Small Business Spotlight: Capt’n Hippo in Toms River

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, Capt’n Hippo Bait & Tackle in Toms River. — Matt Brazinski, Assistant VP of Business Development

Capt’n Hippo Bait & Tackle:

Fishing or crabbing? Get your fresh bait and gear at Capt’n Hippo Bait & Tackle in South Toms River, NJ. Owners Lenny and Sandy Hahn have over 20 years experience fishing the Toms River and surrounding waters. Capt’n Hippo is proud of their small size.  They have everything needed to get you started at a very reasonable price. In fact, there is nothing in the store that costs more than $100.00! Lenny and Sandy are local, genuine, knowledgeable, and love to help people just starting out.  

Owners: Lenny and Sandy Hahn

Years in Business: 8+

Previous Careers: Lenny was a Civil Engineer CAD Manager for 25+ years. When he was laid off he had the choice of either finding a new job or starting his own business. Lenny had always loved fishing, so a bait and tackle store was the perfect fit. Capt’n Hippo was born!

What do you love most about the business?

The customers!  Making new friends and seeing parents bringing children in to learn how to fish.

What has your biggest challenge been in business?

Getting people in the door and keeping operating costs down.

What do you like most about banking with First Financial?

Ease of use, and the people at First Financial are great!

What is your key to success?

Smiling! All of the shops have the same inventory on the shelves; it is the people behind the counter that make the difference.

You can find Capt’n Hippo Bait & Tackle at:

334 Atlantic City Blvd

Toms River NJ 08757

Phone: (732) 505-3500

https://www.facebook.com/CaptnHippo/

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.

 

 

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!

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.

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

Let’s spring into March with a little bit of luck and have some fun with family and friends! Check out the list below of local (free or inexpensive) activities to do with your loved ones all month long.

March 3 and All Weekends until March 25: Ragtime the musical at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal. Saturday performances begin at 8pm and Sundays at 3pm. March 17 will feature two performances at 2pm and 8pm. For more information call 732-531-9106 or click here to purchase tickets online.

March 4: Belmar St. Patrick’s Day Parade begins at 12:30pm on Main Street. This is one of NJ’s largest St. Patty’s events – don’t miss it! Learn more at http://www.belmarparade.com/ or call 732-280-2648.

March 10: Ocean County’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade takes place in Seaside at noon. The luck of the Irish is bound to smile upon you. Join the enthusiastic crowds on the Boulevard for a fun-filled Irish parade with bands, floats, and marchers, and a street celebration where everyone is Irish. Visit www.ocstpatricksdayparade.com  for more information or call 848-480-3990.

March 10-11: Chocolate lovers’ weekend in Ocean Grove begins at 10am on Saturday. All events begin at the Ocean Grove Chamber of Commerce office. On Saturday the hunt for hearts takes place between 10am-4pm and there is a tour of the historic inn’s at Ocean Grove from 11am-4pm. Participating restaurants will also feature special chocolate lovers’ dinners. On Sunday there is a winter walk from 12-3pm. For details call 732-774-1391 or go to http://www.oceangrovenj.com/

March 11: Belmar Restaurant Tour from noon-4:30pm. Sample the fine cuisine of local Belmar restaurants in downtown Belmar. Learn more by calling 732-681-3700 ext.214 or go to http://www.thebelmarrestauranttour.com/

Asbury Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade: Starting at 1pm on March 11th, there will be marching bands, antique cars, floats and more. The parade runs from waterfront to Main St. Call 732-775-7676 for information or go to http://www.asburyparkstpatricksdayparade.com/

March 17: St. Patty’s Day Festival at Laurita Winery in New Egypt from 12-8pm. Come celebrate a weekend where everyone is Irish, with Irish food, dancing and music! Admission fee is $5 for ages 21 and older. Go to www.lauritawinery.com  to learn more or call 609-758-8000.

March 22-25: Annual Garden State  Film Festival in Asbury Park. Come see the best independent films in the Garden State! Times vary. Call 732-359-6467 or visit http://www.gsff.org/ to learn more.

