Small Business Profile, Smart Savings Tips

Celebrate National Small Business Week

This week, National Small Business Week will be celebrated across the country. We constantly hear the challenges and successes of starting and maintaining a small business; however, we don’t hear enough about the impact small businesses make in our community.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced, “National Small Business Week is being held from April 29-May 5 and is an annual event hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration to recognize the nation’s top small businesses, entrepreneurs, small business advocates and champions. Every day they’re working to grow small businesses, create 21st century jobs, drive innovation, and increase America’s global competitiveness.”

We look forward to celebrating Small Business Week this week and every week by continually highlighting business events in our community and financial solutions for small businesses. You can participate by shopping local and continuing to support local, small businesses.

Bank News, Customer Profile, Smart Savings Tips

First County Bank Announces Winner of FirstPrize $avings Account Drawing

First County Bank is excited to announce the recent winners of the FirstPrize $avings account $1,000 drawing is Manav Des Puri of Stamford, CT. This innovative account called FirstPrize $avings is a basic savings account with a cash prize drawing component to promote personal savings. With each eligible deposit of $25 or more, the account holder earns an entry into a drawing for a $1,000 prize. The drawing occurs four times per calendar year.

Bob Granata, president and COO, Mirella Martina, AVP, branch manager and Reyno Giallongo, chairman and CEO of First County Bank, present Manav Des Puri with $1,000, as winner of the recent FirstPrize $avings account drawing. To encourage personal savings, the $1,000 prize is directly deposited into the winners’ FirstPrize $avings account. Account details, rules and regulations are posted on the First County Bank savings account website: https://firstcountybank.com/firstprize-savings.

In Our Community, Smart Savings Tips

First County Bank Sponsors Financial Literacy Programs at Local High Schools

Local students are getting a free education in how to manage their money. First County Bank is working with Banzai, a national award-winning financial literacy program, to offer the completely free financial literacy curriculum available to eight schools in the New Canaan, Fairfield, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and Wilton areas.

“Banzai is a web-based financial literacy program,” Morgan Vandagriff, co-founder of Banzai, said. “Kids have their own bank accounts, and they work through assignments that are based on real life. But because First County Bank is sponsoring it, local schools get it for free. More than ever, it’s important that kids develop sound financial skills to prepare them for the real world. First County Bank realizes that, and they’re doing something about it.”

Banzai is an interactive, online program supplemented by printed workbooks which aligns with state curriculum requirements for personal finance education. It has become the largest program of its kind, servicing more than 35,000 teachers and available in all 50 states.

April is National Financial Literacy Month, and it’s dedicated to helping Americans improve their financial well-being. We’re making an extra effort to spread awareness to teachers about this free financial literacy program available to them. First County Bank has offered time, money, industry experience, and a variety of bank resources to help local schools teach personal finance in the classroom.

Students using the program are exposed to real-life scenarios where they learn to pay bills and balance a budget – but it’s not always easy. Students must learn to manage unexpected expenses such as parking tickets, interest charges and overdraft fees. The educational program also introduces students to auto loans, bank statements, entertainment costs, savings and more.

Teachers interested in using the Banzai program can visit firstcountybank.teachbanzai.com or call 888-8-BANZAI.

Smart Savings Tips, Trends & Tips

10 Tools for Success in Financial Literacy Month

If you’re struggling to find a way to analyze your finances, get a jumpstart by considering these tools for success provided at FinancialLiteracyMonth.com:

  • Free Webinars – Sign up for free webinars designed to help you on your path to financial wellness. Topics include goal setting, credit reporting, managing credit, debt repayment, and budgeting.
  • Income Worksheet – Use the income worksheet to help you determine the amount of income you can realistically count on.
  • Net Worth Worksheet – Calculating your net worth is as simple as comparing what you owe (liabilities) and what you own (assets).
  • Debt Load Worksheet – Create an accurate picture of your debt obligations.
  • Financial Priorities Worksheet – Creating a list of needs and wants can help you establish your financial priorities.
  • Financial Goal Worksheet – Smart financial goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Rewarding, and Trackable. Use this worksheet to identify short-, mid-, and long-term SMART goals.
  • Goal Certificate – Create a “fridge friendly” personalized goal certificate to help you stay motivated.
  • Record of Daily Expenditures – Knowing where your money is going is critical for a successful budget. Track your daily expenses and then ask yourself if you’re spending your money wisely.
  • Expense Worksheet – Create and follow a spending plan. A realistic monthly spending plan is a valuable tool to guide your spending and saving decisions.
  • Tips for Change eBook – Download the eBook to read tips submitted by financially savvy consumers.

