Your Money

Your Money

Financial experts offer tips on reaching investment goals

Slogging your way through an investment portfolio can be a tough task for even the most experienced of brokers.

But don't limit yourself to stocks or any single type of investment, experts say. First figure out why you are investing: retirement, college savings or maybe just a new, expensive toy.

Financial advisers to offer free assistance

Need some financial advice?

Today you can get it for free, courtesy of Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.

SafeLink offers low-minute cells for low-income residents

A free phone? Really?

If you've been watching late-night television in recent months you may have noticed commercials advertising free phones.

It's no joke.

The catch: They're for low-income residents (you have to qualify annually to receive the benefit) and the free air time maxes out at 60 minutes, meaning if you talk beyond that amount, you'll have to pay.

"Like any other deal on the market, it's a good opportunity for the right consumer," said Jim Chilsen, communications director with the Citizens Utility Board, the consumer advocacy group based in Chicago. That means: "know what you're getting into," he said.

The importance of saving money: Hows and whys

Saving is the "new spending."

People are eating out less often, collecting their change or holding off on buying a new car.

Web site to follow UI's future financial decisions

RBANA – With furloughs a reality and other budget cuts looming, anxious University of Illinois employees say they want more information about the UI's financial decisions.

Several committees have been created to help administrators decide how to allocate shrinking resources, but some faculty members say they don't know much about that process or where to go with suggestions.

The UI's Urbana-Champaign campus is creating a Web site to provide information about the budget review and give students, faculty and staff a chance for input. The idea is to create a central place where people can find out as much as they'd like about the decisions being made and how to get involved, UI spokeswoman Robin Kaler said.

Called "Stewarding Excellence at Illinois," the Web site should be launched by the end of next week, she said Friday. The exact Web address hasn't been chosen, but it will be linked to the UI's home page,

Most area stocks enjoy '09 rebound; First Busey falls

Last year was a wild year for the market, with many stocks rebounding from the pounding they took in the general market free fall of late 2008 and early 2009.

Of 57 companies with a notable presence in East Central Illinois, 41 ended the year with a stock price higher than at the end of 2008. Sixteen companies found their shares trading for less.

For the companies whose stock appreciated, the gains were often significant. The Dow Jones industrial average was up nearly 23 percent for the year, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 26 percent.

Magazine ranks Commerce as third-strongest bank

Commerce Bank, which has an office in Champaign, was ranked third strongest among the nation's 100 largest banks in a recent ranking by Forbes magazine.

The bank's holding company, Kansas City, Mo.-based Commerce Bancshares, earned the ranking based on eight measures of asset quality, capital adequacy and profitability, the magazine said on its Web site.

Central Illinois Bank parent ready to go it alone for now

CHAMPAIGN – Admitting it will be "challenging" to find a strategic partner, the parent company of Central Illinois Bank says it's "prepared to run independently as long as necessary."

At an informational teleconference for shareholders Friday, CIB Marine Bancshares spelled out goals for the next two years and outlined recent developments.

Edgar County company finishes acquiring Gilman bank

PARIS – Edgar County Banc Shares has completed its acquisition of First National Bank of Gilman, the Paris-based company announced this week.

The Gilman-based bank, which also has an office in Watseka, will become part of Edgar County Bank & Trust, and those two offices will be known as the Gilman Bank and Watseka Bank divisions of the Paris-based bank.

Bank-ratings firm downgrades six area institutions

Six area banks have been downgraded by the BauerFinancial bank-rating service, based on data filed with regulators for the quarter that ended Sept. 30.

At the same time, three area banks were upgraded. The vast majority of banks in the area kept the same rating they had the previous quarter.