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Simplify Your Financial Life

Unless you are very different from most other people, you do not want to spend lots of time handling your finances, do not want to worry about your finances, and do not want to make your financial life any more complicated than it has to be. Before you get overwhelmed between your retirement plan and your credit card bill, take a look at these tips aimed at streamlining your finances, so that you can simplify the stress and save some time.

  1. Keep the number of financial accounts you have to a minimum. A checking account, a savings account, an investment account and perhaps an IRA account are the basic ones you probably need.  
  2. Deal with as few financial institutions as possible. This will cut down on the mail, eliminate paper and make your finances easier to understand.  A solid relationship with one institution may also come in handy when you need to borrow money.
  3. Use direct deposit for your paychecks.  This saves time, is safer and puts your money to work faster. (Learn about Bank Five Nine direct deposit here)
  4. Enroll in online banking. Being able to check your balances, review your account activity and paying bills electronically is more convenient and will save postage. (Learn about Bank Five Nine online banking here)
  5. Use your ATM card wisely. Avoid frequent withdrawals, but be careful carrying too much cash. Be sure to record all your ATM activity in your checkbook.
  6. Reconcile your checking account every month.  Your statement probably has a form on the back to use if you are not using personal finance software.
  7. Use as few credit cards as possible.  Too many cards can make spending too easy and may ultimately hurt your credit rating.
  8. Use an automatic savings plan to transfer funds each month from your checking account to your savings account.  This plan builds assets and you may not even notice that you have less to spend.
  9. Enroll in your retirement plan at work.  Regular savings and the potential for your employer matching some or all of your contributions will help your retirement funds grow quicker.
  10. Establish an organized system for paying bills. Have one place to store them, pay them on a regular basis before the due date and establish a storage system for those you have paid.

Investment Strategies – Pay Yourself First

Each month you settle down to pay bills. You pay your mortgage. You pay the electric company. You pay the trash collector and others. But do you pay yourself? One of the most basic tenets of sound investing involves the simple habit of “paying yourself first,” in other words, making the first payment of each month into your savings account.

Americans’ saving patterns vary widely. And too often, short-term economic trends can interrupt long-term savings programs. For example, the U.S. Personal Savings Rate jumped from 3.5% to nearly 8% in May 2008 following the housing and banking crisis.  It then rose and fell sporadically as the economic environment appeared to stabilize.1

The Genius of Pay Yourself First

People who have managed their own finances know that saving can be a challenge. There seems to be an endless stream of expenses that demand a piece of each month’s paycheck. Herein lies the genius of paying yourself first. You get the cream at the top of the bucket, and not the leftovers at the bottom.

The trick is to prioritize. Make it a point to put your future first. At first, saving may mean a small lifestyle change. But most individuals want to see their net worth increase steadily. For them, finding ways to save becomes more of a long-term commitment than a short-term challenge.

Putting Your Money to Work

What will you do with the money you save?

If retirement is your priority, consider taking advantage of tax-advantaged investments. Employer-sponsored retirement plans, such as 401(k)s and 403(b)s, can be a great way to save because the money comes out of your paycheck before you even see it. Also, as an added incentive, some employers offer to match a percentage of your contributions.2

For money you may want to access before retirement, consider placing the funds in a separate account. When the balance hits your target, you may want to move the money into investments that offer the potential for higher returns. Of course, this may mean exposing your money to more volatility, so you’ll want to choose vehicles that fit your risk tolerance, time horizon, and long-term goals.

In the pursuit of growing wealth, sound habits can be your most valuable asset. Develop the habit of “paying yourself first” today. The sooner you begin, the more potential your savings may have to grow.

Ups and Downs

The U.S. Personal Savings Rate historically has fluctuated as Americans are influenced by the short-term economic environment.

Sources: Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2017, for the period January 1, 2007 through January 1, 2017. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2017

1 Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2017

2 Distributions from 401(k), 403(b) and most other employer-sponsored retirement plans are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 591/2, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70 1/2, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2018 FMG Suite.

Budget Friendly Activities To Do This Summer

Budget friendly activities to do in Wisconsin

After the long and cold Midwest winters, there is no doubt that the summertime is something we all look forward to in Wisconsin. The weather is finally warm and there are a lot of fun budget friendly things to do! Keep reading to hear some of our favorites!

Farmers Market
These are fun places to walk around, try samples, and maybe make a local purchase.  A good idea is to give yourself a budget and stick to it by bringing that certain amount in cash.  This activity also supports your local economy and farmers. Another bonus is that most of the time, the organic fruits and veggies are cheaper than you would find at the grocery store.  Did you know? The Oconomowoc Farmer’s Market takes place in our Corporate lot on Saturday mornings during the Summer. Stop by, say hi, and get a free Bank Five Nine grocery tote!  
Not sure where you’re nearest farmers market is? Do a Google search for: “farmers market near me”. 

Free Local Events
As a community bank, Bank Five Nine sponsors many local events, and know there are some pretty awesome ones available. Check out your chamber of commerce website, to see what events are available in your neighborhood. If you are near a Bank Five Nine community, check out our event calendar here.

