Ways to Save on Halloween

by Bill Dennison 14. October 2015

Mariner Halloween

As much as it hurts to say it, summer is officially over. To help us cope with this fact, there are plenty of fall activities to look forward to such as: exploring corn mazes, apple picking, cider drinking, and eating pumpkin flavored everything. Perhaps one of the biggest events we have to look forward to in fall is Halloween!

While Halloween doesn’t quite stretch the wallet as much as the holiday season, the cost of costumes, candy, and other festive goods can really add up. Below are some great ways to save money and help make Halloween a little less scary this year:


Anyone who has looked through Halloween costumes at the mall or department stores can tell you that they are not cheap. Luckily, department store Halloween costumes are not the only option! A homemade costume can be charming, cheap, and often better looking than a store bought one, even for those of us who are not the most creative.  Here are a few simple and effective ideas:

Witch: This old stand-by is a favorite. The best part is that there is no right or wrong way to do it. The only thing you need to buy is a witch’s hat. For the rest of the costume, an old, dark dress and dark leggings are all you need! (For an added effect, use a mascara pencil to draw age lines and boils on your face.)

Cat: There’s a reason this costume seems to be a big hit at the office: simplicity. Take a black headband and attach cat ears made of black felt to it. Then, find (or buy) a black sweatshirt. Now all you need is an eyeliner pencil to draw on the whiskers. This simple costume is really the cat’s meow!

Harry Potter: You don’t have to have a bank account as big as this boy wizard’s in order to pull off this costume! A black sweater, a red tie, and a pair of old glasses are all that is needed. Then, get out that trusty eyeliner pencil for the lightning bolt scar and you have your streamlined famous boy wizard costume all set!


Handing out candy for Trick-or-Treat can be just as fun as receiving candy. But buying all those fun-size candy bars can lead to a not-so-fun-sized bill. However, there are ways around having to skip a meal just to be able to afford candy for all the ghouls and goblins that come to your front door.

Instead of buying your candy at major department stores, consider buying it at local thrift stores. You can often find generic candy that is just as tasty yet not as expensive. Also, consider candy alternatives. While nobody wants to be the person handing out toothbrushes, you can often find packs of cheap Halloween themed toys or small packs or crayons that are perfect for handing out and giving everyone’s treat bag a little extra variety.


Halloween decorations do not need to cost an arm and a leg. Your local discount store is sure to have some great decorative items and the best part is that most of them are reusable. Here are some suggestions of reusable Halloween decorations that you can find for less than $5: fake spiders, plastic pumpkins and styrofoam tomb stones.

Using these tips this Halloween will surely help you save a little money so you can keep the cobwebs for decoration and out of your wallet!

Wade Barnes Named to Meals on Wheels Board of Directors

by Jhonell Campbell 9. October 2015

In celebration of our 20th anniversary, and to demonstrate our continued commitment to the Baltimore community, we recently launched a Random Acts of Kindness campaign. All around town, our employees are doing the little things to brighten someone’s day, say thanks to those who keep us safe or make memories that will last a lifetime.

We have employees who have taken this message of kindness and service to extraordinary lengths. Wade Barnes is one of them.

Wade was recently selected as a board member for Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland (MOWCM), an organization that helps those in need eat well while remaining in their homes. Last year, MOWCM delivered over 1 million nutritious meals to people in our area.

Wade understands the importance and intersection of community, health and food. A healthy meal offers a social bonding experience among family and friends. For many people who are homebound, the delivery of food to their homes offers a great (and sometimes the only) opportunity for social interaction with the volunteers and drivers. When coupled with the nutritional meal itself, this allows many people to remain in their homes and independent much longer than would otherwise be an option.

Witnessing his grandmother’s need for care increase over the past few years spurred Wade to support this important organization. He recognized that MOWCM fills a void for families who aren’t so fortunate and gives them options. Its vision and mission resonated with his values, and our values as well.

As a board member, Wade will help steward MOWCM to serve and comfort even more people in our community. We are proud of his efforts and the example he sets of himself, his family, community and 1st Mariner Bank.



A Crash Course in Employee Benefits

by Jhonell Campbell 20. August 2015

Employee Benefits

As graduation season comes to a close there are many young adults such as myself, getting ready to enter the work force. As a recent graduate it can be difficult to decipher the various types of benefits offered by employers and whether or not you are getting a fair offer.

The following is a list of some of the benefits traditionally offered by employers to help give you a head start on understanding your benefits package:

Pension Plans

You may choose to contribute a portion of your income (usually pre-taxed) towards your retirement through a pension plan. The most well-known type of pension plan is a defined contribution plan, which is often in the form of a 401(k). A defined contribution plan allows you to invest a predetermined amount of your income in a mutual fund, and if you are lucky, your employer may even match your contribution.

An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is another option if you would like to invest in your retirement. Unlike a 401(k), an IRA is set up between the account holder and a financial institution and controlled by the account holder.

Tuition Reimbursement

Young professionals who want to further their education should inquire about whether or not their employer offers tuition reimbursement. If your employer offers tuition reimbursement, be sure to pay close attention to conditions of the reimbursement - there is often a catch. An employer may offer to cover a percentage of your tuition based on your grades or require that you remain an employee for a specified amount of time after completing your education.

Health Insurance Plans

Looking through health insurance plans can be very overwhelming. There are various types of health insurance options such as: Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO) and Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO)

The type of health insurance plan you choose should reflect your current lifestyle and health needs. Young professionals with low health care needs might find a health savings account (HSA) to be most beneficial. An HSA is a savings account that is not taxed and is strictly used for health care expenses. Consumers who use these accounts are usually covered under a high deductible health insurance plan.

Another option for professionals under the age of 26 is to opt out of your employer’s health insurance plan. Since the health insurance benefit offered by my employer is comparable to the health insurance plan I’m currently covered by under my parents’ plan, I have chosen to save some money and stay covered under my mother.

Signing Bonus

Some employers offer their new employees a signing bonus. This is especially beneficial for young professionals who might need the extra money to get started with furnishing a new apartment and upgrading their closet with professional attire.

Vacation Time

It varies with employers, but employees can generally expect approximately two weeks of vacation time per year. While not common, that vacation time might roll over to the following year if not used.

Sick and Personal Time

We all have those days when we are not feeling well at all. Luckily, most employers offer paid sick time. When negotiating your employment contract or deciding between job offers, a good question to ask is whether or not your sick time rolls over from year to year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average amount of paid sick time offered by employers in 2012 was 10 days. The number of sick days offered can differ between employers, industries and employee tenure.

Commuter Benefits

In an effort to be more environmentally friendly, some employers offer compensation to employees who use public transportation to commute to work. A previous employer of mine provided $40 as compensation for our weekly metro fares.

Now that you’ve been briefed about the variety of benefit options offered by employers you should be well on your way to understanding your benefits package.

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

Health Savings Account: Is It Right for You?

The Bank of Mom and Dad: When to Shut It Down

What You Need to Know before Buying Your First Car

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