First Financial Foundation Awards Scholarship to Rutgers University Student

Press Release

Max WitkowskiFREEHOLD, N.J. – The First Financial Federal Credit Union Foundation (www.firstffcu.com) awarded a $500 scholarship to Max Witkowski of New Egypt, a senior who recently graduated from the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science in Manahawkin, NJ  and will attend Rutgers University (New Brunswick Honors College, NJ) in the fall.

In order to qualify for this year’s scholarship, high school seniors attending school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties were given the option to submit a written essay or create a 60 second video clip. The students must also be attending an accredited 2 or 4 year college or university in the fall of 2016. Four winners were selected to receive a $500 First Financial Foundation 2016 Erma Dorrer Literary Scholarship.

This year’s essay topic: You and a friend decide that you would like to start building credit. Discuss with your friend what good credit is, ways to start building credit, how your credit union can help, and the benefits earned by having good credit.

The year’s video topic: Create a 60-second video that covers the importance of financial literacy.

Witkowski submitted an essay in a script format with two friends discussing how to transition into the adult world of finance and credit. He covered the concept of credit scores, how to build them, the self-discipline it takes to keep a good one, and the benefits of having a great score. He added, “If we start building good credit it can be less challenging. When you have a higher credit score, loan interest rates can go down, so when you’re paying back your loans a couple of years from now, you won’t have to pay back as much as you otherwise might with a lower score.”

“We are thrilled to be able to aid these admirable and bright young students in their journey of success and education,” said First Financial President and CEO, Issa Stephan.  “Our credit union puts a high priority on education. After all, that’s how First Financial began 80 years ago – with a group of schoolteachers in Asbury Park.”

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About the First Financial Foundation: Since 1994, First Financial has supported the Monmouth & Ocean communities with the Erma Dorrer Scholarship Program. Today, that program has been extended into the First Financial Foundation to assist charitable organizations of the Monmouth & Ocean County Communities.  The First Financial Federal Credit Union Foundation is a non-profit working to support a variety of community programs and organizations throughout Monmouth and Ocean Counties.  We direct 100% of your contributions to programs because all administrative expenses are paid for by First Financial Federal Credit Union.  To learn more, visit http://www.firstffcu.com.

First Financial Foundation Awards Scholarship to High Point University Student

Press Release

Kelsey QuinnFREEHOLD, N.J. – The First Financial Federal Credit Union Foundation (www.firstffcu.com) awarded a $500 scholarship to Kelsey Quinn of Howell, a senior who recently graduated from Freehold High School. She will be attending High Point University (High Point, NC) in the fall.

In order to qualify for this year’s scholarship, high school seniors attending school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties were given the option to submit a written essay or create a 60 second video clip. The students must also be attending an accredited 2 or 4 year college or university in the fall of 2016. Four winners were selected to receive a $500 First Financial Foundation 2016 Erma Dorrer Literary Scholarship.

This year’s essay topic: You and a friend decide that you would like to start building credit. Discuss with your friend what good credit is, ways to start building credit, how your credit union can help, and the benefits earned by having good credit.

The year’s video topic: Create a 60-second video that covers the importance of financial literacy.

Quinn constructed a thoughtful essay, beginning with the importance of having a good credit score, the need for having the basic knowledge for creating a good score, and the commitment to be responsible with credit. She included ways to build credit with a secured credit card, a credit builder loan, or to have a co-signer for an unsecured credit card. She stated, “Credit, in the long run, can have a big impact on your life. It can decide whether you get to rent that beautiful apartment that you want, or whether you can get your dream car. There are many things that your credit score controls, and having a good one can make your life a lot easier.”

“We are thrilled to be able to aid these admirable and bright young students in their journey of success and education,” said First Financial President and CEO, Issa Stephan.  “Our credit union puts a high priority on education. After all, that’s how First Financial began 80 years ago – with a group of schoolteachers in Asbury Park.”

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About the First Financial Foundation: Since 1994, First Financial has supported the Monmouth & Ocean communities with the Erma Dorrer Scholarship Program. Today, that program has been extended into the First Financial Foundation to assist charitable organizations of the Monmouth & Ocean County Communities.  The First Financial Federal Credit Union Foundation is a non-profit working to support a variety of community programs and organizations throughout Monmouth and Ocean Counties.  We direct 100% of your contributions to programs because all administrative expenses are paid for by First Financial Federal Credit Union.  To learn more, visit http://www.firstffcu.com.

