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

We can finally enjoy the Spring sun and warming weather! Don’t forget to take advantage of our local parks and enjoy a bike ride, a hike, play basketball or even a have a family picnic this month. It’s a free, fun and a great way to stay active and get some fresh air at the same time. And, Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 13th so don’t forget to appreciate Mom! Check out some more free or inexpensive activities below that you can enjoy this month with your family and friends.

May 5: Spring Fling Arts & Crafts Show in Ocean Grove from 10am-4pm. Free admission to the event, which includes over 200 crafters and artisans, and live music. The event will be held rain or shine. Learn more at http://www.oceangrovenj.com/ or call 732-774-1391.

May 6: County Seat Jazz and Blues Fest in downtown Freehold from 12-6pm. This event takes place on West Main Street between Court Street and Throckmorton Street. Many vendors are participating with a variety of items such as jewelry, t-shirts, clothing, handmade dog biscuits, soaps, honey, unique crafts, and more. Food provided by Big Harlie BBQ and House of Cupcakes. Learn more about the event here, or call 732-333-0094.

May 12: Late Spring Flea Market at Allaire Village (Farmingdale) from 8am-3pm. Enjoy a day of bargains, treasures, artwork and more. Then enjoy a stroll through the Historic Village, General Store, and Village Bakery. $1 admission. To learn more call 732-919-3500 or click here.

Mommy and Me Tea Party at Allaire Village (Farmingdale) takes place between 11am-2pm also on May 12th. Seating times at 11am, noon, 1pm, and 2pm.This event is designed for children up to age 10, but all ages are welcome. Feel free to bring a fuzzy friend and a fun hat! There will also be storytelling. The event fee is $5 per person, and pre-registration is required. Please be sure to park in the main parking lot for Allaire State Park and come to the Row House & Village Museum (aka Visitor Center) for the event check-in. Please arrive 30 minutes in advance of your seating time. Call 732-919-3500 for details or click here to register online.

May 13: Mother’s Day at Jenkinson’s Boardwalk (Pt. Pleasant). Moms receive FREE admission to the Aquarium, Fun House, Mini Golf, Rides and Adventure Lookout all day with a paying child! FREE Chair Massages for Moms across from the aquarium from 1pm-4pm. Enjoy Arts & Crafts, Face painter and Balloonists from 1pm-4pm too. Details at http://www.jenkinsons.com/ or call 732-892-0600.

May 18-20: Annual Seafood Festival in Belmar. The event takes place at Silver Lake Park (5th and Ocean Avenues) from 4-8pm Friday, 11am-8pm Saturday, and 11am-6pm Sunday. Free admission, live music, children’s activities, beer tent & wine garden, seafood & specialty vendors, and more. Go to http://www.visitbelmarnj.com/ or call 732-681-3700 to learn more.

May 19: Ocean Grove Vintage Car Show from 10am-4pm, rain or shine. Over 90 cars will be on display on Main Avenue, as well as live music for everyone to enjoy. $5 donation for car admission or bring a canned good with you. Canned goods and donations will go to the Lunch Break organization. Call 732-774-1391 or go to http://www.oceangrovenj.com/ for more information.

Annual NJ State Chili and Salsa Cook-Off on Main Street in downtown Toms River, 11am-5pm. Come taste the best chili from your local restaurants and chefs and vote for your favorite! If chili isn’t your thing, there will also be food trucks offering up everything from hamburgers and hot dogs to gyros, empanadas and more. Toms River Fire Co. #1 will have a beer & wine garden. Live entertainment, merchandise vendors, and kids rides. Free parking downtown during the event, and free admission. Tasting kits for sampling chili are $7. Go to www.downtowntomsriver.com or call 732-341-8738.

May 26 & 27: Spring Lake Race Day and Sidewalk Sale. Spring Lake’s annual 5 mile run starts at 8am on May 26 and you can register at www.springlake5.org. The race day sidewalk sale starts on Third Avenue at 10am on May 26 and goes until 5pm on May 27. Learn more here or call 732-449-0037.

