Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this December 2016

Outdoor Family Choosing Christmas Tree Together

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  With so many joyful and festive events happening this month, it’s definitely going to be hard to choose which ones to attend. Enjoy this special time of year with your family and friends – check out the many free or inexpensive activities happening this December in a town near you.  Happy Holidays from all of us at First Financial, and wishing you a prosperous 2017!

Town Tree Lighting Ceremonies:

  • Belmar – December 2nd at 5:30-7pm, Pyanoe Plaza at 9th Ave & Main Street
  • Manasquan – December 2nd 6-9pm, Main Street (plus candy cane hunt!)
  • Highlands – December 2nd at 6pm, Huddy Park

December 2: A Christmas Carol at Count Basie Theater (Red Bank) at 8pm. To purchase tickets go to http://www.countbasietheatre.org/ or call 732.842.9000.

December 2-4, 9-11, and 16-18: Scrooge at the Spring Lake Theater, 300 Madison Avenue. Two shows per day at 2pm and 7:30pm. For details call 732.449.4530 or go to http://www.springlaketheatre.com/

December 3: Spring Lake Candlelight Christmas Inn Tour from 3:30pm to 7pm. Tour Spring Lake’s famous inn’s and B&B’s decorated in their holiday splendor, sponsored by the Historic Inns of Spring Lake NJ. For more information go to http://www.historicinnsofspringlake.com/ or call 732.449.9090.

December 3 – 18: Asbury Park Holiday Bazaar – Every Saturday and Sunday in December until 12/18 from noon to 5pm, gather for one of the most spectacular holiday markets in New Jersey! The Bazaar is located at the Grand Arcade of Convention Hall, 1300 Ocean Ave. For more details go to http://www.asburyparkbazaar.com/ or call 732.829.2663.

December 3 – 24: Holiday Horse and Wagon Rides (Red Bank).  Ride through the Red Bank Business District and enjoy the sights and sounds of the holiday season every Saturday and Sunday in December from 1-5pm through 12/24. There are two start locations to choose from: 26 Broad Street or Bridge Avenue (across from The Galleria). For more information call 732.842.4244 or go to http://www.redbank.org/

December 3, 10, 16, and 17: Christmas Lantern Tours at Allaire Village (Wall) from 5-8pm. 90 minute tours leave every 15 minutes at Historic Allaire Village within Allaire State Park Rt. 524, 4265 Atlantic Avenue. For details go to http://www.allairevillage.org/ or call 732.919.3500.

December 9 and 11: Christmas at Havens Homestead Museum (Brick). 12/9 from 3-7pm and 12/11 from 1-5pm. The Brick Township Historical Society has sponsored this annual event for 19 years. It features the Havens Homestead Museum and two other buildings on the property decked in its festive best with guides dressed in period costumes. This year’s theme is “A Vintage Christmas.” Guests will enjoy homemade refreshments and musical entertainment as they tour the rooms of this 1827 Homestead. $5 per adult, children under 12 are free. For information call 732.785.2500.

December 10: 5th Annual Christmas on the Island & Parade, including Santa Claus from noon to 5pm. A Christmas Parade along the Boulevard in Seaside Heights. Event is open to all Ocean County, NJ residents with gifts, giveaways, Santa’s Workshop, and a special Santa’s send-off with live entertainment as Santa’s way back home to the North Pole is lit up.

December 10 and 11: The Nutcracker at Count Basie Theater in Red Bank, 1pm and 5pm. To purchase tickets go to http://www.countbasietheatre.org/ or call 732.842.9000.

