Savings Tip – Save Money on Spring Planting

Fresh vegetables, flowers, and herbs are one of the highlights of the warmer months in New England. But trying your hand at growing your own can come with expenses such as tools, equipment, fertilizers, soil, plants, and more.

Here are a few fresh ideas to get your green thumb going without breaking the bank:

1)    Start from seeds – Seed packets are significantly cheaper than buying pre-sprouted plants at a garden center (and can be found at the dollar store during gardening season). If you have a sunny spot in your house, begin by planting the seeds in small trays (egg cartons work well) and eventually transplant them into your garden.

2)    Start small – An herb garden is a great introduction to gardening. It takes up minimal space and can even be planted in pots with multiple herbs per pot.

3)    Ask a friend – If you know someone who is already an active gardener, they may be willing to give you part of one of their plants to get you started.

4)    Compost – Even if you have fertile soil, the nutrients from fresh compost will help your garden flourish. Instead of buying it from the store, make your own by saving old food scraps. This will also help reduce your household waste.

5)    Skip the heavy-duty equipment – One of the joys of gardening is being outside and getting your hands dirty. Get a few gardening tools such as a hoe, spade, and fork, but skip the expensive or specialized equipment.

6)    Shop at tag sales – Many people sell plants and gardening tools at tag sales at a fraction of the price of a garden center.

7)    Harvest rainwater – Collect the water that drains off your roof by placing a bucket at the end of the gutter. Then, during dry days, use the water to hydrate your plants.

When you enjoy the crops from your garden, you also save money on groceries, especially if you plant higher priced vegetables, herbs and flowers. The cost savings, plus the satisfaction of enjoying your harvest will make your hard work worth the time.


First County Bank Tore it Up at the Fairfield County 5K

The First County Bank Team had an absolute blast at the 2nd Annual Fairfield County 5K hosted by Corporate FunRun! This fun-filled event took place the evening of May 23 at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, CT. 

It was a great night of team-building!  We were proud to have 43 participants represent First County Bank.  Huge congratulations go out to our fastest male and female FCB runners: Jeff Costa (23:11) and Sara Tucker (31:33)!  Thanks to everyone who participated!


It’s Foundation Award Time

It’s the most wonderful time of the year - when our team packs up the big checks, visiting local nonprofits to distribute awards from the First County Bank Foundation.

Recent recipients include the Housing Development Fund, New Canaan Mounted Troop, Stamford Public Education Foundation (SPEF), the Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust and the Wakeman Boys and Girls Club.

Stay tuned for more big checks!


Did You Know – You Can Save Money with Automatic Transfers & Notifications

Money is not the most important thing in life – but it can be one of the elements that helps you enhance your lifestyle, achieve your goals, and ease stress during emergencies.

Sometimes it can be hard to designate your funds between your short-term goals (replacing a pair of sneakers), your long-term goals (buying a new laptop), your everyday needs (groceries), having fun (dinner out and a movie), and unplanned expenses (new tires).

When it comes to having a money buffer in the bank for your long-term goals or any unexpected expense, it’s important to make a plan in order to protect yourself and those dependent on you.

With Online Banking, you can make saving money second nature with automatic deposits. Simply choose an amount to move from your checking account to your savings account every time you get paid. We’ll send you a notification once the transfer is complete. This way, saving is prioritized, and the money can’t be spent as easily. By saving a set amount each month, you’ll be able to reach many of your financial goals faster.


Rocking your new socks!

RIt was a busy week as our team took to the streets – meeting with local businesses and handing out custom First County Bank socks. Thank you to everyone who took time to say hello and strike a pose.

Think you missed out on getting a pair of socks of your own? Think again! Local business owners are invited to send an email with your name, business mailing address and a little something about your business, to socks@firstcountybank.com, and we will send you a pair. (No purchase necessary. While supplies last. Businesses in Fairfield County, CT only please).


First County Bank Spotlight - Mario Maiorana

Introducing Service and Portfolio Manager, Mario Maiorana.

Tell us a little about yourself

I like to work out in my free time. I mainly weight lift. I would love to travel but I am taking cruises for now to island hop to discover the best travel destinations. I also like to keep busy with part time jobs on the weekends and small house do-it-yourself projects, such as installing tiles in the bathroom and kitchen floor, adding a backsplash in the kitchen, and other minor projects.

Do you have a secret talent?

I like to cook. I started when I was about 9 years old making pasta and now I like to make the most exquisite, gourmet meals. My main dish I like to cook up is a nice Frutti Di Mare with squid ink linguini, clams, mussels, shrimp and calamari with white wine sauce. I have also mastered grilling filet mignon with melted gorgonzola at a perfect medium-rare temperature. Every dish is a creation with a perfect blend of ingredients. Having knowledge of ingredients is the key, and with a big imagination, I am able to cook up a storm.

