Learn How to Plan for Life Milestones at this Free Seminar in April 2014

will-lawyers-Montgomery-County-PA-life-milestones-for-estate-planningHave you wondered how you’re going to budget for life’s biggest events such as getting married, buying your first home, having a baby, and retiring? Attending this FREE First Financial seminar, you’ll learn how to properly plan and budget for these life milestones and receive information on different options that will work best for you.

At this seminar, attendees will learn:

  • How to plan for life’s milestones (i.e. marriage, house, children, retirement)
  • Life insurance policy options and why they’re important
  • What a living will is and why you need one

Join us on Wednesday, April 30th at 6:00pm for our “Planning for Life Milestones” Seminar, presented by the experts at First Financial, Peter A. Loffredo, Esq., and Daniel Ressegiue of Liberty Mutual Insurance. The event will be held at our Wall Office at 1800 Route 34 North, Building 3, Suite 302 in Wall. Space is limited, so make sure you sign up today!

Register Now!

Peter A. Loffredo, Esq. is an attorney who has been in practice for 22 years. He has a general practice office in Toms River, with a concentration in assisting individuals and businesses in real estate transactions. Other areas of practice include municipal court, landlord-tenant matters, litigation and the preparation of Estate Planning Documents, such as Wills, Powers of Attorney and Living Wills.

Daniel Ressegiue graduated from The Pennsylvania State University majoring in Psychology and business and is currently finishing an MBA at Monmouth University. During his tenure at Liberty Mutual, he has been awarded many awards including National Rookie of the year special recognition, 5 Time “Pacesetter,” Pursuit of Excellence and is a Liberty Lamplighters Club inductee. During his spare time, he enjoys staying active playing soccer, racquetball and partaking in long distance running competitions. He is also a member of Jersey Shore Runners Club, Penn State Alumni Association, as well as SCORE, a nonprofit entity dedicated to the mentoring of small business owners.

5 Big Budgeting Mistakes Most People Make

Top-10-Big-Budgeting-Mistakes-in-Travel-2Some people take budgeting very seriously. They budget their money down to the very last cent. Others ignore the subject completely and don’t even bother to look at the big picture every now and then.

Regardless of the situation you’re in, there are five budgeting boo-boos that most people make — and they are big. Let’s review these pitfalls so you don’t fall into any of them.

1. Not Tracking Your Actual Expenses

Budgeting is great, but without tracking it against your actual expenses it’s a useless endeavor. The ultimate purpose of budgeting is to determine if your spending behavior is getting you closer to — or further away from — your life goals. A budget is a dream. Actuals are reality. The dream is nice, but it won’t change your life.  Your actual spending, if you track it and make critical decisions around it, can propel you forward in ways you could never imagine. It’s important to track your actual spending every month.

2. Neglecting Emergency Planning

There are two kinds of emergencies. The first kind are involuntary, as in, “Oh my gosh, my car needs a new transmission!”  The second kind are voluntary, as in, “Oh my gosh, I just have to go to Vegas this weekend!”

These are both examples of unplanned expenses that throw most people off track. But they don’t have to. Here’s why. If you look back over your records for prior years, you’ll probably notice that these kinds of emergencies (voluntary and involuntary) pop up about once or twice a year.  If it’s not one thing, it will be another. You don’t know what it will be or what the price tag will be exactly, but people get smacked with “unexpected” expenses in a fairly predictable manner if they view it on an annual basis.  That’s another reason why it really pays to keep good records.

Look at your past “emergencies” to get a sense of how much goes out more or less each year and divide that number by 12 and set that amount aside every month to cover these costs.

3. Forgetting to Allow for Non-Recurring Expenses

Of the people who do track what they spend each month, few put aside the bills that come in infrequently like property taxes and insurance. That’s why, when people are asked what they think they spend on average each month, they usually undershoot it by 30% or more. And that kind of miscalculation poses a huge danger.

