Five Movies That Are (Arguably) Better Than the Book

MoviesMovies and books have a lot in common. They both tell stories, make us think, and introduce us to new and interesting worlds. Most people agree that books are usually better than their film adaptations. Although, every once in a while there is a movie that becomes even more popular than the book. These are some of those movies.

“Les Miserables”

While Victor Hugo’s 1,500-page epic, “Les Miserables” is considered a classic, many people in contemporary times find it a laborious read and prefer to watch the 2012 musical adaptation of the same name, based on the long-running Broadway show. Great music and eye-popping visuals give the viewer a unique experience.

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

This film that tells the tale of a man who ages backwards received critical acclaim for its quirky story and special effects. The short story it is based on, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, contained much less detail than what is seen in the movie. Director David Fincher took artistic license when he added new characters, extra scenes, and a different tone to this peculiar tale.

“The Lord of the Rings”

Although J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy masterpiece is considered one of the best books ever written, director Peter Jackson took on the challenge of crafting films of equal quality. All three of the “Lord of the Rings” movies are cherished among fans of the novel and movie-goers alike. The final film in the trilogy, “The Return of the King,” even garnered an Oscar for Best Picture.

“Jurassic Park”

Michael Crichton’s novel brought readers to an entirely new landscape where dinosaurs existed in the modern day. However, Steven Spielberg upped the ante and gave us jaw-dropping special effects and amazing dino technology. Even now, 24 years later, the velociraptor scene still scares the pants off of many people. Spielberg also made the film much easier to understand than the book.

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”

Many fans of the Harry Potterseries would strongly disagree with this one, but there’s no denying that the film version of J.K. Rowling’s 870-page book weeds out all the slow parts of the novel. While the novel includes much about the children in the school, the movie focuses on a more important topic: the impending doom of the wizarding world. However, a case can be made that all of the other Harry Potterbooks are just as good as their movies, if not better.

Books give us a world where we can conjure up our own images. Movies can sometimes serve as a form of checklist, so we can see how much we imagined right. But then again, the makers of films are just using their own imagination as well. Even though it’s extremely rare, sometimes a movie takes us to a place far beyond where the book ever did.

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How to Earn More Credit Card Points and More Rewards

Emily Buxengard, Credit Card Assistant

Emily Buxengard, Credit Card Assistant

You could be earning 2x, 3x, 4x or more points on purchases when you use your Visa ScoreCard Credit Card. Did you know that you can earn bonus points by making purchases with your card at participating retailers? “If you have a Merchants Bank Visa ScoreCard Credit Card you are automatically enrolled in our ScoreMore program,” says Emily Buxengard, Credit Card Assistant. “It’s so easy to earn bonus points and there are thousands of retailers participating in ScoreMore.”

Here’s how to find out which retailers are participating and how to activate bonus points:

  1.  Go to www.scorecardrewards.com and sign in to your ScoreCard Rewards account. Or, when viewing your Credit Card account online through www.mycardstatement.com, click on the Rewards Points link at the bottom of your home screen.
  2. Click on the ScoreMore icon on the bottom left of your screen.
  3. Find a retailer by:
    • Using the Search function on the right side of the screen.
    • Clicking View all Retailers and then using the alphabetical retailer index above to browse.
  4. To activate bonus points:
    • For online purchases: Click on See Details under the retailer’s bonus points offer and then on Click here to activate. You will be taken to the retailer’s website where you can browse for products. When you complete your purchase using your Visa ScoreCard Credit Card, bonus points will automatically be added to your account.
    • For in-store purchases: Click on the blue Activate button on the right side of the screen. The button will turn green and show bonus points are active and display an expiration date for the offer. When you complete your purchase in-store using your Visa Scorecard Credit Card bonus points will automatically be added to your account.

To redeem your points for everything from movie tickets to a Caribbean cruise, shop our selection of items at http://www.scorecardrewards.com. For help activating ScoreMore bonus points, contact our Credit Card Department directly at (507) 457-1160. After bank hours, weekends, or holidays, please call 1-800-854-0790. Click here for more information on all of Merchants Bank’s Visa Credit Cards and how to apply today. All credit cards are subject to credit approval.