What is your favorite part of your role with First County Bank?

I take great pride in helping clients with not only their financial needs, but with many other things including troubleshooting their equipment and guiding them through our website.

Do you have a favorite First County Bank moment?

It has been a great 13 years and I’m looking forward to many more. The amazing treatment and attitude I have received makes a big enough impact on my life and makes me want to work here.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about you or your experience at the Bank?

Within FCB, I have been truly treated like a family member and not an employee. There have been times I have voiced my opinion about something and I was heard. There is a sense of culture here that is very rare in any other workplace. Everyone here understands that we work for the same company and at the end of the day, we all come together and help each other. This might be cliché, but we are all trusted advisors with clients and within the Bank. I feel like employees understand the concept of this term and truly abide by it.


Financial Tip – Use a Financial Planning Tool for your business

Your business is your thing. Your creative outlet, your passion project, and you know your product or service better than the back of your hand. You can create it, sell it, and talk about it all day long. Yet how good are you at managing the “business” side of your business? If the financial side is bogging you down, a financial planning tool might be the solution for you.

There are many different types of financial planning tools on the market but here are a few typical features you may want to look for when selecting the right one for your business:

  • Reporting on KPIs
  • Reporting on ROI
  • Budget management
  • Cash flow monitoring
  • Forecasting based on the previous year’s numbers
  • Exploring various financial scenarios (such as hiring a new employee)
  • Automated analysis (regular emails that break down how you’re doing)
  • Financial updates that help you see which areas of your business are performing best, and which might need some help.

Besides all the capabilities, it’s important to screen for usability, too. Is it easy to use and understand? Is it cloud-based? Will you be able to import data from other commonly used software platforms such as QuickBooks® small business accounting software? Tools are only useful if they simplify your life, not make it more complicated.

Whichever program you choose, your business will surely benefit from having an organized financial plan, so you can get back to doing the part you do best.

*QuickBooks is a registered trademark of Intuit Inc. in the United States and other countries.


First County Bank Spotlight - Suzanne Dean

Meet Assistant Vice President of Business Development, Suzanne Dean.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I have a husband, Tom, and three grown sons; Wesley, Spencer and Charlie who I enjoy spending time with whenever I get the chance.  I like outside activities; running, walking Sadie our dog, playing golf, practicing yoga and being in nature.

I am currently a member of The Growth Network/Business Council of Fairfield County, Master Networks, Women’s Networking of Fairfield County, Women for Women, Professional Women Builders (PWB), Shorehaven Golf Club, local chambers of commerce and an affiliate member Home Builders and Remodelers Association (HBRA).

Do you have any secret talents?

I like to sing and dance. I can whistle loudly😊

What is your favorite part of your role with First County Bank?

My favorite parts are, being involved in the community, meeting people, making connections, learning about businesses and helping them grow and thrive in the community.

Do you have a favorite First County Bank moment?

Last year I had the opportunity to be a part of the FCB Foundation check deliveries to local nonprofits. It made me realize how serious FCB is about giving back to our local communities, and making an impact. I’m thankful for the Foundation, and for the opportunity to be part of the process.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about you or your experience at the Bank?

The Business Banking/Commercial team is a great group of people to work with in addition to our branch managers and all bank employees throughout the bank.  People are open to thinking and working collaboratively to help get new business and provide great service.


Did You Know – Why you should use Remote Deposit Capture

Everybody loves the moment when you log into Online Banking and see a deposit that just came through. You worked hard for that money and it’s nice to see it materialize in your account. Plus, you need to pay for all the expenses of running a business.

But sometimes it’s difficult for you or a member of your team to get away from the day to day operations and get to the bank to deposit checks. That’s where Remote Deposit Capture can help. With this tool, you can deposit checks from anywhere with a computer, an internet connection and a check scanning device. So your money will move as fast as you do.

Plus, you can try our Remote Deposit Capture service for free for six months! You don't have to pay for the service (a $50 per month value) or the cost of the scanner for the first six months of service.*

*A $50.00 Remote Deposit Capture monthly fee and any applicable scanning device fees will apply at the end of the six (6) month free trial period unless customer cancels the service. Customer may cancel the service at any time by calling Cash Management Services Department at 203.462.4379 (Mon. - Fri., 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). The free trial period begins on the first full month after initial setup. Refer to the First County Bank Business Deposit Account Schedule of Charges for fee details.


