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Customer Education

At Centinel Bank, we are dedicated to giving you the knowledge and skills needed to own your economic success, plan for your future, and make smart economic choices. We feel that investing in your financial knowledge leads to financial success, and this is key in building a strong community.

Teaching our customers and their children, as well as our Taos County communities about how to maintain a bank account, balance a checkbook and calculate interest, or save for college, establish good credit, buy a home, plan for retirement and recognize the need for an emergency fund are some of the topics covered through our education/financial literacy initiatives at Centinel Bank.

Our objective with our financial education efforts is to strengthen financial literacy for individuals and businesses in all populations and through all stages of life in our community– youth, teens, adults, and seniors.

Community Workshops & Presentations

As active community members, we are happy to conduct workshops, presentations, or one-on-one meetings in the community on financial literacy related topics. We invite community organizations and individuals to contact us, if you interested in having us lead such a session or workshop.

Financial Education, Tools, & Resources:


Focus to Improve Your Financial Situation, 5 Ways How

How much do you really know about your financial health or financial situation? Do you know what it is, or how you’re doing? Do you know how to improve it?  Taking steps to achieve financial health is just like setting a goal to lose weight – it doesn't happen overnight.

All your financial decisions and activities have an effect on your financial health now and in the future. The more you focus on understanding your financial situation the better off you’re financial health will be.

5 areas to focus your attention to improve your financial situation:

  1. Spend – Understand what you spend and spend your money wisely.

Live within your means. Do this by creating a budget or spending plan and set the maximum amount you plan to spend each week or month. Then stick to it.

Be a smart shopper. Compare prices and quality, especially when planning a big purchase. Don’t give into what you don’t need and don’t let a sale or discount coupon persuade you.

Track your spending habits. They might surprise you. Track money coming in and going out.  

Plan for short-term and long-term financial goals.

  1. Earn - In order to make the most of what you earn, understand the fine print and details about your pay and benefits, including deductions and withholdings.  

Know the details of your paycheck, how much you make and deductions. Net income is your take-home pay, after taxes and deductions are subtracted by your employer.

Review taxes and deductions withheld. Usually, your deductions and withholdings include federal, state and city income taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes, your contributions for retirement savings, and payments for health insurance.

Explore and sign up for workplace benefits. Does your employer offer a retirement savings program? Arrange to have retirement savings automatically moved from your paycheck to a retirement account. Many employers match part of every dollar you save this way.  

  1. Save & Invest - People who make a habit of saving regularly, even small amounts, are well on their way to success. To help you save, open a bank account. Then, use your savings to plan for life events and to be ready for unplanned or emergency needs.     

Pay yourself first. Start saving, form a savings habit. Each pay period, before you spend money, commit to putting money in a savings account. Many banks, including Centinel Bank, will help you automatically transfer from your paycheck or your checking account to savings every month. Make sure you keep your savings in an insured bank account.

Track your savings and investments, and monitor what you own. People who keep track of their savings often end up saving more, because it’s top of mind.

Build up emergency savings for unexpected events. Three months is what is recommended.

Consult with a qualified professional on investments and other key financial matters.

Invest in your future. Don’t forget to save for retirement, education needs or trainings, and other major items.

  1. Protect. Take precautions with your finances. Be vigilant about identity theft, and keep aware of your credit record and credit score.

Keep your financial records in order. Look at your bank statements and bills as soon as they arrive and report any discrepancy or suspicious activity. A good system for keeping personal money records will include copies of important documents like your will, property ownership, information about savings and insurance, and other documents.

Protect your identity. Watch out for fraud and scams. If it “sounds too good to be true” you can probably assume it is, and it is probably fraud, especially if it comes from a stranger or an unfamiliar company.

Be wary of requests to “update” or “confirm” personal information, especially your Social Security number, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, personal identification numbers, date of birth or your mother’s maiden name in response to an unsolicited call, letter or email.  Centinel Bank takes the security of customer information very seriously. We rarely request to update or confirm personal information on your account, but there may be rare instances where we might need to, if we do as a verification method you can always request to call the bank back at a known phone number for your protection.

  1. Borrow Sometimes it’s necessary to borrow for major purchases like an education, a car, a house, or maybe even to meet unexpected expenses. Your ability to get a loan generally depends on your credit history, and that depends largely on your track record at repaying what you’ve borrowed in the past and paying your bills on time.  Keep your credit history strong.

Understand interest. Borrowing money is a way to purchase something now and pay for it over time. You usually pay “interest” when you borrow money. The longer you take to pay back the money borrowed, the more you will pay in interest. Pay more than the minimum due each month and pay less in interest over the life of the loan.

Pay bills on time. This will help increase your credit score. Even if you fell into trouble with borrowing in the past, you can rebuild your credit history by making regular payments as agreed.

Learn about credit and how to use it effectively. Pay attention to your credit history, as reflected by your credit score and on your credit report. You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus. Go to for a free report.

5 C's of credit to help determine your creditworthiness

Thinking of applying for a loan? Do you know what your bank will look at to determine your creditworthiness? Lenders look at your 5 c's.

