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Insuring the Future Protection, security, and peace of mind…we know you want to make sure your loved ones are cared for in the future. And with the right amount

• Avoid family financial interruptions • Provide for educational needs • Preserve equity in your estate In addition, GreenStone FCS now offers disability insurance, underwritten by Illinois Mutual. When you are sick or hurt, who pays your income? At GreenStone, together with FCS LifeExpress, we have several disability products when it comes to protecting your most important asset—your income. Our disability plans include:

of planning, you can rest assured that they are covered. GreenStone Farm Credit Services offers a variety of life insurance options to protect you and your family. In the event of a sudden illness or death, the proper amount of life insurance can help: • Replace future income • Reduce or pay off debt

• Individual plans with benefits up to $8,000 per month. • Business expenses reimbursed 100% up to $10,000 per month. • Choice of elimination periods (30, 60, 90 and 180 days). • Choice of benefit periods (6 months, 1, 2, 5 and 10 years, to age 65). • Optional return of premium rider that will return all your premiums, less any claims, when you reach age 65. Contact your local GreenStone Farm Credit Services office for more information on either our life insurance or disability insurance plans.

g r e e n s t o n e f c s . c o m

Ten tips

forHoliday Shopping

1. Pay cash. That way when you're out of money, you're out of money. 2. Know thy enemy. If you're going to pay by credit card, use the one with the most favorable terms. 3. Keep a running tally of your credit-card spending. When you come home from a day of shopping, immediately subtract what you've spent from your checking-account balance. ...Continued on page 2

The Country Minute is brought to you by your local country living lender: Melissa Humphrey 989-224-9321 (ph) 989-224-7722 (cell) 800-622-9187 (toll free) 1104 S. U.S. 27, St. Johns, MI 48879

Holiday Tips Continued...

5. Get easy gifts out of the way early.

Instead, have a family gift exchange in which you each choose one name and put more thought than money into selecting a single gift.

6. Make a list. Writing down which stores you'll visit and which gifts you plan to buy helps focus your shopping excursion and makes the chore more pleasant because you don't get caught up in holiday hysteria.

8. Be creative with the kids. Let’s say you're planning a trip to Walt Disney World during winter break or spring vacation. Stuff the kids' stockings with guidebooks, maps and Disney memorabilia, and let them plan their excursion.

7. Think outside the gift box. Plenty of alternatives are less expensive, and more fun, than buying a gift for every sibling, in-law, niece and nephew.

9. Look ahead to next year. If you came up short on cash this year, start an old-fashioned holiday-club account.

4. Have a plan for paying off your bills. If you overspent last year, it's time to cut back.

Selling your home?

Put your best look forward. You’ve hired your realtor and listed your home for sale. What’s next? Here are some tips to consider that can help your home sell faster: Make the most of that first impression. A well-manicured, weed free lawn, neatly trimmed shrubs and a clutterfree porch make prospective buyers feel welcome. Freshly painted windows and doors show them that maintenance is your priority.

[2] The Country Minute

Consider improvements that strengthen your home’s curb appeal. Clean up so you clean up on your sale. Dust the living room, scour the bathrooms, unclutter the kitchen, and shampoo carpets. If your woodwork is scuffed or the paint is fading, consider some minor touch-ups and redecorating. Updating the kitchen cabinet hardware, adding new sofa slipcovers, and keeping fresh cut flowers in the entryway are inexpensive, simple touches that can go a long way. Potential buyers want to see how great your home really looks rather than trying to imagine how it could look “with a little work.” Check faucets and bulbs. Fix dripping faucets—they discolor sinks and suggest faulty or worn-out plumbing. Burned-out bulbs or faulty wiring leave prospects in the dark. Don't let these problems detract from what is right with your home. Create open space. Potential buyers are looking for more comfortable living space and storage. Clean out the garage and the

10. Count your pennies. A few weeks ago I was waiting for my sandwich in a sub shop around the corner from my office. When I bent down to pick up a dime from the floor, a gentleman standing next to me struck up a conversation. He told me he always picks up coins (even pennies) and tosses them into a big jar, along with the change from his pockets every day. That's the money he uses to buy his holiday gifts -- and every year it adds up to between $900 and $1,100. Source:

attic. Make sure the basement is clean and free of unnecessary items. Organize the closets and box up those unwanted clothes or used items and donate them to charity. Eliminate excess furniture. Creating comfortable rooms will make your prospects feel at home. Watch your pets. Dogs and cats are great companions, but not when real estate sellers are showing your home. Pets have a talent for getting underfoot, so do everybody a favor and keep Kitty or Spot outside, or at least out of the way. Consider a professional Home Stager. Staging is what you do after you’ve cleaned, decluttered, painted, and made repairs. It’s all about dressing your house for sale. Professional stagers are skilled artists. They can create dramatic scenery in your home that appeals to all five senses with beautiful fabrics, unusual knickknacks, dramatic window coverings, and unique elements that draw attention to predetermined areas in your home.

