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<March 2015>



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By Tom Shara, President and Chief Executive Officer

Giving back to the communities we serve is one of our Bank’s key core values, and we are proud of the support and resources we provide to the local community. In 2014, Lakeland Bank provided more than $536,000 in contributions to support nonprofit organizations in the eight counties we serve, and raised record donations at our two annual golf outings.

Colleagues support Bank’s community service initiatives
I am especially proud of ...


The answer is: Yes! Unless you absolutely cannot afford to set aside any dollars whatsoever, you should contribute to your employer's 401(k) plan. A 401(k) plan is one of the most powerful tools you can use to save for your retirement.

The first benefit is that your pre-tax contributions to a 401(k) plan are not taxed as current income. They come right off the top of your salary before taxes are withheld. This reduces your taxable income, allowing you to pay less in taxes each year. You'll eventually pay taxes on amounts contributed wh ...


In general, a rollover is the movement of funds from one retirement savings vehicle to another. You may want, or need, to make a rollover for any number of reasons--your employment situation has changed, you want to switch investments, or you've received death benefits from your spouse's retirement plan. There are two possible ways that retirement funds can be rolled over--the 60-day rollover and the trustee-to-trustee transfer.

The 60-day, or indirect, rollover
With this method, you actually receive a distribution from your retirement plan and then, to complete the rollover transaction, you make a deposit into the new retirement plan that you want to receive the funds. You can make a ro ...

By Bob Vandenbergh, Regional President & COO

It’s approaching that time of year again. The deadline to file federal and New Jersey income tax returns for 2014 and pay any taxes you owe is Wednesday, April 15. Instead of dreading tax season this year, the majority of taxpayers should embrace it! It’s estimated that 75% of all filers will receive a tax refund. Since a tax refund is actually an overpayment of taxes that you didn’t owe to the IRS, get that money back ASAP. The best way to avoid stress at tax time is to plan ahead. Here are some tips to help you file your tax return stress-free and e ...

By Bob Vandenbergh, Regional President & COO

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2014 and has been updated February 2015 with the latest information.

The College Board estimated that from 2014 – 2015, the average cost of tuition and fees at four-year public out-of-state colleges was $22,958, and $31,231 at four-year private colleges (up 3.3% and 3.7% from 2013 – 2014 respectively). To help offset the ever-increasing costs of higher education, it’s importan ...

By Laura Ferraro, Senior Vice President

You have spent countless hours searching for a home, and finally found the home of your dreams. Then you spent more time negotiating back and forth until your offer was accepted. Now comes the moment of truth. You apply for a loan—and it’s denied.

It’s more common than you might think for a bank or mortgage company to deny a home loan application. At Lakeland Mortgage, we pride ourselves on finding solutions to meet the lending needs of our clients. But sometimes, due to circumstances beyond our control, ...

By Laura Ferraro, Senior Vice President
Are you a first-time homebuyer eager to take advantage of the real estate market and low mortgage rates? One of the most important steps on the road to homeownership is finding a loan that best suits your financial needs. The Federal Reserve offers the following tips when shopping for a mortgage.

  1. Know what you can afford.
  2. Shop around—compare loans from lenders and brokers.
  3. ...

By Laura Ferraro, Senior Vice President

how_much_home_can_you_afford.jpgTo buy a new home you first need to know how much you can afford to spend on a house. To get a clear picture on where your house hunting sweet spot is you’ll need to do some budgeting and calculations with your current finances.

There are many factors that go into the affordability of a home, including your monthly mortgage payment and monthly expenses, annual income, your down payment amount, interest rates, your debt-to-income ratio, taxes, the length of your loan term and other ...

By Robert Vandenbergh

If you are a small business owner on a tight budget, then you may not be able to afford year-end bonuses for your employees this season. An office holiday party can express appreciation and fall within the budget! The focus of the party should be on celebration, but it does not need to be extravagant. Spread some much-needed holiday cheer and thank your team for their hard work, while maintaining your budget.

Tip #1 - Be upfront about the budget

A holiday party doesn’t have to mean a multi-course meal ...

By: Ronald Schwarz, Executive Vice President and Chief Retail Officer

Physical and Cyber Security Measures Go Hand-in-Hand

Cyber criminals are targeting the financial accounts of small businesses resulting in significant losses due to fraudulent transfers from business accounts. This type of crime, referred to as Corporate Account Takeover, involves thieves gaining access to your business’ confidential banking information to make unauthorized transactions, including transferring funds from the company, creating and adding new fake employees ...

By: Ronald Schwarz, Executive Vice President and Chief Retail Officer

Smartphone Cyber Security Starts in the Palm of Your Hand

We love our mobile devices. Smartphones and tablets provide convenient access to email, social media and even our bank accounts. In the past, security concerns prevented many people from conducting financial transactions on mobile devices, but the tide appears to be turning. In 2013, the prevalence of mobile banking has increased to the point where 51% of smartphone owners have used mobile banking1. < ...

By Laura Ferraro, Senior Vice President

You probably remember the joy of buying your first home. There was the excitement of finding the perfect place, getting approved by a mortgage lender, and signing the stack of papers signifying that you were a homeowner. Since then, you likely have at least one or two more home closings under your belt.

Now that you are in retirement, you may be considering a possible change of residence, the purchase of a vacation home or building your dream workshop. Maybe you need help to cover the monthly expenses to stay in ...

By Laura Ferraro, Senior Vice President

When you buy a home with a loan from a financial institution, your mortgage lender will help you determine the right mortgage for your financial needs. This includes the down payment amount, the amount of the loan, the term, and the interest rate. The combination of these components will help determine the amount of your monthly mortgage payments.

There are several factors that go into the calculation of a mortgage payment. Mortgage payments most commonly consist of paying the principal, interest, taxes, and insura ...

By Robert Vandenbergh

Wouldn’t it be great if you could easily split the bill at dinner, pay your babysitter, or transfer money to a friend without having to reach for cash or write a check? It’s now possible with Lakeland Bank’s new online banking product.

The service is called Popmoney® and it’s a feature of Lakeland Bank’s Consumer Online Bill Pay system. Popmoney is an electronic payment service that allows users to send or receive money to or from any individual using an email address or a mobile phone number. The money is transferred from your ban ...


