Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this July 2022

It’s time for some fun in the sun! Enjoy the weather and the sights and sounds the summer season brings. Check out these local activities happening this month in a town near you, as well as all the great Independence Day fireworks displays!

July 1:

Aberdeen Fireworks – The festivities begin at 6pm at Veterans’ Memorial Park (Ocean Blvd. and Lakeshore Drive) with lots of food trucks, face painting, and fun! Shuttles from LA Fitness will be available. Fireworks will take place after dusk at 9pm. Learn more on Facebook, or call 732-583-4200, ext. 130

Belmar Fireworks & Light Show Fundraiser – Catch the fireworks at 9pm at the Taylor Pavilion (512 Ocean Ave.). Donations are encouraged to support Rebuilding Warriors. Learn more by calling 732-681-3700 or visit

Ocean Township Fireworks – Town Independence Day celebration takes place at Joe Palaia Park from 6-11pm. There will be music, food trucks, fun and fireworks. Bring your own lawn chairs and picnic in the park! Learn more here.

July 2:

Asbury Park Fireworks – The fireworks begin at 9pm between Second & Fourth Avenue beaches. Get more details by calling 732-775-2100 or visit

Barnegat Fireworks – Festivities will begin at 5:30pm at Barnegat High School (180 Bengal Blvd.) with food trucks. There will be a concert by Joey D’s Rockin’ Oldies Band at 6pm on the lawn in front of the school auditorium. At 7:30pm there will be a light show and music from Arties Parties, and fireworks will take place at 9pm. Learn more at

Six Flags (Jackson) Coca-Cola July 4th Fest – Will take place all holiday weekend from Saturday, July 2nd to Monday the 4th. Say Happy Birthday America with screamin’ rides, spectacular fireworks, music, and of course ice-cold Coca-Cola. Fireworks will be at 9:30pm every night of the event. To learn more and purchase tickets, click here or call 732-928-1821

Manasquan Fireworks – The Independence Day Celebration starts at 5:15pm with a bike decorating contest at the little league field, and then a 6:30pm parade at Manasquan Coast Guard. Music on the beach will start after the parade, and then fireworks will begin at dusk on Main Beach. Learn more here.

July 3:

Bradley Beach Fireworks – Fireworks will begin at 8pm on the beachfront. Learn more at

Colts Neck Fireworks – A celebration will start at 6pm at Bucks Mill Park (137 Bucks Mill Rd.) and there is free parking. Fireworks will conclude the event by 9pm. Learn more here.

Freehold Borough Fireworks – Doors open at 5:30pm at Freehold Raceway (130 Park Ave.) and there will be live music. Fireworks will take place at dusk, bring your own blankets or folding chairs. Call 732-462-4200 or click here to find out more details.

Wall Fireworks – Will begin at 9pm at the Municipal Complex located at Allaire and Bailey’s Corner Roads. Find out more at

July 4:

Beach Haven Fireworks – Fireworks begin at dusk on Taylor Avenue in Bay Village. Call 609-492-2800 for more information, or click here.

Lakewood BlueClaws Fireworks – Fireworks will take place after the baseball game ends, at First Energy Park (2 Stadium Way). Admission is included with your game ticket. Enjoy a nice night at the ball field with great food, followed by holiday fireworks! Call 732-901-7000 or visit to purchase tickets.

Long Branch Fireworks – Oceanfest begins at 10am in Pier Village and features musicians, dancers, rides, sand sculpting, crafts and food vendors. Fireworks begin at 9pm. Call 732-222-0400 or visit for more information.

Pt. Pleasant Beach Fireworks – Take place at Jenkinson’s Beach starting July 4th once it’s dark, and then every Thursday night through 9/1. Learn more here or call 732-892-0600

Seaside Heights Fireworks – Begin at 9:30pm on the boardwalk, and then take place every Wednesday night until August 24th. Find out more at

July 5: Lacey Township Fireworks – Live music by Shallow Green begins at 7:30pm at Lacey High School (73 Haines St.), and fireworks will be at 9:15pm. Call 609-693-1100 ext. 2203 for more information, or visit

July 7: Brick Fireworks – As part of the SummerFest Concert Series, the food court opens at 6pm, live music starts at 7pm, and fireworks will end the evening. The event takes place at Windward Beach Park (265 Princeton Ave.). Find out more at

July 8: Atlantic Highlands Fireworks – Start at 9:45pm at the Atlantic Highlands Marina (2 Simon Lake Dr.). Get more details by calling 732-291-1444 or visit

July 9: Freehold Township Fireworks – As part of Freehold Township Day, a car show begins at 3pm, and festival from 4-11pm with live music, kids’ rides, food, and more. Fireworks will take place at 9pm. All activities are at Michael J. Tighe Park (65 Georgia Rd.). Call 732-294-2199 or visit for more details.

