Tips for Discussing Finances in Your Relationship

You’ve probably never heard your partner say, “let’s talk spreadsheets.” However, all couples have to broach the money conversation at some point in their relationship. Talking about finances with your partner is never an easy conversation, but it should be done as frequently as possible – especially if you’re living together, getting married, or starting a family.

According to a recent study, couples who talk about money regularly are happier in their relationships than those who discuss it less frequently. Overall, money plays a big role in relationship problems – which can lead to breakups or divorce if not managed the right way.

The good news is that talking about money can make your relationship stronger and even help you get closer to your partner.

When to start talking about finances with your partner

There’s no cut-and-dry answer for when to tackle the money conversation, but you should at least have brought it up before the relationship turns serious. Before you move in together – you’ll need to understand what your partner earns, how much they can contribute to the household, and what their other expenses look like. Before you get married, you’ll want to know about your partner’s debt and what their credit score looks like. This knowledge can help build equity in relationships. Plus, their financial status will impact you should you both wish to obtain a loan for a bigger purchase down the road.

Start small

Don’t start your first date by asking, “how much do you make?” Instead, trickle in financial topics by asking them about their goals in life. This could be anything from, “What’s your dream retirement age?” to “Where do you see yourself living in the next ten years?”

Experts recommend asking “what if” questions to not only learn about their financial priorities but also their values. Some icebreakers could include, “If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?” and “If you had to choose between a high-paying job with high stress or a low-paying job that you love, what would you pick?”

The more you talk about finances in this way, the easier it will be to talk about their financial situation over time.

Be understanding

Everyone comes from different backgrounds, values, and financial limitations. If your partner’s parents didn’t teach them effective money management skills, it doesn’t mean they can’t learn. Talking money makes people vulnerable, so it’s important to listen and be sympathetic too. Responding with anger will cause your partner to not feel safe having this type of conversation with you, leading to a lack of trust and transparency.

You also don’t want to just bring the conversation up out of nowhere, give your partner some advanced notice. A great example of this is simply saying, “I’m trying to get better about budgeting and want to talk about finances more regularly. Could we plan to talk about it this weekend?” Having a conversation goal in mind is even better. If you’re planning a romantic trip together, also plan a budgeting conversation so you can save up for your getaway.

Be consistent

It should be a regular part of your routine to talk about finances. When paying your bills, plan to do a monthly financial check-in with your partner. The goal isn’t to micromanage your partner’s spending habits, but rather to see where you both land on your goals and where you can improve. Over time it will become a regular part of your relationship, and will help make you both feel like you’re on the same team.

If you need some help with budgeting and financial literacy, look no further than the team at First Financial. We can give you recommendations and advice based on your financial situation. Contact us to get started, or stop by your local branch to speak with a representative today!

Want to see more articles like this? Subscribe to First Financial’s monthly newsletter for financial resources and advice.

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

Summer is officially winding down and the kids are heading back to school for another year, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of great inexpensive events happening near you. Check out the list of activities that are kicking off your local summer and the start of fall. Enjoy!

September 2:  Fire Pit Friday (Brant Beach, LBI) takes place at 68th Street Beach from 7-9pm. Come and enjoy a free fire pit concert to kick off the long holiday weekend! Learn more by calling 609-361-1000 or click here.

September 3: Brick Farmer’s Market from 8:30am to 1:30pm at Windward Beach on Princeton Avenue. Get more information by calling 732-262-1000 or visit their Facebook page.

September 5: Jenkinson’s Labor Day Fireworks (Pt. Pleasant) begin at dark at 300 Ocean Avenue. Don’t miss the last showing of the summer! Call 732-892-0600 or click here.

September 9: Romantic Italian Dinner at the Mathis House (Toms River) at 7pm. This wonderful evening will include live music, great Italian food and dessert and is $42 per person to attend. Reserve your spot by calling 732-818-7580 or visit their website.

September 10:

Ocean County Irish Festival (Manahawkin Lake Park) from 11am to 7pm. There is free admission and parking, plus a beer garden, extensive food vendors, live music and Irish step dancing, craft vendors, kids’ activities, a raffle, and more. Learn more here.

