How to Enjoy Your Tropical Vacation While On a Budget

Just because you are watching your money closely, doesn’t mean you can’t travel to a luxury resort without breaking the bank. Here are a few ways you can have a luxury tropical vacation (or an incredible honeymoon), without going broke.

Go to the grocery.

Stopping by a local grocery store for food and beverages could be critical to saving money. Like many other locales, resorts in the Caribbean are known to be extremely pricey. With a simple bike ride to the store, you could save tremendously on necessities for a week’s stay. For example, instead of eating every meal at expensive restaurants, if your room has a full kitchen, you can buy items to cook for lunch and plan to only eat dinners out instead.

Walk (or bike), don’t ride.

Instead of paying for a taxi every time you need to travel around town, either walk or ride the bikes provided by your resort. Also, renting a car for getting around town can be pricey too. So, by walking and biking instead of riding, you save money and also get some exercise.

Listen to the locals.

Locals working at your resort may know about events going on in town, that are hosted by the local tourism department – which may be worthwhile for you to attend. You will just want to confirm with your resort’s concierge, that you are in a safe area/country before leaving your resort to attend an offsite event. At these events, you might be able to find great food at low prices, and inexpensive souvenirs handmade by local merchants. By listening to suggestions of those from the area, you can get a glimpse of the local culture, and save greatly on food, drinks, and gifts.

Article Source: Wendy Moody for CUInsight.com

How to Get the Best Deals in July

Get ready to save this month! Not only does July ring in mid-year retail inventory deals and July 4thfun, but it also features Amazon Prime Day. Think Black Friday but in mid-July.

Here’s what to look out for this month:

Amazon Prime Day: Mark Monday, July 16th on your calendar. Expect Amazon device deals, so the timing is right for that Kindle or Echo you’ve had your eye on. Amazon is also expected to offer deals on Whole Foods grocery items, too. Download the Amazon app to sign up for alerts and create “Watch a Deal” lists of items you’re interested in so you don’t miss out. Ask Alexa to help in your search and you’ll be rewarded with exclusive early access to deals throughout the day. Before getting caught up in a Prime Day buying spree, do your research to make sure you are getting the best deal.

Christmas in July: Who says it’s too early to think about Christmas? Do some research and get your holiday décor and artificial tree at discounts of up to 75% off.

Paint: It’s too hot for anyone to think of home painting projects, right? That’s why you should look for deals this month on exterior paint and even some interior paints at your local home improvement store.

Swimsuits and summer clothing: After the July 4thsales, retailers are looking ahead to fall. So search for summer clearance items at online retailers, outlet stores, and department stores this month.

Indoor furniture: New inventory is generally slated for August, which means deep discounts on that sofa or bedroom set you’ve been dreaming of. But hold off on buying outdoor patio furniture – that won’t go on sale until mid-September.

Happy summer shopping (and saving)!

Article Source: Myriam DiGiovanni for financialfeed.com

 

Important Member Alert: Mail Fishing Scams

In recent months, there has been a fraud concern growing in New Jersey called Mail Fishing. Tools covered with sticky substances are being utilized to pluck bank documents and checks out of large blue postal collection boxes. The post office claims they are implementing innovative methods to protect mail, such as replacing collection boxes with new models. Here’s how to keep your mail safe, and additional precautions to take if you’re using a collection box.

5 ways to protect your mail

  • Don’t use a collection box. Instead, use the letter slots inside a post office to drop off mail, or hand it to a letter carrier.
  • Don’t leave mail in your mailbox overnight, especially if you’re expecting checks or credit cards. The U.S. Postal Service discourages sending cash through the mail.
  • Ask your bank for “secure” checks that can’t be altered.
  • If you can’t be there to pick up your mail, make arrangements for someone you trust to pick it up, or contact your post office to hold your mail while you are out of town.
  • Didn’t get that check you were waiting for? Report suspected mail theft immediately to police, then call Postal Inspectors at 877-876-2455 (press 3).

3 ways to use collection boxes safely

Police are discouraging the public from using collection boxes altogether due to these recent security concerns. However, if you must use a collection box, here are the best practices according to police and the U.S. Postal Service.

  • Pay attention to collection times. Last collection for the day is typically at 5pm. If mail is deposited afterward, it will sit vulnerable until the next business day.
  • Avoid dropping mail in collection boxes over holiday weekends, or on nights before holidays. Fishing incidents are most common on Sunday night, according to police.
  • Speak with your local post office or mail carrier to determine which collection boxes in your area are up-to-date with security regulations. Certain collection boxes in New York have been retrofitted with security measures after a rash of mail fishing in the area in 2017.

If you think you were a victim of fraud, identity theft or another mail-related crime, report it at postalinspectors.usps.gov, or call 877-876-2455.

We encourage our members to utilize online banking resources to monitor statements electronically, and pay bills right online, so as to not fall victim to this type of fraud.

If you feel that any of your First Financial accounts may have been compromised as a result of a scam, please contact Member Services at 732-312-1500 Monday through Friday 8am-6pm EST, or Saturday 8:30am-1pm.

Article Source: Jessica Presinzano for northjersey.com

 

3 Things You Should Never Hide from Your Mortgage Lender

You’re ready to apply for a mortgage. The process of meeting with a lender and a getting a mortgage can be very complicated, especially for first time homebuyers. To help with this process, here are a few things to consider being up front about from the very start.

Career changes

When handing out large loans, lenders look for employment stability and steady income; most will check your employment history and income throughout the mortgage application process. Therefore, it’s better to be straightforward from the beginning. Failing to do so may jeopardize your eligibility or cause other problems prior to closing.

Other loans

If you have taken out other large loans or made a big purchase before applying for your mortgage, your lender needs to be in the loop. Making these financial decisions will affect your mortgage as it increases your “debt-to-income ratio” or DTI. Having a high DTI will also result in a higher mortgage interest rate, which makes you riskier in the eyes of your lender. So, come clean about that new car or any other significant loans – because it may affect the type of mortgage you qualify for.

Large deposits

When applying for a mortgage, the lender will usually ask for two months’ worth of bank statements. If they notice you’ve made multiple large deposits of over $100 (that are not attributed to income from your job), it’s imperative you provide them with documentation explaining the source of the income. These large deposits can be deemed quite questionable during the underwriting process – so in order to avoid delays, be prepared with all necessary documentation.

Looking to buy a home in the Monmouth or Ocean County area? You saw our last four short financial solutions videos on the benefits of a First Financial mortgage, how First Financial works with our members’ lending needs, personalized service, and personalized loan options. Now check out our final video in this series: creative loan solutions. If you have questions about the mortgage process or don’t know how to get started, we are here for you. Contact the Loan Department at 732-312-1500, Option 4 or learn more about First Financial mortgages on our website.

*Subject to credit approval. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a mortgage and is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties in New Jersey. See Credit Union for details. Federally insured by NCUA.

 Article Source: Wendy Moody for CUInsight.com

5 First Year Homeowner Expenses to Prepare For

Most of us are prepared for costs like homeowner’s insurance, property taxes, and HOA dues. We can work these predictable expenses into our housing budget as we begin to shop around and start the purchasing process. But what about the other things? Many who share their experience and advice, learned the hard way that certain expenses crop up with surprising predictability the first year you own a home. If you’re not prepared, these expenses could create a budgeting crisis, or even worse — a debt crisis.

1. Appliance Repair or Replacement

Your prospective home’s appraisal will bring to light just about every major and minor repair you’ll need to complete within the next 10 years, whether it’s flooring, roofing, siding, plumbing, electrical, or structural issues.

The appraisal also lists the appliances included with your home, and this is something you’ll want to pay special attention to. Take careful note of how old the appliances are and how heavily they’ve been used, so you’ll have a game plan for repairs or replacements. For instance, are you purchasing from a single person who didn’t use the dishwasher much or a family of five who used it daily? Here’s a list of the usual life expectancy for major appliances:

  • Washers, dryers, refrigerators, and dishwashers: 10 to 13 years (depending on prior use)
  • Gas ranges: 15 years
  • Stovetops: 15 to 18 years
  • Microwaves: 9 to 10 years
  • Water heaters: 10 to 20 years (tankless water heaters last longer)
  • Furnaces: 15 to 20 years

2. Cosmetic Upgrades

During your first few walk-throughs, you probably started brainstorming about the fun projects you want to do, like painting and updating light fixtures or window treatments. These types of things don’t seem expensive, but they can quickly add up when you’re doing several of them at once.

Separate what you need to do from what you’d like to do (the torn window blinds versus the ugly shade of purple in the bathroom), and draw up a cost estimate so you can start preparing for these upgrades before you move in.

3. Additional Furnishings

You may plan to use your current furniture, but typically you’ll need additional furniture items for your new home – especially if you’re gaining a guest bedroom or additional bathroom. Budget for this expense as well, and look for deals on swap sites and apps like CraigsList, Let Go or Offer Up.

4. Setting Up Services

This one is easy to take for granted, especially if you plan to keep the same services you’ve been using (at the same prices). Don’t forget that transferring services like telephone, internet, cable TV and satellite to a new location usually requires an installation and/or equipment fee. To save a little money, treat it as a new negotiation: don’t be afraid to ask about promotional deals and negotiate pricing based on the competition.

5. Re-keying All the Locks

Last, but not least, it’s always a good idea to re-key your home. Why? Unless your house is a new build, there have been multiple owners or even renters who could possess duplicate sets of keys to your house. This isn’t a major expense. Still, it could run as much as several hundred dollars depending on the number of doors and locks you have, so the expense will need to be budgeted to avoid charging up your credit card.

Handling These Expenses

Besides the previous advice, here are three more tips for preparing and handling these first-year home expenses:

  • Buy less house than you can afford to leave some wiggle room for these expenses in the housing category of your budget.
  • If time is on your side, save more than you think you’ll need for first-year expenses.
  • Prioritize these extra expenses and complete them slowly. After all, you plan on being in this house for awhile, right?

Looking to buy a home in the Monmouth or Ocean County area? You saw our last three short financial solutions videos on the benefits of a First Financial mortgage, how First Financial works with our members’ lending needs, and personalized service. Now check out video #4: personalized loan options. If you have questions about the mortgage process or don’t know how to get started, we are here for you. Contact the Loan Department at 732-312-1500, Option 4 or learn more about First Financial mortgages on our website.

*Subject to credit approval. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a mortgage and is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties in New Jersey. See Credit Union for details. Federally insured by NCUA.

 Article Source: Jessica Sommerfield for moneyning.com

Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this July 2018

It’s time for some fun in the sun! Enjoy the beautiful weather and all the sights and sounds this summer season brings. Now is the perfect time to gather your family and friends to check out these free or inexpensive events in a town near you.

Independence Day Fireworks Schedule 2018

July 1:   Wall Township, Dusk at the Fairgrounds on Bailey’s Corner Road

               Lavallette, 9pm at the Lavallette Gazebo

July 3:   Freehold, Dusk at Freehold Raceway

              Bradley Beach, 9pm Beachfront

              Manasquan, Dusk at Main Beach

              Ocean Township, Dusk at Joe Palaia Park

              Lakewood, First Energy Park after the Blueclaws game

July 4:   Long Branch, 9pm Oceanfront Promenade

              Seaside Heights, 9:30pm on the boardwalk

July 5:   Pt. Pleasant, Dusk at Jenkinson’s Boardwalk

*For more Monmouth and Ocean County towns with fireworks – click here.

July 1: Open Ceramics at Thompson Park in Lincroft from 12:30-4:30pm. Choose from a large selection of bisque fired pottery pieces to glaze and make your own. Cost is $6 per hour plus the price of bisqueware (cash or check only). Call 732-842-4000, ext. 4343 or click here to learn more.