July 10: Elliot’s Legacy – Kites for a Cure (Deal) – From 4-7pm at 1 Jerome Ave. in Deal, don’t miss this beautiful kite flying event to help raise money for lung cancer research. Call 212-588-1580 or click here for more information.

July 13:

Family Movie Night (Downtown Freehold) – Begins at 8:30pm and is free to attend. The event takes place at the Hall of Records (1 E. Main St.). Don’t forget to bring your own snacks and lawn chairs! 7/13 will feature 2019’s “Blinded by the Light” movie. Learn more by calling 732-333-0094 or click here.

Ocean County Fair (Berkeley Township) – Begins at 5pm on July 13th and goes through July 17th. There will be entertainment, animals, rides, food, and vendors. Admission is $8 and kids under 10 are free. Parking is also free. Learn more here or call 732-914-9466

July 19: Summer Movies in the Park (Red Bank) – “Encanto” will be shown beginning at dusk in Riverside Gardens Park on West Front St. This event is free to attend, and don’t forget your blankets or lawn chairs. Learn more here.

July 21: Jersey Shore Arts Center’s Outdoor Movie Night (Ocean Grove) – Starts at 8pm at 66 South Main Street, and features “Back to the Future.” The event is free to attend, but registration is required. Call 732-502-0050 for more information.

July 24: Mary Poppins at the Algonquin Arts Theater (Manasquan) – Takes place at 3pm at 60 Abe Voorhees Drive. Tickets can be purchased here, or call 732-528-9211

July 30: Vintage Boat Festival (Toms River) – Takes place from 10am-4pm at Huddy Park (39 East Water Street), and will feature a little fun for all ages! The event will be a celebration of the rich maritime history of Toms River and Barnegat Bay, featuring many vendors and historic, vintage and interesting watercraft. Call 732-349-9209 or go to

July 31: Movies on the Beach (Seaside Heights) – “Sing 2” will be playing from 7-10pm at 410 Boardwalk (Carteret Avenue Beach). This event is free to attend, just bring your own beach chairs and blankets! Call 732-830-3700 for more information or click here.

We hope you have a great July!

Money Saving Tips for Buying a Car

If you’re thinking about buying a new car and don’t know where to start, you’re not alone. Purchasing a new vehicle is one of the bigger purchases you’ll make in life, so there’s quite a bit to consider. From leasing a brand-new vehicle to buying used, there are so many options out there that fit all different types of budgets.

Between higher prices and lower product availability, the car market itself is more challenging to navigate these days. According to the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers, most dealers only have 10% to 15% of their total inventory. This is why planning ahead is a key way to get the vehicle you’re looking for at a realistic price.

Here are our top tips for making car shopping more affordable.

Build up your savings

If you don’t already have a savings account dedicated to big purchases like a new vehicle, now’s the time to start! Having money in the bank to buy a car minimizes the amount you have to borrow, which can potentially save you thousands in interest down the line. Make it easier on yourself by setting up automatic deposits into your savings, so you don’t even have to think about it.

If you want to open a savings account for your next car purchase, we’re here to help!* Contact us or stop by your local branch to speak with a representative.

Figure out your down payment

Based on your current income and expenses, you’ll want to calculate the target amount to spend on a down payment and make sure it’s realistic for you. Ideally, you should be putting 20% down on a new vehicle and 10% down on a used vehicle. The more money you put down, the better deal you’ll get. It will not only help you qualify for a loan, but it will also make for a more affordable monthly payment.

Check out our handy auto and loan payment calculators on our website, to help provide you with realistic numbers.

Research and compare prices

Before you head to a dealership, you’ll want to do some research on your own. The more you know about the market value of the vehicle you want, the better deal you’ll get. The best way to do this is to identify the type of car you’re looking for and research the Kelley Blue Book price for each make and model.

Did you know we partner with local dealers to get our members a great rate on their next car? If you finance with us and purchase a vehicle from one of our preferred auto dealers, a great offer will be waiting for you!

