Budget Friendly Halloween Party Hacks

Are you tired of hosting the same Halloween party over and over — and spending a lot to boot?

You might have searched high and low to find budget-friendly Halloween ideas, but with no such luck. Or maybe you saw something that interested you, but was so expensive that you had to put it on the back burner for another year.

The answer is really as simple as making your own decorations and party treats. So, let’s give your home the Halloween party look you want to have this year — on a budget.

Halloween Party Ideas on a Budget

Is it really October without at least one Halloween party? Trick or treating time is quickly approaching, and if you’re looking to get creative but don’t have the time or money to hire fancy caterers or set up elaborate decorations – these easy hacks will get you the best results on a budget.

DIY Halloween Decorations

DIY projects are inexpensive, easy to make, and customized, and unlike store-bought decorations (that typically look the same every year). It also allows for time to strengthen your family bond as you create your decorations together. Check out the following decoration ideas below:

Make a Halloween-Themed Bento Box & Other Treats

If you’re planning a party for a group of kids, it’s a good idea to have Halloween-themed bento boxes on hand. This can also be a great way to keep kids entertained.

There are also other Halloween themed food ideas that you can try. Check out the list below:

Halloween Photobooth Props

Taking party pictures is a must, so why not make props for a Halloween photo booth? This will also add to your party fun! Here are some ideas and a link to purchase a set of them or download some free printables:

  • Ghost Face Photo Booth Props
  • Witch-Themed Photo Booth Props
  • Pumpkin Photo Booth Props

Haunt Your Kitchen with Spooky Foods

Making creepy Halloween food doesn’t have to be that difficult or time-consuming. Just add some homemade Halloween props to your dishes, and you can instantly spruce up your table.

The Takeaway

It’s not necessary to go to a specialty store to get Halloween-themed props or decorations that will blow your budget. Sometimes, a simple yet detailed idea is a big hit. Use the above tips (and don’t forget to check out your local dollar store as well), to make your own Halloween party decorations and snacks — for a fraction of the cost.

Happy Halloween!


 Article Source: Pinterest.com

How to Save on PSLs this Fall

If you’re a pumpkin spice latte lover – this is probably one of your favorite times of the year. However, this tasty Fall coffee drink can get expensive. How can you save some money during PSL season? Follow these money saving tips!

1. Join a rewards program. If you’re a frequenter of Starbucks, Dunkin, or Panera Bread for your PSLs – make sure you subscribe to their rewards program and use their mobile apps for extra savings. You’ll be able to rack up points with each purchase for future discounted or free menu items.

2. Make your own PSL at home. It’s much easier than it may sound! Follow this recipe, which will get you two 10 ounce pumpkin spice lattes.


  • 2 cups of milk
  • 4 Tbsp of canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ cup of brewed coffee or espresso
  • Whipped cream (optional)


  • Stir the milk, pumpkin puree, sugar, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice together in a stovetop pan over medium high heat. Bring it almost to a boil, but don’t actually let it boil. Stir constantly and after about one minute, the mixture will begin to froth.
  • Pour the mixture into two mugs, then slowly add your brewed coffee or espresso by pouring it at the edge of the cup so your milk stays frothy. If you’d like, top with whipped cream and another pinch of pumpkin pie spice topping or a dash of cinnamon on top. Enjoy!

3. You can also DIY your own pumpkin spice coffee creamer. If you’d rather brew your own regular coffee at home, but make your own pumpkin spice creamer – check out this easy recipe!


  • 1 & ½ cups of heavy cream or half & half
  • 2 Tbsp of canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tbsp of maple syrup
  • ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks


  • Whisk together the cream or half & half, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and pumpkin pie spice in a small stovetop pan over medium heat. Add a cinnamon stick and turn the heat up until the mixture is boiling, whisking occasionally.
  • After one minute, take the mixture off the heat and let it cool for five minutes before adding it to your home brewed coffee.
  • You can keep the leftover creamer in your fridge for generally about one week afterward – just be sure to shake it before using. Enjoy!

