How to Save Money Even on a Tight Budget

Saving money is important, but sometimes it can be hard to find extra money to save – right? While saving money can often be a challenge, it’s not impossible to do – even on a strict budget. Here are three ways you may be able to save when your spare funds are on the lower side.

Find deals online: Sites like Groupon or Living Social have a lot of deals in terms of entertainment and dining out. Did you know you can use them for much more? Both often have deals on electronics, automotive repair, health and beauty, home services and more! The best way to find these deals is to register with your zip code and browse around to find how you can save locally. If these are products and services that you’re already going to pay for or that you’re in need of, saving money in the process is an added bonus!

Trim it up: When you go on a diet, you may notice a little bit of weight loss in several different areas of your body. You should treat your budget the exact same way. Don’t try to cut back on (or completely cut out) one budget item, but trim a few dollars from different places. Some bills you aren’t going to be able to budge on, but you will most likely find a few areas you can cut back here and there. Take advantage of these savings and you’ll start to see it add up. Plus, you won’t feel as if you’re cutting anything out of your budget completely.

Spend more time at home: The more you’re out and about, the more you’re going to eat meals out and spend money on items you don’t really need. Instead of meeting your friends out for dinner and a movie, host a potluck dinner (ask everyone to bring something) – and watch your favorite movie or rent one from your local Redbox. You’ll save money, plus you can pause the movie when you need to and not spend a fortune on movie theater snacks. That’s a win-win for everyone!

Need help budgeting? Check out our online budgeting fillable worksheet!

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

 

How to Create an Easy to Follow Budget

Are you the type of person that when you see something you like, you just buy it? It really is important to plan for the future and really take hold of your finances. If you or someone you know doesn’t budget well, here are a few easy ways to get started.

Housing: This category will most likely be the largest portion of your budget. If you’re a homeowner, along with the mortgage, insurance, and property taxes – make sure you include necessary utilities (gas, sewer, electric, etc.), and some extra cash for any emergency repairs. If you’re renting, you’ll still have to budget for your monthly rent and any utilities.

Transportation: When it comes to transportation, there’s a lot more than just your monthly car payment. Gas, insurance, and preventative maintenance such as oil changes – should also be included within your budget. This is another area where it’s a good idea to save some extra cash for any repairs you may not see coming. Planning ahead will help keep your car on the road, which will also keep money in your pocket.

Life: This budget category will cover a lot (think food, health insurance, medical, clothing, entertainment, wireless, tuition, childcare, etc.). All of these items will add up to a sizable portion of your budget. You may need to separate some into their own category and monitor them.

Debt and Savings: This final category is one of the most important. Saving money for your future (401k, Roth IRA) is something you want to make sure you’re doing every month. The earlier you start, the better. You’ll be surprised at how a little each month can add up over time when you make use of compound interest. Also, make sure you’re steadily paying down any debt you have – so you can enjoy your financial freedom.

Need help setting up a budget? Check out our budgeting guide.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

5 Ways You Should Never Use Your Credit Card

We all know that credit cards can be a valuable tool. They can help you build credit when you’re just starting out, and can really benefit you in the case of a spending emergency. However – if you’re not careful, they can do more harm than good. When it comes to spending, here are five ways you should really never use your credit card.

To help you feel better: Yes, a new purchase can cheer you up, but if you’re looking to feel better – a mountain of debt probably will only make things worse in the long run. If you feel the need to splurge, use whatever cash you have in your wallet or make sure you’re spending from your checking account using a debit card instead.

Hospital bills: Credit cards are best to use on a purchase that you can pay off quickly. Medical bills typically aren’t small, so be sure to think about how long it could take you to pay off that amount of debt. This type of debt can quickly build up, being that you are probably paying a pretty high interest rate each month.

A cash advance: If you’re in a pinch, you might think taking a cash advance from your credit card is a good idea. However, you should first consider other options before going down this road. A cash advance may seem like a good option, but it may carry a higher interest rate than your normal credit card. You may want to do some digging into the fine print in your account disclosures before considering this.

