Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this September 2018

Summer is officially winding down and the kids are heading back to school for another year, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of great inexpensive events happening near you. Check out the list of activities that are kicking off the fall season. Enjoy!

September 1 – 3: Monmouth Park Racetrack’s (Oceanport) BBQ and Craft Beer Festival from 11:30am to 5pm all Labor Day Weekend! Don’t miss three days of delicious BBQ and a great selection of brews in Monmouth Park’s Craft Beer Garden. Admission and parking are just $5 each, and children 12 and under are FREE. For more information, click here or call 732-222-5100.

September 2: Asbury Park Fresh Farmer’s Market from 10am-3pm. This summer event will bring together the greatest collection of homegrown artisan food products, local produce, and handmade crafts in the region. Don’t miss out on an excellent opportunity to try something new while also partaking in some healthy habits! The farmer’s market location is at Kennedy Park on Cookman & Grand Avenues. For questions and more information, visit here.

September 4: Gentle Sunset Yoga at Beyond Organic Growers (Freehold) at 6:45pm. All levels are welcome, cost to attend is $10. For more information, call 732-303-1515 or click here to register online. *Please note this is a weekly Tuesday night event throughout September!

September 7 – 9: Asbury Park Oysterfest (Bradley Park in front of the Historic Paramount Theater and Convention Hall). Don’t miss this 3 day culinary event! There will be food, music, crafts, and more. Admission is $3, and kids ages 6 and under are free. Call 732-775-7676 for details. Learn more here. 

September 8: Ocean Grove’s Giant Fall Flea Market from 9am-4pm. Around the Great Auditorium, spend your day with over 300 vendors selling new, used, and antique items as well as a variety of food offerings. This is a rain or shine event. For more information click here or call 732-774-1391.

September 8 & 9: Apple Fest at Delicious Orchards (Colts Neck). From 11am-4pm, don’t miss this great early Fall kickoff event! There will be games, prizes, live music, local food vendors, an antique car show, and EVERYTHING apple you can imagine. Learn more here, or call 732-462-1989.

September 9: Paws in the Park at Breakwater Beach (Seaside Heights) from 3-5pm. End the summer season with your dog at Breakwater Beach! Your furry friend will be able to paddle in the Harbor Wave Pool and play catch in the Minuteman Express Pool. Admission is $20 per dog, $10 per handler, and extra guests are $10 each, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the local SPCA. For more information about registration call 732-793-6488 or visit this website.

September 15: Point Pleasant’s Annual Festival of the Sea from 10am-7pm. This Seafood festival is held downtown on both Arnold and Bay Avenues. Local restaurants and vendors provide delicacies such as crab cakes, shrimp skewers, paella, soups and bisques, lobster, and other seafood items. Don’t like seafood? No problem, there are plenty of other varieties of food to sample! There are also hundreds of craft vendors featuring hard to find and unique items. For entertainment, there is a stage set up on the corner of Arnold and River Avenues. For more information please call 732-899-2424 or learn more here https://www.facebook.com/events/1079663122199959/

Allaire Farm and Food Truck Fundraiser from 12-5pm at the Historic Allaire Village in Wall. Two great non-profit organizations are partnering to bring an amazing event to the Jersey Shore! The day will be filled with popular food trucks, live music, animals, history demonstrations, hayrides, and more, all held on the grounds of Allaire State Park. Advanced ticket purchase is highly recommended! Pre-Purchased Tickets are $8.00 each per person, $4.00 each for 12 years old and under. Parking is free and pets are welcome. Learn more at https://www.facebook.com/events/312225732685584/ or call 732-919-3500.

September 15 & 16: Apple Festival at Happy Day Farm (Manalapan) from 10am-5pm. Join Happy Day Farm for live entertainment, activities and attractions. They will have a variety of apples, fresh apple cider & donuts, fresh apple pie, candied apples, apple slushies, and more! FESTIVAL ADMISSION INCLUDES: 10-Acre John Deere Corn Maze, Pirate Ship, Pumpkin Guess Who, Tractor Rides, Timmy Town Zoo, Pig Races, Hay Mazes, Pumpkin Bowling, Corn Tunnel, Corn Box, Rubber Duck Racing, Horse Bouncers, Corn Hole, Tire Mountain, Pedal Carts, Bean Bag Toss, Tetherball, Spider Web, Bridge Observation, Horse Swings and more. Admission (cash only) is $14 and kids 2 and under are free. Learn more at https://www.facebook.com/events/1406681032797268/ or call 732-977-3607.

Belmar’s Feast of San Gennaro from 11am-5pm on September 15th and 16th. Be sure to visit Main Street for delicious Italian food, games, and live entertainment. Get the scoop here, or call 732-681-3700 x214.

September 16: Waterfront Brunch Buffet at MJ’s at Buttonwood Manor (Matawan) from 11am-2pm. Don’t miss a fun Sunday brunch with your loved ones. Enjoy a diverse buffet with hand-carved roasts, a made to order omelet station, an assortment of dishes and salads, and display of delicious desserts. Each adult entrée starts at $27.99 and includes all you can eat as well as a complimentary mimosa or bloody Mary. Children under 12 are $13.99. Call 732-566-6220 to reserve your spot today or learn more here!

September 22: Allaire Fall Festival from 11am-4:30pm in Wall. A must see event on the Jersey Shore, join the villagers in celebrating the harvest and try your hand at cider pressing, apple snap, militia demonstrations, old fashioned games, dancing, and much more! Additionally there will be blacksmithing, carpentry, tinsmithing, and hearth cooking demonstrations throughout the day. The Bakery and General Store will be open for you to visit. Check out vendors selling mums, vegetables, and other seasonal items. General Admission: $5 Adults / $3 Kids Ages 5 -12. Learn more at https://www.facebook.com/events/1809252989095006/ or call 732-919-3500.

September 22 & 23: Annual ‘Que by the Sea BBQ Festival and Competition (Seaside Heights). This event features a BBQ lover’s weekend packed with mouth-watering specialties along with all day musical entertainment, artists and crafters, a kids zone, and the annual BBQ Competition on Grant Avenue. Saturday hours are 11am to 9pm and Sunday is 11am to 6pm. Entry into the event is free, for more information click here.

September 23: Bullock Farms Fall Fest (Cream Ridge) from 10am-6pm. Come spend the day on this 100 acre farm and celebrate the Fall season. Bring the whole family for pumpkin picking, hay rides, mazes, live music, delicious food vendors, and more! Bullock Farms is home to New Jersey’s only farm brewery, Screamin’ Hill Brewery. Stop in during your visit to sample some amazing craft beer grown and brewed right on the farm. Save a few dollars on admission by purchasing your tickets online early! Learn more at https://www.facebook.com/events/288930748538338/ or call 609-758-8726.

September 29: Annual Downtown Spring Lake Italian Festival from 12-5pm. Morris Ave from 3rd to 4th Avenues will become an Italian Village featuring live music, Italian food, a wine and beer garden, kids activities, and more. See additional details at http://springlake.org/italianfestival or call 732-449-0577.

Summer 2018 Newsletter

Summer is winding down, but before you gear up for back to school – take a look at our Summer Quarterly Member Newsletter. In a continued effort to go green, we’re publishing our newsletter electronically – it can also be found on our website and social media sites. Paper copies will be available in our branches.

The Summer Newsletter features the following articles:

  • Upcoming First Financial seminars and events (September – October 2018)
  • Article – Do 0% Interest Credit Cards Have a Dark Side?
  • Message from the CEO
  • Calling all Teachers! 2018 Classroom Grants – Call for Entries ends 9/30
  • IRC Article – Have you made any of these financial mistakes?
  • Donate your Boxtops for Education in any First Financial Branch
  • 2% Auto Loan Challenge – see if we can save you 2% on your car payments by Labor Day!
  • Article – Teach your kids to take a stand, a lemonade stand
  • Important information, holidays, phone numbers, and branch locations

 To view a copy of the newsletter, click here.

Enjoy the rest of Summer!

28 Ways to Avoid Spending Money this Summer

Summer is the most carefree season, but that doesn’t mean you have to relax your budget to enjoy it. There are plenty of free things to do this summer that allow you to make the most of warm weather. If you’re trying to determine how to avoid spending money over the next two months, read the following tips to have the best summer ever, while also sticking to a tight budget.

1. Trade Happy Hours for Backyard BBQs

Host a potluck BBQ at your place and get your friends and family together for some backyard fun. Make it a regular event by rotating hosts so one person doesn’t feel the burden of hosting all the time.

2. Choose a Photo Safari Over Shopping

Plan a photo safari in your town or a nearby city and hit the streets with your smartphone, selfie-ing your way through landmarks with your bestie.

