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

Spring has sprung! Time to enjoy the fresh flowers, warm weather, and great outdoor activities this April. Check out all of the fun events we have listed below – that you and your family and friends can enjoy this month. We also hope you have a Happy Easter and Passover!

April 4: Lakewood BlueClaws Opening Day Game at 6:35pm vs the Hickory Crawdads. Join the BlueClaws minor league baseball team as they kick off their 19th season at the Jersey Shore! Kids 12 and under will also get to run the bases after the game. Learn more and buy tickets online here, or call 732.901.7000.

April 7:

Breakfast with the Easter Bunny at Casino Pier (Seaside Heights) at 9:30am and 11am. Enjoy breakfast and fun with the Easter Bunny! Pre-registration is required. Tickets include a breakfast buffet, $5 arcade card, face painting, and photos with the Easter Bunny for $12 per person. Register online here, or call 732.793.6488.

Red Bank Street Fair and Craft Show from 11am-5pm in Downtown Red Bank. Free admission. Don’t miss artists, crafters, vendors, food, kids’ rides & games, live music, and more. See more information here, or call 908.654.1400.

April 12-14: Annual Spring Swap Meet and Auto Show at Raceway Park (Englishtown).  Connect with other car owners, look for hard to find parts/accessories, appreciate American classic cars, there will be over 300 cars for sale, vendors, and more! General admission is $12 per day, free parking, and kids 12 and under are free. Gates open at 7am each day. The event closes at 6pm Friday & Saturday, and 4pm Sunday. Call 732.446.7800 or go to https://etownracewaypark.com/ to learn more.

April 13:

Spring Flea Market at Allaire Village (Wall) from 8am-3pm. Don’t miss bargains among vintage treasures, books, artwork, handmade items and more! $2 admission for adults and kids 12 and under are free. The historic village, general store, and bakery will be open as well. Learn more here or call 732.919.3500.

Langosta Lounge’s Annual Lobster Run (Asbury Park) at 10am. All donations and proceeds from the 5K event go to the American Littoral Society to benefit marine life. A buffet at Langosta Lounge will begin at 10:30am and will be available through 12:30pm. Learn more, register to run/walk in the 5K race, and see the buffet menu here, or call 732.915.9139.

Breakfast with Sonny the Bunny at iPlay America (Freehold) from 8am-11am. There will be a hot breakfast buffet, live performances, and professional photos, treats, and visiting with Sonny the Bunny. Purchase event tickets here, or call 732.577.8200.

Mermaid Tea Party at Jenkinson’s Aquarium (Pt. Pleasant) from 1:30-3pm. Dress in your best mermaid outfit and have some magical under the sea fun! Enjoy snacks, tea, make a craft, and more. Ages 4-10 only, pre-registration is required. Cost is $30 for an adult/child pair, $15 for each additional child, $20 for each additional adult. Learn more and register here, or call 732.892.0600.

April 13 and 14: Kites at the Pier Festival (Pier Village, Long Branch) from 9am-4pm. Every kind of kite imaginable will be at this festival!  Kites of all shapes and sizes – from inflatable flying creatures to traditional kites, will be flying high over the beach between the Avenue and McLoone’s Pier House in Long Branch. A dazzling display of giant kites will be visible for miles and miles. Learn more about the event at https://piervillage.com/events/kites-at-the-pier-2/ or call 732.923.0100.

April 14: Spring Wreath Workshop at B&B Studios (Arnold Ave., Pt. Pleasant Beach) from 1-3pm.  You’ll learn hands on how to construct your very own fresh spring wreath made with lavender and eucalyptus, led by Amber and Earth. All you need to bring to the class is a pair of garden shears. Learn more here.

April 20:

Easter Egg Hunt and Festival at Allaire Village (Wall) from 11am-4pm. Don’t miss this day of fun for the whole family! Over 15,000 eggs will be hidden on the village green and hunts will take place every 15 minutes. Children will be grouped according to age, and each child can hunt for 6 eggs total. Pre-registration is recommended (the event was sold out in 2018). Tickets are $8 per person and kids under 1 years old are free. If the event is not sold out, tickets on the day of at the door will be $12 each. There will also be music, costumed characters, balloon animals, basket & bonnet decorating, an egg toss and other games, Easter Bunny visits and more. Learn more and purchase tickets online here, or call 732.919.3500.

