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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 hope 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 Tools, Education & Resources 


Tools For You

Click here to use a variety of easy-to-use online calculators to

 help you solve common financial problems.

Articles and Education

Rent vs. Buying a Home

5 factors to take into consideration when deciding if you should rent or buy.

The choice between renting a home and buying one is among the biggest financial decisions you might ever have to make. Because it is a huge financial step, we want you to be as prepared as possible. We’ve put together these important factors to help you determine the best option for you. 

5 factors to take into consideration when deciding if you should rent or buy a home. 

  1. How long are you planning to stay? Renting comes with some flexibility. When your lease is up, you have the option to move. Owning a house doesn’t come with that flexibility. Buying and selling a home is a complex, expensive process that includes closing costs and possibly other fees. In general, owning makes financial sense only if you plan to stay put for at least five years.
  2. What financial resources [down payment] and credit do you have? If you’re thinking about buying a home a traditional down payment is 20% of the home’s price. The larger a down payment the more financially secure you appear to lenders. It’s also good to be aware of your credit score (link to good credit article). Your credit score is one of the most important factors when qualifying for a loan. The higher your credit score, the better your mortgage terms.  
  3. What is your priority location, transportation, amenities? This will determine the cost of homes in the area, but also help you understand additional costs associated. Can you walk or bike to work, ride the bus, or do you need a vehicle? Do you want to live in a place where you can help with landscaping the yard or prefer not to bother with it?
  4. Compare total costs. When you are considering buying a house, along with the down payment you should consider other financial costs such as:
  • Homeowners Association dues
  • Property taxes
  • Homeowners insurance
  • Landscaping/ yard upkeep
  • Utilities
  • Water/sewer

5. Do not make a decision on a whim. Homeownership isn’t a good or bad idea on its own. It has everything to do with your own situation.

Look up home prices in the area you’re thinking of buying and use a rent vs. buy calculator such as the one on our customer educatio page to see if the associated costs make buying worth considering. 

If you have questions about buying a home and what it will take to make that purchase, our expert lenders are here to help you through the loan process. To speak to someone, call 575-758-6700 or email Leticia @

Discover how your community bank can help you realize your financial dreams - Let's dream together!

Centinel Bank is Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender.

Youth Money Management Goes Hand-in-Hand With Youth Employment

(FDIC May 27, 2019 Consumer News)

A teen’s first job provides a great opportunity to shape positive financial habits.

Money management is an important skill for teens to learn before they leave home, and a bank account is a great tool to teach teens about handling money. By opening a youth bank account, you open the door to important discussions about savings, budgeting, and proactive financial management.

Many teens think about how they can earn money so they can spend it, but it’s important to learn how to manage it as well. The best place to start is with a bank account. Once you land that new job, you should establish a bank account to keep track of your new earnings and keep it safe. This one step will open the door for hands on experience managing money and discussions with others on various aspects of financial management, which will help you prepare for the future.

Opening a Bank Account as a Teen 

Banks offer accounts with different features, so it’s important to find out
what is available for students and young adults, then compare them to make the best selection for your situation. Go over items such as minimum account balance requirements, mobile banking features, ATM fees, and interest rates offered when deciding on an account. Regardless of the account you choose, if you are under the age of 18 (or 21 in some states), it will need to be a joint account with a responsible adult.

Share and Gain Knowledge
Once you establish a bank account, make sure you understand the information provided in bank statements, such as how money is credited to and debited from your account and the difference between an account’s current balance and available balance. Review account statements with someone who knows the information well and take the opportunity to learn about things like direct deposit and automatic bill payments. 

Click here to read the full article 

Financial Tips for Soon-to-Be Graduates

Graduation is an exciting time for many students transitioning from the classroom to the "real world." As your local community bank, we want to remind new graduates that fhe financial decisionss made now will affect your future for years to come.  

Here are three tips to follow that can help you take control of your finances:

  1. Start a budget.
    1. To begin set your goals. It’s important to think about what you want to accomplish financially in the next three months, the next year, and the next three years.
    2. Determine your income and your expenses.
    3. Create a spending plan (budget) to be aware of how much money you have, where it needs to go, and how much, if any, is left over.
    4. Your budget should meet your "needs" first, then the “wants” that you can afford, and your expenses should be less than or equal to your total income.
    5. If your income is not enough to cover your expenses, adjust your budget (and your spending) by deciding which expenses can be reduced.
  2. Spend responsibly. Shopping and weekend getaways are a great way to recharge from the work week but can quickly eat away at your budget. Research the products you’d like to buy, along with restaurants and excursions in your price range and plan accordingly so these purchases and activities don’t become a financial hardship.
  3. Establish an emergency fund to cover life’s unexpected events and give you greater peace of mind. Contribute spare change or a little from each paycheck until you have between three to six months of net pay.

