Financial Considerations When Selling a Home

Are you considering selling your home? It’s certainly not a decision to be made lightly, especially after making such a large investment. Whether you’re downscaling, upsizing, moving to a new area, or are looking to make a profit – there are always financial considerations to be made when it comes to selling a home.

Here are some important financial factors that may determine when and if you’re ready to sell.

Your home’s worth

Before putting your house on the market, you’ll want to have an understanding of the value of your property. This can change over time, which is why the first step is to see how much your house is worth in the current housing market.

You can do this by researching real estate websites to find out how much similar homes in your area have sold for. A formal appraisal is another approach that can provide you with a more accurate number based on home sales in your community. Of course, a real estate agent can also assist in determining a listing price for your home.

How much it will cost

Finding out the value of your home is just the beginning of the selling process. Prepping your home to be sold is where things can get pricey. You’ll likely need to do a deep clean, paint, or even repair anything you’ve been waiting to fix. If you want a higher value on your home, you should plan for any home renovations ahead of time.

Outside of prepping costs, there are other fees associated with selling a home that you might not have thought of. A typical real estate agent, for example – will typically charge a commission fee of up to 6%. You should also expect to pay a closing cost of 1-3% of your house price, which includes the home inspection, appraisal, and insurance costs. Be sure to list these expected extra costs on a spreadsheet for reference as you begin the process.

The housing market

As a seller, you’ll want to evaluate the housing market to get a better idea of when is the right time to sell. Factors like interest rates on home loans can be a key indicator. Time of the year can also make an impact on if you’re able to sell and for how much. Depending on where you live, the market typically peaks in April through July with slower periods in the winter months due to the cold weather and holidays. Overall, timing definitely plays a role in how much you’re able to sell your house for.

Selling takes time, planning, and research. If done right, you’ll be able to successfully sell your home and even make a profit. Outside of finances, there will be other factors to evaluate and our financial experts are here to help. Contact us to get started, or stop into your local branch on one of our upcoming branch mortgage days to speak with a representative on-the-spot!

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 up to 18% 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. See for current rates.

+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


Tips for Stocking Your Pantry to Help Cut Food Costs

Like most Americans, your dining out and grocery bills are probably really adding up lately – as inflation and higher economic costs continue to sky rocket. The USDA reports that food inflation is at a 14 year high, with grocery store shopping and eating out costing consumers about 6% more this year than last.

However, you can work smarter instead of harder to help curb some of your food expenses. Here are some suggestions on how to keep your home pantry stocked with staple items that will last you awhile, save money by cooking and eating meals at home, and add some variety to your diet as well.

Here are some essential non-perishable ingredients to always have on hand at home:

  • Whole grains – Oats, quinoa, rice, muffin mix, tortillas, cereal. Bread and bagels will also have a longer shelf life if refrigerated or frozen and used one by one as needed.
  • Pasta
  • Beans/legumes – Chickpeas, lentils, all types of beans (black, kidney, lima, etc.)
  • Baking ingredients – Flour, sugars, baking powder and soda, vanilla or other flavored extracts.
  • Nuts – Almonds, peanuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
  • Oil and vinegar
  • Condiments – Mayo, mustard, ketchup, soy sauce, hot sauce, honey, BBQ sauce, jarred olives and pickles.
  • Jarred sauces
  • Dried herbs and spices – Pepper, salt, cumin, Italian seasoning, cinnamon, crushed red pepper, garlic and onion powder.

There are also some pantry staples that would be a good idea to have on hand in addition to what’s listed above, to whip up a quick and inexpensive meal. These items will also last you a decent amount of time unopened in your pantry as well:

  • Canned tomatoes
  • Peanut/almond butters
  • Coconut milk
  • Broths/stocks
  • Canned corn
  • Canned tuna and chicken
  • Jarred salsa
  • Capers
  • Raisins and dried cranberries
  • Maple syrup

You may be asking – what can you make with some of these pantry ingredients? To name a few ideas to start, think quesadillas, homemade hummus, pasta with sauce, granola bars, teriyaki sauce to go over rice or chicken, and pancakes. All of these are simple to make, and will use ingredients you already have at home.

Here are also some food ideas to store in your freezer to have on hand:

  • Frozen vegetables like spinach, peas, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower
  • Frozen berries to make smoothies or smoothie bowls
  • Chicken tenders
  • Ground beef
  • Burgers, hotdogs or veggie patties

Here are some food staples to keep in your refrigerator that will last a little longer than other more perishable foods:

  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Nut milks (Almond milk will last much longer than regular milk).
  • Cheeses (Cream cheese, parmesan cheese, cheddar, shredded mozzarella).
  • Yogurt

Another idea that always goes over well (especially if you have kids) is breakfast for dinner, using many of the ingredients listed in this blog post. This is an easy, inexpensive, and fun way to make an at home meal a special treat!

If you follow the above tips and keep your pantry stocked, you’ll definitely see some savings on your grocery bill over time and not have to go to the store as often. Not to mention, it’s typically healthier to eat at home too. You can even make it a fun household activity and spend quality time together, by giving each person a job in the kitchen to help put together a great family meal.

In the end – you’ll be saving on food costs, spending time together, and eating a delicious meal. You really can’t put a price tag on that!

Article Source: The Penny Hoarder

Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this June 2022

Summer is here and it’s prime time for outdoor activities at the Jersey Shore! Be sure to check out these upcoming dates for some free or inexpensive events happening nearby this month.

June 10:

Live Music in Downtown Freehold will take place at the Gazebo (10 East Main St.) from 7-9pm and is free to attend! This event will be taking place every Friday night during the summer. There will also be additional live music performances at the Performance Plaza next to Suite 23 Barbershop (27 West Main St.). Learn more here.

June 11:

Brick Township Historical Society Giant Yard Sale runs from 8am to 2pm, at the Havens Homestead Museum (521 Herbertsville Rd.). There will be a variety of items such as household furnishings, costume jewelry and more. There will also be a homemade bake sale, and a licensed gold/silver dealer to buy unwanted metals. Learn more by calling 732-785-2500 or online here.

Stafford Township Founders Day begins at 10am at 260 East Bay Ave. There will be a hometown parade, entertainment, food trucks, mechanical and inflatable rides, vendors, and fireworks at dusk. Learn more here or call 609-597-1000 ext.8573

Red Bank Street Life is free to attend, and you won’t want to miss the sidewalks coming to life every summer Saturday night from 6-9pm! There will be performances from local musicians and artists. Find out more at or call 732-530-2777.

June 16:

Kite Night on Ortley Beach starts at 5:30pm on Third Avenue Beach. Be sure to bring a beach chair or blanket and get an ice cream cone from Mr. Softee as you watch all the beautiful large-scale kites on the beach! Get more information.

Stars on the Bay, A Night with Sinatra (Keyport) is free to attend, and takes place from 7-9pm. Don’t miss this great concert series featuring a Frank Sinatra tribute band, while enjoying a beautiful night on the bay at Keyport Mini Park on West Front Street. For more information, call 732-739-5138 or visit the event link on Facebook.

June 18:

Seaside Classic Car Show from 9am-3pm at Stewart’s (1200 Central Ave. – Route 35 South, Seaside Heights). Lots of great classic cars to check out, live DJ and music, trophies will be awarded, and food discounts will be available for car show participants. Learn more.

June 19:

Father’s Day Celebration at iPlay America (Freehold) from 12-9pm. Dads get to ride free, all day long! You can also save $10 on booking a Topgolf Swing Suite for Dad in advance of Father’s Day. Call 732-577-8200 or click here for more details.

June 23:

Free Outdoor Movie (Ocean Grove) at 7pm. Don’t miss the classic movie Footloose, outdoors at the Jersey Shore Arts Center, 66 South Main St in Ocean Grove. Pre-registration is required, and can be done online here. For questions, call 732-502-0050.

June 25:

11th Annual Taste of Highlands begins at noon and goes until 5pm. You won’t want to miss this spectacular event with five hours of scrumptious samplings and cocktails at over twenty great Highlands restaurants and establishments. The event will take place rain or shine. Tickets are $45 and include a map and free parking. Ticket holders must check in at Huddy Park on Bay & Waterwitch Avenues and pick up their map/bracelet. For more information, call 732-291-4713 or register online.

Manchester Day starts at 2pm at 1501 Lake Road in Whiting. There will be lots of food and craft vendors, fireworks, rides, and swimming! Get more information by calling 732-657-8121 or click here.

June 29:

Free Family Outdoor Movie Night in Freehold begins at 8:30pm with a showing of Karate Kid, at the Hall of Records downtown. Don’t forget to bring your blankets, lawn chairs and snacks! Learn more at

We hope you have a great June, and Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads!