Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this August 2017

Happy summer everyone! As we continue to enjoy the beautiful weather and the fun outdoor activities – here are a few exciting events that you and your family and friends can attend all month long. Remember to get out and embrace the summer fun while it lasts!

August 1 is National Night Out! Check out where your local town is participating:

August 3-6: Clamfest in the Highlands – 4-day action packed event featuring the freshest seafood from local restaurants, spirits, live entertainment, thrill rides, games and more. Clamfest takes place at Huddy Park at the corner of Waterwitch & Bay Avenue. Call 732-291-4713 or go to http://www.highlandsnj.com/ for details.

August 4: Beach Ball-a-Palooza (Toms River). This free event on Silver Bay (Bandon Road) features live music, crafts, sports, vendors, and more. A shuttle will be provided. For details visit oceancountyparks.org or call 732-506-9090 ext. 5951

August 5: Blood Drive and Free Shred Event at First Financial’s Corporate Headquarters Parking Lot (Howell). The blood drive takes place from 9am-1pm and 9am-12pm for the shred truck. Advanced registration for blood donations is preferred. The shred event is open to the public, and there is a limit of 5 bags per person. For more details or to sign up to donate blood, call 732-312-1500 or click here.

Italian Festival & Wine Tasting at Monmouth Park (Oceanport) from 11:30am to 5pm. There will be plenty of Italian food, bocce ball, and live music! Call 732-222-5100 or click here for information.

August 7: Full Moon Beach Camping (Seaside Heights) from 7pm to sunrise. Participants are invited to bring their own tent and camp overnight on the beach. The number of camp sites is limited, so pre-registration will be required. This is a family-friendly event located at North Beach/Hiering Ave. Visit www.exit82.com or call 732-830-3700.

August 9-13: Ocean Township Italian Festival at Joe Palaia Park on Whalepond Road (begins at 5pm). For information go to http://iaato.com/festival/ or call 732-517-1040.

August 12: Mid-Summer Flea Market at Allaire Village (Wall). Hunt for hidden treasures amid furniture, books, art work, bottles, knick knacks, and so much more! The event runs from 8-3pm. $5 admission per car.  The Village, General Store, and Bakery are open as well.   The rain date is August 13th. For details call 732-919-3500 or click here.

West End Cruise Night and Classic Car Show: Brighton Avenue in Long Branch from 6-10pm. Go to http://visitlongbranch.com/ for details or call 732-222-7000 ext. 5447

August 19: Clambake at 6pm in Lavallette at Chandler Ball Field. Come out for a fun night featuring Lavallette’s best restaurants and music! Purchase tickets at www.enjoylavallette.com,  My Sister’s Jewelry Box, or IceBerg Ice Cream.$30 tickets for adults, $15 tickets for children ages 3-12. Call 732-300-7462 for more details.

August 19-20: Spring Lake Summer Sidewalk Sale in the downtown business district. Call 732-449-0037 or go to http://www.visitspringlake.com/

Food Trucks and Fire Pits at Laurita Winery (New Egypt). There will be fireworks on Saturday evening. $8 per person and kids under 12 are free. Go to www.lauritawinery.com or call 609-758-8000.

August 25: “Karate Kid” – Free Summer Film Series at Count Basie Theater in Red Bank, 7pm. Go to http://www.countbasietheatre.org/ or call 732-224-8778, ext. 132

August 26: Long Branch Jazz and Blues Festival from 12-9pm. Sponsored by the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation and features well-known jazz and blues artists. Fireworks at 10pm. Promenade and Great Lawn at the Boardwalk. Call 732-222-7000 ext. 5447 or go to http://www.visitlongbranch.com/

 

Stay Cool this Summer and Save Money

The summer sun is hot. You come inside to escape the heat, but more than likely you’re also spending a ton on those energy bills. Below are a few ways you can stay cool this summer while also staying on top of your budget.

Adjust your air conditioning accordingly.

Of course, you want to take full advantage of your air conditioner, but do so with some forethought. Before you leave for work or even to run a few errands, crank the air up a couple degrees. That way when you’re gone, the house isn’t being cooled down when there’s no one home.

Also, turn the air up at night and on cooler days to avoid unnecessary costs. Many HVAC units also have programmable features that allow you to customize how your system runs, which can really help when your bill arrives. Another great idea is to close vents in any rooms that are unused to avoid wasting that cool air. Always change out air filters when needed, to avoid any clogging that may make your unit less efficient.

Fans are your friend.

Another great idea for keeping your home cool is to periodically run ceiling and other fans to keep the cool air flowing. This can also help spread the cool air when you return home after having your air conditioning unit cranked up while you were away.

Unplug unused items.

During the summer, it’s natural to want to get inside and flee the heat, but be mindful of how much more energy you are using while running those devices. Computers, televisions, and other gadgets are a great way to stay entertained – but they also can use a lot of power and put a dent in your wallet. So, when not in use, get unplugged to cut costs and save electricity.

Wait to run appliances.

