to her, igniting her interest in community banking. One of her current goals is to continue working toward her bachelor’s degree, and she sees Spring Bank as a place to foster growth in various areas, especially within the operations department.

A deeply spiritual person, Yahaira believes that when you pursue something with all your heart, the universe helps to guide you. Her journey exemplifies this belief and is a testament to the values of dedication, growth, and community that define us here at Spring Bank.

“If you want something, you can get it. You just have to work hard for it,” Yahaira shares.

Customers at Spring Bank perceive our team as more than just bankers; they see us as part of their family. Yahaira values the personal connections she’s created with clients, allowing her to understand their unique needs and concerns.

“Customers come to you like you are a part of their inner circle. They see that we are here every day for them. They take the time to share their experiences and problems because they know we are going to take care of them. It’s nice that they can rely on us,” she shares empathically.

Working as a teller, Yahaira recalls her customers’ appreciation when they wanted to open a checking or open a personal savings account but didn’t meet the requirements, and she would work with them on the necessary steps to qualify. Her customers were grateful for the type of one-to-one guidance bigger banks in NY don’t typically offer.

“It’s good to open an account with us because we can closely monitor and manage your money — faster than a bigger bank. We see transactions daily and can provide customer service on the spot. We are more likely to avoid problems, such as fraud, with your account this way,” Yahaira says.

If you are ready to experience the exceptional service of a community-focused bank, contact us!  Stop by a branch or call us at (718) 879-5000.

Mother helping her son with his Hearing Aid

 

“Where else can you get a 4% loan? I would not have been able to purchase the equipment at all. I have three more years of payments, and it’s manageable. The assistive vision technology has made all the difference for me.” — Karen Bezem, Assistive Technology Loan Program Recipient 

Are you or a loved one having challenges affording the medical devices and assistive technology you need? Hearing and vision aids, communication devices, environmental adaptations, wheelchairs, and home or vehicle modifications – can be expensive. We know that often, these types of expenses are unexpected.

That’s why we are happy to share that through our partnership with National Disability Institute (NDI)— the first national nonprofit committed exclusively to financial inclusion and empowerment for people with disabilities—individuals can purchase devices they need without getting caught in high-interest debt. Spring Bank and National Disability Institute can help you find and afford assistive technology through the Assistive Technology Loan Program.

The NDI Assistive Technology Loan Program includes a loan of up to $45,000 with competitive interest rates and no credit score requirements for residents of New York and New Jersey. Built into the program is also the opportunity to build credit with every timely loan payment reported to credit bureaus.

Assistive technology products or devices that can improve your independence and quality of life may include:

  • Computer equipment
  • Hearing aids
  • Vision aids
  • Modified vehicles
  • Scooters/wheelchairs 
  • Accessible bathrooms
  • Smart home technology

“Spring Bank is very generous. We found out together that a credit score and debt-to-income ratio aren’t as important as being able to verify that a person can afford their monthly expenses, that they are addressing their outstanding credit, and that they can afford the costs of these loans, too,” says Laurie Schaller, Manager Financial Empowerment at National Disability Institute.

Additionally, Laurie and her team at NDI will work as your financial guides, ensuring you can afford the technology you need before you take out the loan. They can help you create a spending plan and understand any benefits you may be eligible for to help people afford their monthly expenses. NDI may even be able to help you find additional funding to help reduce the size of the needed loan; this may be helpful for people who need to hire a contractor for home adjustments for a wheelchair or need a modified vehicle with hand controls, for example.

“For the majority of people who call us, we can usually find a grant or other line of funding to help them purchase the assistive technology and maybe reduce the amount of loan they need,” explains Laurie.

The Assistive Technology Loan Program provides affordable loans of up to $45,000 for the purchase or refinance of assistive technology to residents of New Jersey and New York. Learn more about this opportunity or contact NDI at 202.449.9521

Learn an easy way to alleviate stress in the workplace. 

Money is the number one stress for all Americans, higher than work stresses, family responsibilities, and health concerns.*

New York City— continues to make the top five of most expensive cities in the United States. With rising inflation, income does not always equate to financial security. It feels like money is tight for all of us, and many of us know all too well, that circumstances can change quickly, impacting financial goals. 

That’s why we designed our Employee Opportunity Program. Let your employees know you care in a tangible way, and help them access funds to manage unforeseen expenses—and not get caught in cycles of debt and stress. Through our Employee Opportunity Program, you can help your employees learn to build credit and personal savings, receive free financial counseling, and access our Employee Opportunity Loan

We often describe the Employee Opportunity Program as a financial health benefit, part of your larger employee benefits package. When you join the program, we partner with you, too. 