Paying for college: This is probably one of the worst things you could ever put on a credit card. You may not be thrilled about student loans, but those usually come with much lower interest rates than a credit card ever could. If you’re having trouble paying for school and you don’t have a full time job yet, you may be sitting on this debt for years – if it’s on a credit card. It would not be a wise decision to begin your financial future with thousands in credit card debt.

To help start a small business: It’s great to follow your dreams, and if starting a small business is one of them – wonderful. However, charging your business equipment to a credit card is not the best idea. Try looking into a small business loan instead, rather than purchasing items on a higher interest credit card. No one wants to think about it, but what happens if your small business doesn’t make it and you’re still paying off thousands on equipment you can no longer use?

If you are looking for higher credit lines, lower APRs, no annual fees, no balance transfer fees, a 10-day grace period, rewards (cash back or on travel & retailer gift cards), an EMV security chip, and more, check out First Financial’s Visa Credit Card options. Click here to learn more and apply online today.

 *APR varies up to 18% 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. No late fee will be charged if payment is received within 10 days from the payment due date.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

 

How to Handle the Cost of Higher Education: 2 Major Questions

 

On average, millennials who physically attend college will leave their school $29,800 in the hole. That’s a $16,000 jump compared to the previous generation, who averaged $13,000 of student loan debt after graduating in 2004. While this number is troubling, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. With seemingly no sign that this trend will reverse any time soon, a couple of questions become clear.

  • Is college worth it?
    • Yes, it is. Despite rising costs, the social stigma of a college degree alone is worth the price once you enter the job market (depending on the line of work you are looking to go into). College also provides a number of unique educational, social, and professional experiences that help develop professional prospects and define personal goals. While the cost is great, a college degree can be akin to gold (in value and weight) after graduation.
    • No, it is not. The tradeoff simply isn’t the same as it used to be. Gone are the days when you could pay for an entire semester with paychecks from a part-time job. Even if a degree is a hot commodity in your job market, it is probably not worth nearly $20,000 in debt right out of the gate. Building a resume through real life experience can set you up ahead of your peers while idyllically leaving you entirely out of debt.
  • Is it possible to further my education without signing up for a lifetime of debt?
    • Knowledge is expensive, but it’s also an investment in yourself. We respect the courage it takes to embark on that journey and are always ready to help make it happen. As a First Financial member, we can help you shoulder the burden of financing education related expenses and supplies with a personal loan.*
    • If attending college isn’t in the cards for you or if you’re just putting it on the back burner for a little while, there are still cost-effective options out there for you. Many students are considering forgoing the traditional higher education experience altogether. The verdict is in and the latest trends show that enrollment in online classes is on the rise from traditional pursuits, like university master’s programs to new platforms, like MasterClass. Combine that with the undeniable practicality of technical schools – and it’s easy to see that there have never been more opportunities for alternative learners to chart their own paths and spend less money doing it.

The Takeaway

Getting a college degree is paramount in a number of professional fields. This is a fact that will remain true for the foreseeable future. In some cases, it is absolutely necessary to take on those costs. Luckily for you, when this is the case, you have a dedicated team of financial experts at your disposal to help you make the numbers work for your budget. If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed about financing the cost of higher education, talk to one of our experts before you make your next move. From the campus to the keyboard, we are here to help you make it happen!

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Actual rate will vary based on creditworthiness and loan term. Subject to credit approval. A First Financial Federal Credit Union membership is required to obtain a Personal Loan, and is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. 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.

Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this October 2019

It’s officially fall – and October is one of the best and most beautiful weather months in New Jersey. Get the family ready for an action-packed month filled with fun fall and Halloween activities. Check out these free or inexpensive events happening in a town near you!

October 5:

Holmdel Harvest Fest from 12-9pm at Bayonet Farm. Join the 7th Annual Harvest Fest on Middletown Road, which includes food vendors, crafters, beer/wine in the Red Barn, wagon rides, pony rides, inflatables, a Ferris Wheel, carousel, touch-a-truck, live music and more! Parking is $10 per car. Find out more here.

Matawan Day and Fall Festival from 12-5pm on Main Street. Don’t miss this annual event in which thousands of people make their way down Main Street in Matawan to visit over 120 booths and tables of crafters/artisans, retailers, food vendors, local restaurants,  professionals, and non-profit organizations who are ready to showcase their products and services. Learn more here.

