New Staff Here to Help You

NewtoTeamPhotosSept

At Merchants Bank, we are happy to welcome new employees and celebrate new positions filled by current staff. These frontline employees are all looking forward to serving you. Take a moment to congratulate them.

Theresa Anderson has joined Merchants Bank as a Peak Time Teller for our Twin Cities locations. Theresa also works as a Paraprofessional at Rosemount High School. Theresa recently got married and is a proud mom of three wonderful children and four dogs. She enjoys bowling, cribbage and fishing.

Serguei Barylo has joined Merchants Bank as a part-time Teller in Lakeville. Serguei also works as a Personal Care Attendant at Integra Health Care. Serguei is originally from Sochi, Russia and is currently attending St. Cloud University. In his free time, he enjoys hanging out with his friends and staying healthy by going to the gym.

Kristen Borseth has joined Merchants Bank as a Teller in La Crescent. Kristen also works at Kwik Trip and Justice and previously worked at Centurylink. She enjoys horseback riding and has owned horses for eight years. She and her boyfriend love camping on the river, taking boat rides, fishing and snowmobiling. Kristen is a huge Badger fan and enjoys attending as many games as possible.

Nate Birkholz has joined Merchants Bank as a Trust Department Manager/SVP. Nate is an attorney with 14 years of Wealth Management, Estate Planning and Tax experience. He has worked at accounting firms, law firms, Wells Fargo Private Bank, and most recently as the Trust Department Manager at Eastwood Bank. His areas of expertise include personal wealth management, endowment fund management and retirement planning.   He grew up in the Winona area and has two children, a son and a daughter. When not at work, he can be found cheering on his kids at soccer fields or basketball courts.

Emalee Bluhm has joined Merchants Bank as a Teller in Rosemount. Emalee previously worked as a Customer Service Representative at Massage Envy and as an Assistant Manager at Snap Fitness. Emalee has been a dancer for 16 years and graduated high school from the Perpich Center for the Arts. She is now attending Normandale College where she is completing her general education credits.

Markell Jorgensen has joined Merchants Bank as a Mortgage Loan Coordinator in Rosemount. Markell previously worked Wells Fargo and US Bank. She enjoys spending time on the boat fishing and spending time reading. She has two pitbulls.

Rodney Nelsestuen has joined Merchants Bank as a Chief Information Officer/SVP. Rodney previously worked at Eastwood Bank as the Vice President of Information Technology. He has been in the financial services industry for his entire career. Rodney is married to Diane and both are enjoying their time as empty nesters.

Haley Schultz has joined Merchants Bank as a part-time Teller in Winona. Haley is currently attending Winona State University majoring in Marketing and Statistics. She previously worked as a Barista at Winona Health and a Courtesy Clerk at Winona Hy-Vee. She enjoys running and doing cross-fit.

Andrea Senset has joined Merchants Bank as a part-time Teller in Rochester. Andrea previously worked as a Cashier at TJ Maxx and as a front desk assistant at RAC. Andrea is currently studying massage therapy at the Minnesota School of Business. She enjoys spending time outdoors, playing Frisbee golf and fishing. Her favorite activity is hiking in Whitewater State Park.

Shawna Whalan has joined Merchants Bank as a part-time Teller in Winona. Shawna is also currently working at as Pub Server at Cedar Valley Golf. She is studying accounting at Winona State University. She enjoys being active outside and spending time with her family and friends.

Merchants Bank Employees Like Sweets and Good Causes, Raise $7,593.38, Including $3,015 in Pie Auction for Rivertown Shuffle/Relay for Life

Merchants Bank employees Marcus Krings and Ryan Meyer, two members of the Merchants Relay for Life committee, present the Relay for Life check.

Merchants Bank employees Marcus Krings and Ryan Meyer, two members of the Merchants Relay for Life committee, present the Relay for Life check.

The employees at Merchants Bank have a collective sweet tooth, and they are willing to support it, especially when it comes to a great cause like the Rivertown Shuffle/Relay for Life. During 2014 Relay for Life events at Merchants Bank, Merchants’ employees raised $7,593.38, including $3,015 in a Pie Auction where Merchants employees baked and donated 26 pies that other employees bid on.

“All of our employees have been touched by cancer in some way –  themselves, a relative, a friend – to know we are able to do something to help is a great feeling,” said Kerri Bronk, who coordinates the Merchants Bank participation.

Other activities included a basket raffle, where employees put together gift baskets of special interest. Contributions for the raffle were $1,250. Other events included a bake sale, a book sale, a lunch and luminary sale.

