If you’re like us, you might spend the first few weeks of spring with the urge to clean, organize, and declutter everything in sight. Whether you tackle your home, car, desk, or finances, it usually makes you feel better to get everything back in order. We don’t have any cleaning tips to offer, but we can give suggestions for ways to save money during the spring.
Skip eating take out
Pack your lunch and cook dinner at home. Enjoy fresh spring produce such as parsnips, peas, asparagus, chard, scallions, lettuce, and parsley.
Get moving in the great outdoors
Do you use your gym membership? If it’s just a monthly drain on your account, consider canceling it and exercising in nature by hiking, running or biking.
Coordinate a plant swap
Before going to a garden center to buy new plants for your garden, talk to your friends and see if they have some they might want to give you or split for you.
Shop spring sales
Browse for discounted winter gear and winter tools. Ski and snowboarding equipment is usually discounted this time of year, along with snowblowers and shovels.
Fix up your home
If any problems presented themselves over the winter (leaks, lack of insulation, etc.) spring is a good time to fix them in order to save on utility bills next winter.
Be strategic with your tax refund
Use the extra money to pay off debt or save for a big goal like a summer vacation, or retirement.
Valentine’s Day is coming up and it can be a great time to show the special people in your life what they mean to you. Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day or both, here are a few tips to keep the celebration affordable.
Cook at home – You can save a lot of money by cooking at home on Valentine’s Day. Find a special recipe and look for ways to make it unique. For example, some grocery stores sell steaks in the shape of a heart the week of the holiday. Grab a bottle of your favorite wine, and maybe a box of brownie mix and you’re good to go.
Make your own card and gift – In addition to saving money, your partner is sure to appreciate the thoughtfulness of a homemade gift and card. You could put together a photo album, bake a special dessert, or create a gift basket of inexpensive personalized items.
Use coupons – Look at popular coupon websites such as Groupon for discounts on gifts, activities and dining out.
Make your own flower arrangement – Flowers can be a big expense on Valentine’s Day. Buy flowers at the supermarket and mix and match various arrangements in order to get a stunning bouquet for less. Bonus tip: buy a potted plant that will last longer than a bouquet in order to get more bang for your buck.
Plan a low budget activity – Whether you watch a movie at home, go for a picnic at a local park, or just make pancakes together, it’s okay to keep the plans simple in order to stick to your budget. After all, it’s the thought that counts.
According to Inc Magazine “save more and spend less” was one of the top New Year’s Resolutions for 2019 – just behind eat healthier, lose weight and exercise more.
If “saving more and spending less” is one of your resolutions, here are a few places to get started:
Set your budget
Use apps such as Mint to evaluate where, and how, you are spending your money. Next, set a goal for how much you would like to save, spend, or put toward debt. Monitor your progress throughout the month by saving receipts or tracking your spending in Online or Mobile Banking.
Tackle your debt
Make a list of all your debt and include the interest rate on each debt. From there, put extra money toward one of the bills you would like to pay off. Some people recommend attacking the debt with the highest interest rate first, some advocate for starting with the one with the smallest dollar amount. Either way, make sure to avoid taking on additional debt while you’re paying it down.
Save for retirement
It’s never too early to start! Sign up for your company’s 401(k) plan if they have one and if they match a certain percentage, make sure to take advantage of it. Once you get more comfortable with your budget, see if you can increase your 401(k) contributions. You can also open up an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Contact a member of our team to learn more.
Start an emergency fund
Emergency funds are critical because, along with giving you peace of mind, they help to ensure you don’t have to go into debt when a crisis occurs. Start with a small amount each month, and increase it as you earn more (and pay down your debt).
Improve your credit score
Your credit score is the gateway to getting financing for a house, a car, or to receiving any type of loan. You are eligible to receive a credit report from each company – Equifax®, Experian® and TransUnion® – once a year, at no charge by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.
If your score needs improvement, focus on paying your bills on time, as well as paying down your debt, keeping credit card balances low, and limiting the number of credit cards you open. Also, make sure to review your credit report regularly to catch and report any inaccuracies.