Asbury Park Zombie Walk from 4-8pm at Convention Hall. You won’t want to miss the world’s largest gathering of zombies! There will be music and festivities along the boardwalk and a “blood red” fireworks show along the ocean front. Get the details here.

October 6:

Sunflower Festival at Holland Ridge Farm (Cream Ridge) from 9am-6pm. Wander through towering rows of sunflowers, stroll through the barns, visit the animals, and check out the museum and Holland Shop. Same day adult tickets are $12 each, $10 for seniors, $8 for children 3-12, and kids under 3 are free. Discounted tickets are available for purchase online in advance. See more information here.

Pierfest Annual Fall Festival (Long Branch) from 12-5pm. There will be face painting, inflatables, a photo booth, fun bus, vendors, crafters, live music, and great food & drinks from surrounding restaurants. Rain date will be October 13th. Find out more at http://www.pierfest.com/

October 11: Haunted Theater at Brookdale Community College (Lincroft) from 7-10:30pm. Celebrating 17 years of scares, Brookdale Performing Arts Center’s Haunted Theater is locally regarded as one of the scariest Halloween attractions in Monmouth County. This indoor, self-guided walk through haunted house maze – features pitch black zones and special effects, all contained within the walls of the Performing Arts Center. Find out additional details at http://brookdalehauntedtheater.com/

October 12: Fall Afternoon Tea at 600 Main Bed and Breakfast (Toms River) from 12-4pm. Welcome the fall season with a five course afternoon tea and tours of the Victorian Historic Mathis House. Cost per person is $37 and includes soup, salad, scones, tea sandwiches, desserts, and favorite fall gourmet teas (pumpkin spice, harvest glow, and cinnabon). Register here.

October 12 & 13:

Jersey Shore Cake and Cookie Convention from 10-4pm at Convention Hall (Asbury Park). A place where professionals and hobbyists can shop hard to find supplies, learn new techniques, meet face to face with cake and cookie idols, all while having fun and meeting new sweet friends. Hosted by Shore Cake Supply, this event will be bustling with nationwide supply vendors, live free demonstrations, competitions, hands on classes and so much more! Find out more information here.

Allentown Fall Festival from 10am-5pm. There will be crafters, a civil war re-enactment, classic car show, live entertainment, a petting zoo, contests, kids’ activities, and great food! A shuttle bus will be available leaving from Allentown High School. Learn more here.

October 14: Pumpkin Fest at Delicious Orchards in Colts Neck from 11am-4pm. Come spend your Columbus Day off at a fun-filled family event featuring crafts, games, live music, local food samples, and an antique tractor display. Get more information here.

October 15 & 16: Flavor of Freehold from 5:30-8pm on Main Street in Downtown Freehold. Don’t miss this unique tour of Downtown Freehold’s restaurants, bars, and shops. Walk from place to place with your event passport, and receive signature samples from some of Freehold’s most well-loved establishments. The cost to attend is $20 per person. Learn more and purchase your tickets here.

October 18 & 19: Haunted Allaire from 6-9:30pm at Allaire Village (Wall). Don’t miss the haunted village and hayride tour of Allaire State Park. This year features a new route along with 20 different scary scenes, plus visit the grounds and see scary storytelling, stop into the bakery and check out the haunted food truck. Advanced ticket purchase is required – adults are $15 each, children 12 and under are $10 each. Learn more and reserve your spot today!

October 19: Fall Movie Series at Pier Village (Long Branch) from 6-8:30pm. Don’t miss this showing of the Goonies in the outdoor cinema on Festival Plaza! Bring your favorite beach chair and blanket and relax under the stars. Find out more here.

October 19 & 20: Boo at the Boardwalk (Pt. Pleasant) from 12-4pm. There will be trick or treating, crafts, games, a pumpkin patch, a beach maze, pumpkin carving, rides, and more! Find out the details here or call 732.892.0600

October 20: Thompson Park Day (Lincroft) from 11am-5pm. You won’t want to miss this family-friendly autumn event! There will be a costume contest for dogs, pumpkin painting, wagon rides, entertainment, races, food vendors, ceramics, pottery, archery, canoeing, climbing wall, games, contests and more! Free admission and free parking. Learn more here.

