Empowerment Academy Students Visit 1st Mariner

by Stacy Tharp 24. April 2012

Last week, in honor of Financial Literacy Month, 1st Mariner Bank had the pleasure of hosting a group of seventh grade students from the Empowerment Academy in Baltimore City who are currently participating in Operation HOPE’s Banking on Our Future (BOOF) program.

Guy Stafford
Guy Stafford welcomes the students to 1st Mariner.

BOOF’s purpose is to teach people at a young age how to make educated and responsible financial decisions to promote dignity, hope, and economic self-sufficiency in low-wealth communities.  BOOF courses are offered to schools and communities free of charge and are led by HOPE Corps volunteers who have undergone comprehensive training in financial literacy and teaching techniques.  The program has reached over 700 schools and community-based organizations in the U.S., South Africa, and Haiti.

The Empowerment Academy’s BOOF program is run by our own Guy Stafford, SVP, CRA Officer and Community Lending Manager.

Chris Plude
Chris Plude explains what it takes to be a teller.

The visiting students were welcomed by Guy Stafford along with Mark Keidel, President,  and Dennis Finnegan, EVP, Retail Banking.  The students then split up into groups and were escorted around to different departments of the bank.

Students were brought to the teller training room, where they were “trained” to become tellers.  They even got to “process” basic transactions.  Once they were finished training, students were given a tour of our Canton branch.

The eCommerce team explained to the students how 1st Mariner Bank uses social media, and the

Erica Barry and Wade Barnes
Erica Barry and Wade Barnes discuss social media.

students discussed smart ways and not-so-smart ways to use their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The students also discussed and were given advice on many firsts that would be coming up, such as how to prepare for their first job interview, things to consider when purchasing their first car, and tips on saving money for college.

The 1st Mariner presenters and volunteers were very impressed by the students’ eagerness to learn about banking and making smart financial decisions, and we can’t wait until their next visit!

For more photos from the Empowerment Academy visit, see our Facebook page.

Four Things the Easter Bunny Taught Me About My Credit

by Stacy Tharp 5. April 2012
Credit Report

He travels to the homes of all the good children in America in one night, he is the only known mammal able to lay eggs, AND he also happens to be a financial genius. He’s the most interesting bunny in the world. Wait, let’s back up for a second… “A financial genius?” You skeptically ask. Read on and I’ll prove it’s true. These are just a few things that the Easter Bunny has taught me about my credit.

1. Responsible behavior brings me nice rewards.

Like Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny is incredibly busy, so he doesn’t waste his time with the “bad” children.  He only wants to go to the houses of children who turn in their homework on time and take out the trash when asked.

As it turns out, lenders feel the same way.  Lenders use your credit history as a tool to determine how likely it is that you will repay their loan.  If you have a history of not paying your bills on time, lenders are going to see this and likely either deny you a loan or grant you a loan at a heavy price.

2. Always monior my own credit.

The Easter Bunny has a great deal of children to keep track of.  So if Kathy takes Owen’s lunch money, but you get blamed for it, the Easter Bunny might not know the whole story.  As a result, instead of that giant chocolate bunny you were expecting in your basket, the Easter Bunny might only leave you a couple of stale peeps.

Similarly, let’s say someone gets ahold of some of your personal information.  That person could open a credit card in your name, max out the card, and never pay a dime.  Guess who the creditor is going to come after for collection?  The person whose name is on the card – YOU!  Just like getting blamed for taking Owen’s lunch money wasn’t fair, neither is this, but such is life.

To avoid a situation like this from happening to you, it is important that you monitor your credit.  As stated by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report each year from each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax).  You can find your reports at www.annualcreditreport.com.  If you find information on your credit report that is not accurate (i.e. accounts that you did not open yourself), you should report your findings immediately.  The United States Department of Justice lists the names and contact information of agencies you should contact if you suspect you are a victim of identity theft.  Proving yourself to be a victim of fraud can be a lengthy and burdensome process, and until you are able to straighten out the situation your credit will be adversely affected.  However, you can minimize the burden by checking your credit report often.

3. Not all credit bureaus think alike.

Spoiler Alert: Continue reading only if you are prepared to learn the truth about the Easter Bunny.

As it turns out, the Easter Bunny sometimes gets some help filling baskets from Mom and Dad. (Did I just blow your mind?) Consequently, you might find some inconsistencies in your basket from year to year.  For example, Mom might love to put a big chocolate bunny in your basket every year, but when it’s Dad’s turn to fill your basket, he might see a greater value in having lots of marshmallow peeps.  (And don’t forget the basket you get from Crazy Aunt Millie each year filled with raisins and dental floss.)  While you can give your input, what you receive is ultimately decided by whoever fills your basket that year.

