Video: 2014 Annual Report

At First Financial, our first priority is helping you achieve your financial dreams every time you do your banking with us. Together we will define your dream goals and lifestyle, empower you through financial education, build your wealth, plan your retirement, and manage your risk.

Check out our successes and accomplishments from 2014 in the Annual Report Video below.  Thank you for being a valued First Financial member!

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

family-baking-300x200Hang in there! Spring is almost here and we’re just as excited as you are to be able to finally get outside and break free of hibernation. As always, we’ve come up with a list of free or inexpensive activities that you and your family and friends can enjoy in a town near you.

St. Patrick’s Day Parades:

Wednesday, March 4: This is your chance to see if a pottery class is right for you! Bring your friends or family members to the Pottery Open House at the Thompson Park Creative Arts Center (Lincroft) where you will sample some hand building techniques and try your luck at the potter’s wheel. This free event will take place from 4pm-8pm and is open to ages 7 and up, those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. For more information, call 732-842-4000.

Saturday, March 7: Let it go with Elsa, Anna, Olaf and more at the Count Basie Theatre (Red Bank) with the Sing-Along Version of Frozen! Anna, a fearless optimist, sets off on an epic journey – teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven – to find her sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Get your tickets today – showtimes at 11am, 2:30pm and 5pm. For more information, call 732-842-9000.

Sunday, March 8: Head on down to the Bradley Beach Library for the 10th Annual Art Exhibit and Wine Tasting Event! You can see beautiful artwork, sample wines and treats, enjoy music from the Festive Flutes and chat with your neighbors from 2pm-4pm. For more information, call 732-869-1020.

Enjoy the tastes of the shore at the 7th Annual Belmar Restaurant Tour! The event will take place from noon to 4:30pm – tickets can be purchased in advance for just $30.00 at Brandl, Mr. Shrimp & 10th Ave. Burrito. Tickets will be $35.00 the day of event at Brandl located at 703 Belmar Plaza. Click the link above for the full list of participating restaurants. For more information, call 732-681-3700.

It’s Daylight Savings Time on Sunday, March 8 – don’t forget to turn those clocks ahead at 2:00am!

Friday, March 13: Celebrate the luck of the Irish at The Nerd’s St. Patrick’s Day Party presented by NJ 101.5! The event will be held at iPlay America (Freehold) and is open to those 21 and older only. Tickets start at just $10 and you’ll enjoy contests, prizes and so much more! For more information, call 732-577-8200.

Wednesday, March 18-Thursday, March 19: It’s Irish Week at the Flavor of Freehold Event! Come out and experience some of Downtown Freehold’s most loved restaurants and shops. The event will take place from 5:30pm-8pm and tickets are just $10.00 per person (cash only). For more information, call 732-333-0094.

Sunday, March 22: Make Red Bank your ultimate destination for all things wedding at the 2015 Red Bank Wedding Walk. Find your photographer, choose your ring, smell your roses, get fitted for your dress and enjoy a tasting at one of their award winning venues. The one-day event is a free and introduces brides, grooms, partners, wedding attendants and their families to Red Bank as the one-stop shopping destination for weddings. Several grand prize packages will be raffled at the conclusion of the Wedding Walk. For more information, call 732-842-4244.

Head on over to Bradley Beach, for their 2015 Restaurant Tour! Enjoy delicious tastings from restaurants all over town from 11am-3pm presented by the Bradley Beach Chamber of Commerce and the Borough of Bradley Beach. Tickets are being sold at Borough Hall, D’Arcy’s, and The Ground Round. For more information, call 732-776-2999.

Sunday, March 29: Enjoy rides and fun while you hunt for Easter eggs at the Keansburg Amusement Park’s Annual Easter Egg Hunt! The event is rain or shine at will take place at 1pm. For more information, call 732-495-1400.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Happy Spring! 

First Financial’s Freehold/Howell Service Center is Now Open!

Press Release

First Financial Federal Credit Union’s newest branch is now open for business at 389 Route 9 North (next to the Howell Park & Ride) in Freehold, NJ 07728.

New Branch and Drive Thru

Pictured above: First Financial’s new Freehold/Howell Service Center – now open!

The credit union’s newest branch will be a primary banking location for approximately a quarter of the credit union’s 20,000 members.  First Financial’s newest branch features many important banking conveniences such as a drive thru, drive up and walk up ATMs, and more.

In regard to the credit union’s latest branch location, Issa Stephan, First Financial’s President/CEO stated, “We look forward to bringing the Howell and Freehold community a high-tech banking facility featuring modern convenience. Member experience is extremely important to us, and our first priority is achieving our members’ financial dreams by defining their financial goals and lifestyle, empowering them with financial education, helping them to plan their retirement, and more – and our newest branch will be a key vehicle in helping us to fulfill this promise with our membership.”

A ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening week featuring outdoor activities is planned for warmer weather, and will take place starting Monday, April 27th. Stay tuned for future details!

Feb 2 Soft Opening Teller Line

Pictured above: The teller line inside the new Freehold/Howell Service Center.

Help Local Families in Need this 2014 Holiday Season in any First Financial Branch!

season of giving joyHoliday Greetings to all of our First Scoop Readers!

As we approach the holiday season, First Financial will be partnering with local non-profit organizations to help families in need within Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Our First Financial branches will serve as collection sites for non-perishable food items that will then be donated to the following non-profit organizations:

Please note that the first branch food pick-up date will be on Friday, November 21, 2014. There will be other pick-up dates throughout the holiday season, so please feel free to donate your non-perishable food items after November 21st also.