December 10, 11, and 17: A Christmas Light Show (2702 Wooley Road, Wall), 6:30pm and 8:30pm. The Christmas Light Show is a free, world class computerized lighting and pyrotechnic show. Returning for its 11th year, this incredible event has become an area tradition. The show is very much like attending a Disney World concert, featuring pyrotechnics, fog, color changing effects and thousands of lights synchronized to music broadcast over a concert quality sound system. Don’t miss this one of a kind Christmas event in Monmouth County, NJ! For more information go to http://www.thechristmaslightshow.com/

December 11: Breakfast with Santa at iPlay America (Schanck Road, Freehold) at 9am and 11am.  For information call 732.577.8200 or go to http://www.iplayamerica.com/

December 11: The Nutcracker at Ocean County College (Lakewood), 1pm.  The performance will take place at Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts. This delightful ballet is a dream story brought to life through music and dance. The Nutcracker tells the story of Clara, a young girl who’s magical journey begins with a Nutcracker doll and ends with the Land of Sweets. Along the way, you’ll meet the Mouse King, Flowers, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and a cast of enchanting characters.Tickets: Adult $12, Child $10. Call 732.255.0400 extension 2466 for information.

December 16, 17, 26, 27, 28: Jenkinson’s Sea of Lights at the Aquarium (Pt. Pleasant) from 6-9pm. Join Jenkinson’s in Point Pleasant Beach as they light up the Boardwalk during Jenkinson’s Sea of Lights. This Holiday Lights Spectacular inside Jenkinson’s Aquarium is a real gift to your family at the special admission price of only $7. For more information go to http://jenkinsons.com/events/sea-of-lights-2016/

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 from L to R: Toms River Assistant Manager April Sirleaf, Chief Financial Officer Terri Warn, Director of Business Development Matt Brazinski, Howell Branch Manager Dan Dunn, Assistant VP of Member Services Jackie Setser, and Assistant VP of Marketing Jessica Revoir provide free gas to Howell and Freehold motorists at Exxon on Rt. 9 on 11/15.

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: Business Development Representative Kyle Kasten informs a happy customer about their free gas at Mobil on Rt. 66 in Neptune 11/16.

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: Assistant VP of Marketing Jessica Revoir, Toms River Branch Manager Suzanne Mealia, Director of Business Development Matt Brazinski, Assistant VP of Member Services Jackie Setser, and Compliance Specialist Jennifer Bly provide Toms River motorists with free gas at Shell on the corner of Routes 9 & 571 on 11/17.

“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 from L to R: Assistant VP of Marketing Jessica Revoir, Chief Financial Officer Terri Warn, Howell Branch Manager Dan Dunn, Assistant VP of Member Services Jackie Setser, Neptune Branch Manager Jessica Lombardi, HR Manager Patty Razzano, and Business Development Representative Kyle Kasten provide free gas to Neptune motorists on 11/16.

While the free gas events have ended, First Financial is offering anyone who refinances their auto loan, or purchases a new or preowned car financed with First Financial, a $25 Wawa gas card at loan closing. This gas card promotion runs through December 31st or while supplies last. 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/

 

2016 Holiday Food Collection and Gift Donations in Monmouth & Ocean Counties

Holiday Greetings to all of our First Scoop Readers!

Family With Grandparents Enjoying Thanksgiving Meal At Table

As we approach the 2016 holiday season, First Financial will be partnering with local non-profit organizations to help families in need within Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Our First Financial branches will serve as collection sites for non-perishable food items that will then be donated to the following non-profit organizations:

Please note that the final day for food collection at all branches will be on Tuesday, November 22, 2016.

Closeup of Santa Claus filling his bag with toys and presents. Only Santa's hands are visible. Wrapped presents soccer ball, football, toy airplane and gifts fill the frame. Horizontal format.

Each branch will also be holding a holiday toy and gift drive:

Please click on the links above for more details. These gifts will be picked up on Tuesday, December 20th at all First Financial locations – so please be sure to return your gifts to your nearest branch before this date.

Help brighten someone’s holiday this season and thank you for your continued support!

 

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/

 

10 Financial Habits You Should Start Today

Office folder with inscription Best Practice on Office Desktop with Office Supplies. Business Concept on Blurred Background. Toned Image.

When you look at people who are financially fit, they all have several things in common. They know the value of money and have developed plans and habits that keep them in shape — financially speaking, of course. They are never late with their bills. They know the value of money. They have little to no debt at all.