Learn more about how you or your employer can build a financially healthier workforce through the many benefits of our Employee Opportunity Program in this video above & linked here, too:

https://spring.community/employeeoppprogram

 *73 percent of Americans rank their finances as the number one stress in life, according to new Capital One CreditWise survey.

For many of us, November and December kick off a season of celebrating, family, feasting, and yes…spending. The holidays are a chance to make memories, but this can also be a time of financial stress—especially if you wait until the last minute to make plans. The last thing you want to do is drain your personal savings, causing more stress than joy later. 

Here are a few savings strategies to help you plan ahead, avoid credit card debt or the need to apply for personal loan, and enjoy a healthy, happy holiday season.   

Travel 

Comparison Shop: Last minute flight or hotel plans? Compare discount sites against airline and hotel sites, which may offer promotional discounts if you book directly. You can also compare the cost of one-way tickets, which can be cheaper than round-trip fare.  

Flexible Dates & Times: Flying a day earlier or later can significantly reduce the cost of your tickets. Likewise, pay attention to departure times. Early morning or red-eye takeoffs versus afternoon flights can trim as much as $100-$200 per ticket.  

Alternate Airports: When searching for holiday flights, be sure to include other airports within your filter parameters. Sometimes, flying into or out of a smaller airport (even on one leg of the trip) can reduce your total checkout cost.  

Bundle Deals: Do you need a rental car or hotel in addition to your flight? Many travel sites offer discounted rates if you book everything together — this one-stop-shop approach also saves you planning time.  

Reward Points: If you have accumulated frequent flier miles or credit card reward points, now is the time to cash in on them. They can trim your travel expenses or even cover the cost of a flight. 

Gifting

DIY Gifts: Thoughtful gifts don’t require a big budget or expert crafting – a video tribute, photo book, or curated snack basket for the sweet tooth, coffee lover, or home baker in your life are just a few ideas.  

Swap: Many of us have something in our home that we don’t use – an appliance collecting dust or something you were gifted twice. Host a party where your friends or family bring a quality item they’d be happy to swap.  

The Gift of Time: The holidays are an especially busy time, and caregiving is often a steep hourly expense. Instead of buying gifts, offer cost-free babysitting or pet sitting to someone who could benefit from a date night or weekend away from home.  

Opt for an Outing: Gifts aren’t the only way to connect during the holidays. Suggest a group experience you can enjoy together. Whether it’s a holiday performance, snow tubing, or a festive exhibit, experiences are often what make a season memorable.  

Feasting

Potluck Dinners: Host a potluck dinner where each guest brings a dish to share. This not only reduces the cost and pressure of cooking for a large group but also makes the meal more diverse. You might even walk away with a favorite new recipe! 

Keep it Simple The holidays are a hard time for so many households living paycheck-to-paycheck or living without a paycheck at all. You don’t need a big budget to make a meaningful impact. In lieu of a lavish meal, donate to your local food bank in your area and encourage others to join you.  

Free Financial Counseling

If holiday spending has you feeling stressed, reach out! Our nonprofit partner, GreenPath Financial Wellness, can help you pay down debt, create a sustainable budget, and connect to free financial courses designed to build a healthy financial foundation year-round. They will help you navigate how to maintain and grow the balance in your personal savings accounts while taking care of daily expenses. 

Learn more about our partnership with nonprofit GreenPath Financial Wellness and how you can access free financial counseling. 

This article is shared by our partners at GreenPath Financial Wellness, a trusted national non-profit.

Wheated Brooklyn — 10 Years of Pizza & Bagels in Ditmas Park

A Spring Bank Small Business Feature 

The best bagels at a Brooklyn pizza shop, anyone? If you’re a bagel lover like so many New Yorkers, you know the bagel shop options are abundant, and the competition is fierce. But when you’re a pizza shop that’s won “Best of the Boroughs” and third place for “Overall Best of the Fest” at New York Bagel Fest 2023, you know you’ve got both New York staples covered in one location.

Meet Wheated, a neighborhood pizzeria in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, making big waves in the New York pizza scene, and one of our small business clients. Founder and owner David Sheridan grew up cooking and feasting with his Italian family over Sunday dinner. 

“My parents are foodies. I was seven or eight years old the first time I ate sushi. As a teenager, I sought out new foods all the time. My parents exposed me to new foods often; I need to thank them more for that,” says David. 

An avid baker, David and his wife hosted pizza-tasting gatherings in their backyard in Queens a few years before opening Wheated. They experimented with dough, sauces, style, and brand identity.  Ten years later, Wheated celebrates its anniversary this year with expansion. We are so proud to be part of their story.

After searching for the right location for two years, David called us about our commercial real estate lending options. Wood-fired pizza was making a comeback in NYC, and our Chief Lending Officer, Akbar Rizvi, knew it was a great opportunity. 

