Budget Vacation. Affordable Travel. Tips.

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!

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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!

Beyond the Cubical

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August 10, 2015 // Community, Culture

Article Written By: Cordell Zachery | Commercial Loan Operations Intern | Mercantile Bank of Michigan

As an incoming Senior at Grand Valley State University I’ve completed a variety of internships and worked a handful of jobs. As my undergraduate career is coming to an end, planning for post graduate life is now my top priority. Acing classes, making connections, and finding my niche within an organization are my main goals for my final year. This mindset is what steered me to Mercantile Bank.

Towards the end of my Junior year I came in contact with Don Williams a former member of Mercantile’s Board of Directors. With his guidance I interviewed with Mercantile Bank for a summer internship with the Commercial Loan Operations Department and shortly after I was offered the position.

From day one of the internship I knew that it was going to be different from my previous work experiences. The day was dedicated to training all of the interns where we learned about the bank’s values and structure, professional development skills, and went on a tour of the bank’s main branch. We even got to chat with the bank’s president!

The day after training I met the employees from the departments that I’d be working with. Each employee in the department was vibrant and welcoming. My supervisors really made me feel as though my task within the organization helped with the bank’s success. This feeling of actually making an impact as an intern is something that Mercantile Bank strongly values. Not once have I felt like a “cog in the machine”.

A unique part of Mercantile’s internship program is the experience outside of the office. Misti Stanton, Diversity & Inclusion Officer, makes it her duty to make sure that we not only develop connections within the bank but outside as well. In June Misti brought the interns to an event with the ADA called the “Father of The Year Awards” held at JW Marriot. During this event we were able to network with various professionals from Grand Rapids, learned a few pointers on dinner etiquette, and enjoyed a delicious 3 course meal. This is only one of the many professional events we’ve attended. Being around these professionals motivated me to attend numerous networking and skill building events around Grand Rapids and at every event I can say that I’ve made a connection with a new person.

Another facet of Mercantile that I didn’t expect to get from my internship was the openness of employees to be a mentor and a friend.  Whenever being around Don Williams he greets you with a warm smile and then gives you some tips or past experiences that contain a take away for you to use within your life. Also, I’ve been able to learn from departments other than mine as well. As an Advertising & PR major I was very interested in what the Marketing Department’s functions were. Monica Kreiger and Zach Roth both took time out of their day to meet with me. I learned about their strategies, use of social media, commercial making, and more.

As an intern here at Mercantile Bank I can truly say that I’ve had one of the best experiences as an up and coming professional in Grand Rapids. Within Mercantile’s mission statement it states that the organization maintains an “environment of growth and development” and I’ve seen that first hand.  Not only do I learn new things every day about the inner workings of Mercantile but I also improve daily on my professionalism and transferable skills that I can use in any field that I choose to go into. Here at Mercantile you have your best experiences outside of your cubical.