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Contest: Highlight Reel  by Tara


Whew! What a year 2012 turned out to be! We know you guys were all super busy doing amazing things and surely snapping lots of pics along the way! We’d love to see your favorite from the year and add it to our Highlight Reel! It could win you a $100! Click here if you’re ready to get started right now! The sooner your pic is up, the sooner people can start voting for it!

What kind of pics are we looking for? Anything that was important to YOU during the year! Weddings, babies, fur-babies, family pics, babies, vacations, a “first”, a school-time success, babies – anything! (Sorry, we’re suckers for babies!)

It’s so easy to enter this contest! You have until midnight on Tuesday, January 15th to add your favorite picture from 2012 along with a caption here. Then you and everyone else can vote for your favorite entry! We will choose a winner out of the top 5 most voted for pics. The lucky winner will get a $100 Visa gift card!

If you do NOT have a Facebook account – no worries! You can still use the same entry form to upload a picture and to vote. If you have a Facebook account, you can use a pic that’s already on your page. Makes entering really simple! Questions, just send Tara an email by clicking here.

Enough dilly-dalling! Time to enter your favorite pic from 2012 and get VOTING!

See Jenny Swim  by Tara


When you are proud of someone you love, you want to shout their successes out to the world! This is exactly how we feel about our very own Jenny Lorenz. Not only is she the amazing Executive Vice President of Linn Area Credit Union, but she is an extremely accomplished triathlete. When you look up the word “dynamic” in the dictionary, I’m pretty sure Jenny’s picture is riiiiiight there. She does more by 7:00 am than many of us do all day! (Or maybe it’s just me…?!)

Jenny qualified for and then participated in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii in 2012. When she returned, she wrote (beautifully) all about her experience. And, seriously, if you’ve ever wondered what someone who participates in an event like this is thinking, you’re going to LOVE her following her story over the next three weeks (see Jenny, Swim, See Jenny Bike, See Jenny Run).

Get ready to feel inspired! Enjoy the first installment of this three part series, See Jenny Swim:

In my opinion, the Ironman World Championship race in Kona is an awe inspiring event. The magic of the island, the history behind the event, the fittest and fastest athletes in the sport, from all around the world racing beside you…(Well WAY ahead of me, but in the same race, nonetheless)… It is truly a special experience and is difficult for me to articulate just how amazing it is.   The fact that I’ve been given the opportunity to compete in this event twice makes me feel so unbelievably blessed.

Coming into the race this year I felt healthy and strong.  Throughout this race season I’d been able to get a few minor, yet nagging, injuries under control.  For the first time in about 3 years I could run virtually pain free; a very nice change.  This time I decided to head to Kona 8 days early in order to give myself time to decompress from the chaos at home/work, acclimate to the heat and get used to the time change.  In the days leading up to the race I did my best to relax and not get too caught up in the pre-race mania.  I had confidence in my fitness level and confidence in my race strategy. I had outlined my race plan for both the day before the race and race day to the hour. No details were left unchecked. So on race morning I was relaxed and excited to get out on the course.

My day started at 3:30 a.m. when my alarm went off.  I got up and got ready while starting to eat my breakfast.  It takes me a while to get food down that early so I always need to allow some extra time.  So while I got my race gear on and gathered my things, I ate a very unspectacular breakfast of peanut butter toast, Gatorade, plain scrambled eggs, and apple bananas. (Yum!!  My favorite fruit from the island.)  Once I finished eating I gathered my special needs bags and my swim gear and headed down to Alii Drive to catch the shuttle to the pier at 4:30.

You can see the pier from practically anywhere on the western coast of the island on race morning. It’s all lit up and is buzzing with activity. The energy and excitement created by the 1,800+ athletes and countless volunteers is palpable. My first stop was to body marking where I had the nicest two ladies take care of me there.  The pride they took in making sure my number looked absolutely perfect was so great.  Their infectious enthusiasm was such a perfect start to my day; they made me feel like I was the most important person in their world at the time.  After I got body marked I headed to transition to put my fluids in the bottles on my bike, check my gearing and computer setup, put my fuel belt bottles in my T-2 bag (I wear a fuel belt so I can take my super high sodium electrolyte mix along to prevent cramping.) and pump my tires. Now it was just sit and wait for the directive to get in the water. I passed the time chatting with others while waiting, trying not to annoy anyone who seemed nervous or unwilling to visit.