As part of the estate planning process, you may consider setting up a trust fund. A trust fund is a financial arrangement where a third-party, the trustee, holds money or other assets for your beneficiaries. If you’re thinking about setting up such a fund in New Jersey, here is important background.

Why set up a trust fund?
Trust funds are used when you want to leave money to minor children, other individuals, or charities, but you don’t want to distribute the funds in a lump sum. ...


The best way to make the dream of a financially secure retirement come true is to plan for it as early in your career as possible. The 2014 Retirement Confidence Survey revealed that 36% of American workers have less than $1,000 in savings and investment for retirement. Additionally, only 44% have tried to calculate how much money they’ll need to save in order to live comfortably when they retire. No matter what your age, you can take charge of your retirement future now by taking time to define ...

By Stewart McClure, Regional President

If you’re like most homeowners, you have invested a lot of time, effort and money into your home over the years. You probably have many wonderful memories of living there. However, as we grow older and face health or financial challenges, there comes a time to evaluate whether it makes sense to stay in your house.

How do you know when it is the right time to make the move? This blog is designed to help you evaluate your options. Take a look at these three categories to help frame the discussion.

By Laura Ferraro, Senior Vice President

There are many steps you will take in preparation for buying a home and saving for a down payment is one of the most important. A down payment is the initial portion of the full price that is paid to purchase something bought on credit.

A home down payment is typically combined with a mortgage to fulfill the total purchase price of a home. In addition to your down payment amount, your Read the full story

By Laura Ferraro, Senior Vice President

Being a first-time homebuyer can easily become overwhelming. There are many things to consider and the search for finding your new home can be more comfortable when you know the steps to take.

At Lakeland Bank, we find a lot of first-time homebuyers have similar questions about the process, so we put together a list of tips for these buyers to consider.

If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our mortgage loan originators. You can find one in your neighborhood by visiting o ...

By Stewart McClure, Regional President

finance-a-deck-additionUpdating your home with a renovation, remodel or a new addition may increase the value of your home and the enjoyment of your new living space. If you are looking to add onto your home, the first step is to determine the scope of your project. Speak with contractors to get an idea of how much your project will cost, or if you will be completing the renovation yourself, visit your local home improve ...

By Laura Ferraro, Senior Vice President

On January 10, 2014 the Ability To Repay and Qualified Mortgage Provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, went into effect to create a balance between credit availability and proper consumer protection. The new rules were implemented to combat any lingering abusive industry lending practices that were not already tightened after the financial crisis. We applaud this, of course, as the rules help ensure that all co ...

By Stewart McClure, Regional President

approved-debt-consolidation-loan-application-formAre you feeling weighed down by debt? If so, you’re not alone. The 2012 National Financial Capability Study (NFCS) reports that 19% of individuals say their household spent more than their income (not including the purchase of a new home, car or other big investment), while 36% who spent about the same as their income are breaking even. Only those who spend less than their household income are able to save.

If you’re worried about carrying too many b ...

By Stewart McClure, Regional President

If you find yourself in need of funds for an upcoming expense and your income can accommodate a one-time payment, a loan that allows you to pay over time may be the solution. But before you sign on the dotted line, there are important steps to take to ensure you don’t put yourself in a financially vulnerable situation.

It’s best to start this process with some due diligence. Research or seek advice on the different types of loans that are available. There are many varieties of loans to consider base ...

By Stewart McClure, Regional President

Once you have decided to apply for a bank loan the next step is to gather all the documents and information required to include with your application. You can do this by reviewing the application form to determine what you need. Often times you can get instructions online and even apply directly through your bank’s website.

The following eight tips will help you with the loan application process:
1. Don't leave any ...

By Thomas J. Shara, President and Chief Executive Officer

lakeland-bank-invests-in-community-serviceYou’ll see us at our branches in Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties. You’ll also find Lakeland Bank colleagues investing in these communities by supporting causes such as building homes, collecting food, raising funds for college scholarships, and helping charitable and nonprofits. That’s beca ...


combining-finances-when-you-get-marriedCouples face a number of changes when they decide to get married and combining finances might be one of the most important. Before walking down the aisle together, schedule a date to address your financial future together. Here are some valuable tips to help make “having the money talk” less stressful.

1. Communication Is Key

The first step is to acknowledge the importance of the money conversation and to bring it all to the table. It is es ...


Preparing a last will and testament is high on the priority list for estate planning, but often gets postponed because many people find it hard to plan for the time after they are deceased or they just don’t know how to get started. But, it’s an important step, and if you don’t leave a will, you can put your loved ones in a difficult position. Wrestling for control of certain ...


choosing an executorEstate planning is an important financial step, and a lengthy process. One of the final details of your estate planning is to name an executor. This family member, friend or professional serves a vital role in fulfilling your wishes, and will spend a significant amount of time and effort performing the responsibilities of this role. Choosing the right person for the job is often the difference between a seamless transfer of assets and a stressful one.

If you’re in the process for preparing for a future Read the full story

American-Opportunity-Tax-Credit-stock-image.pngBy Bob Vandenbergh, Regional President & COO

The College Board estimated that from 2013-2014, the average cost of tuition and fees at four-year public out-of-state colleges was $22,203 and $30,094 at four-year private colleges. To help offset the ever-increasing costs of higher education, it’s important that parents of college students and high school seniors are aware of the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) and how it can save them money at tax time.

The following informati ...

By Bob Vandenbergh, Regional President & COO

In an effort to manage debt, many consumers rely less on credit cards, and use debit cards more frequently to pay for purchases. Using a debit card is often a good idea, but there are instances where a credit card might be the better option. Consider the following:

should you use your credit card or debit card

A Debit Card May Be Best If…

You want to imp ...

By: Stewart McClure, Regional President

how-to-reduce-wedding-expenses-(3).jpgAccording to CNNMoney, an annual survey released by wedding website TheKnot.com revealed that couples in northern and central New Jersey spent an average of $48,496 on weddings in 2012, while the national average was $28,427.

In addition, the responsibility for funding this landmark event has largely fallen into the hands of the bride and groom in recent years. Before visiting venues and booking appointments with DJs and florists ...

