What New Credit Card Users Need to Know

Have you thought about the age you can typically start building credit? While age 23 may be the minimum age requirement for opening a credit card, the idea of even having a credit card may be nerve wracking for some.

We’re here to tell you everything you need to know so you can build your credit with confidence. Here are some important tips to consider before applying for your first credit card.

Don’t just make minimum payments.

You might think covering the minimum payment each month is enough, but in reality – you’ll end up paying more in interest that way. Credit cards typically have a grace period from when your statement closes to when your bill is due. If you pay off your balance in full ahead of the due date, you won’t be charged any interest (this is the ideal scenario).

Say for example, you have a $5,000 balance on your credit card with a 15% interest rate. If you only pay the minimum payment, it could take you three years to pay the full balance with an extra whopping $1,500 in interest charges. Long story short, always try to pay your balance in full.

Always make your payments on time.

Another way you could end up paying more than anticipated on a credit card, is if you miss a payment or are past due. Even if you’re only a day late, your credit card company could charge you a late fee – which can also add up if you’re frequently late. We recommend setting up automatic payments to avoid any future late fees.

Only charge what you can afford.

If the goal is to pay off your credit card balance in full each month (which it should be!), it’s important to only charge what you can afford. Don’t get trapped in “I’ll pay it off later,” because that’s how many people get stuck with credit card debt that becomes out of control.

Instead of thinking of your credit card as “free money,” treat it like a debit card. Meaning, don’t put it on your credit card if you don’t have enough money in the bank for the purchase. This may seem obvious, but it’s also very tempting to just swipe away when you get your card.

Shop around for a credit card.

Not all credit cards are created equal. Some cards are meant for new users, while others are made for more seasoned credit cardholders. It’s always best to first shop around for a credit card that meets your needs and spending habits – before committing to one just because of the alluring benefits.

For example, a store credit card may save you $20 on your next purchase, but it also may typically have a higher interest rate. Plus, those exciting discounts are usually only available in that specific store – which is smart for the business, but likely not ideal for you.

At First Financial, we offer 4 consumer credit card options that each have benefits like a 10-day grace period and no annual fees.+ Our Visa First Step Card is a great card for building credit as a first time cardholder as well.*

Always review your credit card statements.

Every month you’ll receive a bill for your credit card with a list of purchases. You should always review your statement. Why? You can catch any fraudulent charges sooner and have a better grasp of your spending habits. Many card companies offer a detailed report of your spending categories which comes in handy when budgeting and cutting costs where you can. You can even save on paper by receiving your statements online instead of through the mail.

Are you about to begin your credit card journey and don’t know where to start? You can rest assured knowing our financial experts are happy to give you advice based on your situation. Contact us to get started, or stop by your local branch to speak with a representative today!

*APR varies from 13.15% to 18% for the Visa First Step Card when you open your account based on your credit worthiness. These APRs are 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.

+No late fee will be charged if payment is received within 10 days from the payment due date.

Inexpensive Year End Gifts for Teachers

Being that First Financial began as a teachers’ credit union over 85 years ago, we’re privy to one of our largest membership groups and can’t forget our educational roots. Now that the school year is coming to a close and summer is almost here – we thought we’d provide our readers with a list of budget savvy gifts for teachers under $10 (approved by teachers everywhere!).

Gift cards for coffee or inexpensive food options. Think Starbucks, Wawa, Wendy’s, Chick-Fil-A, Taco Bell, or Dunkin.’ $10 goes a long way at these locations too. See what’s local to the area your school is in, and choose the gift card location based on that.

Chocolate. Who doesn’t love chocolate? This one really doesn’t require an explanation, and will always go over well.

A nail kit. Put together a cute gift bag with a couple bottles of nail polish and an emery board. Your teacher will be able to show off great summer feet at the beach or pool this summer!

Ornaments. A personalized ornament or one unique to the student (homemade is always good too!) is a great gift. Every year at the holidays when your teacher is decorating their tree, they’ll be reminded of that special class or student.

Custom tote bag. Purchase a blank canvas tote. If your student is very young, have them (or their class) each place a painted handprint with their name under it in fabric marker. You can personalize this bag as much as you’d like, or include the teacher’s name on it too. Teachers always need tote bags, plus now that stores require reusable bags – it can even double as a grocery tote. Beach bags or a towel are another idea for this time of year as well, and can be used for the beach or pool!

Dog treats. Does your teacher have a pet? Buy a box of treats or find a Pinterest recipe to make your own. Put them in a plastic bag with a nice ribbon around it.

People treats. Homemade baked goods are usually always a hit. Think cookies, cupcakes, or muffins. If you have a different specialty like sauce, soup, or homemade salsa – this is another idea. Place the homemade food item in a decorated mason jar, and voila!

Emergency kit. You never know when your teacher might need one! Put together a little zippered bag or case with Advil, Tide to go, a bottle of water, a pack of gum, band aids, pocket tissues, a small packaged snack, and some chocolate.

