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

You can smell the freshness in the air, feel the warmth of the sun and the grass between your toes – it’s almost summer! This is best time of year to indulge in fun activities and take local day trips with family and friends. Check out these free or inexpensive activities and events below to start your next adventure. And, Father’s Day is Sunday, June 16th so don’t forget to appreciate Dad too!

June 1:

Giant Spring Flea Market in Ocean Grove from 9am-4pm. Free admission to the event, which includes over 300 vendors selling new, used, and antique items. The event will be held rain or shine. Learn more at http://www.oceangrovenj.com/ or call 732-774-1391.

Summerfest in Pt. Pleasant from 11am-7pm. The event will take place at Community Park, 2255 Bridge Avenue. There will be vendors, food, music, inflatables and more! Get additional details at https://www.facebook.com/Pointpleasantsummerfest/ or email info@pointpleasantchamber.com

June 1 & 2: Jersey Shore Wine Festival at First Energy Park (Lakewood). The event runs from 12-5pm each day and will be held rain or shine. Sample over 100 great NJ wines, plus eat delicious food, and there will be entertainment, crafters, and exhibitors. Tickets are $20 in advance or $30 at the door for ages 21+ and designated drivers and attendees age 15 and up are $5. Call 732-946-2711 or click here for more information.

June 2: Red Bank Farmers Market from 9am-2pm in the Galleria Parking Lot, 2 Bridge Avenue. You won’t want to miss locally grown produce from NJ’s best farmers, as well as unique vendors and crafts for sale. Learn more by calling 732-530-7300 or go to https://www.redbank.org/events/55/red-bank-farmers-market-2019/

June 5: Downtown Toms River Farmers Market from 11am-5pm at the Ocean County Parking Garage Lawn on Hadley Avenue. Free parking is available. You will also find NJ fresh fruit, vegetables, baked goods, olives, pickles, Italian specialties, spices, candy, nuts, coffee, homemade soap and more! Get more details by calling 732-341-8738 or visit www.downtowntomsriver.com

June 9: Irish Festival at Monmouth Park Racetrack (Oceanport) from 11am-6pm. Make it a lucky day and come celebrate your inner Irish at the 49th Annual Irish Festival. Start your day with a Roman Catholic Mass. Follow that with a fun-filled day of live thoroughbred racing, crafters, food, a pipe and drum competition, two human horse races and more! Authentic Irish music and step dancing will be performed throughout the day. Plus, enjoy Family Fun Day with face painting, pony rides, and a bounce house. Parking is $5 and admission for those over age 12 is $5. Learn more at http://www.njirishfestival.com/

June 15:

Eco Elephant Family Flea Market at Dorbrook Park (Colts Neck) from 9am-2pm. Browse and shop a number of vendors offering one-of-a-kind items and other wares. Admission and parking are free. Get more information at https://www.monmouthcountyparks.com/page.aspx?ID=4548

Spring Lake Irish Festival from 12-5pm in Downtown Spring Lake. Enjoy an afternoon of everything Irish! There will be music, dancing, food, shopping, kids activities and more. Fun for the entire family.  Learn more at http://www.springlake.org/irishfestival or call 732-449-0577.

June 16: Father’s Day at iPlay America (Freehold) from 11am-9pm. Dads eat and ride FREE on Father’s Day, plus they’ll get a free draft beer at the Game Time Bar & Grill. Find out more details at https://www.iplayamerica.com/event/fathers-day-2/ or call 732-577-8200.

June 22: Taste of Highlands from 12-5pm at Huddy Park. You won’t want to miss this spectacular event with five hours of scrumptious samplings and cocktails at over 20 restaurants and eateries. Nowhere else will you find such an eclectic selection of cuisine served in just a half square mile. Tickets are $45 and include a drawstring backpack with a map, plus free transportation and parking. Learn more here.