Overhauled Alternative to Swelling Heating Costs… As winter rolls in and home utility costs begin to soar, it might be time to take a look at the old school heating options, like wood furnaces. But don’t dismiss this idea based on past experiences or undesirable stereotypes like smoke, ashes, odors or soot buildup, because we aren’t talking about the old school in-house wood furnaces as you might remember them... we’re talking about the overhauled version—outdoor wood furnaces. Advantages of burning wood to heat your home: • Wood is a renewable resource • Dramatically lowers your heating and utility bills

Channel the back-toschool vibe with your own homework assignments: Tackle that closet, straighten up your garage, and refresh your rooms by cleaning out, de-duplicating, and regrouping: • Donate unused items to charity. • Eliminate duplicate items; group clothes by fabric, style, or color. • Install shelving and track organizers on the garage wall.

• Responsible firewood harvesting allows new growth to flourish in forests • Enough fossil fuels can be saved to operate an automobile for one year • Cost savings often pay back the purchase price within the first two years of use Is it right for you: • Access to free or inexpensive wood • Live in a rural area • Willing to do a little work to save a lot of money • Currently spend too much on heating fuel

If you find yourself agreeing with the previous statements, the outdoor wood furnace could be the right alternative for you. By keeping the fire outside the home, you eliminate the dangers and mess associated with traditional indoor wood stoves while enjoying the cost savings and extra heat. If you’re concerned about what your next utility bill might look like, it may be time to consider going old school with an overhauled wood furnace solution and combat the upcoming frigid weather without worry. Sources:;;;;

• House is cold

Recipe Corner

DIRECTIONS Pre-heat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, Warm up your oven and roll out some sift together flour, salt and baking soda and holiday cheer... Sumptuous Sugar Cookies set aside. In a separate large bowl, blend butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and sour cream INGREDIENTS: for two minutes on high setting. Gradually 61/2 cups flour add half the flour to the sugar mixture and 2 cups sugar beat for one minute on high, add in the 1 cup sour cream rest of the flour mixture and stir by hand. 1 cup butter Roll out dough on a mixture of 1/2 flour 2 eggs and 1/2 powdered sugar. Cut with your 3 tsp. vanilla favorite shapes and bake on a coated 2 tsp. baking soda cookie sheet at 350° for nine minutes (for 1 tsp. salt extra soft cookies bake at 325°). Let cool, (Makes six dozen) frost and decorate if desired. Enjoy!

• Put instruction manuals in a three-ring binder.

Fall 2008 [3]

GreenStone Member notes...

The following is a snippet of news and feature stories found in our agricultural member publication, Partners. More information and complete articles can be viewed at by clicking on the “Partners” image found on the left side of the Web page. New Chief Executive Officer The Board of Directors of GreenStone Farm Credit Services has named Dave Armstrong as the next President and

CEO. Armstrong, who currently serves as the Executive Vice President of Customer Delivery for GreenStone, will assume full responsibilities for the position on January 1, 2009. He will succeed Jim Schiller, who is retiring as President and CEO of GreenStone at the end of this year. A Series of Fortunate Events The Young, Beginning, and Small Farmer Focus article features Mario Micheli and his wife, Claire Thompson, a couple who lived the city life and craved the country. 2008 Holiday Card Coloring Contest The 2008 GreenStone Farm Credit Services Holiday Coloring Contest is upon us. But don’t be mistaken, 2008’s contest is particularly special as it marks the

conclusion of this program. Don’t miss out! Entries are due back by Friday, October 31, 2008. See your local branch for more details or visit to get your entry form today. GreenStone Awards Scholarships GreenStone Farm Credit Services recently awarded six $2,000 scholarships. Five of the student recipients are Michigan residents and are attending Michigan State University: Dustin Baker of St. Louis; Blake Laethem of Caro; Ethan Bosserd of Marshall; Sarah Campbell of St. Johns; and Clinton Steketee of Caledonia. The sixth student, Kimberly Malvitz of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, is attending University of Wisconsin–Green Bay.

1104 S. U.S. 27 St. Johns, MI 48879









Brought to you by your local GreenStone FCS lender: Melissa Humphrey

Inside this issue: - Insuring the future - Holiday shopping tips - Heating your home with wood

Country Minute - Fall 2008  

GreenStone's quarterly country living member publication providing association news and feature stories on various aspects of rural living.