Throw a bonfire bash at the park or even in your own backyard. Serve up s’mores and tell stories around the campfire. Take a look at the below for some fun additional combinations for an ‘out of the box’ s’more:

  • Classic: Graham crackers, milk chocolate and marshmallow
  • Cookies and Crème: Graham crackers, Hershey’s cookies and crème chocolate, marshmallow
  • The Nutty Butty:  Graham crackers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and marshmallow
  • Grasshopper: Graham crackers, Andes candies chocolate and marshmallow
  • Strawberries and Crème:  Graham crackers, white chocolate and strawberry marshmallow

Rummage Sales
Summer is a great time for rummage sales. Drive around and hit up some of the great deals.  Otherwise, host your own! A garage sale doesn’t normally scream “exciting”, but it can turn out to be a great family affair. Clean out those closets! Bonus: If the garage sale goes well, everyone will have extra money in their pockets. (Tip: If you have kids, this is a great chance for them to also learn about money. Have them host a lemonade stand next to the garage sale or have them help count change when purchases are made on their items.) Here are some additional tips on how to host a successful yard sale.

Local Parks and Beaches
Enjoy your local park or beach. You can relax with a book, take a walk, play a game or have a little picnic.  If your local park has them, you can also rent a kayak or a bike.

Nature Trails
Speaking of bikes…visit a close by nature trail and go for a bike ride or a hike. Make sure to bring water and a small snack along! Have kids? Use this as an opportunity to have some additional fun and create a scavenger hunt.

Local Library
Most libraries have fun activities planned all summer long including reading contests and author events. These are all generally free to participate in making for a great thing to do while on a budget.

Outdoor Movies
Many cities and towns will offer free movies at dusk during the summer in a local park.  (Make sure to pack a big blanket, some chairs and a snack!)

Try Out a New Recipe
Summertime is all about the BBQ’s! Make sure to check out Bank Five Nine’s favorite budget friendly BBQ recipe section here!

Do-It-Yourself Project
There are so many great examples of DIY’s on Pinterest or out on the world wide web.  Maybe you’ll find a small side table that could be painted to look brand new, or you found some fun discounted arts and crafts supplies at a store. Summertime is the perfect time to do a DIY outside!

Example of a budget friendly DIY:  Get creative with a shipping pallet.
Wooden pallets can be transformed into all sorts of fun summertime projects. Some examples of things you could create include a coffee table, a garden walkway, a portable herb garden, the list goes on and on.  Many business give away spare pallets for free too!

Image 1: Funky Junk Interiors  | Image 2: Good Housekeeping

Have a fun budget friendly summer activity you feel could be added to this list?
Email us.

Employee Feature: Using a Passion to Serve Others

Julie Rajek Uses Her Passion of Cooking to Serve Others

Each month Julie Rajek, Mortgage Producing Sales Manager and Lender with Bank Five Nine, spends some extra time in her kitchen to help the less fortunate in the Wausau community. On the first Wednesday of each month, Julie prepares a meal and dessert for those who visit the Bridge Street Mission.

The Bridge Street Mission is a community center that offers Christ-centered solutions to the hurting, homeless and needy in Central Wisconsin. They do this by offering safe housing, meals, relationships and programming as well as Bible studies, prayer nights, and other community events.  The Bridge Street Mission is currently working on raising money for their “Feed the Need” drive, so they can continue to build a full kitchen in their building for their volunteers to use.

Julie got involved as a volunteer with the Bridge Street Mission after hearing about the program at a golf outing event that she attended with a title agent from a local title company.  “When I learned of everything that the Bridge Street Mission was doing to help those in our community, and that they were looking for volunteers to cook meals, it felt like a natural fit for me to lend a hand and get involved in their mission. I volunteered right on the spot” said Julie.

Each month Julie cooks up a fresh dish for the Bridge Street Mission, always highlighted by quality and healthy ingredients. “Cooking is a passion of mine and I truly enjoy serving those in the community who need it most,” said Julie.

Not only does Julie cook her meals with quality ingredients, she also tries to incorporate something special that will be remembered long after the food is gone. For her March meal, she cooked ham and scalloped potatoes followed by Rice Krispie Treats with green sprinkles in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. When Julie isn’t cooking her Wednesday meals, she also finds time to deliver extra food from her family meals at home to the Bridge Street Mission.

The mission of Bank Five Nine is to Make Lives Better. When learning of all the great work Julie has been doing for the Mission, the bank as a whole wanted to contribute. Bank Five Nine donated a $500 check for Julie to present to the Mission to go towards their new kitchen. On March 6, 2019, along with her homemade meal, Julie brought the Bank Five Nine donation to present to the founder of the Wausau Bridge Street Mission.  

“We appreciate Julie’s and Bank Five Nine’s support and words of affirmation. With God, all things are possible,” said Heath Tappe, Founder and President of the Board of Bridge Street Mission.

“We are really proud of Julie and all the great work she does for her customers, but also for all the great work she does for her community. Our employees here at Bank Five Nine really do live and breathe our mission.  Whether they help a family obtain a loan for their home, volunteer at a community event, organize a school supply drive, serve as a board or committee member, deliver food once a month or every day, they individually and collectively make a difference in the lives of those we serve”, said Mark W. Mohr, President and CEO of Bank Five Nine.

More about Bridge Street Mission:

Bridge Street Mission exists to offer Christ-centered solutions to the hurting, homeless and needy in Central Wisconsin. They accomplish this through:

  • Developing and offering programming for overcoming addiction
  • Providing safe and orderly housing
  • Meal plans and clothing vouchers.
  • Learning and addressing the root causes of their situation
  • Equipping them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ
  • Equipping them with training/re-learning basic life-skills
  • Training in basic financial responsibility and vocation

To learn more about the Bridge Street Mission please visit

More about Julie Rajek:

Julie is a Mortgage Lender here at Bank Five Nine. In the real estate and lending industries since the late ‘90s, Julie has helped thousands of homebuyers realize their dream of homeownership and strives to make each mortgage transaction a pleasant, informative and professional experience. Serving all of Wisconsin she specializes in USDA Rural Development, VA, FHA, and conventional financing. In her free time she loves cooking and spending time with her family.

To learn more about Julie please visit her webpage.  

More About Us (Bank Five Nine): 

Bank Five Nine is a full-service, independent, community bank that has served Wisconsin since 1859. We have 14 full-service branches throughout Ozaukee, Washington, Waukesha, and Milwaukee counties, and loan offices in Wausau, Madison, Green Bay, Illinois, and Minnesota. As a true community bank, our mission is to Make Lives Better. Yes, we offer all the great products and services you’re accustomed to and looking for in a bank and at our core it’s all about providing a safe, trustworthy place to do your banking. What you may not find other places is the commitment we have for you, the community you live in and the desire to serve others with respect, integrity, passion, and humility. We make it a priority to give back to the customers and communities we serve through charitable giving and volunteer opportunities. Our employees live and work in the areas we serve, giving us a personal stake in the efforts to improve our communities. Bank Five Nine and our employees donate over 15,000 hours and more than $200,000 per year to local nonprofit organizations.

Want to learn some more? Visit our About Us page today!

Money Manners: The Financial Problem Solutions

Few things are more uncomfortable than mixing personal relationships and money. Fortunately, there are fixes. By approaching difficult money matters head-on and with a little forethought, you can avoid repeating similar scenarios in the future by reading through our financial problem solutions. Here are some specific questions related to awkward money situations and suggested responses. 

Q: A friend asks, “How much did you pay for that purse?” or “What kind of deal did you get on your new car?” You’d rather not share. 

A: Some people are naturally nosy. However, the amount of over-sharing we see on social media these days can also make some people assume that money questions are fair game. Keep in mind, you’re not obligated to share information that makes you uncomfortable. 

An easy answer that makes it clear you’re not going to talk about prices: “I paid a little more than I probably should have, but I really love it. What’s new with you?” 

If your friend is pushy, you can be blunter: “My new policy is to not talk about costs. I’ve found it can get awkward. So, what’s up with you these days?” 

Q: I opened a joint credit card account with my son when he was a teenager. He’s an adult now and isn’t making payments. How can I take my name off the account so I’m not connected to his financial problems and create a solution?

A: It’s not unusual for parents to share credit card accounts with their kids at some point. However, it’s too bad you didn’t just add your son as an authorized user on your own credit account. You could have removed him from your account as soon as he started acting irresponsibly. 

When you’re a joint signer on an account, you’re both legally responsible for the credit card debt. Now that your son isn’t paying, the credit card company has a right to come after you for payment. 

The only way to untangle yourself from your son’s financial mischief, unfortunately, is to close the credit card account. And you can only close the account by first paying off the full balance. 

So, the short answer is to pay off the card, close the account and let your son know that his deadbeat days are over. And, if your son automatically charges bills like utilities or subscriptions to the card you closed, remind him that he’ll need to find a new way to pay for them. 

Q: I’ve given my housecleaner extra money from time to time. However, she keeps asking for more. How can I diplomatically end these money requests? 

A: Are you paying her a fair rate? Check with friends and neighbors about current prices or look for average local rates at a website like If your fee is reasonable, you may have to contend with other issues. 

Try sitting down with her and saying something along this line: “The last time I gave you extra money, I thought I was helping out. But now it feels awkward to continue giving you money that isn’t connected to work.” Ask if you can help in another way, such as customer referrals, recommendations for a class on budgeting, or a referral to a social service agency. 

Also, consider looking for a new house cleaner. If she’s bothered by the money talk, she may quit without notice, so be prepared. 

Q: Whenever I eat at a restaurant with a certain friend, he hesitates about the bill. I usually end up covering the whole thing. Sometimes he says he’ll pay me back later, but he rarely repays me for his share of the bill. 

A: Before you head out for your next meal, make it clear that you’re only paying for yourself. Try saying, “How should we split the bill? Do you want to just divide it in half, or should we each pay for our own food and drink? Or we could just ask for separate checks.” 

Addressing the bill before you leave home should preclude the “forgotten wallet” excuse. Or, if on the way to the restaurant he says he’s left his wallet at home, offer to take him back to get it, or suggest an alternate, no-cost activity. 

If your friend has a credit card or cash and just balks at using his own funds, consider going high-tech on him. Before you get together again, enroll in a mobile payment app like SquareCash or Venmo. It’s easy to add your friend as a payee by inputting his name and email or mobile phone number which will alleviate financial problems with a solution. 

When it’s time to ante up for the next bill, say to your friend, “I really want to try this new digital payment account I just set up on my phone. Could you cover the bill? I can instantly send you my share with this app. I’ll show you how simple it is.” 

There’s no real way to remove all the awkwardness when you’re talking about money. Having straightforward but gentle talks now can avoid confrontations later or a loss of friendship. These conversations can also save you from making some expensive money mistakes. 

What are CDs (Certificates of Deposits) and How Do They Work?

The Basics of a CD

Have you ever overheard someone chatting about how CDs are looking like a solid investment again? No, they were not talking about the new Taylor Swift CD – although that doesn’t sound like a bad investment either – they’re talking about Certificates of Deposit. Don’t worry if you were out of sync though, you’re not alone, and this blog is for you!

What is a Certificate of Deposit (CD) and how does it work?

A Certificate of Deposit (CD) is a savings vehicle that pays a higher interest rate, but you must ‘lock up’ your money into that account for a specified period of time. You’ll receive a higher annual percentage yield (APY) on the funds in a CD, because the bank knows that it can use your money for longer-term investments (like Mortgage or Commercial loans).  It is possible to get that money out early, but you’ll end up paying a penalty.

The time period you keep your money the CD is called the “term”. A term of a CD can be as short as a few months or as long as a decade.  Generally you will see that the longer the term, the higher the interest rate.

A CD comes with a “maturity date”.  The CD “matures” (another way to think of it is as “expires”) at the end of its term, and you’ll have to decide what to do when that time comes. The bank will notify you as you near this date, and it will give you several options. You will want to let the bank know before the renewal deadline if you want to do something other than reinvest into a new CD. You can transfer the funds to your checking or savings account, or you can switch to a different CD.  If you do nothing, your money will most likely be automatically reinvested into another CD.

How is a CD Different than a Savings Account?

Savings accounts let you deposit and withdraw funds relatively freely. But with a CD, you typically agree to leave your money in the bank for a set amount of time (the term length) during which you can’t access the funds without paying a penalty. Term lengths can be as short as a few months or as long as a decade, but the standard range of options is between twelve months and five years.

Should you open a CD?

If you’re sitting on a decent amount of cash in a traditional savings account and you’re pretty sure you’re not going to need that money for a while, putting it in a CD could be a smart move. It will allow you to earn more interest on that money. Depending on how long you want to tie your money up and the amount of your deposit, you might actually double the amount of interest you earn.  However, if the money you’ve accumulated in savings is your emergency account, or money you will want to use in the coming months, you might want to consider keeping it in that savings account.

Different banks will offer different interest rates for any given CD. If you feel that a CD is the right thing for you – learn more about Bank Five Nine’s CD offers here.

How To: Fill Out A Check

How to Write A Check

If a check is not correctly filled out, it cannot be deposited into your personal checking account. Read the below for a quick how to!

Even in this day in age where everything is digital, checks are still common! Here are some top times you may need to still write a check:

  • Wedding gifts
  • Rent payments
  • Companies that don’t accept plastic
  • Bills
This is a sample check.
1)  Date

Write the date you are writing out the check in the top right cornerMake sure you enter the complete month, day and year. You can either write out the date in full (example:  January 1, 2019) or use numbers (01/01/2019) – whichever you prefer.

2) “Pay To The Order Of”

In this section you will enter the name of the recipient you are writing the check to.
Make sure to write the full name (first and last) of the person/group/company you’re paying.

3) The Dollar Box

In this space, you will enter the dollar amount in numeric form.
Write out the exact amount the check is payable for. Don’t round up or estimate.

4) Line Under Name

On the line under the recipient’s name, you will repeat the dollar amount the check is for – but this time, you will write it out in full, writing the change amount written as a fraction.
For example, you should write $128.11 as “One Hundred Twenty Eight and 11/100” . If it’s an even amount, you can simply write “One Hundred” if the check is for $100.

Note: If there’s empty space remaining, take this safety precaution: Draw a line to the end of the field to prevent someone from adding new digits and altering the amount.

5) Memo space

This part is optional!  The bottom left-hand corner of your check includes a small space to tell the recipient what the payment is for.  You can write in things such as “Water Bill” or “Happy Birthday,” etc.

Take note that this space is optional, except when specified by the recipient; if it’s a bill payment, some may specify that you must enter your account number in the Memo field for ID purposes.

6) Sign your check

Your check is not valid unless you sign your name on the line in the bottom right hand corner of the front of the check. 

And there you have it! A perfectly written check.

Note: After you write the check, it’s smart to make a record of the payment. A check register is the ideal place to do this. (You should find this in the back of your checkbook). Why? The money you wrote the check for will still show in your account until the check is deposited by the recipient or cashed, so it’s a good idea to make a note of the payment to prevent you from spending the money twice.

Benefits of Owning vs.Renting

Owning and renting each have their advantages, but what’s best for you depends on your circumstances.  Some great things about owning are listed below!

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “pay yourself, not your landlord.” Basically, it means if you own your own home, you can build equity, and eventually, you may be able to sell your home for a profit, or pass it down through generations. As a renter, the equity in the property where you live doesn’t belong to you, and someone else will reap the benefits of the ownership.

The chart below shows how much you’d be paying your landlord over certain periods of time, depending on how much your rent is. Take a look, you might be surprised!

Aside from the figures, you may want to consider these factors as well:

Owning a home is a financial commitment that requires you to plan ahead and reflect on where your life is.  So, before you decide to buy, carefully consider the pros and cons of homeownership. If you are, and would like to consider “paying yourself first,” contact one of our lenders!

Reviewing The 2018 Holi-days of Giving

This year’s Holi-Days of Giving program was an incredible experience for all involved. We received hundreds nominations this year and found 13 families/individuals who deserved a little extra holiday cheer this year. Each recipient received $500 in holiday gifts from the Bank. Thank you to everyone who nominated someone this year for the program. We wish you all a very happy holiday season!  If you have a moment, we would encourage you to scroll through the photos and read some of the chosen nominations.

Branch: Oconomowoc Main

Nominator: Sue
Gift Recipient: Kevin & Kavyn

Nomination:  “Kavyn and Kevin started their lives together in 2013. Both wanting children, they were losing hope when after years of trying they finally became pregnant. Only 3 months into the pregnancy, they were dealt a devastating loss when Kavyn miscarried. As part of the healing process they decided to look into becoming foster parents. Even though they live in Pewaukee, they decided to pursue their foster-to-adopt license in Milwaukee County. They completed hours and hours of training and were awarded their license on May 4th, 2016, which also happened to be the day they got married! Only about 6 weeks later, in the end of June, they received a call asking if they would be willing to take newborn, TWIN boys, who had been born positive for heroin. They agreed, slightly terrified of what they might be getting into with twins. But they spent 3 days at the hospital with the boys while they were being weaned off the drugs. While waiting for the boys to be cleared to go home, they got to work contacting family and friends to borrow anything baby-related they could. While they were prepared for one child, they were NOT prepared for two at the same time. People were so generous and helped provide a lot of items they would need to at least get by for a time. Jameson, the second twin born was the first to come home. Elias followed 3 days later. They quickly developed a routine with the boys and having these two kids fulfilled their lives in ways they couldn’t even imagine. Now, almost 2.5 years, countless court visits, and a few instances where they thought the children might be sent to live with others, they have a set adoption date of December 7th. They are over the moon happy and excited that these boys will be a forever part of their family. However, as part of the foster program, their daycare has been paid for until this point. After their adoption, Kavyn and Kevin will need to pay for daycare going forward, as they both work. Daycare costs are about $2,000 per month. A gift of $500 would cover a week of care, slightly easing the financial burden. Every little bit helps and I know they would be incredibly grateful for the gift.”

Branch: Brown Street

Nominator: Teri 
Gift Recipient: Michelle 
Nomination: “Michelle is a single mom, mother of 3, a veteran of the US Army who is currently struggling with medical issues. Despite her medical challenges, she continues to support a local non-profit called Street Angels in their efforts to care for the poor and needy living on the streets of Milwaukee. She collects donations and sorts them in her home for distribution to homeless “friends” in need. She also puts together care packages for those able to find housing. She is an amazing woman and so deserving of an extra special gift this holiday. Whether it be a gift card, spa certificate, movie passes, dinner certificate, or whatever. Regardless how big or how small the gift is, I know she would be thankful and she’s so deserving! Thanks for the opportunity to share her story and to nominate her!”

Teri did a great job keeping this a surprise for Michelle as you can tell from the photos below!

Branch: Summit

Nominator: Jim 
Gift Recipient Jennifer 
Nomination: “In April of 2009, Jenny lost her husband (Heath) in a plane crash while working for the WI DNR.  Jenny was left with no husband and two sons (ages 5 and 2 at the time).  In November of 2016, her youngest (Brett) was diagnosed with bone cancer (at age 9).  The treatment required a leg amputation…and it looked like they got the cancer under control.  A couple months ago…the cancer returned and is now in Brett’s upper spine. This is just a horrible burden for anyone to have to shoulder…and I’d love it if we could do something for Jenny and/or the boys.  They could certainly use some holiday cheer.”

Branch: Brookfield West

Nominator: Teri 
Gift Recipient: Connie 
Nomination: “My dearest friend of 52 has pancreatic cancer and has a limited time to live. She has such strength of trying to fight this and with her faith in the lord, she has 4 children and her youngest is 14. Extra help during this last Holiday would be a blessing to help them celebrate life this season. Bless all and thank you for doing what you do.” Connie’s husband and daughter came to receive the gift.

Branch: Brookfield East

Nominator: Paula 
Gift Recipient: Jacob 
Nomination: “Jacob is a young man of 32 with a wife and little girl.  He has fought Crohn’s disease most of his life and of recent has been very ill and hospitalized often.  He worked for our company for a few months and had to quit due to extreme complications.  During surgery they discovered colon cancer and he has been under treatment for maybe 3/4 year.  Due to his weakness he can barely work and must go to hospital 3x a week for 4 hours to receive infusions.  But Jacob’s attitude is humbling to us all, as he tries so very hard to be positive.  His FB page says, “God’s plan isn’t always our plan, but His plan is always the right plan.”  Jacob could use some encouragement and probably in great need of income to support his family.   The little girl is 2 or 3 years old. ” 

Branch: Germantown

Nominator:  Dave, Kim  Noah + Caleb
Gift Recipient: Kurt + Jennifer 
Nomination: “They are leaving for make a wish on the 16th. He has Larson Syndrome which affects the development of all his bones. He has other medical issues a long with this. There is no cure. He is confined to his wheelchair. He require around the clock care. He has several surgeries to look forward to. One is in TX next year. He had an older brother (Dylan – age 13) who passed away from this. He has two sisters that are not affected. His father works 2 jobs (one is a fireman for Menomonee Falls) His mother also works. Lots of family and friends take turns staying with him. Medical bills are not fully covered. The vehicle used to transport him is not in very good condition. You couldn’t meet a more deserving family.”

Branch: Glendale

Nominator:  Dave, Kim  Noah + Caleb
Gift Recipient: Bethanie 
Nomination: “Over the last several years Bethanie has experienced escalating health issues. Paired with the demands of her children’s concerns, her sick time is tapped out.  At this point, she is in the hospital for an extended time, and has been unable to work for over two months. She’s a single mother and won’t be home for Thanksgiving. She has been an active volunteer in the Glendale Community. In July, despite her poor health and being in a wheelchair, she volunteered at the Fourth of July for Glendale this year ALL DAY LONG!  She has been a true “giver” to others.”

The Glendale team also got together donations for another one of the well deserving nominations.  Way to go Glendale! 

Branch: Grafton

Nominator:  Jennifer
Gift Recipient: Joe
Nomination: “Joe works so hard and is an incredible father to his three kids.   His full-time job is as an emergency services dispatcher for the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department.   He works regular overtime shifts to help make ends meet.  Joe is also a volunteer Reserve Sergeant for the Saukville Police Department.  He is on-call and runs out at a moments notice to help those in need at all hours.  In addition he is an assistant coach for his youngest son’s soccer team every Fall and Spring.  Joe is incredibly hardworking and selfless.   He never asks for anything for himself. Times have been tough and money is tight, but Joe always has a good attitude! Joe’s wish this year is to be able to give his three kids a nice Christmas.  To him this means a few meaningful gifts each as well as taking them out to a nice dinner and a movie, and possibly a night away.  Joe believes that making memories is more important than things.”

Branch: Hartford

Nominator:  Rachel 
Gift Recipient: Sandy 
Nomination: “Sandy has an 11 year old grandson that has De-Novo unbalanced translocated 5th and 6th chromosome as well as Mitochondrial disease. Devon Sweeney was from Hartford, WI however he needed to be closer to the mayo clinic. So a few years ago Sandy and her husband John moved their daughter and three grandchildren to their trailer they own in Lake Tomahawk. They are the sole financial providers between both households. Sandy goes up every single weekend to relieve her daughter from “Devon” duty. Devon needs to be on 24hrs care. Since they cannot afford a nurse Devon’s mother Amanda cannot work. She must stay home and take care of the kids. Sandy drives up every weekend and that costs a lot of money as well as takes a toll on her vehicle. Devon’s lungs have collapsed and he is now in hospice care at home. Medicaid denied him coverage for oxygen because is not at least 15 years old. So now Sandy and her husband need to pay for something we all take for granted, oxygen since Medicaid refuses to cover it. They are all exhausted. Emotionally, financially. Anything to give Sandy a little hope and joy this holiday season is worth it. I hope you consider her.” 

During this special presentation, Sandy’s grandson and daughter also skyped in to watch. It was a very emotional time for all.

Branch: Hartland

Nominator:  Sam 
Gift Recipient: TJ, Sharpan, and Aubrey 
Nomination: “The children’s mother passed away of breast cancer six years ago. Unfortunately, last week, their father suffered a massive stroke, followed by a brain bleed, and a few days later on November 7th, he died of the brain bleed, leaving his three children orphaned with no family in the area. The father had suffered a stroke a number of years ago as well, and wasn’t able to maintain their home well and it is now uninhabitable. The children have been staying with a family friend until other plans can be made. I don’t know the children well, but I knew their father as he was one of the Tae Kwon Do instructors at the school where I study martial arts. He was a kind and gentle soul who encouraged many many students and helped shape many young lives in a positive direction. Their family never had much money, but they all worked hard to make the world a better place, and went on mission trips to help developmentally disabled adults in Romania.”

Bank Five Nine gifted each of the children a $150 amazon gift card.

Branch: Menomonee Falls

Nominator: Jody 
Gift Recipient: Jen 
Nomination: “I work with Jen at Richmond School.  Jen is the MOST amazing co-worker – she is always willing to help out with anything!  Her patience and talent is unmatched – Jen will jump into to sub ANY class, offer to make creative artwork for walls, work with and calm down upset children and ALWAYS has a smile on her face!  Last year her husband experienced some very serious health issues and is no longer able to work.  Their lives have been a roller coaster of emotions and struggles and through it all, yet Jen has stayed positive and encouraging to everyone else.  She deserves to be taken care of as well.  She is always there for everyone, her family, friends, and her students – she carries so much on herself.  I would love for her to be able to give her girls gifts this Christmas and do something special for herself as well.”

Branch: Mequon

Nominator: MaryAnn Hanley
Gift Recipient: Laura Hanley
Nomination:  “Laura is a 26 year old who has dealt with Lupus for the last 10 years yet has found the strength to not only work as a CNA at Aurora Medical Center but also put herself through Nursing School at MATC where she will graduate in May 2019.  She never complains and always finds time to help others in need.  I feel a day to pamper herself would be just what she needs.”