Easter at the Pier (Pier Village, Long Branch) from 12-4pm. Pier Village will be featuring a DJ, Easter Bunny meet & greet, Easter themed games and contests, face painting, inflatable rides, balloons, and more! Learn more here or call 732.923.0100.

April 27: Belmar Artwalk from 12-4pm on Main Street. Don’t miss the beautiful displays of art throughout downtown Belmar! For more information go to https://www.belmararts.org/ or call 732.749.3360.

April 27 and 28:

Allaire BBQ and Brew Fest (Wall) from 11am-5pm. $8 per adult and $4 per child when purchased in advance, $12 per adult and $8 per child at the door, kids ages 2 and under are free. This event will be held rain or shine. There will be a beer and wine garden, award winning BBQ items to purchase, food trucks, live music and fun. Learn more and purchase tickets here, or call 732.919.3500.

Annual Waretown Spring Wine Festival from 12-5pm both days (Waretown Recreation and Lake Area, Wells Mills Rd.). The Waretown Spring Wine Festival is a two-day event that features an array of samplings from a spectrum of award-winning wineries from throughout the Garden State. In addition to premier wine tastings, there will also be live entertainment, crafters, retail vendors, food vendors, and a children’s play area. Tickets are $20 when purchased in advance (if you are not wine tasting, tickets are $5). Get more details by calling 732.946.2711 or click here.

Tips for Building a Fabulous Wardrobe on a Budget

It’s Springtime, and one of the most popular seasons to shop for clothes and do some spring cleaning. This includes your closet. One of the first steps is to eliminate anything in your closet that doesn’t fit, flatter, or you simply don’t love.

Is it possible to build an amazing wardrobe on a budget? If you consider the following tips, absolutely.

1. Plan Out Your Ideal Wardrobe

Like any financial endeavor, a successful makeover starts with a plan—in this case, your ideal wardrobe. Make a list of 10-15 key items you’ll need for each season, not counting accessories or activity-specific items. Some prefer 33 items that mix and match into four 3 month mini capsules. Whichever plan you choose, here are two things to consider:

Follow your personal style – what you feel and look good in, your lifestyle needs, and the image you want to project. Think about your favorite clothes and what they have in common.

Choose colors that will blend well with one another. Mostly neutrals tones (black, white, gray, ivory, brown/camel, navy) with a few pops of color will allow you to create the greatest number of outfits with the fewest pieces.

2. Determine Your Shopping and Downsizing Strategy

Seeing what you have and what you need, will allow you to target your shopping. If you can only afford to purchase one new item a month, which items are the highest priority? Take your time making decisions, because you’ll want each new piece to last as long as possible. If you won’t be donating your old clothes, sell them through consignment, a yard sale, or an app like Poshmark – and channel the funds into your new wardrobe.

3. Choose Quality Over Quantity

Many of us mark a successful shopping trip by how far we stretch our money, failing to take into account the quality of the clothing we’ve purchased. Instead of replacing three poorly-constructed items purchased for $100 after a few months, it’s better to purchase one $100 item that will last you much longer. How do you determine quality other than price? Try things on, read reviews, and test things out until you find a handful of brands you can count on for the right mix of quality and value.

4. Go for Timeless, Not Trendy

You’ll probably notice that high-quality pieces tend to be classics — items that will always make you look fashionable, regardless of the current trends. If you want to ‘freshen’ your wardrobe, look through fashion magazines for ideas on how to create new looks with the classics you already have.

5. Be a Savvy Shopper

While budgeting and saving for quality pieces, don’t forget to look for great deals. Stay aware of what’s in the stores, but wait for end-of-season sales in June/July and December/January. Don’t be afraid to mix in a few cheaper pieces with more expensive ones by shopping consignment and vintage stores, but again — prioritize quality.

6. Take Care of Your Clothes

Paying more for your clothes will make you want to take better care of them. Always follow care instructions exactly, and when in doubt, hand wash and air dry. To avoid ironing disasters, replace your iron with a garment steamer.

And there you have it – creating an amazing wardrobe on a budget!

Article Source: Jessica Sommerfield for Moneyning.com

How to Prevent Your Child from Becoming a Victim of ID Theft

It probably seems ridiculous to worry about identity theft happening to your children. They don’t have a driver’s license or a credit card in their name – it’s impossible for their identity to be compromised, right?

Wrong. The risk of a minor having their identity stolen is 51 times higher than the risk to an adult. On average, identity theft affects 15 million U.S. residents per year.

Keep reading to learn why minors are considered perfect targets for identity thieves, and how to prevent your child from becoming a victim.

