Don't Forget Us When You're Famous!

by Stacy Levin 20. March 2012

Watch out - Baltimore is taking over network television!  Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration...but Baltimore is definitely making its mark.  ABC's new reality TV series Ball Boys features Baltimore's own Robbie's First Base, a sports memorabilia shop located in Timonium.  From the producers of Pawn Stars, Ball Boys reveals the negotiation process behind buying and selling one-of-a-kind sports merchandise.

Robbie's First Base, located on Ridgely Road across from the Yorkridge Shopping Center, has been in business for over 20 years.  When you walk into Robbie's you are greeted by a cast of characters: owners Robbie Davis Sr. and Robbie Davis Jr., as well as workers Lou "Sweet Lou" Brown and Robbie "Shaggy" Reier.  According to a recent article in the Baltimore Sun, a voice-over during the opening of the show states, "This place is like a sports club.  It's not unusual to see a baseball player or football player here."

The show, Ball Boys, is locally sponsored by 1st Mariner Bank, and it will premier with two 30-minute episodes this Saturday, March 24th, at 3:00 p.m. on the ABC Television Network.  Watch the trailer below for a sneak peak and check out the Robbie's First Base Facebook page!

Win an Autographed Joe Flacco Jersey


In the spirit of local sports memorabilia, 1st Mariner Bank has teamed up with WMAR-TV ABC2 News to give away an autographed Joe Flacco jersey to one lucky fan... all you have to do is be a fan of us too!

Visit either 1st Mariner Bank's Facebook page or ABC2's Facebook page to enter.  Click on the "Contests" tab on either page and follow the instructions to submit your entry.

Pictured below are the locations of the contest page on 1st Mariner Bank's Facebook page and ABC2's Facebook page.  Good luck!


1st Mariner Bank FacebookABC2 Facebook

Spend It or Save It? What to do with your tax refund

by Wade Barnes 12. March 2012

Average Annual Tax Refund

It's that time of the year again, and if you haven’t already started working through the process of filing your taxes, now is the time.  While it likely isn’t the most favorite chore you’ll tackle this year, it might be one that pays off.  According to the IRS, the average tax refund this year is about $3,000.  Some might argue that getting a tax refund isn’t the best way to manage your money throughout the year, as you essentially gave the government an interest free loan.  Nonetheless, using your tax refund wisely can greatly benefit your financial position and might even help you get a bigger refund when you file your taxes next year.

Resist the urge to spend the money before it hits your bank account.  Most certainly avoid refund anticipation loans unless absolutely necessary to deal with an emergency, as these are expensive and might even leave you owing more money than you get back in your refund.  Consider having the money refunded via direct deposit from the IRS directly into your bank account.  Direct deposit isn’t only a safe way of receiving your money, it is also the quickest way of getting your refund from the IRS.

Once you know how much you can expect to receive in your tax refund, make a plan and consider spending the money in the following three categories to invest in your future.

Emergency Fund

Nobody wants to think that something bad might happen, but it’s always a possibility, and planning for an emergency in advance can help lessen the burden if it happens to occur.  Experts suggest you should have 3-6 months of salary tucked away in an emergency fund.  With this money in savings, you should be able to offset hardships that could come from illness, unemployment, or other unexpected events.  Another way to plan for an emergency is to stock up on nonperishable food items and household supplies that are not only good for natural disasters but can provide a source of stability if an unexpected event, such as job loss, was to occur.  While providing for an emergency isn’t a fun way of spending your tax refund, according to Maslow, by securing fundamental needs we can move on to talking about ways to maximize your full potential.

Invest in Yourself

There isn’t much in life more important than your future, so be sure to spend some money to ensure your future is strong.  Consider going back to school or taking a class that can help you learn new skills or techniques that will help advance your career and earning potential.  Attend a conference relevant to your industry – not only will you be exposed to cutting edge information, you’ll also be exposed to networking with people you may not have otherwise met.  Spend some money to update your professional wardrobe.  We all know first impressions are important, so be sure your professional attire is sharp.  Invest money in a retirement account.  Even if you love your job, the time will come when you want some time for yourself.  By investing in a retirement account, you can look ahead to life after work.

Tax Deductible Activities

Consult your tax advisor on this topic, but there are ways you can spend your tax refund that could potentially reduce your future tax burden.  Tackling home improvement projects like purchasing energy-efficient windows or doors, adding insulation, and installing energy-efficient appliances or solar panels are all good ways to improve your home and potentially lessen you tax burden.   Consider saving for or buying a house, as there are many tax benefits to being a homeowner.  Make a donation to your favorite charitable cause.  Not only will you feel good about making the donation, you’ll being doing good for the community.  Many self-investments that are career oriented might also help reduce your tax burden.  Again, consult a tax advisor to understand the details, but using your refund to improve your house, your retirement, or your community might mean less tax in the future.

While the above activities are all important, it is just as important that you treat yourself too.  Don’t blow it all on a weekend in Vegas, but make a smart plan to further your financial progress and after making smart investment decisions, do something to reward yourself as well.

Spring Forward With These 5 Energy Saving Tips

by Renee' Anderson 9. March 2012

Breakdown of Your Energy Bill

Saving energy was one of the original purposes of Daylight Savings Time. With the days being longer, it’s thought that you use less energy to light your home. Well, that’s one way to save energy in your home, but according to Energy Star, lighting generally only accounts for about 12% of your energy bill.  I don’t know about you, but I could use some other ideas! With my spring project list expanding, I would really love it if my BGE bill would lighten up ($50 off my BGE bill = $50 towards my new deck).

Here are some tips on how to save energy:

1. According to Energy Star, heating and cooling accounts for close to half of the average household’s total energy use. Keep your thermostat set at 68 degrees or lower in the winter and 78 degrees or higher in the summer to see your energy bill decrease.

2. As we finish out the winter season, open your blinds during the day to let the sun in. As the weather gets warmer, you got it – do just the opposite and keep the blinds closed.

3. Wash your clothes using cold water, and run your washing machine and dishwasher at night to take advantage of off-peak hours. Some newer dishwashers have timers that you can set to run at night.

4. Take shorter, cooler showers.  Besides saving energy, this is also a refreshing way to cool off on hot summer days.  If you can’t live without your hot showers, keep reading – we’ve got you covered.

5. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs.  While they cost a little bit more than conventional incandescent bulbs, they are a huge energy saver.  According to The Home Depot, compact fluorescent bulbs use approximately 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs and last about ten times longer.

You can get a more detailed guide to saving energy in your home from BGE Home’s Energy Saving Center.

Be sure to click on the Energy Saving Tips link, and download this brochure.

The tip that was screaming at me? Stop waiting for warm water (before your shower, washing your hands and face, etc.). Waiting for warm water can waste thousands of gallons a year. A hot water circulator pump and timer can provide instant hot water and help reduce your overall water usage.

Looks like I need to look into one of these hot water circulator pumps!

What are you going to do to save energy in your home?



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