“2023 has been our busiest year yet. We have grown slowly and steadily, quality over quantity. Now, I’m proud to say we are a New York City destination pizzeria,” says David. 

With three distinct styles of dough — roll out, hand pressed, and New Haven—Wheated creates pizzas named after Brooklyn neighborhoods, including the Bay Ridge, Cobble Hill, Borough Park, and, of course, the Ditmas Park pizza.  Their award-winning bagels and breakfast sandwiches on homemade biscuits are available most mornings, and at night, their handcrafted cocktail list is, too.

“We’ve been lucky. Except for pandemic years, we’ve always made a profit. Our earnings would be more of an issue if we did not own the building. But by owning the space, we know the investment offsets other costs,” says David. 

To David, the “recipe for a great restaurant location” meant there was no pizzeria or bagel shop competition in the immediate vicinity and close enough to public transportation and his family’s home since the 1920s.

“The biggest advice I have for small business owners is to think wisely about and negotiate a buying price before you sign the papers. It was a big deal for us to buy the property, and the SBA loan from Spring Bank made it happen,” says David. 

Wheated was David’s first entrepreneurial endeavor, but not the last.  David and his business partners are working on the build-out for their next pizzeria in Kentucky and plan to open a bagel shop in Brooklyn next year.

“It has been fantastic to work with a community bank. Spring Bank cares. You can talk to them on the phone when needed; they have your back. They will give you a call, for example, to avoid overdraft fees when you forget to move money around,” says David. “We are also very grateful to Spring Bank for helping us navigate and take advantage of both rounds of PPP lending.” 

Follow Wheated on Instagram @wheatedbrooklyn. Visit them on Church Ave, just off the B/Q, F/G. Check out their award-winning bagel feature @bagelfest. And if you’re still wondering how to get to Ditmas Park, read a 2012 feature on Wheated after they first opened in the neighborhood. 

Are you a small business owner looking for a commercial real estate loan? Learn more and read how we also helped Empire Tools expand. You can also check out the benefits of our business checking accounts and small business accounts. Our team can help you open a new business checking account

 

After a historical hiatus throughout the pandemic, borrowers now face federal student loan repayment. Evaluating your full financial picture and making a repayment plan can go a long way toward reducing stress and uncertainty. Unsure where to start? Here are a few tips from our nonprofit partner, GreenPath Financial Wellness. 

Verify servicer(s). 

As an outcome of contract transfers and terminations mid-pandemic, your servicer(s) may have changed since 2020. You may need to confirm who will receive future payments and ensure they have your updated contact information. 

If you have private loans, review any correspondence you’ve received from your original loan servicer, reach out to your school’s financial aid office for help tracking that information, or visit AnnualCreditReport.com for a free weekly report that lists loans in your name.  

If you have federal loans, visiting the Federal Student Aid website is the simplest, most efficient way to access your federal loan information and verify current servicers. You’ll first need to log in with your FSA ID (create one here if you don’t have one already.) Once logged in, you can view your original principal amount, current balance, and interest rate as well.

Evaluate repayment. 

A lot can change in three years. Is your student loan payment still affordable? Check out the Department of Education’s Loan Simulator to help decide what repayment strategy fits your priorities—for example, do you value a lower monthly payment or a faster payoff? Look into an income-driven repayment plan that considers your current earnings and can lower your monthly payment. 

Set aside savings.

Once you know your monthly loan payment, transfer that amount to a separate savings account, starting immediately. By accounting for this reduction in your budget sooner rather than later, you’ll lessen the initial impact of repayment (since you’ll now have money set aside), and you’ll be back in the habit of making this a monthly routine. With one of the best savings accounts online, we offer competitive interest rates to help you save while you repay. 

Consider consolidation.

Depending on whether you have federal loans, private loans, or a combination, loan consolidation could potentially reduce your payment burden. For federal loans, you can apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan, which allows you to combine education loans with zero application costs, and most people complete the process in 30 minutes or less. 

Seek support.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of repayment, you don’t have to figure it all out on your own! AS a community bank in Bronx, NY, we partner with GreenPath Financial Wellness, which offers free student loan counseling. GreenPath counselors help you look at your total financial picture to develop a personalized repayment plan, including how to simultaneously contribute to your personal savings account as you get out of debt. 

Learn more about our partnership with GreenPath Financial Wellness and how you can access free financial counseling.  

This article is shared by our partners at GreenPath Financial Wellness, a trusted national non-profit.

Are you planning to retire soon? If so, you’re not alone. In the next seven years, approximately a fifth of Americans will reach the traditional retirement age of 65. As one of New York’s preeminent community banks in NY, we are here to help you navigate an exciting but potentially overwhelming time.

