3 Easy Ways to Make Money on the Side

Woman Taking Dog For Walk On City Street

Who doesn’t love some extra cash in their pocket, especially after the expensive holiday season? When you’re focused on your full-time job, it can be hard to find the time to search for additional sources of income.

Here are some easy examples:

Tutor. Do you have expertise in a certain subject matter that you may or may not use in your current line of work? Whether you’re looking to help out younger students or adults continuing their education, you can put your knowledge to good use. Look into working with an established company like Kaplan for SAT preparation, or get certified through the National Tutoring Association or the American Tutoring Association. Obtaining a certification may be an extra step, but in the end if you are able to show you are legitimately trained, you will stand out as a professional and generate more business and more dollars.

Drive. Even if you haven’t used Uber, you have undoubtedly heard of the transportation network company. Offering consumers a safe and convenient way to get around town, Uber is an excellent way to bring in extra money in your spare time. According to the company, depending on your location and how often you work, drivers could net on average about $25.00 an hour. Another advantage of becoming a driver is the ability to set your own schedule. Many drivers have a full-time job and drive at their discretion.

Dog sit. Do you love dogs but don’t want to commit to owning one? Becoming a dog sitter is a great way to spend time with “man’s best friend” without the long-term responsibilities that come with adding a pooch to your family. Check out Rover.com, a resource that connects pet owners with people who provide safe and loving pet care. Like Uber, Rover allows you the freedom to make money on your own schedule. According to Rover.com, depending on how often you take in an animal and for how long, you could make upwards of $1,000 a month.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

How to Get the Best Mortgage Rate

conceptual image with piggy bank, coin and house

Credit score

The MOST important thing is your credit score. If your credit score isn’t good, not only will you not get a good deal, but you probably won’t even get approved. So the key here is to have a high credit score. The higher the score the better your rate.

Compare

Once you start looking for a mortgage, don’t get set on the first one you find. It’s better to shop around. There are tons of choices out there, so do your research and figure out what’s best for you. Make sure you compare not only interest rates, but fees as well.

Down payment

If you don’t have the money for a 20% down payment, there are mortgages available with lower down payment requirements, but you’ll have to purchase mortgage insurance and you’ll probably get a slightly higher interest rate too. If you’re only planning on staying in the house for a few years, this may not be as important for you.

Need help calculating if you can afford to buy a home or what your monthly payments will be based on what you put down? Check out our free mortgage calculators at firstffcu.com!

Debt-to-income ratio

Lenders will focus on how much your current gross income is going toward ongoing debt, so try and keep this ratio as low as possible. If you have any debt that is within reach of being paid off before you apply for a mortgage, definitely put some extra money on it and get it paid off.

Income stability

Lenders like to see a steady job history. If you’ve been in your job for at least a couple of years, you’re probably good to go. If you’re self-employed, the lender will probably want to see a few years’ worth of tax returns to make sure you have a solid stream of income coming in.

Stop into any First Financial branch and we can help you with your home buying journey. We provide great low rates and offer a variety of Mortgage options – to speak with First Financial’s lending department, call us at 732.312.1500 option 4.* 

*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. Subject to credit approval. Credit worthiness determines your APR. 

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

 

4 Smart Ways to Spend Your Tax Return in 2017

Tax form with paper money, silver pen, calculator on white background

Here are some smart ways to spend your money once you get that tax return this year.

Pay down credit card debt. This may be the smartest choice when deciding what to do with your refund. Decreasing your debt helps alleviate the interest you’re paying, which will be a huge weight off your wallet and credit score. Debt can feel like a mountain, so take the opportunity to dig yourself out from under it.

Debt overload? Check out First Financial’s free, online debt management tool, Debt in Focus. In just minutes, you will receive a thorough analysis of your financial situation, including powerful tips by leading financial experts to help you control your debt, build a budget, and start living the life you want to live.

Put it into retirement. Your retirement account (401k, Roth IRA) can sometimes be neglected if you’re not steadily adding funds, so use your refund as a chance to jump start your contributions for 2017. It may not seem super important now, but you’ll be retirement age before you know it.