After a holiday season filled with friends, food, and fun, many people use the first of the year as an excuse to reset and catch up on healthy habits including eating right and exercising. But have you considered how to reset your spending after weeks of shopping?
The idea is simple – as with your fitness goals, you want to start off with small, manageable changes over a set period of time. For example, over the course of one month:
These changes don’t need to be permanent, but just like your fitness goals, some of them will stick, saving you money in the long run.
How do you reset your spending after the holidays?
The Webe108 First County Bank coat drive was a huge success! We received about 300 coats during the 2 week donation period, which were all provided to the Bridgeport Rescue Mission. But, that’s not where our support ended. The week before Thanksgiving our team was onsite at the Bridgeport Arena lending a hand. One group assisted as personal shoppers, helping those in need pick out warm winter coats for themselves and their family, while another group handed out turkeys and all the fixings for a Thanksgiving meal.
In just under three hours we were able to help over 225 families pick out a warm winter coat and pick up food to make a home cooked meal, in time for Thanksgiving.
We want to give thanks to all those who contributed to our coat drive, and to Webe108 and the Bridgeport Rescue Mission for including us in this great day of giving back.
Need to “move some money?” With Online or Mobile Banking from First County Bank it’s easy!
Make a one-time transfer. If your checking account is running a little low, use the Quick Transfer feature to make a transfer from your First County Bank savings account.
Schedule your transfers. Want to pay yourself first? Schedule a transfer to move money automatically from checking to savings on the day your paycheck comes in.
Pay your bills. Use Online Bill Payment to ensure your bills are paid on time by scheduling automatic payments for things like your car insurance or mortgage.
Moving money with Online and Mobile Banking from First County Bank allows you to be where you, and your funds, belong.
Black Friday has taken over as one of the most anticipated shopping events of the year with big crowds, and even bigger deals. If Black Friday isn’t your jam, there is Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday.
With all of these “shopping holidays” providing endless ways to spend, it’s important to plan ahead in order to optimize both your time and your money.
Ultimately, it’s important to have fun and enjoy the process of shopping for your loved ones.
Struggling to save money? One common piece of advice is to “pay yourself first,” but what does that mean?
The idea is, before you pay your bills or spend any money, put a small percentage aside into a savings account.
If you receive direct deposit from your employer, you may be able to ask to have part of your check deposited into a savings account, while the rest goes into your checking account. Another tactic is to use Online Banking to schedule an automatic transfer from checking to savings for each payday.
And how much, you may ask, should you put aside? At the end of the day, it comes down to how much you want to save. You can start with a small, set amount ($20 per paycheck), or a percentage (10% of your take home pay). Then, increase the amount slowly over time as you start to make more money, or reduce your expenses.
Have questions about setting up automatic deposits? Visit one of our branches to meet with a Digital Ambassador, or call our CustomerFirst Contact center at 203-462-4400, Monday-Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm.
Halloween is right around the corner. If you and your family members are still in need of a costume, here are a few ways to put together an affordable look.
1) DIY – Before you start worrying about your level of crafting abilities, just know that costumes can be very simple (think mummy made out of toilet paper). There are plenty of ways to turn regular household items into clever costumes, like using red food dye as fake blood, or left-over cardboard boxes can be cut, painted and used as props.
2) Check thrift stores or tag sales – If you’re looking for a special piece of apparel, shoes, or accessories, visit your local thrift store for cheap options. Tag sales may also have the items you are looking for and then you can barter the price.
3) Shop in your (or your partner’s) closet or trade with friends – Need a flannel shirt to be a scarecrow? Or a bandana to be Rosie the Riveter? Think of creative ways to use clothing you already have before buying new pieces. If you don’t have specific pieces, ask your friends – they might be willing to trade for something in your closet that completes their costume.
4) Look for end of season deals – Once the season comes to an end, scour the sale rack and save the items for next year. Even if you don’t want to commit to a costume, you can still save money on make-up, hair dye, or accessories.
5) Use coupons and watch for sales – Check out RetailMeNot® for coupons or download apps for specific stores and watch for coupons and price reductions. If you have BaZing though your First County Bank ValueAccess Checking account, check for savings, discounts and benefits.
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