SpOOky Facts Credit Unions Don't Want You to Know

by Stacy Tharp 24. October 2012

People have been complaining about the big banks for years now. When people get fed up and begin to look for other places to put their money, the same two choices are always suggested: a community bank, or a credit union.

So it’s great to know that there are other options, but with community banks and credit unions always being lumped together into one suggestion, it almost seems like they are interchangeable, when really, they are two quite different options. So how do you differentiate between the two?

Of course you know our vote…*coughcommunitybankcough*…but our choice isn’t completely biased. We know some spOOky facts about credit unions that we would like to share with you.

They might not let you in...or out.

Okay, fine…you are always free to leave a credit union, but you have to admit, that added a spooky twist to the heading! Credit unions are, however, selective about who they allow to join. You generally must meet a specific requirement in order to become a member. So maybe once you’re in, you will be reluctant to leave, even if you have a good reason.

They offer low credit card rates...but there's a catch.

Credit unions often advertise low credit card rates. What they don’t tell you is that with these great rates come not-so-great rewards programs. If you are working on paying off credit card debt, then a low interest rate may be all that matters to you. However, if you always pay your bill in full, the interest rate really shouldn’t matter, and your focus should be on what your credit card provider can do for you.

Fees are on the rise.

One of the biggest complaints about the big banks is their constant seemingly exponential increases in fees. Credit unions pride themselves in having lower fees than banks, but what they don’t tell you is their fees are on the rise as well. It is important to note that with both banks and credit unions, fees will never stay constant, for many reasons. Your safest bet for minimizing fees, wherever you put your money, is to make sure you have accounts that are right for you. This may require you to switch account types every so often. Switching to a credit union simply because their fees are lower right now is not a safe bet in the long run.

Your accounts are all tied together.

To protect themselves against risk, credit unions often have cross-collateralization clauses. What does this mean? Any item being financed or pledged as security will also secure any other debts you have or may have in the future with the credit union. For example, if you have both a credit card and a car loan through your credit union, your car will be used to not only secure your car loan, it will also be used to secure your credit card debt. Legally, credit unions must disclose this to you, but don’t expect to find this information on a flashing neon sign. It will likely be disclosed to you somewhere in fine print, so this cross-collateralization clause often comes as an unpleasant surprise to the people it affects.

Your deposits may be at risk.

Unlike banks, credit unions are not regulated by the FDIC. Less regulation means credit unions are able to use your deposits more freely and take more risks than banks. The majority of credit unions are insured by the National Credit Union Administration, but this is not a requirement for state-chartered credit unions. Before throwing all your money into a credit union, make sure your deposits will be insured, and check the insurance limits.

You won't get as many bells and whistles.

In general, when it comes to account features, credit union accounts give you the bare minimum. Simple. Boring. Raise your hand if this was you five years ago: “Internet? On my PHONE? I don’t need all that, I just want a simple, practical phone that allows me to make simple phone calls.” Now, if you are like most people, you look back and laugh at your old credo. You may be thinking along those same lines when it comes to your bank account. You don’t need any fancy additions - you just simply want a safe place to put your money. But why settle for that when you could get more features and benefits out of your accounts?

No matter where you put your money, it is important that you research the facts of the financial institution, and compare these facts with your current financial situation. The right financial institution for your neighbor might not be the right one for you.

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Flacco Fridays Continues

by Stacy Tharp 24. October 2012

Flacco Fridays

 

***This Contest is Now Closed***

 

We have completed our first five weeks of Flacco Fridays, and your level of participation has been extraordinary! In order to keep you on your toes, 1st Mariner Bank and Team Flacco have decided to introduce a brand new series of weekly contests that will take place over the next few weeks. This contest series will put your attention to detail to the test!

How will it work?
  • Each Monday at 10:00 a.m., two pictures of Joe Flacco will be posted on 1st Mariner Bank’s Facebook wall.
  • Participants must find the five differences between the two photos, then send 1st Mariner Bank a private, direct message on Facebook describing the five differences.
  • The fifth person to accurately describe the five differences wins!
When can I enter?
  • The pictures of Joe will be posted on 1st Mariner Bank’s Facebook page each Monday at 10:00 a.m. You may begin submitting your entries then. The first contest will begin on Monday, October 29th at 10:00 a.m.
  • Participants will have until each Wednesday of that week at 11:59 p.m. to enter. (But remember, you must be the fifth person to correctly identify the five differences to win!)
  • The winner will be announced on 1st Mariner Bank’s Facebook page before 5:00 p.m. on each Friday that the contest runs.
What can I win?

Each week, the fifth person to correctly identify the five differences between the pictures via a direct message to 1st Mariner Bank on Facebook will win a piece of autographed Joe Flacco merchandise!

Click here to read the full terms and conditions.

Tip: If you “like” Joe Flacco’s and 1st Mariner Bank’s Facebook pages, you will get news feed alerts detailing information about each week’s contest over the course of the football season.

Good luck!

I Just Graduated from College, Welcome to My Private Jet

by Stacy Tharp 18. October 2012

Average Starting Salaries for College GradsHey college grads - picture this: after receiving your diploma, you’ve landed a great job at a Fortune 500 company and you’ve got a killer apartment in Harbor East overlooking the water, on which you spend your weekends out on your new boat, where your new “bling” sparkles in the sunlight. Now take a safety pin and pop that ridiculous dream cloud. I could say I’m sorry for smashing (or popping) your dreams, but instead I’m going to say welcome to the real world!

You may have once been the big man on campus, but have you ever heard of the big-fish-little-pond effect? Welcome to the ocean. Now, if you are intelligent, motivated, and a hard worker, I’m sure you’ll go far in your chosen career…but no matter how intelligent, motivated, and hard-working you are, chances are you’ll be beginning your career in a tiny cubicle with a measly paycheck. Oh, and don’t forget about those lovely student loans that it’s time to start paying off.

In order to avoid that “I-think-I-should-be-able-to-live-like-a-rock-star-since-I’m-done-with-college-and-have-a-real-job-now” complex, take into consideration some of these tips for managing your money when you first enter the real world:

  • Open a checking and savings account if you don’t already have them. Though you are no longer a student, many banks will still allow you to open a student/starter checking account, which generally offers some extra advantages over other basic checking accounts.
  • Set a monthly and weekly budget. Figure out how much money you’ll need for bills each month, decide on a realistic amount of money you plan on saving, then take the rest and do the math (yup, still using math out of school) to figure out how to spread out your spending money evenly over the course of the month. Online personal finance management tools can be helpful with this.
  • Make sacrifices. After you create your budget, chances are you’ll have less spending money than you would’ve hoped for, so you’re going to have to prioritize your wants. Do you have to have that Starbucks latte every morning? That’s fine, but you may have to cut out those Thursday evening Happy Hours.
  • Pay all of your bills on time. You can do this easily using a bill pay service, which allows you to schedule payments ahead of time and set up recurring monthly payments. If you find that you are having trouble paying your bills on time, reconfigure your budget.
  • Open a credit card account. Stick to one credit card at first, and don’t charge things to your card that you can’t actually afford.
  • Take advantage of any benefits that your new job offers. Health insurance plans are generally much cheaper when you purchase them through your employer, and many companies offer 401(k) matching benefits. You need to start saving for retirement anyway (unless you plan on working forever), so you might as well let your employer help add to your fund.

The GOOD news is, at some point you’ll start making more money. When this happens, you can add a little more to your weekly budget, but seeing as you’ve been able to survive on your current budget, try to think about your long-term goals and add most of your extra cash to your savings.

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

How I Graduated Debt-Free from College

Money in Your 30s: Manage It, Don't Be Managed by It

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