If you are able, hold off on running the dishwasher until the evening when the sun is low and it’s not as warm. That way any heat emitted will be less noticeable in your home. The oven can also make your house hot, so consider cooking on the grill to keep the heat outdoors. Additionally, save your showers for the evening so your bathroom isn’t unnecessarily warm while you’re getting ready in the morning and rushing out the door.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

Local Alert: Skimming Device Found on Point Pleasant NJ Rite Aid ATM

A skimming device was found on a local ATM in Point Pleasant, New Jersey at Bridge Avenue Rite Aid on July 24th. However, it is suspected that the device was placed around July 17th.  If you used this ATM – you should monitor your bank statements and change your card PIN numbers. Anyone who discovers any unauthorized activity on their account should contact the Point Pleasant Police Department to file a report. If you are a First Financial member and used one of your First Financial cards at this ATM, please call Member Services at 732-312-1500.

To read the full article from Patch, click here.

Please be careful of such devices and be sure to protect yourself and your bank account by using the following steps:

  • Use secure ATM machines under video surveillance or inside of a bank lobby. They’re less likely to be tampered with!
  • Pay careful attention to what the card reader and keypad normally looks like on the ATMs you use most frequently.
  • Don’t use an ATM if the card reader appears to be added on, fits poorly, or is loose.Some thieves place a fake box over the card slot that reads and records account and PIN numbers.
  • Call the customer service number on the ATM immediately if a machine appears suspiciousor if it does not function properly.

Don’t become a fraud victim!

3 Vacation Expenses You’re Forgetting About

Vacation season is in full swing and it’s time to get packing. Your flight and hotel are booked and you’re ready to go. But before you take your trip, take a careful look at your travel budget. Are there certain expenses you may be overlooking? Be sure to take a look at these three commonly forgotten travel costs so you can plan your vacation budget accordingly.

Airport parking

In most cases, airports don’t require payment for parking until travelers return from their trip and head home. Therefore, once you arrive at the airport and head off to your destination, paying for parking may not be on your radar. It’s important to keep parking costs in mind while you’re enjoying your trip so when it’s time to pay, you still have enough set aside. Also, consider parking in economy lots over more expensive options. Even if you have to park farther away and take a shuttle to the terminal, at least you’ll be saving a few bucks after an expensive getaway.

Tipping

We all know to tip at restaurants, but it’s also proper to tip for other services while on vacation. The American Hotel & Lodging Association gives specific details on who should be given gratuity and how much. Examples of such services that are often overlooked by tippers include housekeepers, concierges, room service attendants, and travel guides.

Extra fees

It can often be difficult to find our preferred bank while traveling. Using ATMs at other banks can cost anywhere from $3-5, which can add up if you’re withdrawing cash multiple times. Instead, before your vacation begins, know where your bank’s ATMs are located or prepare to take out enough cash in advance before you travel. Aside from the cost of ATMs, also consider fees for using Wi-Fi (whether on a plane or in your hotel room) and data roaming charges. There’s nothing worse than using your phone for the internet and messaging only to come home to a massive cell phone bill you weren’t anticipating.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

4 Financial Items to Review this Summer

Summer is the perfect time for vacations at the beach and weekends at the pool. It’s also a great time for assessing your financial health. Things are generally a bit slower in summer, so use your time wisely and take a minute to review these four important financial items.

Emergency Fund

Before you fork out significant dough for that condo on the beach, make sure you’re not dipping into your emergency reserves. It’s impossible to know what unexpected things may pop up in life, but having a financial cushion is crucial. A general rule of thumb is to maintain about four months’ living expenses in your emergency fund. If you don’t have that, don’t even think about taking a summer vacation.

Credit

How much do you actually know about your credit? Do you know your credit score? Summer is the perfect time before the holiday spending season to research where you stand financially. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion all offer free credit reports, so do your homework before opening up another credit card.

Retirement Savings

You may not pay much attention throughout the year to contributions to your retirement savings, but summer is a great time for a review. Are you satisfied with how much is being moved from your paychecks to your retirement fund? Is your company matching your contribution? Don’t wait until it’s too late to be in the know. If you are able, contribute as much as you can to your financial future.

General Budget

It can be hard during the busiest times of the year to truly evaluate our spending habits. We move from one workday to the next and do the best we can to budget. During the summer, sit down and give your finances a good look. Are there areas in your life where you can really cut back? If you can make adjustments during the summer months for the rest of the year, you can potentially be putting extra money back in your pocket.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

 

4 Reasons You’re in Debt

Status.

We’ve all heard of “Keeping up with the Joneses.” It’s that desire to have the things others have that may be too extravagant for your budget. If you go around thinking about the things you feel like you’re missing out on, you’re probably going to put yourself in a financial hole. Take a pause when you feel an impulse-buy coming on, and save yourself a headache later.

Credit cards.

Don’t let your credit cards be in charge (no pun intended). Take hold of your finances and don’t spend money you don’t have. Sure, there are benefits to using credit cards, but they can also be your worst enemy if you’re not careful. Use credit cards to build good credit but once you start racking up debt, it can take a long time to get out from underneath it.

Unforeseen expenses.

Sometimes expenses come out of nowhere. You may feel like you’re doing good, but then your engine fails and you need a new car. Be prepared. Make sure you’re building up an emergency fund, because if you don’t have it when you need it, you’ll end up putting yourself in a deep hole in the blink of an eye.

Life is expensive.

You may think your budget is mapped out and solid (and it may be), but then your best friend gets engaged. The next thing you know, you’re hitting up an ATM machine. Sometimes, you need to spend money celebrating, but plan ahead and you’ll be doing yourself a favor down the road.

Get yourself on track financially with our budgeting guidebook! Need help creating a budget you can stick to? Attend one of our free budgeting seminars during the year or make an appointment with a representative at your local First Financial branch.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com