What Kind of Person Would Target a Child?

A smart one. While children lack credit or debit card data that can be stolen, or savings accounts that can be depleted, they do have a credit history that is as clean as a whistle.

Generally, a minor’s credit history is left alone until it is time for them to apply for student or car loans. This gives identity thieves over a decade’s worth of time to target a minor’s information without anyone taking notice.

Then, that exciting bridge into adulthood when your child takes on the responsibility of applying for loans and credit cards is shattered when you realize he or she is denied due to a less than perfect credit history resulting from years’ worth of unpaid debt.

As an adult, you can understand the time it takes to repair a bad credit history. Your child shouldn’t have to go through this “repair phase” when they haven’t done anything to harm their credit in the first place.

Be in the Know – Recognizing the Warning Signs

The following are some tell-tale signs that something is amiss with your child’s identity:

  • Suspicious Preapproved Credit Card Offers Addressed to Your Child If you begin receiving offers for preapproved credit cards in your child’s name, this could be an alert that there may be a credit file associated with your child’s name and social security number.
  • You are Receiving Calls from Collections Agencies If you’re contacted by a collections agency trying to collect debt in your child’s name, it’s a red flag that that their information has been compromised and is being used illegally.
  • Your Attempts to Open a Financial Account for Your Child are Denied If you try to open a student savings account for your child only to realize an account already exists, or the application is denied due to poor credit history – you should take immediate action.

Take a Stand – What to Do if You Suspect Your Child is a Victim of Identity Theft

1. Contact All Three Credit Reporting Agencies

  • Ask that they run a free “Minor Check.” If the check returns no results for your child’s social security number, you can rest easy that no illegal activity is taking place.
  • If the check does return results, ask that all three agencies remove all accounts, inquiries, and collections notices from any files associated with your child’s identity.
  • Ask that a fraud alert be placed on your child’s credit report.

2. File a Fraud Report For Your Child

  • This can be done online through the FTC or by calling them at 877-438-4338.
  • The police may need to get involved if the fraud relates to medical services or taxes.

Moving forward, be very selective about who you give your child’s social security number to. This will help to protect your child’s identity and give you peace of mind as you work to build a strong future for your child.

Article Source:  Kara Vincent for Lancaster Red Rose Credit Union

Can Buying Your First Home Actually Hurt Your Credit?

For generations, owning a home has been considered an integral part of the American Dream. Life without a home of your own, two kids, golden retriever, and a white picket fence just didn’t make sense. Okay, that last part may be a bit of an overstatement, but the fact remains – family members and financial experts have long recommended home ownership as a sensible path to financial stability.

When done correctly, buying a house can be one of the smartest investments you’ll ever make. It will undoubtedly be one of the biggest. As a first-time home buyer, your finances will face the scrutiny of mortgage underwriters, so it’s essential to have all your economic ducks in a row before you even begin applying for a mortgage. And while a smooth financing process is reason enough to be smart with your money, financial stability can also help when your credit takes a hit for five or six months following your big purchase. Wait. What?! Yep. That’s right. Your credit score can, and probably will – drop a bit for a few months after you become a homeowner.

Great for you. Not so great for your credit. Why does buying a house – which, by all accounts, is a wise financial decision – have a negative impact on your credit? The answer isn’t as crazy as you might think. When you apply for real estate financing, mortgage companies pull your credit report to determine whether it makes sense for them to lend you money. In credit industry terms, this is known as a “hard inquiry.” Since these inquiries signal you could be incurring additional debt, they often result in a small, temporary dip in your credit score.

Fortunately, it’s relatively simple to limit the negative impact of hard inquiries. If you’re going to apply for financing with multiple mortgage lenders, do your best to conduct all of your searches within a 30-day window. Because they understand that many people shop for the best rate even though they’ll only secure a single loan, major credit bureaus structure their rating systems to account for multiple inquiries within the same one-month reporting period. While there may still be a dip in your score, grouping your credit pulls will help you minimize the damage. And don’t worry, once you start making payments on time and establishing a positive mortgage history, your credit score should bounce back to where it was before.

Experience a little short-term pain for a long-term gain. From the opportunity to build equity to the satisfying sense of home ownership, there are a variety of excellent reasons to leave the renting life behind. A temporary dip in your credit score shouldn’t scare you away. If you entered the homebuying process with your finances in order and you resist the temptation to rack up additional debt as you furnish your new home, your credit rating should be just fine in the long run. And let’s be honest, you’ll probably be so busy remembering the new route to work and rearranging your living room furniture, that six months will pass before you’ve had a chance to think about your credit score anyway.

If you’re just beginning your home search and in the Monmouth or Ocean County area, your local First Financial Federal Credit Union branch is a fantastic place to start. In addition to reviewing your current financial situation, our representatives can also help you determine how much house you can afford and which mortgage program is right for you. We may even be able to help you get prequalified, which can give you the extra leverage you need when you do find that perfect house. If you have questions about the mortgage process or don’t know how to get started, we are here for you. Contact the Loan Department at 732-312-1500, Option 4 or learn more about First Financial mortgages on our website.

*Subject to credit approval. 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 in New Jersey. See Credit Union for details. Federally insured by NCUA.

 

8 Ways to Save at the Grocery Store Without Coupons

Grocery shopping can be a hassle, and having to take time to cut coupons can make it even worse. Here’s how you can shop without coupons and still save money.

1. Pick the right store.

Try comparing stores by shopping for identical items and figure out which store has the best value. Keep in mind the distance you travel to each store, because that can add up too.

2. Stock up on sale items.

When there’s a sale, buy anything you can freeze or that has a long shelf life. If it’s an item that goes on sale often, buy enough to last you until the next sale. Compare your store’s weekly ads and plan ahead.

3. Take advantage of loyalty programs.

Some stores require a loyalty card to get sale prices, so definitely sign up for one. It only takes a few minutes and you may even get other discounts as you use it.

4. Check the unit price.

Occasionally, buying in bulk will save you money. However – at a lot of grocery stores, the smaller quantity packages actually cost less per ounce.

5. Don’t buy prepared foods.

You may think having to wash and cut fruit and vegetables is an inconvenience, but it’s also a great way to save money. You may enjoy the ease of using already prepared food, but you’ll pay for that benefit. Buy the ingredients uncut, and create your meals. You’ll pleasantly be surprised to see how much you can save.

6. Don’t waste anything.

Make sure you’re not buying anything you haven’t already planned on eating. If you buy on impulse, you may end up buying something that will eventually just get thrown away. Map out meals and snacks and don’t get anything you don’t really need.

7. Cook the right amount.

Don’t make more food than you need. If you follow the recipe on a package, you may cook too much food, especially if you’re only cooking for 1 or 2 people. Sometimes leftovers are good to have, but a lot of times they end up in the trash can. Make sure you figure out the correct serving size and adjust your purchases accordingly.

8. Shop less.

This one is easy. The more you shop, the more impulse buys you’ll make. Look at your store’s sale schedule and shop only as often as you have to.

 Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

4 Ways to Identify a Tax Scam

Tax filing season is of course a busy time of year. It’s also a busy time of year for scammers. According to a recent Federal Trade Commission report, of the $1.48 billion total reported fraud, consumers lost nearly $488 million to imposter scams in 2018. Fraud schemes range from debt collector calls or emails claiming you haven’t paid your taxes, to someone posing as an official from the IRS or local law enforcement agency threatening arrest, suspension of your driver’s license or some other penalty if you don’t immediately wire funds to pay your taxes. The scams have become increasingly sophisticated and hard to detect.

Here is what you need to know about the IRS and tax scams:

The first contact from the IRS is through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text message or social media channels. Even if they call you to set up appointments or discuss an audit, you would first receive notification by mail. Only after mailing an official notification of an audit can an auditor/tax examiner follow up by phone. Forward any suspicious emails to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov. Alleged IRS or tax debt collection calls should be reported to (800) 366-4484. 

Payments to the IRS are only payable to the United State Treasury. They do not accept payment in the form of prepaid debit cards, gift cards, or wire transfers.

IRS agents will NEVER demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or dispute the amount they say you owe. They must advise you of your rights as a taxpayer. They CANNOT threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law enforcement agencies to have you arrested for not paying your taxes. The IRS also has zero authority to revoke your driver’s license, business license, or immigration status.

If an IRS representative calls or comes to a home or business unannounced to collect a tax debt or as part of an investigation, they will always provide two forms of official credentials: a pocket commission and an HSPD-12 card. You have a right to see the credentials and can call the IRS to verify the identity/information on the representative’s HSPD-12 card.

The moral of the story: be aware, do your research, and don’t become a victim of a tax scam this tax filing season!

Article Source: Myriam DiGiovanni for Financialfeed.com