Sell or trade your current vehicle

If you’re replacing your current car, you can sell it or trade it in at the dealership. The money you’ve made can be put toward your next car’s down payment. We recommend using appraisal tools to help estimate your car’s value so you know how much you should receive for the vehicle.

Always negotiate

Negotiating is common when making a big purchase like a vehicle. Don’t be afraid to negotiate the price of the car, especially if you’ve found it at a lower price elsewhere or there are minor flaws.

Consider your loan options

At First Financial, we offer personalized auto loans for new or used vehicles with low rates and same day approval decisions.** If you think you’ve spent too much at the dealership, you can also check out our auto loan refinance options or fill out our quick online form to see if we can help you save some money on your monthly payments. Contact us to get started, or stop by your local branch to speak with a representative today!

*A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership before opening any other account/loan. 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 program. Click here to view full Rewards First program details. Some restrictions apply, contact the Credit Union for more information.

**APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Not all applicants will qualify, subject to credit approval. Additional terms and conditions may apply. Actual rate may vary based on credit worthiness and term. First Financial FCU maintains the right to not extend credit, after you respond, if we determine you do not meet our guidelines for creditworthiness. Current loans financed with First Financial FCU are not eligible for review or refinance. A First Financial membership is required to obtain an Auto Loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. See credit union for details. A $5 deposit in a Base Savings Account is required to establish membership prior to opening any other account/loan.

Financial Considerations When Selling a Home

Are you considering selling your home? It’s certainly not a decision tobe made lightly, especially after making such a large investment. Whether you’re downscaling, upsizing, moving to a new area, or are looking to make a profit – there are always financial considerations to be made when it comes to selling a home.

Here are some important financial factors that may determine when and if you’re ready to sell.

Your home’s worth

Before putting your house on the market, you’ll want to have an understanding of the value of your property. This can change over time, which is why the first step is to see how much your house is worth in the current housing market.

You can do this by researching real estate websites to find out how much similar homes in your area have sold for. A formal appraisal is another approach that can provide you with a more accurate number based on home sales in your community. Of course, a real estate agent can also assist in determining a listing price for your home.

How much it will cost

Finding out the value of your home is just the beginning of the selling process. Prepping your home to be sold is where things can get pricey. You’ll likely need to do a deep clean, paint, or even repair anything you’ve been waiting to fix. If you want a higher value on your home, you should plan for any home renovations ahead of time.

Outside of prepping costs, there are other fees associated with selling a home that you might not have thought of. A typical real estate agent, for example – will typically charge a commission fee of up to 6%. You should also expect to pay a closing cost of 1-3% of your house price, which includes the home inspection, appraisal, and insurance costs. Be sure to list these expected extra costs on a spreadsheet for reference as you begin the process.

The housing market

As a seller, you’ll want to evaluate the housing market to get a better idea of when is the right time to sell. Factors like interest rates on home loans can be a key indicator. Time of the year can also make an impact on if you’re able to sell and for how much. Depending on where you live, the market typically peaks in April through July with slower periods in the winter months due to the cold weather and holidays. Overall, timing definitely plays a role in how much you’re able to sell your house for.

Selling takes time, planning, and research. If done right, you’ll be able to successfully sell your home and even make a profit. Outside of finances, there will be other factors to evaluate and our financial experts are here to help. Contact us to get started, or stop into your local branch on one of our upcoming branch mortgage days to speak with a representative on-the-spot!

What New Credit Card Users Need to Know

Have you thought about the age you can typically start building credit? While age 23 may be the minimum age requirement for opening a credit card, the idea of even having a credit card may be nerve wracking for some.

We’re here to tell you everything you need to know so you can build your credit with confidence. Here are some important tips to consider before applying for your first credit card.

Don’t just make minimum payments.

You might think covering the minimum payment each month is enough, but in reality – you’ll end up paying more in interest that way. Credit cards typically have a grace period from when your statement closes to when your bill is due. If you pay off your balance in full ahead of the due date, you won’t be charged any interest (this is the ideal scenario).

Say for example, you have a $5,000 balance on your credit card with a 15% interest rate. If you only pay the minimum payment, it could take you three years to pay the full balance with an extra whopping $1,500 in interest charges. Long story short, always try to pay your balance in full.

Always make your payments on time.

Another way you could end up paying more than anticipated on a credit card, is if you miss a payment or are past due. Even if you’re only a day late, your credit card company could charge you a late fee – which can also add up if you’re frequently late. We recommend setting up automatic payments to avoid any future late fees.