By: Stewart McClure

private-mortgage-insurance-and-buying-a-houseWhat is private mortgage insurance (PMI)? PMI is generally required to qualify for a mortgage or refinancing on a first or second home when the borrower has less than a 20% down payment or less than 20% equity in their property. It is insurance to protect the lender in case the borrower defaults on mortgage payments. The borrower pays the premiums and the lender is the beneficiary.

The PMI premium (cost) may be paid either in a one-time payment at closing, or in installments added to the borrower’s monthly mortgage payment. A number of factors should be considered to determin ...

During the holiday season, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed about not having enough money to spend on your loved ones. An unfortunate reality is that debt is becoming about as common as Christmas trees and turkey dinners. It’s important to remember that you do not have to go into debt to show how much you care. Here are some tips to help you enjoy the holiday cheer without the financial fear.

Tip #1 - Develop a budget and stick to it

Decide how much you can afford to spend this year. Gifts, travel expenses, and holiday meals are the top three budget categories but don’t forget to include things like gift wrap, postage, and the holiday tips you may give to people such as your doorman, babysitter, and mail carrier.

It’s recommended that ...

By Thomas J. Shara, President and CEO of Lakeland Bank

holiday-share-a-gift-lakeland-bankThis time of year we are busy getting ready for the holidays, preparing special dinner menus, making plans with friends and family, and decorating our homes.

And, if your children have already made their lists, you have probably started shopping!

The holiday season is a wonderful time for many families, so it may be hard to believe that there are parents in North Jersey who don’t know if they will be able to fill their children’s stockings. And there are children wondering if there will be any gifts to open this year.

That’s ...

By Stewart McClure, Regional President

reverse-mortgageSome people view a reverse mortgage as a valuable retirement planning tool. Others are more skeptical. It’s not surprising that there are definite, and often diverse, opinions on reverse mortgages. There is a lot of misinformation out there so how do you decide if a reverse mortgage is right for you? Read on.

What is a reverse mortgage?

With a traditional mortgage, you borrow money from a lender based upon the (appraised) va ...

By Thomas J. Shara, president and CEO of Lakeland Bank

hunger-statistics-food-drive-njWhile many families look forward to the upcoming holiday season, others struggle because they don’t have enough money for a special holiday meal. Lakeland Bank is one of the many organizations that urge the community to remember those less fortunate around the holidays. The Bank is proud to join the United Way’s Annual Holiday Food Drive to benefit local pantries. They need our help and we are grateful for this opportunity to give back.

Over the last few years, local food pantry leaders have been seeing an increa ...

By: Ron Schwarz, Chief Retail Officer

October marks the 10th Anniversary of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) and Lakeland Bank is taking this opportunity to educate our customers on creating a safe, secure, and protected cyber environment. We enjoy the benefits and convenience that the Internet provides just as much as you do. Yet, for all the Internet’s advantages, it can also be a place where users are vulnerable to fraud, identity theft and other scams.

According to the Norton Cybercrime Report, 556 million adults worldwide were victims of cybercrime in 2012. Cybercrime, simply defined, is any illegal activity that uses a computer as its primary means of application to commit a crime. This can include activities such as phishing, pharming, distributing viruses, and identity theft. ...

Dave Scelba Marketing CEO of SGW and Lakeland Bank Business Customer at the 2012 Golf OutingWe are excited to extend an invitation to join Lakeland Bank in meeting its goal to raise over $100,000 to help local New Jersey students pursue a higher education after they graduate high school. The 41st Lakeland Charities Scholarship Outing is set for September 24 at Crystal Springs Golf Resort, and we invite you to attend our fun-filled annual event. If you cannot spend the day with us, we hope you will consider one of the sponsorship opportunities or make a donation.

As a result of the support received at our 2012 golf outing, ...

By: Bob Vandenbergh, Regional President & COO

Lakeland-Bank-National-Surcharge-Free-ATM-s.pngWe have great news for Lakeland Bank debit card holders! Now, you have convenient access to your money whenever and wherever you need it.

Lakeland Bank joined Allpoint®, the nation’s largest ATM network, providing our customers with access to more than 55,000 surcharge-free ATMs around the world. In fact, as a Lakeland Bank customer, you now have access to more than twice as many surcharge-free ATMs than the big banks offer their customers. Whether you’re around the corner or ...

By: Stewart McClure, Regional President

The cost of higher education has skyrocketed and student debt is growing. It seems there are more reasons than ever to doubt the value of a college education. Is there still real value to a college degree? Here’s what the research reveals.

The Numbers Reveal Pros and Cons

A 2011 study by the Pew Research Center asked, "Is College Worth It?" The study revealed that the answer depends on who you ask. According to the majority of public respondents 18 years old and above, the answer was “no.” The ...

By Stewart McClure, Regional President

Save Money Dorm RoomCongratulations! Your child has been accepted to the college of his or her choice. Now you can breathe a sigh of relief and focus on the next task: buying all of the items your son or daughter will need for the college dorm room. And while you’re getting ready to face the major expense of a college education, you might be surprised at how much you could spend on that room.

According to the National Retail Federation, parents spend an average of $907 on everything from mini-fridges to wall decals.1 But you could also spe ...


$234,900. According to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)1, the typical two-parent, middle-income family with a child born in 2011 can expect to spend $234,900 to raise a child to age 17. Factoring in projected inflation that number would actually be $295,560.

While this number may seem overwhelming, you can prepare yourself for what is ahead. The joys of growing your family far outweigh the financial implications, but it’s still something you need to plan for.

First, understand what budgetary components the $234,900 ...

By: Robert Ingram, Senior Vice President Lakeland Bank Equipment Finance Division

Businesses that postponed equipment upgrades over the past few years due to economic uncertainty may now be looking to invest in equipment upgrades. Whether you are seeking to purchase construction, medical, printing and packaging, office, technology or manufacturing equipment, there are flexible financing solutions available to meet your needs.

Before seeking equipment financing for your business, determine if you are interested in new or used equipment and if you prefer to purchase or lease the equipment. Once you have made decisions on these important ...

By Robert Vandenbergh

Money doesn’t grow on trees. That’s what my father used to tell me.

It’s sound advice that I passed on to my son. When he was just 12 years old, we talked about needs and wants in the context of the bicycle that he needed and the one he wanted. A paper route helped him earn the incremental cost between the two; as my dad often pointed out, the things you work hard for are always more valued. It’s no wonder that the bike he wanted found a home in the garage and was kept meticulously clean.