Open Gym at Fort Monmouth Recreation Center in Tinton Falls, from 10:30am to 4:30pm. Have fun in the indoor, climate controlled gymnasium! Play equipment and table games will be available all day. Cost is $5 per person for the day. Learn more by calling 848-456-4278 or click here.

July 4: Independence Day celebration at Longstreet Farm in Holmdel from 12-3pm. Independence Day was a festive time in the 1890s and patriotism was celebrated with music and games. Join the staff at Longstreet Farm as they celebrate the holiday with games and contests. This is a free event. Learn more details here, or call 732-946-3758.

July 8: Family Fun Night at Pier Village in Long Branch begins at 5pm. Enjoy a day of fun for the whole family at the Pier Village Arcade, Boardwalk Fun N’ Games for crane games and skee ball. Visit Festival Plaza for bounce houses, slides and inflatable obstacle courses and more! Learn more here or call 732-923-0100.

July 11: Ocean County Fair Opening Day at Robert J. Miller Air Park, Route 530 (Berkeley Township), from 5-11pm. The fair will run daily through July 15. Come enjoy animals, rides, food, vendors and live entertainment. Parking is free, kids under 10 are free, $8 admission for everyone else. See more details at http://oceancountyfair.com/ or call 732-914-9466.

July 14: Free Movie on the Beach in Belmar, begins at 8pm on 8th Avenue Beach. This week’s movie is Despicable Me 3. Don’t forget your blankets and chairs! Learn more here, or call 732-681-3700, ext. 214. Check out the rest of the summer’s movies on the beach schedule here.

July 14 & 15: Monmouth Park’s Surf and Turf Seafood Festival (Oceanport), gates open at 7:30am both days and the first race is 12:50pm. This two-day festival will let you enjoy the best of the Jersey Shore. Stop by the famous Monmouth Park sandcastle, then grab a crab cake and a refreshing beer and watch as your favorite horse breaks from the starting gate. While you cheer on your favorite horse, the kids can enjoy FREE Family Fun Day on Sunday! The kids will love the FREE pony rides, bounce house, face painting, and more. Plus, enjoy live music both days. General parking is $5, and admission is $5 a person. Learn more here or call 732-222-5100.

July 15: National Ice Cream Day at Casino Pier and Breakwater Beach (Seaside Heights). All day, enjoy free toppings on purchased ice cream cones or cups at Waffles & Ice Cream! Cool off from the summer heat on national ice cream day. Check out https://casinopiernj.com/promotions-events/ or call 732-793-6488.

July 18: Belmar Sandcastle Contest at 18th Avenue Beach from 8am-12pm. The competition is free and open to participants of all ages! Bring your shovels and creative flair for a day of sculpting in the sand. Rain date is July 19. Learn more here or call 732-681-3700, ext. 214.

July 21 & 22: Red, White, and Blue and Food Trucks Too at Laurita Winery (New Egypt). Celebrate America at Laurita Winery! Enjoy food trucks, family activities, free vineyard wagon tours, and Saturday evening fireworks. The fun begins at 11am each day. Admission is $8 per person, those under 21 years old are free. Go to www.lauritawinery.com or call 609-758-8000.

July 25: Monmouth County Fair Opening Day at the East Freehold Park Showgrounds. The fair will run daily through July 29. Don’t miss the craft market, food, animal exhibits, rides, entertainment, amusements, and more. There will be fireworks on opening night. See more details here, or call 732-842-4000, ext. 4312.

Ocean County Mall Car Cruise (Toms River), in the parking lot near Bahama Breeze from 5-9pm. Car cruise to the mall co-sponsored by the Vintage Automobile Museum of NJ. Open to all vehicles. Best of show trophy, paved parking, and food and drink available. Rain date July 26. Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted. See more details at http://www.vintageautomuseum.org/ or call 609-713-4310.

We hope everyone has an enjoyable summer!