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Tomorrow's Vision.
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Issue 1  l  January 2019

I hope you enjoy our first edition of 2019 “News From The Vault.”
I am excited to tell you about a special First Keystone Community Bank initiative that we conducted just before Thanksgiving called “CONNECT for Kindness.”
When I became President and CEO, many people asked about my goals for the Bank. I suppose they thought I would tell them about how many loans and new deposit accounts we anticipated, our plans for controlling expenses and increasing profitability, how we will increase shareholder value, and what we are going to do to manage compliance. Of course, all of those items are crucial to our success, but something else is also very important to me. I’m also focused on how our employees connect with each other, treat each other, and take care of people, whether colleagues or customers.

As Bankers, so many of our daily tasks include being super careful and sometimes even super critical, which inadvertently creates silos within the organization. In late 2018, we launched a project called “FKCB CONNECT for Kindness” to help us begin to break down those silos. I asked each of our employees and our Board members: “What if we also allowed ourselves the luxury of being kind to each other? What if we made a special effort to be kind to our customers? What if we even made a special effort to be
kind to ourselves?”

Our goal for this initiative was to plan four deliberate acts of kindness each week over a three-week period. We gave each employee a journal to record their daily efforts and a bracelet which we asked everyone to wear for the entire three-week period. If someone inquired about the bracelet, we encouraged our employees to share a little about the campaign and to explain that FKCB is committed to the power of kindness.

All in all, our “CONNECT for Kindness” initiative was a HUGE success. I am proud to report that our employees came up with so many creative and fun suggestions! Here’s just a few examples of the successful efforts completed by our employees.

To kick things off, we provided a few suggestions to bring our kindness connection to the communities where we live and work. The first idea was to contribute to Bank Denim Days. For three consecutive Fridays, if employees made a voluntary donation to the CONNECT campaign, their donation entitled them to wear jeans for the day, with all money raised being contributed to local food pantries.

In another successful project, clothing and cleaning supplies were collected and donated to Beyond Violence in Berwick. , Some employees even solicited sponsors for their acts of their kindness with all proceeds being donated to local food pantries, ensuring that the holidays would be just a little bit better for everyone.

Thanks to each and every one of our employees and our Board of Directors, we raised enough money to donate $1,000 checks to four food banks throughout our market area: The Salvation Army in Berwick, The Mountain Top Area Food Bank, Christ Episcopal Church Food Pantry in Stroudsburg, and New Bethany Ministries in Bethlehem.

In addition to the cash donations, FKCB employees created a friendly competition between departments to see who could collect the most non-perishable cans of food for a local food bank. At the conclusion of the contest, we collected over 1,800 cans for The Hope Center in Nescopeck. The winners got the well-deserved bragging rights and the losing team members were treated to a whipped cream pie in the face by the winning team! Rest assured, everyone had a blast!

Along the way, we all learned some valuable lessons regarding the importance of kindness in all aspects of our lives. By completing four deliberate acts of kindness per week for three consecutive weeks, we began to develop a habit of kindness. Along with being a successful business and community partner, this habit of kindness will lead First Keystone Community Bank to a CULTURE of kindness. And as we move through 2019 and beyond, that’s one goal I’d really like to achieve.

Warmest Regards, Elaine
The Salvation Army- Berwick
The Mountain Top Area
Food Bank
Christ Episcopal Church
Food Bank- Stroudsburg
New Bethany Ministries- Bethlehem
The Hope Center- Nescopeck
Cleaning out your closet. Defragging your
hard drive. Organizing paperwork.
What do all of these have in common? They’re nagging little jobs on most of our “to-do” lists that we keep putting off because they’re tedious and boring. They keep getting pushed to the back of the queue, gathering dust and being neglected until we’re forced to take care of them for one reason or another, at which point we end up stressed, panicky, and resentful.