Questions about retirement savings or investments? To set up a complimentary consultation with the Investment & Retirement Center located at First Financial Federal Credit Union to discuss your savings goals, contact us at 732.312.1564, email samantha.schertz@cunamutual.com or stop in to see us!*

Build that emergency fund. Even if you’re doing a good job of saving for retirement, that may be all you’re saving. If this is you, use your tax return to create an emergency fund in case things go south. It’s never a bad idea to be prepared!

Invest in yourself. This could have a lot of different meanings. Exercise is good for your body and taking a trip can be a good way to unwind and refresh your mind. If these sound like good ideas, join a gym or book a flight. Have a favorite charity? Give some of that money away. Helping others can be good for the soul too.

*Representatives are registered, securities are sold, and investment advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor, 2000 Heritage Way, Waverly, Iowa 50677, toll-free 800-369-2862. Non-deposit investment and insurance products are not federally insured, involve investment risk, may lose value and are not obligations of or guaranteed by the financial institution. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution, through the financial services program, to make securities available to members. CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., is a registered broker/dealer in all fifty states of the United States of America.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

6 Ways to Tweak Your Budget This Year

Pencil on the statement of payroll details

Just because February is here doesn’t mean you should already be neglecting to improve your finances. In fact, no matter your resolutions (or if you’ve already abandoned them), it’s always a good idea to work on your finances.

If you’re looking for ways to tweak your budget to better effect this year, then here are some strategies you can follow to spend less and save more:

1. Factor in Infrequent Expenses

One of the biggest pitfalls of budgeting is forgetting about infrequent expenses. Some expenses may only be paid quarterly, or perhaps even once a year. It’s easy to forget to include them in the budget, especially if you create your budget during a month when you’re not making the payment. The fix is easy though.

As you tweak your budget this year, spend the extra bit of time to look ahead for infrequent expenses and include them. Break them down into monthly costs so that they are accounted for. Also ensure that the money is already there when they are withdrawn from your account.

2. Don’t Count on Irregular Income

Many of us like to look ahead and estimate our income. Unfortunately, we often over-estimate what is coming in. We rely on our estimates too heavily whether it’s a bonus at work, a tax refund or some other windfall. Instead of factoring future income into your budget, consider pretending it doesn’t exist. That way, when you do get a windfall, you can bank that instead of spending it. This way, you don’t end up in trouble if the extra money doesn’t appear like you thought it would.

3. Boost Your Savings

You can also use more no matter how much you’re setting aside, so look for ways to boost your savings. Even an extra $15 a week can help in the long run. Consider changing how much is taken from your paycheck and contribute it to your retirement account. You can also put more in your emergency fund. Just make a small tweak to the amount to make a difference down the road.

4. Check into Your Subscriptions

When was the last time you reviewed your subscriptions? Look at where your money is going on a monthly basis. If you aren’t using subscriptions, change things up so you aren’t spending on what you no longer use.

5. Review Your Insurance

Every six months or before renewal, do a quick comparison of your insurance policies. Could you be saving more elsewhere? If it looks like you can get a better quote someplace else, let your insurer know and ask for a match. If you haven’t changed your insurance for a few years, you might be surprised at what’s available and how much a quick search can save you.

6. Sign Up for Cash Back Sites

If you aren’t using a cash back site, now’s a good time to do so. Sign up for Ebates and Swagbucks to get some of your purchase-price back. Between these sites, plus use of a rewards or cash back credit card to pay, you could end up with serious savings overall. Yes, you want to spend less, but you also want to get a little back for the spending you do.

First Financial’s Visa Credit Cards come fully loaded with higher credit lines, lower APRs, no annual fees, no balance transfer fees, a 10 day grace period, rewards, and so much more!* Click here to learn about our cards and apply online today.

*APR varies from 11.40% to 18% for the Visa Platinum Card, 13.40% to 18% for the Visa Signature Card, and 13.74% to 18% for the Visa Secured Card when you open your account based on your credit worthiness. These APRs are for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances 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: Cash advance fee of 1% of advance ($5 minimum and $25 maximum), Late Payment Fee of up to $25, Foreign Transaction Fee of 1% plus foreign exchange rate of transaction amount, $5 Card Replacement Fee, and Returned Payment Fee of up to $25. 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.

Article Source: Miranda Marquit for MoneyNing.com

3 Ways to Ensure Cyber Safety During Tax Time

Income Tax File Meaning Paying Taxes 3d Rendering

The IRS is now officially open for business as tax season gets underway. Here are three ways you can protect yourself over the next few months as you manage important and sensitive, financial documents.

Stay on secured networks: As with other financial transactions, make sure to only e-file your taxes (or view private documents) on a protected Wi-Fi network. You may be tempted to work from a coffee shop or the library, but remember using a public server can make you an easy target for cyber thieves.

Beware of IRS emails: The Internal Revenue Service will never directly reach out to you; if you receive a fraudulent message report it immediately to phishing@irs.gov. Use caution when dealing with these and be sure not to click on web links or open suspicious email attachments.

Set strong passwords: Most of us may think that choosing a password such as “password” or “123456” is an obvious mistake but according to TIME, these are in fact the most popular password picks. Review their list of these commonly used passwords and make necessary adjustments to yours to ensure your information stays safe online.

Remember, due to a holiday in Washington, DC – the tax deadline this year is April 18, 2017.

First Financial members get discounts on TurboTax products – get started today!

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth and Ocean Counties this February 2017

Couple of red hearts symbol with shadow isolated on white background, 3D illustration

Love is in the air – and there’s so much to love this February with a ton of fantastic events happening in a town near you. Check out the list below of free or inexpensive activities to do with your loved ones all month long.

February 9: Rockin’ Road to Dublin – Inspired by Riverdance (Monmouth University, West Long Branch) at 7:30pm in Pollak Theater. For more information visit https://www.monmouth.edu/events/arts.aspx or call 732.263.6889.

February 10: Family Date Night at Jenkinson’s Boardwalk in Pt. Pleasant from 6pm-9pm. What better way to spend Valentine’s Day than with the ones you love the most? Package includes admission for four to Jenkinson’s Aquarium, a plain pizza and pitcher of soda at the Pavilion, a $10 PlayCard for the Pavilion Arcade and 4 treats from the Sweet Shop (additional tickets can also be purchased if you have more than 4 people). For information go to www.jenkinsons.com or call 732.892.0600.

February 11 & 12: Can’t Buy Me Love Valentine’s Market (Convention Hall, Asbury Park) from 12pm-6pm each day in the Grand Arcade. Enjoy gifts for her and him, roller skating, market workshops, a Beatles cover band and gifts galore! For details visit http://www.asburyparkbazaar.com/

February 11 & 12: Chocolate and Wine Weekend at Laurita Winery (New Egypt). Celebrate Valentine’s Weekend at Laurita Winery, chock full of wine and chocolate and lots of love! Visit lauritawinery.com or call 609.758.800. Free general admission.

February 12: Valentine’s Dinner and Show at iPlay America (Freehold), 6pm. Every Ticket includes a sit down, 4 course meal, live show and seat at a table. The live show features Captain Jack, a professional Billy Joel Tribute band consisting of some of the tri-state area’s top musicians. To purchase tickets visit http://www.iplayamerica.com/event/valentines-day-dinner-show/ or call 732.577.8200.

February 17 – 25: Seussical The Musical at Spring Lake Theater on Madison Avenue. Performances take place at 2pm and 7:30pm each day. For more information call 732.449.4530 or go to http://www.springlaketheatre.com/

February 19: George Washington’s Birthday Celebration at Historic Allaire Village (Wall) from 12pm-3pm. As the “Father of America,” George Washington was a hero and his birthday was widely celebrated with cannon fire and fanfare.  Join the villagers as they celebrate. There is a special program in the Chapel at 12pm. For more information go to https://allairevillage.org/ or call 732.919.3500.

February 24: Keansburg Boro Wine Glass Painting, 7pm to 10pm at New Point Comfort Fire Company on Carr Avenue. For details visit http://www.keansburgnewjersey.gov/ or call 732.787.0215, ext. 212.

February 25: Annual Seaside Heights Polar Bear Plunge, 1pm. Registration begins at 9am until 12:30pm. Plunge takes place at 1pm in the ocean in front of Spicy Cantina in Seaside Heights. For more information visit www.NJPolarPlunge.org

February 26: Annual Chili Cookoff in The Highlands, 3pm-7pm. All proceeds will benefit the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Sample delicious chili and refreshments at Claddah Irish Pub, 297 Bay Avenue. For details go to http://www.highlandsnj.com/ or call 732.291.4713.

We hope your month of February is filled with lots of love!