First Financial’s Neptune Branch Donates to Lunchbreak over the 2017 Holiday Season

Press Release 

FREEHOLD, N.J. – First Financial Federal Credit Union’s Neptune Branch partnered with the Lunchbreak organization in Red Bank this past holiday season, to collect food and clothing for those in need, during the months of November and December 2017. The organization’s mission is to lead the region as the comprehensive food, nutrition, and life skills resource for community members in need.

During the 2017 holiday season, the Neptune Branch asked their staff and members of the credit union who primarily banked at the Neptune Branch, to contribute to the cause. As a whole, they  collected 121 pounds of non-perishable food items such as cans of soup, cereal, rice, pasta, and the like. They also collected household items such as paper towels, cleaning supplies, and even baby formula. In addition, the branch collected 28 bags of clothing too!

The credit union was proud to help contribute to such an important cause within our local community. “We’re thrilled our members and staff were fortunate enough to help the Lunchbreak organization assist those in need, right within our own backyard – during the season of giving. Since we began within a small community back in 1936, we thrive on contributing to other community initiatives and helping our Monmouth and Ocean County neighbors,” added Issa Stephan, President and CEO of First Financial.

In addition to the Neptune Branch contributing to Lunchbreak and collecting toys for Operation Sleighbells in December, the Toms River Branch participated in the Ocean County Sheriff’s annual holiday toy drive and donated non-perishable food items to The People’s Pantry. The Freehold/Howell Branch collected food items for the Freehold Open Door Pantry, and new unwrapped toys were donated to the Salvation Army. Overall, it was a successful holiday season filled with giving back to the Monmouth and Ocean County community. A big thank you to all who contributed to the cause!

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About First Financial Federal Credit Union:

First Financial Federal Credit Union (formerly Mon-Oc Federal Credit Union) is a not-for-profit financial cooperative whose goal is to provide the highest level of quality products and personalized services while maintaining financial integrity and stability.  Our vision is to be a long-term financial partner with our Members. While First Financial has a highly trained, professional staff using the latest technology, we also pride ourselves on our personal touch. Unlike huge banking conglomerates, policy setting and overall strategic direction of First Financial are overseen by a volunteer Board of Directors made up of credit union members. The credit union is federally insured by the NCUA. For more information on First Financial, visit www.firstffcu.com.

 

 

Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this January 2018

Happy 2018! We’re ready to kick off the new year with some wallet-friendly activities for your family and friends. So, break out that new calendar and pencil in these dates for some free or inexpensive events happening in a town near you this month.

January 14: Goldfish Swim School Grand Opening (Middletown). Fun for the whole family from 2-5pm! In addition to open family swim, there will be a balloon artist, arts & crafts, raffles, refreshments, and much more! This event is FREE and all are welcome. Learn more here.

January 21: See your favorite Marvel superheroes in action at iPlay America in Freehold at 11am! Watch Loki get revenge on the Avengers by casting a spell on Captain America to team up against Thor and the rest of the heroes. But there is a twist – they might not be able to conquer this mission without the help of the audience. Come help the Avengers rescue Captain America and defeat Loki. Buy tickets online here, or call 732-577-8200.

Jersey Shore Winter Comic Book Show at Toms River Elks. The event takes place from 10am – 4pm and different vendors, artists, writers, and costume groups will be present. $5 admission. Learn more at http://www.jerseyshorecomicbookshow.com/ or call 609-242-7756.

January 22: Taste of Long Branch from 5:30-8:30pm at Rooney’s Oceanfront Restaurant. There will be 16 restaurants preparing food and desserts and there will also be a cash bar. Tickets are $50 each. The event will be benefitting the Kay Guadagno Memorial Award & Scholarship Fund at Monmouth Medical Center. Register online here, or call 732-222-0400.

January 27: Winterfest at Thompson Park in Lincroft from 12-4pm. Celebrate winter with the whole family! There will be Cross-Country Skiing, Hands-On Activities, Wagon Rides, Arts & Crafts, Photo Opportunities, Living History Displays, Winter Sports Vendors, Food Vendors and more. Free admission and free parking. Learn more here, or call 732-842-4000 ext. 4312.

Winery Winterfest on January 27th and 28th from 11am to 8pm at Laurita Winery (New Egypt). Bring the family and join the outdoor fun, featuring ice sculptures, a luge for all ages, food trucks and many family activities! $8 for adults 21+ and $5 for those ages 4-20. Call 609-758-8000 or visit www.lauritawinery.com

January 28: Annual Beef and Brew in The Highlands from 3-7pm. Proceeds will benefit the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Enjoy a buffet and refreshments at Off the Hook on Route 36. Get more details here, or call 732-291-4713.

We hope you have a happy and healthy new year!

Is this the Year You Keep Your New Year’s Resolution?

Now that 2018 is officially here, many of us are coming to grips with a familiar, frustrating truth: there’s a big difference between making a new year’s resolution and keeping one. The good news is that we’re not alone. It’s estimated that approximately 40% of Americans make resolutions when the new year rolls around, but only 8% are successful in keeping them. Making a resolution only takes a moment of inspiration, keeping it calls for consistent dedication.