The pro men’s race cannon went off at 6:30 and the pro women at 6:35. I chose to get in the water just as the pro women started as I was just anxious to be out there. So I waded in and made my way to the start line, somewhere in the middle, where the people on surf boards were positioned.  As I bobbed around in the water I looked back at the sea wall to see if I could spot my support crew all clad in their Hawkeye yellow “Jenny Lorenz Fan Club” t-shirts and watched the sea of athletes all entering the water.  It is quite a sight to behold being out in the water and looking back at the crowds.

Due to some cannon malfunction we had no big boom send off this time. Just the announcer screaming “Go! Go! Go!” at us. So with that our race began and we were off – 1,800 or so of us all trying to swim in what seems like the width of Washington High School’s pool where we swim our Master’ s practices. I was happy that I didn’t have anyone intentionally push my head under or grab my ankles this year; people seemed much more courteous than last time I raced here.  But I didn’t exactly come out of the swim unscathed either. I ended up with a bruise on my right thigh, a bruise on the left side of my chest and was bleeding in two spots on my leg when I got out of the water. That being the case, I felt like I had a nice steady swim. I held my own when things got really bottled up, I tried to stay strong and focus on good form, and I never felt panicky or remotely close to blowing up. I even noticed the fish and divers we were swimming over.  (I LOVE swimming in the ocean where you can see!)  Perhaps I wasn’t going fast enough if I had time to notice all that? The second half of the swim seemed to take less time than the first and I had less traffic, which was welcomed. I exited the water at 1:18 and change. I had hoped to be in the 1:15 neighborhood but was satisfied with my result which was over 7 minutes faster than my time from this race in 2009.

I ran up the steps to the makeshift showers and took good care to get as much of the salt water off me as possible. I didn’t need that burning me all day for sure. As I ran through transition I marveled at how efficient the volunteers are at getting our gear to us. I didn’t have to miss a step as a volunteer had my bag ready for me before I got to them.  The changing tent, however, was an absolute zoo. In my last IM in Madison I was immediately met by a volunteer that tended to me.  Here there were so many more people in there all at the same time there was barely anywhere to dump my gear. I scurried around and finally found an open spot and eventually a volunteer was freed up and came to assist me. I made the decision to wear arm coolers after getting completely scorched the last time (My coach, Marilyn McDonald’s advice to wear them was extremely wise and greatly appreciated.) so I put those on while my volunteer put another layer of sunscreen on my back for me. I grabbed my bike shoes, sunglasses and the Luna Bar I had in my transition bag and headed out to my bike.

What will the open road hold for Jenny as she heads out on her bike – and loses her most important piece of race gear! Join us next Monday for the next part of her story, See Jenny Bike.

Tara’s Refinance Story  by Tara


“Rates are at a historic low! Now is the time to refinance!”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, you’ve heard this at least a dozen times. When my husband and I became homeowners in 2008, we locked into a rate that our loan officer was ecstatic about because it was “so low!” As the years passed, the rates got lower and lower. Just like you, I kept hearing, “The rates are lower than we’ve ever seen! NOW is the time to refinance!”

The idea of refinancing kind of scared me. It sounded almost as fun as going to the dentist or listening to an album featuring nails on a chalkboard. My husband and I had avoided it like the plague until September of this year. Rumor was if your APR was 4.00% or higher, you absolutely needed to look into refinancing. People seemed to be saving a ridiculous amount of money – and, since our APR was higher than 4.00%, I thought it was worth a shot.

What’s really cool about our mortgage department is that they can tell you pretty quickly (either in person or over the phone) whether or not you’d save money by refinancing. My husband and I sat down with one of our helpful mortgage loan officers who ran through several scenarios (15 year, 30 year, various other combos). The loan officer seemed to be almost as excited as we were about the difference refinancing would ultimately make in the life of our loan.

