Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this February 2015

family-winterEven though it’s winter, it’s time to make your way out of hibernation and have some fun even if there is snow on the ground. It’s the month to celebrate “love,” so grab your loved ones and enjoy some quality time with one another. Check out these free and/or inexpensive activities happening right here in Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

Tuesday, February 3: Get your finances in order for the new year with our FREE I Bought What?? How to Not Be Afraid When You Open Your Bills and Stick to a Budget,” seminar presented by the experts at First Financial. The seminar will begin at 6pm at First Financial’s Toms River branch – reserve your seat today.

Thursday, February 5: As a business owner, are you looking to understand that despite the explosion of technology, offerings, and competition in the marketplace, you still need to be able to set yourself apart? Look no further – join First Financial for a FREE business seminar, Building Your Business Dreams: Important Financial Planning & Budgeting Basics presented by Jack Gottlieb, President of The Total Solutions Group, LLC. The event will be held at 8:30am at First Finanical’s Wall Office. Register today – space and time is limited.

Sunday, February 8: Looking to plan a vacation in the near future? Head on down to the Vacation Expo at Sickles Market (Little Silver) from 11am-3pm. Sickles Market and Excel Travel have joined together again to host the 2nd Annual Monmouth County Vacation Expo! Held in Sickles’ beautiful greenhouse, the Expo brings to you a range of trusted travel operators under one roof – cruise lines, exotic destinations, yacht charters, adventure holidays, and so much more. For more information, call 732-741-9563.

Saturday, February 14: Plan a romantic evening out with your loved one with vocalist, Chris Pinnella - returning to the Algonquin Theatre (Manasquan) for his most romantic concert to date! Featuring brand new arrangements of some of the most beautiful songs of all time including “When I Fall In Love,” “Hallelujah,” “Cinema Paradiso,” “For Once In My Life,” and more. Join Chris and his 12-piece orchestra of brilliant musicians as he sings songs of love, romance, and being inspired. For more information, call 732-528-9211.

Monday, February 16 – Thursday, February 26: Mark your calendars! February is the time to fine-dine in Red Bank. You don’t want to miss Red Bank Restaurant Week (excludes Friday & Saturday) for $30 prix fixe dining at over 30 of their outstanding restaurants, including many brand new restaurants. Menus include appetizer, entree and dessert. Click the link above to view participating restaurants – please note the post prix fixe menus will be posted closer to the event. For more information, call 732-842-4244.

Thursday, February 19: There are a lot of uncertainties that arise when it comes to buying, selling, or renovating a home. If you’re looking to gain insight on the best way to move forward with your home buying/selling process, we invite you attend First Financial’s FREE It’s a Buyer’s Market! The Key to Getting Your Keys & Close on Your New Home Without the Walls Closing InSeminar, presented by the experts at First Financial as well as Tina Pilot, Realtor-Associate for Re/Max. Space and time is limited – register today!

Sunday, February 22: Do you have a pallet for flavorful chili? Come eat the heat and sample delicious chili at the 3rd Annual Highlands Chili Cook Off at Windansea! The event takes place from 3pm-7pm and tickets include snacks, chili tasting, refreshments and two voting ballots. Two contests will be held: the “Professional” Cook Off at 4pm and the “Ameteur” Cook Off at 5pm. For tickets and more information, call 732-291-4713.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

FREE “It’s a Buyer’s Market! The Key to Getting Your Keys & Close on Your New Home Without the Walls Closing In” Seminar this February 2015

family_house_sold1There are a lot of uncertainties that arise when it comes to buying, selling or renovating a home: if the market is right, how to choose a realtor, how much to budget for, home insurance, and improvement project costs, are just a few of them. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to gain insight on the best way to move forward with your home buying/selling process.

At our upcoming consumer seminar, attendees will learn:

  • How to go about buying a new home and the best way to sell your current home.
  • How to figure out how much house you can afford.
  • Budgeting tips for home improvement projects.

Join us on Thursday, February 19th at 6:00pm for our “It’s a Buyer’s Market! The Key to Getting Your Keys & Close on Your New Home Without the Walls Closing In” Seminar, presented by the experts at First Financial as well as Tina Pilot, Realtor-Associate for Re/Max. The event will be held at our Wall Office at 1800 Route 34 North (Building 3, Suite 302), Wall. Space is limited, so make sure you sign up today!

Register Now!
Tina Pilot has worked in the insurance, mortgage, and title business since 1998 and has a very diverse background in the industry. She obtained her real estate license in 2007 and has served on the Realtor Community Service (RCS) Committee of the Ocean County Board of Realtors since 2011. Outstanding customer service is Tina’s top priority. In addition to serving clients in her market area Tina provides a referral service so whether you are moving from or to another state or county she is able to offer her expertise and utilize her network of real estate professionals to assist you. Tina is enthusiastic about continuing her real estate education so she can better serve her clients.