With the abundance of self-help books, podcasts, and seminars at our disposal, it’s easy to get tossed around on the latest and greatest informational waves. Too often, we jump from one fad to the next, spending substantial energy without moving closer to our end goal. It’s tempting to confuse activity with productivity. That makes it even more important to know the difference between the two. If you want to join the 8% of people who successfully stick to their resolution, you have to work smarter – not harder.

Simplify for Success

By limiting the variables in your resolution’s success equation, you can employ principles similar to those that make life hacks so popular. And while mental tricks and efficiency shortcuts aren’t substitutes for perseverance, they can help you avoid overthinking a problem or wasting time on unproductive practices.

As you work toward your 2018 resolutions, focusing on the following three aspects of each goal can help simplify your planning and streamline your pursuit.

1. Psychological

When the American Psychological Association weighs in on new year’s resolutions, it’s a good idea to hear them out. In an article on their website, the APA recommends a sensible approach that involves breaking large goals into smaller, attainable action steps. Following this recommendation increases the opportunities to tally some quick wins, and the psychological benefits of early success are invaluable to long-term achievement.

Example: If you want to build up an emergency fund of $1000, aim for saving $20 a week. It’s not as overwhelming, and over the course of the year, you get 52 chances to celebrate!

2. Physical 

Even if your resolution isn’t physical in nature (i.e. – lose weight, get in shape, run a marathon, etc.), it may be a good idea to incorporate some physical activity anyway. On the Harvard Health Blog, Heidi Goldman shares that exercise can help wire the brain in a way that protects memory and critical thinking skills. Considering the fact that “I forgot” and “I just can’t figure it out” are common excuses for breaking a resolution, improved clarity and brain function sounds pretty helpful.

Example: You resolve that 2018 is the year you finally learn to speak Italian. A 30-minute walk each day offers an excellent opportunity to practice your new vocabulary, and the cardiovascular exercise encourages the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, which can improve your brain’s ability to learn and retain new information.

3. Personal

In a previous post, we discussed the need for accountability. Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Recruiting someone to hold you accountable makes the resolution a little more personal because it involves a risk of social capital. The key is finding someone who knows you well enough to challenge you, but cares for you enough to encourage you as well.

Example: Let’s say you resolve to pay off credit card debt this year and you ask your best friend to hold you accountable. When you pull out a credit card to pay for dinner, your friend can offer a good-natured reminder that putting your meal on credit isn’t helping you reach your goal—the kind of reminder you’d easily brush off if it came from a stranger.

Just because the concept of keeping a new year’s resolution is simple doesn’t mean the process is easy. But if something mattered enough to inspire a resolution in the first place, it’s important enough work towards throughout the year. If you stick with it, you’ll probably find that the satisfaction that comes from accomplishing a goal is often more rewarding than reaching the goal itself.

 

5 Reasons Buying Out Your Lease Makes Good Sense

With the end of your auto lease just around the corner, you’ve got some decisions to make. But before you start stressing about your current mileage or scratches on the bumper, you may want to think about buying out your lease. Would it make more sense to keep your car instead of turning it back in like you originally planned? In many cases, yes.

There are numerous benefits to buying out your lease—but first, a word of caution: Traditionally, dealerships have taken a hands-off approach to the buyout process, allowing consumers to deal directly with the corporate finance department or the leasing company. However, optional insurance and warranty products have given dealers an opportunity to increase their profits by facilitating the buyout process and including add-ons. These extras can come with a steep markup, making the final price more expensive than it should be.

Before agreeing to any buyout terms, it’s important to remember a credit union can routinely offer lease buyouts with lower rates and convenient payment terms. It’s worth your time—and potentially a lot of money—to get details on the financing options available.

Still wondering whether a lease buyout is right for you? Here are five points to consider:

  • Ownership has its advantages.
    Let’s be honest—the peace of mind that comes from not worrying about mileage overages and wear-and-tear penalties is a big deal. When you own the car outright, you no longer have to feel that growing sense of dread commonly associated with the end of a lease term.
  • Car shopping is a hassle.
    You’ve already gone through the frustrating highs and lows of car shopping. Why do it again? You probably selected your car after a thorough process of weighing pros and cons. If it was the right car for you then, there’s a good chance it’s still the right car for you now.
  • Better the used car you know (than the used car you don’t).
    This may seem obvious, but you’re already familiar with your car. If you had to start shopping for a different used car, there would be questions about how the previous owner cared for it. If you buy out your lease, you ARE the car’s previous owner. There are no unanswered questions about the car’s maintenance history or other people’s driving habits.
  • No more guessing games.
    At their core, auto leases are all about variables. A car’s market value ebbs and flows based on supply and demand. Lease rates may be higher the next time you come to the end of a term. By opting for lease buyout loan, you can lock in a great interest rate and a convenient payment plan for the life of your loan.
  • You have more leverage than you realize.
    Have you ever thought about what happens when you turn your car back in at the end of your lease? The leasing company is left with a used car, and they’re not in the used car sales business. In many instances, they would rather negotiate a good buyout price with you than go through the trouble of selling the car at auction or to a dealer.