And there you have it – three simple ways to save on the most popular coffee drink of the season. Happy Autumn!


Article Source: Pennyhoarder.com

Halloween Fun on a Budget: 12 Costume Ideas Using Common Items in Your Home

No matter what your age, it’s hard to not get excited for Halloween. Whether you’re going to a Halloween party or trick or treating, one of the best parts is getting to dress up. Halloween costumes can be expensive, so what are some ways to save this year?

To come up with an easy Halloween costume on a budget, scan your closet or check your pantry for things that you can easily transform into festive attire. Your craft box and garage may already have the items that will level up your Halloween experience.

If you still need some inspiration for a great affordable costume, we have some fun ideas to further inspire you!

Instagram Filter

Add a modern twist to your costume party by dressing up as an Instagram Filter. Bring out one of your empty cardboard boxes from storage. Trim the box into a large rectangle to transform it into an Instagram frame. Cut out a square hole in the middle of the frame so you can peek out from behind it. Paint a filter on the frame. Get ready to pose as if you were snapping an IG selfie!

Magic 8-Ball

Bring a touch of magic to your festivities by wearing a Magic 8-Ball costume. Put on a black shirt and black pants. Cut a white piece of paper into a circle and tape it to your shirt. Snip out an “8” number from a black piece of paper and stick it to the middle of the white circle. Make a paper hat and write down some Magic 8-Ball answers on each section. Wait for others to consult you about their questions!

Audrey Hepburn

Say hello to Audrey Hepburn as you don a sleeveless little black dress to start your Breakfast at Tiffany’s look. Matching black gloves, large sunglasses, and pearls will help you nail this costume. Oh, and don’t forget that croissant and coffee for a complete ensemble.


Paint black stripes on an orange t-shirt. Prepare ear cutouts and paste them onto a headband. Don’t forget to print a mask or paint your face with orange, white, and black to finish the tiger look.


Become Clark-Kent-who’s-about-to-transform-into-Superman by wearing a Superman shirt under a jacket. Wear reading glasses as part of your disguise.

Lara Croft

Show your adventurous side along with a tank top, khaki shorts, and jungle boots. Braided hair and aviator shades will make you stand out as Lara Croft.

Wednesday Addams

Nail the classic Wednesday Addams look using a long-sleeved black dress over a white-collared shirt. Braid your hair and apply some dark lipstick too.

Stick Figure

Get a plain white shirt and matching pair of pants. Then use electrical tape to create the lines for a stick figure. Draw a head on a paper plate and wear it as your mask. Multiply the fun by making the same costume for the rest of your family.

Miss Universe

Be glamorous for Halloween by wearing an evening dress. Wear a Miss Universe sash, and flaunt your crown as you sashay the evening away.


If you’ve got a striped white shirt, suspenders, and a pair of white gloves – you’re almost ready to dress up as a mime. All you need is some white face paint and you’re good to go. And don’t forget to get into character by trying not to talk!

Greek Goddess

Take a white top sheet, wrap it around your body, and tie the two ends on your left shoulder. Get a thin belt, a cord, or a golden chain – and wrap it around your waist. Leaf accents in your hair add to the subtle charm of this Greek attire.


While we’re on the topic of top sheets, if you’ve got an old one – cut out holes for the eyes. Going as a bedsheet ghost is one of those fun, classic old school costumes everyone should try at least once!

Are You Ready to Dress Up for Halloween?

Hopefully the ideas above can inspire some costume creativity this Halloween. If you look, you’ll most likely find that your home is a treasure-trove of easy to use costume pieces that will work great for your DIY Halloween outfit – and save you money in the process.

Have a great Halloween!

Renting vs. Owning – What’s the Right Move?

There are many reasons why people may choose to rent rather than own a home. Some renters simply like the idea of living in a temporary place as they are still unsure if they want to settle down there permanently, while others want to avoid the many expenses of home ownership.

However, the major downside to renting is that you’re giving money to your landlord every month – money that you’ll unfortunately never get back and it won’t help you build equity.

In contrast, paying for a mortgage each month may be costly, but will slowly reduce your home loan balance over time. You’ll also get to own the house, which is an incredibly valuable asset nowadays.

If you’re deciding if you should continue renting or if now would be the best time to start owning a home, then you’ve come to the right place. With the way rent continues to increase each year, you might find the latter option is better for you.

Rent Prices Continue to Increase

According to a report by Realtor.com, the official website of the National Association of Realtors – the median rent amount in the 50 biggest metro areas was $1,575 per month. The data suggests that rent amounts rose by 8.1% from the previous year, translating to an extra $118 to pay each month.

Realtor.com also revealed that rent amounts for all unit sizes are currently at an all-time high. Renting a studio apartment increased by 4%, while 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartments saw an 8% and 10.2% rise in rent, respectively.

Is Renting Still a Good Idea?

If you aren’t yet sure if you want to settle down, then continuing to rent might be a good idea until you can map out your future a bit more. Many people are still not sure whether they want to move out or stay due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, so if you’re not yet ready to make such a permanent move – that’s quite understandable.

However, for those who are interested in acquiring a place they can own – waiting for the lease to expire and looking for a house to buy could be the ideal move. This way, you can start investing your money toward a valuable asset that will have your name in the title.

To help you decide if now would be a good time to buy a home, you should consider the following questions:

  • Do I have the money to make a down payment?
  • Is my credit score acceptable enough to apply for a mortgage loan?
  • Do I have any debt and, if so – how much more can I afford?

It’s important to ask yourself these questions before purchasing a property.


The cost of renting a place to live continues to increase every year, which makes it more and more impractical to continue doing so. If you believe that now is the right time to own a home, then you might consider applying for a mortgage. When you buy a home, you’ll often be able to save money in the long run that would have otherwise been used on rent (which doesn’t provide you with any equity or a long-term investment).

At First Financial, we can help you get pre-approved for a mortgage so you can know right away if owning a home is the right move for you.*

Contact us today with any questions or visit our website to learn more.

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Subject to credit approval. Credit worthiness determines your APR. Rates quoted assume excellent borrower credit history and are for qualified borrowers. Your actual APR may vary based on your state of residence, approved loan amount, applicable discounts and your credit history. Higher rates may apply depending on terms of loan and credit worthiness. Available on primary residence only. The Interest Rates, Annual Percentage Rate (APR), and fees are based on current market rates, are for informational purposes only. Mortgage insurance may be required depending on loan guidelines. This is not a credit decision or a commitment to lend. If mortgage insurance is required, the mortgage insurance premium could increase the APR and the monthly mortgage payment. See Credit Union for details. 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. 

How to Avoid Purchasing Flooded Cars

Hurricane Ida was one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the U.S. in recent years, causing much flooding and devastation – especially to our New Jersey area. After an event like this, flooded cars often enter the used car market. These cars may appear to be cleaned up, but flood damage is unpredictable. Issues caused by water hitting vital parts of a car will often leave it too costly to repair.

Keep reading to find out what you can do to avoid getting into this type of bad car sale.

Check the Car’s History

A history report will reveal all the locations from the car’s registration. In most cases, it will also show if it has undergone flood damage in its title report. If there’s no sign from the registration, you should still be wary of cars that come from areas hit by hurricanes recently. There could be a chance that the vehicle tried to bypass regulations. Some car dealers have been known to try this in hopes of cleaning up a vehicle’s record, a practice called title washing.

Inspect the Interior

The interior of a car is where you can spot signs of flood damage. The vehicle may have a moldy smell, and parts of its carpet may be damp – indicating it went through water. You can also lift the carpeting inside the trunk for any sign of rust or sand, which would also show that it went through floodwaters. Rust on the bolts and screws under the seats can also indicate flood damage.

Inspect the Exterior

The car’s exterior will also show signs of corrosion or even subtle thin brown lines across its body. There may also be watermarks on the vehicle, indicating that it’s been through high waters. The undercarriage can additionally reveal signs of flood damage. You’ll usually find excessive rust on flood damaged cars.

Work with a Reputable Car Dealer

A car dealer with a good track record will avoid buying flood damaged cars, as it is not a risk they’re willing to take. Check the dealer’s history and any reviews surrounding the business. If there’s an issue, you’ll likely find a disgruntled buyer who has experienced buying a flood damaged car there.

Hire a Mechanic

Another way to ensure that you don’t get a flooded car is to hire a mechanic to come with you and inspect the vehicle. They’ll easily spot signs of water damage for you and recommend if the car’s worth buying or not. A mechanic has likely worked with flooded cars in the past, so they’ll see the signs – even if the car has been cleaned up. It’s a small price to pay to ensure you’re not buying a damaged vehicle.

Always Exercise Caution

If you suspect that you’re looking at a flood damaged car, take every precaution necessary. Often, you’ll find this type of deal is too good to be true. Take a step back and have it examined by a professional, and check the car’s history. If you have verified that the vehicle you are looking at is in fact a flood damaged car, contact local law enforcement – as selling these types of vehicles is considered fraudulent.

Think First because There’s Harm In Not Knowing!

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Teens are Falling Prey to Online Scams

Did you know that teens are now falling prey to online scams even faster than seniors? Last year, there were over 23,000 online scam complaints from individuals under 21 years old. This suggests that no matter how well-versed you are in technology and the internet, you can still be a victim of online scams. Learn more about these scams and how you can avoid them by reading below.

Common Online Scams Targeting Teens

Reports of online scams have increased by 156% among members of Generation Z. Born in the digital age, teens are more comfortable sharing their whereabouts on various online platforms. However, this can also make you vulnerable to the scams listed below.

Romance Scams

While using various dating apps, you might encounter a romance scammer. They’ll try to build an intimate online relationship with you, but their real goal is to make a hole in your wallet. Usually stationed abroad, they will often refuse meet-ups and video calls. Be on the lookout for these types of scammers and do not send them any money, gift cards, prepaid cards, or the like. If something feels off – it most likely is.

Fake Online Stores

While online shopping can be fun and even therapeutic, you might come across fake e-commerce stores that copy the logos and sites of legitimate businesses. These scammers will usually offer your favorite items at unreasonably low prices. In the end, you’ll get substandard products — or nothing at all.

Employment Scams

There may be various job opportunities online, but not all of them are real. Scammers have been known to post fake, poorly written ads. They’ll also make you pay up front fees for training, which no legitimate employer would ever do. Don’t fall into this trap!

Bogus Online Contests

While you may follow some online influencers, scammers are busy copying these public figures through fraudulent social media accounts. They’ll conduct online contests and giveaways. Once you’re declared a “winner,” they’ll solicit your bank account details or require you to pay a nominal fee to claim the prize. In reality, you won’t get anything — other than a stolen identity.

Avoiding Online Scams: Tips for Teens and Parents

Whether you’re still trying to familiarize yourself with online accounts or already tech-savvy, remember the following tips to avoid online scams:

  • Check various reviews online before purchasing items from a specific store.
  • Choose a strong and unique password for each of your online accounts. Avoid using your nickname, birthdate, or your pet’s name because these can be found easily on other platforms.
  • Never give out your personal and financial details, especially during unexpected calls.
  • Look for misspellings and grammatical mistakes in ads, websites, or emails.
  • Monitor what you or your child share on social media. Scammers may find some information in an online profile which they can then use to commit identity theft.
  • Before making a decision, share it with someone you trust, like parents, friends, and other family members. Doing so will help you figure out if you’re being scammed.
  • Be suspicious of people asking you to pay advance fees through P2P payment apps such as Venmo, Cash App, and Zelle, or through wire transfers and gift or prepaid cards.
  • When using a person-to-person payment app, only send money to someone who you actually know and trust.
  • If possible, don’t use public WiFi because scammers can usually find ways to access sensitive information.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re a teen or a senior, you’re not free from the hands of scammers. Be extra careful and combat scammers by following the tips above. Always reach out to us if you suspect any of your First Financial accounts have been compromised due to a scam.

T.H.I.N.K First because There’s Harm In Not Knowing!