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How to Finance a Kitchen Remodel

April 11, 2018

Couple in kitchen shops online for remodeling ideas, to be financed by a Home Improvement Loan3 Steps for Getting Started

When you’re ready to renovate your kitchen, make a plan to determine your best approach. Should you find a contractor first? Or go to a store, then a contractor? And when should you visit First Source about kitchen financing? Follow these steps, and save yourself time, stress, and effort. 


Step 1 – Get an Estimate

This first step will depend on your preferences and personal taste. If you’ve already researched sources, and found what you want on Pinterest or in a home design magazine, you may know exactly what you want your kitchen to look like: cabinet style, backsplash pattern, lighting, and other details, down to the drawer pulls, and even an eat-in nook for your dog. If this is you, you’re probably going to pick out your materials yourself. In that case, go to a local supplier first, tell your contractor exactly what you want, and price it all out.

If you’re not sure exactly what you want, you might get together first with your home improvement store designer, or even your contractor, and talk about your preferences. Ask their opinions about what you can and can’t accomplish in your space, what your options are, and what your budget will handle. Contractors will often recommend a supplier, or even go shopping with you, since they often get discounts. They can also help you estimate timing for both ordering materials and the renovation itself.


Step 2 – Apply for Financing

Once you have a full estimate or project cost, you can make an appointment to visit First Source, and we’ll review your best options for financing. We’ll consider your estimate, current resources, credit and financial standing, and preferences. If you want to get an idea of what your budget is beforeyou talk to a designer, supplier, or contractor, let us know. We can see approximately how much financing you might be approved for first to see what your budget would be. Financing for many kitchen remodeling projects fall under our Home Improvement Loan. Others might need a Home Equity option. 


Step 3 – Order Your New Kitchen

If you qualify for a Home Improvement Loan or Home Equity options and obtain financing, you can set out to finalize your kitchen renovation plan and order materials. With the help of a reputable and licensed contractor and supplier, you’ll know your costs up front, and the approximate timeline for your new kitchen to take shape. 


Start Now

Time is always an important factor, including shopping for just the right kitchen design, finding a reputable contractor, ordering all the materials, and of course, carrying out the construction. While a financing decision doesn’t take long, the entire kitchen remodeling process may take a few months, so consider this time in your planning. 

Live smarter by making an appointment today to meet with one of our Financial Services Representatives about a Home Improvement Loan for your kitchen remodel financing. 


 

Tiny’s Grill: A Community Pillar

March 6, 2018

Outside front view of Tiny’s Grill, using First Source Business Services, Players of Utica in background

Making Business Personal

Joanne “Jo” Gerace, Owner/Manager of Tiny’s Grill in Utica, has been a First Source Member for more than 25 years, and as a small business owner, knew that First Source was the perfect place to do her business banking.

Jo’s Story

Joanne Gerace smiling in front of sports memorabilia photos on wall inside Tiny’s Grill
 Joanne Gerace

Joanne Gerace has lived a fascinating and storied life, and many who know her only from Tiny’s Grill may be surprised by her many adventures. The Utica native is an avowed sports fanatic, has worked for the New York Yankees organization, helped the Utica Blue Sox become a successful and profitable business (as eventual General Manager), and then re-launched a local business, Tiny’s Grill, more than 27 years ago. It was something she had always wanted to do. Reviving an older, traditional business fit her well. Tiny’s Grill has been a Utica staple since 1931. The original site was at the Whitesboro circle (where the Utica Aud now stands). Tiny’s moved to the current State Street location—where the Oneida Grill once stood—and Joanne Gerace took over in 1990. 