3. Take a Day Trip to a Nearby Nature Area

Get your friends and family together for a day trip to a local nature spot. Whether it’s a mountain, lake, beach or nature trail, experiencing the outdoors for a day can be a really fun experience for all.

4. Enjoy Free Community Activities

The summer represents a great opportunity to enjoy free activities with your friends and community. Free outdoor concerts, art walks, fitness classes and kids’ crafts are all available for free at some point during the summer. Check your city, county or community’s online events calendar for free events and activities. Or, simply subscribe to our First Scoop blog – and receive Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth and Ocean Counties each month delivered to your inbox.

5. Observe National Celebratory Days

There seems to be a national day of (ice cream, chocolate, donuts, etc) every single day throughout the year. While some are quirkier than others, many restaurants jump on the food-related ones to push their menu and offer free or discounted goodies.

6. Find Free Fitness Classes

Many studios offer a free day or week of yoga to new students, so you and a friend can get these passes and try different classes together without paying anything. Also, some retail stores like Lululemon will offer free yoga classes, and Athleta will offer free classes in yoga, Pilates, circuit training, community runs and more.

7. Enjoy a Free National Park Visit

Just 127 of the country’s 408 national parks typically charge an entrance fee, so find a free one and plan a visit. Admission is typically free at all parks on August 25th to observe the National Park Service’s birthday.

8. Get Free Restaurant Food

Sign up for restaurant e-clubs to get coupons for free appetizers, meals or desserts. When you sign up for Chili’s email club, you get free chips and choice of salsa, guacamole or queso when buying an adult entree. Many of these programs offer free food on your birthday, too.

9. Visit the Library

Your local library is a great resource for borrowing video rentals, video games, e-books and audio books free of charge. A digital platform called Hoopla makes this seamless, so check if your library has it.

10. Sign Up for a Free Movie Screening

You don’t have to be Hollywood royalty to screen a movie before its release date. Enter drawings at Fox Searchlight Pictures, Gofobo.com or SeeItFirst.net to get free tickets to previews.

11. Take Your Kids Bowling for Free

Use KidsBowlFree.com to find bowling centers offering free games for kids ages 15 and under throughout the summer.

12. Attend a Target Community Event

Target hosts no-cost community events throughout the country to give kids and their families a chance to explore cultural exhibitions, concerts and more. For example, Target offers free admission to the Children’s Museum of Atlanta every second Tuesday. Find what’s happening locally to you here.

13. Take Part in a Free Home Depot Workshop

Stores like Home Depot offer free activities, like complimentary weekly workshops for you and your kids – typically on Saturday mornings. Check your local Home Depot or visit their website to get their upcoming calendar.

14. Get Social Media Savvy

Many restaurants, hotels and even clothing retailers now offer free food to people who review, like, follow, check in, tweet, retweet, tag, post pictures and pin. Follow your favorites and start providing feedback or entering their page contests.

15. Check for Free Days at Local Cultural Centers

Take advantage of free days at local museums, zoos and botanical gardens while providing an education and cultural experience for the whole family. Information can usually be found on the institutions’ websites.

16. Request Free Samples From Brands

Most brands are happy to send new customers samples to test out. Just visit the brand’s website to put in a request.

17. Find Free Items on FreeCycle.org

Look for freebies in your community by searching Freecycle.org, where neighbors post free furniture, appliances, clothing, sporting goods and more. What’s one person no longer needs may be a treasure to you, so scope it out and take advantage of the free offers.

18. Host a Book Swap

Get rid of books collecting dust on your shelf by hosting a book swap where you can get new reading material for free. The average mass-market paperback novel costs about $8, so if you read five books this summer, you’ll save $40.

19. Bring Your Lunch

Americans eat lunch out an average of twice per week, spending about $10 each time. Pack your lunch all summer and save approximately $200.

20. Have a Board Game Tournament

Trade a night out on the town for a fun evening at home playing board games. Let each person choose a favorite game, creating a lineup that will keep your group occupied all night.

21. Stop Buying Coffee Out

A 16-ounce grande coffee at Starbucks will cost you around $5. Swap this every weekday habit for a cup of home brew and save $350 this summer. Yikes – it makes a huge difference when you see what buying coffee out every Monday through Friday for 14 weeks will cost you, right? That’s a lot of money!

22. Volunteer for a Local Organization

Giving back to a local organization close to your heart will make you feel rich without spending a dime. Use sites like VolunteerMatch.org to find a cause you’re passionate about.

