Spring Break Travel Tips

by Stacy Tharp 13. March 2013

Spring Break Travel Tips

If you have a fun trip planned for Spring Break, good for you – you deserve it! Traveling, however, can be stressful, even though the reason for your trip is likely to get away from stress! So, in order to keep your vacation as relaxing as possible, follow these simple steps BEFORE you leave!

1) Let your financial institutions know you’ll be traveling.

In order to protect you from fraudulent activity, financial institutions monitor your “normal” spending activity, including the geographic location of your usual purchases. A charge to your credit or debit card that occurs far away from your “normal” location could be flagged and blocked if the financial institution did not receive word that you would be traveling. Of course, you can call your financial institution and get things straightened out, but who wants to be bothered doing this while on vacation? Get it done before you leave!

2) Make a list of important phone numbers.

It's easy to get lost when you are wandering unfamiliar territory. Additionally, tourists are a perfect target for pickpockets and con artists. It’s best to be prepared ahead of time by noting the phone numbers of local cab companies, the hotel or resort where you are staying, your financial institutions and the local police station. If you are traveling abroad, make sure you know the phone number to call for emergency services. Storing these numbers in your cell phone is a good start, but you will want these phone numbers listed somewhere else as well in case your phone is lost or stolen.

3) Double check your account balances, credit limits and card expiration dates before you leave.

The last thing you want to deal with on vacation is money problems. Make sure you have more than enough available funds/credit before you leave so you don’t have to take a break from relaxing in the sun.

4) Enroll in Mobile Banking.

Just because you brought more funds than you really need, doesn’t mean you should spend everything you have. Sure, on vacation you are likely to spend a little bit more than you would at home, but it’s still a good idea to keep an eye on how much you’re spending. Mobile banking allows you to do just this with virtually no hassle. If you have a smartphone, check and see if your financial institution offers a banking app, which would allow you to check the balances and recent transactions of all of your accounts. If you do not have a smartphone, look into other mobile options such as a mobile banking brower or text message notifications.

5) Carry a variety of payment options.

Your checking account may be stocked with funds that you responsibly saved up specifically for this trip, but if for some reason your debit card decides not to work, you’ll want to have a backup plan.

6) Do not pack more than you need.

While it’s smart to have a backup plan, you don’t need to overdo it. It’s a good idea to clean out your wallet before you leave to make sure you have nothing more than you need, and to make sure you know exactly what you have with you in case your wallet is lost or stolen. Your drivers license, medical insurance cards, two credit or debit cards and some cash will probably be sufficient.

You also don’t want to overstuff your suitcase. Give yourself enough time to pack so you aren’t haphazardly throwing in every article of clothing and every piece of jewelry that you own. If you don’t remember what you brought with you, you will be more likely to leave things behind when packing to return home. Additionally, extra suitcases (or an extra heavy suitcase) can result in extra airline fees. Finally, in case your suitcase decides not to get on your flight with you, the less you’ve packed, the better off you are.

7) Make sure at least one person at home has your travel itinerary.

In case of an emergency, it’s important that people know where they can find you and how they can reach you. Sure you’re planning on bringing your cell phone with you, but in case your phone is broken or lost, you left your charger at home, or you are in a no service area, you need to have a backup plan. Not to mention that knowing where you are will give your mother some peace of mind.

8) Use common sense.

Stay with your group, know exactly what you are drinking, be weary of strangers and potential tourist scams, and remember that what happens in Cancun/Miami/Ocean City/etc. does NOT stay there, especially in today’s world of cell phone cameras and YouTube. If something or someone seems a little off, trust your instincts.

Top Ways to Celebrate Saint Patrick's Day in Baltimore

by Erica Starr 8. March 2013
Top Ways to Celebrate Saint Patrick's Day in Baltimore

It’s that time of year again. St. Patty’s Day in Baltimore - March 17th… Baltimore’s most celebrated unofficial holiday of the year. A day when, like it or not, everyone is Irish.

Green beer, the Baltimore St. Patrick's Day Parade, “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” shirts, tent-lined streets, the Baltimore Shamrock 5K, and even the occasional random bagpiper walking the streets of Baltimore have all become traditions here in Baltimore around St. Patrick’s Day.

Last year we went around to try to find the top things to do in Baltimore on St. Patty’s Day. This year we did the same thing, and as we suspected, you won't be at a loss for ways to celebrate. Each neighborhood in Baltimore has its own way of celebrating. With that being said, we again went to our branches to ask them for recommendations on what to do this St. Patty’s Day in their neighborhood.

"The official 1st Mariner Baltimore St. Patrick’s Day Guide 2013 – What to do in Baltimore"

The 58th Annual Baltimore St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Shamrock 5K

Thousands of Baltimoreans will gather at the Washington Monument and line the sidewalks of Charles Street as they help Baltimore celebrate Irish culture, song, music and dance at Baltimore's 58th Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. The parade kicks off on March 10, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. at the Washington Monument and continues to Pratt Street and Market Place. 1st Mariner Bank is a proud annual sponsor of the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

The Baltimore Shamrock 5K is another option that takes place on March 10th. For several years, over 5,000 runners take the streets of Baltimore to support St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations, Inc. Starting at Charles and Franklin Street and ending with a celebration at Power Plant Live, the Shamrock 5K is a great way to get your endorphins moving, stay healthy and support a good cause. Unfortunately, every year this race fills up fast so if you haven’t already signed up, you’ll have to settle for standing on the sidelines and cheering on the runners.