Plants. Brighten your teacher’s day (and home for the summer) with a bouquet of flowers, bulbs that can be planted in the yard, or a decorative succulent. Your local Trader Joe’s store typically has beautiful plants and flowers for less!

School supplies. Did you know that many teachers buy their own classroom supplies from their pocket? Purchase some art supplies, teaching aids, or even a gift card to a store where your teacher can pick out their own classroom supplies.

Tea. Choose some different flavored tea bags, a bottle of honey, and some cute cocktail napkins and put them together nicely in a small tin or bucket.

Soap. Hit up your local Bath & Body Works and pick out some seasonally scented anti-bacterial hand soaps. Scented travel hand sanitizer always goes well in a post-Covid world too. Put the items together in a nice gift bag, and you certainly can’t go wrong!

Memory book. As a class gift, it might be a nice idea to put together a photo of each student on a different page, and have them write or tell you their favorite memory from the school year and something they learned.

A handwritten letter or note. This type of personalized gift is something a teacher can look back on and remember their individual students, what they taught them, and how many lives they truly touched.

Do you have another gift idea not mentioned here? Drop it in the comments!

Wishing all our educator members and students a wonderful and relaxing summer!

Article Source: The Penny Hoarder

 

4 Ways to Teach Your Kids About Money

 

Mother’s Day is this upcoming weekend (Happy Mother’s Day to all our First Scoop reading Moms!), and in thinking about this important holiday and all you’ve taught your children in life up to this point – here are a few significant pointers you can teach them about their future finances.

  1. Let your kids earn some money. It’s rather difficult to teach your children about money if they don’t physically have any. Though just giving it to them without explaining the value of earning money based on hard work, won’t teach them anything either. Instead, give them some responsibilities around the house (taking out or walking the dog, age appropriate chores, etc.) and provide them with a weekly or bi-weekly allowance so they will know that money needs to be earned through consistent work.
  2. Teach your kids to save money. If your kids just spend their allowance on whatever they want, whenever they want – this isn’t helping them or teaching them about the importance of savings. Talk to your children about saving for a rainy day, retirement savings, and compound interest. You can even try setting savings goals for your kids and reward them for saving by giving them a little bit extra when they meet the goal.
  3. Allow your kids to spend some money too. Instead of just buying your children whatever they ask for, teach them the significance of making responsible purchases and to really think about their purchase before buying something. This will show them that they can get an item of their choice, but in order to do so they are also learning about saving, budgeting, and spending money too.
  4. Show your kids it’s okay to be frugal. One of the most important lessons you can instill in your children is the value of saving their money for things that really matter. Teach them to comparison shop, use coupons whenever possible, and not to buy things for the sake of just buying something.

The best way to teach your children to be financially responsible is to be an example for them. Don’t be afraid to talk to your kids about your own personal money experiences too!

Article Source: CUInsight.com

It’s National Credit Union Youth Month, Are Your Kids Money Savvy?

April is National Credit Union Youth Month, so we wanted to take a moment to highlight the importance of spending the time and energy to make sure your kids have some basic knowledge about money.

Did you know?

  • From 2004 to 2009, the median credit card debt among college students increased 74%
  • A report on the results of a financial literacy exam found that high school seniors scored on average only 48% correct.
  • A survey of 15 year old’s in the United States found that 18% of respondents did not learn fundamental financial skills that are often applied in everyday situations, such as building a simple budget, comparison shopping, and understanding an invoice.

With such a staggering knowledge gap, it’s easy for kids to grow up and fall victim to scams, high interest rate loans, and rack up an enormous amount of debt.

So, at what age is it right to start teaching your kids good financial habits? The short answer is – right now.

By age 3, your kids can grasp some basic money concepts. By age 7, many of their money habits are already forming. No matter what their age, let’s take this opportunity during National Credit Union Youth Month to start!

Does your child have a savings account or a safe place to deposit any money they receive?

Teaching your child the importance of saving money for a rainy day, should begin at an early age. If your kids don’t have a savings account, get them started with one as soon as possible.

First Financial offers a First Step Kids Savings Account for children up to 18 years of age. There are no minimum balance fees, and dividends are posted quarterly on balances $100 or greater.*

The moral of the story is the following: Take the time during National Credit Youth Month, to talk to your children about finances, budgeting, and saving money. It’s never too early (or too late)!

*As of 7/2/2020, the First Step Kids Account has an annual percentage yield of 0.03% on balances of $100.00 and more. The dividend rate may change after the account is opened. Parent or guardian must bring both the child’s birth certificate and social security card when opening a First Step Kids Account at any branch location.  Parent or guardian will be a joint owner and must also bring their identification. A First Financial Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties.

3 Things Kids Should Know About Money

With another school year about to get into full swing, money management is an important lesson your children can be taught right at home.

