Lifestyle Trends & Tips, Trends & Tips

Save now on next year’s school supplies

FCB_BusSchool’s out! While it may be tempting to take everything, including your child’s backpack, and throw it into the trash, taking a few minutes now may save you big next fall.

Backpack
After a long year, the backpack might seem like it has reached the end of the road. But, if after closer inspection, you find that the bag doesn’t have any rips or tears, then consider giving it a good cleaning using these tips from Good Housekeeping and putting it away until next year.

School Supplies
While going through the backpack, make sure you grab any pencils, pens or other school supplies which can be used again next year. Other items worth salvaging include staplers, scissors, pencil cases, clipboards and binders.

Locker Décor
With many students customizing their lockers with organizers, mirrors, and disco balls (yes, you read that right), these items are also worth recycling for next year.

The reality is, most of the items that come home from school at the end of the year aren’t going to make it past the trash can, so recycle what you can and then celebrate – Because school is out for summer!

Lifestyle Trends & Tips, Trends & Tips

The Password Is…Secure

FCB_SafePass10 smart tips for protecting your passwords

Your computer. Your online bank or investment account. Your health insurance. Your auto loan. Today, thanks to technology, you can now access more accounts and providers online than ever before. That’s the good news. The bad news is that online account access comes with a big responsibility – managing multiple passwords. In fact, if wealth were measured in passwords, the average American would be very wealthy.

Because of the importance of your passwords in protecting your personal and account information, it’s critical that you make the time to carefully choose and manage all your passwords. Here are 10 smart tips for greater password security:

  1. Don’t make your passwords easily decipherable. While they are easy to remember, simple passwords, such as a child’s name, your date of birth, street address, or dog’s name may be obvious to identity thieves.
  2. Mix up letters and numbers and capitalization. The best passwords are those that are long (8 characters or more) and feature a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
  3. Consider substituting symbols for letters. For example, instead of using the letter “S,” use the “$” symbol in your password.
  4. Assign a different password for every online account. While using one password for all accounts can make things easier for you; it can put you at far greater risk if that password is ever compromised.
  5. Don’t use consecutive computer keystrokes, such as “123456” or “qwerty.”
  6. Write down and store your passwords in a secure place.
  7. Change your passwords regularly.
  8. Always log off your online accounts.
  9. Assign passwords for all your devices, such as your cellphone, computer, or tablet.
  10. Never share your passwords with anyone.

Take a moment to review your passwords today. It’s a small step that can make a big difference in the security of your information.

Lifestyle Trends & Tips, Trends & Tips

How to Save on School Vacation

FCB_umbrellaWith children counting down the days until the end of school, many parents find themselves looking for affordable ways to fill the coming days. Here are a few ideas that will connect your children with friends and fun without breaking the bank:

Look to the library
The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) recently released new Summer reading lists for children from birth through 8th grade. Download the free lists and hit your local library for great stories which are sure to keep your children entertained all summer long.

Stay close to home
Many town recreation departments offer lower cost summer programs including swimming, sports and field trips to residents.

Free family fun
For the eighth consecutive year, First County Bank is sponsoring the 2016 Norwalk Summer Concert Series at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk, which is free and open to the public. Throughout the summer many towns offer free family movie nights, concerts in the park and other evening “open air” entertainment – check with your local recreation department for details.

Share the summer
Taking some time off this summer for a “staycation?” Include the children of your neighbors and friends in your plans in exchange for their doing the same. Not only will you save money, but it will ensure your kids always have someone to play with (avoiding the inevitable cries of “I’m bored!”)

Summer is a great time to explore, relax and enjoy the warm weather – and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. How do you save on summer vacation?

 

Lifestyle Trends & Tips, Trends & Tips

Making Public WiFi Private

FCB_WiFiCoffee shops. Malls. Libraries. Waiting rooms. It seems wherever you go today, more and more establishments are offering the benefit of free Internet access. And while public WiFi can certainly make updating your Facebook status or doing online shopping more convenient, it can bring forth added risk; those same networks that offer convenience to you also offer an easy and convenient way for hackers to view and obtain your personal information and account passwords.

As an Internet user, you do have one form of protection available to you – encryption. Today, an increasing number of websites offer this form of security, which scrambles or encodes information you send. What’s more, you can easily determine when encryption is used simply by looking at the URL in your browser address; sites that begin with “https” use encryption while sites that have “http” in the URL line do not.

It’s important to note, however, that sites that offer encryption may not offer full encryption, putting your passwords and personal information at risk when using public WiFi.

So how can you make using public WiFi a private and secure experience?