First County Bank Spotlight –​ John “Jack” Dowling

Meet Commercial Banker, Jack Dowling

Tell us a little about yourself

I am a very active proud parent of a 14 year old son and a 12 year old daughter. My favorite pastime is watching them grow (albeit too fast). I enjoy fitness, sports and anything outdoors. I very much enjoy traveling to new places and meeting new people, however I get just as much enjoyment working on my yard at home by myself.

I’m fairly active in the community as a member of the Darien Fire Department, Inc. I am a past lieutenant and now a line firefighter serving also as the department Treasurer. I am very thankful for all the support the brotherhood has provided over the years. It’s an amazing organization to be a part of and I definitely get back as much, if not more, than I put in. 

I am also a board member for Stamford Emergency Medical Services (the ambulance corps). I sit on the finance committee and it is quite rewarding.

Do you have a secret talent?

My father was extremely talented. My brother is a professional musician full-time, and was always practicing when we were growing up. As the middle child, I thought I had better learn an instrument. First I learned the drums. After many lessons and driving my mom and the neighbors crazy, I actually got pretty good. Sports were my passion, however, so the drums were put on the back burner for a while. After a time I missed the music, so I also took lessons for the saxophone, clarinet, piano and guitar over the course of my childhood. I continue to play both electric and acoustic guitar at home. It’s a great outlet to learn a new song while the kids dance around.

What is your favorite part of your role with First County Bank?

My favorite aspects are working with people and working to resolve the challenges that arise each day. Banking is extremely competitive and expectations for service delivery is high, therefore I find it extremely rewarding when I meet the needs of both my external and internal customers.

Do you have a favorite First County Bank moment?

My favorite moment at First County Bank was when I applied and was accepted as a Commercial Banker. I worked very hard to achieve this goal and was extremely happy when my goal was realized.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about you or your experience at the Bank?

I very much enjoy bringing my kids to events sponsored by First County Bank. Giving them a dose of experience working the booth at The Oyster Festival, Maple Sugar Festival, and Balloon parade have become special memories to me and my family. The culture and atmosphere the Bank creates and maintains is unique and special and I am grateful to be a part of First County Bank.


Financial Tip – Work in a Coworking Space

Coworking spaces can do wonders for small business owners who don’t have a traditional office. Whether your business is just you, or you just have a small team, coworking spaces offer a collaborative work environment with access to business amenities to help your business launch to the next level.

When choosing a coworking space there are a few things to consider. Coworking spaces are more than just a physical space to work; they often foster a community of people who support each other and offer advice and collaboration. Some coworking offices offer professional development workshops and networking events for members. When scoping out potential spaces, try to get a feel for the other tenants and the office culture.

Functional physical space is another thing to keep in mind. Working in cafes is all fun and games until you need a quiet space to have a conference call or a meeting. Coworking spaces typically have rentable conference rooms with WIFI, conference tables, phones, flat screen monitors, printers, white boards, and comfy chairs. Some even offer all of these things 24/7. Make sure the space you choose has the features your business needs.

Many coworking spaces offer flexible membership models where you can choose how often you want to access the space. Typical models include anything from 1 day a month to unlimited 24/7 access. With local and international coworking spaces popping up all over, businesses have more choices when it comes to choosing a strategic location, such as near potential partners or industry leaders.

Finally, when considering a membership agreement, make sure it aligns with the needs of the business. If you think you might eventually outgrow the space, it may be smart to only commit for one year. Coworking spaces can be a great place to get your business up and running, and choosing the best one for you will only help accelerate your growth.


First County Bank Spotlight –​ Jagjiwan Singh

Meet Business Development Officer, and Assistance Vice President, Jagjiwan Singh.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I love to spend time with family — my wife and our two boys — our favorite thing to do together is cycling to the beach in the summertime.

Do you have a secret talent?

I love to play basketball, soccer, and work-out. I wish I was tall — at least 6 feet — as I really think I would have made it to the NBA!

What is your favorite part of your role with First County Bank?

I came from mid-size and large banks so I can personally tell how we are different and it’s simple; we are a mutual bank so therefore we do not have the pressure of reporting back to shareholders. Instead, we can focus on our customers, community, and employees.

Do you have a favorite First County Bank moment?

I started at First County Bank in the Summer of 2016 and one of my first tasks was to deliver 10 checks to local nonprofits. I was shocked by this. Coming from a big bank, we never did anything like this. It was a great feeling to be able to give back and I’ll never forget the smiles on those faces. Those organizations really needed these funds and this action showed how much First County Bank really cares about the community in which we serve.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about you or your experience at the Bank?

Most of the nonprofits I have visited in Fairfield County do not know how much we have given back to the community. The First County Bank Foundation was started in 2001 has provided over $9 million in grants and this truly shows who we are.