Many people find that they can reduce the amount of money they would have to pay each month. We decided to keep our payments the same and, instead, shorten the life of our loan. Thanks to our refinance, we will have our house paid off 8 to 10 years faster than if we had ignored all the yammering about historically low rates. Yes, we did have to bring a little money to the table

Curious about the process? Let me give you the nutshell version:

We met with a loan officer and locked into a new, much lower rate at the end of September. My husband and I had to provide some paperwork, such as our most recent pay stubs, most recent mortgage statement, and our most recent bank statements. (DON’T WORRY! These things are super easy to get your hands on, thanks to online access to accounts! You just need to print stuff off instead of digging through the piles of paperwork you have stored away.)

Linn Area Credit Union selected an appraiser, who then contacted me for an appointment. This was the part I was most nervous about, but it was super easy. You don’t have to clean to closets out, TRUST ME! The appraiser is looking at the overall big picture, not the dust bunnies. Not that I have any of those… Anyway, he had performed the appraisal and returned all of the documents within 3 weeks of us locking into our rate!

Now here’s the part where you get to kick back and relax while Linn Area Credit Union takes care of the rest behind the scenes. What kinds of things are they doing? I’ll sum it up in one word: PAPERWORK. Bleck. So glad we didn’t have to deal with any of that jazz! Occasionally, they’ll need a little more info from you if requested by the underwriters (dun dun dunnnn). We had to resubmit our latest mortgage statement. *shrug* Whatever, no biggie. The next time I had to do anything for our refi was when I was asked what a good time of day would be for our closing. I’m serious! It was THAT easy. Heck, I spent more time signing documents at closing than I did on the rest of the process combined!

Our entire refi process took about 45 days, but they can take up to 60.

So if you’ve been dragging your feet thinking that refinancing was going to be too big of a pain in the tuckus, please at least call one of our loan officers at (319) 378-0101 ex.3 to see if you’re missing a HUGE opportunity! You can also check out rates, find out about our loan officers or apply online at

WE WANT TO KNOW: Have you refinanced? How much did you save??

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (LACU Style)  by Ellen


‘Twas the night before Christmas at LACU
Everyone was busy, so much to do!
People all working their busy shifts
Kids picking up their Kirby Christmas gifts.

Our members came in, bundled up tight
Excited for the gatherings they’re going to tonight
With cars in the drive-up and people in line
We all settled in to help them on time.

When in from the parking lot there arose such a clatter
We all were wondering what was the matter.
Everyone looked and the wave of heads bobbed
We wanted to be sure we weren’t getting robbed.

There was water on the floor because of the snow
Which made the entryway slick on the tile floor below.
When, what to our wondering eyes do we find
But a little old lady who fell on her behind.

This small woman, didn’t miss a beat
Popped up in a moment – right to her feet.
Into her giant handbag she tucked her rain bonnet
Pulled out a list, yelled out what she had on it.

“I want high yield checking! A rewards credit card, stat!
Get me a notary! Some gift cards! What are you looking at?
A Roth IRA, a Health Savings Account, too!
And some of those Plugged In services for my great-nephew!

One of our members, who was waiting in line
Watched the whole scene, chuckling from time to time.
Finally he asked, “I don’t mean to sound trite
But what is the deal with that old lady tonight?”

Before we could answer, we heard a pick-up’s roar
And a big fat old man suddenly stood in the door.
His eyes how they twinkled! His beard was so white!
The stump of a pipe he held in his teeth tight.

He walked up to the woman and said “Hello, dear.”
We said, “Mr. Claus! Good to see you! You can’t smoke in here!”
Greetings exchanged, paperwork completed, glad-handing.
Then the couple addressed all of the members still standing.

Mrs. Claus said “I was just bustin’ your britches, you sweet little dears.
Santa and I have been Linn Area members for years.
We needed to refinance our truck loan, you see.
Why not have a Children’s Miracle Network candy bar – on me?

We passed out the chocolate as they stepped outside
Climbed up in their truck and prepared for the ride.
We heard them exclaim as they revved out of sight,
“Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

5 Days of Giving: Day 5  by Tara


It’s time to wrap up our “5 Days of Giving” contest by unwrapping one last gift!

Congratulations, Becky!

5 Days of Giving: Day 4  by Tara


Enjoying the BLIZZARD, friends? The blizzard of EXCITEMENT that is! That’s right – it’s Day 4 in our “5 Days of Giving” contest!

Congratulations, Rhonda!