These are their habits. They all have this common thread, which binds them together. They know what to do when it comes to money — and what not to do. They may not have thousands of dollars in the bank, but they are still financially fit. They just handle money in a way that seems magical to many of us.

The truth is that it is not magic. There is no secret formula that they follow. They have one thing in common: Good financial habits.

Anyone can do this. You just need to know where to start. Below, you will find 10 habits that these people all have in common. Best of all, they are things you can start doing today.

1. Have a Written Budget

This is the key to any financial plan. Many people – sort of, have a budget. They know who they have to pay each month, but maybe it’s not in writing. When you have a written budget, you see exactly where your money goes. Best of all, you can direct your money where you want it to go. You can decide what you want to save and how much you want to spend on groceries. When writing out your budget, be sure to include every single expense (don’t forget about the coffee you stop for every morning or if you pay for parking each day). Your budget is your roadmap to financial success.

2. Pay Your Bills On Time

Never be late with your bills. There are so many ways to ensure they get paid on time, including easily setting up automatic payments or setting reminders on your phone. You can even use a calendar and write in due dates. When you pay your bills on time you show you are responsible. Not only that, but you won’t have to worry about late fees either.

3. No Need for Immediate Satisfaction

It can be tempting when you are shopping to pick up that new bag or pair of shoes. However, do you really need them? Will buying them truly make you happy? Why do you want to buy them? Asking yourself these questions can help you avoid emotional purchases, which typically only lead to buyer’s guilt later on. If you do want to buy something, use the 24 hour rule: Go home and think about it. Check your budget, and if 24 hours later you still really want and can afford the item – go ahead and purchase it.

4. Try Not to Use Credit or Debit Cards

Cash is one of the best ways to ensure you are financially fit. Even if you think you use credit cards the right way and pay them off each month, you could still be overspending. For example, if you only have $100 to spend on groceries, you can’t spend even $101 if you only have cash. If you are using plastic, it’s often too easy to spend more than you anticipate.

5. Keep the Lines of Communication Open

Have regular budget updates with your other half – look over your finances and check your spending. Don’t hide money or spending – just be honest. Try to make time for a monthly meeting, and add it to both of your calendars so you can go over your budget together.

6. Pay Down Debt

Take steps to pay off any debt you have. If there’s a lot of it, you will probably need to create a debt pay off plan. It may take some time, but you can do it!

7. Save Money Every Month

Your budget should include a line item for every penny you earn, including savings. Saving could be needed for retirement, holidays, emergencies, and so on. There is never a right or wrong thing to save for. The best trick here is to automate your savings. When it’s automatic, you can never make excuses for yourself that you can’t save. Instead, it’s money not available for you to spend – and this is never a bad thing!

8. Live Within Your Means

Who wouldn’t love a huge house or fancy car? We all would – but can you actually afford it? Everyone has a different income, therefore the way we live will be different based upon that income. The real difference is not in how much you make, but in what you spend.  If you can’t afford that huge house right now, you shouldn’t buy it.

9. Use Credit Wisely

Credit cards can be a great way to not only build your credit, but also to gain rewards and perks. But, you need to use credit cards the right way. Never charge more than what you have in the bank – if you only have $500 in your account, do not charge more. The reason being, a payday is never a guarantee. You should generally be able to pay your balance in full each month, and on time.

10. Balance Your Accounts Regularly

While you can use online banking 24/7 to check your account balances, there may still be transactions that haven’t posted yet, checks that haven’t cleared, and online bills that haven’t been reflected yet either. If you balance your account regularly, you know exactly what you have to spend.

These 10 habits will easily get you to be financially fit.  You don’t have to start with all ten at once – even if you master a few now and slowly add in the others, you’ll be financially fit in no time!

Article Source: Tracie Fobes for Gobankingrates.com, https://www.gobankingrates.com/personal-finance/financial-habits-need-start-today/