School Is Almost Back in Session, So It’s Time to Get Involved With Cent$ible Kid$

By Jorge Santiago

It’s never too early to teach your kids the importance of saving their money. But, in fact, many children get to high school lacking the financial knowledge necessary to navigate the next chapters in their lives.

Understanding this, The Milford Bank launched its Cent$ible Kid$ program in 2008. We envisioned that the program would help young kids realize the importance of saving their money. To help engrain that message, we visit students in Milford and Stratford elementary schools and show themhow to open a savings account—it’s like a piggy bank, but secure and more measurable.

“We think it’s important to teach kids to regularly save their money for a worthwhile purpose, like something special they want, rather than just asking [their parents] for it,” explains Bob Russo, a vice president and manager who works out of our Broad Street office. “It’s about choices: They have to decide how to spend their money. We believe it promotes good behavior.”

Whether the students deposit 10 cents or $20 a week doesn’t matter to us. Rather, we’re more interested in encouraging the thrifty behavior. And that’s why we give each child a $1 bonus after making five deposits. After making eight deposits, we give them a $1 gold coin, too.

Right now, there are over 500 kids in the program, according to Russo.

In addition to encouraging the youth to open savings accounts, we also educate them on a variety of bank-related topics including the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the U.S. Mint, interest rates and more.
Since school is almost back in session, now is the perfect time to teach your kids about the importance of saving their money. We believe that Cent$ible Kid$ is a program that will help do that.

What’s the Difference between a Debit Card, a Credit Card and an ATM Card?


By Pam Reiss

How big is your wallet? It might be quite large due to the amount of plastic it holds.

Believe it or not, 78 percent of Americans carry $50 of cash or less on them at any given time. That’s because these days, virtually anything can be purchased with credit cards or debit cards. Should a consumer find him or herself in a pinch where a business doesn’t accept charge cards, that person could always find the nearest ATM and take out some cash.

But what is the difference between all of those kinds of cards anyway? Let’s take a look:

An ATM card is usually issued by your financial institution. The card allows you to take money from your savings account or checking account from an ATM, depending on which account it’s linked with. Generally speaking, you can use your ATM card to withdraw money from any ATM machine. But be careful: Some of those withdrawals will cost you. If an ATM machine is not part of your bank’s network, there’s a good chance you’re going to have to pay a fee to access your money. Because The Milford Bank is a member of the Allpoint ATM Network, our customers are able to withdraw money from one of 55,000 machines across the world with no fees. You can find more information about that here.

• A debit card—also known as a check card—is linked with your checking account and generally has a Visa or MasterCard logo on it. As such, you can use these kinds of cards anywhere credit cards are accepted. It’s important you realize that debit cards are not credit cards, as the money that they draw from is the money that is on deposit in your bank account. Because you’re using your own money to make purchases you don’t have to pay interest on the things you buy with your debit card. But it’s important that you remember to keep track of how much money you have in your account because it is possible to spend more money than you have in your accounts, causing you to overdraw your account. .

• A credit card allows you to purchase things with a lender—like American Express, Visa or MasterCard—fronting you the money. The lender charges the merchant a per-dollar percentage on each transaction. They will also charge you interest if you carry a balance on your account. . Depending on your credit history, your credit limit may vary. The better your history, generally speaking, the higher your limit.

Different kinds of cards are the preferred method of payment for different kinds of people. There are some people who will only buy things with cash. When you pay with cash, you know exactly how much of it you have in your wallet so you don’t risk spending more than you have.

Other people turn to debit cards because they don’t like having cash on their person in case they lose their wallet, for example. On top of that, you don’t have to worry about carrying a high balance—though you might have to worry about overdrawing your account if you’re not careful.

Because of the freedom and rewards that come with some credit cards, many people feel comfortable buying with them. It is important to try and pay your credit card balance in full each month, however, if you wish to avoid hefty interest rates.

What is your favorite banking card to use and why? Keep the conversation going in the comments section below!

What is the difference between the mortgage rate and APR?

By Paul Mulligan

You are eyeing a 15-year fixed mortgage rate of 3.125 percent. But next to the mortgage rate there is another number that says 3.17 percent annual percentage rate (APR).

So what’s the difference between the two numbers, and how does it affect you?

Your mortgage rate is the baseline interest that you can expect to pay every month if you qualify for the loan. Mortgage rates are offered in increments of eighths (for instance, a sequence would go 3 percent, 3.125 percent, 3.25 percent, 3.375 percent, etc.).

This number can vary depending on several different factors including the health of the housing market and your risk as a borrower. Your risk can include the amount of the loan you are requesting, your credit score, the purpose of the loan and the property type. Other factors could include whether the loan is full, limited or stated, as well as the loan-to-value ratio.

Your APR is what you will actually pay once you factor in all of your third-party and closing fees like loan origination fees, processing fees, underwriting and premiums. It could also contain mortgage “points,” which are percentages of the loan that the bank can request. Different rates will come with different points that you as a borrower could have to pay.

All of these fees are typically bundled into a single APR. Banks are required to disclose the APR on their loans so that consumers can compare apples to apples.
So what can you do to secure the best mortgage possible?

Finding the best mortgage rate could mean saving thousands of dollars in the long run. A good place to start is to look at your bank’s standard mortgage rates to get an idea of what to expect prior to scheduling a meeting. Also, spend some time comparing mortgage lender rates, which will let you find the best deals in the region where you are looking.

Still have questions about mortgage rates and terms? Ask us. We are here to help.

Protecting your finances following divorce

By Celeste Lohrenz

Separating from a spouse is not an easy time. Still, important decisions need to be made related to your finances.

Following a separation, you should figure out how to live on your own income. You also should learn about what is going to become of your retirement assets, what Social Security benefits you might be entitled to and whether you are properly insured.

During such time, it’s important that you make informed decisions relating to your finances. Consider the following tips:

  • First thing is first: You’re going to need to make sure your financial accounts are registered in your name. That may mean closing previously shared accounts and opening new accounts in your name alone. You may want to consider consulting a tax professional to understand your tax responsibilities to avoid any unanticipated surprises.
  • You always need to look at your credit score. The financial burden of divorce may have impacted your credit. Be sure to review your credit history and take measures to repair your credit, if necessary.Chances are you’ll have to figure out how to live on one income. Figure out which expenses you can’t avoid paying every month—like food, utilities, transportation and housing—and then determine how much discretionary spending you can afford on top of that.
  • Try to live within your means, as you don’t want to find yourself accumulating more debt.
  • It’s probably time to update your estate planning as well. Have your beneficiaries changed following a divorce? Have you designated legal guardians for your children? It is likely time to update your will, as well.
  • You should also review your retirement planning. Following a divorce, IRAs are often split via a one-time distribution without early withdrawal penalties. You need to make sure that you’re financially secure over the long haul, so you might want to consider making use of investment services to begin planning for your future.
  • You still may be entitled to Social Security benefits. Under the government assistance program, you may be entitled to half of your former spouse’s benefits, assuming those benefits are greater than what you’d be able to get through your own benefits.

Separating from a spouse is never an easy thing for a variety of reasons. But by being aware of various monetary considerations that result from such a separation, you can thus begin making better-informed financial decisions.