The answer lies in three letters – VPN or a Virtual Private Network. A VPN provides a virtual and secure tunnel that make your Internet behaviors virtually invisible to hackers and other entities, such as the government or Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that want to track your patterns.

There are a number of paid VPN services from which you can choose. When searching for one, be sure to look at the security features offered as well as the bandwidth available for each session. You will also want to choose a VPN that offers a U.S.-based server.

If you travel frequently and use public WiFi, it’s a good idea to take the added measure of security and subscribe to a VPN service. Otherwise that daily trip to the coffee shop could end up costing you a whole lot more than the price of that Grande latte.

Lifestyle Trends & Tips, Trends & Tips

How to be a Millionaire Millennial!

Ian Herrera, UCONN Senior, First County Bank Credit Analyst Intern
On Money Saving Tips: A Millennial’s Perspective

ianH
Ever dream of being a millionaire, driving a Lamborghini, owning a yacht, and having the mansion the size of a football stadium? I sure know I have. I can tell you from experience that the first thing you shouldn’t do is go out and spend $500 in 4 days. That will only lead to trouble, especially when that $500 was from your mom.

Instead here are 5 tips on how to reach this millionaire goal and not have to worry about money anymore.

First you must…

Plan for the future

I set up a budget based on what I have planned in any given week. Anything from ordering take-out, hanging out with friends, or a random item I want to buy (because it was on sale) is subject to my weekly budget. I also take into account bills such as cell phone, car payment, and credit card debt. Extra money that is left over from the week, I split between my savings and checking account.

 Next you need to…

Allocate the needed funds, with savings in mind

Personally, I begin by distributing 40% of my paycheck into my savings account and the remaining 60% into my checking account. Depending on your personal expenses, the percentages may be different. You should always try to save as much as possible. These savings should be only used in emergencies. The checking account is used to pay for necessities, bills, and other items that you have budgeted for. Lastly, don’t forget to have an emergency reserve; an amount of $1,000 would be good, in case you ever need it.

Always be aware when…

Socializing with your crew

Going out with friends is great but be careful; you’d be amazed at how much you can spend going to the movies, out to eat, or shopping. Instead, I try to find other inexpensive activities, such as hiking or going to the park when hanging out with friends. It saves money and at the same time you get to exercise. However, there are times when you do need to relax and have a nice time out. Before doing so I advise that you set up a budget to determine how much you plan to spend. Keep to that amount!

Build your future by…

Building Credit

Credit cards can be scary if you don’t know how to properly use one. You can get into serious debt, which can hurt you in the future. Otherwise, they can be a great tool to help you increase your credit score and establish a credit history. For example, I like to use my credit card minimally to buy gas. When the bill comes, I pay the amount in full and have nothing to worry about.

They say…

A penny saved is a penny earned

I wasn’t used to saving money in the past. Once I had it, I spent it and I noticed that I never had any money for emergencies or other activities that I wanted to do because I splurged and spent it all. I decided to begin saving little by little. If I found a penny, nickel, dime, or quarter I would pick it up and put it into my crayon bank. Whenever I drank a water bottle I would keep it to recycle it later and get a nickel. You’ll be amazed at how the little things add up. Within one month I had saved over $200. Projecting this out to a year that figure would be $2,400, which could be a down payment for a car or a trip to Europe! Never underestimate the value of little things, they may seem pointless at first, but in the long run they’re the most helpful.

 Following these tips will ensure that you are financially secure and on your way to being a Millionaire Millennial. Remember not to spend unwisely because the goal is a mansion, yacht, and Lamborghini! Who knows what other luxuries the millions of dollars you’ll have can bring in.

Bank News, Lifestyle Trends & Tips

First County Bank Team’s New Years Resolutions!

Resolutions are a great way to get the New Year started, by helping you set goals and get organized.

Here are some of the resolutions from members of the First County Bank team.

 

Ray, Chairman & CEO:

Do one new thing every single week
Have tea instead of coffee
Take the stairs
Read for pleasure

 

FCB_K_Kelly_final

Karen Kelly, SVP, Chief Marketing Officer

To make time to travel to all the places in the United States that I have dreamt about visiting.

 

 

 

Sara L. Tucker, SVP, Director of Business Banking

Continue to increase my knowledge of Fairfield County and increase my visibility here as a leader, since I am a relative “new-comer”.
Buy a kayak! And use it! I’ve been wanting to do this for a number of years, and this is the year.

 

 

Lifestyle Trends & Tips, Trends & Tips

‘Tis the Day to Give – #GivingTuesday

GiveThe holiday season is the time to give. So it’s not at all surprising that the National Day of Giving, a global day dedicated to giving back, would take place this coming December 1. This annual tradition, also known as #GivingTuesday, takes place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving to inspire individuals, families, students, businesses, and other organizations to celebrate generosity and help others.