“I had revived Jazz in Utica by bringing in local and world-class jazz musicians and artists,” says Gerace. “I was also very connected to local professional and amateur sports teams, so we sponsored and hosted them at the Grill. I have always been very community oriented, involved in many local community boards of directors and community projects, from the St. Patrick’s Day parade to downtown Utica projects.” Jo is a member of the Chamber of Commerce (Tiny’s Grill is a previous winner of the Business of the Year award), as well as a member of the auditorium authority since 1984, YWCA Woman of the Year, a Utica Sports Hall Of Fame founding member, a mentor to budding women entrepreneurs, and more. She has worked to make Tiny’s Grill a mainstay in the area. In addition to the iconic life-sized Blues Brothers statues flanking its sign outside, the restaurant is known for its sports and music memorabilia—with many photos signed by the pros—and its traditional Christmas display, including what she believes is the largest collection of nutcrackers in the state (and country)!

 

Tiny’s and First Source FCU

Jo knew she wanted to bank with someone that shared her love of community and embodied all of the wonderful gifts that Utica has to offer.

In her words: “I do both my personal and business banking with First Source, and have for as long as I can remember. They have always been wonderful with the service I receive and their generosity to the community. I have savings, checking, business savings, and business checking, as well as credit card merchant services. We are very happy with everything. The merchant services portion really makes my business run smoothly at the point of sale. It’s important to me to have those aspects of my business run smoothly so I can focus on my customers. First Source makes it easy.”

 

Gerace says she has stayed with First Source for many reasons, primary among them that she always receives personal attention, and good experiences with her banking and the staff. “There have been many people working with me over the years, and I have always had a good relationship with every one...great customer service!” She adds that, as a downtown business, she has easy access to the South Utica branch, including drive-up services. And now, she does the bulk of her banking online; it’s easy and convenient, letting her work around her unique schedule.

“First Source has made it a priority to help our business,” Jo says. “Great customer service, good rates, and many services for a business to take advantage of.” She has recently worked to update Tiny’s Grill, and hopes to use First Source Business Services to keep them running profitably for many years to come.

First Source Business Services

First Source provides a full suite of Business Services, including Merchant Services for POS with Central Payment, Human Resources Management and Scheduling with ADP, Accounting with Quickbooks, business checking and savings accounts, business credit cards and lines of credit, as well as a multitude of business lending options.

Live Smarter

Want to learn more about First Source Business Services? Make an appointment today to meet with one of our Business Services Representatives about managing your business smarter.

 

The ACS Wig Room

January 31, 2018

Attending the ribbon cutting on Friday, January 19th, pictured left to right: Stan Kocyba, First Source FCU Facilities Manager; Mike Parsons, First Source FCU Chief Executive Officer; Pamela Way, First Source FCU Community Relations Specialist; Ciara Parrish, American Cancer Society Coordinator of Community Support; Melanie Francis, Community Development Manager; Robert Elinskas, American Cancer Society Senior Community Manager.
 

Creating a Welcoming Space

As part of our community outreach and giving, we look to make a direct local impact. Recently we helped renovate a room at our local American Cancer Society. The Cancer Society has an area for those who have begun cancer treatment and are losing their hair, to try on wigs. We were pleased to be able to donate funds and volunteer our time and labor to give this room the attention it needed.

“The ‘wig room’, was in great need of a facelift,” said Ciara Parrish, Coordinator of Community Support for the American Cancer Society. “It’s really tough when reality sets in and you start losing your hair, and the area we had for wigs was not very inviting. This is a time that compassion and comfort is really needed. We are grateful to First Source Federal Credit Union for helping us make this a much warmer and inviting area.”

“Many are not aware of all of our services at the Cancer Society,” Parrish continued. “When patients come in for a wig appointment, we are able to give them one wig free of charge. This can not only be a big savings, it can also make the patient feel a little more like themselves again. Patients can call 1-800-227-2345 to schedule an appointment.”

“We’ve been involved with the American Cancer Society for many years,” said Pamela Way, First Source Community Relations Specialist. “We’ve had teams participate in their Relay for Life and Breast Cancer Walk fundraisers, but we wanted to change things up a bit, and really put our money and time into helping them right here at home, at the source. This renovation directly helps our community member diagnosed with cancer, at one of their most vulnerable times.”

Way added, “We’re fortunate to have a fantastic Facilities Manager at First Source who loves helping out on these kinds of projects. He has a great eye for renovations. We were really happy to be able to help them.”

