Important Update on First Financial’s Response to COVID-19 in Our Area

March 19, 2020

Effective beginning Monday, March 23, 2020 all First Financial branches in Freehold/Howell, Neptune, and Toms River will be operating using Drive Thru and ATM services only during our regular business hours. All branch lobbies will be closed to walk-in visitors until further notice.

Please know this decision did not come lightly. Our senior management team has weighed each and every scenario, and ultimately made the decision that practicing our New Jersey governor’s recommendation of social distancing and limiting face-to-face contact is in the best interest of our staff, membership, and the local community.

We will still do everything we can to meet your banking needs during this difficult time. Our Member Relationship Phone Center will be available to take your calls during regular business hours of Monday-Friday 8am to 6pm, and Saturday 9am to 12:30pm.

We will continue to schedule in-branch visits for loan closings, account openings, and the Investment & Retirement Center by appointment only during regular business hours. Please call us at 732.312.1500 to schedule an appointment at your nearest branch.

As always, you can access your First Financial accounts through the electronic banking services we have available:

Despite this inconvenience, we continue to remain committed to serving you and your family with as little service disruption to your banking experience as possible.

Should you have any questions or concerns during this unprecedented time, please contact our Member Relationship Phone Center at 732.312.1500.

Thank you for your understanding and be well,

 

 

 

 

Issa Stephan
President/CEO
First Financial Federal Credit Union
732.312.1500 – Local Callers
866.750.0100 – Out of Area
www.firstffcu.com

Do Your New Year’s Resolutions Need a Do Over?

Believe it or not, it’s May already. You’ve flipped the calendar page four times, and if you’re like more than 80% of the general public, it’s been a few months since your New Years’ resolutions crashed and burned. Have you taken the time to analyze why your good intentions didn’t pan out? Maybe they were too ambitious. Maybe they weren’t challenging enough. Whatever the reason (or excuse), your resolutions are over. Done. Finished. Or are they?

Failed goals aren’t ashes. They’re embers.

Is it possible to revive resolutions that haven’t shown signs of life in months? Absolutely. To stoke your motivational fire, you’ll need to revisit the reasons you set those goals in the first place. Take a close look at the things you want to accomplish, and then determine whether they’re still a realistic possibility. If so, recommit yourself. If not, adjust your expectations. But once you decide to have another go at it, work smarter not harder.

Find your momentum with micro-goals.

While it can be discouraging to examine missed goals or failure in general, author Erin Lowry addresses the topic of failed resolutions with refreshing candor on her Broke Millennial blog. Lowry shared, “Like most of us, I fail each year at my New Year’s resolutions. Then I realized I should apply one of my favorite money tactics to my resolutions. Micro-goals. I’m a big believer in setting a lofty goal and then working backward to chunk that goal down into manageable pieces.”

The beauty of micro-goals lies in their universal application. Financial Goals. Fitness ambitions. Relational hopes and dreams. Whatever the category, micro-goals can help you get back on track. The key to starting over is finding a way to gain momentum, and breaking your big goals into smaller goals can set yourself up for easy wins. Then, as you experience the sense of accomplishment that comes from completing each little task, you’ll find the inspiration to carry on toward your ultimate destination. Like the peaceful painter, Bob Ross, once said, “There’s nothing in the world that breeds success like success.”

Take another run at those financial goals.

Are you doubling back to pursue a financial resolution like paying off debt, building an emergency fund, or saving for retirement? Remember, you don’t have to do it alone. Your credit union can be an incredible partner in your pursuit of financial stability. From low-interest loans and high-interest savings accounts, to financial counseling and investment advice – credit unions provide a wide array of solutions designed to help their members win with money.

Not a credit union member? Your first micro-goal is an easy one: become a credit union member as soon as possible! If you live, work, worship, volunteer, or attend school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties in New Jersey – you are eligible to become a member of First Financial. It’s easy, get started now!

5 Money Problems Most People Deal With

Young girl dreams about their future

Not using debt correctly.

All debt isn’t necessarily bad. Debt is useful when getting your education and even when hard times hit. If you take on too much debt – you could put yourself in a hole that you’ll never be able to dig out of. On the other hand, if you’re afraid of ever having any debt, you may live a boring life. Use credit cards to build a good credit score and never use them for major purchases. If you take on debt, make sure you keep it under control and always remain aware of where you stand.

Overspending.

In an ideal world, we would all save 33% of what we earn. For most of us, this a problem, due to our overspending habits. Whether it be for housing, child care, student loans, or other debt, we’re spending those savings on other things. Try to save wherever you can – even a little bit out of each paycheck is never going to be a waste!

