Financial Literacy Month: Money Advice from First Financial Staff

April is Financial Literacy Month, also known as Financial Capability Month! To celebrate, the First Financial team is sharing their best money advice to help you build the financial skills you need to meet your goals. Knowledge is power, and the more you know about finances, the better habits you’ll build over time!

What is financial literacy?

Before we begin, let’s talk about what financial literacy is and what it means for your future. Financial literacy is the ability to understand and use money management skills like budgeting, properly using credit cards, investing, and more. Having a strong relationship with money is crucial in being able to navigate through life. For example, the more financially literate you are, the more likely you’ll be able to avoid fraud or debt. The more you understand about credit cards, the less likely you are to rack up charge after charge and lower your credit score.

How to become more financially literate

There are so many ways to build your financial management skills! For one, you can read and subscribe to financial blogs like ours (wink wink). Many credit unions like ours also offer no-cost virtual seminars and publications about various financial topics. If you’re on the go and prefer podcasts, we recommend you take a look at this list for ideas as well! Overall though, working with a financial professional will help you get the guidance you need based on your situation. Be patient—financial literacy is a lifelong journey and we are here to help!

Tips from First Financial employees

Some of our financial experts shared their top money tips they want everyone to know. Our staff’s advice ranges from budgeting and credit card management to everyday savings.

  1. Create a simple budget: “To start your own simple budget, create a list of your total take-home income, your total fixed expenses, your total variable expenses, and your monthly savings. Check back once a month to see if you’re on track or if you need to adjust your budget.” – Issa Stephan, President/CEO
  2. Review your subscriptions: “Take the time to cancel any unused or unwanted subscriptions (like streaming services), and reallocate those expenses into your budget on something you do use – or put the extra money toward any existing debt.” – Julie Brandt-Olivier, Lending Manager
  3. Don’t forget about your credit score: “Build your credit score! It’s the most significant piece of financial data that will impact your day-to-day life.” – Chantel Baptiste, Business Development Officer
  4. Limit your spending: “Make a budget, set and stick to limits for discretionary spending such as entertainment, travel, and other non-essential items. Always include savings into your budget too.” – Terriann Warn, Chief Financial Officer
  5. Pay your bills on time: “On-time payments have the greatest impact on a good credit score.” – Nancy Culp, Chief Lending Officer
  6. Learn debt repayment strategies: “To eliminate revolving debt on multiple credit cards, focus on paying extra on the card with the highest interest rate. When that debt is eliminated, take that monthly payment and add it to the regular monthly payment of your next card with a balance and high rate, until that debt is eliminated. Repeat as needed.” – Michael Walker, Assistant Vice President of IT
  7. Don’t live beyond your means: With regard to credit cards, don’t live beyond your means. If you can’t afford it, you don’t need it. – Doreen Cutrona, Assistant Vice President of Member Operations

You can find more money advice on our First Scoop blog! Or, if you’re looking for more specific advice based on your situation, call us at 732.312.1500 or stop by any of our local branches. Together, we can increase your financial literacy and help reach your goals!

Tips for Improving Your Financial Literacy

April is Financial Literacy Month, so we’re sharing our top tips for improving your financial wellness. Whether you’re new to managing a budget or are looking to save for a big future purchase, these tips will help you achieve your goals while maintaining a reasonable financial balance.

What is financial literacy?

Financial literacy refers to the knowledge and use of financial management skills, including budgeting, investing, saving, etc. By having an understanding of finances, you’ll be able to make better financial decisions. Achieving financial literacy is a lifelong process that requires continuous learning and management, and we’re here to help!

Here are our best tips for improving your financial literacy.

Learn how to budget

Don’t let the idea of creating a budget scare you. If anything, successfully building and maintaining a budget can be empowering. Start by creating a list of essential expenses including housing costs, food, transportation, clothing, internet, cell phone, insurance, and more. Then, write down how much you spend on each. From there, you’ll need to add up your monthly income and deduct your expenses. The amount leftover should be used toward building your savings and/or for any less essential purchases.

Improve your credit score

Maintaining a good credit score is an important part of your financial future. Without a good score, you’ll have difficulty securing a loan or mortgage down the line. Here’s what you can do over time to better your credit:

  • Pay your bills on time
  • Pay off or pay down your credit cards
  • Don’t close any open credit cards, but slow down opening new credit card accounts
  • Contact a financial expert – like us!

Open a savings account

Whether you need an emergency fund, money for retirement, or to pay a large expense – having a savings account is essential. You can start by dedicating a certain amount of your paycheck toward your savings. While it’s recommended to keep 20% of your income for savings and debt repayment, you’ll need to evaluate what works within your budget and when you’ll need the funds. Even if you’re starting small, you’ll be surprised how quickly the account can grow!

Want to open a savings account?* We’re here for you! Contact us or stop into your local branch to speak with a representative today.

Subscribe to financial newsletters

Stopping at the library and picking up some financial literature might not be everyone’s cup of tea. So, starting with digestible, yet informative articles is ideal. That’s why we recommend subscribing to newsletters (like ours!) with timely resources that cover a wide range of financial topics. The First Financial monthly e-newsletter delivers helpful tools and financial advice right to your inbox, so you can focus on achieving your monetary goals. You can sign up at the bottom of our website homepage, by entering your name and email address.

Talk to a financial professional

If anything, it’s always helpful to speak directly with a financial expert who can give you advice based on your individual situation. Contact us to get started or stop into your local branch to speak with a representative today!


*A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership before opening any other account/loan. All personal memberships are part of the Rewards First program and a $5 per month non-participation fee is charged to the base savings account for memberships not meeting the minimum requirements of the program. Click here to view full Rewards First program details. Some restrictions apply, contact the Credit Union for more information.