2019 Classroom Grants: Call for Entries!

Calling all teachers! Does your classroom need a little help for the 2019-2020 school year? Tell us what your classroom needs are!

The First Financial Foundation will be awarding classroom grants up to $500 each this coming Fall. Grants will be awarded to Monmouth and Ocean County schools.

Grant applications will be accepted between August 1 and September 30, 2019.

To submit an entry, please email foundation@firstffcu.com no later than 11:59pm on September 30th. Your email should tell us in 500 words or less, or you can submit a Youtube video no longer than 3 minutes – letting us know how much you are requesting up to $500, and what you would use the grant for. Please be sure to include your full name, position, school name, address, a contact phone number and email. Educators may also be nominated by an administrator.

All grant recipients will be notified by the First Financial Foundation on or about October 15, 2019.

Good luck!

*To apply, email foundation@firstffcu.com and tell us in 500 words or less or submit a video no longer than 3 minutes, letting us know how much you are requesting and what you would use the grant for. Grant applicants must also submit their name, position, school name, school address, and a contact phone number and email. All applications must be received by 11:59pm on 9/30/19. The Foundation will notify grant recipients on or about 10/15/19. Educators may also be nominated by an administrator. Total funds available for 2019 classroom grants is $2,000.  Applying does not guarantee receiving a grant. Not all applicants will receive grant money. Before applying, be sure to check with your school district to see if there are any rules or requirements for applying or accepting grant money. Federally insured by NCUA.

12 Ways to Enjoy Life Without Spending Tons of Money this Summer

The greatest things in life are those worthwhile experiences we often simply take for granted. While some may think that having expensive items are what leads to happiness, below are some ways you can still enjoy yourself without spending a fortune this summer.

1. Walk the Beach

Taking a walk along the beach not only clears your head, but it is a great way to relax amid any stress in your life. Feeling the sand beneath your feet as you navigate the coast is unlike anything else. Plus, depending on where you live – this is a low cost experience for the day. Or if you’re just walking after hours (dusk) or in the early morning, it’s free!

2. Explore Unknown Places Around Town

If you have the need for adventure, taking the time to explore around where you live is always fun. You never know what you are going to find – maybe your next frequent stop or go-to restaurant or shop.

3. Take a Nature Walk

Following a path in and out of the woods is always an exciting way to escape from the world and have some much needed time to yourself. If you wanted to take it to the next level, outdoor camping overnight is also another idea.

4. Ride Your Bike

Not only do you get some exercise, but this is a great way to explore the area and enjoy the outdoors while also exercising. Bike rides with friends or family is also a fun warm weather day time activity as well! Don’t own a bike? Find a local shop that will rent you one for the day.

5. Hang Out at the Boardwalk

Bringing you back to your childhood days is always a great experience, even if you don’t spend any money. As you walk along the boardwalk with some cotton candy, ice cream or a hot dog, you can’t help but smile.

6. Read a Book

Getting hooked on a book opens an entirely new journey as you turn each page. Reading outside on a summer night is even better!

7. Surf the Waves

Take a surf lesson or rent a surfboard for a day at the beach. Even if you don’t own or can’t rent a surf board, body boarding can be a great alternative.

8. Play a Board Game with Family

Remember how much fun you used to have when you beat family members in the game of Monopoly or Chess? Relive that past time as you relish the classical way to entertain yourself (prior to video games, computers and tablets).

9. Spend Time with Family

Spending time with loved ones is always a great way to enjoy yourself, as each new experience you have with them becomes a memory that you can cherish forever.

10. Play an Instrument

For those who love music, playing an instrument is not only relaxing – it also helps to keep the mind focused and sharp. What a great way to entertain yourself while also enjoying the sounds of classical music.

11. Take a Friend Out for Ice Cream

Having fun with friends, especially when sharing a sweet treat is definitely the thing to do in the summer. The experience you have with friends is priceless. And the cost of ice cream won’t break the bank either.

12. Walk the Mall

Even if you don’t have any money to spend, “looking without spending money” is a great way to still enjoy yourself without dealing with the burden of that future credit card bill in the mail! Just be sure to only look.

Article Source: David Ning for Moneyning.com

Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this August 2019

With the summer days breezing by, make use of the sunny weather as long as you can. This is the time to make plans with family and friends, explore the activities waiting for you just outside your door, and make memories that will last a lifetime. Don’t hang your head that summer is coming to a close, make the most of the time and make it your family’s best month yet!

August 1-4: Annual Clamfest (Highlands) from 6pm-10pm at Huddy Park. Love seafood? The Clam Festival features a 120 foot seafood court serving the freshest foods from many famous restaurants that the Highlands has to offer. Admission and parking is free and the event will be held rain or shine. There will be a beer and wine garden, live entertainment, vendors, and fireworks on August 2nd. For more information, click here.

