We’re excited to announce the launch of the MercMoney® Chatbot , it’s a new way to engage with your money and receive fast answers to common personal finance questions, through the latest voice-and-messaging platforms.
What’s a chatbot?
A chatbot is simply a piece of technology that you can interact with through voice-and-messaging platforms. It’s able to interpret what you say or type and provide an intelligent and relevant response. If you’ve ever used Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or Apple’s Siri, you’ve used a chatbot. The MercMoney® Chatbot builds on top of the existing functionality of our online and mobile app MercMoney® that is already used by thousands of customers who have taken charge of their finances. Please click here to learn more about MercMoney® . With the launch of the MercMoney® Chatbot, those same powerful financial insights can be accessed through Google Home, SMS (text messaging), and Facebook Messenger.
Why did we do this?
Our goal is to make sure everyone has an understanding of their financial health. The MercMoney® Chatbot will support customer financial health by expanding the possible channels for delivery of relevant and timely financial insights that can shape day-to-day financial decisions. It’s another convenient way for customers to keep track of their account balances, transactional history, spending patterns, budget trends, goals, and much more.
What can the Chatbot do?
You can ask MercMoney® all sorts of questions about your money, including account balances, spending, savings, budgets, recent transactions and more.
We’re constantly adding to the MercMoney® Chatbot, but you can try a few of the sample questions below:
● “What’s my account balance?”
● “What’s my latest transaction?”
● “Recent spending on restaurants”
● “What’s my net worth?”
● “What was my income last month?”
● “How’s my spending?”
● “What did I spend on coffee last month?”
● “How’s my shopping budget?”
● “Where is the nearest ATM?”
● “What’s the Mercantile routing number?”
● “What’s a money order?”
How do I start to use the Chatbot?
To use the MercMoney® chatbot, your first step is to enable MercMoney® on the device of your choice and securely connect all the accounts you want to track. Once MercMoney® is enabled and you have all your accounts loaded, it will begin to track your transactions, categorize them, create budgets, spending, and cash flow analysis, as well as providing tools to measure your net worth and plan to pay off debt. You still have access to all of the great visualization tools inside the MercMoney® app, and with the new MercMoney® chatbot, you’ll be also able to receive these insights conveniently through popular conversational platforms like Google Home, Facebook Messenger, and SMS (text messaging).
Is this secure?
Your security is always central to us and is an integral part of all of our services, no matter what device or platform you use to access your accounts. The MercMoney® Chatbot uses the same login as the online banking site to authenticate your device, and we don’t share access to your financial information with third parties in providing the service. Please click here to learn more about security for the MercMoney® Chatbot.
Article Written By: John Schulte| SVP, Chief Information Officer| Mercantile Bank of Michigan
Just in time for the holidays, when finances and overspending can be stressful, the new Cash Flow module is now live in our online management tool, MercMoney®. The Cash Flow module offers an easy way to project out your income/expenses (and replace the old checkbook register).
MercMoney® is integrated into our online banking system and is a great way to empower you to take control of your finances and simplify your life. Budgeting, account aggregation and debt management are a just a few of the tools available, and best of all it’s free with any Mercantile checking or savings account.
It’s easy to set up MercMoney® and the Cash Flow module with a set-up wizard that identifies most re-occurring transactions, allows you to choose/edit future dated transactions and search history for other re-occurring items the wizard may miss. The wizard makes it easy (5-10 minutes) to replace a work intensive spreadsheet or manual process cash flow tracking process.
This module works both for people who want an easy, casual estimate of their cash flow and for those who keep detailed records. It can replace your current checkbook register, spreadsheet, Quicken or paper reconciliation process – with an automated and more efficient cash projection. The mobile version of this module is expected to be released in early 2017 so you can budget while on the go.
If you would like more information on MercMoney® and the new Cash Flow module visit https://www.mercbank.com/electronic/merc-money.asp or stop in to any of our branches.
Article Written By: Lori Knierim | Marketing Officer | Mercantile Bank of Michigan
We could all use a little rest and relaxation – but when it’s time take a break and get away, how do you not go over budget? We’ve got some great tips on how to travel without breaking the bank!
Search the Web. Check local Chamber of Commerce or Visitor Bureau websites for events or festivals happening in towns throughout Michigan. Many of them are free, or very low cost and fun for the whole family.