10 Tips to Save Money on Your Upcoming “Big Game” Football Party

superbowl-partyIt’s that time of year when millions of people start to talk about the “Big Game.” Aside from the game itself on 2/1, these football parties are pretty big events. If you’re trying to keep to a budget this year and not spend as much on food or drinks, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Have a Potluck

One of the cheapest and easiest ways of hosting a “Big Game” party is to have a potluck where everyone brings their own dish. This not only saves you money, but also saves you time which can be even more important so you aren’t spending all your time in the kitchen and you can actually enjoy the game as well. Whether your guests want to buy something to bring or make it themselves, this is a great alternative to a traditional party where the host makes everything themselves.

Supermarket Deals

Since the “Big Game” is such an iconic event, grocery stores and brands often put popular party food items on sale during the weeks leading up to the game. Keep an eye on your local grocery store flyers for these deals so that you can buy any of your intended snacks for well below retail price.

Coupons

If supermarkets are eager to get into the hype of the game by advertising big sales on certain products, then you can bet that manufacturers are as well. This is definitely a great time to scour for coupons on certain items. Whether it’s looking on the manufacturer’s website, social media, the Sunday paper, or at the grocery store, keep an eye open for coupons that will help you save money, and make sure to use them when you’re buying your party necessities.

Make Foods That Cater to a Lot of People

While it might be tempting to go all out and create a number of smaller dishes and plates, it’s much less expensive to make a huge dish of something. For example, a giant pot of chili or a giant batch of nachos will be a lot less expensive than several rounds of appetizers. Opting for a single item that will taste good and be filling can save a ton of money on party food.

BYOB

If you’re hosting a party with alcohol involved, you might want to consider telling your guests to bring their own drinks. Alcohol can be pretty expensive, especially if you’re buying for a lot of people. Not only will it be cheaper for you, but you won’t have to deal with any complaints about the brand of beer or hard liquor you buy. You’re more than welcome to buy some alcohol to accommodate your guests, but it’s still a good idea to ask them to bring something of their own to even out the expenses.

Decorations

Some people don’t decorate for football parties while other people go crazy with decorations. If you’re looking to decorate for your party, consider picking up some decorations from a dollar store or other inexpensive store in team colors rather than branded with team logos. There’s no need to spend a lot of money for decorations that you’re probably going to throw away within 24 hours. Moreover, dollar stores have can have a surprisingly large section of party decorations.

Buy in Bulk

If you’re having an extremely large party where buying in bulk is appropriate, then you should go for it! A lot of guests means that you’ll need more food, drinks, and paper or plastic utensils, and it’ll usually be much cheaper to buy all of that in bulk rather than individually at the supermarket. But before you run out to Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ’s, take the time to compare prices of all the stores around you to make sure that buying in bulk really will be financially to your advantage.

Don’t Splurge

You should think twice before you splurge on decadent desserts or expensive alcohol or a new flatscreen TV. While it may be tempting to have expensive foods or the latest TV in order to impress your guests, spending more money than you need isn’t always a smart idea. You don’t want to regret your spur of the moment purchases the next time you look at your bank account, after all. If you’re seriously thinking of buying expensive items in time for the big game, do your research and make sure that you’re getting the best deal.

Delivery

While it’s always nice to prepare and cook your own meals and snacks for a party, sometimes delivery is the cheaper alternative. Since the “Big Game” is such a huge deal, many pizza places or other takeout places have special deals. It’s worth considering whether or not ordering delivery is a better option for your party.

Take Stock of What You Have

Of course, one of the most important things to remember when you’re trying to host a frugal party is to take stock of what you already have. Whether this is food items you can serve or decorations that you may have forgotten about, there’s nothing worse than going out to buy something you already own. A few days before the party, go around and take stock of what you own and what you truly do need.

Happy saving and good luck to the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks!

*Article courtesy of SavingAdvice.com written by Danielle Warchol.

4 Times You Should Ignore Good Financial Advice

finances-e1303266500480It’s so great when someone gives you advice that helps you make a positive change in your life. Sometimes, we can truly learn from the experience and the tips that others provide. However, there are other times when we need to learn to ignore the advice given to us by other people. While it’s often well-meaning, sometimes the advice that other people give can lead us down the wrong path entirely.

Especially when it comes to financial tips and advice, sometimes people become set in a certain way of thinking, or they believe a financial myth because it has been told to them by someone else. It’s important to make your own financial decisions. There are certain financial tips that are either out-dated or conditional. Some tips are just wrong all together.

Here are four financial tips that you definitely should ignore, and how to spot poor financial advice.

1. Avoid credit cards. Credit cards can be dangerous. According to Lifehacker, they make it easy to spend money, we can easily feel peer pressure to use them because so many other people do, and of course, the interest can really add up.

However, credit cards are not all bad, as long as you use them responsibly. If you can afford to pay the balance off immediately, there is no harm in using a credit card. There are actually several positive aspects of credit cards, including the fact that most credit card companies protect you against fraudulent charges (whereas if someone steals $200 in cash, you probably are not getting it back). Also, many credit cards come with excellent rewards.