October 25: Mad Science Halloween at the Monmouth Museum (Lincroft) from 6-7pm. This presentation will have you gasping and laughing at the Mad Scientist’s peculiar and chilling science experiments. Through a mixture of science and magic, children will see a paper spider turn into a real spider. Watch as the wicked witch melts right before your eyes! Find out how an eyeball floats in the air, then make bubbling potions and fearsome fog, experience melting witches and even edible spider webs (cotton candy)! All will have an evening of gruesome goodness and fun. Find out more here.

October 26: Halloween PJ Party at Robert J. Novins Planetarium (Ocean County College, Toms River) from 12-1:30pm. Come in your favorite Halloween costume or Halloween PJs for a not-super-spooky good time! Learn about the planets, moon, and stars in October’s night sky. Listen to stories of monsters, heroes, and princesses in the stars. Sing along to Halloween themed laser songs, and make a special Halloween themed craft before the show. Cost is $10 for all ticket levels ages 3 and up. Find out more here.

October 26 & 27: Not So Haunted Wine Fest at 4JG’s Vineyard (Colts Neck) from 12-5pm. The spells are friendly and the brews are delicious! Must be age 21+ in order to drink alcoholic beverages. Learn more about the wine walk weekend here.

October 27: Bullock Farms Fall Fest (Cream Ridge) from 10am-6pm. There will be hay rides, live music, food, pumpkin picking, a corn maze, flower walk, barnyard animals, facepainting, a balloon artist, farm yard lawn games, a straw bale slide mountain, tractor tire jungle, and more!  Kids under 2 are free. Find out more information here.

 

How to Save Money and Still Have Enjoyable Work Lunches

Your work lunches don’t have to be boring, or expensive either.  Is it really a good idea (or good for your budget) to continually buy lunch out 5 days a week though? This can quickly add up to spending anywhere between $1,000 and $5,000 extra per year – depending on where you go and what you order. That’s a pretty large chunk of change! Below are some money saving tips to keeping your work lunch budget in check (and exciting to eat).

Pack Leftovers

Working people have been packing lunches for years. Before there was an office cafeteria or restaurants around, this is the way it was. Leftovers from your dinner the night before make the perfect lunch for the next day at work. Purposely make more food for dinner than you expect to eat. Put the rest in a lunch portioned container and enjoy it the next day. If you don’t want the same meal the next day, freeze it and have it for lunch one day the following week. This also makes your morning routine easier too. Grab your pre-packed lunch from your fridge or freezer and head out the door. It doesn’t get much simpler than that!

Plan Ahead

Sit down and look at the grocery store circulars when they arrive, or visit your preferred store’s website to view the weekly specials. Which meats and cheeses are on sale this week? Determine how much you need for the week and buy just that. When you have a plan in place you are much more likely to follow through on making your lunch and not wasting your money or food supply. Preparing your lunch in the evening is another way to improve reliability. It is much easier to find five minutes to prepare your lunch before bed than it is to find extra time in the morning. This way it’s done ahead and you won’t talk yourself into just buying lunch that day in the morning when you are rushing around.

When You Have to Eat Lunch Out

Sooner or later, even if you usually pack your lunch, you are probably going to end up eating out at some point. What options will allow you to stick to a budget?

  • The Dollar Menu – There is nothing wrong with ordering off the dollar menu. A sandwich, drink, and fries comes out to $3 plus tax.
  • Coupons – Go out with a coworker, look for a buy one get one free coupon, or one that offers 50% off a second meal. Drink water or share an appetizer.
  • Eat Small – Restaurants typically offer generous portions, so a full-sized entrée is probably more than you may be able to eat for lunch. Order an appetizer as your meal instead. You will save money, enjoy eating out, and get plenty of food.
  • Split a Meal – If you are close with your coworker, you might want to try splitting an entrée to save money on both ends. If you have a refrigerator in your office to store leftovers, eat half the meal and store the rest at work for the next day.

Work lunches shouldn’t be a large part of anyone’s budget. Planning is the key to enjoying your lunch and saving money at the same time!

Article Source:  Moneyning.com