Classroom Grant Winner Sincerely Thanks First Financial Foundation

Back in December 2012 we announced our four $500 classroom grant winners for the 2012-2013 school year awarded by the First Financial Foundation. Brick Educational Enrichment Center Teacher Sally Flannery, a resident of Wall, NJ, was ecstatic when we surprised her with a $500 grant to help fund her classroom needs.

Ms. Flannery submitted her grant application in order to purchase drop-proof iPad cases to protect the devices she uses to teach preschool children with special needs.

“The iPad is single handedly helping our children access a world they’ve never had access to before,” said Flannery. ”However, there’s one tiny, little glitch. Preschoolers drop things. Often, children on the autistic spectrum and children with behavior disorders throw things, and they are not able to differentiate between the cost of a stuffed dinosaur and a $500 iPad. The drop-proof cases will help protect our equipment and ensure our children have access to the world at their fingertips.”

Brick EEC Grant Money Put to Use

(Pictured above: Sally Flannery (far right) along with the other teachers of Brick Educational Enrichment Center.)

Recently, Ms. Flannery contacted us with a sincere testimonial, “Recently, a student accidentally dropped one of the iPads.  If it didn’t have the protective case the First Financial Foundation funded, it would have been ruined. This was the first accident, and I’m sure they’ll be many more to come. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and from all of us at the Educational Enrichment Center.”

Knowing that the small things we do can help make a difference in someone’s life is the foundation we built our institution on and we will continue to build upon this value to help and support our surrounding communities. To learn more about the First Financial Foundation’s classroom grants as well as Ms. Flannery’s story, click here to visit our previous blog post.

Know the Facts: 0% Financing on Auto Loans

Buying a new car (3)

The Truth Behind 0%

When it comes to getting an auto loan, take the time to carefully look at all your options. What you initially think is a great offer, may end up costing you more money in the long run.

Take a look at the chart below to see some common myths…


Research Your Options

As a credit union member you are already aware of the many benefits First Financial offers, including low interest auto loans and great service tailored to your needs. By researching your auto financing options before you visit a dealership, you may find that when using First Financial’s low percentage rate you are still allowed to use any rebates offered by the manufacturer. This could be your best deal! Refer to our auto loans page for information and details about the loan, preferred dealers, links to apply online and our most recent rates and promotions. If you have any additional questions about our auto loans or refinancing options, contact us at 866.750.0100, e-mail us, or stop into any one of our branches.

Don’t forget to use our FREE online car buying and research tool, AutoSMART! This tool allows you to look up new and pre-owned cars based on model, make, year, mileage, color and so much more. Buying and selling a car has never been easier, be sure to download the AutoSMART app for your Android or iPhone today!

*Click here to view the article source.

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Top 5 Financial Aid Questions and Free February 2013 Financial Aid Seminar

As many students quickly began their spring semester in college, take a moment to answer these simple questions that can help maintain financial aid eligibility while striving towards graduation.

1. What is your estimated graduation date? It’s generally accepted that an undergraduate degree is to be completed in four years, but it ends up taking a bit longer if the student does not take enough credits each semester along the way. Consider a Bachelor’s degree earned at 128 credits would require an average of sixteen credits every Fall and Spring for eight total semesters. If you are registering for just twelve credits each semester, it would take about five and a half years to finish an undergraduate degree. Many grants and scholarships have an eight semester limitation for funding a student, so taking too long to graduate could end up driving your college costs to even greater heights than they already are. Try registering for extra classes next semester if you are falling behind, and get back on track for a timely graduation.

2. Is your GPA maintaining your scholarship? A scholarship typically has a minimum GPA requirement for eligibility. Make sure to zero in on that GPA requirement goal with every class by getting A’s in areas you excel in, and getting extra help in classes that are a struggle. The school’s financial aid office typically reviews scholarship eligibility at the end of the Spring semester and will take action to cancel or reduce scholarships where applicable. If you find yourself with a GPA below the minimum, at least you are aware of the situation and can now take action to improve grades and maintain this important funding.

3. Are you ready to renew your FAFSA? Starting on January 1, the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will be available for the 2013-2014 academic year. Do not waste any time in preparing to complete this, as it will determine financial aid eligibility for next year. Your school has a deadline for new incoming freshmen, as well as for continuing students for completing the FAFSA, and if filed late it can reduce eligibility for need based funding. Get ready by making sure parent and student tax returns are filed in a timely manner so that FAFSA questions can be easily answered. FAFSA renewal can be a very efficient process since the online application can now digitally pre-populate answers to many financial questions from an electronically filed tax return. It’s more easy now than ever to complete a FAFSA, but every year people forget to complete it by their school’s deadline and it costs them funding. Make sure to remember!

4. Has all of your financial aid been paid to your account? If you are having problems getting cleared for next semester’s registration, you may already be aware of this issue. Sometimes certain grants, scholarships or loans do not pay to an account due to an unforeseen error. It may be a mistake on the student’s behalf, for example not completing a master promissory note and entrance interview preventing the Stafford loan from paying out. It may be a mistake on the school’s part if there is an electronic processing error on the financial aid and billing system. Review your account to make sure all of your funding is paid, and at the correct amounts.

5. What is your student loan debt? Review your student loan debt to be fully aware of what is outstanding. Know what you owe by confirming what types of loans have been used, what types of interest rates they carry and how much total debt there is. Estimate how much more debt would be required to complete your program. Then use a loan calculator to estimate what your monthly payments will be after graduation, and how much interest it will cost to repay the loans. Look at loan repayment options available, like the new Federal “Pay As You Earn” program, or private student loan consolidations if necessary. Being aware of debt allows for more decisive planning about debt elimination strategies and the required income to enable it. Also, this is a time to consider job and income prospects for the future, and if the degree track you are following is viable considering the amount of debt necessary to achieve it.

For further clarification on these questions and if you have some more of your own – be sure to register for our Free Crash Course in Financial Aid & Student Loans Seminar! Join us on Wednesday, February 27th at 6:30pm at our Wall Office. Space is limited so click the link below to register today!

Register Now!

Click here for the article source by Ken O’Connor of Fynanz.

*First Financial is not responsible for any content listed on external websites. 

Learn Constant Contact and E-mail Marketing Tips at this Business Seminar in February 2013

Social media expert, Deborah Smith, has returned for 2013 and will be presenting an all-new seminar that we are excited to share with you. In about one hour, her seminar will cover the essential best practices of e-mail marketing that a business or organization should understand to build relationships and grow.

This seminar will cover the basics of:

  • Permission-based marketing and Email Service Providers
  • Building and managing a quality contact list
  • Creating a valuable content to share
  • Getting your email read

Participants will have plenty of time to ask questions, share experiences, and network with peers. And they’ll leave with real-world insights and knowledge that they can put to work immediately, to help their business or organization succeed.

Join us on Thursday, February 21st at 8:30am for our Constant Contact and E-mail Marketing Tips for Business Seminar presented by Deborah Smith. The seminar will be held at First Financial’s Corporate Office located at 1800, Rt. 34 North, Building 3, Suite 302, Wall NJ. Space is limited – Register today!

Register Now!

Deborah Smith is the owner of Foxtrot Media, LLC a Social Media Consulting and Management company. Deborah got her start in social media over 12 years ago when she launched an E-Commerce business which operated a network of websites serving the Nanny Industry. She began employing email groups, chat rooms and online message boards as marketing and networking tools well before the term “Social Media” was ever conceived. When the new tools like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn emerged, Deborah was an early adopter and soon mastered these tools for her own business. In 2007, she launched her first blog,, a collaborative food blog with over 35 contributors throughout the state. JerseyBites now welcomes over 20,000 visitors per month and was recently named as WHYY’s exclusive source for food news in South Jersey. Deborah was also recently named one of 100 Constant Contact local experts in the country. She is an experienced corporate trainer and social media consultant for businesses throughout the tri-state area.

Things to do in Monmouth & Ocean Counties on a Budget this February 2013

Get out of the house and do something fun with your family and friends this month! All these great activities can be found locally within the Monmouth and Ocean County communities. So, why not plan ahead and enjoy a day (or two) to relax with these free or inexpensive activities!

Saturday, February 2nd: Take some quiet time and enjoy the Silent Film Festival! Roxy Films organist, Bernie Anderson, will be the accompanist for the afternoon feature film, the romantic 1927 comedy, My Best Girl starring America’s Sweetheart, Mary Pickford in her final silent film performance. This event will take place from 2-4pm at the Monmouth County Library at 2700Allaire Rd., the Wall Twp. Branch. Call 732-449-8877 for registration and more information.