Only charge what you can afford.

If the goal is to pay off your credit card balance in full each month (which it should be!), it’s important to only charge what you can afford. Don’t get trapped in “I’ll pay it off later,” because that’s how many people get stuck with credit card debt that becomes out of control.

Instead of thinking of your credit card as “free money,” treat it like a debit card. Meaning, don’t put it on your credit card if you don’t have enough money in the bank for the purchase. This may seem obvious, but it’s also very tempting to just swipe away when you get your card.

Shop around for a credit card.

Not all credit cards are created equal. Some cards are meant for new users, while others are made for more seasoned credit cardholders. It’s always best to first shop around for a credit card that meets your needs and spending habits – before committing to one just because of the alluring benefits.

For example, a store credit card may save you $20 on your next purchase, but it also may typically have a higher interest rate. Plus, those exciting discounts are usually only available in that specific store – which is smart for the business, but likely not ideal for you.

At First Financial, we offer 4 consumer credit card options that each have benefits like a 10-day grace period and no annual fees.+ Our Visa First Step Card is a great card for building credit as a first time cardholder as well.*

Always review your credit card statements.

Every month you’ll receive a bill for your credit card with a list of purchases. You should always review your statement. Why? You can catch any fraudulent charges sooner and have a better grasp of your spending habits. Many card companies offer a detailed report of your spending categories which comes in handy when budgeting and cutting costs where you can. You can even save on paper by receiving your statements online instead of through the mail.

Are you about to begin your credit card journey and don’t know where to start? You can rest assured knowing our financial experts are happy to give you advice based on your situation. Contact us to get started, or stop by your local branch to speak with a representative today!

*APR varies from 13.15% to 18% for the Visa First Step Card when you open your account based on your credit worthiness. These APRs are for purchases and will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Subject to credit approval. Rates quoted assume excellent borrower credit history. Your actual APR may vary based on your state of residence, approved loan amount, applicable discounts and your credit history. No Annual Fees. Other fees that apply: Balance Transfer and Cash Advance Fees of 3% or $10, whichever is greater; Late Payment Fee of $29, $10 Card Replacement Fee, and Returned Payment Fee of $29. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a Visa Credit Card and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties.

+No late fee will be charged if payment is received within 10 days from the payment due date.

Inexpensive Year End Gifts for Teachers

Being that First Financial began as a teachers’ credit union over 85 years ago, we’re privy to one of our largest membership groups and can’t forget our educational roots. Now that the school year is coming to a close and summer is almost here – we thought we’d provide our readers with a list of budget savvy gifts for teachers under $10 (approved by teachers everywhere!).

Gift cards for coffee or inexpensive food options. Think Starbucks, Wawa, Wendy’s, Chick-Fil-A, Taco Bell, or Dunkin.’ $10 goes a long way at these locations too. See what’s local to the area your school is in, and choose the gift card location based on that.

Chocolate. Who doesn’t love chocolate? This one really doesn’t require an explanation, and will always go over well.

A nail kit. Put together a cute gift bag with a couple bottles of nail polish and an emery board. Your teacher will be able to show off great summer feet at the beach or pool this summer!

Ornaments. A personalized ornament or one unique to the student (homemade is always good too!) is a great gift. Every year at the holidays when your teacher is decorating their tree, they’ll be reminded of that special class or student.

Custom tote bag. Purchase a blank canvas tote. If your student is very young, have them (or their class) each place a painted handprint with their name under it in fabric marker. You can personalize this bag as much as you’d like, or include the teacher’s name on it too. Teachers always need tote bags, plus now that stores require reusable bags – it can even double as a grocery tote. Beach bags or a towel are another idea for this time of year as well, and can be used for the beach or pool!

Dog treats. Does your teacher have a pet? Buy a box of treats or find a Pinterest recipe to make your own. Put them in a plastic bag with a nice ribbon around it.

People treats. Homemade baked goods are usually always a hit. Think cookies, cupcakes, or muffins. If you have a different specialty like sauce, soup, or homemade salsa – this is another idea. Place the homemade food item in a decorated mason jar, and voila!

Emergency kit. You never know when your teacher might need one! Put together a little zippered bag or case with Advil, Tide to go, a bottle of water, a pack of gum, band aids, pocket tissues, a small packaged snack, and some chocolate.