Giving Smarter

Want to know more about how First Source gives back to our community? 

 

The Top 7 Snowmobile Trails in New York

January 18, 2018

Snowmobilers on a trail in the Adirondacks stop briefly to plan their routeExplore them all

New York State is full of great trail systems for snowmobilers. While dedicated sledders will debate which are best, we offer a short list of some of the area’s best to try. 

The Adirondack Park alone sports some 1,800 miles of trails on both private and public lands, just a small part of upwards of 10,000 miles in the New York State Snowmobile Trail system. Trails are maintained mostly by snowmobile clubs, and administered by the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

  1. Tug Hill Plateau

This region, known for some of the heaviest snow fall in the state due to its location in the virtual “bull’s eye” of the lake effect zone, is partly in the western part of the Adirondack Park, and part on state and private lands. There are hundreds of miles of groomed trails in addition to ungroomed wilderness for the more adventurous. There are also plenty of restaurants, lodging, and attractions for those staying longer. 

  1. Moose River Plains

This less developed area contains plenty of backcountry trails, entry to which can be found through two state-owned entrances. This is also considered the largest single area of Adirondack public land that is accessible by snowmobile. You can access this area from Inlet, off State Route 28. Inlet itself contains groomed snowmobile trails connecting many of the longer trails in the region.

  1. Letchworth State Park

Billed as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” this beautiful park covers more than 14,000 acres, and attracts nature lovers year round. In the warmer months, its breathtaking gorges are the main attraction. In winter, the snowmobile trails (in addition to cross-country skiing and tubing) draw outdoorspeople. 

  1. Lake George

Did you know the Lake George Region features more than 200 miles of trails, with a wide variety of sledding? The Thurman Trail system is one of the largest, and many start at Prospect Mountain to enjoy the full range of the area’s extensive reach. It also doesn’t hurt that great restaurants, accommodations, and shopping are nearby.

  1. Old Forge

Long a haven for sledders who enjoy the area’s off-trail conveniences, the Old Forge region is close to the Tug Hill Plateau and its record snow, and sports easy access to restaurants, shops, and hotels. With more than 500 miles of trails (and most town streets open to snowmobiles), this is an ideal area to bring the whole group sledding.

  1. Speculator

More than 600 miles of trails in the Speculator area, featuring beautiful lake and mountain views, are a snowmobiler’s paradise. As one part of the popular Hamilton County trail system (part of the largest system in NY), Speculator is an accessible and widely traveled system.

  1. Madison County

Check out the fantastic trail system to our West and South. This region has more than 300 miles of picturesque and well-maintained trails for all skill levels. Your rides will take you along woodlands, hardwood and coniferous forests, waterfalls, and farmlands. Many towns cater to sledders with warm meals, pubs, and accommodations along the way.

Keep Exploring
While we limited ourselves to 7 snowmobile trail systems here, there are still thousands of miles of trails to ride throughout the state, from the Adirondack Seaway in St. Lawrence County, to Saranac Lake, Lake Champlain, the Lake Placid Region, Tupper Lake, Malone, Cranberry Lake, Blue Mountain Lake, and so much more. Check out the state trail map on the NYS Parks website. Remember to contact local clubs or trail system managers ahead of time about fees and more.

Considering a new sled or big vacation? Live smarter by making an appointment today to meet with one of our Financial Services Representatives about your winter vacation financing.


 

The Top 7 Ski Trip Destinations

January 17, 2018

Sunny, snowy hilltop with skis and poles planted in snow and “It’s Time to Ski” signFinding the best experience

If winter weather makes you anxious to get out on the slopes, then planning a winter getaway to a great ski area can be the highlight of the season. There are many ways to measure what makes a ski area “tops”, and you may have different priorities, but these are some of the best-ranked ski destinations based on snowfall, size, conditions, accommodations, and recommendations from experts. While we’ve focused primarily on downhill skiing/snowboarding destinations, most of these areas cater to telemark and cross-country ski enthusiasts as well. Check with the resort before planning your trip.