  1. Credit History/Character

This is how trustworthy and reliable you are. It refers to your reputation or track record for repaying debts. Qualifying for the different types of credit hinges largely on your credit history — the track record you’ve established while managing credit and making payments over time. Your credit report is primarily a detailed list of your credit history, consisting of information provided by lenders that have extended credit to you. While information may vary from one credit reporting agency to another, the credit reports include the same types of information, such as the names of lenders that have extended credit to you, types of credit you have, your payment history, and more.

  1. Capacity

This measures your ability to repay a loan by comparing income against recurring debts. Lenders need to determine whether you can comfortably afford your payments. Your income and employment history are good indicators of your ability to repay outstanding debt. Income amount, stability, and type of income may all be considered; as well as the ratio of your current and any new debt as compared to your before-tax income. This is called your Debt-to-Income ratio and is an important part of your overall financial health.

  1. Collateral (when applying for secured loans)

Collateral helps secure a loan. Loans, lines of credit, or credit cards you apply for may be secured or unsecured. A loan is secured when you are asked to pledge assets to the lender as security or collateral for the loan. This gives the lender assurance that if you were to default on the loan, they have a way of being repaid. With a secured product such as an auto or home equity loan, you pledge something you own as collateral. The value of your collateral will be evaluated, and any existing debt secured by that collateral will be subtracted from the value. The remaining equity will play a factor in the lending decision.

  1. Capital

While your household income is expected to be the primary source of repayment, capital represents your savings, investments, and other assets that can help repay the loan. This can be helpful should you encounter unforeseen negative circumstances such as, if you lose your job or experience other setbacks.

  1. Conditions

Lenders may want to know how you plan to use the money and will consider the loan’s purpose, such as whether the loan will be used to purchase a vehicle or other property. Environmental and economic conditions, may also be considered.


If you have questions and/or are thinking of applying for a loan, call us @ 575-758-6700.

For a PDF version of this information click here.

Tips for Establishing and Maintaining Good Credit

Good Credit is Key to Solid Financial Future from Centinel Bank of Taos and ICBA

When establishing financial fitness goals, the Independent Community Bankers of America and Centinel Bank want to remind customers: it’s easier to build a credit score than to repair a bad one.

Having a good credit history is key to any financial plan. Credit scores take into consideration years of past behavior, so it’s important to establish a history of responsible credit practices and build your score by maintaining good habits. 

The following tips will help build and maintain good credit.

  • If you are just beginning to establish your credit history, open a checking account and keep careful track of your balance.
  • Use debit and credit cards for convenience and safety, but not to overspend. Missed or late payments damage your credit and hurts your credit score.
  • A good mix of credit (i.e., a revolving credit line and an installment loan) also boosts your credit score and further demonstrates that you can manage different types of credit.
  • Demonstrate stability in the three to six months before a major purchase. Avoid opening or closing accounts or moving large amounts of money around.
  • Build an emergency fund equal to at least six months of living expenses. If the unexpected happens, you will still be able to pay fixed expenses instead of falling behind. 
  • Alter your credit focus as you approach lifecycle stages. As you near retirement, for example, start paying down major purchases (such as a mortgage).
  • Monitor your credit regularly so you can correct any errors and detect any potential signs of identity theft. Order a copy of your credit report annually from

Establishing good spending and saving habits, and sticking with them, is critical when times are tough and can go a long way toward helping you achieve your financial goals. Your Centinel Bank is your local community bank that can serve as a great resource to help get you started on the road to establishing good credit, which will serve as the foundation for a more secure financial future.

About Centinel Bank

Centinel Bank of Taos, founded in 1969, remains a locally owned and operated community bank with a mission to provide unequaled personal services with every experience. Committed to remaining a true community bank, size and the streamlined organizational structure provide an ability to make local decisions that enhance personal experience and customer success. Serving customers with three convenient locations, a full array of deposit and lending solutions for personal and business needs, and electronic banking services. For information, visit our website Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.  

About ICBA

The Independent Community Bankers of America®, the nation’s voice for more than 5,700 community banks of all sizes and charter types, is dedicated exclusively to representing the interests of the community banking industry and its membership through effective advocacy, best-in-class education and high-quality products and services. For more information, visit ICBA’s website at

For a PDF version of this information click here.


Linked Sites Disclaimer:  As a convenience to our customers, Centinel Bank provides this list of helpful websites to third-party organizations that provide tools and resources on financial education to children, adults, teachers, parents, and more. While Centinel Bank has taken reasonable measures to ensure that the information linked from this site are complete, correct, and up to date, Centinel Bank does not guarantee that it is free from errors or omissions or that the information contained on the site is suitable for your intended use. Permission to these linked websites have been granted to Centinel Bank, however the websites are not under control by Centinel Bank and Centinel Bank is not responsible for any content on any linked site. Website links are provided as a convenience and accessing third-party sites from the Centinel Bank website should be done at one’s own risk. Use and access of this site implies your acknowledgement and acceptance of this Disclaimer.