Giant Fall Flea Market (Ocean Grove) from 9am to 4pm. Put your walking shoes on, because there will be dozens of vendors lined up from the Great Auditorium to the ocean for the annual Giant Fall Flea Market! This event will be held rain or shine, and there is free admission. Additional parking is available at the Midtown Community Elementary School on Rt. 33 in Neptune, and there will be a shuttle from this location. Learn more at or call 732-774-1391.

September 15: Jersey Shore Arts Center “E.T.” Outdoor Movie (Ocean Grove) begins at 8pm and goes until 10pm (66 South Main Street). This event is free to attend! Call 732-502-0050 for more information, or click here to register to attend online.

September 16: Stargazing Boat Cruise (Belmar) from 9pm to 11:30pm at the Belmar Marina, 905 Rt. 35. Cruise out into the ocean, away from all the lights, for an amazing astronomy experience! Tickets are $60 each and reservations are required. Click here to reserve your spot, or call 732-681-2266.

September 17:

Pt. Pleasant Festival of the Sea begins at 10am and goes until 7pm. Don’t miss the 44th annual festival, one of the best of the Jersey Shore area! Visit some of the best Point Pleasant Beach area restaurants, over 200 crafters & vendors, live music, games, wine garden, family activities, and free shuttle service. The event takes place in downtown Pt. Pleasant Beach, and you can find out more by calling 732-899-2424 or visit

Fall Apple Fest at the Allaire Historic Village (Wall) begins at 11am and goes until 4pm. Try your hand at apple cider pressing, an apple pie baking contest, strolling villagers, historic demonstrations, games and so much more! There will also be demonstrations of blacksmithing, carpentry, fiber arts, tinsmithings & weaving throughout the day. The bakery and general store will be open also. Adult admission tickets are $8 and children ages 3-12 years old are $4 each, and must be purchased in advance. Click here to learn more or call 732-919-3500.

Brick Kite Festival from 11am to 4pm at Brick Beach III (2301 Ocean Blvd., Mantoloking). Sky Festival Productions will be entertaining viewers with giant kites flown by professional kite flyers. Other attractions will be giant bubbles, a candy drop from a kite, running with the bolls race, and beautiful ground displays. Find out more details.

September 18: ‘Que by the Sea (Seaside Heights) takes place from 12-8pm at 410 Boardwalk on Grant Avenue. This event is free admission to attend, and will feature lots of great BBQ food and craft vendors. Call 732-830-3700 or go to to find out more.

September 22: Make and Take Pasta Making Class (Toms River) from 10am to 12pm at the Rutgers Cooperative Association of Ocean County, 1623 Whitesville Road. Have you ever wanted to try your hand at making homemade pasta but felt a bit unsure about the process and how the results would come out? This in person class will explore the basics of pasta made from scratch. Learn more by calling 732-349-1246 or click here.

September 23:

Jersey Shore Boat Expo (Lakewood) takes place from 11am to 6pm at FirstEnergy Park, 2 Stadium Way. The event also continues Saturday 9/24 from 10am-6pm and Sunday 9/25 from 10am-5pm. Adults are $7 each and kids 12 and under are free. Find out more information.

Asbury Fest (Asbury Park) takes place from 5-10pm at Bradley Park (1301 Ocean Avenue). The event also continues Saturday (11am-10pm) and Sunday (11am-6pm). Start with some of the best festival food around, add a dash of music, and a pinch of surprises and you have a three-day culinary event you don’t want to miss. This year’s event will be held across the street from the iconic Convention Hall. Learn more here, or call 732-775-7676.

Fall Sunflower Festival (Cream Ridge) at Holland Ridge Farms opens 9/23 and runs through October 23rd. Pick your own sunflowers and more! Admission is $13 for attendees ages 3 and up. Tickets must be purchased in advance. 9/24 and 9/25 will also feature the Fall Food Truck Festival, with over 30 food trucks. Don’t miss it! Get more information by calling 609-448-7483.

September 24: Kids Day America (Wall Township) takes place from 10am-2pm and is free to attend. This annual health awareness event takes place at the Wall Municipal Building, 2700 Allaire Road. Find out more by calling 732-820-4792 or click here.

September 25: Taste of Atlantic Highlands goes from 12-4pm on First Avenue in the business district. The cost to attend is $45 for adults and $10 for kids, and you’ll get to sample delicious cuisine, desserts, and beverages from the restaurants, pubs, bars, breweries, coffee shops, bakeries and meet and greet business owners from retail boutiques. Learn more by calling 732-872-8711 or visit

September 30: Haunt O’Ween (Holmdel) opens for its first night, and will take place at Bell Works, 101 Crawfords Corner Road starting at 4pm. You and your family will be able to wander through 200,000 square feet of performances, games, rides, photo ops and more immersive Halloween fun. Kids will love trick-or-treating inside, dancing, having their face painted or jumping around in the bounce houses and slide. Come in costume and take tons of photos amidst the thousands of pumpkins! Tickets are $40 each, and children under 2 are free. Haunt O’Ween will be open Fridays through Sundays until October 31st, with special hours of operation the week before Halloween. Learn more at and purchase admission tickets online.

We hope you all enjoy the rest of summer and wishing all the teachers and students a great new upcoming school year this month!

How to Save on Back-to-School Shopping

Back-to-school shopping has looked a bit different over the past few years. Between the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation, school supply prices have continued to be on the rise. According to The National Retail Federation, the average family expects to spend $864 on school supplies, which is $15 more than last year and $168 more than before the pandemic. This means families need to be a bit more savvy and budget for back-to-school shopping this year.

Here’s how you can save money and spend less on school essentials:

Shop online and compare prices

Instead of driving to different department stores for supplies, try searching online and comparing prices that way. By shopping online, you can find sale items easier and pick and choose where you want to buy from. Plus, you’re less likely to get distracted by your kids and any of the items they are likely to find in different aisles along the way. Keep an eye out for online back-to-school deals from retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and Target ahead of the school year.

Find coupons and wait for deals

It may seem time consuming, but searching for coupons is an effective way to save money during the school shopping season. Coupon browser extensions like Honey, RetailMeNot, and Coupert make it easy to find all the best deals and will even apply them automatically. This time of year there are also major sales on electronics and clothing that you should take advantage of. If you’re not finding savings, consider waiting for the post-shopping season sales that usually happen in late September or early October after the school year has already started.

Also, check out this list of New Jersey back-to-school shopping deals from local retailers before the new school year begins.

Buy in bulk

When it comes to items like pens, notebooks, staples, and paper – buying them in bulk can get you the biggest bang for your buck. It’s typically always cheaper to purchase in bulk compared to by unit, especially if you have a large family. It’s even better if you can apply a coupon or find a sale on bulk items during your next shopping trip.

Shop with a credit card for rewards

Did you know you can get rewarded for your back-to-school shopping? Sure, finding deals is crucial – but you can also get value back for the money you spend. Earn 3% cash back or double rewards on back-to-school shopping through 9/30 on all First Financial Visa Cash Plus Credit Card purchases.*

Don’t have our Cash Plus Card? Apply today.

Don’t let back-to-school shopping overwhelm you! There are plenty of ways to spend less this year if you play your cards right. That’s why we’re here to help – our team can give recommendations based on your financial situation and even help you apply for a First Financial credit card. Contact us to get started, or stop by your local branch to speak with a representative today!

Want to see more articles like this? Subscribe to First Financial’s monthly newsletter for financial resources and advice.

*A First Financial membership is required to obtain a Visa® Cash Plus Credit Card. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan. APR varies up to 18% for the Visa Cash Plus Card when you open your account based on your credit worthiness. This APR is 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.


How to Get Dorm Room Essentials on a Budget

One of the most exciting parts of college is decorating your dorm room. Whether you have a single, double, or triple room, you can still make your space uniquely you – even while on a budget. While there are many dorm room essentials you’ll need, there are always inexpensive options and tricks that can help bring out your personal style.

Here are our top ways to shop for your dorm room while on a budget.

Make a realistic shopping list

Before you start putting together a shopping list, confirm the room dimensions, bed size, and included furnishings. This will help you avoid purchasing any unnecessary items or incorrect sizes. See our handy shopping checklist below and evaluate what you already have, what you don’t actually need, and what you can potentially share with your roommate.