How can you experience the joy of #GivingTuesday? Here are some suggestions:

  • Make a donation to a local community organization or charity. Before you send any money, it’s important to do your research to ensure you’re dealing with a reputable organization.
  • If you own a business, encourage your employees and customers to give back. Utilize social media to spread the word about #GivingTuesday and consider providing links on your website to reputable charities.
  • Bring food and clothing donations to your local food pantry or shelter.
  • Donate toys to children.
  • Give your time. You could volunteer your time at a food pantry or work with elderly patients in a nursing home.

 

Lifestyle Trends & Tips, Trends & Tips

Holiday Shopping Safety

ICouple Shoppingt’s the most wonderful and busiest time of the year. And soon, shopping malls and department store parking lots will be filled with harried shoppers loaded with cash and credit cards to take advantage of the deals of the season. But while the holiday season is a great time to take advantage of bargains and other savings; it’s also a time to protect yourself from theft and other crimes.

Here are some tips to help make your holiday shopping season safe and joyous:

  • Shop during the day when possible. If you have to shop at night, bring along a friend and park in well-lighted areas.
  • Avoid parking next to vans, trailers, and other vehicles with tinted windows.
  • Never leave valuable items in your car where they are visible to thieves.
  • If you carry a purse or backpack, guard it carefully. Never leave it on the roof of your car while you’re attempting to open or lock your car.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. It’s easy to get distracted by the bright lights and shopping specials, but it’s important to be vigilant about any hidden dangers.
  • Locate your keys before you get to your car.
  • Try not to carry large sums of cash on you.
  • Be suspicious of any strangers that may approach you, particularly in parking garages and parking lots.
  • Keep a record of all your credit card numbers at home in case your cards get lost or stolen.
  • Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, proceed with caution.

Happy, safe shopping!

Lifestyle Trends & Tips

A Smart Lesson in Avoiding Back-to-School Scams

SchoolSuppliesIf you’ve been to a retail store during the past few weeks, you’re well aware that back-to-school shopping season is in full swing. In fact, next to the holiday season, the back-to-school season is one of the biggest shopping times of the year as retailers promote “Back-to-School” blowouts, savings, and specials.

Unfortunately, this time is also a big season for fraud, as scam artists take to social media, email, and telephones to defraud innocent students and parents.

Here are some ways to ensure you don’t become victim:

  • Only do business online with reputable retailers. If you see an enticing offer or promise, don’t click on banner ads and email links from retailers you don’t know or trust.
  • Don’t participate in online surveys that promise to give you cash or free gifts.
  • Trust your instincts. Scam artists like to lure you in with incredible offers, such as iPods or smartphones for $20. Chances are, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Be vigilant when handling phone calls. One popular technique for scam artists involves callers posing as college personnel looking for additional tuition fees and asking for immediate payment. They may claim that a loan payment or scholarship didn’t go through and that your child will not be able to attend school without payment.
  • Watch for text messages offering you free giveaways when you click on a link.

Getting kids ready for school again is challenging enough. Follow these smart tips to ensure you don’t have to deal with a far greater challenge – being a fraud victim.

Lifestyle Trends & Tips, Trends & Tips

Keys to Making the Right Home Buying Move

House KeyWith the high cost of housing prices today, it’s no wonder that purchasing a home may likely be the biggest investment you will make in your lifetime. That’s why it’s so important to proceed with caution to ensure you’re making the right home choice for your situation. Here are some key steps to making that happen:

Build savings. It takes money to buy a home. In addition to down payment funds, you’ll want to have funds available to cover household expenses, including repairs, home maintenance, and emergency expenses.

Make a checklist of criteria. Before you set out on your home search, you’ll need to narrow your search criteria and decide where you would like to live, what features you need in a home, number of bedrooms, etc.

Get pre-approved by a mortgage lender. A pre-approval from a mortgage lender can help you determine how much you can afford and help you concentrate on houses in your price range. It can also give you a negotiating edge with sellers who will know you’re a serious buyer.

Hire a real estate professional. Ask your friends, family members, and colleagues to recommend someone with expertise in the area you are seeking to buy. An experienced real estate professional should know the area well.

Do your homework. With the Internet, you have access to helpful information and tools to help you better understand the market and home buying process. Be sure to visit credible real estate sites to learn more.

Get an inspection before you buy. Once you find your perfect home, hire a licensed building inspector to determine if there are any problems with the home before you purchase it.

Make a smart move; take these simple steps before you start shopping for a home.