4 Reasons You Should Live Like You’re Broke

Businessman holding empty pockets

So you can pay off debt faster.

Debt isn’t cheap. Anyone who’s ever had to throw an unexpected bill on a credit card knows this to be true. On the occasion this happens, it can sometimes feel like it takes all year to pay it off. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, this can definitely be the case. If you’re spending less, this will give you a chance to pay down that debt a little faster than you’d normally be able to.

So you can save up for awesome experiences.

We all enjoy buying “stuff.” Most the time that stuff isn’t around years later. Sometimes, we’ll remember that stuff we spent our money on years ago, and it seems ridiculous that we thought so highly of it. The things we typically remember most are people and places, and the experiences that come with it. Next time you want to splurge on an object, put that cash into savings and figure out the best way you can spend it on a memory that can last a lifetime.

So your children won’t treasure material possessions.

If you never start your child on a path of not needing to have the same things as the kid down the street, not only will they not feel like their self-worth is based on objects, but they might grow up appreciating the little things in life. They also may be a little more frugal when they’re spending their own money one day.

So you can simplify life.

Things are nice, but life can be amazing even when it’s simple. Teach your children the value of saving money for the future. Show them there’s more to living than a daily trip to Starbucks or the mall. Eat at home more. Avoid using that credit card. Old-fashioned living can be quite satisfying.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

5 Ways to Be on Top of Your Budget

calculator and piggy-bank with glasses on white background

Be realistic. Keep going over budget on certain things? Maybe you didn’t allot enough money in those areas. If this is the case, try and find a happy medium that is more realistic so you can still cut back a little bit.

Be automatic. Are you having trouble saving? Do you have direct deposit at work? If so, figure out how much you want to put aside every month, and have that money automatically put into your savings account. This way, you can set it and forget it.

Be thorough. When you’re setting up your budget you may tell yourself, “I’m going to go out to eat twice a week.” Well That sounds great in theory, but what happens when you want to celebrate your friend’s new promotion? Where’s that money coming from? Make sure your budget includes some flexible money that you can use in different areas when needed.

Be patient. Don’t spend your entire monthly budget of any one area at the beginning of the month. Sure, that awesome new movie is coming out at the first of the month, but slow down. There’s probably some other things you’re going to want to do before the end of the month, so keep that in mind and spread your money out.

Be nice. You’re an awesome person who should be rewarded for staying on budget each month. Give yourself a little cash to splurge each month, even if it’s no more than an ice cream cone. Ice cream is awesome and so are you!

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

3 Easy Ways to Make Money on the Side

Woman Taking Dog For Walk On City Street

Who doesn’t love some extra cash in their pocket, especially after the expensive holiday season? When you’re focused on your full-time job, it can be hard to find the time to search for additional sources of income.

Here are some easy examples:

Tutor. Do you have expertise in a certain subject matter that you may or may not use in your current line of work? Whether you’re looking to help out younger students or adults continuing their education, you can put your knowledge to good use. Look into working with an established company like Kaplan for SAT preparation, or get certified through the National Tutoring Association or the American Tutoring Association. Obtaining a certification may be an extra step, but in the end if you are able to show you are legitimately trained, you will stand out as a professional and generate more business and more dollars.

Drive. Even if you haven’t used Uber, you have undoubtedly heard of the transportation network company. Offering consumers a safe and convenient way to get around town, Uber is an excellent way to bring in extra money in your spare time. According to the company, depending on your location and how often you work, drivers could net on average about $25.00 an hour. Another advantage of becoming a driver is the ability to set your own schedule. Many drivers have a full-time job and drive at their discretion.

Dog sit. Do you love dogs but don’t want to commit to owning one? Becoming a dog sitter is a great way to spend time with “man’s best friend” without the long-term responsibilities that come with adding a pooch to your family. Check out Rover.com, a resource that connects pet owners with people who provide safe and loving pet care. Like Uber, Rover allows you the freedom to make money on your own schedule. According to Rover.com, depending on how often you take in an animal and for how long, you could make upwards of $1,000 a month.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

6 Ways to Tweak Your Budget This Year

Pencil on the statement of payroll details

Just because February is here doesn’t mean you should already be neglecting to improve your finances. In fact, no matter your resolutions (or if you’ve already abandoned them), it’s always a good idea to work on your finances.

If you’re looking for ways to tweak your budget to better effect this year, then here are some strategies you can follow to spend less and save more:

1. Factor in Infrequent Expenses

One of the biggest pitfalls of budgeting is forgetting about infrequent expenses. Some expenses may only be paid quarterly, or perhaps even once a year. It’s easy to forget to include them in the budget, especially if you create your budget during a month when you’re not making the payment. The fix is easy though.

As you tweak your budget this year, spend the extra bit of time to look ahead for infrequent expenses and include them. Break them down into monthly costs so that they are accounted for. Also ensure that the money is already there when they are withdrawn from your account.

2. Don’t Count on Irregular Income

Many of us like to look ahead and estimate our income. Unfortunately, we often over-estimate what is coming in. We rely on our estimates too heavily whether it’s a bonus at work, a tax refund or some other windfall. Instead of factoring future income into your budget, consider pretending it doesn’t exist. That way, when you do get a windfall, you can bank that instead of spending it. This way, you don’t end up in trouble if the extra money doesn’t appear like you thought it would.