June 22 & 23:

Wine and Chocolate Festival at Monmouth Park Racetrack (Oceanport) from 8am-5pm. Unlimited wine and sweet dessert samples – what more do you need? So gather up your friends and family, sample from dozens of delicious New Jersey wines and finish it all off with the smooth taste of chocolate. Option 1: $10 Unlimited Wine Sampling & Commemorative Wine Glass, Option 2: $7 Chocolate Sampling Only, Option 3: $16 Wine and Chocolate Sampling Combo & Commemorative Wine Glass. Parking is $5. Learn more at http://www.monmouthpark.com/event/wine-chocolate-festival/2019-06-22/

Family Camp Out at Ocean County Park (Lakewood) begins at 6pm Saturday and ends at 9am on Sunday. Cost is $5 per person, ages 5 years to adult are welcome to attend. The camp out takes place at the Beach Complex and there will be a campfire at night and an evening nature walk. You will need to bring your own tent, sleeping bag, marshmallows for roasting and a no-cook breakfast for Sunday morning. Children must be accompanied by an adult for the entire camp out. Find out more details by calling 732-506-5122 or click here.

June 29 & 30: Wall Township Fair at 1870 Baileys Corner Road. The fair runs from 4-11pm on Saturday night and ends on Sunday at 9:30pm with fireworks. You won’t want to miss rides, games, music, and delicious treats. Learn more at http://wallfair.mmdacademy.com/

The Pros and Cons of Having Multiple Credit Cards

Credit cards. You were probably pretty excited when you got your first one, and if you weren’t cautious with it, that excitement probably faded pretty quickly. But there’s no denying that a credit card can be a valuable tool. So how many should you have? Here are some pros and cons to having more than one credit card.

PRO – It can be great for your credit score: When credit bureaus determine your credit score they look at your debt utilization ratio (percentage of your available credit that’s in use). If you’ve got one credit card with a $5,000 limit, and you’ve spent $4,000 on it, then your debt utilization ratio is 80%. If you get a second credit card with a $5,000 limit and keep a zero balance, your debt utilization ratio is now 40%. Your credit score will thank you.

CON – It can be damaging to your credit score: While a larger debt utilization ratio might be good for your credit score, the act of opening the account can be damaging. Anytime you open a new line of credit, your credit score can take a small hit. Just make sure not to open two new accounts in a short period of time.

PRO – Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket: Occasionally you might have trouble with a card, and it’s always great to have a back-up. Let’s say you’re traveling and your card is lost or stolen. Having a second card stowed away somewhere will really come in handy.

CON – Large amounts of debt: If you’re not very good at keeping your spending in check, having multiple credit cards can potentially be a huge disaster. If you’re lacking self-control when it comes to credit cards, the less you have – the better.

If you’d like more insight into your credit score and managing your credit – view our credit and debt management guide here.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

 

Buying Lunch Too Much? 3 Money Saving Tips

We all know in theory that brown bagging is a great way to save money and eat a bit healthier. However, for a lot of us, it’s hard to find the motivation and energy to pack a lunch, especially if it’s going to be the same old ham and cheese on wheat every day. Before long, we lose momentum and it’s back to eating burgers, pizza, and subs five days a week. If that sounds like you, here are some tips to help you pack an inexpensive lunch that will make you forget all about takeout and draining your bank account.

1. Get your kitchen organized.

The easier it is for you to pack your lunch, the fewer excuses you’ll have for skipping it.

Designate a cabinet or shelf for containers, bags and wraps, etc. Weed out any mismatched or damaged containers and lids. Make a point of keeping this area tidy and organized so that finding what you need is a breeze.

Clean out your fridge to make it easy to find condiments and salad dressings and to have room for leftovers, yogurt, prepared fruits and vegetables, and other easy to grab snacks. You’ll also want to keep a space available to store your lunch overnight if packing it the night before saves you time and forces you to bring your lunch.

Keep a basket on a shelf to store lunchbox snacks like granola bars, chips and crackers. You can portion out a week’s worth at a time in plastic bags – which is cheaper than buying individual servings.

2. Go beyond lunch meat.

Some people are happy eating the same deli meat and cheese sandwich every day, while others need variety. Foods marketed especially for lunch can also be more expensive than starting from whole foods and preparing them yourself.

Instead of deli meat – try slicing up chicken, turkey, beef and pork that you’ve cooked yourself at home and make sandwiches, lettuce wraps, and more. Not only can you save money this way, but you’ll also have more control over the ingredients.

If you like frozen meals for lunch, try making your own by freezing portions of lasagna, enchiladas, stews and other home-cooked foods that freeze well. The food will be tastier, and freezing to eat later is great for those who don’t like eating the same meals two or more days in a row.

Hummus with vegetables and pita bread for dipping can also be a very healthy lunch. Making your own hummus is incredibly cheap and you can even go beyond the normal chickpea version and experiment with black beans, edamame and other variations.

3. Make brown bagging it a fun, social affair.

You can encourage your colleagues to pack a lunch by talking to them about the benefits and encouraging them to give it a shot. Not only can they save money, but it can also help them lose weight and eat healthier.

Suggest fun ways to encourage each other to pack a lunch. Some workplaces have had great luck with a salad bar club (everyone brings different ingredients to keep in the fridge to make salads that week), or bringing dishes to share. For companies where people are interested in getting healthier, a quick brown bag lunch followed by a brisk walk during lunch hour can also be a great motivator.

As you can see – it’s easy to pack a lunch each day, and great for your health and budget!

Article Source: Tracy for Moneyning.com

4 Crucial Money Tips for Your First Job

Recently graduated college? Before you come face to face with the real world and your first job, be sure you review the following important money tips.

1. Keep your debt limited.

When you’re starting out in your first job, you will quickly find yourself probably making about five times what you were making from your part-time college gig. That account balance can look quite enticing. Try your best to not let debt grow. Tackling debt can take years, and you don’t want to add to it.

2. Start a savings account/emergency fund.

When you’re young, you tend to push things off because you think you’ll have plenty of time. When it comes to saving, the earlier you begin, the more you’ll appreciate it later. If you save $100 a month, during the first 5 years after college, you will have created a $6,000 fund that could come in handy when you need to make lemonade out of the lemons that life will inevitably throw at you from time to time.

3. Stick to a budget.

This may be one of the harder tips to stick with, especially when you have more money than you’ve ever had in your life. Buying every meal from your favorite restaurants is tempting, and the sooner you curb that habit the better. By budgeting, you can see how you’re really spending your money. Try not to look at it as restricting your spending, but rather a guide to help you spend confidently.

4. Don’t forget about retirement.

Retirement seems like it’s 40 years away (and maybe it is), but it’ll sneak up on you. Putting your money in an IRA early is one of the best decisions you can make. There’s a little thing called compound interest that wants to be your best friend. Read about it and you’ll be happier than a kid in a candy store.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

How to Choose the Right Preowned Vehicle for You

Shopping for any vehicle can be intimidating. And making a big purchase that has about 30,000 parts which need to be in safe working order is not a small feat, but here are a few important pointers on how to pick the right new-to-you vehicle.

First, before you hit the lot – understand your needs. To do this, think about your current car and why you are looking to give it up. What bothers you about it – is it too small, would you prefer a smoother ride? It’s also helpful to think about the next few years in the vehicle you are about to purchase. Are you going to be starting a family in the near future, do you have pets you transport to the dog park? Do you have a long commute? You want to make sure you will be buying a reliable vehicle that meets your personal needs. It might be a good idea to shop online prior to visiting the dealership. Be sure you are getting exactly what you want – this is a big purchase that you will need to live with for a number of years to come.

Get a friend. Or a family member who knows cars. Or does a coworker currently drive a car you like? If so, talk to them about their vehicle. Find out what they love (or don’t). See if they’ll let you test drive their vehicle. This is a big help when trying to find the right car for you.

Find a car that looks good. It’s hard to tell if an engine is in top condition, but a decent way to tell is by looking at the rest of the car. How has it been treated? If the previous owner cared for the paint, they probably cared for the bigger things as well. A used car should be as close to showroom condition as possible. A car never has to be damaged – regardless of its age. If it is, make an offer accordingly.

