3 Things You Should Never Hide from Your Mortgage Lender

You’re ready to apply for a mortgage. The process of meeting with a lender and a getting a mortgage can be very complicated, especially for first time homebuyers. To help with this process, here are a few things to consider being up front about from the very start.

Career changes

When handing out large loans, lenders look for employment stability and steady income; most will check your employment history and income throughout the mortgage application process. Therefore, it’s better to be straightforward from the beginning. Failing to do so may jeopardize your eligibility or cause other problems prior to closing.

Other loans

If you have taken out other large loans or made a big purchase before applying for your mortgage, your lender needs to be in the loop. Making these financial decisions will affect your mortgage as it increases your “debt-to-income ratio” or DTI. Having a high DTI will also result in a higher mortgage interest rate, which makes you riskier in the eyes of your lender. So, come clean about that new car or any other significant loans – because it may affect the type of mortgage you qualify for.

Large deposits

When applying for a mortgage, the lender will usually ask for two months’ worth of bank statements. If they notice you’ve made multiple large deposits of over $100 (that are not attributed to income from your job), it’s imperative you provide them with documentation explaining the source of the income. These large deposits can be deemed quite questionable during the underwriting process – so in order to avoid delays, be prepared with all necessary documentation.

Looking to buy a home in the Monmouth or Ocean County area? You saw our last four short financial solutions videos on the benefits of a First Financial mortgage, how First Financial works with our members’ lending needs, personalized service, and personalized loan options. Now check out our final video in this series: creative loan solutions. 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.

 Article Source: Wendy Moody for CUInsight.com

5 First Year Homeowner Expenses to Prepare For

Most of us are prepared for costs like homeowner’s insurance, property taxes, and HOA dues. We can work these predictable expenses into our housing budget as we begin to shop around and start the purchasing process. But what about the other things? Many who share their experience and advice, learned the hard way that certain expenses crop up with surprising predictability the first year you own a home. If you’re not prepared, these expenses could create a budgeting crisis, or even worse — a debt crisis.

1. Appliance Repair or Replacement

Your prospective home’s appraisal will bring to light just about every major and minor repair you’ll need to complete within the next 10 years, whether it’s flooring, roofing, siding, plumbing, electrical, or structural issues.

The appraisal also lists the appliances included with your home, and this is something you’ll want to pay special attention to. Take careful note of how old the appliances are and how heavily they’ve been used, so you’ll have a game plan for repairs or replacements. For instance, are you purchasing from a single person who didn’t use the dishwasher much or a family of five who used it daily? Here’s a list of the usual life expectancy for major appliances:

  • Washers, dryers, refrigerators, and dishwashers: 10 to 13 years (depending on prior use)
  • Gas ranges: 15 years
  • Stovetops: 15 to 18 years
  • Microwaves: 9 to 10 years
  • Water heaters: 10 to 20 years (tankless water heaters last longer)
  • Furnaces: 15 to 20 years

2. Cosmetic Upgrades

During your first few walk-throughs, you probably started brainstorming about the fun projects you want to do, like painting and updating light fixtures or window treatments. These types of things don’t seem expensive, but they can quickly add up when you’re doing several of them at once.

Separate what you need to do from what you’d like to do (the torn window blinds versus the ugly shade of purple in the bathroom), and draw up a cost estimate so you can start preparing for these upgrades before you move in.

3. Additional Furnishings

You may plan to use your current furniture, but typically you’ll need additional furniture items for your new home – especially if you’re gaining a guest bedroom or additional bathroom. Budget for this expense as well, and look for deals on swap sites and apps like CraigsList, Let Go or Offer Up.

4. Setting Up Services

This one is easy to take for granted, especially if you plan to keep the same services you’ve been using (at the same prices). Don’t forget that transferring services like telephone, internet, cable TV and satellite to a new location usually requires an installation and/or equipment fee. To save a little money, treat it as a new negotiation: don’t be afraid to ask about promotional deals and negotiate pricing based on the competition.

5. Re-keying All the Locks

Last, but not least, it’s always a good idea to re-key your home. Why? Unless your house is a new build, there have been multiple owners or even renters who could possess duplicate sets of keys to your house. This isn’t a major expense. Still, it could run as much as several hundred dollars depending on the number of doors and locks you have, so the expense will need to be budgeted to avoid charging up your credit card.

Handling These Expenses

Besides the previous advice, here are three more tips for preparing and handling these first-year home expenses:

  • Buy less house than you can afford to leave some wiggle room for these expenses in the housing category of your budget.
  • If time is on your side, save more than you think you’ll need for first-year expenses.
  • Prioritize these extra expenses and complete them slowly. After all, you plan on being in this house for awhile, right?

Looking to buy a home in the Monmouth or Ocean County area? You saw our last three short financial solutions videos on the benefits of a First Financial mortgage, how First Financial works with our members’ lending needs, and personalized service. Now check out video #4: personalized loan options. 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.

 Article Source: Jessica Sommerfield for moneyning.com

Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this July 2018

It’s time for some fun in the sun! Enjoy the beautiful weather and all the sights and sounds this summer season brings. Now is the perfect time to gather your family and friends to check out these free or inexpensive events in a town near you.

Independence Day Fireworks Schedule 2018

July 1:   Wall Township, Dusk at the Fairgrounds on Bailey’s Corner Road

               Lavallette, 9pm at the Lavallette Gazebo

July 3:   Freehold, Dusk at Freehold Raceway

              Bradley Beach, 9pm Beachfront

              Manasquan, Dusk at Main Beach

              Ocean Township, Dusk at Joe Palaia Park

              Lakewood, First Energy Park after the Blueclaws game

July 4:   Long Branch, 9pm Oceanfront Promenade

              Seaside Heights, 9:30pm on the boardwalk

July 5:   Pt. Pleasant, Dusk at Jenkinson’s Boardwalk

*For more Monmouth and Ocean County towns with fireworks – click here.

July 1: Open Ceramics at Thompson Park in Lincroft from 12:30-4:30pm. Choose from a large selection of bisque fired pottery pieces to glaze and make your own. Cost is $6 per hour plus the price of bisqueware (cash or check only). Call 732-842-4000, ext. 4343 or click here to learn more.

Open Gym at Fort Monmouth Recreation Center in Tinton Falls, from 10:30am to 4:30pm. Have fun in the indoor, climate controlled gymnasium! Play equipment and table games will be available all day. Cost is $5 per person for the day. Learn more by calling 848-456-4278 or click here.

July 4: Independence Day celebration at Longstreet Farm in Holmdel from 12-3pm. Independence Day was a festive time in the 1890s and patriotism was celebrated with music and games. Join the staff at Longstreet Farm as they celebrate the holiday with games and contests. This is a free event. Learn more details here, or call 732-946-3758.

July 8: Family Fun Night at Pier Village in Long Branch begins at 5pm. Enjoy a day of fun for the whole family at the Pier Village Arcade, Boardwalk Fun N’ Games for crane games and skee ball. Visit Festival Plaza for bounce houses, slides and inflatable obstacle courses and more! Learn more here or call 732-923-0100.

July 11: Ocean County Fair Opening Day at Robert J. Miller Air Park, Route 530 (Berkeley Township), from 5-11pm. The fair will run daily through July 15. Come enjoy animals, rides, food, vendors and live entertainment. Parking is free, kids under 10 are free, $8 admission for everyone else. See more details at http://oceancountyfair.com/ or call 732-914-9466.

July 14: Free Movie on the Beach in Belmar, begins at 8pm on 8th Avenue Beach. This week’s movie is Despicable Me 3. Don’t forget your blankets and chairs! Learn more here, or call 732-681-3700, ext. 214. Check out the rest of the summer’s movies on the beach schedule here.

July 14 & 15: Monmouth Park’s Surf and Turf Seafood Festival (Oceanport), gates open at 7:30am both days and the first race is 12:50pm. This two-day festival will let you enjoy the best of the Jersey Shore. Stop by the famous Monmouth Park sandcastle, then grab a crab cake and a refreshing beer and watch as your favorite horse breaks from the starting gate. While you cheer on your favorite horse, the kids can enjoy FREE Family Fun Day on Sunday! The kids will love the FREE pony rides, bounce house, face painting, and more. Plus, enjoy live music both days. General parking is $5, and admission is $5 a person. Learn more here or call 732-222-5100.

July 15: National Ice Cream Day at Casino Pier and Breakwater Beach (Seaside Heights). All day, enjoy free toppings on purchased ice cream cones or cups at Waffles & Ice Cream! Cool off from the summer heat on national ice cream day. Check out https://casinopiernj.com/promotions-events/ or call 732-793-6488.

July 18: Belmar Sandcastle Contest at 18th Avenue Beach from 8am-12pm. The competition is free and open to participants of all ages! Bring your shovels and creative flair for a day of sculpting in the sand. Rain date is July 19. Learn more here or call 732-681-3700, ext. 214.

