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Summer Home Improvement Financing Solutions


Whether you’re a DIY fanatic or prefer to leave the heavy lifting to the experts, summer is a perfect time to take on a home improvement project.

There are plenty of ways to add significant value to your home. Whether you are prepping it for a fast sale or making it more comfortable and efficient for your own future use, there are big steps you can take to improve your living space. And for every project listed, there is a viable way forward with the right financing plan to help you achieve your goals:

 

A New Roof

 
While these are many important projects you could undertake to protect your home, one of the most critical choices is the roof, as it protects everything under it. Summer is an exceedingly busy season for roofing contractors, which means now is the perfect time to find a trusted contractor near you and get them on board with your roofing repair or replacement needs.


Window Replacement

 

Looking to get a handle on your utility bills? Replacing old windows is a perfect way to seal the gaps. If your annual caulking exercise is no longer cutting it, have an expert walk you through the new window options that will make your home look great, but more importantly, allow it to efficiently cool and heat during the hot summers and cold winters.


Residing Your Home

 

Siding manufacturers are producing far more durable products today than what was typically installed in the past, especially if it’s been there for a decade or more. Furthermore, siding comes in a variety of textures, sizes and colors today, which means installing siding this summer will give your home a significant boost in value as well as improve its curb appeal. New siding is also a great way to reduce your utility bills, as it has advanced insulating properties.


New Countertops

 

Spending a lot of family time in your kitchen? Many homeowners have converted their kitchens into entertainment spaces, but if you want to take baby steps toward converting your kitchen, start with replacing the countertops. Choose from a variety of new modern materials that will give your kitchen a significant facelift and be far more attractive to buyers if you decide to sell.


Financing Your Home Improvement Project

 

Home improvement projects take money to execute, but don’t let limited savings prevent you from pursuing your plans. First National Bank and Trust has the financing solutions you need to take your ideas and turn them into a reality.

Our financing experts are ready to talk to you about your summer home improvement project. We have assisted many homeowners with all of the projects listed above, as well as with their bathroom renovations, finishing basements for extra living space, adding decks to homes and landscaping makeovers. When you talk to us at First National Bank and Trust, you get a better idea of what your improvement budget will be, which helps you solidify plans to move forward.

Regardless of how extensive your home improvement plans are, First National Bank and Trust a has a financing solution for you. Our experts are available now, so contact us today and let’s get your project underway.




Planning a Summer Vacation? Save Money and Get Covered with PERK


The kids are fast approaching the end of the school year, and summer is quickly coming, which means summer vacation is right around the corner! A trip to the beach or amusement park or perhaps hiking in the mountains, wherever you decide to go, a summer vacation is a great time to unwind and make special memories. Plenty of planning goes into making your summer trip a success, so make sure you do your research and get things in order before you leave so once you arrive at your destination, you can relax and enjoy.

You will want to take the time to map the best route to your destination, check on hotel/motel prices, factor the higher gas prices into the overall trip budget and make a list of things to pack (and not pack for those who have a tendency to require extra luggage).

But don’t forget about savings and security along the way. You can save money by looking for deals or special promotions. Also, are you covered if you lose your debit card? What if your automobile breaks down and you need roadside assistance?

When you sign up for the PERK checking account at First National Bank and Trust, you can take advantage of a variety of perks that will protect you on your vacation and earn you savings. We have included Lux Benefits in our PERK program, which means you can save on family fun, casual dining, shopping, golfing, theme parks, movie tickets, sporting events and much more.

PERK also includes roadside assistance, as we are partnered with Safe Drivers Auto Club, so when you travel, you get peace of mind with 24-hour, 7 days a week of coverage that includes towing, delivery of supplies, tire service, battery service and more.

What if your mobile phone is lost or stolen while you’re on vacation? PERK has you covered there, too. Our protection program will reimburse you for the device up to $600. We also have CyberScout identity theft protection with our PERK program, which means if you become the victim of identity theft, we will have a fraud specialist help you resolve the issue.

PERK is a checking account that gives you many benefits other checking accounts don’t offer; learn about everything you get when you join our PERK program on our website. And as always, visit First National Bank and Trust to learn about all the banking services we offer.




Community Banking ... What's the Difference?


Community banks outnumber any other kind of bank in America today, which is a testament to the services they provide their local residents. Nearly 5,000 strong, these institutions are honored in April as it is Community Banking Month.

Community banks offer the same loans as larger banks, including car loans, home loans and personal loans that local residents use to bolster their businesses. But they also offer much more:

  • They invest locally and in small businesses.
  • Local residents who are underserved by larger banks have options with community banks that can help them meet their needs.
  • Services offered by community banks provide a more personalized experience than what other financial institutions offer.

Not only are community banks serving their local residents with valuable banking services, but they’re also producing jobs: Nearly 700,000 Americans are employed by community banks.


