Bank News

Fairfield Branch: Open for Business

IMG_5845We are proud to announce that our newest branch located at 1312 Post Road in Fairfield, CT is officially open for business. The new branch is located in downtown Fairfield, diagonally across from the Fairfield Library, steps away from the train station, and it provides plenty of on-site parking.

The new Fairfield branch offers a full-service team of bankers. The branch is led by the newest member of First County Bank, Benedict “Ben” Peter. Also on site are bankers specializing in business banking and residential lending.  Investment and trust services are also available, provided by First County Advisors, the Wealth Management Division of First County Bank.

Next time you’re in the area be sure to stop by, say hello and check out our new Branch and specials being offered in the town of Fairfield.

Trends & Tips

Fingerprint Authentication

cybersecurity-mobileIf Tax Identity Theft Awareness week has you thinking about your online banking security too, we hope to provide you some peace of mind.

Increase the security of your online banking mobile banking app, by signing up for Fingerprint Authentication – it’s simple and convenient. To enroll in Fingerprint Authentication, follow these simple steps:

  1. Login to your First County Bank Mobile Banking App,
  2. Go to the menu and click on the “Mobile Services” tab,
  3. Select “Manage Fingerprint”,
  4. Select Fingerprint Enrollment and follow the steps on the screen!

An extra layer of security is really that simple.

Bank News

First County Bank Welcomes New Commercial Lender

Brad LupinacciWe are pleased to announce the recent hiring of Brad Lupinacci, who joins the Bank’s Commercial Banking Division as vice president, commercial banking officer. First County Bank’s addition of Lupinacci demonstrates the Bank’s commitment to further meet the needs of its commercial customers and the business community.

“Brad will be originating and building commercial relationships for the Bank. He is a Stamford native with over 13 years in business banking and has developed an extensive network in the community. He will be a strong contributor to the Bank’s commercial lending team.” said Reyno Giallongo, First County Bank’s chairman and CEO.

Prior to joining First County Bank, Brad held commercial lending and relationship management positions focused on the lower Fairfield County market. Lupinacci has expertise with Commercial and Industrial, Small Business Administration and Commercial Real Estate lending.

Trends & Tips

Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week

tax-id-theft-iconThe Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has begun their annual Tax Identify Theft Awareness campaign. This week, the FTC, the IRS, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and others will host free webinars and Twitter chats about avoiding tax identity theft and IRS impostor scams. If you’re a taxpayer, tax professional, service member, or small business operator, there’s an event for you. For more information on informational events, click here.

The best ways to avoid tax identity theft:

  • File your tax return as early as possible.
  • Use a secure internet connection if you file electronically, or mail your tax return directly from the post office.
  • Know the IRS won’t contact you by email, text, or social media. If the IRS needs information, it will contact you by mail.
  • Check your credit report for free at annualcreditreport.com to make sure there are no unauthorized accounts.

While it may seem like a hassle, simple precautionary steps like these can save you trouble in the long-run.

Bank News, In Our Community

First County Bank Announces Expansion Into the Town of Fairfield

We are proud to announce we are expanding our footprint and opening a full service branch in the Town of Fairfield. This will allow the bank to provide more convenient full-service banking services to its customers within Lower Fairfield County. The new First County Bank branch is located in downtown Fairfield at 1312 Post Road, diagonally across from the Fairfield Library, steps away from the train station, and it provides plenty of on-site parking. It will be open for business in early February, after some renovations are completed.

Benedict "Ben" Peter, Branch Manager

Benedict “Ben” Peter, Branch Manager

“First County Bank is excited to bring our community banking to the Town of Fairfield,” said Reyno A. Giallongo, Jr., chairman and CEO of First County Bank. “This expansion provides more convenient local banking to our customers in Fairfield and surrounding communities. We have been delivering personalized banking services to Fairfield County customers for over 165 years, and expanding our footprint into Fairfield confirms our commitment to this area. We are conveniently located in the heart of town, close to the train station.”

The new Fairfield branch will offer a full-service team of bankers.  The retail branch staff will be led by Benedict “Ben” Peter, as branch manager and Iliana Nikolova, as assistant branch manager.  Also on site will be bankers specializing in business banking and residential lending.  Investment and trust services will be provided by First County Advisors, the wealth management division of First County Bank.

Trends & Tips

Importance of Creating a Budget

budget iconWhether you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck or making millions a year, it is important that you budget your money. No matter how much you make, unexpected expenses or circumstances can cost your financial future and security.

Even though you can’t predict what obstacles life will bring you, you can stay ahead by preparing a personal or family budget.

Budgeting, which involves calculating your expenses and income over a set period of time, can help you take control of your financial future by allowing you to –

  • Set a course for your goals. For example, if you want to buy a home, having a budget will allow you to determine how much money you can save toward your goal and when you may reach it.
  • Determine where your money is spent. One of the biggest mistakes people make is not knowing how they spend their money. If you track your expenses with your budget each month, you’ll have greater control of your money and easily identify areas of waste or opportunity.
  • Build savings. If you know how much you earn and how much you spend, you will be able to determine the amount you can set aside for savings.
  • Prepare for emergencies. If you manage to carve out savings in your budget, you will be better equipped to handle any unexpected expenses that may arise.

But perhaps one of the biggest advantages of having a budget is that it can help you sleep better at night. You’ll know how much you have to spend, ensuring you don’t spend more than you have.

First County Advisors/Wealth Management, Trends & Tips

Newly Enacted Tax Reform Update

Jeff Action 526As the final details of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act emerge from Washington D.C., we would like to share some of the key changes that will affect our customers in the coming year.  Changes regarding deductibility of mortgages, Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs), as well as state and local taxes are found in the new law.  Highlights for individuals include:

  • The deductibility of interest on new mortgages is limited to $750,000 of principal. Existing loans made prior to 12/16/2017 will be grandfathered at the old level of $1,000,000.  The refinancing of grandfathered mortgages will also be allowed under the new law.
  • Interest paid on a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) will no longer be deductible. The pre-reform level was $100,000.
  • The deductibility of state and local taxes, including income and property taxes, will be capped at $10,000 per year for Single and Married Filing Jointly taxpayers. Married Filing Separate taxpayers will be capped at $5,000.

Beyond the changes in deductibility of many items, the new law completely restructures the old income brackets and tax rates.  Generally speaking, the result is that most individuals will see their income taxed at a lower average and marginal rate.  The standard deduction will almost double for all filers.  In exchange for this increase, personal and dependent exemptions that were scheduled to be $4,150 per person for 2018 have been repealed.  Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) exemptions have also increased substantially.

Another notable change is the increase in the child tax credit from $1,100 to $2,000 ($1,400 is refundable).  The phase-out for eligibility of this credit has been significantly increased from $75,000 (single) and $110,000 (married) to $200,000 (single) and $400,000 (married).

Estate/Gift/Generation-Skipping Transfer tax exemptions have been doubled for individuals, now $11.2M per U.S. domiciliary.   This means a married couple would be able to transfer a combined $22.4M to beneficiaries before any estate tax would be assessed.

What does this mean for Connecticut residents, as well as other high-tax states?

The impact of the tax law change will affect all taxpayers differently.  For filers that previously had itemized deductions well above the standard deduction due to high property taxes, state income taxes and mortgage interest, there is a good chance that their tax bill will increase a bit.  This is due to more income being subject to taxation.  The overall tax rate may be lower but it may not be low enough to offset the lost deductions.  This may also affect households with many dependents, due to the loss of the personal and dependent exemptions, again causing more income to be subject to taxation.  However, for many filers that had utilized the standard deduction, they will likely see a decrease in their overall tax bill.  It is important that all taxpayers consult with their tax advisor in the New Year to adjust withholdings on income in 2018.

 

*This article is intended to be used for education purposes only. Please consult your Tax Professional to see how you will be affected.

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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.

Miscellaneous

Employees Celebrate National Ugly Sweater Day

National Ugly Sweater Day on Friday, December 15th is often one of the most anticipated days in the year for First County Bank employees. This year, employees from across the Bank dusted off their ugly sweaters and wore them proudly to work.

Here are some of our favorites:

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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.