August 3:

Lake Yoga at Lake Lefferts in Matawan from 9-10am. Participate in yoga on the lake every summer Saturday! Bulk class discount is available. For more information or to register call 732-566-3898 ext.130 or click here.

Italian Fest at Monmouth Park Racetrack (Oceanport) from 11am-5:30pm. Pizza, pasta and wine – it’s the most delicious time of year at the Italian Festival! Bring your family and friends to enjoy amazing Italian food, listen to live music, see and shop from Italian crafters, play a game of bocce, and experience a fun day of racing too. For $10, adults 21+ can enjoy 5 two ounce Italian wine samples. Parking is $5, admission is $5 and kids 12 and under are free. Learn more here.

August 3-4: Luau Foodtruck Festival at Laurita Winery (New Egypt). Grab your Hawaiian shirt and enjoy some sangria, live bands, free vineyard wagon rides, 15 food trucks, and fireworks on Saturday night! Admission is $12 on Saturday and $10 on Sunday. Discount tickets are available online at www.lauritawinery.com or call 609-758-8000.

August 5-10: Keyport Fireman’s Fair at Fireman’s Park (West Front Street) from 7pm-11pm. The annual Keyport Fireman’s Fair is back yet again! Have fun at the boardwalk and carnival while enjoying warm weather, food, games, rides, and more. Fireworks will take place on August 10th. For more information visit this link.

August 7-11: Annual Township of Ocean Italian Festival at Joe Palaia Park from 5-11pm. Celebrate Italian heritage and culture! There will be rides, fireworks, games, raffles, food eating contests, an Italian street band, nightly entertainment and Italian delights. Free admission and fireworks on August 9th. Learn more here.

August 9 and 23: Movies in the Park (Howell) at dusk on the Howell Library Hill, 318 Old Tavern Road. August 9th will feature Mary Poppins Returns and August 23rd will feature Coco. Bring blankets or your favorite lawn chair. The event will feature a collection of non-perishable food items to go to the local food bank. Find out more here.

August 10: Mid-Summer Flea Market at Allaire Village (Wall) from 8am-3pm. Hunt for bargains among vintage treasure, books, artwork, handmade items, knick knacks and more! Cost of admission is $5 per car. The bakery will also be open to make purchases of delicious baked goods. Learn more and buy tickets in advance here.

August 12-13: Kite Festival at Jenkinson’s Beach (Pt. Pleasant) from 11am-4pm. There will be beautiful kites flying high up in the sky, as well as music, games, prizes and live radio broadcasts from several local area radio stations. Find out more by clicking here, or call 732-892-0600.

August 14 and 21: Family Movie Night at the Hall of Records in Freehold (East Main Street) at 8:30pm. Grab a lawn chair or a blanket, pick up a bite to eat downtown and watch a movie outside. August 14th will feature Grease and August 21st will feature The Goonies. Learn more here.

August 17: Bugs, Birds and Beyond at the Monmouth County Agricultural Building on Kozloski Road (Freehold) from 12-4pm. Join the Rutgers Master Gardeners at a free festival for children of all ages! There will also be nature inspired activities, crafts, and educational exhibits. See live – butterflies, ladybugs, rabbits, snakes, bees and more. There will also be Six Flags Adventure animal demonstrations. The event features food, ice cream, fresh produce and other vendors. Learn more here or call 732-303-7614.

August 17-18: Winestock Food Truck Festival at Laurita Winery (New Egypt). Dress like it’s 1969 (tie dye, headbands) at the re-creation of the first Woodstock Festival 50 years ago. There will be 3 live bands daily, 15 food trucks, free vineyard wagon rides, and fireworks on Saturday night. Admission is $12 on Saturday and $10 on Sunday. Discount tickets are available online at www.lauritawinery.com or call 609-758-8000.

August 18: Rolling Iron Antique Auto Show at Allaire Village (Wall) from 8am-3pm. Come out and see 200 antique cars including family cars, firetrucks, motorcycles, and more. To attend, admission is free and parking is $5. If you have a car to display, the pre-registration fee is $18 ($20 the day of) and the car must be older than 1992. Learn more about the event here.

August 22: Belmar Cruise Night (Belmar Plaza Parking Lot, between 8th and 10th Aves.) from 5:30-8:30pm. Free admission! Don’t miss a great night of fantastic cars, oldies music, shopping downtown, and great local dining options. Learn more by calling 732-894-9022 (if you’d like to register a car for the show), or click here.

August 23: Drive In Movie in Seaside Heights from 8:30-11pm. Come see Back to the Future on the bay! Drive into the Sumner Avenue lot right at the entrance of town. Free admission. Learn more by calling 732-830-3700 or visit www.exit82.com

August 26: Movies at Main Beach (Manasquan) at 8:15pm. Free to attend – bring a beach blanket or your favorite beach chair, and come out to see a showing of Jaws on the beach! Get more details here.

August 31: Bradley Beach Lobsterfest from 11am to 8pm on Ocean Avenue. This event features a DJ, 6 bands playing live music, over 180 craft vendors, 25 food vendors, and kids activities (water slide, rides, sand art, facepainting) with an oceanfront view! Find out more here.

We hope you enjoy the last month of summer!

3 Obstacles You’ll Encounter While Paying Off Debt

Debt can feel like a mountain that can take years to climb. The only thing you can do is take it one day at a time. There are some obstacles you may encounter on your way however, so here are three to keep an eye out for – and to make sure you don’t continue to fall victim to your debt and get yourself offtrack.

The unexpected: When you’re trying to pay down debt, you may be tempted to push your budget to the limit along the way. While it’s great to be more frugal, never forget that unexpected expenses can come out of nowhere. Your car may be great today, but tomorrow your transmission might call it quits. If your emergency fund isn’t in great shape, make sure you’re still setting aside a little extra cash each month for any expenses that might pop up.

The good life: It’s nice to have a budget that allows you to treat yourself every now and again, but if you’re serious about paying down your debt, you may need to take a closer look at your budget and reassess. There may be some areas of your budget that will have to be cut while you’re attacking your debt mountain. Need a budget guide? Check out this one.

The hole in the boat: If you’re not careful, paying down debt can sometimes be a little like bailing water out of a sinking boat. You’re on your way, your debt is decreasing a little each month, and then suddenly you find a reason to justify a purchase that puts you back to where you were a few months ago. If credit cards are the cause of your debt, you need to either cut them up or put them away until you’re ready to begin a new, healthy relationship with them. When you’re making a plan to tackle your debt, make sure that you and your significant other are also communicating so that you’ll be on the same page about spending habits.

Be sure to check out our debt payment financial calculators here. The most important thing to remember is to stay the course and don’t fall into any traps that will set you further back. Be strict with your spending and stick to a budget!

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

5 Tricks to Save Money

Always use cash.

We now live in the days of Apple Pay, Google Pay, and other digital wallets. Holding your phone up to a machine really doesn’t feel like you’re spending money – but if you check your account online, you’ll see that you definitely are. Even if you don’t want to take out an exact amount of cash each week, just spending cash will feel a little more personal each time you complete a transaction. This may be enough to keep you from buying things you don’t really need.

Write down every penny.

Instead of checking your mobile banking and making sure “it looks right,” try keeping a spreadsheet of every receipt you’re spending. This is highly annoying and it just might make you want to accumulate fewer receipts, which means less spending. Just make sure you have fewer receipts because you are not spending as much, and not because you stopped keeping up with them.

Be kept accountable.

Want to spend less? Tell your friends and family. Tell them you want to cut back and you need their help. You might be surprised about how your habits change when others are constantly asking you how you’re doing financially.

Get a blanket and a fan.

If you want to save money the easy way, turn down that thermostat in the winter and turn it up in the summer. You may be hotter/colder than you’d like, but it’s an easy fix and it will definitely save you some money.

Don’t buy name brands.

Sometimes the store brand is just as good (and probably manufactured in the same facility) as that name brand you may be paying double for. Giving up a few of your name brand purchases each month could pay for your Netflix account, gas for the week, and so on.

Article source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

3 Ways to Save on Your End of Summer Vacation

August is only two weeks away, but you still have some time left before the kids go back to school. For some of you, that may mean one final road trip or vacation with the family. Sometimes, the decision to take an August vacation boils down to whether or not you’re willing to spend the funds at a time when you have to pay for back to school items. But don’t worry, you can probably still take that trip and make it as affordable as possible.

Here are three ways you can save on your final getaway of the summer:

Stay close: You don’t have to stay at a hotel across town, but try to pick a destination that isn’t more than a couple hours away. You’ll end up spending less on gas and you can also buy food at your local grocery store before you go. Avoid buying anything at your destination that you could have brought from home. If you’re going to a main tourist spot, you’ll also be able to avoid paying marked up prices on things by getting them at home in advance.

Find freebies: Instead of taking another beach trip, find a place that has fun things to do that won’t cost an arm and a leg. If you’ve enjoyed free activities around your town, look for similar or low cost events in other cities near you.

Relax: You may love a summer vacation that’s packed full of outings and delicious restaurant meals. But for an end of summer vacation, remember what the purpose of the trip is – to take it easy one last time before it’s back to the grind of the school year. Cook all your meals, put your feet up with a book, and have a relaxing time with your family.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com