Better Rates and Fees

 
Larger banks are often known for more aggressive fee-charging strategies, but not community banks. Your local bankers won’t try and talk you into anything you don’t need, but they will also offer you the best borrowing rates they can and lower fees.

Community Service

 

Your community bank is invested in your community on a personal level.  Local community bank employees live in the communities they serve.  They are the coaches for Little League teams, Sunday School teachers and are volunteers in multiple capacities within your community.

Sure, large financial institutions provide some kind of charitable outreach, but when your community bank gives, they give to your immediate community…keeping money and support local.


Growing Together

 

Money deposited in a community bank goes right back out into the community. While you enjoy checking and savings services, your money is also being used, securely, to assist others in your area with their home loans, businesses loans and personal loans. When your community bank grows, so does your community.

At First National Bank and Trust, we’re committed to you. While we are honored to be recognized in the month of April for our commitment to our neighbors we work and live among, we’re also working every day to make sure you get the banking services you need. For example, one of our most popular offerings is PERK Checking, which gives account holders cash back, savings on travel, protection for your cell phone and much more.

If you have yet to establish an account with First National Bank and Trust, contact us and let’s begin the conversation.



Mortgage Tips for Homebuyers


As spring approaches and the temperatures are on the rise, home purchases are also increasing. If you are looking at buying a home, you have likely already thought about how many bedrooms you need, what kind of a layout works best for you, and how big of a yard you really want to mow.

But what is important for you to know from a financial standpoint?

The following are important for you to consider as you look at purchasing a home:


Applying for a Mortgage Loan

 
How does a bank decide how much of a mortgage you qualify for? They will compare your income to what it will cost to pay the principal, interest, taxes and insurance for the home you want to buy. They will also look at your history on payments for other things, like your car, school loan and/or your credit cards. Finally, they will look at your income and your debts, as this can impact your ability to pay your mortgage.

Improving Your Standing

 
Most people have debt, but if your debt is putting you in a tough situation in terms of getting the home you want, all is not lost. First and foremost, save as much money you can to put toward your down payment. The more you pay up front, the lower your home loan will be. Also, structure your budget around paying down some of that debt.

You don’t have to be completely debt free to get a mortgage, but you do need to look at how your debt will affect how much of a mortgage payment you can afford. Also, keep in mind that late payments on your debts will negatively impact your credit score, so it may be wise to set up automatic payments so you don’t accidentally miss a deadline.

The Unique Qualities of Home Loans

 
For most people, the two biggest expenditures are their homes and their cars, but the loans for each are quite different. First, most car loans are paid over 72 months, whereas home loans stretch out over 30 years. Also, the payments you put toward your home for the first several years go almost entirely to the interest rather than the principal. With a car loan, the interest per month is the same throughout the life of the loan.

How Much Can I Afford?


If you’re renting right now and you’re paying $1,200 a month, you might think you could afford to do the same with a house payment. But that is not necessarily the case. First off, many renters have their utilities included in their rent, so when you get into a home and start paying those utilities, you have to factor them in.


Home insurance will probably be likely be added into your mortgage payment, and it will probably be more than the renter’s insurance you pay now, so you will have to factor that expense in. Finally, rather than putting in a work request with your landlord when you need something fixed, when you own a home, you will have to pay for the supplies or pay someone to do the work for you.

At First National Bank and Trust, we’re here to help you get into that home you’ve always wanted. Our mortgage loan officers have years of experience and can help you through the process. In fact, we’ve got several options that should suit your needs, including a first-time home buyers loan program.



First National Bank and Trust Celebrates Random Acts of Kindness Day


The world can always use a little more kindness, and at First National Bank and Trust, we want to play a part in that by recognizing “Random Acts of Kindness Day,” which is February 17.

Since its founding, First National Bank and Trust has been involved in the communities we serve. Call it kindness, goodwill or just being a trusted member of the community;  it’s only natural that we want to recognize February 17, spread some good cheer, and offer some ideas for ways to celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day.

Random Acts of Kindness History

 
Cultivating feelings of kindness and possibly brightening someone’s day is the goal of Random Acts of Kindness Day, which officially began in 1995. Spearheaded by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, the event spread across the Pacific Ocean to New Zealand in 2004 where it was first officially observed overseas.

The phrase “random acts of kindness” has several origin stories, one of which dates to 1982 when a woman in a diner scribbled “practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” on a placemat. It was rumored to have spread to bumper stickers soon after. A book titled “Random Acts of Kindness” was published in 1993, offering true stories about kind acts.
 

Ways to Celebrate


It’s really up to you how you choose to express kindness, but the following are some ideas you might try, whether it’s on February 17 or any day, to bring a little joy to the world:

  • Return a stranger’s grocery cart to the store
  • Donate flowers to a nursing home
  • Buy a gift card for someone
  • Leave positive comments on news articles
  • Babysit for a single mom for free
  • Let someone in line behind go ahead of you
  • Donate toys to a homeless shelter
  • Bake cookies for the office
  • Leave a nice note on someone’s car
  • Pick up trash outside a local business
  • Pay for someone’s meal at a restaurant
  • Volunteer at a local non-profit

Perhaps you have ideas of your own? Be sure to tell your friends about February 17 and offer them some ways you can celebrate it together.

At First National Bank and Trust, we know kindness is contagious. We’ve witnessed it time and again. Whether you’re going to go out of your way one day a year to make someone smile or if it’s something you try to do every day, the kindness you offer others will spread. When you visit us on February 17, don’t be surprised to see some extra smiles from our employees. Looking for top-notch banking services but from a friendly and community-minded institution? Look no further than First National Bank and Trust.



Keep Your Information Safe from Fraud and Scammers


Fraud Awareness Protects Your Accounts


If you’ve ever looked in your junk email folder and noticed all the odd and suspicious messages that your spam filter caught, you understand the pervasiveness of fraud attempts. The problem is that criminals are always finding new ways to try to gain access to your money, which is why it is important to know what the latest fraud attacks look like.

One common way scammers work is to impersonate your bank, but they will ask questions that a reputable bank representative never would. Our bank will never ask for your CVV (card verification value) or your PIN number in a call, email or text.

Tips for Spotting Fraud

 

You receive multiple messages per day and they’re not all scams. The ones that are will probably reveal themselves in the links they ask you to click. Look for a link that begins with https:// because this is the earmark of a verified and secured site.


If you receive an email or text from our bank and the grammar is wrong or the spacing looks odd, it’s probably not from us. It’s important to check with us if you are ever in question that an email or text is from us.

Ask questions when you’re talking to someone on the phone who says they are a representative of our bank. Bank employees know that customers should ask as many questions as they need and are happy to provide you with the answers you need for confirmation. If the person you’re talking to can’t give you the verification you need for legitimacy’s sake, that will be a red flag.

You should scrutinize every email and text you get. Never click a link until you have researched it and verified it is from a safe source.
 

Ransomware Realities


Ransomware is so common today that a recent Forbes article headline reads “Ransomware: A Legitimate Illegitimate Business.” The article outlines how ransomware has grown and that in the first six months of 2021, there was around $590 million worth of activity related to ransomware.

There are now gangs of ransomware professionals on social media in order to pressure people for money. They are essentially amplifying coverage of their attacks by purchasing ads that bring more of a spotlight to their exploits.

A notable occurrence includes Campari Group, which owns close to 50 brands of various drinks, which was hit with an attack. The hackers put out an ad on Facebook detailing the facts of how they acquired two terabytes of private information and that Campari was downplaying the severity of the hit.

There are other professional scammers out there that are also weaponizing social media, but in more traditional ways. For example, they’re using Twitter as a distribution channel to tout their attacks to audiences. One group, monikered RobinHood, set up a Tumblr account and says it will publish its victims and offer screenshots of data they have stolen.

At First National Bank and Trust, we want our customers to practice safe banking, which is why we regularly update our pages about fraud prevention and ways to keep your information safe. Stay informed on the different types of fraud, keep your information secure and feel free to contact us about any concerns.


Support the Community While Staying Secure


Since 2003, it is estimated that small businesses have added almost 5 million jobs to communities. That means when you shop local, you’re keeping those businesses that are a vital part of your community strong and supporting jobs for neighbors and friends.

Shopping local is important for our communities for many reasons:

  • It reduces the environmental impact (think carbon footprint related to shipping).
  • Local businesses reinvest in the community.
  • Customer service is more personal.
  • Local businesses are more inclined to support local charities.

You might be able to find products at a lesser cost through non-local businesses, but for consumers who are careful to spend their money locally, they find that paying a little more is worth so much more.

Stay Secure this Holiday Season

 
It’s important as you do your holiday shopping to be aware that there are easy steps you can take to ensure your bank account is less vulnerable to being hacked and your finances are protected.

First, make sure you have strong passwords on all your accounts. If you are using the same password on multiple accounts, take the time to create unique passwords for your different accounts.

If you have a local store you want to purchase products from through their website, make sure their URL begins with https rather than http. Hackers will have a far easier time exploiting an http site, and maybe even your account information, than they do on an https site. You can even reach out to your local business owners and let them know you want to shop with them, but that their website may be vulnerable.

When you’re out and about shopping, ask for an email receipt. Paper receipts, and even paper bank statements for that matter, can be stolen and used to compromise your account.

Don’t forget to monitor your account on a regular basis. The sooner you find something odd, such as a transaction you didn’t make, the faster you can remedy the issue.
 

Bank Local


At First National Bank and Trust, we’re committed to our local communities. We have valuable information for you on keeping your digital information safe, but we’ve also trained our staff on fraud prevention and we have a dedicated security team that has built a security strategy that protects all of our customers. Looking for big bank services from a friendly and local entity? Partner with First National Bank and Trust today.