What Not to Buy in December

December may be one of the best shopping months. No matter where you look, it is easy to find either a holiday or year-end deal or discount for almost anything you can imagine.

However, despite all of the December sales extravaganzas, not everything is a great deal. Here are few purchases Consumer Reports and NerdWallet say are worth postponing until the new year.

Jewelry: If you want to really get the best deal wait until late January to buy any diamonds or jewelry. That sweet spot between the end of the holidays and just before Valentine’s Day is generally when jewelers and department stores launch their deepest sales discounts.

Fitness equipment: The very best deals are in the warmer months – however, there are usually sales available in early January if your fitness goals simply can’t wait.

Bedding: Nothing beats 50-75% off deals during January white sales. If you can, hold off until then to buy blankets, sheet sets, and towels. Imagine how much better you’ll sleep knowing you got them at such a discount!

Winter clothing: The end of January through early February is the best time of year to get your winter gear for less.

Televisions: Black Friday deals are hard to beat. If you missed them, try shopping for your next high-end television in late January/early February (for upcoming SuperBowl deals).

Article Source: Myriam DiGiovanni for Financialfeed.com

 

5 Tips to Saving on Your Gym Membership Before the New Year

With all the excitement, festivities, and of course food around the holiday season, the last thing you’re probably thinking about is the gym. Most of us probably eat to our heart’s content over the holiday season and wait until January to deal with the aftermath. However, it might be worthwhile to start planning ahead now to get the best deals at the gym.

Once the new year arrives, people seem to turn to “get in shape” mode, which means hitting the gym hard. You definitely see the best deals at the end and beginning of the year, so be proactive now. Here are some tips to getting deals at the gym in the new year:

1. Sign Up for a Trial

It’s hard to commit to a gym membership without testing it out first. Almost all gyms offer free trials, some for a day and others for up to a week. Use your trial pass to get a feel for the gym, what equipment they have and whether or not it’s the right place for your workout. Also, be sure to visit during the times you would normally workout, to see what the crowd is like.

2. Pay Upfront

Most gyms will bill you month-to-month with charges based on the level of access you want to the gym. However, if you offer to pay upfront, you might be able to score a better deal. Many gyms will have promotions that may include anywhere from one to three months free if you pay for a year in advance. Yes, it’s a large sum of money initially – but doing so can save you money in the long run.

3. Be on the Lookout for Offers

Of course, the biggest way to save money on your gym membership is to take advantage of offers and promotions. And the best time to do so is during the new year. January is the busiest time of the year for most gyms and they’ll be offering many different deals and incentives to get more people to join. Look out for discounted monthly fees, waived enrollment and processing fees, and other perks.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate

As with almost anything in life, don’t be afraid to negotiate. There are so many gyms to choose from and all of them are competing for your business. There is almost always wiggle room to negotiate your membership. You never know until you ask!

5. Create a Gym at Home

Don’t worry if you still can’t fit a gym membership into your budget, because you can create a gym at home. All you really need is a set of dumbbells and an imagination. Look to Youtube for free exercise videos and tips, or on warmer days go out for a run. You can definitely accomplish a lot without having expensive equipment.

The biggest key to getting in shape is willpower, and you don’t need to pay for that.

Article Source: Connie Mei for Moneyning.com

5 Time Consuming Things That Don’t Really Save You Money

Everybody loves to find new ways to save. After all, it’s quite thrilling to know you did something productive to save some money. And plus, every little bit counts when you’re trying to build your savings. But could your money saving habits actually be hurting you? Despite the best intentions, many people are actually doing things all wrong. Yes, certain habits might save you some money, but it can cost you quite a bit of time too. Spending your time to save a few dollars isn’t always worth it. Here are five instances when spending extra time doesn’t actually save you money:

Always Buying Used

There are many times when buying used might actually be a good idea. For instance, buying a used car can save you a lot of money. You can find plenty of used cars in like-new condition at a heavily discounted price. On the other hand, many other items should not be bought second hand. For example, you shouldn’t buy used car seats or tires for safety reasons. So how do you know which items to buy used? You need to research, and that can take a ton of time. It’s a balancing act, but sometimes waiting for a sale and buying new makes more sense.

Stalking the Sale Section

Who doesn’t love a good sale? Sometimes, you walk by and find the best things just sitting in a sale section waiting to be bought. But other times, it’s not so easy. Do you always gravitate to the sale aisle once you walk into a store, only to spend a considerable amount of time rummaging through a pile of things and not find anything useful? And worse, you end up leaving with one or more items you never really needed? Break the habit. Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you need to buy it.

