Maximize Your Most Valuable Resource: Time

“You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” – Jim Rohn

By now, you’ve been enjoying the perks of longer days: better weather, a happier mood and a little more time to get things done! You may have heard the phrase “time is more valuable than money,” but no matter how long the sun lingers in the sky, most of us sti1-free-timell find ourselves wishing for one more hour in the day. We’re a busy society, and the demands on our time often pull us in many directions at once.

Are you feeling like the clock runs out too soon on your daily plans? Check out these tips for maximizing your time and extracting more value out of those extra daylight hours.

Planning Your Time = A Smart Use of Time

Reserve 15 minutes each morning to plan how you would like to spend the time in your day. Start with free-form lists for family, work, and yourself and then prioritize. If you prefer using your phone to organize tasks, there are plenty of amazing apps to help master your daily to-do list.

Don’t measure your success based on finishing an entire list: get to your most important items, then use 15 minutes at night to review your progress and begin thinking about the next day. By instituting these “bookends” on your day, you’ll relieve the stress of feeling like you’re not in control of your time and go to bed feeling a real sense of accomplishment.

Supercharge Your Time Effectiveness

You already consider the cost-effectiveness of your purchases. How about considering the time-effectiveness of your actions? Before taking on a task, consider if you’re using your time well: Are you adding too many steps? Could you delegate or ask for assistance? Is this task contributing to your priorities?

Once you’ve determined your time-effectiveness, consider using the “one-touch rule.” Popular among productivity experts, the one-touch rule means you must finish a task completely once you start it. No switching to a new task or giving in to distractions. If your task is on your computer, try Freedom, software that disconnects your computer from the Internet to keep you from browsing the web. The one-touch rule allows you to complete, say, three big tasks by the end of the day instead of having ten incomplete projects on your hands. Try it out – and don’t be hard on yourself if life sometimes gets in the way!

Take Advantage of Wait Times

A not-so-fun irony: the busier we get, the more downtime we face waiting! Whether it’s at the doctor’s office, in the grocery store line or waiting for the train, small wait times can add up to considerable hours wasted. Always keep a notebook or tablet on hand to brainstorm for a project that needs your attention, catch up on emails or check in on your household budget. Your phone is great, too. Sometimes you’re the most productive when you have no other options competing for your attention!

Respect Your Energy

You can certainly fill every available second of your day with tasks, but if you don’t have the energy to complete them, what’s the point? Respect your finite amount of energy and try to find times throughout the day for fun, rest and re-charging – whether it’s a walk around the block, some extra quality time with your children or even five minutes of quiet time on the couch. And always give yourself downtime between tasks! You’ll be more focused, present and diligent when you take the time for self-care.

Here at First Financial, we respect your time and strive to provide convenient banking solutions everyday. Click on the links below to learn more about a few services we offer to help make your life a little easier:

Article courtesy of MintLife Blog.

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

Family-in-PoolHappy summer everyone! As we continue to enjoy the beautiful weather and the fun outdoor activities – here are a few exciting events that you and your family and friends can attend all month long. Remember to get out and embrace the summer fun while it lasts!

Tuesday, August 4: Enjoy a night out to see The Piano Guys at Count Basie Theatre (Red Bank)! What do you get when you mix up a marketing genius who does video, a studio engineer who writes music, a pianist who had a successful solo career, and a cellist who does pretty much everything? The Piano Guys: a miraculous meeting of “guys” with the same intrinsic purpose – to make a positive impact in the lives of people all over the world through music videos. Tickets start at just $35 a person – for more information, call 732-842-9000.

Wednesday, August 5: It wouldn’t be the summer without The Sandy Hook Foundation’s Beach Concert Series. These concerts are free to the public, and each summer thousands of people of all ages come out to enjoy live entertainment on the beach at sunset. Each Wednesday during the summer, come enjoy live entertainment at Sandy Hook’s beach, 8/5’s performer is The Haven. For more information, call 732-291-7733.