March 25: Jenkinson’s Egg Hunt in Pt. Pleasant Beach begins at 1pm. The event takes place rain or shine. This is a free event that adds some spring family fun! Learn more at www.jenkinsons.com or call 732-892-0600.

March 26: Early Spring Sunset Photowalk at the Belmar Marina. This is a free event! The photowalk takes place between 6:30-8:30pm. Call 732-245-6699 or go to http://visionsworkshops.net/

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

Love is in the air – and there’s so much to love this February with a ton of fantastic events happening in a town near you. Check out the list below of free or inexpensive activities to do with your loved ones all month long.

February 3-4: Turtle Feeding at Cattus Island County Park (Toms River) at 1:30pm. Are you curious about the habits and habitats of turtles? Join a park naturalist as they demonstrate the feeding and care of these native reptiles. Cost is free. Call 732-270-6960 or go to www.oceancountyparks.org

February 8-11: Deep Cut Gardens Orchid Society Show and Sale (Holmdel).  The event is being held at Dearborn Market, 2170 Route 35 South.  Judging is being held on February 8, 2018 at 8:30 AM. Find vendors of orchid plants, seedlings, supplies, greenhouses, fertilizers, watering equipment, potting mixes, lighting setups and other orchid-related products. Or just come enjoy the beauty of these amazing flowers! Learn more here, or call 732-828-7727.

February 10: A Valentine’s Doo-Wop Show at Count Basie Theater (Red Bank). Don’t miss this great event featuring six different Doo-Wop legends and hosted by Cool Bobby B of Sirius XM 50s on 5, at 7pm. Purchase your tickets here or call 732-842-9000.

February 11: Valentine’s Dinner Show with the Jersey Four at iPlay America (Freehold). Celebrate with the ones you love by seeing The Jersey Four: A Tribute the Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons at 5:30pm. Dance the night away as the cast takes you on a journey from the very beginning of the Four Seasons, to their number 1 hits, Frankie Valli’s solo career and to present day shows! This is a true tribute to The Four Seasons and the show will include trivia, narratives, and humor – all while encouraging the audience to sing along! Learn more here or call 732-577-8200.

February 17-18: Auto Racing in NJ (Vintage Automobile Museum, Bay Avenue in Point Pleasant) from 10am-4pm and noon to 4pm on Sunday, 2/18. The Vintage Automobile Museum will feature a display of vintage racing cars that plied the tracks of New Jersey. Featured are modified and sportsman class stock cars that raced on dirt and asphalt. There are also midgets, 3/4 midgets and factory stock dragsters. In addition, there is an eclectic display of automobilia, children’s riding toys, die-cast cars, models, vintage auto service equipment and a host of period antiques. Admission is free, however donations are welcome. Call 732-889-0012 or go to www.vintageautomuseum.org for information.

February 23-25: Ocean Grove’s Girlfriends Getaway Weekend. Join a weekend festival dedicated to celebrating women! Relax and have fun, shop, get pampered, dine, and more. There are many participating hotels offering discounted rates and specials. Learn more here or call 732-774-1391.

February 24: Annual Polar Bear Plunge at 1pm in front of Spicy Cantina in Seaside Heights. Registration begins at 9am. This is a fundraiser for NJ’s Special Olympics. For more info call 609-896-8000 or go to www.plungeseaside.org. All participants must be registered by February 21.

February 24-25: Mardi Gras at Laurita Winery (New Egypt). Come celebrate Mardi Gras at Laurita Winery with amazing bands and authentic New Orleans food. Don’t miss this great celebration! Free general admission. Call 609-758-8000 or go to www.lauritawinery.com for details.

February 25: Highlands Annual Chili Cook Off from 3-7pm at the Inlet Café on Cornwall Street. This is a fundraiser for the Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Your $30 donation includes chili tasting, two beer tickets, and ballots. For more information call 732-291-4713 or click here.