1. Park City/Salt Lake City, Utah

This region is well-known for some of the best skiing in the country, both from the 2002 Winter Olympics, and its reputation for phenomenal ski conditions on the slopes, and warmer weather in town. Deer Valley and Park City Mountain are the biggest resorts, with numerous runs for skiers and snowboarders, tubing hills nearby, beautiful accommodations, and memorable restaurants and shopping. This area also hosts the Sundance Film Festival, and the United States Ski Team trains there, so they must be doing something right!

2. Breckenridge, Colorado

Breckenridge is one of the nation’s largest ski areas, with 187 trails and almost 3,000 acres of skiable terrain situated just a short drive from Denver and Vail. The area receives nearly 30 feet of snow annually, so conditions are almost always ideal. It’s considered a very friendly and welcoming ski town with Victorian styling and charm, and the downtown restaurants, bars, and shops have attractions for every age group and traveler.

3. Aspen, Colorado

The Colorado presence in this list is understandably strong, since the state boasts some of the best of our nation’s ski resorts in its many Rocky Mountain towns. With four major ski destinations in this one area—Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk—there’s a trail and difficulty level for every skier in your group. Aspen is known for its scenic ski-town vibe, with upscale chalets climbing the mountainsides all around. More than many resort towns, Aspen has off-slope activities for everyone, with shopping, museums, popular festivals, and more. This celebrity vacation destination lives up to its starry reputation. 

4. Lake Tahoe, California

This well-known and popular resort in eastern California is a gorgeous destination, with three ski areas in close proximity. While accommodations can be expensive, they’re also in demand, so you’ll want to plan ahead. The steep mountainsides and stunning views make the fantastic skiing conditions—considered some of the best on the continent—almost a secondary feature. The area also caters to visitors who also enjoy hiking, cross-country skiing, shopping, dining, and gaming (at the nearby casino), not to mention scenic tours, cruises, and more. 

5. The Finger Lakes, New York

Since we’re partial to Central New York and New York State, we had to include a few of the state’s best ski regions. The Finger Lakes region is the first, and not without reason. Lake effect snows keep this area in top condition for skiing, and its nearly 30 locations are frequented by skiers from around the Northeast. In addition to the skiing and beautiful landscapes for downhillers to enjoy, cross-country enthusiasts will find miles of trails to explore in the region, and the wineries, restaurants, and tourist attractions will keep you busy off the slopes.

6. Adirondack Mountains, New York

Our second nod to the fantastic skiing throughout New York State is a blanket area for a wide range of ski hills: the Adirondacks. Even setting aside the world-class skiing in Lake Placid, home to the 1980 Olympics and training ground for Olympic hopefuls, towering mountains like Whiteface, Gore, and other smaller and no-less fun ski areas make it a playground for those seeking the full variety of Eastern U.S. skiing. Of course, the full range of winter activities is also available, from cross-country skiing to backcountry and trail snowshoeing and more. The Adirondacks’ 6 million acres contain a multitude of resorts, attractions, festivals, accommodations, restaurants, and pubs.

7. Steamboat Springs, Colorado

With nearly 3,000 acres of trails and six peaks, Steamboat Springs (a.k.a. Ski Town, USA) gives skiers a staggering variety of choices, with downhilling for everyone from kids to advanced adults, and everything in between. Even snowboarders can choose from three different parks. Off-hill, there are cross-country, snowmobile, and snowshoe trails, as well as affordable accommodations, shopping, and attractions, like the area’s signature hot springs and mineral pools. Like museums, art galleries, restaurants, bars, and other non-skiing pursuits? This is your place.

Of course, there are many fantastic ski areas not mentioned here, including well-known ski destinations like Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Vail and Telluride in Colorado, and the big Eastern resorts like Killington, Stowe, and Sugar Mountain (Sugarbush) in Vermont, and Sugarloaf in Maine. The snowy world is yours to explore.

Travel Smarter

Need new gear to tackle the big mountains, or financial help with your travel expenses? Before you book or purchase lift tickets, Live Smarter by making an appointment today to ask how we could help. Planning ahead can make all the difference.

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