Relying on only one income source.

By counting on our full time job as our only money source, we’re setting ourselves up for problems. Having some side money coming in from a part time or freelance job can also be a nice crutch if something were to go wrong.

Only paying the minimum on credit cards.

When you only pay the minimum on your credit card balance each month, you end up costing yourself a lot of money in interest by carrying a balance. Make sure you don’t spend more than you can pay off at the end of each month. Credit card debt can easily feel like a black hole with no escape.

Not saving.

If you’re not saving, you’re probably not budgeting. Plan ahead and put money aside each month for emergencies. Take a long look at what you’re spending and figure out what you need to put away for retirement. If you don’t have an IRA or other retirement account, you need to enroll ASAP and take advantage of that compounding interest for your future.

First Financial can help you with all of these items!  Visit our website at firstffcu.com, stop into any of our local Monmouth and Ocean County branches, call 732.312.1500, or email info@firstffcu.com.

Article Source: John Pettit for CU Insight, https://www.cuinsight.com/5-money-problems-people-deal.html

Press Release: 150 NJ Motorists Amazed by $3,750 in Free Gas

First Financial Federal Credit Union Provides Free Gas in Response to NJ Gas Tax Hike

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Pictured above: First Financial staff members provide free gas to Howell and Freehold motorists at Exxon on Rt. 9.

FREEHOLD, N.J. – At 6 a.m. at three secret locations during the week of November 14th, New Jersey motorists were stunned to be greeted by employees of First Financial Federal Credit Union where they received $25 in free gas, plus a travel coffee mug. In the wake of New Jersey’s 23-cent gas tax hike, the credit union eased the pain at the pump for 150 drivers with a total of $3,750 in free gas this month.

“This is a really great thing and a nice way to give back to the community,” one motorist said after filling up at the Mobil station at 3330 Rt. 66 East in Neptune on November 16th. Free gas was also given away at the Exxon station at 639 US 9 North in Freehold, where one woman even got out of her car to shake every First Financial staff member’s hand. On November 17th, the First Financial surprise team also provided another 50 motorists with free gas at the Shell station on the corner of Routes 9 and 571 in Toms River.  One woman was so happy with the efforts of the credit union that she opened her membership at the Toms River branch across the street a few hours later.

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Pictured above: A Business Development Representative informs a happy customer about their free gas at Mobil on Rt. 66 in Neptune.

The free gas promotion came soon after New Jersey had its first raise in its gas tax in nearly 30 years. On November 1st, New Jersey went from having the nation’s second lowest gas tax to the seventh highest. The added funds are expected to raise an estimated $16 billion over the next eight years to fund improvements to roads, bridges and mass transit.

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Pictured above: First Financial staff members provide Toms River motorists with free gas at Shell on the corner of Routes 9 & 571.

“This was a fantastic three-day event, and not just for 150 lucky New Jersey motorists, but for all of us here at the credit union,” said Issa Stephan, President/CEO of First Financial. “We care about the people outside our walls at the credit union. Our employees also thrive on the positivity and joy they receive when helping our community. We know it’s a busy time of year with the holidays coming up and shopping to do, so if we could help by providing groups of motorists with free gas on their way to work for a few days in the month of giving thanks – we’re happy to be giving back to our community even in some small way.”

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Pictured above: More First Financial staff members provide free gas to Neptune motorists.

For more details visit firstffcu.com.

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About First Financial Federal Credit Union:

First Financial Federal Credit Union is a community credit union serving Monmouth and Ocean counties in New Jersey. First Financial is a not-for-profit whose goal is to achieve members’ financial dreams by defining their goals and lifestyle, empowering them through financial education, building their wealth, planning their retirement, and managing their risk. Established in 1936, First Financial currently serves more than 19,000 members. First Financial is overseen by a volunteer Board of Directors made up of credit union members. The credit union is federally insured by the NCUA. To learn more, visit http://www.firstffcu.com.

Stop Wasting Time with These “Money Saving” Habits

Red Old Style Alarm Clock. Isolated on White.

You have probably heard the age old cliché “time is money,” a few times in your life. That saying could not be any truer for money saving habits. There are many great money saving tips out there, but not all of them are worth your time. Here are a few serious time wasters you should avoid.

Clipping Physical Coupons

If you play the “grocery game” using coupons and find yourself compulsively looking at deal matching sites, as well as driving to different stores each week to score a coupon deal – you are wasting your time (and gas).

Digital coupons are much faster, though try not to look at deal matching sites daily – and if you have to, maybe only a few times a month. You can simply go to your local grocery store and browse their sale items to see if items you typically purchase are discounted, or look through their offers online before you go to the store – rather than driving all over town trying to score free items you may never even use.