July 21 & 22: Red, White, and Blue and Food Trucks Too at Laurita Winery (New Egypt). Celebrate America at Laurita Winery! Enjoy food trucks, family activities, free vineyard wagon tours, and Saturday evening fireworks. The fun begins at 11am each day. Admission is $8 per person, those under 21 years old are free. Go to www.lauritawinery.com or call 609-758-8000.

July 25: Monmouth County Fair Opening Day at the East Freehold Park Showgrounds. The fair will run daily through July 29. Don’t miss the craft market, food, animal exhibits, rides, entertainment, amusements, and more. There will be fireworks on opening night. See more details here, or call 732-842-4000, ext. 4312.

Ocean County Mall Car Cruise (Toms River), in the parking lot near Bahama Breeze from 5-9pm. Car cruise to the mall co-sponsored by the Vintage Automobile Museum of NJ. Open to all vehicles. Best of show trophy, paved parking, and food and drink available. Rain date July 26. Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted. See more details at http://www.vintageautomuseum.org/ or call 609-713-4310.

We hope everyone has an enjoyable summer!

Small Business Spotlight: White Lilac Inn in Spring Lake

I am pleased to present a monthly blog post which features one of our current businesses, how they got started, and how First Financial has helped them grow their business. If this inspires you to want to expand your business goals or see how First Financial can assist you further, feel free to reach out to me. Keep reading to learn more about our featured Business of the Month, White Lilac Inn in Spring Lake. — Matt Brazinski, Assistant VP of Business Development

White Lilac Inn: 

Set in a circa-1880 property, this charming Spring Lake Victorian-style B&B with white wrap-around porches is a 2-minute walk from Wreck Pond, less than a mile from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, and 6 miles from Jenkinson’s Aquarium in Pt. Pleasant.

Airy rooms and suites feature free Wi-Fi, TVs, fireplaces and private bathrooms, as well as air-conditioning. Some offer whirlpool tubs, ceiling fans, and private porches. Suites add extra bedrooms, canopy beds, sofas and/or mini-fridges.

Full breakfast is served in a bright dining area with private tables. There’s also an elegant fireside lounge with antique furnishings, as well as loaner bikes and free beach passes.

Owner: Mari Kennelly

Years in Business: 24

Previous Careers: Art teacher, school picture photographer, wedding photographer, foreign exchange student teacher for students from Japan, real estate sales, and art gallery management.

What do you love most about this business? The people!  It’s so nice to see returning guests, some every year, some every few years. Sometimes it seems the world comes right to your doorstep. It is great meeting and forming relationships with many wonderful and interesting people.

What has your biggest challenge been in business? Trying to schedule time for myself, you learn to take time off and plan ahead. Also it is important to schedule and NOT try to do everything yourself.

What do you like most about banking with First Financial? Very helpful tellers! One gal went out of her way to help me set up my account so I can view it online. Your seminars are very valuable too. They helped me get an idea of what some online placement such as Facebook can do for your business.

What is your key to success? Enjoying people and helping them to get to know the area. Making them feel comfortable, being there but not hovering. They can reach me when they need me, but they can enjoy the Inn with each other.

If you are looking for a great local staycation, or have friends or relatives coming into town, definitely check out White Lilac Inn in Spring Lake!  For more information visit whitelilac.com

Ready to grow your business? Call the Business Development Department at 732.312.1500, email business@firstffcu.com or stop by any branch location. Learn more about our Business Account products and services on our website.

5 Ways to Throw a 4th of July Blast on a Budget

Like the rockets responsible for the legendary red glare, 4th of July business is booming! According to a National Retail Federation report, Americans spent more than $7 billion on Independence Day celebrations last year. That figure is pretty steep — especially when you consider that America only spent $151 million (approximately $2.4 billion when adjusted for current inflation) on the Revolutionary War itself.

With our country’s birthday quickly approaching, you may be wondering whether it’s possible to show your star-spangled spirit without overspending on the festivities. We’re happy to report it’s entirely possible, especially if you follow these five tips:

1. Use DIY or dollar store decorations.
Thanks to Pinterest and your local dollar store, it’s easier than ever to stretch your decoration dollars. Before you spend your hard-earned money on red, white, and blue decorations from big box stores or trendy boutiques, see if you can give the holiday a personal touch with some simple DIY projects. If you don’t have enough time to get crafty, swing by the dollar store and load up your patriotic cart for less.

2. Host a BBQ potluck.
There’s nothing like celebrating the 4th with family, friends, and food. But just because you’re the one hosting the party, doesn’t mean you should foot the entire food bill. If you’re going to grill out, consider providing the main course (burgers, hot dogs, chicken, etc.) and asking your guests to bring their favorite fixings, dessert, and sides. While everyone gets to show off their individual tastes, you get to hang on to more of your hard-earned cash.