Plants. Brighten your teacher’s day (and home for the summer) with a bouquet of flowers, bulbs that can be planted in the yard, or a decorative succulent. Your local Trader Joe’s store typically has beautiful plants and flowers for less!

School supplies. Did you know that many teachers buy their own classroom supplies from their pocket? Purchase some art supplies, teaching aids, or even a gift card to a store where your teacher can pick out their own classroom supplies.

Tea. Choose some different flavored tea bags, a bottle of honey, and some cute cocktail napkins and put them together nicely in a small tin or bucket.

Soap. Hit up your local Bath & Body Works and pick out some seasonally scented anti-bacterial hand soaps. Scented travel hand sanitizer always goes well in a post-Covid world too. Put the items together in a nice gift bag, and you certainly can’t go wrong!

Memory book. As a class gift, it might be a nice idea to put together a photo of each student on a different page, and have them write or tell you their favorite memory from the school year and something they learned.

A handwritten letter or note. This type of personalized gift is something a teacher can look back on and remember their individual students, what they taught them, and how many lives they truly touched.

Do you have another gift idea not mentioned here? Drop it in the comments!

Wishing all our educator members and students a wonderful and relaxing summer!

Article Source: The Penny Hoarder


Tips for Stocking Your Pantry to Help Cut Food Costs

Like most Americans, your dining out and grocery bills are probably really adding up lately – as inflation and higher economic costs continue to sky rocket. The USDA reports that food inflation is at a 14 year high, with grocery store shopping and eating out costing consumers about 6% more this year than last.

However, you can work smarter instead of harder to help curb some of your food expenses. Here are some suggestions on how to keep your home pantry stocked with staple items that will last you awhile, save money by cooking and eating meals at home, and add some variety to your diet as well.

Here are some essential non-perishable ingredients to always have on hand at home:

  • Whole grains – Oats, quinoa, rice, muffin mix, tortillas, cereal. Bread and bagels will also have a longer shelf life if refrigerated or frozen and used one by one as needed.
  • Pasta
  • Beans/legumes – Chickpeas, lentils, all types of beans (black, kidney, lima, etc.)
  • Baking ingredients – Flour, sugars, baking powder and soda, vanilla or other flavored extracts.
  • Nuts – Almonds, peanuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
  • Oil and vinegar
  • Condiments – Mayo, mustard, ketchup, soy sauce, hot sauce, honey, BBQ sauce, jarred olives and pickles.
  • Jarred sauces
  • Dried herbs and spices – Pepper, salt, cumin, Italian seasoning, cinnamon, crushed red pepper, garlic and onion powder.

There are also some pantry staples that would be a good idea to have on hand in addition to what’s listed above, to whip up a quick and inexpensive meal. These items will also last you a decent amount of time unopened in your pantry as well:

  • Canned tomatoes
  • Peanut/almond butters
  • Coconut milk
  • Broths/stocks
  • Canned corn
  • Canned tuna and chicken
  • Jarred salsa
  • Capers
  • Raisins and dried cranberries
  • Maple syrup

You may be asking – what can you make with some of these pantry ingredients? To name a few ideas to start, think quesadillas, homemade hummus, pasta with sauce, granola bars, teriyaki sauce to go over rice or chicken, and pancakes. All of these are simple to make, and will use ingredients you already have at home.

Here are also some food ideas to store in your freezer to have on hand:

  • Frozen vegetables like spinach, peas, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower
  • Frozen berries to make smoothies or smoothie bowls
  • Chicken tenders
  • Ground beef
  • Burgers, hotdogs or veggie patties

Here are some food staples to keep in your refrigerator that will last a little longer than other more perishable foods:

  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Nut milks (Almond milk will last much longer than regular milk).
  • Cheeses (Cream cheese, parmesan cheese, cheddar, shredded mozzarella).
  • Yogurt

Another idea that always goes over well (especially if you have kids) is breakfast for dinner, using many of the ingredients listed in this blog post. This is an easy, inexpensive, and fun way to make an at home meal a special treat!

If you follow the above tips and keep your pantry stocked, you’ll definitely see some savings on your grocery bill over time and not have to go to the store as often. Not to mention, it’s typically healthier to eat at home too. You can even make it a fun household activity and spend quality time together, by giving each person a job in the kitchen to help put together a great family meal.

In the end – you’ll be saving on food costs, spending time together, and eating a delicious meal. You really can’t put a price tag on that!

Article Source: The Penny Hoarder