23. Rearrange Your Furniture

Tired of your home décor but not sure how to avoid spending money to refresh it? Just move the furniture you already have around for a new look — without purchasing anything new.

24. Take Your Furry Friend to the Dog Park

At your local dog park, enjoy watching your best friend get some off-leash exercise. It doesn’t cost a thing to let your pooch run free and bond with other fellow canines.

25. Catch Up With Family and Friends

Catch up with family and friends you haven’t talked to in awhile. Invite those in your area to your home for coffee, or pick up the phone and give those long-distance loved ones a call.

26. Do Your Own Yard Work

Lawn services average $54 per week to cut your grass. Handle this chore yourself, you’ll save hundreds of dollars.

27. Stay Away From Places Where You’re Tempted to Spend

When trying to figure out how to spend less money, avoid certain places, such as the mall – that trigger your urge to spend impulsively. Don’t set yourself up to break your budget.

28. Turn Off the A/C

Air conditioning bills soar during heat waves. Turn your air conditioner off, open the windows and use fans to circulate air (when you can).

Article Source:  Laura Woods for gobankingrates.com

Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this July 2018

It’s time for some fun in the sun! Enjoy the beautiful weather and all the sights and sounds this summer season brings. Now is the perfect time to gather your family and friends to check out these free or inexpensive events in a town near you.

Independence Day Fireworks Schedule 2018

July 1:   Wall Township, Dusk at the Fairgrounds on Bailey’s Corner Road

               Lavallette, 9pm at the Lavallette Gazebo

July 3:   Freehold, Dusk at Freehold Raceway

              Bradley Beach, 9pm Beachfront

              Manasquan, Dusk at Main Beach

              Ocean Township, Dusk at Joe Palaia Park

              Lakewood, First Energy Park after the Blueclaws game

July 4:   Long Branch, 9pm Oceanfront Promenade

              Seaside Heights, 9:30pm on the boardwalk

July 5:   Pt. Pleasant, Dusk at Jenkinson’s Boardwalk

*For more Monmouth and Ocean County towns with fireworks – click here.

July 1: Open Ceramics at Thompson Park in Lincroft from 12:30-4:30pm. Choose from a large selection of bisque fired pottery pieces to glaze and make your own. Cost is $6 per hour plus the price of bisqueware (cash or check only). Call 732-842-4000, ext. 4343 or click here to learn more.

Open Gym at Fort Monmouth Recreation Center in Tinton Falls, from 10:30am to 4:30pm. Have fun in the indoor, climate controlled gymnasium! Play equipment and table games will be available all day. Cost is $5 per person for the day. Learn more by calling 848-456-4278 or click here.

July 4: Independence Day celebration at Longstreet Farm in Holmdel from 12-3pm. Independence Day was a festive time in the 1890s and patriotism was celebrated with music and games. Join the staff at Longstreet Farm as they celebrate the holiday with games and contests. This is a free event. Learn more details here, or call 732-946-3758.

July 8: Family Fun Night at Pier Village in Long Branch begins at 5pm. Enjoy a day of fun for the whole family at the Pier Village Arcade, Boardwalk Fun N’ Games for crane games and skee ball. Visit Festival Plaza for bounce houses, slides and inflatable obstacle courses and more! Learn more here or call 732-923-0100.

July 11: Ocean County Fair Opening Day at Robert J. Miller Air Park, Route 530 (Berkeley Township), from 5-11pm. The fair will run daily through July 15. Come enjoy animals, rides, food, vendors and live entertainment. Parking is free, kids under 10 are free, $8 admission for everyone else. See more details at http://oceancountyfair.com/ or call 732-914-9466.

July 14: Free Movie on the Beach in Belmar, begins at 8pm on 8th Avenue Beach. This week’s movie is Despicable Me 3. Don’t forget your blankets and chairs! Learn more here, or call 732-681-3700, ext. 214. Check out the rest of the summer’s movies on the beach schedule here.

July 14 & 15: Monmouth Park’s Surf and Turf Seafood Festival (Oceanport), gates open at 7:30am both days and the first race is 12:50pm. This two-day festival will let you enjoy the best of the Jersey Shore. Stop by the famous Monmouth Park sandcastle, then grab a crab cake and a refreshing beer and watch as your favorite horse breaks from the starting gate. While you cheer on your favorite horse, the kids can enjoy FREE Family Fun Day on Sunday! The kids will love the FREE pony rides, bounce house, face painting, and more. Plus, enjoy live music both days. General parking is $5, and admission is $5 a person. Learn more here or call 732-222-5100.

July 15: National Ice Cream Day at Casino Pier and Breakwater Beach (Seaside Heights). All day, enjoy free toppings on purchased ice cream cones or cups at Waffles & Ice Cream! Cool off from the summer heat on national ice cream day. Check out https://casinopiernj.com/promotions-events/ or call 732-793-6488.

July 18: Belmar Sandcastle Contest at 18th Avenue Beach from 8am-12pm. The competition is free and open to participants of all ages! Bring your shovels and creative flair for a day of sculpting in the sand. Rain date is July 19. Learn more here or call 732-681-3700, ext. 214.

July 21 & 22: Red, White, and Blue and Food Trucks Too at Laurita Winery (New Egypt). Celebrate America at Laurita Winery! Enjoy food trucks, family activities, free vineyard wagon tours, and Saturday evening fireworks. The fun begins at 11am each day. Admission is $8 per person, those under 21 years old are free. Go to www.lauritawinery.com or call 609-758-8000.

July 25: Monmouth County Fair Opening Day at the East Freehold Park Showgrounds. The fair will run daily through July 29. Don’t miss the craft market, food, animal exhibits, rides, entertainment, amusements, and more. There will be fireworks on opening night. See more details here, or call 732-842-4000, ext. 4312.

Ocean County Mall Car Cruise (Toms River), in the parking lot near Bahama Breeze from 5-9pm. Car cruise to the mall co-sponsored by the Vintage Automobile Museum of NJ. Open to all vehicles. Best of show trophy, paved parking, and food and drink available. Rain date July 26. Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted. See more details at http://www.vintageautomuseum.org/ or call 609-713-4310.

We hope everyone has an enjoyable summer!

Small Business Spotlight: White Lilac Inn in Spring Lake

I am pleased to present a monthly blog post which features one of our current businesses, how they got started, and how First Financial has helped them grow their business. If this inspires you to want to expand your business goals or see how First Financial can assist you further, feel free to reach out to me. Keep reading to learn more about our featured Business of the Month, White Lilac Inn in Spring Lake. — Matt Brazinski, Assistant VP of Business Development

White Lilac Inn: 

Set in a circa-1880 property, this charming Spring Lake Victorian-style B&B with white wrap-around porches is a 2-minute walk from Wreck Pond, less than a mile from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, and 6 miles from Jenkinson’s Aquarium in Pt. Pleasant.

Airy rooms and suites feature free Wi-Fi, TVs, fireplaces and private bathrooms, as well as air-conditioning. Some offer whirlpool tubs, ceiling fans, and private porches. Suites add extra bedrooms, canopy beds, sofas and/or mini-fridges.

Full breakfast is served in a bright dining area with private tables. There’s also an elegant fireside lounge with antique furnishings, as well as loaner bikes and free beach passes.

Owner: Mari Kennelly

Years in Business: 24

Previous Careers: Art teacher, school picture photographer, wedding photographer, foreign exchange student teacher for students from Japan, real estate sales, and art gallery management.

What do you love most about this business? The people!  It’s so nice to see returning guests, some every year, some every few years. Sometimes it seems the world comes right to your doorstep. It is great meeting and forming relationships with many wonderful and interesting people.

What has your biggest challenge been in business? Trying to schedule time for myself, you learn to take time off and plan ahead. Also it is important to schedule and NOT try to do everything yourself.

What do you like most about banking with First Financial? Very helpful tellers! One gal went out of her way to help me set up my account so I can view it online. Your seminars are very valuable too. They helped me get an idea of what some online placement such as Facebook can do for your business.

What is your key to success? Enjoying people and helping them to get to know the area. Making them feel comfortable, being there but not hovering. They can reach me when they need me, but they can enjoy the Inn with each other.

If you are looking for a great local staycation, or have friends or relatives coming into town, definitely check out White Lilac Inn in Spring Lake!  For more information visit whitelilac.com

Ready to grow your business? Call the Business Development Department at 732.312.1500, email business@firstffcu.com or stop by any branch location. Learn more about our Business Account products and services on our website.

2018 Classroom Grants: Call for Entries!

Calling all teachers! Does your classroom need a little help for the 2018-2019 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.

The school year is just about over, but you’ll have all summer to apply! Grant applications will be accepted between June 15 and September 30, 2018.

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, 2018.

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 9/30/18. The Foundation will notify grant recipients on or about 10/15/18. Educators may also be nominated by an administrator. Total funds available for 2018 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.