Wednesday, August 5 – Sunday, August 9: Get ready for five days of fun dedicated to celebrating Italian heritage and culture at the 39th Annual Italian Festival! The event is free and will take place from 5-11pm at Joe Palaia Park (Oakhurst). There will be Italian cuisine (sausage and peppers and zeppoli), as well as entertainment throughout the festival, including: A&S Sound, Mario Delano Jr., Taylor Tote, Doo Wop Pop Disco, and Eric DeLauro. Enjoy rides, games, raffles, food eating contests and fireworks, which will be displayed at 9:30 p.m. August 7. For more information, call 732-517-1040.

August 6, 13, 20, and 27: Come ready to purchase Jersey’s finest produce and goods at Keyport’s Farmers Market! Shop a variety of fresh produce, honey/beeswax products, pickles, relish, olives, potted plants, and so much more. For more information, call 732-739-5138.

Saturday, August 8Head on over to Keansburg Amusement Park for Hot Rods & Food Trucks! As one of their signature events, attendees can enjoy classic cars and food truck cuisine from 11am-6pm. This family friendly event is a feast for the eyes and taste-buds, so bring your appetite! The event is located right on Beachway, in between the Water Park and Amusement Park. Tickets to the attractions may be purchased at the Park, and there will be free admission for the event. For more information, call 732-841-7732.

Saturday, August 15 – Sunday, August 16: Does anything scream summer at the Jersey Shore more than fresh seafood? Come celebrate the best the ocean has to offer at Monmouth Park’s (Oceanport) annual two-day Shore Chef Crab Cake Cook-Off! Dine on everything from chowder, to lobster rolls, to some of the best crab cakes you’ve ever had. Throw in some live music and the excitement of live, thoroughbred racing and this event will have you hungry for more. The event will be held from noon-5pm. For more information, call 732-222-5100.

Sunday, August 16: Love art? Stop by the 10th Annual Boardwalk Art Show in Asbury Park, sponsored by the Asbury Park Historical Society. This exhibit features fine art, oil, acrylic, watercolor, charcoal, pastel photographs and sculptures! For more information, call 848-667-3432.

Thursday, August 20 – Sunday, August 23: Come one, come all to the 25th Annual Colts Neck Country Fair! The fair will feature food, entertainment, vendors, rides and games. Daily entertainment includes performances by: August 20 – Matt O’Ree Band, August 21 – Moroccan Sheepherders, August 22 – Rock of Ages Band/Constantine Maroulis, August 23 – Slim Chance and The Gamblers. For more information, call 732-462-8500.

Friday, August 28: Come watch the talented Cassadee Pope in Concert at iPlay America (Freehold)! With soaring vocals, opening slots on major tours, impressive sales and being selected for CMT’s Next Women of Country, Cassadee Pope continues to add to her growing list of accolades. Mentor Blake Shelton presented the season three winner of The Voice with another fan-voted honor – 2014 CMT Music Awards’ Breakthrough Video of the Year. She ended 2014 with a Female Vocalist of the Year nomination at the first-ever American Country Countdown Awards. For more information, call 732-577-8200.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

The True Cost of Your RV

Question: We’d like to get an RV instead of going on vacation this summer. It’s always been a dream of ours. In addition to the cost of purchasing the RV, what hidden expenses should I expect once we own it?

Answer: Buying or renting an RV can be an enjoyable way to travel and see the country from sea to shining sea without checking into a motel room even once. But before you make that decision, take into account these hidden and additional costs:

Fuel. Plan on about 8 to 15 miles per gallon. If your water and sewage tanks are fully loaded, you’ll spend more on fuel. If you travel light, you can get better mileage. But in the middle of that range, it’s still going to cost about 38 to 40 cents per mile in fuel costs alone, assuming diesel prices of $3.50 per gallon. Some areas have higher fuel costs than others.

Also, not only will driving use up gas, but your generator will also consume fuel if you aren’t plugged into the grid. If you’re using an electric heater or the air conditioning while you are stationary, or if you enjoy hot water, you will have to run your generator. The more you use it, the higher the costs will be. Some may use propane rather than electricity, but propane isn’t free either.

RV Park Fees. Lots of people use the free parking in Walmart parking lots, but if you want to stay at an RV park, plan on spending between $30 and $50 per night. This is usually a little less than you’d pay for a budget hotel, but be prepared to pay it pretty often. RV folks tend to be out on longer trips than non-RV people, who may only pay for a hotel for a few days or a week. You can usually get a discount from RV parks if you pay by the month.

Insurance. Because there are a number of specialized underwriting factors, see if you can find an insurance carrier or agency that specializes in RVs. For example, a typical auto policy has very limited benefits for replacing lost, stolen or destroyed personal belongings in a car. You will need higher limits for an RV than for a standard truck or sedan. You will also need specialized ‘full-timer’ insurance for when your RV is stationary. This coverage provides similar protection to homeowners’ insurance. But if you still have an unwheeled residence, you’ll also need to maintain home coverage on it.

Note: In most cases, you need insurance even if your RV is a trailer. Ask your agent about “trailer insurance.”

Maintenance. Save early and save often for maintenance issues. Towing costs alone will be significant if you do have a breakdown. It takes a heavier duty tow truck to haul an RV – and it may have to be hauled a long way to find a mechanic capable of fixing it! Maintenance costs are all over the map, but can easily run thousands of dollars. New tires alone cost $300 each (roughly $1,200 to change them all).

Once you’re aware of these factors and feel, as many people do, that the benefits and savings far outweigh the costs, start shopping for your RV. First Financial can help you purchase an RV with our RV loan program. We have great low rates plus:

  • Financing on your new or used RV up to 120 months
  • Up to 110% financing
  • Loan Payment Protection
  • Easy online application

Click here to learn more and to apply today!

*A First Financial membership is required to obtain an RV loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, 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/loan.

This article is courtesy of CUContent.

6 Sneaky Summer Expenses to Avoid

iStock_000016935539XSmallSummer is the time kick back, relax and just take things easy for a few months. While this means you may be feeling a little lax with your budget, you don’t have to waste those hard-earned dollars on frivolous purchases and expenses that can easily be avoided. Even if you aren’t tracking your spending on a daily basis, there are some things you can do to be more mindful about your spending habits and make better money decisions all season long.

Whether you’re enjoying some vacation time this summer or just working your way through those hot summer days, here are six sneaky summer expenses you can avoid.

  1. Excessive toll charges. You may be relying on your GPS to provide you with the shortest route and turn-by-turn directions to your final destination, but make sure you aren’t required to pay a lot of toll fees along the way. Consider taking an alternative route – even if the trip takes slightly longer – so you don’t end up paying extra money in toll charges on a single trip. Factor in the extra cost of gas on the alternate route if needed so you really are saving money on the total cost of that drive.
  2. Car rental insurance. If you’re planning a road trip but don’t want to put miles on your own car or you end up needing a rental car when you’re on vacation, don’t add more to the cost of your trip by purchasing rental car insurance. Almost all major credit card companies offer car rental insurance coverage as a benefit to cardholders – regardless of their balance. Check with your credit card provider to find out if it offers car rental insurance and also check with your insurance company to see if car rentals are included in your coverage. In many cases, your car insurance will provide primary coverage and the credit card will take care of secondary coverage, such as towing charges and other fees.
  3. Cost of personal items on vacation. Don’t let running out of sunscreen, bottled water or other everyday essentials put a dent in your vacation budget this season. Buying these items at a hotel, resort or retail store at a vacation hotspot can leave you paying a premium, so make sure to stock up on the essentials before you head out. Make a checklist of must-haves for the beach and beyond so you don’t spend extra money on the basics.
  4. Beach umbrella and chair rentals. Many resorts and hotels by the ocean offer beach umbrella and chair rentals for an additional fee. If you can bring your own, you could end up saving upward of $15 per day on these amenities. Call ahead to confirm that you are permitted to bring your own beach items – some larger resorts may not allow you to use anything but their own, so you can save some extra money on that overnight stay.
  5. Premium gas prices in tourist towns. If you’re heading to a major tourist city, make sure to fill up in the suburbs or anywhere outside of the main tourist zones to avoid the high price of gas. Many gas stations around tourist hubs charge a premium because they know visitors have limited options in the area. Be smart about where you fill up so you aren’t paying several cents more per gallon every time you need gas.
  6. Movie rental late fees. If you’re planning a movie marathon for a group or just binge-watching a few days during that summer vacation away, make sure you don’t get stuck with late charges and extra fees on those rentals. Only rent what you can watch that same night so you don’t fall into the trap of holding on to the movie for a few extra nights – and paying late fees. Redbox, for example, only charges $1.50 plus tax a night for most DVD rentals but will charge you the same price for every night you hold onto it. If you’re bad about returning movies on time, consider low-cost and free alternatives, such as rentals from the library or borrowing a DVD from a friend to offset some of the costs of movie night.

First Financial’s Summer Savings Account is ideal for those who are looking to save up for summer expenses or a vacation as well as employees who get paid 10 months out of the year. This account allows you to have money available for summer expenses during July and August and you have the ability to choose the amount of money you’d would like to have deposited each pay period through direct deposit or payroll deduction.*

You can elect to have your money transferred into a First Financial Checking Account in two different ways: Either 100% of funds can be transferred on July 1st, or 50% will be transferred July 1st, and the other 50% August 1st. This account can be opened at anytime – stop into any branch, or call us at 866.750.0100.

*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. Accounts for children age 13 and under are excluded from this program. 

Article courtesy of US News – Money by Sabah Karimi.

Sun, Surf, and Savings: Summer Travel Inexpensively

54f0fbd48fba0_-_1-couple-vacation-tropical-lgnIt’s summer and time to enjoy the sun! Whether you’re an adventurer, a creature of habit, or planning your first big family vacation, here are some money saving tips you will want to consider.

Save Up

When planning summer travel, estimate your costs ahead of time for airfare, lodging, and expenses. Set a goal to save a portion every month toward that amount and track your progress. The closer you get, the closer that vacation is, and the more excited you and your travel companions will be!

One popular saving method is the hoarding of five-dollar bills. A Reddit user inspired many with his post and photo captioned: “For the past year, I put away every $5 bill that came into my possession. To date, I’ve saved $3,335.”

Get a Cheaper Flight

Plan ahead: Try to book your flights around three months in advance of your planned date of travel. Finding cheap last minute airfare isn’t impossible, but it’s hard to plan that way.

Low fare alerts: Pick a few destinations you want to visit and set up “low airfare” alerts at sites like Airfare Watchdog or Kayak to be notified when prices drop below your threshold. If you’re not limited to a certain destination, Kayak’s summer travel hacker can help you choose a lower-fare location.

When to buy: If a fare seems too good to be true, BUY IT. The price-prediction app Hopper, will advise you to purchase your flight now or wait because prices might drop further.

Avoid Airline Fees

Baggage fees: Avoid the long lines and $25 charge by packing light and flying only with carry-ons. Make sure your carry-on suitcase fits the dimensions permitted by your airline. Avoid stuffing the bag so full that it can’t fit into the bag-size tester. Summer travel often requires less clothing anyway, right?

To make sure you stay comfortable on the flight, a thin scarf – which looks fashionable and keeps the neck warm – can double as a light blanket. Wear your largest pair of shoes and bulkiest clothing on the flight so they won’t take up as much space in your suitcase.

If you travel to the same destination often, consider leaving some toiletries or clothing items at that person’s house.

Food and drink: Travel with an empty reusable water bottle that you fill when you get through security. Bring your own snacks and packable meals so that you don’t get tempted to charge an airline meal to your credit card. The food you pack will likely taste better, anyway. But be kind to your fellow passengers and try to avoid powerful odors like tuna or egg salad, or allergens like peanut butter.

Article courtesy of MintLife Blog by Kim Tracy Prince.