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

  • 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.

First County Bank Profile

First County Bank Profile: Meet Sebastian Kulesza

Meet Sebastian Kulesza, Assistant Vice President, Branch Manager of our Glenbrook Branch, located at 275 Hope Street, Stamford.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Bialystok, Poland and at the tender age of 12 moved to the United States along with my younger brother and our mother in search of a “new beginning.” Upon our arrival, I was very disappointed that contrary to many beliefs and folklore tales, the roads in the U.S. were not made of gold but rather were full of potholes, especially in Brooklyn, New York were we spent our first year in America.

Fast forward to present time, I currently live in Norwalk along with my fiancé and our daughter Kassiani and son Aidan. We have a little home and a white fence; I guess all we’re missing is a cat or a dog to make our “American Dream” complete.

What is your favorite part of your role at First County Bank?
This a tough question to answer since I wear so many “hats” but I would have to say that my favorite role is being able to play a part in my staff’s development and then seeing them fly on their own.

Personally, I don’t think there are a lot of other things more gratifying than seeing others succeed and do well, especially when they have worked hard to get to where they are.

What is the most frequent question you receive from customers?
 One of most frequent questions is: “What can we do, to assist a customer with their financial needs?”

What is something people may not know about First County Bank?
I believe that most of our customers are very familiar with our Bank and our belief in providing outstanding customer service. What makes us unique is our multicultural diversity and our ability to work as a team all-around to come up with creative solutions to achieve a customer’s financial needs.

What is your favorite thing to do during the spring or summer?
Going for walks at the park, going to the beach with family, and hosting family and friend cook-outs. What’s better than enjoying the company of those you hold dear to your heart over drink and food, while sharing laughs?

What is your favorite First County Bank moment?
Over the past 15 years, I have had the pleasure of being part of many great moments and memories at the Bank. I believe the memories we create by serving our community, all the fun times we have as a Bank team and the great mentors that have been part of my success here at the Bank are priceless.

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.

First County Bank Profile

#FridaysinFairfield: Meet Mariam Njie

Meet Mariam Njie, Teller at our Fairfield Branch located at 1312 Post Road in this edition of #FridaysinFairfield.

Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Mariam Njie. I was hired in the summer of 2017 and began at the Norwalk, Main Avenue Branch. I have an Associate’s Degree in Finance. I am a wife and a mother of two boys. I enjoy cooking and reading.

What separates First County Bank from other Banks?
I believe what separates First County Bank from other Banks is the excellent customer service that we provide. This I can personally attest to because I have helped out at different branches and this has been a consistent theme in all of them. We always go the extra mile to meet the needs of our customers.

What excites you the most about the new Fairfield Branch?
The staff and also the location.  My colleagues and I have developed a great rapport and I am excited about the future of this branch. We are located in the heart of Downtown Fairfield, which means the branch is accessible to a very diverse group of customers. The centralized location also provides a lot of interesting places to visit on my breaks.

What’s something someone may not know about First County Bank?
First County Bank offers the convenience of online banking. This convenience offers things such as monitoring transactions/balances, transferring money between accounts, scheduling bill pay, and using the money management tool to manage finances, all from the comfort of their home or on the go with mobile.

A recent add-on is that customers can open accounts via online banking from the comfort of their home.

What is your favorite First County Bank moment?
My favorite moment is every opportunity I have to attend to a customer and providing a needed service so that they walk away with a smile on their face.

First County Bank Profile

First County Bank Profile: Karen Chavez

Meet Karen Chavez, Branch Manager of our Springdale Branch, located at 1110 Hope Street, Stamford.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Ecuador and have been working at First County Bank for over 12 years. I currently reside in Stamford with my husband and my two children. I love listening to music and enjoy spending time with my family. I am an active member of the Stamford Exchange Club and JM Wright PFO.

What is your favorite part of your role at First County Bank?
My favorite part of my role at First County Bank is being able to interact with people, help customers accomplish their financial needs, and establish lasting relationships. It makes me feel good when customers ask me, “What do you think I should do Karen – Give me your advice.”

What is the most frequent question you receive from customers?
 What are the current CD rates?

What is something people may not know about First County Bank?
What it makes First County Bank different from other banks is the level of customer service we provide, we treat our customers with respect and we care about them.

What is your favorite thing to do during the spring or summer?
During the summer I love being outdoors and preparing barbecues with my friends and family.

What is your favorite First County Bank moment?
My favorite First County Bank moment when I was promoted as a Branch Manager.

First County Bank Foundation

First County Bank Richard E. Taber Citizenship Award Applications now being accepted online

Taber Scholarship kids 2017

The 2018 First County Bank Richard E. Taber Citizenship Award application is now available online. High school seniors can view the information required and apply at

The Richard E. Taber Citizenship Award rewards high school seniors residing in Fairfield County towns of Stamford, Norwalk, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, or Westport who are overall well-rounded citizens. Unlike many scholarships based on top academic achievement or athletic ability, this scholarship is weighted towards demonstrated leadership and caring for the community in which we live. The criteria for selection are best defined by the word, C.L.A.S.S. (Citizenship; Leadership; Academics; Service; Sportsmanship).

Three $5,000 scholarships will be awarded to graduating high school seniors in our community, but they must apply before the deadline of May 1, 2018. Each recipient will receive a personalized certificate; a check for $5,000 will be sent directly to the college of acceptance; a congratulatory advertisement with photo will appear in the local newspaper; and winners will be prominently displayed with a photo on the bank’s website.  Decisions on scholarship recipients will be made the end of May.

The award was named in honor of Richard E. Taber (Dick) who retired in 2011 from First County Bank as Chairman and CEO, and initiated the First County Bank Foundation which he championed during his 40 years at First County Bank.  “These annual scholarships honor Dick’s legacy of volunteerism and community involvement,” said Rey Giallongo, president of First County Bank Foundation, chairman and CEO of First County Bank.  “As a mutual community bank, we are proud to help civic-minded students start their college career and we recognize the importance of these scholarships to deserving high school seniors,” added Giallongo.

Candidate Criteria

The recipient of this award must be a high school senior who has been accepted to an accredited two- or four-year college or university.  The recipient will be selected without regard to race, sex, religion or creed.  Each candidate must:

  • Be a current resident of Stamford, Norwalk, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan or Westport and be a graduating high school senior
  • Hold a “B” average or higher during their junior and senior years in high school
  • Provide an admission acceptance document from a two- or four-year college or university
  • Be involved in the community
  • Provide reference letters from two individuals not related to the candidate.  One letter from each of the following is preferred:
    • High school teacher or counselor
    • Community leader/volunteer program counselor
    • Provide an official high school transcript
    • Complete a brief essay (not to exceed 1,000 words) describing how the candidate best fits into the definition of “C.L.A.S.S.” (Citizenship; Leadership; Academics; Service; Sportsmanship)
    • Complete the online application, available at

Employees and directors of First County Bank and their affiliates, subsidiaries, agencies and their respective immediate families (spouse, children, parents and in-laws) are not eligible to apply for the Richard E. Taber Citizenship Award.

First County Bank Foundation officers will review the applications and make a recommendation to the Foundation’s board of directors who will select the Richard E. Taber Citizenship Award recipients.  All applicants will be notified by the end of May. 

First County Bank Profile

#FridaysinFairfield: Meet Iliana Nikolova

Meet Iliana Nikolova, Assistant Branch Manager at our Fairfield Branch located at 1312 Post Road in this edition of #FridaysinFairfield.

Tell us about yourself.
My name is Iliana Nikolova. I was born and raised in Bulgaria and I came to the States 14 years ago. Since then I’ve been tackling the challenges to adjust, learn and grow to become a successful person.  You can find me in the dictionary under positive, funny and outgoing.  My career in First County Bank started 4 years ago as a part time teller. My consistency and hard work helped me quickly move up the ladder, and for the past two years I’ve been Teller Supervisor in the Darien Branch. Now in my new role as an Assistant Branch Manager, it gives an opportunity to assist in managing a branch while mentoring and helping new hires grow into their career here in First County Bank.

What separates First County Bank from other Banks?
We offer similar products as other financial institutions, but what makes us stand out is the superior customer service that we provide to our customers. We know our customer’s name, we know their life stories, we know when they are happy or sad; we take banking up close and personal.

What excites you the most about the new Fairfield Branch?
The most exciting part of the new Fairfield Branch is the opportunity to meet new people and establish new relationships. On a personal side, my new role as an Assistant Branch Manager is exciting for me.

What’s something someone may not know about First County Bank?
Our business customers might not know that they can make a deposit through our mobile application. This feature is a convenient way to save a trip to the Bank. Also, we have fingerprint authentication for online banking which provides fast access to your account balance or transfers between accounts.

What is your favorite First County Bank moment?
My favorite First County Bank moment is the interaction with customers, being able to help them with whatever issue they are having, being able to find the answer to their questions, having them leave the branch with a smile and a comment, “Thank you very much. You are the best.”

I’m also grateful to be part of the First County Bank family which has given me the opportunity to learn and grow professionally. I have gotten to know and work with such wonderful people, who are helping me every day to achieve my career goals; without whom I would not be where I am today.

In Our Community

Another Successful Maple Sugar Festival Weekend

Mollie Herz - Mini Maple Pecan Cheesecake

Mollie Herz of Stamford, 2018 Winner of the Teen Chefs Challenge

The annual First County Bank Maple Sugar Festival Weekend at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center took place this past weekend under stormy skies and high winds. The weather didn’t stop the many fans who braved the elements to come to sample this seasons maple syrup and to enjoy a visit with the First County Bank volunteers.

The highlight of the weekend was the Teen Chef Challenge on Saturday which was a great success. Eight highly talented Teen Chefs competed in an exciting competition to create the best tasting recipe using maple syrup, as judged by the public and celebrity judges—some from First County Bank.

Each Chef came up with creative food presentations and enticing recipes ranging from a healthy chopped Brussel Sprouts with Kale, Bacon and Maple syrup to the sweet Chocolate Bacon Cupcake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and assorted cookies and cheesecakes. The Homemade Mini Maple Pecan Cheesecake created by Mollie Herz, age 13 of Stamford was the ultimate overall winner in a very exciting competition.

Despite the less than favorable weather, First County Bank volunteers were on hand throughout the 2-day event to greet visitors and hand out the signature First County Bank popcorn. Other volunteers gave away teal goodies, including the First County Bank backpacks and tote bags as well as lip balm, pens and specialty kitchen item.

Bank News

First County Bank receives the Women’s Choice Award® as a highly recommended Financial Firm

WCA_FF_2016-2018-colorAs the leading advocate for female consumers, WomenCertified Inc. is pleased to announce that First County Bank has received the Women’s Choice Award for offering a distinguished portfolio of services and tools to its advisors and consumers.

To earn the Women’s Choice Award Financial Firm seal, an organization must uphold a variety of criteria within 4 pillars: Marketing Tools; Educational Support; Seminars/Workshop; Community Outreach. Focusing on consumer education and providing support for advisors in the financial sector aligns financial organizations with the Women’s Choice Award mission to support female consumers throughout their financial journey. And, by providing the necessary tools, resources and ongoing communication to consumers and advisors within the organization, they help women make more informed financial choices, while giving her the high level of service she expects – and deserves.

“First County Bank is proud to be among a select group of only 139 financial advisors and firms across the US which have been honored with the prestigious Women’s Choice Award,” said Reyno A. Giallongo, Jr. chairman and CEO of First County Bank. “The Women’s Choice Award is the collective recommendation of women and honors brands that women would highly recommend to friends and family. Since 2016, we have been distinguished as a Women’s Choice Award financial firm.”

The Women’s Choice Award was created by Delia Passi, the leading advocate for female consumers and former group publisher of Working Woman and Working Mother magazines. Delia created the Women’s Choice Award for Financial Advisors and Firms in an effort to help women identify those advisors and organizations who are committed to providing quality service to female investors. The award allows this elite group of advisors and firms to showcase their commitment to the women’s market, while giving potential clients a starting point for entrusting their finances to an advisor or organization.

Women influence an enormous amount of wealth around the globe. Recent studies indicate the following in regards to women and their finances:

  • $20 Trillion (27%) of the world’s total wealth is controlled by women. **
  • In the US alone, women exercise decision making control over $11.2 trillion; that is 39% of the nation’s estimated $28.6 trillion of investable assets. **
  • 75% of female wealth creators describe themselves as primary decision makers. **
  • Women consumers make the final decision for buying 91% of home purchases, 65% of the new cars, 80% of health care choices, and 66% of computers. ***

As the financial industry wakes up to the fact that a great majority of the female population is seeking advisors and organizations they can trust for their financial security, the Women’s Choice Award offers a solution by assisting women in their search. This powerful, national initiative distinguishes advisors and firms who support female consumers in their quest for financial education.

First County Bank Profile

#FridaysinFairfield: Meet Anna Zaremba

IMG_8857Meet Anna Zaremba, Teller Supervisor at our Fairfield Branch located at 1312 Post Road in this edition of #FridaysinFairfield.

Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Anna Zaremba and I presently live in Norwalk with my family. Photography is my passion, because nothing else allows me to combine love for science and art.

When I was 26, I earned my Master degree in Architecture and Urban Planning in the Bialystok Technical University in Poland.

Since February 2018, I’ve been a Teller Supervisor at First County Bank, Fairfield Branch. I have been working at the Bank since October 2016. I started in the “Glenbrook Branch family” as a part time teller.  After 9 months, I had another great opportunity to learn from the best in the North Stamford Branch as a Full Time Teller. I am someone who has been fortunate enough to find great mentors at First County Bank, where I have been able to progress and be continually challenged. I am hoping that my present role allows for that to continue over the next years.

What separates First County Bank from other Banks?
First County Bank is a community bank that has served the Fairfield County population since the 19th century, and has always been known for exceptional customer service. We treat our customers like “family”, which is what separates us from other banks.

What excites you the most about the new Fairfield Branch?
The fact that we weren’t just hired to just “do a job” makes me very excited. We all were hired to be part of the branch as a whole, a branch that has very specific objectives and goals to achieve. But the idea that we have a unique opportunity to build relationships in the town of Fairfield and surrounding neighborhoods from a scratch makes me feel truly alive and inspired.

What’s something someone may not know about First County Bank?
I believe First County Bank is a leading creator of innovative financial solutions for all our personal and business customers. Something specific some people may not know is that we also take care of the ones our customers love the most, by offering a wide range of annuity products and life insurances offered by SBLI Vantis Life.

What is your favorite First County Bank moment?
The best parts of my job are meeting new people and developing great relationships with them. I love helping customers with their banking needs in a knowledgeable, professional manner and guiding them through tough everyday financial choices. It is extremely rewarding to see them leave happy.