Consider rental homes/cabins instead of hotel rooms. One of the largest parts of your vacation budget can be eaten up by expensive hotel bills… but consider checking out sites such as VRBO.com or HomeAway.com to find more affordable lodging options. Often times, they offer great accommodations at a much lower rate.
Be flexible! If possible, plan your trip during the “off” season or mid week. Many tourist destinations are able to offer package deals at greatly reduced prices if you’re able to visit when they’re not as busy. In addition, when there are fewer crowds, you’re able to enjoy the visit that much more!
Consider your mode of transportation. Planes, Trains and Automobiles! The cost of fuel can impact a vacation budget very quickly. If you’re traveling less than 300 miles taking the family car is usually more economical. Once you go beyond that point things change. Check airlines for last minute deals on flights, or consider taking a train or bus for a more scenic mode of travel.
When at all possible, try to avoid eating out. Easier said than done we know, but if you can pack snack food or sandwiches as well as drinks for the day you’d be amazed at how much money you can save. If you decide to eat out, try to pick one meal a day. Every little bit adds up so choose wisely!
The bottom line? Whether it’s a day at the beach, the local zoo, exploring a lighthouse, or hiking down a wooded path, there are so many ways to get out there and affordable enjoy that well deserved vacation time!
Article Written By: Zach Roth | Creative Media Specialist | Mercantile Bank of Michigan
Budgeting is not easy. The best intentions of saving and taking financial control can quickly become forgotten as old spending patterns creep their way back into your routine. Instead of attempting to take on your budget all by yourself, why not utilize available tools and resources to help keep you on track? Mercantile Bank of Michigan offers a variety of tools and services to assist you in taking control of your finances.
1. Track Your Spending
Maintaining an awareness of where your money is going is a great place to start. You’re able to notice spending patterns that you may not have even been aware of. Seeing just how much your morning coffee is costing you over the course of a month can be shocking. Changing the coffee routine from daily to weekly can have a significant impact on your savings over the course of a year.
Mercantile Bank’s MercMoney application tracks all of your spending for you. Any purchases you make are immediately categorized. The application displays your spending habits in charts and lists that help you to visualize where your money is going.
2. Build a Budget
Clearly seeing your spending habits can help you find areas where you might like to make changes. Giving yourself a budget for various expenses will allow you to stay in control of your spending. Once again, the MercMoney application is a great tool to create and maintain a budget. You’re able to set different budgets within each expense category. The app can send you notifications via text or email when you are nearing your spending limit within a category. If you need to make any adjustments to your budget throughout the year, it is easy to make changes.
3. Pay Yourself
Saving money can be difficult, especially if you have to make the decision each month of how much to put away. When money gets tight, it becomes easy to procrastinate on your own savings. Why not take the decision out of your hands? If you set up an automated transfer into a savings account, you will no longer have to continually decide if you can afford to pay yourself. Set a reasonable amount and you won’t even notice the movement of funds. By the end of the year you will have built up your savings account without even realizing it.
It’s easy to manage your accounts with Mercantile’s Internet Banking. Setting up a recurring transfer between your accounts is a simple and convenient way to make sure your savings grows.
4. Be Aware
Having an awareness of your budgets and balances helps you to stay on top of executing your financial plan. MercMobile is a great way to maintain that awareness no matter where you are. If you are in a store contemplating a purchase, it may be helpful to check your account balance from your phone before making a decision. The MercMobile app is free and can be quickly downloaded from your favorite app store. Don’t have a Smartphone? That’s ok, we also offer Mobile Web Banking and Text Banking so you can always get balances on the go.
5. Be Intentional
Taking the first step to set up a budget is necessary. However, your efforts are meaningless if you are unable to follow through with your budget. Gaining the self-discipline to adhere to a budget can be incredibly challenging. You may find yourself struggling to stay within your spending limits. Mercantile Bank’s Reloadable Cards may be a helpful resource for staying on track. For example, say that you are regularly exceeding your spending limit for groceries. Unnecessary items continue to catch your eye and cause you to overspend. You may find that putting your allotted grocery money on a Reloadable Card will help you to gain the self-discipline you need. Knowing that there is only so much on the card can serve as your continual reminder to stick to the plan.
For more information on these financial tools and more, visit us at www.mercbank.com.