We will also be partnering with the Salvation Army to offer Angel Tags: Gifts for Children. Each of our 4 branches will receive Angel Tags listing a child’s gender and age in the upcoming week. These tags will be available for you to bring home in order to purchase a gift for the child in need listed on the tag you select. These gifts will be picked up on Wednesday, December 10th at all First Financial locations – so please be sure to return your unwrapped gifts with the tag attached, by December 10th.

Help brighten someone’s holiday this season and thank you for your continued support!

First Financial Hosts First NJ Retirement Fair for Staff at Asbury Park High School in Fall 2014



(photo of Asbury park high school)

Wall, N.J. – Going back to the building where it was founded, First Financial Federal Credit Union brought an informative and interactive new Retirement Fair program to the staff of Asbury Park High School last month, which also happened to be the first ever Retirement Fair held in New Jersey. Throughout the day, teachers visited the library during their professional development period to learn whether they could afford the same lifestyle they are currently living once they retire, based on retirement scenarios.

The Retirement Fair was a hands-on experience where educators were provided a worksheet and then visited individual lifestyle stations such as health and fitness, food and clothing, travel and entertainment – and were given a calculation based upon a series of short questions. Once the teachers visited each station, they added their calculations and compared them to the national average to see if their current retirement savings plan was in the right place or if it needed to be adjusted.

First Financial’s Business Development Manager, Matthew Brazinski, and Investment & Retirement Center Coordinator, Samantha Schertz, gave a brief history of the credit union, explaining how it was founded right there, in the halls of Asbury Park High School in 1936. In the debriefing after the station visits, Mary LaFerriere, Financial Advisor with CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., reviewed the experience with the group, pointing out the various components of retirement to keep in mind, including inflation, debt, expenditures, investments, and more. The participants were then able to schedule an appointment with the credit union’s Investment & Retirement Center if they wished to delve deeper into retirement planning or had questions about their results.

”Retirement planning is one of the top priorities for our members here at First Financial, and we were honored to be the first in the state to host this Retirement Fair event at Asbury Park High School – the very location in which we began nearly 80 years ago,” said Issa Stephan, President/CEO at First Financial. “We hope the educators who attended realize the importance of planning and saving for retirement, and if they need help or advice – they have somewhere local to go, to help them achieve their dream goals and lifestyle.”

The National Credit Union Foundation’s REAL Solutions Program in cooperation with CUNA Mutual Group have developed this new Retirement Fair program to assist credit unions in helping their members better prepare for retirement. The fair is an interactive learning experience, similar to the popular Financial Reality Fair program offered through the New Jersey Credit Union League Foundation.

OCC 2014 College Financial Reality: Maybe A Cruise Was A Bad Idea


Candice Kuipers, an Ocean County College student from Berkeley, speaks at a financial reality fair with Matt Brazinski, business development manager for First Financial Federal Credit Union. (Photo: BOB BIELK/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER).


Candace Kuipers sat down at a table with a calculator, lined up her wages with her expenses, and came up $1,260.09 short.

It was going to be a tough month.

“Probably the cruise,” said Kuipers, 18, of Berkeley. “Shouldn’t have gotten the cruise. Bad idea. And the car. I shouldn’t have gotten a new car.”

Kuipers was one of about 200 Ocean County College students who attended a financial literacy forum here Thursday that was sponsored by First Financial Federal Credit Union.

It was a tough lesson for a generation that has grown up with mixed messages. They have watched their parents struggle in the aftermath of the Great Recession; and they have been bombarded with images of reality stars who live the high life with no discussion about how they pay for it.

A recent survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling found only two in five consumers have a budget and keep close track of spending.

Education lacking

“The key is financial education,” said Issa Stephan, president and chief executive officer for First Financial. “That’s what we have been lacking in this country. Since the 2008 problem, there has been more (emphasis on financial literacy) than at any other time. Financial education is the key.”

Students were given a worksheet with the salary they could expect, based on their major. They took out taxes, health insurance and retirement savings to calculate their take-home pay. And then they walked from station to station to see what the world had to offer.

There were new cars and baseball games, yoga classes and pets, mortgage payments and gadgets. And there were unexpected, budget-busting items such as car repairs and parking tickets. Students learned they really can’t have it all — at least, not without going deep in debt.

“I was going to get a house, but instead I got an apartment,” said Isaiah Brown, 18, of Manchester. “Food was $400, now it’s $200. And clothes. Instead of suits, go more casual.”


Ocean County College students Gabi Tartaglione (left) Brick, and Nicole Flesche, Toms River, participate in the financial reality fair sponsored by First Financial Federal Credit Union. (Photo: BOB BIELK/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER).


Better career paths

The event was part of a course called Student Success that’s designed to prepare students for what awaits them. And educators have found that students who learn these lessons early in their college careers are more likely to graduate and improve their career paths, said Maureen Reustle, dean of academic services at Ocean County College.

The goal is to get them to say, ” ‘Oh my gosh, I have to think about this,’ ” Reustle said.

The students could have been forgiven for losing all hope in their future. Their salaries weren’t nearly as much as they expected. Even a non-luxury automobile could cost nearly $25,000. And how were they going to find money for a security deposit, much less pay their rent?

But Candace Kuipers wasn’t discouraged. The cruise can wait.

“I’m still learning,” she said.

Original article written by Michael Diamond of the Asbury Park Press.