If you retire thinking you spend “X” but actually spend 130% of “X” you’ll be back to work before you can say, “Flippy Burger.” Track everything that goes out. It doesn’t matter how you do it. It just matters that you know what it costs you to live on average each month including everything – even non-recurring expenses.

4. Not Expecting the Really Bad Stuff

Do you budget for the really terrible “what if” scenarios? Part of that includes a family continuation plan and that usually includes a discussion about life insurance. According to JD Power and Associates, 40% of the adult population in the United States has no life insurance at all. And according to that same study, 25% of all widows and widowers (35 to 50 years old) feel their deceased spouses didn’t have enough life insurance.

Make sure you know how much coverage you need, carve out a spot in your budget and then put the policy in place. Term life is very affordable. And don’t let health issues stand in your way.  Each insurance company views your health history differently.  Even if your doctor’s chart is really ugly, don’t despair.  You may be eligible for a guaranteed issue policy.  You have nothing to lose and your family to protect, so put the latte down and take care of this.

5. Not Budgeting Your Top Resource: Time

Regardless of how much money you have or don’t have – time is your most precious resource.  Are you budgeting and tracking it?  Don’t feel bad, most people don’t. Something you can try is to make a daily list of three things you need to get done. Only jot down three things because you want to set yourself up for success rather than failure. Keep that list by your side all day long and don’t unplug your computer until you cross each item off the list. Sticking to your list and plowing through it before doing anything else will yield powerful results. You’ll be more effective and feel less stress — it’s a win-win.

Take a look at the way you spend your time and money. Are you satisfied? If not, which of these budgeting tips offer the greatest potential for you? When are you going to start? Why or why not?

Click here to check out our free financial calculators that are conveniently located on our website. We also offer a number of free tools and low-cost services that can be helpful organizing your finances and getting yourself back on track, these include:

If you’d like to sit down and review your current finances with a First Financial expert, contact us to make your complimentary annual financial check-up today by calling 866.750.0100, email info@firstffcu.com, or stop into any branch and ask to speak with a representative.

*Click here to view the article source written by Neal Frankle.

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Things To Do on a Budget in Monmouth and Ocean Counties this September 2013

familySummer is slowly coming to an end as we enter September, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun! Grab your family and friends and enjoy these affordable activities near you.

Sunday, September 1 – BOOM! BANG! That’s right, it’s time to celebrate Labor Day with colorful and bright fireworks. They will be starting at dusk on the beach in Asbury Park so don’t forget a beach chair or some blankets! For more information, call 732-775-2100.

Beginning on Tuesday, September 3, the off-season feeding schedule begins at Jenkinson’s Aquarium in Point Pleasant! While walking around and seeing some of your favorite sea animals, you can also enjoy watching some of the animals being fed. Seals: 10am, 1pm and 4pm Daily Penguins: 11am and 3:30pm Daily Atlantic Sharks: 1:30pm Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. For more information, call 732-899-1659.

Thursday, September 5 – Throw your cowboy hat and boots on and see Blake Shelton, Easton Corbin, and Jana Kramer play at the PNC Banks Art Center (Holmdel). Lawn seats are about $30 and the show starts at 7:30pm. Get in touch with your country-side and enjoy a fun night with friends and family! For more information, call 732-203-2500.

Friday, September 6  – Sunday, September 8 – Come and experience one of Asbury Park’s most popular, free festivals, Oysterfest! You can enjoy food, shopping, and live music and it’s located at The Carousel on the Water (Ocean Ave & Lake Ave). On 9/6 the festival will be open from 5 – 10pm, 9/7 noon – 10pm, and 9/8 from noon – 6pm. For more information, call 732-897-1111.

Saturday, September 7 – Sunday, September 15 – Can’t get enough of the beach? Well, that’s not a problem living in New Jersey! Come down to Belmar’s 16th Avenue beach and watch one of the largest surfing contests on the East Coast while relaxing with your toes in the sand. It starts at 8am and lasts until 8pm – for more information, call 732-681-6405.