My son is now a Dad with two kids of his own and is a successful business own ...

By: Thomas J. Shara, President & CEO Lakeland Bank

It’s official…Somerset Hills Bank is now part of Lakeland Bank. And we are excited to welcome both their customers and staff members to the Lakeland Bank family.

The union of our dynamic, conservatively managed institutions will provide you, along with current Lakeland Bank customers, with a broader range of services, and an expanded network of dedicated and knowledgeable employees. A strategic element supporting thi ...


Each stage of life presents new financial needs and the opportunity to reassess your financial goals. Studies show that people who get professional advice before they make major financial decisions fare significantly better than those that do not seek advice1.

Yet many people don’t seek the help of financial planners. If you want to lose weight, you are likely to join a gym, get a personal trainer or go on a diet. Similarly, if you want to get your finances in order, you should develop a financial plan. If you don’t, you’re missing out on how you can grow your money to meet short-term and long-term needs. Each year, when you do your taxes, it’s a great opportunity to review that plan.

By David Yanagisawa, Executive Vice President and Chief Lending Officer

Home equity lending is starting to make a comeback. Many lenders are reporting substantial increases in home equity lending over the past year with Equifax reporting that the total number of home equity loans approved in the fourth quarter of 2012 represented a 19 percent increase over the same period in 20111.

What’s driving this up-tick? Home prices are beginning to stabilize and even increase which is restoring consumer confidence in the real estate market.

There are two types of home-equity lending. Home equity lines of credit (HELOC) carry variable rates and give borrowers the flexibility to borrow up to the full amount of the loan or just a portion. A HELOC functions like a credi ...

Lakeland Bank Mobile Banking Mobile Deposit

By: Robert Vandenbergh

Mobile Banking with Lakeland Bank is now even more convenient with the introduction of Mobile Deposit. It’s fast, completely secure, and as easy as taking a picture with your smartphone. ...

By Jeffrey J. Buonforte

transferring-wealth-tipsGet ready. One of the largest transfers of wealth in U.S. history is on the horizon. During the next 30 to 40 years, baby boomers are expected to transfer $30 trillion to their children—and that is above and beyond the $12 trillion that they are in process of receiving from their own parents.1 As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, I’ve been talking with our baby boomer clients about how to transfer this wealth, and with their adult children about how to plan to receive it.

To enha ...

By: Thomas Shara, CEO

Opportunities to teach children about money, and especially about earning and saving money, happen all around us -- at home, school, and during family leisure time. As children get older, they are more likely to make smart financial choices if they already have good habits to fall back on. While schools are also getting more involved, a parent is the first link in the learning process. Understanding at what age children can understand certain topics about money will help you to set them on the path towards achieving good financial habits.

Ages 3 – 6: What Is Money a ...

By Thomas J. Shara

How To Create A Culture Of CaringFostering a “Culture of Caring” or “Corporate Giving” program at your organization is good for your employees, the community and your business. Especially when your employees are engaged in the process and help choose the programs and the beneficiaries. At Lakeland Bank, we’ve been giving back since the day we opened our doors over 40 years ago, and our colleagues are an integral part of the Bank’s philanthropy efforts. If your business is looking to establish a program, then you ar ...

By: Ron Schwarz, Chief Retail Officer

Smartphones are changing the way we bank, do business, and stay in touch with friends and family. And while these products do make our lives easier and more enjoyable, they can also leave you vulnerable to fraud. Nearly 12 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2011 and this number is growing with smartphone and social media users 1.

According to a 2012 Javelin Strategy and Research Survey on Identity Fraud 7% of smartphone owners were victims of identity fraud – this is a third higher incidence rate compared to the general public. ...

By: Robert Vandenbergh

Lower-Take-Home-Pay-Blog-Image_Shrinking-Payrolls.jpgDid you notice a decrease in your paycheck come the New Year? You are not alone. The end of the social security tax holiday took effect in January and has many people asking “Why is my paycheck lower?” Lakeland Bank offers tips which may help you to make up the difference in take home pay and may even save you several hundred dollars a month. With careful planning and budgeting, you may actually come up ahead this year.

These 5 tips may help ...


It is important to re-evaluate your personal finances after the loss of a spouse. Be assured that Lakeland Bank has a team of experts available to guide you through this often difficult and emotional process. Below are some of the financial tips that we provide to our clients.

Tip #1: Assemble a financial support team. This may include an estate planning attorney, a financial advisor*, an i ...


If you’re heading for a divorce, you’re not alone. Approximately 41 percent of American marriages end by divorce.1 Yet they don’t always end equitably, especially in terms of finances.

There are steps you can take to minimize the financial damage of divorce and to prepare for a financially stable future. If you are separated from your spouse, considering divorce, or already divorced, here are some financial tips for surviving—and thriving.

Read the full story

By: Robert Vandenbergh

 Lakeland-Bank-Mobile-Banking-App-1.pngLakeland Bank has released an exciting new product intended to simplify your banking-on-the-go experience. Mobile Banking, offered via text (SMS), mobile browser, and Smartphone App, is available to anyone currently enrolled in Lakeland Bank’s online banking service. It provides secure and convenient access to your accounts anywhere and anytime.

Using your mobile phone, you can now monitor your accounts, v ...

By: Robert A. Vandenbergh

Year-End-Tax-Financial-Tips-Blog.jpgAs 2012 comes to a close and tax season looms around the corner, it’s the perfect time to review your finances and explore options for additional year-end tax savings. Some tips include, becoming educated on the newest tax laws, making an additional mortgage payment, and making charitable donations – especially in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Now is also a good time to assess where you are with your financial plan, question if you’ve met your financial goals, and ...

By Robert A. Vandenbergh

Shopping, travel, home entertaining and dining out … the holidays can be tough on finances. Sticking to your budget isn’t easy, but with some knowledge, planning and resolve you can have a great holiday season without spending too much. Here are some tips to help you save money this season.  


1.  Create a holiday budget and stick to it.< ...

Dear Valued Customer,

The current weather situation is creating unprecedented challenges for our customers and neighbors. Our first priority is the safety and well being of our customers and team members resulting in the closure of all Lakeland Bank locations on Monday, October 29 and Tuesday, October 30.