If you’ve found these tools helpful, have questions or would like to work through a tool with a trusted advisor, we encourage you to reach out to your local banker. Let’s work together to get you on the path to financial wellness.

Smart Savings Tips, Trends & Tips

April is National Financial Literacy Month

April has been regarded as National Financial Literacy Month for almost twenty years. Financial literacy is something everyone should be educated about or have a trusted advisor they can come to for help. At First County Bank we understand the importance of teaching skills and providing our customers and community the opportunity to educate themselves.

This April, we encourage you to take the next step in learning more about your own finances – strengths, weaknesses and most importantly, opportunities. That next step can be as simple as scrolling through our blog to read about Smart Savings Tips or Lifestyle Trends & Tips. To pursue financial literacy further, we encourage you to talk to your local banker.

Smart Savings Tips

Do you and your money care about the same things?

moneybankAs the old adage goes “Actions speak louder than words.” On the topic in question, it is fair to say spending is an action that implies values. Which explains why the nature of finances can be so personal, and challenge us to ask the question, what do we value?

Is it:

  • Family?
  • Friends?
  • Health?
  • Happiness?
  • Travel?
  • Spontaneity?

In asking these questions, spending becomes a means of self-examination shedding light on our actions and our values. Sometimes they don’t add up and when they don’t add up life can get off track. Such as if you value health, and yet find on your bank statement a lot of transactions related to unhealthy fast food. Thus, prompting the questions:

Does your money care about the same things you do?
Is your budget going towards things you really care about?

In which case steps can and should be taken to realign spending with what we value. Such as:

  • Review expenditures and categorize them to see where the money is going. Know where you are now so you can make a plan going forward.
  • Recognize there may be some items in your budget that need adjusting, but will take time to achieve. For example, moving closer to work to cut down on travel and provide more family time will require time and planning.
  • Set goals to getting your money on track.
  • Make your goals visible. When you have the impulse to spend on something you really don’t value, you can stop yourself because you have visual reminders around you. Create visuals with pictures of your goals on the wall, on our computer, on your phone. Keep it readily in front of you.

Remember, money can enable a lifestyle of values and goals that reflect us. Now that you are aware of these tendencies and about what you value in life…go make your money care about what you care about.

By Heather Marshall, CFPC, MPP; Educator, AAA Fair Credit Foundation/Utah Saves

 

Smart Savings Tips

Fitness Goals for Your Finances

Target-iconIf you’re setting a health and fitness goal for yourself, your first step is to map out how and when you will achieve your goal. You’ll likely plan for small victories, or short-term goals along the way.

This short- and long-term planning is also the key to success in your journey through life. To get where you want to be, you’ll need to establish your course and the milestones or goals you need to achieve along the way.

Of course, the most important step in any journey is figuring out where you want to go. Take some time to ask yourself: What goals would I like to achieve within the next two years? These are your short-term goals. Then, think about the goals you have for later on in life. For example, a long-term goal might be to buy a house or to retire in 20 years.

Once you determine your goals, figure out the steps you need to take to achieve them. So if you want to buy that house, you might set a goal of saving $X per month toward the down payment. Your long-term goal might be to accumulate $X in down payment funds in five years. You should approach your short-term goals in the same way. For example, if your goal is to reduce debt in the next year, establish a specific plan for how you will pay off major loans.

As you think about your goals, do the following:

  • Write them down.
  • Be specific. Include the steps you need to take to accomplish your goals.
  • Review your list regularly to see if you’re on track.
  • Make adjustments. As your life changes, your goals may change, so make sure to review and adjust them.
  • Stay the course.

We can help you reach your financial goals. Feel free to talk to your local banker about strategies to save or reduce debt.

Smart Savings Tips

First County Bank Announces Winners of FirstPrize $avings Account Drawing

We’re pleased to announce the recent winners of the FirstPrize $avings account $1,000 drawing are Anthony and Grace Aversano of Stamford, CT. This innovative account called FirstPrize $avings is a basic savings account with a cash prize drawing component to promote personal savings. With each eligible deposit of $25 or more, the account holder earns an entry into a drawing for a $1,000 prize. The drawing occurs four times per calendar year.

fps-winnerBob Granata, president and COO, and Reyno Giallongo, chairman and CEO of First County Bank, present Grace and Anthony Aversano with their $1,000 as winners of the recent FirstPrize $avings account drawing. To encourage personal savings, the $1,000 prize is directly deposited into the winners’ FirstPrize $avings account. Account details, rules and regulations are posted on the First County Bank savings account website:https://firstcountybank.com/firstprize-savings.

Smart Savings Tips

4 Tips on How to Save at College

moneybankBy now college students are nearing the end of their first full month of a new semester. This often means a few things: midterms are a lot closer than they appear, their roommates are likely better than they initially expected and they begin making the infamous call home asking “can you please send money”. If you plan on making this call, here are four tips on ways to save while you’re away at school.

  1. Track your expenses. This may be the most simply yet satisfying way to save some cash. In order to save, you need to know where your money is going. Additionally, tracking your expenses is a good skill to have once you enter the “real world”.
  2. Cut unnecessary costs. Learn the ins and outs of your school’s meal plan; be sure to maximize what is offered so you don’t find yourself eating out every day.
  3. Look for extra income. Aside from scholarships and grants, try getting a work-study job on campus or internships that will pay money.
  4. Build your savings. Don’t get a work-study or internship just to turnaround and spend what you make. Get in the habit of putting some money aside – the “senior-year-you” will thank the “freshman-year- you”.

For more tips on how to save at college or to read the entire article, click here

Smart Savings Tips

6 Last-Minute Strategies to Pay for College

collegesavingsmonthBy now you have most likely settled into your semester at school. If you’re already worrying about the costs of next semester, here are six strategies to use, which are recommended by specializing in college admissions.

Contact your school’s financial aid office.
Call your school today to discuss your options with a financial aid officer who can lay out funding options or direct you to the school’s payment plan, if available.

“They want the student, they’re expecting the student, they have the deposit, they’re holding a dorm for them, so they have a huge incentive to work things out for the student,” says Donald Heller, provost and vice president of academic affairs at the University of San Francisco.

Submit a student-aid application.
If you haven’t already, fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, which is used by the federal government, states and schools to determine what kind of aid might be available to you. You should complete a FAFSA every year, as early in the year as possible to qualify for the most financial aid.

Since you’re submitting it close to the start of the fall classes, you may have missed out on certain grants, scholarships or need-based aid, but federal loan options are still available. The student aid award letter you receive from filing the FAFSA will detail what federal loans you may qualify for. The sooner you apply, the better the chances that you’ll receive any aid that’s left on the table. Let your school’s financial aid office know that you have submitted the FAFSA and keep in touch once your award letter arrives.

Appeal your financial aid offer.
If your family’s finances have taken a hit since you received a financial aid award, let your school know, since you could be eligible for more aid. Financial aid can be negotiable.

Find scholarships.
Look for scholarships with deadlines that haven’t passed, or ask the financial aid office if your school has scholarships that haven’t yet been awarded. Occasionally, a scholarship will remain open because an applicant has yet to meet the criteria, Heller says. You can find scholarships and deadlines at the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop scholarship finder.

Consider private student loans.
Federal subsidized and unsubsidized student loans come with borrower protections and income-driven repayment options that private loans don’t offer, so the federal options should be exhausted first.

Private loans usually require a co-signer and typically carry higher interest rates than federal subsidized loans, but the private-loan option may be necessary to close a funding gap. You can borrow private loans from banks, credit unions and online lenders. College admissions experts advise to borrow no more in student loans over the course of getting your degree than you anticipate making in your first year’s salary.

Plan long-term options

“Financial aid are presented as one-year deals, so students tend to think of them as one-year problems,” says Bart Grachan, interim associate dean for progress and completion at LaGuardia Community College in Queens, New York. “So if they have cobbled all kinds of resources — ‘I have this emergency funding, this local scholarship, grandma kicked in $2,000’ — they need to multiply out the next four years and ask themselves, is that sustainable?”

Anna Helhoski is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: anna@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @AnnaHelhoski