DIY Projects

It’s awesome if you have the gift of being handy and crafty, but not everyone is a DIYer. If you’re not comfortable making something on your own, you don’t have to make an attempt unless you find it enjoyable to give the job a try. It’s perfectly okay to buy something at the store already made. This is especially true for items you plan on using for a long time like furniture. In the long run, it might be worth it to spend a little more now. Not only will you save yourself some frustration and time, but your furniture will likely last longer and look better from the beginning.

Not Using a Credit Card

Having an “all cash” system is definitely beneficial for those who can’t control their credit card spending. However, using credit cards to pay can definitely be beneficial too. First, you don’t have to spend extra time counting change. Second, you can get reward points and cash back when using your card, which is like getting a discount on every purchase. Third, it’s actually easier to track your spending with a card, helping those who are disciplined and willing – improve long term spending habits.

Waiting in Line for a Deal

If you waited in line for Black Friday deals this year, you weren’t the only one. But is it really worth it? It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons for yourself, but spending hours waiting in line is definitely not time well spent. Plus, most online retailers offer huge discounts and promotions this time of year too. If you shop online you can avoid the long lines and still earn great seasonal discounts without ever having to leave the house. You just have to do a little research and price comparison shopping first.

Article Source: Connie Mei for Moneyning.com

2018 Holiday Toy and Gift Drive in All First Financial Branches

Holiday Greetings to all of our First Scoop Readers!

As we continue into the 2018 holiday season, First Financial is partnering with local non-profit organizations to help families in need within Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

Each branch will be holding a holiday toy and gift drive through December 2018:

Please click on the links above for more details. These gifts will be picked up at all First Financial locations on the dates listed above – so please be sure to return your gifts to your nearest branch before this date.

We are also collecting non-perishable food items at each branch location until December 31st.

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

Important Holiday Shopping Tips Everyone Should Know

The gift-giving season is in full swing. Here are some tips to help you shop wisely and protect your personal and financial information at the same time.

  • Make a list and a budget. Remember incidentals, like cards and wrapping paper. Your local dollar store is a great place for these types of items too!
  • Check out websites that compare prices for things sold online, and at stores in your area. It can help you get the best deal.
  • Make sure the scanned price is right. Overcharges cost you money and time, especially if you don’t notice them right away.
  • Look for rebates. Some can be redeemed at checkout, but most require you to send documentation to the manufacturer to get your rebate. Either way, you’ll be getting money back on your purchases.
  • Read reviews and recommendations to see how the product performs — or people’s experience with an online seller. But remember to consider the source.
  • Be aware that shopping apps can collect a lot of personal information. Look for apps that tell you what they do with your data, and how they keep it secure.
  • Check the terms of the deal when buying online — including delivery dates and refund policies. Will it arrive in time? And, if it’s not what you thought, can you send it back?
  • Save receipts. When you’re shopping online – keep copies of your order number, the refund and return policies, shipping costs and warranties.
  • Giving bling? Take some time to learn the terms used in the jewelry industry so you can get the best quality and value.
  • Shipping to loved ones overseas? Check the US Postal Service’s calendar for holiday shipping deadlines.
  • Have packages delivered to a secure location. If you won’t be home, have them delivered to work, or see if a neighbor can be on the lookout for deliveries. Consider requiring a signature for delivery — or look for options to pick up your shipment at a local store or mailing center.

Happy Holiday Shopping!

Article Source: Colleen Tressler for the FTC

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

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  With so many joyful and festive events happening this month, it’s definitely going to be hard to choose which ones to attend. Enjoy this special time of year with your family and friends – check out the many free or inexpensive activities happening this December in a town near you.  Happy Holidays from all of us at First Financial, and wishing you a prosperous 2019!

December 2 – 30: Magic of Lights at PNC Arts Center in Holmdel. Don’t miss a mile of festive and vibrant light displays, which celebrates the joy of the holiday season. Experience the drive through the comfort of your own car. Hundreds of sparkling lights – a must see! Sunday through Thursday times are dusk to 10pm and Friday & Saturday are dusk – 11pm (weather permitting). Purchase tickets online and learn more here.

December 7-8 & 14-15: Christmas Lantern Tours, Allaire Village in Farmingdale. The weather is cold, but the scent of Christmas is in the air! Come celebrate the holidays with a stroll through Allaire’s lantern lit village, and learn about Christmas in 1836! Advance ticket purchase is required for this event. Tickets are available for $20 per person. The tour lasts roughly 90 minutes and is an outdoor walking door, with various stops in our historic buildings along the way. Tours begin at 5:00pm and depart from the visitor center every 15 minutes until 8:00pm.  For details call 732-919-3500 or click here.