Although the three major credit bureaus all essentially look at the same components when determining credit scores, they each use a different algorithm which can result in three different credit scores.  That’s why it is important to check your credit report and score from all three credit bureaus.  Although the reports are free, viewing your credit score costs a small fee.  Paying for your credit score is definitely worth it, as it could end up saving you money in the long run.

4. It's never too late to improve my credit.

You wake up the morning of Easter and run downstairs to find all your treats, but what you find is sub-par.  You can mope and whine about it, or you can think about why this happened and what you can do to get a better basket next year.  After reflecting upon your behavior from the previous year, maybe you realize that you fought with your little brother almost every day and broke a couple of vases playing ball in the house.  These are two things you decide you will work on over the next year, and if you stick to your goals, you should expect a marvelous basket next year!

Of course, your best bet is always to begin good habits young.  Start yourself off with good credit, and slowly build your way up to superb credit.  However, various circumstances often prevent this ideal situation from happening.  If your credit isn’t where you’d like it to be, here are a few tips to help raise your credit score:

  • Set up payment reminders to ensure that you pay your bills on time.
  • Make a payment plan to pay off your debts.
  • Keep unused credit card accounts open, but don’t open new accounts that you don’t need.
  • Never carry a balance on your credit cards above 35% of your credit limit.  If you are above 35%, stop using that card until you can pay down the debt.
  • Ask lenders for lower interest rates.

 

Whenever you’re in doubt when it comes to your credit, ask yourself one question: what would the Easter Bunny want me to do?

Fun Things to Do in Baltimore for Free (or close to it)

by Stacy Tharp 26. March 2012

It's official, Baltimorians - spring has sprung!  For those of you who have had your snow gear out and ready to go for that big snowstorm that you just knew was going to hit…it’s time to give that up.  Put your snow boots away and get out your rain boots.  Trade in that snow shovel for a gardening hoe, and hurry up and drink all your leftover hot chocolate.

While you prepare yourself for spring, local businesses and organizations are preparing themselves as well.  Spring brings a ton of festivals in Baltimore and other fun activities for you and your family to enjoy.  Us folks here at 1st Mariner Bank have come up with a list of a few of our favorite spring activities in Baltimore and the surrounding areas.  The best part?  Everything is FREE (or close to it).

 

Privateer DayFells Point Map

What’s the difference between a pirate and a privateer?  Find out on Saturday, April 21st at Fell’s Point Main Street’s 8th annual Privateer Day.  From 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. you and your family can enjoy a variety of fun, free activities.  There will be live music and battles, ship tours, food and craft vendors, and lots more.  Once your children are privateered-out, drop them off at home or in the gated children’s playground and enter the adult Thames Street Grog Garden to enjoy your favorite ales and live music.  You can also purchase a button for $5 to unlock fantastic deals at over 20 participating Fell’s Point bars.  Visit the official Privateer Day website for more details.

Can’t make it on April 21st?  Here are some other free festivals in the area:

Maryland Avenue Spring Festival (Annapolis, April 22nd)
Towsontown Spring Festival (Towson, May 5th & 6th)
Laurel’s Annual Main Street Festival (Laurel, May 12th)

 

Baugher's MapBaugher’s Orchard & Farm

Llamas and peacocks and goats, oh my!  These are just a few of the animals that you will find at the free petting zoo at Baugher’s Farm.  Located in Westminster, Baugher’s Orchard and Farm is known for its seasonal Pick Your Own fruit, fresh pies and pastries, and homemade fudge and ice cream.  The petting zoo allows children to learn about and feed various animals.  Opening day is set for April 20th.  Visit Baugher’s website for more information and updates.

Like what you see?  Here are some similar ideas:

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
Baltimore Farmers’ Market & Bazaar
The Great Frederick MD Flea

 

Ripkin Stadium Map Aberdeen IronBirds

How ‘bout them Birds?  Nope, not those Birds, the OTHER Birds.  Enjoy all the fun of watching professional baseball without the Major League price by attending an Aberdeen IronBirds game at Ripken Stadium.  Some of the benefits include an up-close view of the action, no huge crowds, free parking, and group discount offers.  The IronBirds’ season doesn’t begin until June, but if you are eager to see a game soon, check out some of the other local minor league teams.  Many teams begin their season in early April, including the Frederick Keys and the Bowie Baysox.

Here is a complete list of Maryland’s Minor League Baseball Teams, as well as other baseball-related museums and sites:

Maryland Baseball Sites

 

We know that there are tons of other fun Baltimore festivals and other spring activities.  Be sure to leave a comment below or on our Facebook page to tell us what great deals we missed!



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