Meet John Aarness, Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank

John Aarness Merchants Bank Mortgage LenderWhen did you start your lending career?

John: I started my lending career in southern California in March of 1972. The bulk of my time was spent originating FHA and VA loans. Eventually I moved to Minnesota with my wife and started at Merchants in 2001.

What is your top tip for someone looking to build a home?

John: Be patient, talk to an experienced builder and know what you want. Knowing what you want is the hardest part. I would also suggest building a traditional house…remember, you have to sell it eventually.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

John: Earn it before you spend it. I always earned money to pay for something I wanted, whether it was shoveling sidewalks when I was younger or getting a part-time job when I was old enough.

If you won the Powerball what’s the first thing you would buy?

John: I have three boys and I would pay off their mortgages.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

John: I have a 1984 ugly green Vespa scooter. It’s a real beaut, despite the color. A fun machine.

Picture your dream house. What’s your favorite room and why?

John: I think it would be a luxury garage…heated, with a refrigerator, a large work bench and fully equipped with all the tools I need. Of course, it’d have a big TV too.

Contact John today to get start the application process for your home building or buying project. Find current mortgage rates and apply on our website.

Kim O’Reilly Joins Merchants Bank as Vice President and Commercial Lender

KimOReillyWelcome

Kim O’Reilly has joined the Merchants Bank team as a Vice President and Commercial Lender, according to Brian Hokanson, Senior Vice President and Senior Lender for the Cannon Falls region.

A well-known banker through the region, O’Reilly will be working with customers throughout the area and will have offices in both Cannon Falls and Red Wing.

“What makes Kim an exceptional banker is her desire to understand the goals of her customers and then put together a solution that helps the customer realize those goals,” Hokanson said. “She does that for the smallest companies to the biggest with an equal amount of energy and knowledge.”

O’Reilly has been in banking for 19 years, including the past 11 at Associated Bank in Red Wing. She said she’s looking forward to being a part of the Merchants Bank team.

“Merchants has an excellent reputation because it’s committed to its customers.” O’Reilly said. “That’s important to me.  I am committed to my family, our farm, our church and our community, and my customers know that I deliver that same level of commitment to everything I do for them.”

O’Reilly lives in the Red Wing area, where she, her husband, Casey, and their three sons operate an organic dairy farm with 200 head of livestock. She is active in the community as a Red Wing Chamber Ambassador, a member of the United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha and Pierce Counties Board of Directors, and she also teaches Sunday School at the Eidsvold Lutheran Church. She has an undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and a Masters’ in Business Administration from the University of St. Thomas.

Contact Kim today: kjoreilly@merchantsbank.com or 507-263-7561.

Is ACH Fraud Affecting Your Business?

ACH Fraud Detection Merchants Bank

Use a service like Merchants Bank’s ACH Blocks and Filters to detect fraud on a daily basis.

What is an ACH Block or Filter?
ACH Blocks and Filters help you detect fraudulent electronic transactions that are presented on your account. By setting up ACH Blocks and Filters, only ACH transactions that you have told us are allowed post to your company’s checking account. All other transactions must receive authorization from you or will be sent back to the originator.

How does it work?
Simply let Merchants Bank know which, if any ACH transactions should be allowed to post to your company’s checking account.

  • ACH Block – You can completely block all ACH debits and/or credits from posting to your account.
  • ACH Filters – You can set parameters that allow certain ACH debits/and or credits to post to your account, while at the same time excluding other debits and/or credits from posting.

Why should my business use it?
With ACH Blocks and Filters, you can virtually eliminate the possibility of fraudulent ACH transactions being posted to your business account. Plus, in addition to the money you’ll save by preventing fraud, there is no need to purchase additional equipment to use ACH Blocks and Filters.

How can I start using ACH Blocks and Filters?
Contact one of our Cash Management specialists today.

Banana Bread

BlogRecipe-BananaBread

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripened bananas, mashed, to equal one cup
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 2 cups flour

 

Directions:

Blend sugar, salt and egg into bananas. Stir in butter. Dissolve soda in water and add with flour. Mix and bake in loaf pan for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes 1 loaf.

 

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

Chicken Wild Rice Soup

BlogRecipe-ChickenWildRiceSoup

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup white rice
  • 1 can cooked wild rice (or 1/2 cup uncooked wild rice)
  • 1 small green pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 sticks margarine
  • 1 can mushrooms
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 pint half and half (or regular milk)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup pimento
  • 1 quart milk
  • 5 tsp parsley flakes

 

Directions:

Wash and cook rice. Set aside. Cook chicken. Set aside. Boil the green pepper, onions and celery with 1/2 tsp salt. Cream flour and margarine and add the remaining ingredients, including the rice and chicken. Warm through. Excellent served with croissants.

Makes a large batch. Leftovers may be frozen. Reheat slowly, stirring constantly. It may be necessary to thin with cream or milk.

 

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

Which Rewards Card is Right for You?

eNews-CreditCard

Rewards credit cards offer so many features and benefits that it may be difficult to determine which one – if any – is best for you. If you’re looking to maximize the rewards offered by your credit card(s), here’s a primer to help you choose the best card for your lifestyle.

How do rewards work?

It’s simple: the more money you spend, the more rewards you earn. The catch is choosing a card that offers the type of rewards that will benefit you the most.

What types of rewards are offered?

Determining whether you prefer to have cash back or points to redeem for merchandise or travel will help you choose the right card for you.

  • Cash back – Earn cash back for every dollar you spend. For example, with the Merchants Bank Visa Platinum Cash Back Card, you would earn a certain percentage, up to 1%, based on the cumulative purchases made that calendar year (click here to see specific percentages – link). The cash you earn is credited to your credit card balance each year on November 15.
  • Rewards points – Earn points for every* net dollar you spend. For example, with the Merchants Bank Visa ScoreCard Credit Card, you earn one point for every* dollar you spend. Spend $1,000 and earn 1,000 points**. Points can be redeemed for airline flights, car rentals, merchandise and much more.

What else should I know?

Before you apply for a rewards credit card, ask these questions:

  • Do my points expire?
    Rewards points may expire if they are not used. Make sure to shop around to find a points expiration timeframe that makes sense for your spending habits. Points for the Merchants Bank Visa ScoreCard Credit Card don’t expire for five years.
  • How do I redeem my points or receive my cash back?
    Make sure that it’s easy to check your points or cash back balance. For points rewards cards, you also want to review the process for redeeming your points. On Merchants Bank Credit Cards, your current points and cash back balance are available on mycardstatement.com. Points can be redeemed through scorecardrewards.com, both available through the Merchants Bank website.
  • Is there an annual fee?
    Some rewards cards charge an annual fee. Research if the charge can be offset by the value of your rewards benefits or waived completely by spending a certain amount in a month or year. Merchants Bank only charges an annual fee for the Visa Platinum Cash Back Card ($30/year).

Searching for the right card? See if one of our credit card options may be right for you.

Credit cards are subject to credit approval
*Every net retail dollar spent earns rewards points. Cash advances, finance charges and fees do not qualify for points.
** Points are rounded up or down based on the transaction amount. For example, a transaction of $150.52 would equal 151 points.

Sweetheart Pie

BlogRecipe-SweetheartPie

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz. package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup whipped topping
  • 21 oz. can strawberry pie filling
  • 1 graham cracker crust pie shell

 

Directions:

In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy. Stir in whipped topping and pie filling. Mix well. Pour into pie shell. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.

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