Congratulations to this year's graduating class! We wish them a prosperous financial future. 

Where You Bank Matters - Community Banks Build Better Communities

Centinel Bank of Taos and The Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) are reminding consumers: Where you choose to bank and with whom matters.

 “When you bank locally, you’re reinvesting in your community, contributing to the welfare of your neighbors and building a legacy of prosperity for future generations,” said ICBA President and CEO Rebeca Romero Rainey. “Community bankers power your region’s small businesses and influence job growth one loan at a time. They’re rooted in your community, ensuring they have a stake in your financial success and the strength of the community overall.”

Community banks support local startups—funding more than 60 percent of small business and more than 80 percent of agriculture loans. Community banks contribute tax dollars that help maintain local municipalities and keep local neighborhoods viable and vibrant.

You have a choice

When choosing who to trust with your hard-earned money, Centinel Bank of Taos and ICBA want consumers to know the following:

  • Community banks respect and honor their community ties. Community banks have symbiotic relationships with their communities—one cannot thrive without the other.
  • Community banks are relationship lenders. They know their customers and understand their financial needs.
  • Community banks understand and embrace local businesses. A study from the Federal Reserve Banks found that small businesses that apply for loans with community banks are the most successful and most satisfied.
  • Community banks give back. Serving local communities is second nature to community banks.

Centinel Bank of Taos is Taos’ only locally owned and operated community bank, serving Taos County since 1969. As a full-service bank, we offer checking and savings accounts, an array of loans and mortgages, and helpful, smart advice. Our friendly staff looks forward to sharing Centinel Bank’s community-focused approach, featuring customized service with local decision-making. 

Our commitment to our Taos County community is what sets us apart from other financial institutions and industries. Stop by Centinel Bank today to discover how your community bank can help you realize your financial dreams—and how together, we can contribute to a more vibrant and sustainable economy in our Taos County community. Let’s dream together!

Credit Versus Debit. Do you know the difference?

The Centinel Bank Debit Card look like a credit card and can be used anywhere Mastercard® is accepted, but it functions like cash or a personal check using funds directly from your checking account.

Credit and ATM/debit cards look similar, but they use money in very different ways. Click here to see a chart explaining the difference between a credit card and a debit card.

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, Centinel Bank of Taos and The Independent Community Bankers of America  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. Click here to read tips on how you can establish a good credit score. 

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.

Click here to read about 5 areas to focus your attention to improve your financial situation.

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
  2. Capacity
  3. Collateral (when applying for secured loans)
  4. Capital
  5. Conditions

To read more about the 5 C's of credit click here.

If you have questions and/or are thinking of applying for a loan, call us @ 575-758-6700 and ask to speak to one of our lenders.  

What does it mean to bank local?

Where you choose to bank matters. Did you know, not all banks are the same? While they do provide many similar services, there're also many differences. Centinel Bank of Taos is a community bank, locally owned and operated, serving Taos County since 1969. Along with traditional banking services, Centinel Bank offers many community banking benefits.

This April, in celebration of Community Banking Month, we encourage everyone to consider what it means to bank locally. Banking local helps sustain our community today, tomorrow and for generations to come. Click here to read more.

Protect yourself from phishing attacks (cybercrimes)

Phishing is a type of fraud. Phishing attempts are getting very, very sophisticated. More and more people are finding themselves targets and sometimes victims of the fraud. At Centinel Bank we care about your security and offer the following information. 

What is phishing?

Phishing is a form of fraud in which a target or targets are contacted by criminals through email, telephone or text message as well as through human interaction and malicious websites. It’s by someone posing as a legitimate institution, new employees or even repair personnel. The fraud is an attempt to lure individuals into providing sensitive data and attempt to trick them into divulging personal information. Examples include:

  1. Personally identifiable information
  2. Banking
  3. Credit card details
  4. Passwords
  5. And more

The information is then used to access important accounts, steal your money, use your name to open credit cards or loans and more.

Click here to read how you can avoid being a victim and what to do if you think you are a victim. 

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.