Accordingly, we are implementing the following actions to assist you:

We are waiving the following fees assessed by Lakeland Bank through Wednesday, October 31 for our customers. Please be advised that you’ll have until the end of the business day (6:00 PM) on Thursday (November 1) to make a deposit or a payment to bring your account current to avoid the fee being charged.

• Overdraft Protection Fees, Insufficient Funds (“NSF”) Fees, Unc ...

By David Yanagisawa, Executive Vice President and Chief Lending Officer

As the Chief Lending Officer at Lakeland Bank , I see many north Jersey residents and small business owners apply for loans to help make their dreams come true.

Small business owners often ask me about how to maintain good credit and specifically to explain the difference between personal and business credit scores. Since the majority of lenders reference both business and personal credit scores when making lending decisions for small businesses, I thought business credit would be a good topic to share on our blog.

Most importantly, business and personal credit reports and credit scores differ. Personal credit scores range from 300 to 850 with a score of above 700 co ...

By David Yanagisawa, Executive Vice President and Chief Lending Officer

iStock_000005550102XSmall.jpgDo you have a child heading to college? Are you planning a major home renovation or looking for a way to consolidate your debt? If you’re at the point where you need ready cash for a major expense, you’re probably looking at a number of options.

As Chief Lending Officer at Lakeland Bank, I’m often asked which financial vehicle is best. My answer always depends on an individual’s life stage, future goals, and current financial situation. For clients ...

By David Yanagisawa, Executive Vice President and Chief Lending Officer

With mortgage rates at historic lows, many first-time homebuyers and current homeowners are thinking now is the time to get a mortgage or to refinance. For some, taking the first steps can be a bit intimidating, but it need not be. A little preparation and planning can make the process go smoothly.

If you’re one of those thinking about taking out a mortgage or refinancing your home, here are six tips to help you get started and help you move quickly to secure a great mortgage rate when you are ready.

Tip 1: Good credit is key to obtaining a mortgage. Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, you are entitled to receive one free credit report f ...

By David Yanagisawa, Executive Vice President and Chief Lending Officer

shutterstock_102145555.jpgA solid credit score, often referred to as your FICO® score, is an essential marker that lenders look at when you apply for mortgages, auto loans and credit cards. Employers and landlords also review your score when you apply for a job or apartment rental. While a low score may not prevent you from achieving a goal and a high score may not guarantee you will get the money or job you seek, it’s best to know your score and keep your credit squeaky clean. T ...

By: Thomas J. Shara

Lakeland Bank Sparta BranchWe can’t wait to reveal our new state-of-the-art prototype branch in Sparta, New Jersey. We’ve been watching the progress of the branch construction unfold for months and the final details are just about complete. The new branch offers a unique, modern banking experience for our customers and is located at 7 Town Center Drive next to the Stop & Shop.

To mark the occasion, we are inviting the public to a Grand Opening celebration on September 29th from 9:00 a.m. ...

By: Thomas J. Shara

It’s back-to-school time, 42 percent of consumers are expected to increase spending on apparel and school supplies, according to a survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs1. Whether you fall into this group, or plan to stick to last year’s budget, back-to-school shopping is a perfect time to teach children to save.

Learning how to save is one of the most valuable lessons we can impart to our children. Children who learn how to manage their money early can become lifelong savers and hopefully financially responsible adults. Spending and saving wisely also teaches discipline and patience. Having good financial habits will be especially helpful as the next generation faces the challenges of planning for retire ...

By Robert A. Vandenbergh

Coyne-PR-(2).pngWe all know it can be challenging to navigate in a tough economy, but it can also offer businesses new opportunities. Coyne Public Relations is a perfect example of a company that is focused on taking a proactive approach during an economic downturn. CEO Thomas Coyne believes in marketing more aggressively when everyone else is quiet.

While many businesses stayed put, Coyne PR proceeded forward. They turned to Lakeland Bank during the recent recession to discuss Read the full story

By Jeffrey J. Buonforte

Retirement PlanningIt used to be that everybody retired at age 65, but a growing number of Americans are working well past that age. With increased life expectancies and an uncertain economy, how can you determine the right age to retire? The answer varies for everyone, but there are several strategies that can help you determine your ideal retirement age.

New York Times career coach Eilene Zimmerman recently wrote a great article that explores the financial, emotional and health factors to cons ...

By: Robert Vandenbergh

shutterstock_101948962-(1).jpgThis summer, 86 percent of Americans will take a vacation and the decisions they make about how they manage their money will ultimately influence the cost of the trip.

It’s often better to pay with cash to avoid the fees associated with credit cards. You also don’t have to dread the credit card bill that arrives the following month after your trip! But it’s not wise, or practical, to travel with large sums of cash. The money could be stolen or lost, and you’d have no way to recover it. ...

shutterstock_39016408.jpgBy Robert Vandenbergh

Vacation is a long awaited ritual for Americans of all ages. In fact, 86% of us are predicted to either revisit a favorite destination or explore a new one this summer.1

The good news is that a little planning can go a long way toward helping you get the most out of your time and money. Here are some tips to make your summer vacation a cost-effective one.

Plan in Advance
  • Take the time to research your destination. Look for the city’s convention and visitor ...

By Jeffrey J. Buonforte

You’ve waited 18 years for this moment. You’re leaving home and going to college—and the first lesson you may need to learn is how to manage money on your own.

After all, between studying, socializing, and doing laundry for the first time, it’s easy to lose sight of balancing your finances. Here are some guidelines to help you make smart financial decisions.

By David Yanagisawa

BusinessHandShake-(3).jpgCompanies often grow as a result of strategically acquiring another company, and that is how the Capacity Group, a commercial and personal insurance brokerage firm, grew…even in an uncertain economy.

Founded in 1990 by Robert Lull and Mark Weintraub, the Capacity Group is now the second largest privately-held firm in New Jersey with 220 employees and an estimated $400 million in premiums. In recent years, the company decided to focus on growing through acquisitions and mergers within specific niche markets. ...

By Robert A. Vandenbergh

Screen-Shot-2012-05-29-at-4-28-21-PM.pngThinking outside-the-box was the deal maker for Livingston-based Universal Institute when seeking a bank to help them expand their facilities and services for individuals who have traumatic brain and spinal c ...