Fortunately, there’s no time like the present to finally get around to doing these tasks, and having them all over and done with for the New Year and allow yourself to start the next year with a clean slate, with no daunting obligations left to hang over your head. Below are a few suggestions about some of the tasks you might like to tackle, if you have time to do so:

1. Clean out your email
Most of us have a plethora of unread emails lounging around in our in-boxes, as well as old drafts, spam, and various other sundries tucked into different folders. Instead of just vegging out in front of the TV after supper, consider putting on some music and sifting through your folders to clear them out. Doing this for 20 minutes/night for just a few evenings will tidy things up nicely. Oh, and while you’re at it…

2. Review and update your address book
Do you really need to hold onto the email addresses belonging to people you worked with in 2003? Take a few minutes to sort through your address book and cull those that you have not communicated with, along with old addresses that your friends/family don’t use anymore.

3. Clean your computer (inside and out)
IT’S A TEDIOUS task you've been putting off for what could be years. But the moment has come: You're going to clean your  computer  inside and out. That means scrubbing down those keys and wiping the fossilized fingerprints off your screen. It also means deleting all the files you secretly downloaded when you were trying to figure out how to make a GIF, and finally tidying up your feeds on  social media .

4. File and organize papers, bills, statements, and receipts.
Keeping these in order can come in handy, especially since tax season is just around the corner. Try to  organize them so your receipts and statements   are together, with outstanding bills and invoices in another section.
While you’re at it, consider making a couple of last-minute charitable donations to adjust your tax deductions, if you’re into that sort of thing.

5. Update your personal budget, resume and bio.
As you go through your papers, take note of your spending habits over the last year. Have you gone overboard with spending? Been too frugal? Compare your habits to your bank account, and then consider re-adjusting your personal budget to even things out a bit. On that same note, if you find that you’ve struggled to make ends meet or that you’re not being paid what you’re worth, it might be time to  update your resume and look for a new job. If instead you’re perfectly happy with where you are, but you’ve had some major life changes (moved to a new city/country, earned a degree, got married, etc.) then you might want to update your bio on various networking sites.

6. Reduce clutter, and give things away
You would not believe how much stuff can accumulate in cupboards and closets, particularly in the bathroom. Set aside an hour or so to sort through everything under the sink to see just how many unused soaps, creams, razors, and other sundries you’ve collected, and then decide whether you’re actually going to use them or not. If you will, think about displaying them in a basket or keeping them at hand so you’ll use them up. If you’ll never touch the things,  give them away to friends who’ll use them, or donate them.
Speaking of donations…

7. Clean out your closet, and donate your old clothes
A good rule to stick to as far as clothing is concerned is to  give away  anything you have not worn in over 2 years (with the exception of really well-tailored suits or dresses that still fit, and are in great shape. You never know when those will come in handy). For each piece you give away, you can buy yourself something new that fits both your figure and your current fashion sense, but don’t hold on to something that will never fit or come back into style again.

Happy New Year!
A recent study found that 56 percent of Millennials
believe owning a home is more important than paying off debt or retiring comfortably. They may want to buy a home but they might not be ready for it.
Although many are still hoping to achieve the American dream of buying a home, that doesn’t mean everyone is financially prepared.

Here are important things you need to do before you buy your home.

1. Pull your credit report and check your score
Your credit report  and corresponding score are your golden tickets to buying a home. They showcase your credit responsibility and worthiness. Your credit score can seriously  impact your mortgage rate . The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate may be. This means you’ll end up owing a lot less money over the life of the loan.
Your  credit score  is broken down by:
Payment history: 35 percent, Credit utilization: 30 percent, Length of history: 15 percent
Types of credit: 10 percent, New credit: 10 percent
Cleaning up your credit is one of your first steps prior to buying a home. You can get a free credit report from one of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
If you’re noticing a high credit utilization, start chunking away at your debt. See if you can  consolidate your debt , refinance for lower interest payments, or  transfer a big credit card balance  to another card with friendlier repayment terms. Keep your utilization below 30 percent of your total limit.
Avoid getting new credit within a year of buying a home since it can cause a temporary dip in your score. The length of your credit history matters, too. The longer your credit history, the more credit-responsible you look.

2. Review your budget
If you’re working on a clean bill of credit health, give your budget a hard assessment. Use the 28-36 rule to see where your money is going. This is when your maximum household expenses shouldn’t exceed 28 percent of your gross monthly income. Your debt, like credit cards and loans, shouldn’t exceed 36 percent.
Your debt-to-income ratio, or DTI, is important to lenders for determining  how much home you can afford  and if you’re a good candidate to receive a mortgage. You might discover you need to make some adjustments, like spending less on travel and clothing, for example, to make room for a mortgage payment.
Fine-tuning your budget pre-home buying will allow you to put extra cash towards a down payment, closing costs, or potentially higher home costs than you’re paying right now.

3. Get prequalified
With a stellar credit score and a solid down payment built up, you might feel confident in buying the house of your dreams. However, until you get prequalified, that house will stay in your dreams.
Banks base how much they’re willing to lend you based on your entire financial existence: your income, debt, and credit history all pay a crucial role. It’s also there to show you how much home you can afford. If you know you can only get a $200,000 loan, you won’t waste your time looking at half a million-dollar homes.

4. Beef up your down payment
Down payments for homes and cars are very similar: the higher the down payment, the less each monthly payment will be. However, homes are much more expensive, which means the more you can put towards your down payment, the better off you will be every month.
It can be difficult to keep stashing money away for a down payment when you’re trying to afford basic necessities right now. Try cutting back on things you can manage, like dining out, grocery spending, unnecessary purchases, and travel.
Your debt might be holding you back as well. Try making larger debt payments every month until it’s completely paid off. Then the money you were putting towards your debt can now go to your down payment fund.

6. Get an agent
Whether you’re looking for a home 300 miles away or three, it’s a good idea to find someone who knows the neighborhoods better than you.
A real estate gets commission after the home is sold and closed so you don’t have to worry about costs up front. Do your research on local Realtor’s and look for one with top-notch credentials and has a proven track record. It’s similar to interviewing someone for a job, so talking to a potential agent’s former clients through may help you determine if they’re the right fit for you.
7. Don’t skimp on an inspection
You might think getting a home inspection is unnecessary. After all, you toured the home yourself and you would’ve seen major issues. True, maybe you can spot the big problems, but what about the small ones?
Home inspections  go over every single detail of your home, from walls and appliances to the roof and drainage. Getting an inspection is a major part of buying a home because if there are any problems, you can take them back to the seller for negotiation. Either they fix the problem before you buy it or they lower their asking price of the home to accommodate the new cost of fixing the problem.

8. Make a plan B (and C)
As you’ve diligently prepared for your future home, you might not have considered what might happen if it doesn’t work out. What if your down payment is a little low? What if your dream home has an old roof?
Regardless of the setback, build the “just in case” options into your plan. If your down payment is too low, maybe you get an FHA loan instead of a conventional one. That old roof may save you a lot if you talk the seller down, but you’ll need to make sure you can afford to replace after you close on the home.
Throughout the entire home-buying process, you will face different options for every single step you make. It’s important to remember how your choices are impacted along the way.

Every homebuyer has their own priorities when choosing a mortgage. Some are interested in keeping their monthly payments as low as possible. Others are interested in making sure that their monthly payments never increase. Still others pick a loan based on the knowledge they will be moving again in just a few years.

We have a wide range of competitively priced loan programs and a reputation for exceptional customer service. You will have many questions when you are purchasing a home, and having one of our experienced, responsive Mortgage Loan Consultants assist you, can make the process much easier.
We look forward to hearing from you when you are ready to buy a home.

Pocono Area
Saturday Feb. 16th, 2019, 11:00am - 4:00pm
Student Art Show & Winterfest, Downtown Stroudsburg

Greater Columbia County Area

Weekend of March 15th - 17th
Berwick Area High School Musical
Beauty and The Beast

Weekend of March 22nd - 24th
CSBA Home Show, Bloomsburg Fairground

Pocono Area
Sunday March 24th, 1:00PM
St. Patick's Day Parade, Stroudsburg

Wyoming Valley

Saturday April 13th, 9:00am - 5:00pm
Big Brother Big Sisters Bowl for Kids Sake
Chackos Family Bowling Center

What is your favorite thing to do during the Winter months?
Winter Hikes
Sitting by the fire and reading a good book

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take a few minutes to fill out our survey.

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111 W. Front Street | Berwick, PA 18603 |  Toll Free: (888) 759-2266