How to Save Money and Fuel in Summer Weather

Contrary to popular belief, warmer weather can actually increase your vehicle’s fuel economy in certain ways. This is due to the fact that it’s not cold out, so your car engine will warm up to a sufficient temperature more quickly. Although, keeping yourself and other passengers comfortable in summer weather by using the air conditioning and opening windows – are two factors that contribute to reduced fuel economy and filling up more on gas (which these days is very expensive!) when it’s hot out. So, how can you save some money on gas and still be as efficient as possible when it comes to running your vehicle in warm weather?

  • When you’re traveling at lower speeds, it’s better to put down your car windows. Use the air conditioning when traveling at highway speeds. Opening your vehicle’s windows does increase wind resistance and forces your car to use more energy to drive. However, there isn’t nearly as much of an effect when traveling at slower speeds.
  • Try not to use the air conditioning more than needed, or set the temperate for lower than needed. If you can get by with the a/c on at a higher temperature, you’ll save yourself some money and gas.
  • When parking, try to leave your car in a shady spot or use a sun shade to reduce heat within the car’s cabin. This means reduced air conditioning when your car temperature starts at a cooler one.
  • When you first start your car, try to drive with the windows open for a bit first before turning on the air. This will let hot air out of the car first and put less demand on your a/c.
  • Air conditioning will cool your vehicle faster while you’re actually driving. Turning your vehicle on and blasting the a/c before actually driving will use more energy to cool it. Idling is not good for fuel efficiency.
  • If you have an electric or hybrid car, cooling your car while still plugged into its charger can extend your vehicle’s range. Keeping the air on a warmer temperature will also use less battery power.

While your vehicle’s fuel economy does depend on outside temperature, humidity, and intensity of the sun – under extremely hot conditions, this all could reduce your fuel efficiency by over 25% (especially on shorter trips). By following the above tips – you can save on filling up at the pump as often, as well as extending the life of that tank of gas a little longer this summer.

For more information and cost estimates for your current vehicle or perhaps one you may be thinking about purchasing in the near future, be sure to check out the U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency’s Fuel Economy Guide for Model Year 2022.

In the market for a new ride or looking to buyout your current vehicle lease? Stop in and see us, or learn more and apply for an auto loan online 24/7.*

*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. 

 Article Source: fueleconomy.gov 

How to Finance Your Home Improvement Project

Whether you’re preparing to sell or are just due for an upgrade, renovating your home can help increase its value over time and keep it up to date. Financing a home improvement project, however, takes a lot of planning and consideration. Thinking ahead will save you headaches in the future, so make sure to consider these options before you start your next renovation endeavor.

Save, save, save

The safest option for financing your home improvement project is to save as much money as you can. First, determine a ballpark range of how much the project could cost total, and then make a plan to start saving. While it will take time to build up savings, you won’t have to worry about paying back a large sum of money later. So, if you’re not in a rush to get started – building your savings may be the best option.

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

Consider your loan options

There are a variety of loan options out there to assist in financing your remodeling project. Here are a few to consider, all of which are available here at First Financial!

  • Home improvement loans: This type of loan is an unsecured personal loan that doesn’t need to use your home as collateral to qualify. Lenders will use your credit score to determine your interest rate and qualifications.**
  • Home equity loans: Similar to a home improvement loan, home equity loans are paid out in a lump sum that you can repay overtime in regular fixed monthly payments.***
  • Home equity line of credit (HELOC): A HELOC is a secure loan backed by your home allowing you to qualify for lower interest rates. Our HELOCs have a maximum borrow amount of $75,000 and an LTV of up to 70%, and allow you to advance from your approved credit line as you need it. ++

Use a credit card

For smaller home improvements, credit cards with a lower interest rate may be a good option, especially if you can find a card with added perks. At First Financial, we offer 4 credit card options that each have benefits like a 10-day grace period and no annual fees.+ Our Visa Platinum and Signature Cash Plus cards, for example – offer UChoose Rewards on all purchases that are redeemable for travel, merchandise, gift cards, and cash back.

If you’re still unsure what would be the best route for financing your home improvement project, 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 in to 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.

