First Financial FCU Hosts First NJ Retirement Fair for Staff at Asbury Park High School

PRESS RELEASE

APHS

(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.

College Financial Reality: Maybe A Cruise Was A Bad Idea

PRESS RELEASE COURTESY THE ASBURY PARK PRESS

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.”

fair1009a

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.

Our Fall 2014 Newsletter is Here!

Our Fall Bi-Annual Newsletter has arrived! In a continued effort to “go green,” we’re publishing our newsletter electronically – it can also be found on our website and social media sites. Paper copies will be available in our branches in the coming weeks – stay tuned. This Fall “First Edition” newsletter covers some great new topics and talks about some of the exciting events and promotions going on at First Financial for the rest of 2014.

The Fall Newsletter Magazine features the following articles:

  • Upcoming First Financial Seminars (October – November 2014)
  • New Mobile App Announcement
  • “How to Save Money by Simplifying Your Life” Article
  • Note from the CEO
  • New Instagram Announcement
  • “Living in Retirement” – IRC Article
  • Groundbreaking Event Photos & New Freehold/Howell Service Center Address
  • Tell a Friend Referral Program with Holiday Bonus Offer
  • “4 Ways to Save” Financial Tips
  • 2014 Erma Dorrer Literary Scholarship Recipients and Photo
  • Penny Smart’s Food Truck & Restaurant Birthday Bash Summary with Photos
  • Important information, holidays, phone numbers, and branch locations

To view a copy of the newsletter, click here.

Enjoy!

First Financial Foundation Announces Winners of 2014 Erma Dorrer Literary Scholarship

Press Release

DSCN0392

(L to R): 2014 scholarship winners Kimberly Rogers, Demonica Britt, Michael Perry, President/CEO Issa Stephan, and Carly Burrus.

WALL, N.J. – The First Financial Federal Credit Union Foundation (www.firstffcu.com) recently awarded $500 scholarships to four deserving undergraduate students.

This year’s winners included: Kimberly Rogers of Ocean Township, Georgian Court University; Demonica Britt of Freehold, Seton Hall University; Michael Perry of Freehold, Boston College; and Carly Burrus of Neptune, Coastal Carolina University.

DSCN0395

Pictured above: 2014 scholarship winner Kimberly Rogers with Issa Stephan and her parents.

This year, there was one scholarship topic for student applicants to respond to: In today’s world, identity theft, building credit and maintaining good credit are essential elements in our financial lives.  How will you address these essential financial elements during your college years, and how will you guide your friends and family to address the above elements?  Your response should include details about how to protect yourself and what others should do to protect themselves from ID theft, as well as how you plan to build credit and maintain credit for your financial future.

DSCN0397

Pictured above: 2014 scholarship winner Demonica Britt with Issa Stephan and her daughters.

Applicants submitted a written essay or video clip to answer the question, and had to be a member of the credit union by 12/31/13 and about to attend for fall 2014 or currently attending a 2 or 4 year college anywhere in the country.

DSCN0399

Pictured above: 2014 scholarship winner Michael Perry with Issa Stephan and his parents and grandmother.

“We are thrilled to be able to aid these admirable and bright students in their journey of success and education,” said First Financial President and CEO, Issa Stephan.  “Our credit union puts a high priority on education, after all – that’s how First Financial began 78 years ago, with a group of schoolteachers in Asbury Park.”

DSCN0402 Carly Burrus Cropped

Pictured above: 2014 scholarship winner Carly Burrus with Issa Stephan and her mother.

View more about this year’s scholarships and the First Financial Foundation on First Financial’s website.

###

About the First Financial Foundation:

Since 1994, First Financial has supported the Monmouth & Ocean communities with the Erma Dorrer Scholarship Program. Today, that program has been extended into the First Financial Foundation to assist charitable organizations of the Monmouth & Ocean County Communities.  The First Financial Federal Credit Union Foundation is a non-profit working to support a variety of community programs and organizations throughout Monmouth and Ocean Counties.  We direct 100% of your contributions to programs because all administrative expenses are paid for by First Financial Federal Credit Union.  To learn more, visit www.firstffcu.com.

What’s Going There? First Financial Plans in Howell

Courtesy of the Asbury Park Press Online

construction0708The recent explosion of commercial growth on Route 9 in Monmouth County continues on an 8½-acre construction site along the northbound side of the roadway just north of the muncipality’s park-and-ride near the boundary with Freehold Township.

First Financial Federal Credit Union, the Wall-based not-for-profit financial cooperative that operates four locations throughout Monmouth and Ocean counties, will spend roughly $1.5 million to build a 3,000-square-foot branch on the site. The company broke ground on the single-story branch late last month and plans to open it in December. The company also plans to spend $4 million to move its headquarters there from Wall by 2016.

Rather than an expansion, however, First Financial’s construction of the branch marks an attempt at consolidation. The company desired a freestanding branch on its own land, and so it allowed its lease of a storefront within Lanes Mill Marketplace on Route 9 North in the township to expire this past April and will do the same with its leased storefront within Barclay Square on Route 9 South in Freehold Township once it opens the new branch.

Similarly, First Financial’s lease on its current headquarters on Route 34 in Wall will expire in 2016, so it will open a new corporate office building that will stand two stories tall and span 20,000 square feet.

*Article written by staff writer Anthony Panissidi of the Asbury Park Press. 

First Financial Holds Groundbreaking Ceremony for New Freehold/Howell Service Center

Press Release

2014-06-24 10.47.50 2014-06-24 10.56.43

Pictured above, left photo: The First Financial Board of Directors and staff prepare to cut the ribbon to commence the groundbreaking of the credit union’s newest branch alongside Gordon Holder (Board Chair, center) and Issa Stephan (President/CEO, far right).

Pictured above, right photo: Howell Township officials attend the ceremony. From left to right: Paul Schneider (Howell Planning Board), Issa Stephan, Jeffrey Filiatreault (Township Manager), Town Councilman Robert Walsh, and Gordon Holder.

First Financial Federal Credit Union (http://www.firstffcu.com/) held a groundbreaking ceremony on June 24, 2014 at the site of the credit union’s soon to be newest branch at 389 Route 9 North (next to the Howell Park & Ride) in Freehold, NJ 07728.

2014-06-24 10.58.46

Pictured above: Some First Financial Corporate Office staff with Issa Stephan and Gordon Holder.

In attendance were several Howell Township officials including Township Manager Jeffrey Filiatreault, Councilman Robert Walsh, Paul Schneider of the Howell Planning Board, along with Howell Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Susan Dominguez, the First Financial Board of Directors and Supervisory Committee, President/CEO Issa Stephan, realtor Marshall Kern, builder Mitch St. Lawrence, and members of the First Financial Corporate Office staff.

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

2014-06-24 10.51.55

Pictured above: Issa Stephan and Gordon Holder showcase the First Financial Member Experience.

Brief remarks were made by Issa Stephan and Gordon Holder at the ceremony. In regard to the building and future opening of the credit union’s latest branch location, Mr. Stephan 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.”

2014-06-24 10.50.05

Pictured above: Some of the First FInancial Board of Directors and Supervisory Committee from left to right – David Graf, Laurita Carr, Issa Stephan, Gordon Holder, Elizabeth White, Karen Fiore, and Catherine McLaughlin.

More photos from the ceremony are available by following First Financial on Facebook at www.facebook.com/firstfinancialnj.