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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
  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.  


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 that can help you build and maintain good credit.


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 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.

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.