ManOffice.jpgAre you a time-pressed business manager with a pile of checks sitting on your office desk waiting to be deposited? With Anytime Business Banking at Lakeland Bank, you can save time and increase cash flow by depositing your checks 24/7 from a remote location with our desktop remote scanner, your PC, and an Internet connection. Deposits will be credited to your account the same day when they are scanned before 6:00pm. If scanned after 6:00pm, deposits are processed the ...

By: Thomas J. Shara

Lakeland Bank Oak Ridge NJ Community DonationI’m very proud to say that at Lakeland Bank, we foster a culture of caring and encourage colleagues at all levels to give back to the communities we serve. We did so in 2011 in many ways including building homes, collecting food, and raising funds for college scholarships. We donated more than $380,000 to numerous charitable and nonprofit groups in North Jersey to enhance the services they provide to our local communities.

Our tradition of giving back to the community started more than 4 ...

By Robert A. Vandenbergh

Lakeland Bank Thor Labs.jpgAt Lakeland Bank, encouraging local investment is one of our key objectives. We believe localized lending is the ultimate win-win. We’re not just investing in a business; we’re also investing in a community. That was the case with the Thorlabs project.

The NJ-based manufacturer of photonic tools and systems had plenty of locations to choose from to expand its facilities for its growing business, but ultimately they decided to build their new headquarters in Newton, NJ. For Alex Cable, president ...

By David Yanagisawa

CommercialLending.jpgAlthough the economy is gradually showing signs of improvement, small companies still have tough decisions to make when considering growth opportunities as part of their 2012 business plans. I recently discussed how Lakeland Bank is helping businesses navigate these decisions with some of my colleagues in an interview featured on limited issues of Money magazine.

We’re seeing an increased demand for commercial mortgages and loans for new construction. Our customers are taking advantage of the current real estate market to buy and renovate buildings instead of con ...

By: Robert A. Vandenbergh

Phishing.jpgLast year, more than 75 million taxpayers used individual software solutions to file their taxes. Taxpayers using these do-it-yourself tax preparation and financial planning products are currently the latest target for online phishing scams.

As the April 15th deadline approaches, scam artists are bound to look for people in the midst of filing their taxes. It’s easy for recipients to confuse a spam email for an authorized one, since most software providers routinely send emails on the status of tax returns. The thieves simply ask for perso ...


tax-strategies.jpg This year taxes are due April 17…two extra days for most taxpayers, but millions of Americans are scrambling to get their taxes in by the due date. In fact, the IRS reports that as many as 25 percent of Americans file taxes during the final two weeks before the deadline. If you’re among this large group, here are some tips to consider before you file.

  • Make an additional contribution to your IRA by April 17, 2012 and it will count for the 2011 tax year. Just make sure you specify the ...

RoadtoRecovery.jpgBy Thomas J. Shara, CEO

With the New Year underway, many business owners and leaders are wondering if we can expect the same tough economy—or if there will be an improvement this year. At Lakeland Bank, we see several indications that it’s improving. Recently, I shared some thoughts on this topic with The Business Edge, a publication of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce, along with other business leaders who see reasons to be hopeful about the year ahead.

In our industry, the most notable indication the economy is turning was that our commercial loan originations were up 26 percent in 2011 over 2010. Bu ...

Elite-Logo.pngBy now you’ve probably heard about our new checking account, Elite Checking, which is designed to provide our customers with great personal identity protection, hundreds of dollars in savings and more convenient services. We are excited about Elite Checking and want you to begin saving time and money on the things you enjoy.

Once you are an Elite Checking customer, many of the account benefits can be accessed through the easy-to-use discount network site known as BaZing. Below are tips to help you t ...

By Robert A. Vandenbergh

At Lakeland Bank, we recently challenged ourselves to uncover opportunities to provide every customer with new benefits that would simplify their life. As a result, we created a new line of checking products that we are thrilled to debut today. Our enhanced lineup is designed to provide convenience, security and great savings with four new checking account levels: Classic, NOW, Platinum and our premium, Elite Checking.

Elite Checking provides our customers with unbelievable benefits that give them the ...

By Robert A. Vandenbergh

IdentityTheft.jpgThe Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. That is an alarming number of victims.

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information, such as your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, to commit fraud. Armed with your personal information, thieves can open new credit card accounts, get a job, rent a house, get medical services, file a fraudulent tax return or take o ...


Financial planner shakes hands with client after developing a financial planIf you’re a small business owner, chances are you have a sales and marketing plan. But do you have a financial plan? If not, it’s important to make that a priority.

Even a one-person entity needs a financial plan. A financial plan allows you to compare forecasts to actual results and to make smarter decisions on future spending or investments.

Financ ...


retired grandparents play with their grandchild at the beachMost Americans will spend approximately 20 years in retirement and many agree that planning for this time period is important. However, the U.S. Department of Labor reports that fewer than half of those who want to get ready for their golden years actually know how much they need to save for it. As a result, many put off the planning process and miss opportunitie ...

By Lakeland Bank

KeyboardAs an increasing number of consumers shop online this holiday season, there is a greater need than ever to protect against costly phishing and cyber scams, according to the National Cyber Security and Communications Integration Center (NCSCIC). Lakeland Bank is sharing tips offered by this organization to help its customers prevent unwanted consequences of phishing and cyber scams.

Phishing is an attempt to acquire usernames, passwords, credit card or other information from unknowing online consumers, and can lead to ...

By Robert Vandenbergh

holiday-budget.jpgNorth Jersey residents hoping to spend less this holiday season can shop locally and engage in community activities. In turn, shoppers will be supporting small businesses and helping to strengthen the local economy. Here are some of our favorite affordable ways to celebrate the holidays close to home at retailers, restaurants and community centers.

1. Shop locally. Visit your local merchants to find distinctive gifts and services for the people on your holiday list. Mention that you’re a local neig ...

Cons-Loans.jpgBy David Yanagisawa

Are you considering taking advantage of low interest rates to refinance your home and reduce your monthly mortgage payment? If so, it’s as important to find the right lender as it is to choose the right loan. Finding the right combination could save you thousands of dollars.