Bronk said the pie auction has been ongoing since 2010, and the Bank has supported the Rivertown Shuffle/Relay for Life since before she started at Merchants 17 years ago. Bronk said she is just part of a large committee at Merchants that plans and executes the employee events.

“There have been many faces on the committee over the years, but the one constant is Merchants’ commitment to the community,” Bronk said. “The Rivertown Shuffle/Relay for Life has had a huge impact on the Winona Community, and our employees step up for this cause and many others throughout the year.”

Ham and Cheese Quiche

Recipe-QuicheBlogIngredients:

  • 1 cup diced ham
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack
  • 1/2 cup chopped broccoli
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup Bisquick
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. paprika

Directions:

Sprinkle ham, cheese, broccoli, onion and green pepper over the bottom of a greased 10-inch quiche pan or glass pie dish. Set aside.

Place Bisquick in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour Bisquick mixture over ingredients in quiche pan. Sprinkle with paprika.

Bake in a preheated 375° oven for 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted in center of quiche comes out clean.

 

Merchants Family Cookbooks are available at all Merchants Bank locations for $15. Proceeds benefit local food shelf programs.

Is Online Bill Pay Right For You?

Pros and cons of Online Banking

Pros and cons of Online Banking

This day and age is evolving into a largely digital era, and included in that evolution is finances. Online bill pay is an electronic payment service that allows you to set up secure accounts on the Internet to make one-time or recurring bill payments. Many love this innovative technology for its simplicity and economy, and a few shun it for big businesses’ hidden fees, the possibility of making mistakes and the risk of scams, insecurity and viruses. Read on to see for yourself if online bill pay is right for you.

The first thing a potential online bill payer needs to do is to figure out his or her needs. Do all of your billers accept electronic payments? If not, you will need a bill pay site that will accommodate that by issuing them paper checks. If that is the case, you also need to know to schedule that bill to be paid a little earlier to account for the time your bill pay company needs to send that live check out via the mail (usually about five days).

Furthermore, are your bill amounts the same every month? If not, a scheduled — not automatic — payment through your financial institution might be your best bet; that way, you have access handily to your checking and/or savings account information for variable amounts so as to avoid overdrafts.

There are many free online bill pay websites available to consumers; there are also many financial institutions that offer it via their websites, as well. Be sure to read all disclaimers and fine print to alleviate the fear of hidden fees. It may be a good idea to choose your next financial institution based in part on if they do offer free online bill pay, if that is what strikes you.

Similarly, you can put the control into the hands of the lenders and have the billers debit your account by signing up on the creditor’s own site. Whichever way you choose, automatic, scheduled payments help avoid late fees; they also have the potential to be a very well-organized way to manage your bills.

Dan Kadlec, a personal finance journalist for TIME Magazine, recommends doing all of your banking online for its personal and environmental efficiency.

“Stamps, envelopes and physical checks are an obsolete expense. You’ll save time, too,” Kadlec said. “But best of all, your bank will automatically keep track of what you spend and where you spend it for easy review, which makes budgeting a lot simpler.”

Reducing paper waste by banking and paying bills online does more than save the trees; it helps save the planet by reducing the fuel used by the vehicles that transport the paper statements, bills and checks. Javelin Strategy & Research found that if every U.S. home viewed and paid its bills online, the switch would cut solid waste by 1.6 billion tons a year and curb greenhouse-gas emissions by 2.1 million tons a year.

Some things to look out for

The main concern for anyone doing absolutely anything online these days is security.  But it doesn’t have to be distressing. Make sure your computer has the latest virus protection, never access your account from a public wi-fi system or on any sort of shared device and change your passwords regularly. Also, be on the lookout for messages that claim to be from your financial institution or bill pay company; they could be phishing scams from con artists trying to gain access to your account information. Don’t give out any personal or account information without confirming the source first. As mentioned before, monitor your accounts and statements and watch out for any transactions that you didn’t authorize.

Additionally, one must be careful of typos while paying bills online. You wouldn’t want to accidentally pay $36,000 for a $360 bill, right? Misplaced decimals are small, but frightening. Also alarming is the possibility of forgetting to hit the “Submit Payment” button at all. About 0.18 percent of online bill payments are challenged for mistakes every year (not including errors consumers catch and fix on their own), which translates to millions of snafus when taking into account the billions of payments submitted online each year.