3. BYOB. If your gathering is going to include adult beverages, there are a few great reasons to adopt a BYOB policy. First, when everyone brings their own beverage, they’re sure to have something they enjoy. Second, unlike kid-friendly sodas and juice boxes, grown-up drinks can be pricey. Just like buying a round at the bar, providing beer or wine for all your cookout guests can put a serious dent in your budget.

4. Do not BYOF.
Not familiar with this abbreviation? BYOF stands for “Buy Your Own Fireworks.” And if you’ve ever experienced the sticker shock that happens in a fireworks store, you know exactly why purchasing your own explosives can be dangerous to your wallet (not to mention your health and safety). Check your local news outlets and social media accounts for information on community fireworks shows instead.

5. Plan for next year.
One of the best things about 4th of July festivities is that the theme is always the same. That means you can score some incredible deals on Independence Day trinkets and decorations by shopping on July 5th and beyond. Since most stores don’t want to hold holiday inventory for an entire year, they often offer drastic discounts that will let you pick up next year’s decorations for much less.

However you choose to commemorate our nation’s birthday, a little creativity and advanced planning can help you celebrate in style — and within your budget.

Congrats Graduate! 4 Things to Do with Your Gift Money

Cash tops the list of popular graduation gifts year in and year out. If it’s your turn to don a cap and gown this year, congratulations – you probably pocketed a significant amount of change along with your achievement. So, what are you going to do with it?

Since we tend to view graduation gifts as a form of “extra” money (a psychological money trap known as mental accounting), it can be tempting to quickly reach for that wish list. Before you do though, consider these four ways you can use it to both celebrate your achievement and give yourself a better financial foundation for the future.

1. Celebrate the present.

You’ve achieved something important, so go ahead — spend some of that money on yourself, any way you’d like. Instead of blowing the whole sum, financial advisors recommend setting aside about 10% for yourself. If your cash gifts totaled the $1000, that still gives you $100 to spend on clothes, electronics, entertainment – whatever.

2. Invest in your future.

With the other 90%, one good choice is to invest in tools that will help you succeed in your next life steps. If you are jumping into a high tech job, maybe you’d like a new laptop or specialized software you could use to make work life more efficient.

There are also other practical needs like expensive furniture and household goods if you are moving out. Although the return can be harder to quantify, putting some of your graduation gift money toward these expenses is an investment in yourself.

3. Save for the future.

Graduation cash doesn’t have to burn a hole in your pocket – it’s okay if you don’t have a plan for it right away. In fact, saving it is a very good plan. If you’re already on a budget or would like to start, treat your graduation money like income and apply the 50/20/30 rule. Savings is the 20%, so calculate this much and set it aside.

Although you can certainly save for the future in terms of life after high school or college, you may need to first focus on shorter-term needs like living expenses. One of the best places to save your cash is in a separate savings account (or an account you won’t be using for daily purchases). Since you won’t see or use this money all the time, you’ll feel less tempted to spend the funds on impulse purchases.

4. Invest for your future.

Investing in your future is important, but so is investing for your future. For young investors, many financial advisors recommend mutual funds with low-cost index funds. The key is to choose an option that doesn’t require extensive management, knowledge, or risk, especially when you’re just getting started.

The amount you invest isn’t so important; after all, your money and your salary will grow for decades to come. They key is to start learning the ins and outs of investing. Not only will this give you another, potentially more profitable savings channel, you’ll learn solid investment management skills that will set you up for the future when you need to properly allocate the wealth you will accumulate for the rest of your life.

Questions about investments? To set up a complimentary consultation with the Investment & Retirement Center located at First Financial Federal Credit Union to discuss your savings goals, contact us at 732.312.1500 or stop in to see us!*

Regardless of how little or much your graduation cash amounts to, determine to enjoy a little, save a little, invest in yourself, and plan for the future. The way you choose to use this money can set a trend of how you’ll manage your money for years to come, so let it be a good one!

*Representatives are registered, securities are sold, and investment advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor, 2000 Heritage Way, Waverly, Iowa 50677, toll-free 800-369-2862. Non-deposit investment and insurance products are not federally insured, involve investment risk, may lose value and are not obligations of or guaranteed by the financial institution. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution, through the financial services program, to make securities available to members. CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., is a registered broker/dealer in all fifty states of the United States of America.

Article Source: Jessica Sommerfield for moneyning.com