Harford County Neighborhood Conservation Initiative (NCI)

by Charlie Maykrantz 12. February 2015

Shopping for Homes

If you are looking to purchase a home in the Harford County area and need assistance with closing costs, there's a great program designed to encourage Harford County residents to consider homeownership in the areas of Aberdeen (21001), Abingdon (21009), and Edgewood (21040). It's called the Neighborhood Conservation Initiative (NCI) program that is administered by Home Partnership, Inc. (HPI) on behalf of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

Loans will be available for qualified buyers up to $7,500 that are to be used for closing costs only. The funds can’t be part of meeting the minimum equity requirements with FHA mortgage products. Buyer(s) must meet the income restrictions per program guidelines. Homebuyer Education including in-person workshop(s) and counseling session(s) with a HUD certified counseling agency are required. The buyer must occupy the property as their primary residence. Post purchase liquid assets cannot exceed 20% of gross annual household income. The borrower minimum contribution in the transaction is $1,000. The borrower must apply for a fixed-rate first mortgage. The loan will accrue interest at the rate of 0% and must be paid in full when the home is sold or transferred.

1st Mariner Bank/1st Mariner Mortgage is not responsible for the availability of these funds or any change in the program guidelines as required by the administrator.

For more information on these programs or any of our other products at 1st Mariner Bank please feel free to contact Charlie Maykrantz at cmaykrantz@1stmarinerbank.com or 410-735-2068.

The above programs are subject to change at any time and this does not constitute a guarantee on the part of 1st Mariner Bank as an obligation to offer these programs without the approval of the program administrator. All applicants must be qualified to purchase and participate in these programs per underwriting guidelines of both 1st Mariner and the program administrator.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

Howard County Settlement Down Payment Loan Program

Baltimore County Settlement Expense Loan Program

Anne Arundel County Mortgage Assistance Program (MAP)

How to Talk to Your Spouse about Money

by Erica Starr 11. February 2015

Money in Marriage

They say that money can’t buy happiness. While that may be true, the topic of finances in relationships can often be the pace car in how far your relationship is going to sail or not sail into the sunset.

“Money problems” is still a front runner in the leading causes of divorce in the United States and has remained there for decades. A 2009 study found that couples who disagree over money once a week are 30% more likely to part ways than couples who have those same disagreements once a month. Knowing this, shouldn’t the “money talk” be a top priority for couples to have BEFORE taking the leap into marriage? Of course it should. That said, most people would rather go to the dentist every day for a year than divulge their financial bad habits.

Why you ask? Good question. Just like the visits to the dentist, 9 times out of 10 it ends up never being as bad as you thought it was going to be. Regardless of how much you hate the dentist, you know it’s something that you have to do. Having the money talk with your spouse should also be at the very top of your list of things you HAVE to do.

When you are ready to talk to spouse about money, here are a few tips to help you and your spouse get on the same page (read: a lot of Novocain or laughing gas in my dentist comparison).

Full Disclosure

You have to be completely open and honest with your spouse about your financial history and spending habits. They’ve voluntarily married you for better or for worse and that includes divulging any financial skeletons that either of you may have hiding in your closet. Ideally, there aren’t any post-marriage skeletons as this talk should happen before you say “I Do.” Once both of you are looking at your financial landscape with eyes wide open, it’s much easier to discuss future plans and tactics to reach your financial goals.

Goals - Make Them and Talk about Them

Before you can make an effective financial plan, you have to both agree on your end goals. You can each have your own personal goals, but there should be at least one overarching goal for your family budget. Be it paying off old debt or saving to put a down payment on a house, sharing similar goals can be very effective in building comradery and a teamwork approach as you make progress.


Most people get their financial personality from their parents. How they were raised to think about spending and saving often plays a big role in how they themselves will handle their finances. Even if you don’t agree with everything that you hear, having a talk about each other’s financial upbringing can bring a lot of perspective and understanding into the mix and perhaps help you avoid future arguments.

Set Up a Monthly Coffee Date (Reoccurring Account Review)

Okay it really isn’t a date but it’s a great way to make you think about a monthly financial planning session. See, coffee date sounds much better doesn’t it? Whether it’s at your local Starbucks or if it’s at your kitchen table, you and your spouse should set aside a mandatory reoccurring time to go through all of your finances and make sure you are still on track to reach your goals. Financial aggregators or Personal Finance Managers (PFMs) like Mariner360 are great free tools to use to give you an extremely accurate snapshot of where your money is actually going. (Personal Disclaimer: This can be an extremely scary process. No one should spend that much money on lattes in one year.) These PFMs also can help you both set up budgets and send you alerts when there has been unusual spending or you’re getting close to going over your preselected budget.

Don’t Judge, Don’t be Controlling, and Be Supportive

You are not going to agree on 100% of your goals. You’re most certainly not going to 100% agree on some of the past actions that may have put you or your spouse in a less than ideal financial situation. And that is 100% okay. If you start to go down the path of being overly controlling and placing blame when things get rocky, resentment could soon show its ugly face. As with most things in a marriage, it’s important to always aim to be supportive and not judge one another. As long as you both agree to pursue your joint goals together before pursing your personal goals, everyone will win.


If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

4 Financial Mistakes Newlyweds Make

I Do...But Maybe I Don't Want to Share My Money

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How to Find the Perfect Checking Account

by Andrew Schreiber 10. February 2015

Perfect Checking Account

In today’s banking world there are many variations of a simple checking account that offer different features and benefits. Most of the time you rely heavily on your bank’s recommendation as to what account works best for you, or you just default to the account that has the least amount of requirements. However, defaulting to the product with the least amount of requirements could be detrimental to you as a customer. You might be eligible for interest on your balances, free ATMs, free checks, etc. The following questions can help guide you to the best product for you:

Will you have a direct deposit into your checking account?

Having a direct deposit is becoming a more popular requirement of accounts in order to avoid a monthly service charge. The majority of companies offer direct deposit of payroll to their employees. Having a direct deposit is a benefit in and of itself; you don’t have the hassle of going to the bank to deposit your paycheck every payday. The funds transfer right into your account and are available to you that night.

A good account if you have a direct deposit would be our Classic Direct Deposit Checking account.

What is the average balance you keep in your checking account?

Maybe you like to keep some extra money in your checking account in case of emergencies. This extra money could make you eligible for a checking account that has some added benefits. No one knows the balance you keep in your accounts better than yourself.

If you keep extra money in your checking account, look for a high balance checking account you might be eligible for. Here at 1st Mariner you might fit into our 1st Select Checking account.

Will you be opening additional relationships with the bank?

Many bank customers have more than just a checking account with their bank. They have a checking account, a savings account, maybe a CD, or even a money market account. If you have a variety of products with your bank you could be eligible for a product that takes that into consideration. Take your entire relationship into consideration when you select a checking account because you may be eligible for a checking account with more features if you have other accounts with the bank.

Here at 1st Mariner Bank, if you have a minimum relationship balance of $10,000 you would be eligible for our Premier Relationship Checking account.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

4 Ways to Avoid Overdrawing Your Account

3 Things to Consider when Choosing a Bank

Bank Jargon 101

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