Sunday, February 3rd: Be amazed at this acrobatic experience with thePeking Acrobats at Ocean County Community College’s Arts & Community Center. Since their Western debut in 1986, The Peking Acrobats have redefined audience perceptions of Chinese acrobats. They perform daring maneuvers atop a precarious pagoda of chairs; they are expert at trick-cycling, precision tumbling, somersaulting, and gymnastics. They defy gravity with amazing displays of contortion, flexibility, and control. They push the envelope of human possibility with astonishing juggling dexterity and incredible balancing feats, showcasing tremendous skill and ability. The Peking Acrobats are an Ocean County favorite and have sold out previous appearances. Event begins promptly at 2pm – for tickets please call (732)255-0500 or visit

Saturday, February 9th: Join a group of photographers at the Grounds For Sculpture (Hamilton) 2013 Focus on Sculpture Juror for this all new and adventurous winter photo-walk. Utilizing 42-acres and 270 sculptures as inspiration and subject, there will pointers provided on composition and perspective to help you hone your skills. Remember it is February and we might get lucky and have some snow on the ground to set off the sculptures.  Dress warm, wear comfortable shoes and don’t forget your hat! A digital point and shoot camera or DSLR is required. A knowledge of navigation in your camera modes, functions and menus is recommended. This workshop will run rain or shine – in case of extreme weather, there are some great indoorgalleries. To reserve your spot for the event from 1:30-3:30pm, call Grounds For Sculpture directly at 609-586-0616.

Saturday, February 9th & Sunday, February 10th: Are you a chocolate-a-holic? Why not enjoy an entire weekend of it at Ocean Grove Chamber of Commerce’s Chocolate Lovers’ Weekend! Saturday events begin at the Chamber Office, 45 Pilgrim Pathway starting with a Hunt for Hearts 10:30am-4pm, a Tour of Inns 11am-4pm, followed by special Chocolate Lovers’ Dinner at O.G. Restaurants. Sunday events begin again at the Chamber Office, with a Winter Walk 12-3pm. Free admission. Sign up today!

Sunday, February 10th: Just in time for Valentine’s Day, drop into HistoricWalnford (Upper Freehold) from 1-4pm for their Roses are Red, Violets are Blue event to see a small display of beautiful 19th century valentines. They invite you to make a token of affection using the materials provided for your sweetheart, inspired by historical examples. For more information on any of these activities, call: 609-259-6275.

Friday, February 15th: Get in touch with your poetic side and attend Monmouth University’s PoemJazz with Robert Pinsky & Friends. Robert Pinsky, Three-time U.S. poet laureate and author of several acclaimed books of poetry, prose, and translation will bring his verse to life on the PollakTheatre stage in a reading with musical accompaniment. Located in the PollakTheatre on Monmouth University’s campus in West Long Branch at 7:30pm.

Saturday, February 16th & Sunday, February 17th: It’s Valentine’s Day Weekend, why not explore and enjoy award-winning wines, live music and desserts with your significant other at Laurita Winery, 35 Archertown Road, New Egypt from 12-9pm. The best part is that it’s FREE admission! For more information you can visit the link above or call 609-758-8000.

Saturday, February 23rd: When the temperatures drop, the Polar Bears Plunge! Sign up for the 20th Annual Polar Bear Plunge to benefit Special Olympics of New Jersey. The event has been typically held in Seaside Heights for the last six years, but has been moved to Long Branch for 2013. Registration begins at 9am, Plunge is at 1pm. Radio station NJ 101.5’s Big Joe Henry, “the Voice of the Plunge” will broadcast live on Plunge Day with interviews, updates and a countdown to Plunge. For more information, visit the link above or call 609.896.8000.

Also, feel free to check out this website for a list of places who participate in giving away FREE FOOD for the month of February! From pancakes, to coffee, to ice cream it all sounds good to us – another reason to get out of the house and enjoy some quality time with family and friends!

Have fun and enjoy!

Toms River Resident Wins $1,000 to Pay Off Holiday Bills in December 2012

Press Release???????????????????????????????Toms River, N.J. – Nicole Sharp, a Toms River resident, received a check for $1,000 as a winner in First Financial Federal Credit Union ( and 94.3 The Point’s “Helping Families First” sweepstakes at the credit union’s Toms River branch.

Throughout 2012, consumers age 18 years and older participated in the First Financial promotion at and were entered to win $1,000 in a monthly grand prize drawing.  A grand prize winner was randomly selected each month from all qualifying entries on or about the last day of each month.

As holiday spending incessantly rolled over into December’s contest theme, Ms. Sharp stated that she planned on utilizing coupons and purchasing sales items in order to stay out of debt during the holiday season. She also added, “This money will help me tremendously when I finish up my holiday shopping, I couldn’t be more grateful.”

This prize was the credit union’s final award in the 2012 Helping Families First campaign with 94.3 The Point.  All twelve winners from the entire year can be viewed on First Financial’s blog.