Most of the time, financial institutions or companies will help sort out any problems, but Nessa Feddis, a senior vice president at the American Bankers Association, confirmed that it is much more efficient to just do it correctly the first time.

“It is very easy in this electronic world to get caught up and move quickly, hit the send button before we mean to. We all need to take time, pause — and make sure the transaction is accurate,” Feddis said. Feddis recommends signing up for the bill pay site’s e-mail alert system, and that of your financer, as well, to be notified when a payment or change in your account has been made. This will help catch any mistakes or fraudulent behavior.

Weighing the pros and cons

In short, the positive qualities of online bill pay are abundant, but the practice is not without its difficulties. There are a lot of aspects to consider, such as the convenience factor based on your specific circumstances. It can be a very quick and efficient way to disseminate money because it can be done all in one setting, and it also saves the environment in more ways than one.

On the other hand, Internet security is always a concern for any interaction done online, and mistakes are an inevitable part of life, so vigilance and awareness are a huge necessity in managing finances online. The responsibility of weighing these options and making an informed decision is that of each consumer individually.

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Join us in September!

eNews - EventsBlog
Our staff invites you to join them at these great events throughout the Fall. Be sure to follow us on our Facebook page for information on these events or pictures from other events you may have missed.
September 5: Caledonia Windshield Washing Fundraiser. Join Merchants Bank for a Window Washing Fundraiser to support Caledonia academics, fine arts and athletics! Merchants will donate $5 for every car window washed from 2-5 p.m. to the Caledonia School District. Visit the Merchants drive-thru for your FREE window washing and help support a great cause!
September 6: Mabel Steam Engine Days Parade, immediately following noon parade of engines and tractors on Main Street.
September 12: Spring Grove Windshield Washing Fundraiser. Join Merchants Bank for a Window Washing Fundraiser to support the Spring Grove Athletic Boosters! Merchants will donate $5 for every car window washed from 2-5 p.m. to the Boosters. Visit the Merchants drive-thru for your FREE window washing and help support a great cause!
September 17: Rushford and Lanesboro Community Appreciation, 5-7 p.m., Sylvan Park in Lanesboro. Merchants Bank staff from our Lanesboro and Rushford locations will be serving Fillmore County Cattlemen hamburgers and refreshments.
September 18-19: Applefest Open House, Merchants Bank La Crescent. Merchants Bank staff will be serving locally-grown apples and apple cider in the bank lobby during regular lobby hours. Stop by and say hi!
September 20-21: Triquest, Holmen, WI.
September 21: Applefest Parade, 1 p.m, La Crescent. Merchant Bank staff will be collecting food and cash donations during the parade. Please consider supporting the La Crescent Food Share Program with a donation.
September 27: New Leash on Life 5K Dog Run/3K Fun Walk, 8:30 a.m., Silver Lake Pool in Rochester.
September 30: Retirement Planning: A Whole New Adventure, 5-7:30 p.m., Merchants Bank-Downtown Winona. Stop in for vendor booths and breakout sessions on a variety of topics. Appetizers and refreshments will be served.

 

Learn the Secret to Understanding Quickbooks and Your Business Finances

ONABusinessSeminarbloggraphicPlease join us for one or more of the following FREE business sessions featuring speakers from JRM and Associates. All sessions include breakfast and will be held at Stoney Creek Inn (3060 S Kinney Coulee Road, Onalaska) from 7:30 – 9:30 a.m.

  • Quickbooks Beyond the Basics Part 1 on Thursday, October 2 – Learn how to read and reconcile the balance sheet.
  • Quickbooks Beyond the Basics Part 2 on Thursday, November 6 – Learn how to understand and utilize the income statement.
  • Year-End Tax Update on Thursday, December 4 – Prepare for your year-end taxes.

RSVPs are appreciated for planning purposes:

  • Becky Herrmann (blherrmann@merchantsbank.com or 608-779-8268)
  • Tricia Barnes (tricia@jrmcpa.biz or 608-781-8712)

Ranch Oyster Crackers

Recipe-RanchOysterCrackersIngredients:

  • 1 package Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing dry mix
  • 12-16 oz package plain oyster crackers
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. dill weed
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3/4 c. oil

Directions:

Combine dressing mix and oil. Add dill weed, garlic powder and lemon pepper. Pour mixture over crackers. Stir to coat. Place on baking sheet in warm oven, approximately 200-255°, for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!

 

Merchants Family Cookbooks are available at all Merchants Bank locations for $15. Proceeds benefit local food shelf programs.