  • Bath & bedding: A comforter, throw blanket, sheets, pillows, pillowcases, mattress pad (you’ll thank us later for this one), bath towels, washcloths, shower shoes, shower caddy, bathrobe, shower cap, heating pad.
  • Health & beauty: Shampoo, conditioner, hair styling products, deodorant, hairdryer, brush, body & face lotion, sunscreen, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, q-tips, portable makeup holder, your preferred makeup essentials, nail clippers, loofah, razor, shaving cream, first aid kit, pain relievers, cold & flu medications, sanitary products.
  • Laundry & clothing: Laundry basket, detergent, softener, bleach, dryer sheets, lint brush, iron or steamer, ironing board, luggage.
  • Storage: Clothing hangers, shoe rack, storage for under your bed, desk organizer, hanging closet organizer, cube organizers, trash can.
  • Decor: Sticky wall mounts and adhesive hooks, rugs, floor lamp, desk lamp, step ladder, bed riser, fan, additional seating, bulletin board, picture frames.
  • School supplies: Backpack, laptop protective case, calendar, pens, notebooks, sticky notes, highlighters, stapler, extension cord, markers, computer mouse, whiteout, tape, scissors, index cards.
  • Electronics & appliances: Computer or laptop, TV, speakers, gaming system, tablet, HDMI cord, coffee maker, microwave.

Keep in mind that not all of these items are necessary for your dorm room and many of these you may already have. For your more common dorm room essentials, check larger department stores or online retailers like Amazon. This way you can compare prices and find bigger savings.

Find secondhand items

Thrifting isn’t just great for finding one-of-a-kind clothing items, you can snag some cool furniture, art, and decor, too. It’s also a great way to shop sustainably while being easier on your wallet. Stores like Goodwill and The Salvation Army resell donated furniture while also reinvesting in their own communities through job training programs and more. You can find thrift stores near you through The Thrift Shopper’s directory.

Source online marketplaces

You can spend hours looking through Poshmark or Facebook Marketplace for home goods, clothing, and unique finds. Some sites even let you negotiate a better price, especially if you’re bundling multiple items. Make sure to check with your college, since many universities also have an online marketplace just for students.

Share items with your roommate

You probably don’t need two TVs or Keurig machines in one small space. Before you dive into shopping, touch base with your roommate on what they plan on bringing and what you can share. Dorm rooms are limited in space, so having duplicates of everything is unnecessary.

Get crafty with DIY decor

Did you know you can download digital versions of famous art for non-commercial use? That means you can download, print, and frame your favorite artwork from museums like The Metropolitan Museum of Art for your dorm room. If you want to get a bit creative, you can also upcycle old magazines to make wall art or use string to make a geometric photo display. With time and inspiration, you can make your own decorations that will help you feel at home in your new space.

No matter what your budget is, making your dorm room your home-away-from-home is still within reach. Enjoy this milestone in your life, but don’t forget to stay safe and be responsible for how you spend your money as well. If you’re looking for more college-friendly financial tips, check out our blog, What We Wish We Knew About Money in College.

Want to see more articles like this? Subscribe to First Financial’s monthly newsletter for financial resources and advice.


First Financial Business Member Spotlight: Certified Auto Mall 2022

“I refer first financial to everybody!”

Welcome to our First Financial member spotlight – a series where we feature some of our personal and business credit union members who we’ve worked with over the years. First up is Bill Stahnten, the owner of Certified Auto Mall in Howell, NJ.

Bill has been banking with First Financial for all his business and personal needs for the past 10 years. We helped get him set up with lending, checking accounts, credit card processing, and more. As a business owner, it was important for Bill to work with a credit union that could make managing money seamless – and we provided just that. Our team takes pride in making banking convenient and easy, so you can focus on the many other facets of managing your business.

Certified Auto Mall specializes in sales, service, and towing. Their phenomenal reviews speak for the excellent quality, value, and service that they provide. If you’re in the market for a great pre-owned vehicle, be sure to shop Certified – located at 5499 Rt. 9 in Howell.

How to join First Financial

If you live, work, worship, volunteer, or attend school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties in NJ, you’re eligible to become a member. Businesses in Monmouth or Ocean Counties and our community partners are also eligible for membership. To join, all you have to do is open a savings account with $5. It’s that easy! Once you’re a member, your immediate family members can sign up too. To get started, call us at 732.312.1500, email, or stop by any of our local branches.

Summer 2022 Newsletter

We hope you are having a wonderful Summer Season! While you’re relaxing at the beach or lounging by the pool – we thought you might enjoy our third quarter member  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 Summer Newsletter features the following articles:

To view a copy of the newsletter, click here.

Enjoy the rest of your Summer and wishing all our educator and student members, a great upcoming new school year!