Friday, September 13 – Sunday, October 27 – “Thrills by Day, Fright by Night” BOO!!! Join Six Flags Great Aventure’s annual Fright Fest in Jackson (Rte. 537). Have a spooktacular time with hair-raising shows and electrifying street entertainment, plus all rides in the dark. This is a great night out with friends or family! For more terrifying information, call 732-928-1821.

Saturday, September 21 – It’s the perfect time to gather up the family, a blanket, and a picnic basket and enjoy a nice picnic in the park! Located at the Huber Woods Environmental Center (Middletown Township) from 11am to 3pm. After your picnic,  enjoy a hayride (small fee), visit the Reptile House, and a free snake and turtle show (12pm, 1pm & 2pm). For more information call 732-872-2670.

Sunday, September 29 – From 11am-5pm enjoy the Harvest Home Festival at Historic Longstreet Farm (Holmdel). This festival will take their visitors back in time when neighbors gathered to accomplish work, harvest, and spend time socializing and enjoying each other’s company. Experience old-fashioned fun as it was a century ago with wagon rides, games, and live entertainment. See craft demonstrations that will inspire you to start a new hobby or career. Enter one of many competitions ranging from needlework, baked goods to homegrown vegetables. For more information, call 732-946-3758.

Happy Fall & back to school everyone!

Back to School Shopping Strategies to Spend Smart

back-to-schoolSo here is the deal: it is impossible to avoid back to school shopping. The plain truth is you need to get certain supplies to make sure your child is prepared for back to school season. This can become quite expensive, as children seem to need more and more every year. But savvy spenders know that there are several tips and tricks you can follow in order to save big. You don’t have to be a shopping guru or expert in order to save, you just need to know where the deals are, and the places you can save a few pennies. Below, you will find back to school shopping strategies to spend smart and save big.

You will find that these tips are simple to follow and don’t require a great deal of know how or time. Give these tips a try and see how easy it is to shop smart and save big. Take a peek!

1. Get your child involved.

Explain to your child what the difference between wants and needs are. They won’t be able to get every single item they want and you should be able to tell them that. Before shopping, make a list with your child based on the list the school provides. Make sure your child understands what they will be getting to prepare them for school and what can wait.

2. Eliminate gimmicks.

Teachers will tell you that things like sparkly erasers, light up pencils, and other fancy items can be a distraction. They are not only a distraction, but they are more expensive than plain items. Instead, forget about these back to school gimmicks and keep things simple. It costs less.

3. Keep your supply list in the car.

While you are running your errands, you will want to keep your list on you should you run into any deals. If you don’t have your list, you could miss out on a hot deal. Keep your list in your car or in your purse so if you come across a sale or a free with rebate deal, you have your list to see if you need it or not.

4. Buy basic supplies in bulk.

You can buy basic supplies such as paper, pencils, and notebooks in bulk. Warehouse stores are perfect for buying these items for less and having enough to sustain you for the rest of the year. Do the math and make sure the bulk price beats the a la carte price before you shop.

5. Negotiate a group discount.

Gather the other parents at school and see if you can rally together to save. A group of parents may be able to negotiate a group discount from a local office supply store. Contact stores in your area and see if they are open to the possibility of this. Then, contact parents and get the ball rolling.

6. Stock up and set up a home store.

Buy items on sale, free with rebate, or in bulk and then gather them in a storage bin. Keep the bin in a safe place where they can be shopped during the year as they are needed. That way, you are not having to run out and buy items during the year, possibly spending more.

7. Help your school and yourself.

Ask if your school participates in a program like OneCause. If so you can shop for supplies often receiving a discount and special coupons. Plus with your purchase, your local retailer will donate a percentage to the school of your choice. It is a win/win!

See how easy it is to save money on back to school? With these back to school shopping strategies you can learn how to spend smart and save big. These tips will help you make the most of your cash and stretch your shopping dollar. Give them a try and see how quickly the savings add up for you!

*Click here to view the article source.