Fewer miles doesn’t necessarily mean fewer problems. Fewer miles is generally a good thing. Although city miles are much harder on a car than highway miles. This means a car with 10,000 miles that has lived its life in a big city may be in worse shape than a 20,000 mile car whose owner had a long highway commute each day. Miles are a good indicator of how many years are left in the car – but it’s also important to note how they may have been tallied, if possible.

Should you get an inspection? An inspection is always best if you’re serious about buying the car. It can save you thousands and give you great peace of mind. If you’re considering a used vehicle from a dealership, check out the Carfax report on the vehicle before you buy.

Always be ready to walk away. Do not fall in love with the car before you get to see it, because you may talk it up in your mind, instead of seeing the vehicle for what it truly is. Walk away if the car isn’t great. If it’s good but not as you expected, make a lower offer than what you were prepared to give. Price is always negotiable.

Price. Do you research beforehand, and make sure the dealership or private seller is in the ballpark. Most sellers are going to try to price the car higher and expect you to negotiate. Kelley Blue Book is a great resource for comparison.

Don’t be persuaded. Don’t let a pushy salesperson change your mind. Be sure you end up with the vehicle you want and are comfortable with. In the end, you’ll be the one who will be driving this car on a daily basis – so be sure you are 100% secure in your decision to purchase.

Some final pointers to consider:

  • Not all cosmetics matter. Minor dents/scratches on the exterior, a missing hub cap, a small upholstery stain – these can be easy negotiating points to lower the sticker price and simple (and inexpensive) enough for you to have fixed on your own later on.
  • Don’t get too caught up on mileage. A well maintained car can easily log 200,000 miles (maybe even more if it was a great, reliable car to begin with). Engines run for a very long time if they were properly maintained. You’ll need to do your research on the history of the used vehicle and weigh the following – is it better to buy a car that has been well taken care of with 150,000 miles or one that has only 75,000 miles but was poorly maintained?
  • Tires – another negotiation tool. It’s important to note how the tires are worn. If they are evenly worn, that’s a better sign. But if the treads are irregular, this could mean neglect or a mechanical issue. If the vehicle you are looking at needs new tires, this is another point you could try to negotiate off the sticker price.
  • Properly repaired accident damage isn’t always a deal breaker. This goes along with researching the vehicle’s history. Maybe the vehicle was in a small fender bender years ago and there’s a little dent in the body that doesn’t affect the safety or use of the car in any way. Or maybe the car had some body repairs made from a previous accident and it’s as good as new now. Just because the vehicle was in an accident, doesn’t always mean it’s damaged goods. Again, do your research and have the vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic if it will make you feel better.

In the market for a preowned vehicle? First Financial’s auto loan rates are the same whether you buy new or used! If you’re just starting to shop, get preapproved and if you’re ready to make the purchase – apply for an auto loan online 24/7. We have quick approval decisions and same day closings!

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.

Article Source: Will Lipovsky for Moneyning.com

10 Tips for Selling Your House Fast and at Top Dollar

When you’re trying to sell your house, you want to do it as quickly as possible. But did you realize you only have six seconds? Your house may be on the market longer than that, but that’s not what we’re talking about. Homebuyers generally make their purchase decisions based on first impressions, and real estate experts estimate those impressions are formed within the first six seconds—three from the curb and three from the entryway.

If you’re going to win over a prospective buyer, you’ll have to get their attention quickly to convince them that your house is their next home. Yes, location is key. And yes, price matters too. With a few strategic preparations, you can make your property as attractive and inviting as possible. By doing so, you’ll set it up to sell sooner rather than later.

10 Ways to Prepare Your Home to Sell ASAP

1. Think like a buyer.
It can be tempting to present your home in a way that highlights the aspects you like the most. The problem with this approach is that your favorites are just that—your Potential buyers won’t be looking at your house through the lens of nostalgia. Help them see your home as a blank slate where they can form their own identity.

2. Focus on curb appeal.
It’s incredible what a tidy lawn and freshly mulched flower beds can do for a house. Most buyers will drive by your property before deciding whether or not to take a closer look. A house that looks welcoming from the street stands a much better chance of selling quickly.

3. Freshen up your front door.
If curb appeal is a friendly invitation, a freshly painted front door is a cheery welcome. Every buyer who looks at your home will most likely enter through the front door, so giving it a new coat of paint can cover up any scuffs and dings that have shown up over time. This small step will help the house look livable—not lived in.

4. Make basic repairs.
If you’ve lived in your home for any amount of time, there are probably a few problems you’ve learned to live with. Chipped paint, missing fence boards, leaky kitchen faucets, flickering lightbulbs, etc. These are just a few of the minor inconveniences that you might overlook on a daily basis. They’re also the little details that could make your house less attractive to a buyer. Make the simple fixes – you’ll be glad you did.

5. Stay neutral.
If you personalized your house by using vibrant colors in each room, it might be a good idea to repaint. While you might love bold colors, there’s no guarantee the next owner will. Painting the walls in neutral colors will let potential buyers observe the overall house without getting hung up on whether or not they like the colors you chose.

6. Make it less “you.”
While we’re focused on the interior, make a special effort to remove decorations and knick-knacks that reflect your personal tastes and identity. No matter how friendly and familiar they may be, family photos will make buyers feel like their visiting someone else’s house. You want them to feel like they’re spending time in their own.

7. Clean and declutter.
You don’t have to channel your inner Marie Kondo, but clearing clutter will not only make the house look cleaner, it will make it feel bigger. And when it comes to cleanliness, there’s no such thing as too clean. When you think things are finally clean enough, go over them once more. Buyers will notice.

8. Use some common scents.
It goes without saying (or at least it should) that you should do your very best to eliminate offensive smells like pets, dirty laundry, or cooking odors. If you want to increase your chances of selling your house, go a step beyond deodorizing and introduce a pleasant scent. Candles, essential oils, and fresh baked cookies can do a wonderful job of creating a welcoming environment for house hunters.

9. Stage strategically.
If you can’t afford to hire a professional real estate stager, you can still arrange each room to highlight your home’s top features. While each room matters, pay particular attention to the family room, the master bedroom, and the kitchen. These are the three rooms where the new owners will spend most of their time, so staging them well is a small task that can make a big difference.

10. Hire a real estate agent.
If you want to sell your home as quickly as possible, enlisting the help of a professional is a smart way to accomplish your goal. Experienced realtors know the local market, and their expertise can help you sell your house faster and for more money. Selling a home on your own might sound like a good idea, but when you consider that a real estate agent can handle the marketing, negotiations, and legal details, their commission can be money that’s well spent.

Potential home buyers want to walk through a house that feels exciting and new. They also want it to feel like home. Following the tips listed above can help you give them exactly what they’re looking for. And the faster you make that happen, the sooner those buyers will give you what you want—a house with a SOLD sign in the yard.

Have you recently sold your home and now need a mortgage on a new home? If you live, work, worship, volunteer, or attend school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties in NJ – we’re sure we’ve got a mortgage product that will meet your needs!* Learn more on our website, and if you’re ready to get preapproved or have questions about the mortgage process – give us a call at 732.312.1500, Option 4. We’re happy to help you finance your dream home!

 *APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Subject to credit approval. Credit worthiness determines your APR. Rates quoted assume excellent borrower credit history and are for qualified borrowers. Your actual APR may vary based on your state of residence, approved loan amount, applicable discounts and your credit history. Higher rates may apply depending on terms of loan and credit worthiness. Available on primary residence only. The Interest Rates, Annual Percentage Rate (APR), and fees are based on current market rates, are for informational purposes only, are subject to change without notice and may be adjusted based on several factors including, but not limited to, property location, loan amount, loan type, occupancy, property type, loan to value, debt to income ratios, FICO credit scores, refinance with cash out and other variables. Mortgage insurance may be required depending on loan guidelines. This is not a credit decision or a commitment to lend. If mortgage insurance is required, the mortgage insurance premium could increase the APR and the monthly mortgage payment. See Credit Union for details. 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. Federally insured by NCUA. ​NMLS CU ID: 685814