5 Days of Giving: Day 3  by Tara


Some people were woken up at 4:00 am this morning by a blizzard warning on their phone. Me? I was was woken up by the excitement of knowing that it’s Day 3 in our “5 Days of Giving” contest!!! Hip hip HOORAY! Who will be the lucky winner and what will she unwrap???

Congratulations, Alyssa!

5 Days of Giving: Day 2  by Tara


We are back and ready to share with you the next winner in our “5 Days of Giving” Contest!

Congratulations, Kathleen!!!

Did you miss the winner of Day 1? Click here.

5 Days of Giving: Day 1  by Tara


Linn Area Credit Union wanted to put a little jingle-jangle back into your pockets this holiday season! Alas, our “5 Days of Giving” was born. Over a 1,100 people entered to win a chance to unwrap one of five fabulous gift boxes, each containing a gift card of up to $100 and some snazzy Linn Area Credit Union swag. Here is the winner of Day 1… JEFF!

Congratulations, Jeff!

Stay tuned – we’ll be posting one video each day this week!

Didn’t win this time around? Keep your eye on all our social media! We’ll be having another contest soon!

Whiners are weiners!  by Mallory


“Whiners are Wieners” was a recent title of a Survivor: Philippines episode so aptly named by our very own Linn Area Credit Union survivor, Denise Stapley. And Denise is certainly neither.

Let me rewind. We take the TV show Survivor very seriously here at Linn Area Credit Union. Each season, we have a group of employees who make the show into a game. This season, we have 25 people playing! Here’s our fabulous board:

So Linn Areainites were beyond excited to discover that Denise Stapley was selected to be on the show. Denise has been part of our Linn Area family for quite some time and you guys actually voted her the winner in our “My First Ride” contest in 2010 (see her entry here). In fact, True Dork added that very special honor into her bio (go here to see the article). See, she’s already a winner!

I am the (self-appointed) Linn Area Survivor Expert, so I know a thing or two about how things go on this show. I’ve watched every single season and can usually figure out who will ultimately win the game.

Here’s my brief synopsis to catch you up to speed (but be sure to read on to find out about my recent conversation with Denise):

Denise may be tiny, but she is super strong and an excellent competitor (could be thanks to her background and passion for triathlons!). Levelheaded, a hard worker and loyal team player, she possesses all the qualities found in the typical winner of this game. From the very beginning, Denise has been faced with challenges. After arriving at the Philippines, she immediately was placed on a team that continued to lose, and lose, and lose until there were only two people left, including her. But she managed to fight back and win people over with her down to earth and genuine personality. Now here she is in the final 5!

I vividly remember her saying on the way to one tribal council, “Even if Russell and Malcolm vote me out, I still know they are good guys.” That just stuck with me. She gets that it’s a game and is able to be clear-minded enough to see her competitors as real people. So cool! I knew I was a big fan as soon as she said that.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw her come into the credit union after the show had started airing. My very first question was, “Is Malcolm as cute as he looks on TV?!” She laughed and said “Yes!” As soon as that was settled, I could move on to the other millions of questions I had for her. The poor girl was just ambushed by question after question after question by yours truly. I couldn’t help it – I just might be her biggest fan. :o)

One thing Denise was surprised about was how little we really see of what is actually going on. Gotta love EDITING! Of course, she can’t say very much and she gave nothing away. Boo…

I did ask her if she had the “best time” and she simply responded, “It was an experience.”

If – I mean, WHEN Denise makes it to the final three, she will face a jury of her peers, made up of nine contestants from her season that have been voted off. They will choose the victor. I think this is where her impeccable strategy will pay off.

Last week on the show, I believe she said it best (and I’m paraphrasing here), “The jury is looking for someone with a balanced game; someone that can play the mental, social, and physical game.” Denise is doing just that.

Denise, sorry if I’ve embarrassed you. I just can’t contain my excitement! You are a real pleasure to watch and make it easy to cheer for a Cedar Rapids native and a fellow Linn Area Credit Union family member!

Watch Denise tonight at 7:oo PM Central and hopefully on Sunday’s finale!

Based on my expert opinion, I really, really think that we are watching a fellow Cedar Rapidian become the WINNER of this season, people! So if you haven’t been watching, TURN IT ON NOW!

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