Ready to look into a lease buyout?

You can fill out an online application here, learn more on our website, or call the Loan Department at 732.312.1500, Option 4.

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Not all applicants will qualify, subject to credit approval. Additional terms & conditions may apply. Actual rate may vary based on credit worthiness and term. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a First Financial 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 for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan. Federally insured by NCUA

The New Year’s Here: Make Better Resolutions in 2018

From starting a workout plan to saving for retirement, roughly 80% of New Year’s resolution fail within the first month. Of the people who keep their commitments through February and beyond, only 8% ultimately reach their goal. Why is that? If you ask 100 people, you’re likely to get 100 different excuses reasons. Making a resolution is easy. Sticking to it? That’s a different story.

But instead of focusing on the failure, let’s look at some ways to increase your chances of success in 2018. Compiling an exhaustive list of what it takes to accomplish your goals would be…well, exhausting. So, to keep you from getting overwhelmed, we’ve narrowed it down to 5 simple suggestions that should help you start the new year strong.

Ways to Make Your New Year’s Resolution Stick

Be real.

If you want to get in better shape but haven’t exercised in years, walking for 20 minutes a day makes far more sense than running a marathon in March. If you want to have 3-6 months of living expenses in an emergency fund but haven’t saved a penny over the last year, start with setting aside $20 per paycheck. Realistic goals pave the way for quick wins and consistent progress.

Be specific.

When it comes to setting goals, it’s tempting to speak in generalizations. “I want to feel better.” “I want to be smarter with my money.” The danger of statements like these is that they can’t be measured. Being smart with money is tough to quantify. Paying an extra $50 toward credit card debt is much easier to track. Instead of playing it safe with general statements, dig into the details.

Be consistent.

If you’ve ever run a 5K or 10K, you’ve seen THAT person—you know the one. They’re toeing the starting line, psyching themselves up, trembling with anticipation. As soon as the starting gun fires, they launch from the gate at top speed. You probably passed them after a mile or two, right? As you make your resolutions for the new year, don’t be THAT person. Understand that lasting success isn’t a sprint. Identify your goal, break it down into smaller action steps, and take clear, consistent action toward accomplishing those steps every single day.

Be accountable.

If nobody else knows about them, our best intentions can be our worst enemy. It’s easy to say you want to save $100 each month. It’s also easy to rationalize why you missed a month or two. To keep from fooling yourself, ask a trusted friend, family member, or co-worker to check in and keep you accountable. If there’s one thing worse than missing a goal, it’s having to admit it to someone else.

Be cool.

While January 1st seems like a logical time to make a fresh start, let’s not forget that technically it’s just another day. In reality, every day offers the chance to correct mistakes and build on successes. When making your resolutions, allow for some flexibility. Overly restrictive deadlines and constraints can lead to crippling discouragement. The end goal is improvement, not perfection. So yes, set your goals. But don’t forget to leave yourself some room to enjoy the process of achieving them.

Happy 2018!

Unexpected Life Events That Could Ruin Your Finances

Although it’s impossible to predict what will happen in life, there are certain actions you can take to better prepare yourself for what may come your way. Instead of worrying about things you often can’t control, consider these potential life events and what you can do now to avoid ruining your finances in the future.

Becoming a caregiver.

It’s difficult to think about our parents growing older and the possibility of becoming a caregiver to a loved one. If you’re not careful and prepared, taking on this responsibility can significantly impact your finances. The best thing you can do to prepare your family is to fully understand your loved one’s financial situation. Have they invested in long-term care? Are their finances in order and have they sought the advice of a financial planner? Try not to let any new expenses you may incur while helping out cause you unnecessary financial stress.

Getting a divorce.

No one expects to get divorced when they’re reciting their marriage vows in front of family and friends. The fact is, sometimes things don’t work out and you and your spouse may be better apart than together. The smart thing to do if you’re faced with this situation is to get informed now. Don’t let your soon-to-be ex control your finances. Don’t be afraid to get the help you need so you’re financially independent and stable. Experts also suggest that immediately after going through the divorce, wait before you make another serious decision. Let the dust settle, make sure your assets are in order and take things slowly. Rash decisions can cost you, so take your time during the transition.

Weathering a natural disaster.

We all know that Mother Nature has a mind of her own. But, there are a few things you can do to prepare your financial state in case of a weather disaster. First, start an emergency fund now. Saving a small amount initially is a wise plan, but ideally you’ll want to have around four to five months’ worth of living expenses on hand. Secondly, keep your financial documents organized and secure so if disaster strikes, you can easily access the information needed. Third, get up to speed on your insurance policies. Most homeowners insurance plans do not include flood damage – so in the off chance you live in an area prone to high flood waters, get coverage now as flood insurance usually cannot be purchased after the disaster strikes.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com