Here are five things you can do to put your best foot forward in this next phase of your life.

1. Maximize Employer Benefits
Determine your eligibility for a pension or other retirement benefits through your employer and consider maximizing contribution limits in your retirement and personal savings accounts —you can save up to $30,000 in a 401(k) or $7,000 in an IRA. We offer both a Traditional IRA and a Roth IRA. What are the differences?

A Traditional IRA is an individual retirement account where your contributions may be tax-deductible, and you pay taxes when you withdraw your money. Potential earnings grow tax-deferred until withdrawal.

A Roth IRA is an individual retirement account where you contribute after-tax dollars, and you don’t have to pay federal tax on qualified distributions, including potential earnings if certain criteria are met.

Additionally, you may also have an open 401k through a previous employer—contacting the HR department with your details (such as your social security number) can connect you to those funds.

2. Determine Social Security Payment
Social Security benefits will likely be an essential source of income for you in retirement and your personal savings. Find out how much you can expect to receive in benefits by visiting SSA.gov. While you’re eligible to claim payments beginning at 62, your full retirement age varies depending on what year you were born. You may also want to consider delaying your Social Security benefits to receive a larger monthly payment (payments grow by roughly 8% every year until you reach age 70).

3. Assess your Financial Picture
Review your current spending by assessing your personal checking account transactions. Determine how much you’ll need to cover basic needs, such as housing, food, and healthcare, and discretionary categories, such as travel or hobbies. Drafting a budget will help you understand how much you can afford to spend and how much you have coming in each month from Social Security, pensions, or part-time work.

4. Sign up for Healthcare
You can enroll in Medicare beginning at age 65. Healthcare costs can be a major expense in retirement, so it’s important to plan ahead. Consider buying additional health insurance to cover any gaps in Medicare coverage, and be sure to factor in the cost of prescription drugs. You may also want to sign up for a health savings account (HSA) to help you save for healthcare expenses tax-free.

5. Meet with a Financial Planner
You may decide to meet with a financial planner to help understand your retirement portfolio and suggest adjustments—for example, transferring your 401(k) funds to an IRA or Roth IRA, which can offer you more investment options and the ability to diversify your holdings. A financial planner can also help strategize your budget. Reflect on what you want this time to look like, and be intentional in communicating your goals.

Take a Closer Look
This month is a great time to refresh your retirement goals and commit to your financial health. We offer some of the best IRA and savings account interest rates, and will work with you one-on-one to help you achieve your retirement savings goals. Through our partnership with GreenPath Financial Wellness, you can connect with a caring financial counselor to review your specific situation.

Learn more about our partnership with non-profit partner GreenPath Financial Wellness and how you can access free financial counseling. Check out our IRA Savings options and other personal savings account options.

This article is shared by our partners at GreenPath Financial Wellness, a trusted national non-profit.

Did you know that you can earn rewards just by using your Spring Bank debit card?

In today’s economy, we understand you are looking for ways to maximize every dollar. Our  ScoreCard® Rewards Program does just that. When you enroll your debit card linked to your personal checking account or business checking account, you’ll be able to earn points on every dollar you spend, which you can redeem for unique rewards. For example, you can cash in your points for new technology, home goods, travel, entertainment, and more.

And we are happy to announce that we’ve recently made some upgrades to get you even more perks!

You can now save money on your purchases at select Walmart and CVS stores by redeeming your points as cashback on the spot. You automatically accrue points when you open a personal checking account or business checking account with us.  With our new cashback option available at select Walmart and CVS locations, you can save money on your transaction using your Spring Bank debit card at the register or self-checkout.

Here’s how to earn and start redeeming your ScoreCard® Rewards:

  1. First, create a ScoreCard® account so you can access the points you accumulate with your Spring Bank debit card.
  2. Make purchases with your Spring Bank debit card from your personal checking account or business checking account as you usually would – both are eligible to earn and redeem points.
  3. Redeem your points for travel, merchandise (i.e., electronics, appliances, and more), or experiences such as concerts and special events.

Remember, you can earn points even faster if you hold multiple debit cards by accruing points from all your cards into one rewards account. In addition, households who have multiple Spring Bank debit cards can join their accounts to build points and earn rewards faster.

Finally, don’t forget to take advantage of two great promotions with our ScoreCard® Rewards Program today:

  1. Receive 2,500 bonus points when you enroll in ScoreCard® Rewards and complete your first eligible purchase with your Spring Bank debit card.
  2. Our annual birthday gift to you! When you enroll in ScoreCard®, you automatically receive 500 bonus points on your birthday every year — on us.

Get the most out of your spending by signing up for ScoreCard Rewards today! You deserve the perks. Receive 2,500 bonus points when you enroll and make a purchase. Learn more.