Branch: West Bend

Nominator: Tina on behalf of Green Tree Elementary School
Gift Recipient: Jennifer 
Nomination: “Jen has been a special education professional for many years. She has tremendous patience in working with students and she cares tremendously for them. Jen is always willing to jump in and help others. She is one of those people who always has a positive attitude no matter what life throws at her. In July, very unexpectedly, Jen found out she had lung cancer. They acted very quickly with starting chemo and after that radiation. Throughout this journey, she still thinks of other people. Even though she is going through treatment, Jen still continues to help others. She misses the students and hopes to come back and volunteer with them soon. This diagnosis has taken a severe financial toll on the family. She has two children in middle and high school. She loves to spend with her family. “

Reviewing The 2019 Holi-days of Giving

This year’s Holi-Days of Giving program was an incredible experience for all involved. We received hundreds of nominations, and found 13 families/individuals who deserved a little extra holiday cheer this year. Each recipient received $500 in holiday gifts from the Bank. Thank you to everyone who nominated someone this year for the program. We wish you all a very happy holiday season!  If you have a moment, we would encourage you to scroll through the photos and read some of the chosen nominations.

Branch: West Brookfield
Gift Recipient:  Paula, Ryan and Sara Patoka.
Nomination:  We lost my husband, the children’s father August 14, 2015 to a 4x drunk driver. We were behind him on his motorcycle, we were 4 car length behind. He got hit and killed by a drunk driver going 60mph. Then the drunk driver came for us and hit us head on. The nightmare still lives on in every one of us. Our Faith got us through but Christmas is a holiday where we miss Roger even more.

Branch: East Brookfield
Nominator:  Terry Pomeroy
Nomination:  Alexander disease is a type of leukodystrophy characterized by the destruction of the myelin sheath (the fatty covering that acts as an insulator around nerve fiber) and abnormal protein deposits known as Rosenthal fibers. Most cases of Alexander disease begin before age 2 years (the infantile form).  Brooklynn is currently in the 5th grade within the Greenfield school system.  She has limited ability to read or write, and struggles to walk for any distance as she quickly runs out of energy.   She does have a bit of a sense of humor and is always very positive and happy.

Branch:  Germantown
Gift Recipient: Paul Langenecker
Nomination:  Paul Langenecker is my brother-in-law and most know he has been battling Cystic Fibrosis since birth. Those who don’t know, Cystic Fibrosis is a progressive, genetic disease that mainly effects the lungs and digestive system. The body produces thick sticky mucus that decreases lung function, and stops nutrient absorption. This also puts the body at great risk for infection.   Paul is 26 years old and has been with my sister for the last 10 years. In September 2018 they had an absolutely beautiful wedding and shortly after they found the house of their dreams as any couple wishes to do someday. Cystic Fibrosis had other plans though, that made life challenging for them and the entire family so far. Shortly after they bought their house Paul’s health deteriorated, the discussion about a lung transplant, which is inevitable with Cystic Fibrosis, was the topic after that. His daily medical regimen includes multiple breathing treatments, enzyme medication to help with digestion of food, vest therapy, and many medications. All the hours that he takes out of his day and life and he has NEVER complained, but it was about to get harder. As time went on he was spending more and more time in the hospital, having to stay for weeks at times to fight the nasty infections that caused havoc in his body.   Throughout all of this Paul has stayed so positive and optimistic. He is the last person in the world who should have to go through something like this. With all the challenges and the fight to breathe every single day of his life he is always determined to keep everyone around him positive and is always trying to help others when he is able. Paul is currently at the UW Health University Hospital in Madison where on October 30th he got a call for a perfect match on lungs to be able to breathe again.  He underwent a bilateral lung transplant. In the years I’ve known Paul and all the help he has done for me and everyone around him I feel it is my time to help him. Thank you for your time.

Branch: Glendale
Gift Recipient:  Jonathan Wright
Nomination:  On behalf of the whole Glendale Team, we would like to grant this wish to Jon for many different reasons.  During this past year, Jon went into the hospital for a procedure.  The procedure did not go as planned, which left Jon as a walking quadriplegic.  Jon had to spend several months in assisted living.  Jon was finally able to move home.  However, as with a diagnosis like this, the Wright’s home was not equipped to help in Jon’s recovery.  Additionally,  Halina (Jon’s wife) was also one of the many individuals that was affected by the closure of the Boston Store’s.  Collectively, the Glendale Team decided to nominate Jon not only because of the tragic diagnosis that Jon has, but also because of the many contributions that Jon has made to the Glendale community.  Jon was one of the very first customers of Glendale, when we first opened.  Jon was the previous president of the Friends of Kletzch Park.  While Jon was in his role, Jon was amazed at how Bank Five Nine tried to give back to the local community.  During our first drive for school supplies, Jon went back to his board and collected school supplies as a donation.  Through the many challenges that the Wright’s have had over the past year, you would never known any of this has happened.  The Wrights are a very giving couple and more than deserve this wish.

Branch:  Grafton
Gift Recipient:  Jessica Storm
Nomination:  Jessica found out she had breast cancer while 29 weeks pregnant. She went on to get 4 rounds do chemo while pregnant and 8 more rounds of chemo after baby was born. She beat cancer! She then noticed a spot on her body and had it tested and it was skin cancer. She beat that. Then a few months later she was having head aches and went in for a scan to find out the breast cancer had traveled to her brain before she did the chemo the first time. She has gone through cyber knifing and is now taking a chemo pill. Through all of this she has choreographed dances for two high school dance teams, has been a mom to a 1 year now, and stayed positive through everything. I would love to make her Christmas a little less stressful and help with all the medical bills she has endured.