Some simple research is all that’s needed to choose a lender that best fits your unique situation. Here’s how to get started:

1. Determine which type of mortgage you prefer ...

Cons-Loans.jpgBy Robert Vandenbergh

With interest rates at historic lows, many Americans are choosing to refinance in order to reduce their monthly payment. Refinancing may be ideal for many homeowners, so it’s a good time to determine if it is the best option for you.

Below is a check list to help you weigh the pros and cons of refinancing.
  1. Get a copy of your credit score – Today’s criteria are stricter than in the past with a credit score of 680 or above being preferred by many lender ...

By Bob Vandenbergh, COO

With all the recent media coverage on financial institutions, have you been considering switching banks? If so, consider your local community bank. You might think that switching banks is a complicated process but, at Lakeland Bank, we make it simple. We have an easy to follow “Switch Kit" that provides all of the information you need to move your finances from one bank to another.

Just follow these four steps to switch today!

Step 1: Open a New Account with Lakeland Bank
Prior to opening a new bank account, take the tiime to explore the different banking products.

By Jeffrey J. Buonforte

College is expensive. If one or more of your children plans to pursue a higher education, it may require some planning to be ready for this expense. How are you going to afford it? One way is to set up a college financial plan. Given the current economic climate, it may be more challenging than ever for some families to afford college. Planning takes into account economic conditions and a family’s ability to save.

The earlier you start, the harder your money can work for you, and the more chance it will have to grow over time. The hardest part is getting started. But it can be easy if you begin by answering these questions:

1. How many children do I expect will go to college?
2. Wh ...

By Robert Vandenbergh

If you think you can’t afford college, you’re not alone. Nearly three-quarters of Americans surveyed in a recent Pew study said they couldn’t afford a college education.< ...

By: Robert A. Vandenbergh




By Thomas J. Shara

All of our branches have a poster listing Lakeland Bank’s Core Values, and one of them is to give back to our communities. We take our core values seriously and believe they are more than words on a poster. Lakeland Bank and its employees regularly give back to the communities we serve…it is a part of our corporate mission and culture.

Recently, we sponsored the 30th Annual Sussex County Golf Classic at Newton Country Club in Newton, N.J. We were there when this event got its modest start, supporting a single charity. Now this outing raises much-needed funds for over a dozen Sussex County chariti ...

By: Robert A. Vandenbergh


If you’re a local resident or small business seeking a loan for personal or commercial reasons, we are a community bank that offers multiple lending solutions to those who live and work in Northern Jersey. Our knowledge of the local marketplace has supported client relationships spanning several generations and we work hard to continue to expand and build on these partnerships.

Local businesses are the backbone of any community and at Lakeland Bank we established a Small Business L ...

By Thomas J. Shara
It happens every day. An unsuspecting senior citizen is asked to provide their social security number to ‘validate’ an account to make a donation to a phony charity, or pays a claim fee for ‘winning’ a lottery prize. These are just two types of fraudulent scams con artists often use, but there are many examples of financial elder abuse and it’s widespread. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, seniors throughout the United States lose an estimated $2.6 billion or ...

By Robert A. Vandenbergh

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently reported their Affordability Index in New Jersey reached its highest point in years in 2010. 2011 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey also revealed the national median vacation-home price in 2010 was down 11.2 percent from 2009, and the median investment-home price was down 10.5 percent.

While this isn't welcome news for sellers, the combination of affordable prices and favorable interest rates has created ideal circumstances for first-time, ...

By: Robert A. Vandenbergh

This is a great time for business owners to apply for a commercial loan. Renewed desire by banks to generate quality earning assets and stimulate their local economies is creating increased competition amongst the largest lending institutions and the mid-size local community banks. This industry phenomenon is creating new loan options, more flexible underwriting and accelerated business development activity; all of which create attractive opportunities for healthy businesses.

Recognizing this trend, the largest institutions are promoting themselves as a local community bank and are attempting to streamline their lending procedures and improve up ...

By Robert A. Vandenbergh

There’s been quite a bit of press lately about the signs of a nationwide improvement in the commercial real estate market. A good reason for the modest sales increase can be attributed to the amount of commercial funds now available to qualified borrowers.

Commercial loan applications have increased slightly over the past few months and banks are supporting this trend with customer service and by helping commercial business borrowers through the loan process. At Lakeland Bank, we cater to local business and just went one step further launching a “Fast Track” for those looking to borrow up to $250,000.

By: Robert A. Vandenbergh

Are you a saver or a spender? If you're like most Americans, you probably think you don't save enough, and if you're a young adult, saving money may not be at the top of your priority list at this time.

Understanding the power of saving money is a key factor to achieving financial security. Many people now believe that having a substantial savings balance could have lessened some of the challenges that many Americans faced during the recent economic downturn.

The American Bankers Association points out that young adults take driver education classes before being issued a license, yet they are given a "hall pass& ...

By: Robert A. Vandenbergh

An asset-based loan, known as an ABL, is the perfect option for small business owners who need a bridge between their sales and the collection of receivables. Growth-oriented companies, seasonal businesses, leveraged buyouts and companies with continuous external working capital requirements, often find this type of lending solution to be an excellent choice compared to other lending options.

For more information on ABL solutions and what is required to apply for this type of loan, please view our video or read our post on Simply Speaking. ...

By Robert A. Vandenbergh

In this challenging environment, many businesses needing financial support to manage cash flow for inventory and equipment purchases, capital improvements, renovations, or expansion plans are seeking out small business loans. According to a report released by the Community Reinvestment Act, over 95% of the small business loans issued nationwide are under $250,000.[i]

In order to simplify the application process and offer quick decision making for this group of borrowers, Lakeland Bank has created a Read the full story

By: Robert A. Vandenbergh

For more than 40 years Lakeland Bank has delivered community-focused financial services tailored to help individuals, families and small business owners in North Jersey remain financially healthy and strong. We have always believed that communicating with our customers where they work, live and play is an important part of this mission.
Today, we know this increasingly means communicating online and through social media. And, to stay in touch with our customers where they seek their news and information, we recently launched our own Facebook,

By: Robert A. Vandenbergh
From the day Lakeland Bank first opened its doors, we have had a strong tradition of philanthropy. It’s truly amazing what Lakeland Bank’s employees and customers have done over the years to support our local communities. In 2010, we continued our tradition of giving back in many ways, and here are a few that I would like to bring attention to:
  • Lakeland Bank employees volunteered 16,000 service hours supporting nonprofit organizations in their neighborhoods including schools and youth athletic leagues. They also volunteered for first aid squads and fire departments and were members of Rotary Clubs, Knights of Columbus and hospital foundations. The service our employees give helps foster ...