Did you know First Financial has a lower rate VISA Platinum Credit Card, great rewards, no annual fee, and no balance transfer fees? Apply today!*

2. Save first. It is absolutely essential to set savings aside each month toward future purchases, an emergency fund, and your retirement. If you don’t save now, you risk not having enough saved later. However, as important as prioritizing savings is, it isn’t always the right decision for each person. If you are drowning in debt, but you are setting aside hundreds of dollars each month toward savings (while your bills lay unpaid), you are probably making the wrong choice. There’s no use having savings if you are in a bad financial situation, and it’s getting worse because interest and late fees are piling up while you focus on your savings.

We offer a number of Savings Account options, click here to learn about our various accounts and to find one that fits your needs.**

3. Stick to your budget. Many Americans have a hard time sticking to their budgets (and many don’t even have one), and in general, you should try to stick to your budget. However, you actually need to be flexible when things change. If you go from a two-income household to a one-income household, and you are still living on a budget that was designed when you had a lot more money available, you could set yourself up for a lot of debt.

At the same time, when you get a raise, it’s appropriate to change your budget (even if you are just adding the extra income directly into savings or your retirement fund). Circumstances change, and inflation causes prices to go up, so it isn’t fair to yourself, or even responsible, to expect to have the same budget all the time. While in general you should try to stick to your budget each month, sometimes you need to reevaluate it.

Don’t forget to utilize our great financial calculators – they’re free and a great tool to help you get your finances on track.

4. Don’t take a risk. This is another piece of advice that is often well-meaning, but is given by people who usually are more interested in saving everything than taking risks. While it is important to save, unless you take risks, you probably won’t get very much interest back on your savings. People disagree about the best way to handle various financial decisions, but you have to determine what is right for you. You might lose a lot of money by taking a chance on a risky stock, or you might end up rich. Although diversifying your portfolio is often the smartest choice, it might not be the right choice for you. If you want to start your own business, but others advise you against it because of the risk of failure, you have to decide if the risk is worth it to you. There is very little financial advice that fits every single situation.

According to Fox Business, if you are trying to figure out if the advice you are receiving is bad, there are certain signs you should watch out for. If the person giving you the advice has a stake in your decision, they may not be presenting a fair picture. If you didn’t solicit the advice, that could be another sign to watch out for, and they might be trying to scam you. You should also avoid accepting advice that follows the one-size-fits all idea (like don’t take a risk).

Financial advice can be extremely helpful, whether it comes from a financial advisor or even a trusted friend or family member who really wants to help. Just make sure that the advice is really worth listening to. Also, remember to go with your gut. If someone suggests a financial move that you don’t feel good about, don’t do it. Whether the other person is intentionally leading you down the wrong path or not, your intuition might be trying to warn you.

Take advantage of the Investment & Retirement Center located at First Financial. If you have questions about retirement savings or investments, set up a no-cost consultation with our advisor to discuss your brokerage, investments, and/or savings goals. Call us at 732.312.1565 or stop in to see us!***

*APR varies from 10.90% to 17.90% when you open your account based on your credit worthiness. This APR is for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances and will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Subject to credit approval. No Annual Fee. Other fees that apply: Cash advance fee of 1% of advance ($5 minimum and $25 maximum), Late Payment Fee of up to $25, Foreign Transaction Fee of 1% plus foreign exchange rate of transaction amount, $5 Card Replacement Fee, and Returned Payment Fee of up to $25. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a VISA Platinum Card and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties.

**A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account. All personal memberships are part of the Rewards First program and a $5 per month non-participation fee is charged to the base savings account for memberships not meeting the minimum requirements of the Bronze Tier. Click here to view full Rewards First program details, and here to view the Tier Level Comparison Chart. Accounts for children age 13 and under are excluded from this program.

***Representatives are registered, securities are sold, and investment advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC , a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor, 2000 Heritage Way, Waverly, Iowa 50677, toll-free 800-369-2862. Nondeposit investment and insurance products are not federally insured, involve investment risk, may lose value and are not obligations of or guaranteed by the financial institution. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution, through the financial services program, to make securities available to members. CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., is a registered broker/dealer in all fifty states of the United States of America.

Original article source by Sienna Beard of Personal Finance Cheat Sheet.

You Could Win a $50 Visa Gift Card in Our “Keep the Love Alive” Valentine’s Day Contest!

2015ValentinesDayContestPic

Keep the love alive! Post your comment on our Facebook page telling us what you love most about First Financial and why you’re a member. If you have any questions, call us at 866.750.0100 or email info@firstffcu.com.

Good luck!

*To be entered, “Like” and leave a comment on our Facebook page and telling us what you love most about First Financial and why you’re a member on or before 2/9/15 at 5pm. The winner will be randomly selected from the entries and notified by the Marketing Department on 2/10/15. Winner will be able to pick up their gift card in a First Financial branch or receive it via mail. No purchase necessary to enter or claim prize. You must be 18 years or old to enter. One entry per person.