December 4: Downtown Freehold Tree Lighting from 5-7pm at the Hall of Records. Join DownownFreehold.com and Monmouth County for the Annual Tree Lighting. The Rock and Roll Choir will perform, The Court Jester will be providing hot cider, and Ray Catena Auto group will be helping to transport some of Santa’s elves. The Freehold Fire Department will also be stopping by with a special guest! Learn more here.

December 6: Annual Holiday Bazaar at Monmouth University (West Long Branch) from 9am-4pm at the Rebecca Stafford Student Center. Local vendors will be selling a variety of fun and unique products including jewelry, home goods, clothing, cookware and much more. The event is sponsored by the Global Experience Program – Monmouth University students who will be spending their winter, spring break and summer breaks volunteering in Haiti and Guatemala to aid the under-privileged. Proceeds from vendor table rentals will help support the organizations the students are working with. For more information, contact Corey Inzana at 732-923-4768 or click here.

December 8: Free Santa Photos at all First Financial Locations (Toms River, Neptune, Howell/Freehold). Sit with Santa from 9am-12pm! Each participating child will receive a free 4×6 photo in the mail, as well as the original image file will be sent to each parent/guardian. Register at your nearest branch here, or call 732-312-1500.

Community Christmas Concert at Georgian Court University (Lakewood). Starting at 7pm, celebrate the holidays with the music of the Georgian Court Community Chorale. This diverse group of men and women of all ages will perform a wide variety of classical, traditional, and popular seasonal favorites. The singers are accompanied by piano, flute, and stringed instruments. Cost is $15 for adults; $10 for seniors; FREE for students, children & GCU community members with ID. Call 732-987-2263 or learn more here.

December 8 & 9: Ocean Grove Victorian Holiday Festival House and Inn Tour. The Inns, Homes and Tents will be open for a self-guided holiday tour. Jitney services will be available to shuttle patrons. Tour tickets are $30 per person. Saturday evening, join the Ocean Grove community for a live nativity at 5pm in the Great Auditorium and Tree Lighting and Community Sing-a-long in Auditorium Square Park at 6pm. Other activities include exhibits at the Historical Society of Ocean Grove and the Ladies Auxiliary Christmas Boutique. Ocean Grove’s beautiful downtown will be bustling and decorated for holiday enjoyment! Learn more by calling 732-774-1391 or click here.

December 8, 15, 22: Classic Horse and Wagon Rides from 1-5pm in Red Bank. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the holiday season throughout Red Bank’s Business District with a FREE classic horse and wagon ride. Wagons can be boarded at 11 Bridge Ave or 26 Broad St. Learn more here.

December 9 & 16: Sunday Brunch with Santa at the American Hotel in Freehold from 10am-3pm. Bring your wish list and your appetite to The American Hotel’s Sunday Brunch with Santa! Enjoy brunch specialties and grab a photo with Santa too. Adults $38.00, Children $19.00 (12 years and under), 3 Years and under FREE. Reservations required (732) 431-3220 or click here for more information.

December 15 & 16: A Charlie Brown Christmas at the Algonquin Arts Theater in Manasquan. Performances take place on 12/15 at 11am and 2pm, and on 12/16 at 3pm. Each performance lasts approximately one hour. Tickers required for ages 2 and up.  Get more information and purchase tickets here.

Meet Mr. and Mrs. Clause at Riverfront Park in Pt. Pleasant from 2-5pm. Come Meet Mr. and Mrs. Santa Clause at the Herman Bennett Log Cabin at Riverfront Park. Free gifts and photos with Santa, train display and wonderful holiday décor, plus cookies and hot chocolate. This is a FREE event sponsored by the Point Pleasant Open Space Commission and Historical Society. Call 732-295-8850 or click here for more information.

December 23: A Very Electric Christmas at Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts (Ocean County College, Toms River).  Shows are at 3pm and 6pm, and tickets are $17 for adults and $10 for kids. Lightwire Theater, known for their signature brand of dazzling visuals, poignant storytelling and music designed to evoke imagery, “A Very Electric Christmas” will be available at OCC on 12/23 only. This captivating and magical tale of adventure, friendship and love, centers on a young bird named Max and brings a whole new meaning to coming “home for the holidays.” Call 732-255-0500 or click here for details.

December 31: Ring in the New Year at iPlay America in Freehold from 7:30pm-1am. Bring the entire family and enjoy a night of rides, party favors, live DJ, and giveaways! There will be confetti cannons at midnight as you watch the ball drop on 5 large screens. This party sells out fast so get your tickets soon! Advanced ticket purchase discounts are available online. Learn more here.