3. Boost Your Savings

You can also use more no matter how much you’re setting aside, so look for ways to boost your savings. Even an extra $15 a week can help in the long run. Consider changing how much is taken from your paycheck and contribute it to your retirement account. You can also put more in your emergency fund. Just make a small tweak to the amount to make a difference down the road.

4. Check into Your Subscriptions

When was the last time you reviewed your subscriptions? Look at where your money is going on a monthly basis. If you aren’t using subscriptions, change things up so you aren’t spending on what you no longer use.

5. Review Your Insurance

Every six months or before renewal, do a quick comparison of your insurance policies. Could you be saving more elsewhere? If it looks like you can get a better quote someplace else, let your insurer know and ask for a match. If you haven’t changed your insurance for a few years, you might be surprised at what’s available and how much a quick search can save you.

6. Sign Up for Cash Back Sites

If you aren’t using a cash back site, now’s a good time to do so. Sign up for Ebates and Swagbucks to get some of your purchase-price back. Between these sites, plus use of a rewards or cash back credit card to pay, you could end up with serious savings overall. Yes, you want to spend less, but you also want to get a little back for the spending you do.

First Financial’s Visa Credit Cards come fully loaded with higher credit lines, lower APRs, no annual fees, no balance transfer fees, a 10 day grace period, rewards, and so much more!* Click here to learn about our cards and apply online today.

*APR varies from 11.40% to 18% for the Visa Platinum Card, 13.40% to 18% for the Visa Signature Card, and 13.74% to 18% for the Visa Secured Card 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.

Article Source: Miranda Marquit for MoneyNing.com

5 Financial Reviews for the New Year

2017 year on the sea shore. Element of design.

Happy New Year! 

How did you do financially last year? Did you meet all your goals? Now is the perfect time to take a look at what went your way financially last year so you can repeat it for the new year, and what may not have gone the way you wanted it to – so you can adjust in 2017.

1. Your Spending

What did you spend money on? Did it match your priorities? Did you overspend more than you should have? Were most of your purchases planned, or did you make a lot of impulse purchases?

If you want to get your finances under control, it’s essential to know where your money is going. Personal finance software is a great way to keep track. All you have to do is run a report to see which categories got the most attention from your pocketbook.

2. Your Saving

Did you save enough money in 2016? Review your savings habits. Did you put money toward retirement and do you have an investment portfolio? Do you have an emergency fund? Do you save up for large purchases?

Consider your long-term and short-term savings goals. Make sure you are on track with them. In some cases, it can make sense to cut back on the extra spending in order to divert some of that money toward your savings.

This is also a good place to review your debt load. Pay down your debt as quickly as possible to reduce the amount of interest you pay others.

3. Your Giving

One of the best ways to ensure a well-rounded financial life is to give to others. It seems counter intuitive, but it actually works. Look at how you use your resources to help others. Research charities to make sure your money is going where it should.

4. Your Taxes

Let’s not forget about a review of your tax situation. What deductions and credits are you eligible for? Review your spending and see if you can reduce your tax liability with a couple of well-placed contributions.

Don’t forget to review your pay stub as well. Are you withholding too much from your paycheck? A big tax return is an indication that you are withholding too much and giving the government an interest-free loan. Consider adjusting your withholding to improve your monthly cash flow — and put that money to better use.

5. Your Asset Protection

Are you covered in case of an emergency? Asset protection is a big part of your finances so make sure you are covered. You need to check your health care coverage, as well as your auto and home coverage. Tweak your coverage if necessary to balance cash flow with protection. You don’t want to overpay above what’s necessary.

Once you finish the financial review, you will have a better idea of what you did well in for 2016, and how you can improve for the new year.

Have you done a financial review with First Financial recently? If not, a brand new year is the perfect time to start! Stop into your nearest branch or call 732.312.1500 to get started today.

Article Source: Miranda Marquit for Moneyning.com

5 Money Problems Most People Deal With

Young girl dreams about their future

Not using debt correctly.

All debt isn’t necessarily bad. Debt is useful when getting your education and even when hard times hit. If you take on too much debt – you could put yourself in a hole that you’ll never be able to dig out of. On the other hand, if you’re afraid of ever having any debt, you may live a boring life. Use credit cards to build a good credit score and never use them for major purchases. If you take on debt, make sure you keep it under control and always remain aware of where you stand.

Overspending.

In an ideal world, we would all save 33% of what we earn. For most of us, this a problem, due to our overspending habits. Whether it be for housing, child care, student loans, or other debt, we’re spending those savings on other things. Try to save wherever you can – even a little bit out of each paycheck is never going to be a waste!

Relying on only one income source.

By counting on our full time job as our only money source, we’re setting ourselves up for problems. Having some side money coming in from a part time or freelance job can also be a nice crutch if something were to go wrong.

Only paying the minimum on credit cards.

When you only pay the minimum on your credit card balance each month, you end up costing yourself a lot of money in interest by carrying a balance. Make sure you don’t spend more than you can pay off at the end of each month. Credit card debt can easily feel like a black hole with no escape.

Not saving.

If you’re not saving, you’re probably not budgeting. Plan ahead and put money aside each month for emergencies. Take a long look at what you’re spending and figure out what you need to put away for retirement. If you don’t have an IRA or other retirement account, you need to enroll ASAP and take advantage of that compounding interest for your future.

First Financial can help you with all of these items!  Visit our website at firstffcu.com, stop into any of our local Monmouth and Ocean County branches, call 732.312.1500, or email info@firstffcu.com.

Article Source: John Pettit for CU Insight, https://www.cuinsight.com/5-money-problems-people-deal.html