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Popular Projects for After the Holidays

January 9, 2020

Multi-ethnic group of family members work together in a crowded kitchen to prepare dinner for a family Christmas celebration.Need more space to entertain?

Was your kitchen just a little too crowded? Were you feeling cramped in your own home? Holidays often remind us that our space may be adding to our stress. When we can’t comfortably accommodate all our guests, a renovation or addition may be in order. After the holidays is a great time to make those improvements uninterrupted.


Popular Improvements

It’s no surprise that the most popular post-holiday home improvement projects are remodels of kitchens and bathrooms. They are among the most-used rooms when we host visitors, and improving them is high on homeowners’ lists. We spend more time indoors during these weeks and months, with more awareness of the updates we want, and more time to think about how we want to make them happen. Even when we’re not managing party crowds, smart improvements can affect our own enjoyment of these spaces by enhancing their convenience, flow, and beauty. These upgrades can also help increase the value of your home, so the money spent is more likely to pay off if you ever decide to sell. 


Home Improvement Loan

There are smart financial reasons to consider a Home Improvement Loan for your kitchen or bathroom, and getting pre-approved can make the process even easier to navigate. You get the advantage of competitive rates, a fixed term, and you’ll know ahead of time what your budget can handle, so you can make good decisions during the design and estimating process.  


Working With First Source

Working out the financial details can be daunting, which is why we’re here to sit down with you and make the entire process more manageable.

Learn More
 

Empowering our Community

December 3, 2019

#GivingTuesday Contest Winners 

We're proud to serve our community on a daily basis, and are always looking for ways to further our local support. This year as part of the national Giving Tuesday movement, we empowered our employees to each choose a charity and donated $50 on their behalf. In addition, we also invited the community to let their voice be heard by nominating a local charitiy for a chance to win a $250 donation. Four winners were chosen at random from all of the submissions. Below are the winners of this years community #GivingTuesday contest: 


Thea Bowman House 

Nominated by Marybeth
(photo Jane Domingue)

This charity has been serving low-income, at-risk children and families in Utica since 1986. They provide quality care in the hope of breaking the cycle of poverty through educational and social enrichment. A gift of $250 will help us continue to give hats, mittens, Easter baskets, and birthday parties to the kids.


Amanda L. King Memorial Fund 

Nominated by Stephanie
(photo Stephanie Rotach)

This charity is close to my heart. It was set up in my cousin's memory after she lost her battle with cancer in 2009, just shy of her 19th birthday. Money raised by the Amanda L. King foundation stays right here in our community to help ease some of the financial burden experienced by families who have a child battling cancer.


Capitol Civic Center

Nominated by Julie
(photo Julie Whittenmore)

I served as a volunteer and have worked for the Capitol for many years. Throughout that time, it occurred to me that the work we do is not just a job, it's a passion and a lifestyle. It is not uncommon for the Capitol's volunteers and staff to work 12+ hours per day, especially during the busy season. Yet one cannot always tell since everyone seems to have never-ending amounts of energy to accomplish the work they do. Everyone here loves theater and film, and understands that the arts serve as an important cultural and economical anchor for the city. Whenever you visit the Capitol, you are greeted by smiling faces by people who know you by name. The Capitol is always eager to work with other nonprofits to accomplish great work for all of those in Rome, even if there is not an obvious benefit in it for the Capitol. It is simply enough to help our neighbors!


Valley Health Services 

Nominated by Connie
(photo Connie Castellano)

Valley Health Services is a 160-bed nursing home in Herkimer, NY. At Valley Health Services, it is about family and every resident has a story to tell. Each is a daughter or a son with children, grandchildren, great grandchildren or family members, who are concerned about their health and welfare. For them, choosing the right nursing home is personal—it's a life decision. For the healthcare personnel who deliver excellent care and compassion 24/7, it is also personal. The healthcare professionals strive to make every decision families face less daunting by opening their doors to a fulfilling lifestyle with excellent care. At Valley Health Services, residents thrive in a healthy environment, with an array of engaging activities and opportunities for socialization. Valley Health Services' healthcare professionals would be so grateful for a gift of $250 on behalf of First Source Federal Credit Union because it would allow them to continue to provide essential services and socialization for those who truly need it.


Congratulations to all the winners!

Connecting the Brave

November 6, 2019

Gently used cell phones for donation.On a Mission to Keep Our Troops In Touch

Cell Phones For Soldiers is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing cost-free communication services and emergency funding to active-duty military members and veterans. Founded in 2004 by Brittany Bergquist and her brother Robbie, then 13 and 12 years old, Cell Phones For Soldiers relies on cash contributions and donations of gently used cell phones, to provide a lifeline for America’s bravest.


Cell Phones For Soldiers is divided into two separate programs:

Minutes That Matter - provides free calling cards to active-duty military members to connect with loved ones. Since 2004, they have provided U.S. troops with more than 300 million minutes of free talk time and distributed more than 5 million prepaid international calling cards.

Helping Heroes Homes - assists veterans with emergency funds to alleviate communication challenges as well as physical, emotional and assimilation hardships. Since July of 2012, Helping Heroes Home has assisted more than 3,100 veterans and their families with emergency funding.


How can you help?

Starting on November 8th and running through December 8th, our New Hartford, Rome and South Utica branches will be holding a donation drive in support of Cell Phones for Soldiers. All types of gently used cell phones and tablets, will be graciously accepted. There will be donation boxes near the Greeters stations at these 3 branches, where you can drop off any old phone that may be lying around your home.


What types of cell phones and mobile devices can be donated?

Gently used smartphones, are preferred; however, proceeds are generated from the recycling of broken and outdated mobile phones as well. Chargers and accessories are also welcomed to donate.


Interested in making a larger impact?

Visit the official Cell Phones for Soldiers website for other ways to get invlolved with this incredible organization and make a difference in the lives of our active and retired military members.

 

How to Lower Holiday Spending

October 18, 2019

Stay thrifty while keeping the holiday spirit

Holiday spending is often a budget-buster. The expenses can be numerous: presents, wrapping paper, cards, decorations, food, and travel, to name a few; and very few people have an unlimited holiday budget. If you don’t have the funds to buy everything you want, not to worry. A little bit of creativity and energy can get you through the holidays without draining your wallet.


Homemade Gifts

If you have the skills, making your own gifts is a great way to save, since supplies usually cost less than the finished product. Not only are homemade gifts cheaper, but many people appreciate them more than store-bought gifts because of the effort that goes into making them.

Not an experienced crafter? Write a letter or make a collage representing what the person means to you, or frame a memorable photo. If you can bake, standard cookies or brownies can be dressed up with sprinkles and ribbons in holiday colors. You can find great ideas on sites like YouTube or Pinterest. 

Offering your services is another great cost-saving gift, since it only costs time. Offer a free night of babysitting, or a month of lawn-mowing. Create a coupon the recipient can redeem at a later date.


Give the Gift of an Experience

Plan an outing with your family members or friends instead of a gift exchange. Everyone pays their own way, and you can keep the experience as simple and fun as the group’s budget can handle. Outdoor activities, or a local play or museum are a few examples. If you don’t want to strain anyone’s expenses, have a cozy potluck gathering at home. Remember to take fun photos, which can make great framed gifts in the future.


Gift-wrapping

People underestimate the cost of wrapping gifts. Skip the fancy wrapping paper and bows, and find alternatives. Newspaper (especially the comic section) can work, as can computer paper, or paper shopping bags. Use inexpensive craft supplies, such as glitter, paint, or pattern stamps, to add decorative touches.


Cards

Store-bought cards can cost $4 or more each. Sending them to 20 people would cost you $80, not including postage! Create your own cards using simple supplies, or create and send cards electronically to avoid additional costs. Make your own or use one of the many free services online. If you want to send physical cards, consider trimming your mailing list to save, or hand delivering them for a personal touch.  


Decorations

Save on store-bought decorations by seeing what you can use from around the house. Make a garland out of popcorn, and use local natural supplies like pine cones and acorns. To save on store-bought decorations, plan ahead for next year and only buy them after the holidays, when they’re at a deep discount. Garage or yard sales and thrift shops are also a great place to find discounted seasonal decorations throughout the year.


Food

If you host holiday dinners or parties, you may find yourself spending significant money on food. Potluck dinners are an easy way to shift some of the burden of buying all of the food yourself. If you don’t want to ask your guests to bring food, consider options like eliminating a full dinner and having only appetizers and desserts. Shop for less expensive food, available in some bulk-food stores.


Travel

Airfare is generally more expensive during the holidays, since that is when everyone flies. To save, consider having a “holiday” dinner during an off-peak time of the year, when airfare is cheaper. Whenever you do fly, being flexible can usually help you save; you probably won’t have to spend as much if you fly at night or have a layover.


You can have a great holiday season without spending a great deal of money. Be creative with your purchasing and avoid straining your finances, so you can celebrate during the holidays, and afterward as well. Still need some assistance with your seasonal finances? Start by learning about a Holiday Loan.
 

Learn More: Holiday Loan
 

Article adapted from BALANCE Financial Fitness

Posted in: Holiday Loan

5 Steps to Creating and Staying True to a Holiday Budget

October 18, 2019

Enjoy the holidays by planning ahead

The holidays are a time for seasonal cheer, catching up with family, and for some—financial panic.
If you recently looked at the calendar and realized gift-buying season is closer than you thought, don’t worry. You can organize your finances by making an effective budget. Follow these 5 steps to better avoid going into debt this season.


1. List All of Your Expenses

Are you buying presents for everyone? Hosting a party? Attending a holiday concert or event? Write a list of everything you intend to spend money on (and how much each costs), then prioritize. You don’t have to cross anything off just yet, but make a mental note of which items are more important.


2. Set a Limit

Next, review your income and any money you’ve set aside for holiday expenses. Your goal is to figure out what you can afford without going into debt. If you have to dip into your savings, make sure to keep a cushion for any emergency costs that might come up. Now you can decide which expenses are important, and which ones can be crossed off your list.


3. Research Seasonal Sales

Sales go hand in hand with the holidays. This is when many retailers make a large portion of their annual revenue, so they want to attract as much business as possible. Find the best deals by signing up for email alerts and following brands on social media. You’ll be among the first to find out about those special seasonal sales. Also watch for Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions.


4. Comparison Shop

Unless you’re searching for a unique gift, your desired item is probably available from multiple retailers. Fortunately, the Internet makes comparison shopping easy, especially during the holidays when every company is trying to compete for your business. Make sure you visit different websites and do some research to find the best deals.


5. Pros and Cons of Payment Methods

Shopping online can make it easier to track your purchases afterward, though spending cash gives you immediate feedback about how much (and how often) money is leaving your wallet. During the holidays, when you’re purchasing many items at once, the cash method helps you realize how much you’re spending, though online shopping gives you an easier way to see all your purchases at a glance. Try using cash for some of your shopping, and see how that affects your budget. You’ll have the chance to shop in person, support local businesses, and possibly reign in some of your impulse purchases.


Follow these simple rules, and keep your holiday spending in check. If you still need some assistance with your seasonal finances, start by learning about a Holiday Loan.
 

Learn More: Holiday Loan
 

Article adapted from BALANCE Financial Fitness

Posted in: Holiday Loan

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