May 26-28: Jersey Shore Food Truck Festival at Monmouth Park (Oceanport). This year’s annual food truck festival will feature 45 trucks including fresh-made empanadas, to ocean-fresh lobster rolls, to warm and gooey Belgian Waffle sundaes. 5/26 and 5/27 gates will open earlier at 11am, and 11:30am on 5/28. There will be live music each day and on 5/27 and 5/28 face painting, pony rides, a bounce house, and more. Admission is $5, and kids 12 and under are free. Learn more here, or call 732-222-5100.

Can You Afford a Pet?

Before envisioning long walks and fur-baby snuggles, make sure you are financially prepared for what’s ahead. The ASPCA estimates the first year costs of owning a pet is at least $1,000 – and that’s not factoring in unexpected emergencies.

Here is the breakdown of the average annual costs for a medium dog (not including the adoption fee which can range from $45-$300).

One-time costs

Spaying/Neuter: $200
Initial Medical Exam: $70
Collar and leash: $30-$45
Crate: $95+
Travel Crate: $60+
Training: $110

Recurring costs

Food: $319
Annual Exams: $235
Toys/Treats: $55+
License: $15
Grooming: $264+
Pet Insurance: $225

First Year Average TOTAL: $1,723

If you have a large dog, that average total jumps to $2,008. Cats are a bit friendlier on your wallet at $1,174.

Here are a few tips to help keep costs down:

Schedule regular check-ups.
Don’t be afraid to shop around for the right vet and compare preventative care fees. Ask family or friends who have pets who they go to and if they are happy with the veterinary services.

Brush your pet’s teeth.
Just don’t use toothpaste made for people, since the fluoride may irritate your pet’s stomach. But good dental health is important for pets – believe it or not, dental disease can lead to heart and kidney problems.

Groom your pet at home.
Some grooming salons offer a fully stocked self-service room complete with a tub, blow dryer, apron, and gloves at a fraction of the cost. Bonus? You take your fresh smelling dog home without doing any post-bath clean-up. Also invest in a good brush. Setting aside daily brushing time is good for your pet and will reduce the amount of hair floating around your home.

Article Source: Myriam DiGiovanni for Financialfeed.com

Small Business Spotlight: Clarity Salon in Brielle

As First Financial’s Assistant Vice President of Business Development, one of my favorite functions in my role is business to business networking. Essentially I introduce First Financial Federal Credit Union, a not-for-profit organization – with local small businesses. As a community credit union, it is our goal to help local businesses build and expand. Partnering together allows us to use each other’s services, promote each other and help each other succeed. First Financial grows and our local businesses grow, it’s a win-win!

With that being said, I am pleased to present a monthly blog 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, Clarity Salon in Brielle.  — Matt Brazinski, Assistant VP of Business Development

We sat down with Tracey Mahady the owner of Clarity Salon in Brielle to talk briefly about her business.

After 25 years in the industry, Tracey took a break to care for her father whose health was declining. She wasn’t sure she wanted to get back into a traditional salon setting, so her father suggested that she open her own small place. That small place she opened five years ago is not so small anymore!

Clarity prides themselves on using the best high-end organic hair care products. These products function at a very high level and do not contain harmful chemical ingredients.

Tracey’s favorite part of owning the business is that it truly is hers.  She has cultivated a wonderful working environment for her five employees where everyone is treated fairly. The environment is fun, creative and simply beautiful. Customers are welcomed with personalized service and the finished product is excellent.

Clarity Salon and First Financial FCU have worked together since the start of Tracey’s business venture. Tracey enjoys that we are very personal, reachable and there are no hiccups with her banking. The member service that we provide, is exactly what Clarity prides itself in providing to its customers – so the two business philosophies really go hand in hand.  Obtaining a business line of credit for Clarity was a smooth process and really helped to kickstart the success of the business.  Tracey would absolutely refer First Financial to friends, family and other business owners.

First Financial’s Business Line of Credit features:
• No pre-payment penalties
• No application fees
• Flexible terms and fixed monthly payments
• Advance from the line of credit as you need it!

Ready to grow your business?
Call the Business Development Department at 732.312.1500, email business@firstffcu.com or stop by any branch location.

Spring 2018 Newsletter

Our Spring Semi-Annual Member Newsletter has arrived!