Dennis Finnegan, Executive Vice President, Retail Banking’s Recommendation: Claddagh Pub

Just as he suggested last year, our President of Retail Banking, Dennis Finnegan is sticking with his St. Patrick's Day go-to. "As always, my faviorite place to spend St. Patty's Day is Claddagh's Irish Pub located in Canton. For the past few years, [Claddagh Pub owner] Mike Clarke always has a stool and a Jameson waiting for me as soon as I walk in the door."

Other local Baltimore Irish Pubs and Restaurants:
Looney’s Pub
James Joyce Irish Pub and Restaurant
Slainte Irish Pub & Restaurant
Cat’s Eye Pub
Tir Na Nog Irish Bar & Grill
Patrick’s of Pratt Street
J. Patrick’s Irish Pub
Mick O’Shea’s
Ryan’s Daughter Irish Pub and Restaurant

Our Annapolis Branch Recommendation: Galway Bay Irish Pub

Galway Bay gives you an immediate sense of feeling right at home as soon as you walk in the door. We'd highly recommend Galway Bay as a place to check out on St. Patty’s day. They throw quite the celebration!

Other local Annapolis Irish Pubs and Restaurants:
Fado Irish Pub
Castlebay Irish Pub

Our Cockeysville/Towson-Loch Raven Branch Recommendation: An Poitin Stil

An Poitin Stil, or “The Still” as the locals call it, is probably one of the most “authentic” Irish pubs in the Baltimore area. They have live Celtic bands playing on most days of the week, and their St. Patty’s Day Festival is epic!

Our Perry Hall/White Marsh Branch Recommendation: The Twisted Harp

As Perry Hall's only major Irish pub, The Twisted Harp is bound to be a place of interest for the residents of the White Marsh/Perry Hall area on St. Patty's Day. Their corned beef and cabbage is delicious, and they serve a variety of other authentic Irish food as well.

Other local Baltimore County Irish Pubs and Restaurants:
Patrick’s Restaurant and Pub
The Tilted Kilt

Our Bel Air Branch Recommendation: Sean Bolan’s

Judging by the countdown to St. Patty's Day on their homepage, Sean Bolan's is where you need to be if you happen to be in the Bel Air area on March 17th.

Other local Harford County Irish Pubs and Restaurants:
Looney’s Pub
MaGerk's Pub & Grill

With all of these options, you’d think that we strategically placed our branches to be in close proximity to the Irish pubs and restaurants of Baltimore, right? We’re sure there are plenty of other options out there that we’ve forgotten to mention, but at least you now have a decent amount of possibilities to choose from when it comes to your 2013 St. Patty’s Day celebration.

Regardless of what you choose to do, just remember one thing…everyone is Irish on March 17th!

How to Get Your Friends to Pay You Back

by Stacy Tharp 27. February 2013

Empty Wallet

It's happened to all of us: that awkward moment when you are dining out with a friend, and when the bill arrives your friend informs you that he has conveniently left his wallet at home or has forgotten to stop off at the ATM. At this point the only way to avoid the dine-and-dash is to pay the bill in full yourself.

You might not think it’s a huge deal to pay for someone’s lunch from time to time, but if you lend money to a friend, you have every right to expect your friend to pay you back. You shouldn’t feel bad about asking your friend to pay you back, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an awkward conversation to have.

Here are a few tips on getting your friend to pay you back the money he owes you as un-awkwardly as possible.

Use Technology to Get Your Money Back Right Away

The longer your friend owes you money, the more difficult it becomes to get your friend to pay you back. So, have your friend pay you immediately with a person-to-person payment service such as Popmoney®. Your friend may have forgotten his wallet, but as long as he hasn’t forgotten his smartphone (and who forgets that these days?), he can send you money electronically through an email or text.

Popmoney® is conveniently located within our Mobile Banking App; however, your friend doesn’t have to bank with 1st Mariner to enroll in and use Popmoney®. As long as your friend has the funds available in his bank account, person-to-person payments are a great way to get paid immediately.

If your friend doesn’t have the funds available, keep reading.

Give Friendly Reminders

If your friend tells you he doesn’t have the money right now, but he will on Friday when he gets paid, give him a friendly reminder on his payday. You can send him a request through Popmoney® to avoid giving the awkward reminder yourself. If your friend was being honest and fully intended to pay you back, chances are this friendly reminder is all he will need. Otherwise, move on to the next step.

Have a Serious Talk

Now you have passed the point in which your friend should have paid you back. If you want your money back, it’s time for the awkward conversation. Sit your friend down, make sure there are no distractions around, then ask him why he is having a hard time paying you back. You can offer him options such as making staggered payments or give him an extended deadline, but make it clear that you do expect your money back. If this doesn’t work, you are pretty much down to two options.

Forget the Debt or Consider Persuing Legal Action

Ever heard the saying, “If you lend someone $20 and never see him again, it was probably worth it”? If it was only a small amount of money that you lent, it might be easiest to just forget about the money and reconsider the friendship.

If your friend owes you a large sum of money, you may want to consider pursuing legal action. This option isn’t right for everyone, so make sure you do sufficient research to make sure it would be worth it to go down this route.

The last few options are not fun ones, so I recommend using Popmoney® to get your money back instantly!

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

5 Mobile Banking Security Tips

The Ever-Evolving Landscape of Banking

Top Three Myths about Online Banking Revealed



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