Using Budgeting Apps

Get rid of any money saving app that takes too long to use daily. It’s not worth the frustration or wasted time. For budgeting to truly work for individuals, it must be simple and a daily habit. You will stay on budget if you can easily look at how much you planned to spend in a certain area, and how much you have already spent in that area. For example, if you know you have budgeted $350 for groceries for the month, you should be able to look quickly at your phone to see how you are sticking to that particular goal.

Making Your Own

A few years ago, there was a huge boom of money saving homemaker blogs. These popular blogs seemed to make everything from scratch and the owners boasted a frugal lifestyle. However, if it takes you almost 30 minutes each to make homemade tortillas and bagels, you are only really saving pennies for both items.

In some cases, making your own food or craft items from scratch just make sense. Calculate the savings versus time spent to see if your DIY project is really worth it. If something saves you $5 but takes you over an hour to do it, is it really worth it? Of course, if you love doing the DIY project, then the time was worth it. Know yourself and do what works for you.

Over Researching Everything

Research is valuable and you can save a lot of money with knowledge. However, don’t research something to death or waste time trying to save just a few dollars. If it takes you 30 minutes looking for a $5 Home Depot coupon code and trying to get codes to work, is that really worth your time or the minimal savings?  If you find a money saving coupon code online right away, then great. But if the process takes much longer than expected and isn’t really saving you that much anyway, it might be better to just order the item and spend the rest of your time wisely.

Article Source: Ashley Eneriz for Money Ning, http://moneyning.com/frugality/stop-wasting-time-with-these-money-saving-habits/

 

The Only Diet You Need is a Spending Diet

Fun chef

It’s hard to go even one day without seeing an advertisement for some “fast, amazing, unbelievable” diet. Even if you somehow managed to spend your days away from the television, internet, or social media, you still have to deal with the many times you hear friends and co-workers talk about “losing a few pounds” or trying a new program.

Unfortunately, the diet probably won’t last long and old habits will reign once again. The problem is, psychologically, these dieters aren’t preventing the temptation from catching their eye. And how can they? If one person brings cookies to the office, the dieter might think, “Well, one bite won’t hurt. I don’t want to hurt Suzy’s feelings, she worked hard to bake these.” If that same dieter watches television, the chances are high that they will see at least three food-related commercials during that time too.

What does all of this have to do with money? When someone tries to spend less money (in an effort to trim down expenses), they encounter the same temptation as the food dieters mentioned above. They may go out with friends who are all buying coffees at Starbucks, or they may think that spending a few dollars here or there won’t really hurt their mission to save money.

If you think that, then you need to go on a spending diet. Yes, you read correctly, a spending diet. No matter your reasoning (maybe your significant other lost their job or you’re drowning in student loan debt payments), a spending diet is a simple solution to a seemingly difficult problem.

When you go on a diet, you typically try to rid your kitchen of all of the foods that are now no-no’s. For a spending diet use this concept and hide or cut up all your credit or debit cards. If you can’t find the box of Oreos, you can’t eat it – the same idea goes for your cards.

As for those temptations that are less in your control (like Suzy’s famous cookies), take a step back to think before acting. Do you really need a coffee at 11 in the morning, or is it just the normal stop on your mid-morning walk around the office building?

Spending diets are easy to set up and even easier to implement.

First thing is first: commit to it! Tell yourself that, for exactly one month, you will track what you are spending (and attempt to keep that number as close to $0 as you can).

Second step: cut the temptation in any way possible! One big motivator to stay on your diet is if you constantly remind yourself about the reason for why you began the spending diet in the first place: debt repayment, job loss, saving for a big expense, etc. Your motivator will help you when that 11am coffee is calling your name from across the plaza.

As with any diet, it is okay to slip. Maybe you left your travel mug of coffee on your kitchen counter this morning, and you seem to be dragging today. One $5 morning coffee won’t kill you, or your diet. But just one!

The best way to ensure you keep those extra expenses from creeping up, is to only carry cash for the month you decide to diet.  If you only have $5 on you, that is all you can spend. Once it’s gone, it’s gone, and you need to accept the fact you can’t just whip out your credit card to buy a second coffee (because you hid it at the beginning of the month, remember?).

The spending diet can be an effort to either slim or eliminate non-necessity spending. This much is up to you. Just like a food diet, you need to make the spending diet work for you and your finances, and only you can decide how much you truly want to spend (or save).

Article Source: Will Lipovsky for Money Ning, http://moneyning.com/frugality/the-only-diet-you-need-is-a-spending-diet/