In a continued effort to go green, we’re publishing our newsletter electronically – it can also be found on our website and social media sites. Paper copies will also be available in our branches. This Spring First Edition newsletter covers some great new topics and talks about some of the exciting events and promotions going on at First Financial for the beginning of 2018.

The Spring Newsletter features the following articles:

  • Upcoming First Financial seminars and events (April – August 2018)
  • Article – “Should you pay for credit repair services? Probably not.”
  • Message from the CEO
  • Buy out your vehicle lease ad
  • “How does working affect social security retirement benefits?” – IRC Article
  • LIFE Fair Program
  • 2017 year-end food and gift drives help our local community
  • “Member Alert: Tech support scams” – Article
  • Important information, holidays, phone numbers, and branch locations

 To view a copy of the newsletter, click here.

Enjoy and Happy Spring!

5 Things You Should Buy at Costco

About 1 in 5 products sold at Costco are the store’s Kirkland brand. According to Consumer Reports, some Kirkland products rate higher than premium brands. Here are four highly-rated Kirkland products and one other item you should be buying from Costco.

Bacon

Consumer Reports tested regular and thick-sliced uncooked bacon, precooked bacon and turkey bacon. Of all types and brands tested, only Kirkland Signature bacon was rated excellent. “It crisped up nicely and consistently and had balanced fat and meat flavors, complemented by wood smoke and a taste of sweetness,” the report said.

Mayonnaise

After you’ve stocked up on bacon, head over to the condiment aisle to pick up some mayo to make BLTs. Kirkland’s Signature Real Mayonnaise rated just as good as Hellmann’s in Consumer Reports’ blind taste tests. And, it costs 60% less.

Car batteries

Kirkland’s Signature 12866 battery, which is suitable for large Ford or Mercury cars, trucks or SUVs, aced nearly every Consumer Reports test. The $85 dollar battery almost beat out the top rated battery from Interstate, which costs $280. Consumer Reports rated all car batteries and said many Kirkland batteries performed very well in its tests.

Ice Cream

Kirkland Signature Super Premium Vanilla ice cream consistently rates 5 out of 5 stars, and Consumer Reports tasters called it “full and dense with a big dairy flavor and complex vanilla-extract flavor.” The Costco brand beat out premium brands like Breyers and Baskin Robbins, and because it’s typically sold in packages of two half-gallon containers, it’s much less expensive than Ben & Jerry’s – about 30 cents per serving, compared to $1 per serving for Ben & Jerry’s.

Eye glasses

Costco topped Consumer Report’s eyeglass store ratings, which was based on a survey of nearly 20,000 subscribers. Costco shoppers paid less for frames and lenses than those who bought their glasses from independent retailers, private physicians or specialty eyeglass stores like LensCrafters or Pearle Vision. The median Costco price for a pair of glasses was $186, compared to about $300 elsewhere.

The moral of the story, it might be time to think about getting that Costco membership. Or if you already have one, be sure to check out these products!

Article Source: Heather Anderson for CUInsight.com

3 Ways to Prepare for Next Tax Season

Tomorrow tax season is finally coming to a close. Believe it or not, it’s never too early to start thinking about next year. If filing your taxes was a headache and a hassle this year, here are a few tips to get you prepared for 2019.

Get organized: Did you waste a bunch of time looking for receipts this year? Create a system, whether it’s a file cabinet or a shoebox, and keep track of those receipts and other financial documents you may need at the end of the year. Keep a tally of your charitable and retirement contributions and you’ll be ready to go as soon as you get that W-2 in the mail.

Keep track of changes: What’s happened to you this year, and what will be happening in the next few months? Are you getting married? Having a baby? Buying a house? Opening up a Roth IRA? All of these things will affect your filing status, so make sure you’re up to speed on how any of things will affect your filing process.

Be patient: Do you have a side business or do freelance work? If so, any number of hiccups can occur during tax preparation. Be prepared – but know it’s not a huge deal if you have to file an extension. If you find yourself in this boat, head on over to IRS.gov and get an extension form.

With a little preparation, you can make the tax season process a lot easier.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com