Your kids probably don’t have a deep knowledge about money and how to manage it. What they do know, they’ve probably learned from watching you. Here are some basics that all kids should learn about finances.

It has to be earned: As you were probably told when you were young (and possibly in a snarky tone), “money doesn’t grow on trees.”  While that’s only partially true (cash is made from paper and paper is actually made from trees), money is not free.  An allowance in exchange for doing chores is a great way to teach your kids about earning money.

It must be saved: An easy way to get your kids to learn how to save is to give them a goal. Whether it’s a video game system or a new toy they have been asking for, don’t just give your kids whatever they want. Have them save up for the item, and for something more expensive like a video game system – give them a savings goal and have them pay for at least a good portion of it.

It should be spent: While it’s important to save your money, it’s also important for kids to understand that money is meant to be spent. You have to spend money in order to live your life. But when learning to spend, they should learn how to spend wisely. Teach your kids about coupons, sales, and generics brand items. Saving and spending may seem like opposites, but spending wisely is also a great way to save!

Need a great way to teach your children to save? Open a First Step Kids Savings Account! Available for kids up to age 18, there are no minimum balance fees, and dividends are posted quarterly on balances of $100 or greater.* Get your kids on the path to savings today, we’re here to help!

*As of 12/12/2012, the First Step Kids Account has an annual percentage yield of 0.05% on balances of $100.00 and more. The dividend rate may change after the account is opened. Parent or guardian must bring both the child’s birth certificate and social security card when opening a First Step Kids Account at any branch location.  Parent or guardian will be a joint owner and must also bring their identification. A First Financial Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

First Financial Hosts 1st LIFE Fairs at MCVSD and Neptune High Schools

Press Release

(Pictured above: Neptune High School Business Department members along with First Financial staff and Jackson Academy of Business advisory board members work together to introduce the LIFE Fair Program to the Neptune School District).

Freehold, N.J. – On May 29th and June 5th, First Financial Federal Credit Union held two high schools’ first LIFE™ (Learning Independent Financial Education) financial reality fair events at the Monmouth County Vocational School in Freehold Borough and another at Neptune High School.

While the credit union has hosted financial reality fairs in the past, these were the first to be held at both schools. At Neptune High School, a group of financial literacy and entrepreneurship students successfully helped to facilitate the fair to the participating students from business classes. At MCVSD – career ready cosmetology, HVAC, and plumbing/pipefitting high school seniors all participated in the fair in two different sessions. Approximately 200 students between both schools shared in this hands-on version of the “game of life,” during which they were required to make several on-the-spot financial decisions.

The LIFE™ Fair consists of a full day hands-on experience where students, after identifying their career choice and starting salaries, are provided a budget sheet requiring them to live within their monthly salary while paying for basics such as housing, utilities, transportation, clothing, and food. Once the students visit all the fair booths, they balance their budget and sit down with a financial counselor to review their expenses and get a “financial reality check.” First Financial staff members work at the financial review tables with each of the participating students to provide insight into their budget and point out lifestyle choices they may need to change.

(Pictured above: Neptune High School students experiencing their first LIFE Fair).

In regard to the school’s experience with their first ever LIFE™ Fair, Tara Stephenson, Neptune School District’s Business Department Chair stated, “The Neptune Township School District was beyond fortunate to partner with First Financial Credit Union to host the LIFE Fair on June 5th at Neptune High School.  This event was an invaluable experience for our students and opened their eyes to the real financial world that awaits them after high school.  Students were provided supportive guidance and assistance on many levels from the First Financial staff.  We are thrilled to begin planning another event for the upcoming school year and to have the opportunity to work with such an amazing team from First Financial!”

Niurka Coy-Bush, MCVSD CTE-Math teacher stated, “The LIFE Fair was immensely educational and very realistic. It was a huge success! The students were completely engaged in the process as they visited the different stations. The entire simulation was very well thought out and planned, and at an appropriate level for our students.”

(Pictured above: The wheel of LIFE and a few stations at the MCVSD plumbing and pipefitting classroom).

While the LIFE™ Fair was certainly full of temptations, the students had to spend their money wisely in addition to being able to save and budget themselves for the future – while also enjoying everything life has to offer.  First Financial President and CEO, Issa Stephan, concluded, “Our mission for our LIFE™ Fair events is to help students understand the value of money and how to manage their money, so as they grow as an adult they’ll become more financially responsible. These fairs are able to show our local high school students in a hands-on way, about the financial realities of the real world. Our credit union puts a high priority on financial education, after all – that’s how First Financial began 83 years ago, with a group of schoolteachers in Asbury Park.”

Additional photos from the events can be seen on First Financial’s Facebook page. To inquire about or set-up a LIFE™ Fair for a Monmouth or Ocean County, NJ school or business – please contact First Financial’s Business Development Department at  business@firstffcu.com.

###