By: David S. Yanagisawa 
As the economy improves, small businesses may find they need quicker access to cash to rebuild levels of inventory. They may have a project or opportunity on the horizon but might be short on cash to complete it. Asset-based lending could be the right solution.
According to the Commercial Finance Association’s Q3 ABL Lending Index, asset-based lenders continue to increase new credit commitments and are helping fuel the availability of working capital for businesses emerging from the recession.

By: Robert A. Vandenbergh

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms in America, and these companies rely heavily upon owner investment and bank credit – averaging $80,000 a year – for financing.[1]

It is not unusual for these small businesses to experience a cash strain from time to time. Business solutions available in these instances include a commercial line of credit, a commercial term loan or a small business line of ...

By: Robert A. Vandenbergh

At some point in your life, you might need ready access to money for a major expense such as a home renovation or college tuition for your children. Many families who own their home have the option of applying for a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) or a Home Equity Loan (HEL) to help with life’s expenses.

The video above, from Bankrate.com, does an effective job of explaining the basic differences between a HELOC and a H ...

 By: Jeffrey J. Buonforte

Disability and long term care insurance are important aspects of financial planning. These insurance options protect families facing a situation of income loss due to a catastrophic accident or an extended illness.

According to a recent National Underwriters study, men have a 43% and women a 54% chance, of becoming seriously disabled during their working years.[1] Regarding long-term care two-thirds of people 65 or older will need long ...

 By: Jeffrey J. Buonforte
It has been estimated that over 40% of Americans may not be prepared for retirement [1], which is mainly due to the current challenging state of our economy. While some individuals are saving less for retirement others are dipping into their nest eggs to make ends meet.  Talking with a financial advisor can help you make the best financial decisions for your family and your future.

Here are five tips to help get you started on finding the financial advisor that is right for you.

By: Robert A. Vandenbergh

 At the beginning of a year, we have the opportunity to review our finances and make adjustments for a fresh start. If you have spent too much and saved too little, making small tweaks to your budget will help you meet your financial goals.

As reported in The Miami Herald, statistics confirm that almost 97 percent of New Year's resolutions are never fulfilled. Even so, some 40 to 45 percent of people set goals and research shows that 46 percent make it past the six-month mark.  Read the full story

By: Robert A. Vandenbergh

If you run a small business now and need a boost in cash flow you are in luck. Money is available for companies with solid business plans. The U.S. Small Business Administration reports that small businesses based in New Jersey received over $81 million in loans in October, which is triple the amount from the prior year. According to the Star Ledger in October, business loans to small businesses in the State rose 65% and the average loan doubled to a half-million dollars.1

This predicted expansion bodes well for small businesses seeking financing for ...

By: Jeffrey J. Buonforte

Family_Walking.jpeg Having a financial plan is important no matter what earning bracket you are in. There are a number of components that make up a financial plan including: Insurance, Investment, Taxation, Retirement Planning, and Estate Planning.

Why is insurance so important? The answer is asset protection and security for your loved ones. LIMRA, a worldwide research and consulting organization, revealed an alarming fact th ...

By: Jeffrey J. Buonforte

football players in huddleWhether you follow pee-wee football or the NFL you know the important role a solid game plan plays in achieving success. The same can be said for one’s personal financial goals, only the game plan in this instance is a budget.
Think of your budget as the key to winning the big game and it doesn’t have to be difficult if you stick to these three easy steps. 
So where do you start? Think about the answers to these questions:

By: Lakeland Bank
Family with Snowman
We all want to treat our loved ones during the holiday season, but a recent Consumer Reports Holiday Shopping Poll1 revealed that some 13.6 million Americans are still paying for holiday gifts they bought last year, which also tells us that we need to do a better job of living within our means. 

This year, to help trim some of those holiday expenses, we are sharing some of our favorite money saving tips!
Set a Budget
Create a list that includes everything you want ...

By: Jeffrey J. Buonforte
Couple with Femail BankerOnce you have a financial plan, which is the foundation of a healthy financial future, the next step is a roadmap of what needs to be done to succeed, or a wealth management program*.  This is an on-going process that is no longer reserved only for high-net-worth investors.
Wealth management is now available for savvy, well-prepared investors with a minimum of $25,000 to invest. It pays to start early ...

By: Jeffrey J. Buonforte

Bank Couple with BankerRecently the Star Ledger reported that over 40% of Americans may not be prepared for retirement.1 Meaning people may not have enough nest eggs to carry them through their golden years, or may have to delay their retirement.

Financial planning is something we should think about as early as age 35. It typically includes personal investing, tax planning strategies, insurance, retirement and estate planning and legal counsel.

We've always offered financial ...

By: Thomas J. Shara

JoAnn Papa, Human Resources Assistant; Kathy Picun, Human Resources Assistant; Jennifer Hixson, Junior Accountant; Betty Frint, Assistant Treasurer/Accountant; and Karen Stevens, Assistant Vice President/AccountantAccording to the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy’s new report, there was a 4.9% decrease in charitable donations in 2009. The report cites an unstable economy as the reason people have given less due to anxieties about their families’ future financial stability, and the same can be said for businesses.

Luckily, Lakeland Bank is fortunate enou ...

By: Jeffrey Buonforte
Jeffrey Buonforte
Everyone needs a financial plan. Nowhere is that more true than in New Jersey, according to an article that recently ran in the Star-Ledger which outlines how the “Great Recession” has affected the local community.

According to the Census Bureau’s 2009 American Community Survey, New Jerseyans make 36% more than our state counterparts, but our cost of living is 60% higher than anywhere ...

Welcome - 9/27/2010
We are kicking-off our new branding campaign over the Columbus Day weekend and want to thank those who participated in our research and helped us create the new look and feel of Lakeland Bank. Our brand is so much more than a new logo or tagline. It's our company's personality, truly one of our most valuable assets.
Our new look and tagline, on this new interactive, state-of-the-art website will also be in print and billboard advertising; on direct mail; and, on cable television and radio.

You can find also our new Facebook page and < ...