5 Grocery Apps That Save Time and Money

groceries

There are dozens of companies that make grocery shopping apps and claim they are the latest-greatest-fastest-best thing ever. So, Shop Smart Magazine’s editors took matters into their own hands and took the time to test and try different programs and separated the good from the bad. Editor-in-chief Lisa Lee Freeman was so convinced that she says, “Download a few convenient apps that can help you save big on the things you need the most.” Here is a list of the top 5 favorites from the magazine’s recommendations:

1. ZipList

A startling number of people still don’t make a list before they shop, even though study after study shows it saves you money by helping avoid impulse buys. This Apple and Android app creates a master list of groceries you buy over and over again, so you only have to do it once. It even organizes the list according to the aisle-by-aisle layout of participating stores.

2. Weekly Ads & Sales

Planning your menus around what’s on sale in the supermarket circulars is another huge money saver, but some people can’t stand all that paper pushing. This Apple app puts those circulars in electronic form. Shop Smart liked that it covers big grocery chains like Safeway and Kroger but also specialty chains like Old Navy and Best Buy.

3. Grocery iQ

Ever get that sinking feeling at checkout when the clerk asks if you have any coupons and –doh!– you wonder if there are any good ones for the items you just loaded on the belt? This Android and Apple app finds coupons for the things on your list. Shop Smart found it works best for repeat purchases that you tend to buy every week.

4. SavingStar

Are you a guerilla grocery shopper who hunts down the very best deals at multiple markets? This app, which works on Apple, Android and Blackberry allows you to register all your loyalty cards. You’re then given exclusive offers, such as $5 off of $30 spent on Charmin, Gilette or Ivory products. Shop Smart liked what’s called the “One or Many” feature which lets you buy items over multiple trips to hit the quantities required for maximum savings.

5. Cellfire

Here’s an app that sort of dummy-proofs your grocery shopping, even if you have no list, no circulars, and no plan. Sign up via Apple, Android, or Blackberry – and it zings coupons directly to your loyalty cards. When you scan your card or put in your phone number at checkout, relevant coupons are waiting. There’s also a store alert feature which can remind you about available coupons as you walk into the store!

To see more recommended supermarket shopping and coupon apps, check out the September 2013 issue of ShopSmart magazine, available now.

Click here to view the article source.

Tuition-Free Colleges: They Do Exist!

College_Students_TUNo that’s not a typo or misstatement. Did you know that more than a dozen colleges offer a four-year, tuition-free education? During difficult economic times, the cost of higher education leaves many students wondering if they can afford to go to college. For those who want to avoid being saddled with huge loans, these schools may provide a great alternative.

Miscellaneous expenses

Although the colleges don’t charge tuition, most charge for room and board and other incidental expenses such as books, supplies and equipment, transportation, health insurance, personal expenses and so on. Many require students to work and several are located in rural areas.

These colleges include:

Armed Forces colleges
The various Armed Forces colleges, including the U.S. Military Academy (West Point, NY), U.S. Naval Academy (Annapolis, MD) and U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (Kings Point, NY), do not charge any tuition.

It’s all about options
Students and parents concerned about how they’re going to pay for college might want to consider one of these tuition-free schools. Although there are not that many of them, they may be an attractive option for those looking to walk away from college debt-free or with minimum debt. 

If you and your child decide against these tuition-free schools, First Financial provides low-rate Student Loan options.* Sometimes you just need a little help paying for college and Federal Loans may not be enough to cover the cost of a college education. You may need another Student Loan and we have one you can apply for!

Benefits:

  • Competitive interest rates – and get even better rates when you have GOOD GRADES
  • 1% interest rate reduction – when you pay off 10% of your loan
  • 30 day No-fee return policy – allows you to cancel the loan if you find a better option
  • Zero origination fees for all qualified student borrowers

Loans can be used for:

  • Tuition
  • Room & Board
  • Books & Computers
  • Past due tuition bills

Remember, knowledge is power!

*Click here to view the article source.

* Private student loans should be used as supplemental funding after exhausting all other sources of financial aid, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans. Federal loans offer more attractive terms when compared to most other borrowing options, including private student loans. For more information on federal loans, visit http://www.fafsa.ed.gov.

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