Branch:  Hartland
Gift Recipient:  Liz Michaelis
Nomination: Earlier this year, the Michaelis family received devastating news.  Liz hadn’t been feeling well since April.  After a few misdiagnoses and continued deterioration in her health, July brought the worst possible prognosis.  A horrible diagnosis was delivered to her…  “Liz you have stage 4 lung cancer.  Your life expectancy is maybe 5 years.”  Liz is a 37 year old mother of 2 young boys (3 and 5) and wife of Eric.  After wrapping her thoughts around what just happened this year, Liz is battling hard to fight her cancer and to make sure she can create memories and endless smiles for her two boys with whatever time she may have left.  With her weakened condition, she is no longer able to work to provide a little bit extra to go on fun excursions with her family and her husbands’ salary goes straight to the bills.  Knowing that the number of Christmases Liz will have with her family is most likely limited, adding as much joy and surprise to this year’s Christmas will certainly help her look past the tragedy cancer has brought to her and her family.  Helping Liz maximize the smiles, laughs and overall loving moments she can have with her young family will make this Christmas more special for them.  My goal in writing this request is to make sure the Michaelis family has at least one more excursion where mom, dad, Clayton and Miles are all together laughing, smiling and building lasting memories.  Thank you in advance for taking the time to consider this request as I am sure there are many deserving families that can use your help.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Branch:  Hartford
Gift Recipient:  William Emslie
Nomination:  He was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer Easter Sunday. He has been going through chemo since then. Surgery is scheduled dec 17. He will be in hospital 7 to 10 days. His birthday is dec 24. He might be in the hospital for Christmas and his birthday. He is a hardworking farmer and a kind man. He could use some Christmas/ birthday cheer!

Branch:  Menomonee Falls
Gift Recipient:  Kathy Moon
Nomination:  My sister Kathy is the rock of our family. For over 20 years she lived with and cared for our mother before she died. She also has been the caregiver for my brother for over 20 years. My brother, David Lindquist, is a disabled vet who was injured in a terrible accident while serving in the United States Navy and stationed on Iceland. Kathy has devoted a large part of her life caring for her mother, brother and now grand kids. She has very little free time for herself and loves to visit Door County. It would be a great show of appreciation to allow her some time for herself in a place that she loves. Thank you for your consideration.

Branch:  Mequon
Gift Recipient:  Sydney Miracle
Nomination: Sydney Miracle is a local high school student who has been fighting several debilitating medical diagnoses, one of which is MALS (Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome).  MALS is a rare condition affecting 2 of every 100,000 people where the median arcuate ligament decreases the blood supply to her digestive system and causes severe nerve inflammation in the abdomen resulting in extreme pain and the inability to eat or drink anything.  Sydney has been tube fed for the past 12 months.  This ligament and associated nerves will be release in her upcoming surgery on December 5th in Connecticut where she will remain for at least 3-4 weeks.  Though the procedure is lengthy and comes with risks and a 6-12 month recovery time it has the ability to significantly improve her quality of life. Syd’s younger sister has started an awareness campaign.  In addition, the family has said the 2 best ways to support Syd is to send her picture on the day of her surgery with #togetherwithsydney and to simply say a prayer for her and send her your favorite bible verse.   Pain is real but so is hope…#togetherwithsydney

Branch:  Oconomowoc – Main
Gift Recipient:  Nicole Becher

Nomination: Nicole is a single mother of an 18 year old daughter and a son who is 14 years old. Nicole works as a janitor at OHS. She recently found out that her young daughter has thyroid cancer. Her daughter needed surgery and Nicole had to take time away from work to be with her daughter as she battles cancer. To be a single mom, knowing you have to financially care for three people in your household and to now to have the added pressure of all the medical bills that cancer treatment brings is a lot on one person. I would really like Nicole to receive some financial help that in turn would hopefully relive some of her stress. With her being a single parent it puts a big burden on her shoulder. I would like Nicole to get some financial help to pay medical bills for her teenage daughter who was recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

Branch:  Oconomowoc – Brown St.
Gift Recipient:  Eliza Ellis
Nomination:  I met Eliza and her family in Spring 2019 and their story touched me. As a mom, I can’t even begin to imagine the stress this family is under and as Christmas approaches, I am sure providing financial health support while also trying to give Eliza a special non-health related gift is tough but also very much wanted. From Eliza’s GoFundMe page, written by her parents on 5/22/19:   There is no greater pain than watching a child suffer.  Eliza Ellis has battled through devastating, life altering health issues as a child.  She was living her life as a teenager, when at age 16, she woke up one day with an ear infection.  Her family never could have guessed where that would lead. She began to experience difficulties in walking, speech regression, dystonia (a movement disorder with uncontrollable, jerky movements and painful muscle spasms), sleep disturbances, and other items. Her life and the lives of her family have been turned upside down.  Eliza is now 18 and could really use a special surprise.  I would love to see if we could give Eliza a holiday “surprise” and feel a camera or the Walt Box would give her a creative way to express herself and capture some moments/memories for her family. I hope she (and her family) are considered as a recipient of Bank Five Nine’s Holi-Days of Giving.

Branch:  ​West Bend
Gift Recipient:  Jennifer Mesko
Nomination:  Jen puts her heart, energy and finances into making the holidays so special for high school students who need a positive influence.  Hundreds benefit from her efforts and the celebration continues to grow with support.  A true need in our high school environment.  Too many homeless and unprivileged students that need to know we care during a difficult time for them. I love to see her receive gifts to contribute to her Holiday of Hope Christmas Party for needy high school students.