First Financial Foundation Awards Scholarship to Brookdale Community College Student

Press Release

Dylan WisniewskiFREEHOLD, N.J. – The First Financial Federal Credit Union Foundation (www.firstffcu.com) awarded a $500 scholarship to Dylan Wisniewski of Howell, a senior who recently graduated from Howell High School’s Vocational Educational Program. He will be attending Brookdale Community College (Lincroft, NJ) in the fall with a concentration in Automotive Technology.

In order to qualify for this year’s scholarship, high school seniors attending school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties were given the option to submit a written essay or create a 60 second video clip. The students must also be attending an accredited 2 or 4 year college or university in the fall of 2016. Four winners were selected to receive a $500 First Financial Foundation 2016 Erma Dorrer Literary Scholarship.

This year’s essay topic: You and a friend decide that you would like to start building credit. Discuss with your friend what good credit is, ways to start building credit, how your credit union can help, and the benefits earned by having good credit.

The year’s video topic: Create a 60-second video that covers the importance of financial literacy.

Wisniewski submitted an essay where he began with the financial freedom that comes from having a few dollars in your pocket and the pitfalls that come with easy spending combined with no savings. He related how he received an “A” in his Financial Literacy class but nearly flunked in his real life spending habits. In his essay he stated, “Building credit is a lot like building muscle. I take my daily gym workouts very seriously. Hard work, time and dedication have helped me attain physical fitness. Therefore, having a partner such as First Financial can help me achieve financial fitness in the long run.” He finished strongly with a detailed account of how to bolster savings, cut back on spending, and how small changes add up to having more dollars in one’s pocket.

“We are thrilled to be able to aid these admirable and bright young students in their journey of success and education,” said First Financial President and CEO, Issa Stephan.  “Our credit union puts a high priority on education. After all, that’s how First Financial began 80 years ago – with a group of schoolteachers in Asbury Park.”

# # #

About the First Financial Foundation: Since 1994, First Financial has supported the Monmouth & Ocean communities with the Erma Dorrer Scholarship Program. Today, that program has been extended into the First Financial Foundation to assist charitable organizations of the Monmouth & Ocean County Communities.  The First Financial Federal Credit Union Foundation is a non-profit working to support a variety of community programs and organizations throughout Monmouth and Ocean Counties.  We direct 100% of your contributions to programs because all administrative expenses are paid for by First Financial Federal Credit Union.  To learn more, visit http://www.firstffcu.com.

30 Money Mistakes You’re Probably Making This Summer

morning empty beach and footprints on sand

Summer is a time to cut loose and have fun. But, if you’re not careful, that fun can lead to overspending, failing to keep tabs on your finances, and making money mistakes due to distractions. You certainly don’t want to be paying for those mistakes the rest of the year. So, to maintain your financial well-being while enjoying all that summer has to offer, avoid making these money mistakes for the rest of the season.

1. Overspending on Summer Fun Rather than Saving

There are plenty of temptations to spend on in the summer — travel, concerts, cocktails by the pool, and nights on the town. However, you shouldn’t stop contributing to your retirement account to fund summer fun. To avoid the temptation to overspend, contribute to retirement accounts by having payments automatically deducted from your paycheck or bank account. Then you can only spend what’s left after funding your savings.

2. Not Having a Budget for Summer Activities

To avoid overspending in the summer, you should plan activities in advance and create a fund to cover the cost. You can open a separate account or even put cash in an envelope — and stop spending once the money runs out. Without a budget for summer fun, you could end up relying on credit (and paying for your summer fun well into the next few seasons).

3. Missing Payments While Traveling

It’s easy to miss deadlines for bills — or forget to make payments entirely while traveling. “If you forget, expect late fees and a ding to your credit report,” said Jim Wang, creator of the money-saving blog WalletHacks.com. To avoid the cost of fees and a drop in your credit score, set up automatic payments through your service providers or your bank, so your bills are paid while you’re on vacation. If there are bills you can’t pay automatically, and you forget to make a payment, call the billing department to explain why you missed it and ask if you might be able to have the late fee waived.

4. Not Putting Mail Delivery on Hold

Forgetting to contact the U.S. Postal Service to stop mail delivery while you’re on vacation could put your finances at risk. To lower your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft, you can put a hold on your mail by filling out an online form at USPS.com.

5. Failing to Keep an Eye Out for Fraud

Whether you’re traveling this summer or just staying busy by having fun in the sun, it’s easy to forget to keep tabs on your accounts for unusual fees or activity. However, you shouldn’t let your guard down during the summer. Log on to your bank and credit accounts regularly and set up alerts to receive text messages or emails when charges are made to your accounts to spot fraudulent activity quickly. Additionally, you should get a free copy of your credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com to make sure unauthorized accounts haven’t been opened in your name.

6. Falling Prey to Summer Scams

Scammers take advantage of a variety of opportunities during the summer months to get people to part with their money. If you’re not careful, you could become their next victim. One of the most common scams involves offering deeply discounted vacation rental properties or vacation packages, according to the New York State Attorney General’s office. Deals that seem too good to be true and require an upfront payment or wire transfer are red flags. In many cases, vacationers arrive at their destinations only to find that the rentals don’t exist.

7. Cooling an Empty House

The air conditioner likely takes the biggest bite out of your home energy bill during the summer by accounting for nearly 50 percent of your energy use. So, if you leave the temperature setting too low while you’re at work or on vacation, your energy bill will likely soar. Try installing a programmable thermostat, so the temperature will automatically adjust while you’re away to keep you from wasting energy cooling an empty home.

8. Keeping the Blinds Open During the Day

When you’re heading to work, close the blinds to keep the sun’s rays from warming your home and making your air conditioner work harder — which means a higher electric bill. Reflective blinds can reduce heat gain by about 45 percent when closed and lowered, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Medium-colored draperies with plastic backings can reduce heat gain by about 33 percent.

9. Leaving Electronics Plugged in While on Vacation

If you leave electronics plugged in when you leave for vacation, you’ll be paying for electricity you’re not using. You can also use a power strip to turn off energy vampires with the flip of a switch. Doing this can shave 5 percent or more off your home energy bill.

10. Setting the Water Heater Too High

Leaving the water heater at its regular setting when you go away on vacation can result in wasted money too. Even when you’re at home, you should turn down the temperature on your water heater during the summer. You can save up to $30 on your energy bill for every 10 degrees you lower you water heater temperature, according to the Department of Energy.

11. Buying a New Air Conditioner Without Research

If you need to replace your air conditioner during the hot summer months, don’t let the heat push you into making rash purchasing decisions. It’s best to consult with a professional or do extensive research on ratings and proper installation techniques to get the most out of a big-ticket investment.

12. Overpaying for Child Care

Paying for child care during the summer when kids are out of school can easily break your budget. You might be able to cut the cost by pooling babysitting resources, according to nonprofit financial counseling agency, Take Charge America. For example, you could hire one babysitter to watch several children in the neighborhood and split the cost among multiple families. Or, you might be able to get several family members or friends to take turns watching the kids.

13. Spending Too Much on Summer Activities for Kids

Parents spend more than $950 per child on average for summer activities, according to a report by American Express. Fortunately, there are several ways to minimize these costs. Try looking into summer camps offered through your city’s recreation department, community center or YMCA. Many churches and religious groups also offer affordable camps and programs for kids.

14. Taking a Vacation Rather than a Staycation

It’s fun to get away, but taking a vacation can put a strain on your budget. Americans who plan to travel this summer expect to spend an average of $941 per person on their trips, according to the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. Planning a staycation — rather than a vacation, is a way to cut costs and explore the town in which you live. This option eliminates two of the biggest expenses: lodging and transportation costs.

15. Charging a Vacation to a Credit Card without Plans to Pay it Off

If you charge a $3,000 beach vacation for a family of four to a credit card with a 9.90% APR and pay it off over 18 months, it would cost you an extra $240 in interest. If your APR is 19.90%, it would cost you an extra $494 in interest. If you are going to put a vacation or portion of your vacation on a credit card – be sure to have a plan in place to pay it off immediately.

16. Not Being Flexible With Travel Plans

Flights in the summer tend to be more expensive because there’s an increase in demand, said Kyle Taylor, founder of the money-saving blog, The Penny Hoarder. And you’ll pay even more if you’re not willing to be flexible about the day of week you fly. Try to use an airline or travel site’s “flexible dates” option when searching for flights to find the lowest fares.

17. Waiting Until the Last Minute to Book a Flight

If you plan to fly to your summer vacation destination, don’t wait until the last minute to book your flight. You’ll pay about $200 more per ticket, on average, if you book a flight within seven days of departure than if you book a flight three weeks to three months in advance, according to CheapAir.com. If you book between seven and 13 days from departure, you’ll pay at least $75 more.

18. Overpacking When Flying

Overpacking can be a costly mistake, especially if you’re flying on an airline that charges you to check bags. For example, American Airlines, Delta and United all charge $25 for the first bag you check and $30 to $35 for a second bag. You can avoid fees on most airlines by taking only carry-on bags — which means packing only the essentials. Or, you can stick to Southwest Airlines, which lets passengers check two bags for free.

19. Saying Yes to Car Rental Upgrades

If you rent a car for summer travel, don’t feel pressured to say yes to add-ons or upgrades. “Be polite to car rental agents trying to get you to spend more money, but decline their invitations to upgrade your vehicle, pay for insurance or prepay for gas,” said Kendal Perez, a savings expert with Coupon Sherpa. “Upgrading your car will only result in additional rental fees and gas costs, while insurance coverage is likely redundant with that provided by your personal auto insurance or your credit card.”

20. Using Debit Cards to Reserve Hotel Rooms

If you don’t use credit cards — or use them only sparingly, be careful about using a debit card to reserve a hotel room for your summer vacation. Some hotels charge an “incidental deposit” as a security deposit or for other possible charges to your room, such as room service. Typically, the charge is removed shortly after you check out. However, that money is on hold, meaning you might not be able to access needed funds in the event of an emergency. Save the expense and headache by reserving rooms with a credit card instead.

21. Using the Wrong Credit Card Overseas

A common mistake that novice travelers make when overseas is using their regular credit cards without checking to see if they charge foreign transaction fees. While many card companies charge these fees for currency conversion, some issuers offer no foreign transaction fee cards, which can save you up to 3 percent per charge. Be sure to double check your card before you take it overseas.

22. Not Notifying Your Card Company About Your Trip

If you travel outside of your normal geographic region, let your credit card company know in advance. If you don’t, the company’s fraud department might think your purchases are fraudulent.

23. Using Public WiFi While Traveling

During summer travel, people often log on to unsecure networks during layovers or while visiting local coffee shops in the cities they’re visiting. Travelers should know they’re putting personal information at risk when they log on to accounts using public WiFi networks, as hackers can steal their personal information. To avoid putting your information at risk, you can use a virtual private network (VPN) to send and receive information while using public WiFi.

24. Not Waiting for End-of-Season Sales

You might want to upgrade your grill, patio furniture or warm-weather wardrobe now that summer is here. But you likely won’t get the best prices on seasonal items until the end of summer. Waiting for fall to shop can save you 50 percent to 60 percent in some cases.

25. Not Taking Advantage of Sales Tax Holidays

You can save a lot of money by doing your back-to-school shopping during sales tax holidays, said Howard Dvorkin, founder of Debt.com. Seventeen states —primarily in the South, waive sales tax on items like clothing, school supplies and computer purchases on select days in the summer. You can learn more about sales tax holidays at the Federation of Tax Administrators’ website, Taxadmin.org.

26. Buying Produce That’s Not in Season

With the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables available during the summer, it doesn’t make sense to spend more on produce that’s not in season yet. Stick to seasonal produce — such as peaches, watermelons, corn and tomatoes to save money. Another way to save on produce during the summer is by visiting your local farmers market.

27. Paying for the Gym When You’re Exercising Outside

If you’re taking advantage of the nice weather to exercise outside, don’t keep forking over money for a monthly gym fee. Instead of opting to ditch your membership — and pay an early termination fee or initiation fee to rejoin, ask if you can freeze your membership.

28. Failing to Take Advantage of Free Activities

You can avoid spending a lot of money on entertainment in the summer by taking advantage of free activities. For example, your town might offer free concerts or movies in the park. Your public library might offer free events and activities too. Check your city’s community calendar for events. Many recreation centers, museums, zoos and botanical gardens also offer free admission on certain days of the week.

29. Paying Full Price for Entertainment

Whether you’re traveling or looking for something fun to do at home, there’s a good chance that you can avoid paying full price for entertainment. For example, look for discounts on admission to amusement parks, zoos, and museums on daily deal sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial. Don’t forget to take advantage of discounts you can get through memberships in organizations like AAA or AARP. For example, AAA members get up to 30 percent off tickets to Six Flags amusement park.

30. Not Budgeting for Summer Weddings

Most weddings occur between May and October, making summer an especially pricey season if you’re invited to attend or participate in the celebrations. For example, the cost of being a bridesmaid or groomsman can top $1,000, according to a recent GOBankingRates survey. Wedding guests can spend $600 or more on average, on travel and gift costs. To reduce this cost, think carefully before you accept invitations, and keep travel costs in mind. Bridal party members should carefully consider each event associated with weddings, such as bachelor and bachelorette parties and wedding showers. Make sure what you spend on a gift is an amount you can afford.

Article Source: Cameron Huddleston for Go Banking Rates, https://www.gobankingrates.com/personal-finance/money-mistakes-probably-making-summer/

First Financial Foundation Awards Scholarship to University of New Hampshire Student

Press Release

Lauren Harper 2

FREEHOLD, N.J. – The First Financial Federal Credit Union Foundation (www.firstffcu.com) awarded a $500 scholarship to Lauren Harper of New Egypt, a senior who recently graduated from the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science (Sandy Hook, NJ). She will be attending the University of New Hampshire this fall as a Biomedical Sciences major with a Mathematics minor.

In order to qualify for this year’s scholarship, high school seniors attending school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties were given the option to submit a written essay or create a 60 second video clip. The students must also be attending an accredited 2 or 4 year college or university in the fall of 2016. Four winners were selected to receive a $500 First Financial Foundation 2016 Erma Dorrer Literary Scholarship.

This year’s essay topic: You and a friend decide that you would like to start building credit. Discuss with your friend what good credit is, ways to start building credit, how your credit union can help, and the benefits earned by having good credit.

The year’s video topic: Create a 60-second video that covers the importance of financial literacy.

Harper submitted a bright and innovative film clip, which discussed how financial literacy, especially as part of the American Dream, can make a profound impact on one’s financial life from the beginning of adulthood all the way to retirement. In her video she states, “Personal financial literacy requires long term goals and vision. It requires a person to plan for the future and have the discipline to use their financial literacy skills every day. Financial literacy skills span from knowing how much money to save for your first car to choosing the best insurance policy for yourself.”

“We are thrilled to be able to aid these admirable and bright young students in their journey of success and education,” said First Financial President and CEO, Issa Stephan.  “Our credit union puts a high priority on education. After all, that’s how First Financial began 80 years ago – with a group of schoolteachers in Asbury Park.”

# # #

About the First Financial Foundation: Since 1994, First Financial has supported the Monmouth & Ocean communities with the Erma Dorrer Scholarship Program. Today, that program has been extended into the First Financial Foundation to assist charitable organizations of the Monmouth & Ocean County Communities.  The First Financial Federal Credit Union Foundation is a non-profit working to support a variety of community programs and organizations throughout Monmouth and Ocean Counties.  We direct 100% of your contributions to programs because all administrative expenses are paid for by First Financial Federal Credit Union.  To learn more, visit http://www.firstffcu.com.

6 Reasons to Take Out a Smaller Mortgage Than You Qualify For

Money house on white background

Whether you’re buying your first home or your fifth, being approved for a larger-than-expected mortgage can be intoxicating. But qualifying for a big loan isn’t the same as being able to afford it — and you don’t want your biggest asset to ruin your finances.

Look at what happened during the Great Recession: Believing their homes would appreciate in value, many people borrowed more than they could handle. When their homes lost value instead, those homeowners were stuck with underwater mortgages — loans that exceeded their home’s worth. This made it impossible for many to refinance or sell their homes for a profit, and led to a flood of foreclosures.

Before you sign up for a mortgage, ask yourself “How much house can I afford?” Many financial advisors and consumer advocates recommend that you borrow less than you qualify for. These are a few of the reasons why.

1. You’ll lower your risk of missing a payment. If your housing costs are on the edge of what you can afford, “the odds of not being able to make payments in the event of an economic emergency or a job loss is much too high,” says Casey Fleming, a mortgage advisor with C2 Financial Corporation and author of “The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage.”

Missing a mortgage payment can have a domino effect on your finances. “If you are at risk of missing a payment,” Fleming says, “you are at risk of being in default, risk of ruining your credit, and risk of foreclosure, which would wipe out your investment in the home.”

To ensure that the home you’re considering is within your budget, take all housing costs into account, including your mortgage payments, property tax payments, insurance premiums, maintenance costs and, if applicable – homeowners association fees.

2. You’ll be prepared for emergencies. Life can be rough – you might lose your job or face a medical emergency that drains thousands from your savings. You might have to move before you’re able to build significant equity in your home.

“Many people are on the razor’s edge when it comes to being able to tolerate any kind of economic disruption in their life,” says Brian Sullivan, a supervisory public affairs specialist with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Close to half of all American households don’t have enough savings to stay above the poverty line for three months if they lost their income, according to recent findings from the Corporation for Enterprise Development.

Getting a smaller mortgage than you qualify for will allow you to stash away extra money so you can handle hardships. Experts advise keeping enough money in your savings to cover six months of living expenses. You should also be saving for life after retirement.

“If all of your money is going to your monthly housing costs, then you aren’t able to invest in your retirement accounts or other savings,” Fleming says. “The closer you are to the maximum qualifying mortgage, the closer you are to having too little disposable income and inadequate reserves.”

3. You can more easily afford other costs. Part of the fun of owning a home is filling it with things you want and need. If you have children, you might need to set aside money for college. Let’s also not forget the costs of fixing a leaking roof or a busted water heater.

If you have to make other debt payments on credit cards, auto or student loans — it’s in your best interest to opt for a smaller monthly mortgage payment, and put your savings toward these expenses.

4. You can avoid using your home like an ATM. When less of your monthly budget is taken up by the mortgage, you’ll have more disposable income and be less tempted to use a cash-out refinance— the process of replacing your current mortgage with a larger one and pocketing the difference to buy a new car or pay off credit card debt.

A cash-out refinance can be risky because you’re putting your home on the line. If you miss a few credit card payments, you won’t lose your home. It’s another story when you can’t make higher mortgage payments after a cash-out refinance. “A home is shelter first and foremost, as opposed to an ATM for wealth creation,” HUD’s Sullivan says.

5. You’ll be prepared if property taxes rise. “You don’t know what will happen to property taxes in the future, which affect your mortgage payment,” says Lorraine Griscavage-Frisbee, deputy director of the Office of Outreach and Capacity Building at HUD. Depending on where you live, property tax rates may increase annually.

“Many municipalities tie taxes on their properties to the current value of the home. If someone is maxed out on their mortgage payment, they may not have any wiggle room if next year the tax bill goes up because of appreciating property values,” Griscavage-Frisbee says.

6. You can decrease your risk of having an underwater mortgage. Your home’s value isn’t guaranteed to increase over time. If it drops and you don’t have enough equity built up, you could end up owing more than the house’s market value, which is sometimes called having negative equity.

Over 4 million homes were in negative equity positions at the end of 2015, according to a report by real estate industry research firm CoreLogic. That’s an improvement compared with conditions immediately after the last housing bust, but Fleming says it’s still dangerous to count on home appreciation.

“If real estate values rise dramatically, it may work out well in the end anyway, but it seems very dicey to put all your eggs in one basket. If it doesn’t work out, you could end up with no assets at all,” he says.

A borrowing rule of thumb:
So how much should you borrow? Your debt-to-income ratio — the percentage of your pre-tax income that goes toward mortgage and other debt payments — is one way to figure out how large your loan should be. Professionals say 28% is a safe target.

You can also use a mortgage calculator, like our free mortgage payment calculator at firstffcu.com – to see what you might pay and be able to afford each month. In some cases, it does make sense to borrow what you qualify for. We also have a mortgage qualifier calculator at firstffcu.com. If you have a high income, plan on staying in your home for at least seven years, are buying in a competitive market, or have sky-high rent payments, there is some flexibility in the 28% rule. But if you can go lower than 28%, you should. That way, you’ll be more likely to feel comfortable — financially and otherwise, living in your home.

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.* 

To receive updates on our low mortgage rates straight to your mobile phone, text FIRSTRATE to 69302 and each time our mortgage rates change, we’ll send you a text message with the new rates.** We’re here to help you achieve your financial dreams!

*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. **Standard text messaging and data rates may apply.

Article Source: Michael Burge for Nerd Wallet, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nerdwallet/6-reasons-to-take-out-a-s_b_11077442.html