* Qualifying ScoreMore Transaction shall mean: 1) a purchase transaction made with Your Account; 2) a transaction that takes place at eligible, participating Retailer locations (“In-store Purchases”) or through eligible links to participating Retailer websites accessed via the ScoreMore link on http://www.scorecardrewards.com (“Online Purchases”); 3) a transaction that meets Retailer qualifications as disclosed in the Retailer Offer (“Retailer Offer(s)”) on the ScoreMore web pages. PIN purchases do not qualify for ScoreMore Point earnings. Only signature transactions qualify for ScoreMore Point earnings when made with Your participating Account.

*ScoreMore Points for qualifying In-store Purchases are typically awarded within seven (7) days of transaction posting; Points for Online Purchases are typically awarded within thirty (30) days of transaction posting. Awarding of Points for some Retailer Offers may require additional processing time. Points for Travel Retailer Offers are awarded when travel is completed.

John Diersen Joins Board of Directors

DiersenJohnWell-known local Dairy Farmer John Diersen has been appointed to the Merchants Bank in Caledonia and Spring Grove Advisory Board of Directors, according to Matt Schuldt, President for Merchants Bank in Caledonia and Spring Grove.

“John is a valuable addition to the Board. He brings us a lot of knowledge about farming and the ag community, especially the dairy industry,” Schuldt said. “Plus, he’s about improving the community. He and his family give a lot back and are a big part of our area.”

Diersen is looking forward to giving his time and knowledge to the Board.

“I want to be able to contribute to the Board, not just be someone sitting in a chair,” Diersen said. “I’ll be able to provide input as far as farming, helping to pinpoint what to look for when it comes to the business of agriculture.”

Diersen, 62, farms with his wife, Karyl, and two sons, Joshua and Jayson, at Minnigan Hills Farm outside of Caledonia. The farm has been in the family since John’s grandfather. Currently, they farm 500 acres and milk between 135 and 150 Holsteins. Diersen is involved in the embryo business with three other local dairymen in Four Cal Genetics. The Diersens have also been involved in the American Dairy Association for many years and take a lead role in the Houston County Fair. John is a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church and has served on the board of directors at the church.

Six Ways Your Business Can Save More Money

A cost-saving plan to uphold your business budget.

A cost-saving plan to uphold your business budget.

If you own a small business and are on a budget, you’re not alone. Running a company is no inexpensive task. That’s why it’s important to put saving money on the top of your priority list. Cutting costs in every way possible is essential to ensuring that you’re gaining profits.

The good news: saving may be easier than you think. There are tons of ways you can tighten your belt on the job. Try these penny-pinching tips:

Utilize the web - You already know to use social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, but also take a look at discussion groups and message boards, too. These groups are a convenient way to get your business’ name out there quickly and easily—all you have to do is sign your name with your web URL. And best of all, it’s free!

“I didn’t start [participating in online discussion groups] to generate business, but as a way to find information for myself on various subjects,” said Shel Horowitz, owner of Accurate Writing & More, Northampton, MA, and author of several marketing books, including Grassroots Marketing. “But it turned out to be the single best marketing tool I use. It costs only my time. [One] list alone has gotten me around 60 clients in the past five years.”

Form relationships with vendors – Being a loyal customer can take you far. When you frequently use a vendor, they’re more likely to let you in on certain deals as they occur or even offer you a reduced price on a regularly bought item.

“In order to approach this, make sure you have the same employee work with the vendor each time you contact them, always contact them in advance, and benefit them whenever you can by referring business to them,” advises Emily Swartz, marketing communications specialist at Broadview Networks. “Even if they don’t cut you deals, having a vendor that’s dependable and consistent is more money-saving than you might think.”

Go paperless – Chances are, the amount spent on paper, ink and postage can add up. If you get rid of it all, over time, you’ll see your savings grow steadily.

“Businesses should shift towards paperless payments for many reasons,” said Mitch Rose, vice president of BillTrust. “Businesses should not be reliant on the USPS for receiving payments. There is already too much going on with the USPS from rising rates, closing of postal locations, lost mail, delays due to disasters or vandalism, etc. Just as important, the cost to a business to apply a paper check payment is significant. They struggle with keying it in, getting the payment deposited in a timely manner and applying the payment to a specific invoice.”

Pay attention to how much you spend on the little things – There are certain small items that may be bought when you’re running a company that are easily overlooked — things like office supplies, cleaning tools, coffee, etc. And although small and not necessarily the most pricy, these items can add up without you ever really noticing. Spending a little extra time searching for good deals on these items can keep these costs from accumulating. Compare prices and also check for free shipping, which many companies offer on bulk items. You may also opt for cleaning the office yourself or save on package-related costs by delivering something to a close-by client. Also, get creative: buy recycled printer cartridges, buy used equipment on craigslist.com, etc.

Don’t overspend on taxes - Sometimes if businesses are new to a location, they’re subject to a higher tax rate. In order to avoid spending too much on taxes, take action.

“Go to city hall to determine what your neighbors are paying, and use this to negotiate a better rate,” suggests Pete Collins of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in NYC. “Expanding businesses can often negotiate with community authorities, who want them to stay in town rather than move and take jobs elsewhere.”

Go green - A double whammy: save money and help the planet. Things like recycling, for one, can help you scrimp and save at the office. “More and more businesses are recognizing the benefits of reducing their waste,” said Carrie Hamblen, executive director of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce. “Not only can it save businesses money by reducing their overhead (but) recycling (is) good for business and benefits us all.”

Other ways to “go green” include using reusable items like mugs instead of cups for coffee, buying products locally and investing in energy-saving utilities, such as lighting.

Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

New Tellers and Lending Assistant Here to Help You

 

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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.


Jen Bartok
has joined Merchants Bank as a Lead Teller in Lakeville. Jen previously worked at TCF Bank as a Branch Supervisor/Banking Sales Rep and at US Bank as a Personal Banker. Jen is a graduate of St. Catherine University where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Management.

Mollie Brink has joined Merchants Bank as a Commercial Lending Assistant for the Winona-Downtown location. Mollie previously worked at Winona National Bank as a Lead Teller. She has a Human Resources and Management degree from Winona State University. Mollie is married to Ryan and they have an adorable four month old daughter Addyson and dog Casper. In her spare time, Mollie likes to go camping, reading and spending time with friends and family.

Judy Kromrey has joined Merchants Bank as a Teller in Winona. Judy previously worked at Winona National Bank as a Senior Teller. She and her husband, Stef have been married for 31 years and have two children, Melissa and Nate. They also have one grandchild, Marcus who manages to keep them very busy. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and going on walks.

Alicia Redman has joined Merchants Bank as a part-time Teller in Red Wing. Alicia has worked in the retail industry for the past 15 years and most recently at JCPenny as a Jewelry Sales Associate. She was also an assistant coach for the Red Wing High School track team for five years. Alicia received her Fine Arts degree from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Alicia and her husband reside in Red Wing and have three children.

Improving Financial Health

8-14 FinanceHealthAdvice is easy to find on the Internet; sometimes it’s so easy to find that it’s overwhelming and discouraging. Financial advice is especially abundant, making it hard to sift through when you want to find the best steps to take to improve your financial health. Fortunately, all you have to do is start with the following steps and you will be on the path toward better financial health today.

Personal finance refers to the way that you manage your money now, such as by budgeting, and how you plan for the future, such as through investing. How well you handle your personal finances is your financial health. To improve your financial health, you must take control of your current spending and make sure you have a realistic and profitable plan for the future.

Calculate Net Worth

Some people become overwhelmed by their finances and ignore them. Even if you don’t want to know exactly how much money you do or do not have, it’s important for your financial health that you always stay on top of some basic calculations.

First, take out your calculator and add up all of your assets (the things you own) and subtract your liabilities (the money you owe) from that total. This resulting figure is known as your net worth, a number that describes where you are financially at the current moment.

“Calculating your net worth one time can be helpful, but the real value comes from making this calculation on a regular basis (at least yearly),” according to Jean Folger from Forbes. “Tracking your net worth over time allows you to evaluate your progress, highlight your successes and identify areas requiring improvement.”

Create a Simple Budget

It’s impossible to analyze your current spending and accurately predict your future finances without a budget. Fortunately, budgeting doesn’t have to be complex or time consuming. With a free online tool, such as Mint.com, it’s easy to automatically track expenses and determine how much you spend in various categories per month or week. You can use this information to tighten up on areas where you’re overspending and to determine how much you need to cut back to meet financial goals, such as saving up for a vacation.

Watch out for Lifestyle Inflation

“Most people will spend more money if they have more money to spend,” according to Folger. “As people advance in their careers and earn higher salaries, there tends to be a corresponding increase in spending … a phenomenon known as lifestyle inflation.”

If you want to have a healthy financial future, it’s important to keep lifestyle inflation in check. If you let lifestyle inflation get out of control, it will be much more difficult to save for your financial goals and plan for retirement.

In order to manage lifestyle inflation, be sure to recognize which life upgrades are required and reasonable and which are just a matter of the proverbial keeping up with the Joneses. For example, if you are promoted, you may need to buy nicer clothes, but you certainly do not need a sports car to perform well in your new position.

“Especially if you suddenly got a big jump in your income, keep your former standard of living and funnel the rest into paying off debts or adding to your retirement nest egg,” states Martha C. White from Time. “Since you’re not lowering your existing budget or cutting expenses, you’ll be able to accomplish all this without feeling like you’ve had to cut back or make sacrifices.”

Set Aside an Emergency Fund

Even if you have a well thought out budget, sometimes expenses arise suddenly that can blow your budget out of the water. If you have a $500 monthly automotive budget and you suddenly need an extra $700 for a repair, you will need an emergency fund to tap into.

One-time emergency expenses are one reason for an emergency fund, but they are not all you need to plan for. Most experts recommend saving enough to cover a few months’ expenses, so that your family can stay afloat if you lose your job or need to take unpaid leave.

Creating a category in your budget for your emergency fund ensures that you will regularly add to it and not use all of your discretionary money before you remember your emergency fund.

“Keep in mind that building an emergency fund is an ongoing mission: Odds are, as soon as it is funded you will need it for something,” states Folger. “Instead of being dejected about this, be glad that you were financially prepared, and start the process of building the fund again.”

Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers. Edited from original content supplied by IMN.

Nate Birkholz Will Lead the Merchants Bank Trust Department

BirkholzNate

Nate Birkholz has joined Merchants Bank as Trust Department Manager/SVP.

Nate Birkholz has joined Merchants Bank as Senior Vice President and Trust Department Manager, according to Greg Evans, President and Chief Banking Officer.

“Nate is a valuable addition to our current team of Trust experts. He is an attorney with nine years of estate planning, tax and business experience. He brings significant knowledge of wealth management to this role, as well as a passion for building relationships,” said Evans.

Birkholz was the Trust Department Manager at Eastwood Bank in Rochester for the past two years and was also previously a Trust Officer for Wells Fargo. Before his time with Wells Fargo, Birkholz practiced law for seven years for two firms, including Wendland Utz of Rochester. He spent much of his childhood growing up in Winona and is looking forward to relocating to the area with his wife, son and daughter.

“I have fond memories of Winona and am excited to build relationships with community members and businesses in all the markets Merchants services,” Birkholz said. “I look forward to sharing the Merchants Bank story and the services the Trust Department offers.”

Birkholz is a graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Law. He received his undergraduate degrees from Minnesota State University in Mankato and Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato.