Thursday, December 23, 2010

Proud To Be a Banker

I sent this article to the American Banker's Association "Proud To Be A Banker" program today because I mean it.

I think Monroe Bank & Trust located in Monroe, Michigan is one of the nation’s finest examples of what banking – and, for that matter, corporate citizenship in general – should be. I’m proud to be part of this organization because of the people who work here – from the tellers on the front lines to the executive management team to the custodial staff – because they give real meaning to the concept of “community” - 365 days a year!

Over 80% of MBT’s 350 employees are members of our employee volunteer program called ENLIST (Employees Now Linked in Service Together). Started in 1984, MBT’s ENLIST members donate personal time to churches, schools, non-profits and other community based organizations, providing help with projects that range from serving dinners for senior citizens to managing fundraising events such as auctions.

The results of the ENLIST program are truly impressive. Statistics include the following:
· ENLIST volunteers serve 365 days each and every year
· Over 200 organizations are supported each year
· Since 1984, 154,177 man hours have been donated
· That’s an average of 5,930 man hours annually
· In 2005, ENLIST reached 100,000 man hours
· In May, 2010, ENLIST reached 150,000 man hours
· In the past 5 years, ENLIST averaged 10,000 man hours annually
· ENLIST currently has 296 members out of 350 employees (84.5%)
· Since 2002, ENLIST has also led a yearlong, bank-wide fundraiser to benefit a charitable organization selected by the ENLIST Board of Directors. $61,163 has been awarded to date (above and beyond volunteer hours, corporate contributions and sponsorships).
· In 2010 to date, 1 ENLIST member has personally accumulated 398 volunteer hours – or 16 awards - with a few days to go.

These community bankers are dedicated to helping people on very personal levels every single day of every single year. I don’t know of any company that has a track record of giving that comes anywhere near this!

So I’m proud to be a banker because of the caliber, integrity and kindness of the people I am privileged to work with every day.

Mary Jane Town
Senior Vice President, Director of Marketing

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Managing Your Money in Good Times and Bad: Tips on Putting Your Dollars to Work...for You!

From the FDIC's Special Edition of Consumer News

While it's important to pay your bills, it's also wise to "pay yourself" — to contribute to your savings accounts, even in uncertain times when you may be strapped for cash.

"During tough financial times, you may believe you cannot pay your bills and continue to put money into savings," said Sandra L. Thompson, Director of the FDIC's Division of Supervision and Consumer Protection. "However, we encourage you to follow a few simple money-management tips that can help you cut your expenses and put money aside for savings."

First, start by following our suggestions on Good Ways to Get Started Cutting Back for trimming your spending. Doing so, you should have more money available to set aside for other needs.

Beyond that, here are ways to start saving more.

Have an emergency savings account.
This is an account you can tap if you lose your job or have major, unforeseen expenses. "Emergency savings will help ensure that you don't have to borrow from your retirement nest egg or take out additional loans that would push you into debt," said Luke W. Reynolds, Chief of the FDIC's Community Affairs Outreach Section.

A general rule of thumb is to have enough money in this "rainy day" fund equal to at least two months of living expenses. If your employment outlook is especially uncertain, consider setting aside enough to cover six or more months of anticipated expenses.

Also, keep your emergency savings in an account that will be fairly liquid — such as a bank savings account, money market account or a short-term certificate of deposit (CD) — so you can withdraw the money relatively quickly, if necessary. "You should probably also keep your emergency money in a deposit account, where your funds are protected by federal deposit insurance, as opposed to stocks or stock or bond mutual funds that can lose value in a volatile market," said Mary Bass, an FDIC Senior Community Affairs Specialist.

Try to save money for long-term goals, such as your retirement.
If your employer matches a portion of your payroll contributions to a tax-advantaged retirement savings plan, "not participating means you are passing up free money and perhaps losing out on a valuable tax break," added Reynolds.

Pay yourself first.
That means each month, before you're tempted to spend money, commit to putting a good bit of it into a savings account. You can write out a check to be deposited into your savings account, but it's much easier to arrange with your bank to automatically transfer a certain amount from your paycheck or your checking account into savings. And as you pay your bills, your mortgage and other obligations, take satisfaction in knowing that some of your hard-earned dollars are already saved...for you!

Start small.
"By consistently saving small amounts, even $25 out of every paycheck, your savings account will grow and you will be motivated to try to save more," said Reynolds. "Even that spare change you put once a month into a bank savings account can add up faster than you think."

Save, don't spend, a financial "windfall."
If you receive a large sum — perhaps from an inheritance, an insurance payment, a tax refund or a bonus at work — deposit that money into a savings or investment account before you're tempted to spend it.

At Monroe Bank & Trust, we think that's sound advice!