 **Available on primary residence only. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a Home Improvement Loan and is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, or attends school in Monmouth of Ocean Counties. See credit union for details. Rate will vary based off of applicant’s credit rating. Not all applicants who apply will be approved, subject to underwriting guidelines and credit approval. Lien position and appraisal valuation may affect the maximum loan amount. Not all applicants will qualify for maximum Loan to Value (LTV) ratio. It will be based off of creditworthiness, property type, occupancy, lien position, and loan amount. Rates will be affected by LTV or combined LTV if there is another lien on the property. Loan amounts over $7,500.00 will be required to give First Financial FCU a security interest in their property. Rates will vary based off of lien position and whether the loan is mortgage secured or unsecured. For mortgage secured Home Improvement loans First Financial FCU (FFFCU) will waive closing costs at inception of loan. If loan is terminated within the first 2 years of opening, closing cost waiver is revoked and are required to be paid back by member to FFFCU.

 ***First Financial FCU (FFFCU) will waive closing costs at inception of loan. If loan is terminated within the first 2 years of opening, closing cost waiver is revoked and the borrower(s) will be required to pay back closing costs in full to FFFCU. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a Home Equity Loan, and is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. See FFFCU for details or visit firstffcu.com for all current rates. Rates for financing up to 80% of Appraised Value less other Mortgages.

 +APR varies from 11.15% to 18% for the Visa Simply First Platinum Card and from 13.15% to 18% for the Visa Signature Cash Plus, Visa Platinum Cash Plus and Visa First Step Cards 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.

++ LTV= Loan to Value Ratio. Rates will vary with the market based on Prime Rate and may change quarterly. Subject to credit approval. Available on primary or secondary homes only. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a home equity line of credit, and is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. Subject to underwriting guidelines. See credit union for details. 

What College Grads Need to Know About Money

College graduation is a big milestone to feel good about. And as you head out into the world, you’ll be learning new things, facing new challenges, and making big financial decisions. One of the most helpful skills to have as you get older, is being able to manage your money. And luckily, you don’t need a class to learn financial management – you can get familiar with these skills through educational resources like ours! Keep reading for our top money management tips for recent college grads.

Learn how to budget

Budgeting is one of the most important financial skills you can learn. Maintaining a budget can help you be smart about your spending and plan for your financial future. We recommend using the 50/30/20 strategy as a rough guide for how you should spend your money. This means you should aim to spend 50% of your budget on essentials, 20% on savings and investments, and 30% on other remaining expenses.

Calculate your expenses (rent, student loans, utilities, food, transportation, etc.) and variable costs (dining out, vacations, shopping), and make sure your expenses do not exceed your income.

Start saving money

No matter what your financial goals are, opening a savings account is always a good idea. You can start by dedicating a certain amount of your paycheck toward your savings. While it’s recommended to keep 20% of your income for savings and debt repayment, you’ll need to evaluate what works within your budget and when you’ll need the funds. Even if you’re starting small, you’ll be surprised how quickly the account can grow!

Want to open a savings account?* We’re here for you! Contact us or stop by your local branch to speak with a representative today.

Plan for retirement

It may seem too early to start planning for your retirement, but it will make a big difference to start saving right out of college. For example, a 22-year-old who starts investing is going to have nearly twice the amount of money saved by 67 than someone who starts at 32. Most employers offer a retirement plan match program like a 401(k) or 403 (b) that is typically deducted straight from your paycheck. If your employer offers matching contributions like this, make sure to take advantage – since it’s essentially free future savings.

Pay off student loans

According to Forbes, there’s currently $1.75 trillion in total student loan debt with an average of $28,950 owed per borrower. And while graduating and starting your career may be exciting, paying back student loans can be daunting – to say the least. When it comes to paying off your student loans, you should take the time to look at your budget and determine how much you can afford to pay toward your debt payments. It’s recommended to start paying off the debt with the highest interest rates first, and then focusing on the debt with lesser amounts or lower rates like federal student loans. There are sure to be plenty of repayment options to choose from based on your current income and budget.

Don’t forget about your credit score

Having a decent credit score is going to be very important throughout your life. A credit score essentially is a rating that financial institutions use to determine how likely you are to pay off your debt. Whether you’re renting an apartment, opening a new credit card, or buying a car – your credit score will play a factor in what you’ll be able to obtain.

A credit score is determined by:

  • Your payment history
  • Your amounts owed
  • The length of your credit history
  • New credit
  • The variety of credit products you have

As a new college graduate, understanding financial management can feel overwhelming – but you’re not alone. Our financial experts can give you advice based on your situation. Contact us to get started, or stop into 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.

 

 

 

Tips for Saving on Transportation Costs

As gas prices continue to rise, drivers are rethinking their typical routines and spending habits. It’s not just gas that gets expensive, it’s the maintenance costs and insurance too. Simply put, having a car adds up. And according to AAA, the average cost of car ownership is about $10,000 per year.

While owning a car is essential for many, there are always ways to save on transportation costs. Here are some tips to help cut costs.

Walk or bike when you can

The most eco-friendly way to save money on gas is by not driving when possible. Sure, this may not be ideal for everyone – especially if you live in a rural area. But if you’re able to walk or bike to a destination, you can cut back on gas while also choosing a healthier form of transportation. Talk about a win-win!

Use public transportation

Public transportation is a great way to save money on gas, parking, and maintenance costs. Plus, it’s an accessible option for those who may not be able to easily walk or bike around. Monmouth County has plenty of transportation options for community residents including busses, ferries, and trains. There are also plenty of bus routes for those who reside in Ocean County.

Carpool

Live near a co-worker? Why not commute to work together? Carpooling with friends, colleagues, or family members is another great way to save on gas plus add a little bit of extra socialization to your day.

Compare insurance costs

It’s time to re-evaluate your auto insurance plan. Insurance rates can vary depending on your credit score, driving history, and mileage. So, if anything changed or it’s been a while since you’ve secured a new plan, it’s best to compare rates. Don’t know where to begin? Talk to your local broker to see what your options are.

Keep up on maintenance

Having routine maintenance done on your vehicle can help prevent future issues and save on repairs. Under-inflated tires, for example, will wear them down even faster and hurt your gas mileage. Even getting your car washed regularly will prevent rust and residue that can damage the finish of your vehicle. (Pro tip: Try washing your car by hand to spare an extra $15-$20!)

Avoid speeding

Sure, watching your speed will prevent you from getting a pricey speeding ticket, but did you know it will also help your gas mileage? Speeding decreases the fuel economy of your car, meaning you’ll get fewer miles to the gallon than if you slowed down a little bit. All the more reason to go the speed limit!

Looking for a new or pre-owned vehicle? Our auto loans have great low rates, so you can get a new ride AND lower your monthly payments too! Visit a First Financial branch or contact the Loan Department to speak with a representative today.

*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.

 

Spring 2022 Newsletter

We hope you are having a wonderful Spring Season! While you’re gearing up for a beautiful week ahead – we thought you might enjoy our second member quarterly First Edition Newsletter of the year.

In a continued effort to go green, we’re publishing our newsletter electronically – it can also be found on our website and social media sites. Paper copies will be available in our branches.

The Spring Newsletter features the following articles:

To view a copy of the newsletter, click here.

Enjoy and Happy Spring!

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

The unofficial start to Summer is almost here at the end of this month! Be sure to check out these upcoming dates for some free or inexpensive events happening in a town near you.

May 7:

Spring Fling Arts & Crafts Show (Ocean Grove) will take place at Auditorium Square Park (Main Ave. to Pilgrim Pathway) from 10am to 4pm, rain or shine. There will be a wide variety of crafters, artisans and makers. Enjoy live music from Jo Wymer and Chuck Lambert. Don’t miss this day of fun, food, and festivities! Admission is free. Learn more at https://www.oceangrovenj.com/ or call 732.774.1391.

Creative Arts Festival (Lincroft) will begin at 10am and end at 4pm at Thompson Park, and will be held rain or shine. See the works of local artists and fine crafters from all mediums including pottery, jewelry, photography and painting. There will also be live music and food vendors. Admission and parking are free. Learn more here, or call 732.842.4000.

May Day Spring Festival (Seaside Park) will take place from 10am-3pm at Island Beach State Park Swimming Area 1. There will be food trucks, music, family fun, craft and pet vendors. This event will be held rain or shine, there is an $8 suggested donation to attend. Dogs on a leash are invited to attend as well. Learn more here.

Toms River Food Fest will begin at noon and go until 8pm at 33 Washington St in Downtown Toms River. There will be lots of gourmet food trucks, live music, and arts & crafts vendors. Learn more by calling 732.341.8415 or click here.

May 13: Downtown Night Out (Toms River) kicks off again every Friday and Saturday night for the summer, after two long years! Don’t miss the great restaurants and businesses of Downtown Toms River open for outdoor dining, shopping, music and fun on Washington St. Call 732.341.8738 or click here for more information.

May 14:

Vintage Car Show (Ocean Grove) from 10am to 3pm. There will be live music, food, and more! Canned goods or a $5 donation is suggested for car admission. Canned goods will be donated to St. Paul’s Food Pantry. Get more information at https://www.oceangrovenj.com/ or by calling 732.774.1391.

4th Annual Brew by the Bay (Highlands) from 12-5pm. Hosted by the Seafarer (1 Atlantic Ave.), the event and tastings take place on the picturesque waterfront. Tickets are $35 per person, and include seven 4 oz. tastings and a commemorative pilsner cup. There will be live music, fire pits, and delicious local smoke cuisine. Ages 21 and older to participate. Find out more here, and purchase tickets online. You may also call 732.291.4713 for more details.

May 15: BBQ Jamfest (Pt. Pleasant) from 12-4pm at 710 Arnold Ave. There will be an outdoor cookout with live music, BBQ brisket and ribs, prizes, and cornhole. Tickets are $10 each in advance, or $12 at the door. There is a rain date of 5/22. Learn more here and purchase tickets online. You may also call 732.899.2424.

May 19: The Colts Neck Community Band will host a free concert at Colts Neck High School (59 Five Points Rd.) from 7:30-9:30pm. The concert will include various styles of music and will feature local singer Cheryl Parker. The concert will be open to the public, and all ages are welcome. Find out more at https://coltsneckband.org/

May 21:

Sean Strong Dine to Donate Fundraiser (Farmingdale) will be held at Woody’s Roadside Tavern to benefit NJ State Trooper Sean Acker from 12-5pm. Come and enjoy food and drinks, and there will also be a DJ and a gift auction – all for a great cause. Email seanstrong6889@gmail.com for more information or for sponsorship opportunities.

World Diversity Day Children’s Festival (Freehold) will take place from 1-4pm. This is a free event and will be held at Lake Topenemus Park, 251 Pond Rd. There will be live performances and hands on activities including story telling, sing-a-longs, folk dancing, crafts, book giveaways and more. 5 to 10-year-olds and their families are invited to broaden their horizons, learn acceptance and have a great time! Learn more here.

May 29:

The 21st Annual Seaport Craft Show (Highlands) will take place from 10am to 5pm at Huddy Park on Bay Ave. Admission is free. Come experience a delightful collection of various handmade crafts from more than 60 crafters and artisans. There will also be live entertainment, and lots of shopping for unique gifts, art, and jewelry. Find out more here or call 732.291.4713.

Viking Village Arts & Crafts Show (Barnegat Light) will take place from 10am to 4:30pm at the Historic Viking Village at 19th and Bayview Ave. There will be over 70 vendors, fine arts, photography, ceramics, wood crafts, clothing, jewelry and accessories. Admission is free and there is plenty of parking. The event will be held rain or shine. Learn more here or call 609.361.8039.

May 30: The Freehold Memorial Day Parade will begin at 10am in Freehold Borough at 1 East Main St. This parade is the oldest and largest Memorial Day parade in Western Monmouth County, with an average of more than 70 units participating each year. The parade features many military units, veterans groups, bands, fire departments, EMS squads, youth groups, custom designed floats and civilian units.​ Learn more at https://downtownfreehold.com/ or call 732.462.4580.

We hope you have a great May, and Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms!