Webfinder: Personal Finance 101

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Ask the Money Doctor – A volunteer panel of qualified CPAs answer questions from consumers regarding their financial planning issues. You can read past Q & As or submit your own question. Part of the 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy website, which has a variety of free tools & info designed “to help Americans understand their personal finances through every stage of life” (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants). Smart About Money offers ‘practical articles, worksheets, tips and valuable resources from across the Web to help you understand and manage your money’ (National Endowment for Financial Education; non-profit foundation). See also Money Management Library (2009 – 2014, Consumer Credit Counseling Service of San Francisco).

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – Advice and FAQ about credit cards, mortgages, loans (including student loans), debt collection, and more, plus information about credit discrimination, foreclosure help, and an online complaint form.

Consumer Reports: Money News [UPDATED LINK!] – Blog posts offering helpful information and tips on personal finance, investment, banking & credit, retirement, and more. See the New England Federal Credit Union‘s Financial Resource Center [NEW!] for more helpful tips & info.

Debt Collection Rights & Responsibilities – The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices to collect from you. This page has some questions and answers about your rights under the Act. See also Dealing with Debt for related information. (2015 – 2016, Federal Trade Commission)

Electronic, Mobile, and Online Banking [UPDATED LINK!] – Explains how to do your banking electronically. Includes information about mobile wallets, direct depost, and related topics. A related page, Financial Information for Consumers, offers additional advice on bank accounts & services, consumer credit, mortgages, and more. (Federal Reserve Board)

Financial Records: How Long to Keep Tax Records and Other Documents [UPDATED LINK] – Explains what financial, tax, and other documents you should keep, and how long you should them (2016, Consumer Reports). See also Dealing with Clutter: Financial and Tax Records (2012, University of Illinois Extension) .

Financial Calculators – Should I refinance my mortgage? Rent or buy? How much do I need to save for my child’s college education? How much for retirement? These interactive financial calculators and other tools will help you with some of the day-to-day financial questions and concerns that may arise in your life or business (Consumer Credit Counseling Service of San Francisco). See also Practical Money Skills Calculators (Visa, Inc.).

Government Benefits – A free, confidential, and easy-to-use online screening tool to help you find out whether you qualify for U.S. or state government benefits. (U.S. Government website)

Pinch Pennies in the Right Places [NEW!] – Explains how to save more money by looking at discounts in total dollars saved, not at the percentage of the discount (2016, New York Times). For more practical tips on thrifty living, see Affluenza (PBS).

Retirement Plans – Information to help you choose and set up a retirement plan. Describes different types of retirement plans, including IRAs and  IRA-Based Plans, 401(k) & 403(b) Plans, and many others. Includes links to relevant tax forms, publications, and related resources (Internal Revenue Service). The Social Security Retirement Planner provides detailed information about your Social Security retirement benefits under current law, and points out things you may want to consider as you prepare for the future. Includes calculators to test out different retirement ages or different future earnings amounts (Social Security Administration).

Student Debt Repayment – Advice on what options you have if you are falling behind on your student loan payments, plus other financial help for students. (CFPB, U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)

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Links updated December 2016.

Webfinder : Charitable Giving

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Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance (Give.org) – Evaluates the management practices of hundreds of national charities. Also offers Advice for Donors and related resources. (Council of Better Business Bureau, Inc.)

Charity Navigator – Rates the financial health of thousands of charities. If you register (free) you can also receive an occasional e-newsletter, suggest groups you would like to see evaluated, and keep track of charities that interest you. The site also offers special reports on topics of current interest to donors, as well as Tips for Donors, and an annual report on charities’ CEO Compensation. (Non-profit organization; site includes advertisements)

Charity Scams – “If you’re thinking about giving to a charity, do your research to avoid fraudsters who try to take advantage of your generosity. Here are tips to help make sure that your charitable contributions actually go to the cause you support.” (Federal Trade Commission)

Charity Watch – Another site that evaluates charities, as well as offering tips and articles for donors. (American Institute of Philanthropy)

GiveWell – An independent, non-profit charity evaluator that assesses how well programs actually work, rather than focusing on financial factors. GiveWell is focused on finding “a small number of outstanding giving opportunities” rather than rating large numbers of charities. Click here to learn more about GiveWell’s evaluation process.

GreatNonprofits – Reviews and ratings “by people who have been touched by a nonprofit and want to share their story about it… you’ll discover stories of people who have volunteered or donated to nonprofits, as well as stories of people who have benefited from their services.” [NOTE: All reviews posted on GreatNonprofits are individual, subjective opinions, and any user’s experience with a given organization may or may not be typical. Content posted by Users is not reviewed by GreatNonprofits.]

GuideStar – ‘The donor’s guide to the charitable universe.’ A searchable database of 1.9 million U.S. non-profit organizations and foundations. Provides financial and management information derived from IRS Form 990 or IRS Form 990EZ. Includes links to each charity’s website, where available. Also offers Five Simple Steps to Better Giving, plus a blog for non-profit managers. NOTE: Free registration is required for full access. Philanthropedia, a division of GuideStar, ‘rates verified, financially responsible charities according to how much great work they’re doing’.

Pro Publica Nonprofit Explorer [NEW!] – ‘Use this database to search over 1.8 million tax returns from tax-exempt organizations and see financial details such as their executive compensation and revenue and expenses.’

Too Many Solicitations? – Is your mailbox bursting with frequent requests for charitable donations? This page from Charity Watch offers help to reduce the flow. For more advice on dealing with aggressive fundraisers, read Charity Navigator’s articles on How to Stop Solicitations by Mail and What To Do When A Charity Calls.

Links updated November 30, 2016.

DISCLAIMER

Webfinder : Home Energy Conservation – Heating

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Burn Wise – Information to help you choose EPA-certified wood-burning appliances (wood stove, pellet stove, hydronic heaters, fireplaces, and related products), and use them efficiently and safely (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

Consumer Guide to Home Heating – Advice on deciding whether to replace your existing system, finding a good contractor, selecting a new system, improving your system’s performance, and more. (ACEEE, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy)

Consumer Information: Saving Energy at Home [NEW!] – Practical tips from the FTC on saving energy and money in your home. (Federal Trade Commission)

Energy.gov: Home Heating – Tips on saving money & energy on home heating. See also Home Heating Systems and Heat & Cool Efficiently. (U.S. Department of Energy)

Energy Terminology – Wondering what the difference is between ‘U-Value’ and ‘R-Value’, or find out about different types of insulation? This site defines dozens of terms and abbreviations related to heating & cooling, insulation, window efficiency, water heating, and lighting technology (U.S. Department of Energy).

Heat Pumps – Heat pumps can be a cost-effective alternative for heating and cooling your home. This site explains how to choose a heat pump to meet your needs. [NOTE: Some details on financing and installation are specific to Tennesee.] (Tennessee Valley Authority). The U.S. Department of Energy offers additional information on Air Source Heat Pumps and Geothermal Heat Pumps.

NJ Rebates & Incentives, Energy Assistance and Related Programs [UPDATED LINK!] (NJCEP) and NJ Homeowner Incentives for Clean Energy (Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency) – Information about available financing, rebates, and other incentives for energy-efficient home improvements.

Seal and Insulate with ENERGY STAR – Instructions on installing weatherstripping on doors & caulking around windows, sealing air leaks, adding insulation, and other home energy conservation projects (U.S. DOE/EPA). See also Residential Insulation (Industry association : North American Insulation Manufacturers Association).

Additional resources from USA.gov on Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Tax Incentives, and more.

Links updated November 2016.

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Webfinder: Meditation & Stress Reduction

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Relaxation Techniques for Health: What You Need To Know – Reviews the scientific evidence for the effectiveness – or ineffectiveness – of relaxation techniques in managing a variety of health problems. NOTE: Relaxation techniques are generally considered safe for healthy people, but those with serious physical or mental health problems should discuss relaxation techniques with their health care providers. (2016, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)

6 Mindfulness Exercises That Each Take Less Than 1 Minute [NEW!] – Quick & easy mindfulness exercises for people who don’t want to do formal meditation (2013, Psychology Today; site includes advertisements). Quick Stress Relief has advice to help you recognize when you’re stressed and learn techniques for quick stress relief when you need it. The same site offers lots of additional advice on Stress Relief and Emotional Health. (2015, HelpGuide.org)

Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress – A brief overview of the benefits of meditation and different techniques for meditating. (2014, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)

Guided Meditation Audio [Link opens an MP3 audio] – If you’re having trouble getting started with meditation, this free audio from the Portland Insight Meditation Community will guide you through the basic practice of mindfulness meditation. The site also offers additional guided meditation audios [AUDIO] for deepening your practice. Basic Relaxation Audios [AUDIO] from the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Counseling Center are free audio downloads to guide you through two different relaxation techniques – the Progressive Muscle Relaxation technique and the Combination Relaxation Exercise. For many additional free audio downloads, see The Mindfulness Solution [AUDIO] (Ronald D. Siegel, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School) and Free Guided Meditations [AUDIO] (UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center).

Stress – Links to additional information on different kinds of stress and how to manage stress, plus related resources. (2014, U.S. National Library of Medicine)

Stress Management – Explains how stress affects your physical & emotional health, and suggests a variety of techniques for controlling stress (2014 – 2015, American Heart Association).

Physical exercise can also help reduce stress! Check out our Fitness, Sport, & Physical Therapy links for some good exercise resources. For additional mental health resources, check out our links to information about Mental Health, Self-Help, & Support Groups.

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Links updated November 2016.

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Webfinder : Learning Disabilities

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Additude Magazine – Information and support for families and adults living with ADHD and learning disabilities. Includes practical advice about raising children, expert Q&A, and resources to help students with attentional or learning differences succeed at school. (New Hope Media LLC; site includes advertisements)

Do 2 Learn – ‘Thousands pages of social skills & behavioral regulation activities & guidance, learning songs & games, communication cards, academic material, and transition guides for employment & life skills.’ This site offers many free resources, but also sells related products. (By computer engineer Dr. Dorothy Strickland, Virtual Reality Aids, Inc.)

Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center – This page is designed to help families understand their rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), connect with other families, and find high-quality resources related to caring for infants, toddlers and young children with disabilities.

LD Support and Resources for Parents – “A wealth of information on understanding learning disabilities, negotiating the special education process, and helping your child and yourself.” (Learning Disabilities Association of America; site includes advertisements)

Learning Disabilities: Understood – Expert information and tools for parents of a child with a learning disability. Covers learning & attention issues, school & learning, friends & feelings, family, and more. (National Center for Learning Disabilities et al.)

Learning Disabilities Articles – A collection of articles for parents covering topics such as diagnosing a learning disability, learning problems in teens, types of learning problems, your right to special services, and more. (HealthyChildren.org, American Academy of Pediatrics)

Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN) – A non-profit organization committed to empowering families as advocates and partners in improving education and health outcomes for infants, toddlers, children and youth with special needs. SPAN is the statewide Parent Center for New Jersey.

Links updated 11/16

DISCLAIMER

Webfinder: Adult & Continuing Education

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CAUTION! Before signing up or paying for any education program, please verify that the school or program is properly accredited. A complete list of recognized accrediting agencies may be found on the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION website.

LOCAL RESOURCES:

South Plainfield School District: Adult Education – Information on local adult education programs including Adult High School, Adult School Brochure, and Trip List.

Middlesex County College Continuing Education – Information about non-credit certificate programs and courses to support career and professional development, career training center, and more. To find out more about courses, programs, payments, and transfers, see Middlesex County College Information for Adult Students.

GENERAL RESOURCES:

Distance Education Accrediting Commission – The accrediting agency for distance education (formerly Distance Education and Training Council). Includes a searchable directory of accredited distance education high schools and postsecondary institutions offering a variety of programs from non-degree through bachelors, masters and professional doctoral degree levels. A complete list of recognized accrediting agencies may be found on the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION website.

GCF Learn Free – Free tutorials, articles, and other learning materials aimed at helping you improve the technology, literacy, and math skills needed for success in both work and life. Covers a wide range of subjects from operating ATMs and reading subway maps to using office software and running a home-based business. For learning on the go, download a free mobile app for iOS, Android or Kindle. (Non-profit organization: Goodwill Community Foundation)

Mobile Apps to Support and Enhance Online Courses – Links and resources for using mobile apps in three areas of online learning: Learning, Connection to the University, School or Organization, and Connection to the Instructor. (United States Distance Learning Association)

Open Education Consortium (formerly Open Courseware) – Free online college-level course materials covering a broad range of topics, from universities around the world. Includes course overviews, assignments, readings, handouts, practice exams, and related resources (Non-profit educational consortium). Coursera also offers free online courses from top universities including Princeton, Duke, Georgia Tech, University of Virginia, University of Illinois, and many others. Learn at your own pace, test your knowledge, and reinforce concepts through interactive exercises. Courses cover a wide range of topics in the Humanities, Medicine, Biology, Social Sciences, Mathematics, Business, and Science (founded by Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, Stanford University). The edX site offers online classes from the world’s best universities. Topics include biology, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, finance, electronics, engineering, food and nutrition, history, humanities, law, literature, math, medicine, music, philosophy, physics, science, statistics and more (non-profit created by Harvard and MIT). The Saylor Foundation also has a free collection of self-paced, college-level courses, with no registrations or fees, and no application process; registration is required if you wish to receive a certificate for completing a course (Non-profit organization). Udacity offers interactive online courses developed ‘to provide the most relevant and cutting-edge tech education that bridges the gap between academia and the needs of the 21st century workforce.’ (Sebastian Thrun et al.) [NOTE: All Udacity courses provide free access to course materials, but some additional services may be offered for a fee.]. Open Yale Courses ‘provides free and open access to a selection of introductory courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University.’ 2U: Online Graduate Programs [NEW!] ‘partners with some of the world’s leading colleges and universities to offer online graduate degree programs to students everywhere… Most programs can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis.’

Road Scholar and Lifelong Learning Institutes – Educational travel and lifelong learning opportunities for adults. Non-profit organization; there is a charge for travel programs.

See also Sites for Seniors: Education.

Links updated November 2016.

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Webfinder: Job Resources for Veterans

Links updated 10/25/16

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Leaving the Military – Transitioning resources, including advice on creating your federal resume, civil service employment, foreign service careers,

Career OneStop: Veterans’ Re-employment – ‘Veterans ReEmployment is your one-stop site for employment, training and financial help after your military service.’ There is also a related site, My Next Move for Veterans (U.S. Department of Labor).

New Jersey Jobs: Veterans Services (NJ Career Connections) [UPDATED LINK!] – ‘Veterans receive first priority referral to all jobs and training opportunities for which they are qualified. In the One-Stop Career Center, there is a Veterans Representative who specializes in helping veterans find the jobs and opportunities for which they qualify. In addition to priority referrals to jobs, vets can enroll in free job search workshops, find help developing a resume, learn about career training programs and get help understanding the network of veterans’ benefits available through the Veterans Administration, state and local governments.’ (New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development).

Career Boot Camp for Transitioning Military Personnel – ‘Some basic training on how to present your resume and military skills in a way that will connect with civilian employers’ (Monster.com; site includes advertisements).

Feds Hire Vets – Resources and information to help veterans, transitioning service members, and their families find careers in the Federal government (U.S. Office of Personnel Management).

Hire Heroes USA – Free services to veterans or their spouses, including
resume tools, post-military planning, post-military financial & benefits assessment, and job search training.

Hiring Our Heroes – Free tools and resources to help veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses find meaningful employment opportunities. (U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation)

Online Job Search Guide for Veterans – Lots of helpful advice and resources for those re-entering the civilian job market after 3 or 30 years of service in the military. (Susan P. Joyce, Job-Hunt.org)

Troops to Teachers – Help for separating or retiring military personnel who want to pursue a rewarding second career in public education. (N.J. Department of Education)

Vet Jobs – Searchable job listings, employment advice and other employment resources for transitioning military, National Guard, Reserve Component Members and veterans, and their family members (sponsored by Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States). See also:

DISCLAIMER

Webfinder: Disasters

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Disaster Supplies Kit [Link opens a PDF] – A handy printable checklist of essential items you should have in your home in case of any emergency, plus key websites to help you stay informed about current or potential emergencies. (State of New Jersey Office of Emergency Management)

Disasters: Prepare Your Home & Family – General advice on how to prepare for natural disasters or other emergencies, including tips for taking care of children, people with disabilities, seniors, and pets. Disaster Preparedness focuses on specific types of emergencies, including chemical spills, fires, floods, flu, heat waves, poisoning, power outages, terrorism, winter storms, and more. After a Disaster offers guidance on what to do after floods, hurricanes, winter storms blackouts, and other disasters, including checking your home’s structure, utilities & major systems, and recovering financially (American Red Cross). See also Emergency Preparedness & Response [UPDATED LINK!] (U.S. Centers for Disease Control) and Protect Yourself from Dangerous Weather (USA.gov).

Emotional Recovery from Disaster [NEW!] – Briefly outlines common reactions and responses to disaster, and offers advice on coping. (2013, American Psychological Association). See also Helping Children Cope With a Disaster [NEW!] and Parents Helping Youth Cope with Disaster [NEW!] [Link opens a PDF] (2013, U.S. Centers for Disease Control). SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline [NEW!] provides crisis counseling and support, by phone or text, to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. There is also a special service for hard of hearing & deaf people, and an interpretation service that connects callers with counselors in more than 150 languages (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).

Family Communication Plan  [Link opens a PDF] – A printable form you can fill out so your family will know how to get in touch with each other in the event of an emergency. Fill in this information and keep a copy in a safe place, such as your purse or briefcase, your car, your office, and your disaster kit. (FEMA)

Financial Preparedness: Lessons from Sandy – Recommends steps to take before disaster hits to be sure your financial accounts, medical & prescription drug information, original copies of important documents (birth certificates, wills, etc.) and other necessities are secured and accessible to you in the event of an emergency (2012, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse). Smart About Money: Natural Disasters [UPDATED LINK!] [Link opens a PDF] includes information on filing insurance claims, applying for private or government assistance, tax relief, and related topics (2015, National Endowment for Financial Education, American Red Cross and American Institute of Certified Public Accountants; non-profit organizations). See also Weather Emergencies: Getting your Financial House in Order (2015, Federal Trade Commission).

Flooding – How to prepare for, stay safe during, and recover from floods, including dealing with emergency disinfection of drinking water, mold, private wells & septic systems, and related subjects (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). See also Family Preparedness: Floods and Flash Floods (New Jersey Office of Emergency Management) and Floods: What You Should Know [UPDATED LINK!] (U.S. Centers for Disease Control). FloodSmart explains the National Flood Insurance Program and your flood insurance coverage options (FEMA). The short video Flooded Cars offers tips on how to identify a flood-damaged vehicle when you shop for a car (Insurance Information Institute, Inc.).

Food Safety in an Emergency [NEW!] – Answers to frequently asked questions about food safety after a flood or other disaster, including a helpful  “When to Save and When to Throw It Out” chart (USDA). See also FoodSafety.gov [NEW!].

Preparedness for Individuals with Disabilities – People with disabilities often need additional time and assistance to prepare for a disaster. This page provides some quick, practical advice, with links to more in-depth information and guidance, including Register Ready, a free and confidential program which allows residents with special needs to register with emergency response agencies, so emergency responders can better serve them in an emergency (New Jersey Office of Emergency Management). The Red Cross offers a free booklet you can download and print, Preparing for Disaster for People with Disabilities and other Special Needs (American Red Cross, Department of Homeland Security and FEMA).

Preparedness for Seniors – Tips for over-50 adults and their families / caregivers (The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc). See also Disaster Planning For Seniors, By Seniors [NEW!] [Link opens a PDF] (American Red Cross), and Safety Tips for Seniors and related links.

Planning for Pets – Pets can’t prepare, so you need to do it for them! This guide explains what you can do ahead of time to ensure your pets’ safety in times of emergency (Humane Society of the United States). See also Preparing your Pets for Emergencies [Link opens a PDF] (FEMA et al.), Saving the Whole Family® [Link opens a PDF] (American Veterinary Medical Association) and Pets and Disaster Safety Checklist [Link opens a PDF] (American Red Cross).

Power Outages [UPDATED LINK!] – Tips to help you prepare for and cope with sudden loss of power, including food & water safety, and dealing with extreme heat and cold.(U.S. Centers for Disease Control)

Protect Your Home in a FLASH [NEW!] – DIY Videos showing steps you can take to strengthen your home and safeguard your family from natural and manmade disasters; videos are hosted on YouTube. See Flash FAQ for additional resources.

Safe & Well List If you have been affected by a disaster, this site provides a way for you to register yourself as ‘safe and well.’ If you are concerned about loved ones in a disaster area, you can search the list of those who have registered themselves as ‘safe and well.’ For help contacting family members during or after an international crisis (war, disaster, migration or other humanitarian emergency), see Find Family Internationally After Crisis (American Red Cross) and Restoring Family Links  [NEW!] (International Committee of the Red Cross).

Save Your Treasures [UPDATED LINK!] – Basic guidelines for saving family heirlooms, photos, and other keepsakes that have been damaged in floods or fires (Heritage Preservation and FEMA).

Winter Weather [UPDATED LINK!] – Advice on protecting your health and safety in winter, including what to do if you get stranded on the road (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). See also Winter Weather Safety [NEW!] (National Weather Service). Winter Driving offers vehicle maintenance & driving tips and outlines laws that help keep you safe on the road in winter (State of New Jersey). See also Car Talk: Winter Driving (NPR; site includes advertisements) and AAA Winter Driving Tips. To test your knowledge about driving safely in a variety of extreme weather conditions, see the Weather Channel’s Extreme Weather Driving Quiz!

If you are struck by a natural disaster, DisasterAssistance.gov is the official U.S. government website that provides information and services to access and apply for disaster assistance. For additional information, see Benefit.gov’s Guide to Disaster Preparedness and Relief Benefits.

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Links updated 7/29/16.

DISCLAIMER

Staycation Guide 2016

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Thinking about keeping your vacation local this summer, or maybe just planning to do some exploring right here where we live? Maybe you’re new to the area, or just haven’t had a chance to get to know what’s in your own backyard? We have information that can help you find fun & family-friendly things to do in South Plainfield and the surrounding area!

The South Plainfield Recreation Department offers summer sports camps, swimming lessons, and a Community Pool. Did you know that South Plainfield’s Spring Lake Park has tennis courts, basketball court, playground, bikeways/walkways, fishing, and free concerts? For other parks and nature preserves in the Central Jersey area, see Middlesex County Parks & Recreation, Union County Parks & Recreation, Somerset County Parks, and Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. In Hillsborough (Somerset County), Duke Farms offers hiking & biking trails, nature & horticulture programs, family activities, and more. The Nature Conservancy in N.J. offers information on nature preserves in the Delaware Bayshores, Pine Barrens, and Skylands regions of New Jersey. To expand your range, see NJ State Parks & Forests. Many parks & recreation departments also offer history & culture events and facilities!

Close to home, East Jersey Olde Towne Village in Piscataway is a collection of original, replica and reconstructed 18th- and 19th-century structures, tools and artifacts that help illustrate the farm and merchant communities once found in central New Jersey. For information about this and other historic sites in Middlesex County, visit the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Office. For many additional historic sites, see NJ State Historic Sites & Museums and New Jersey History: Places To Go!.

There some excellent museums within a moderate distance of South Plainfield. The Newark Museum and New Jersey State Museum (Trenton) both feature natural history & science as well as fine art, and each include a planetarium & an auditorium. You can see more fine art at the Zimmerli Art Museum in New Brunswick and Princeton University Art Museum.

Plays-in-the-Park presents outdoor community theater productions at Roosevelt Park in Edison. Other theaters in the area offering live theater productions include the Papermill Playhouse (Millburn) and Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (Madison).

The Mason Gross School of the Arts Summer Series in New Brunswick features a mix of music and dance; the 4 performances in July are free and family-friendly. For many additional arts & culture events and facilities at Rutgers’ New Brunswick campus, including museums and festivals, see Arts & Culture at Rutgers.

The State Theatre in New Brunswick, Union County Arts Center [UPDATED LINK!] in Rahway, and New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark offer a variety of professional performing arts shows for adults and children.

Sports Teams in NJ and Visit NJ have information & links on NJ major & minor sports teams & venues, including the Somerset Patriots baseball team in Bridgewater.

Of course, for most of us, summer in NJ wouldn’t be complete without at least one trip to the beach! See VistNJ.org: Beaches in NJ and New Jersey Monthly’s Annual Shore Guide to find the perfect spot and get information about beach fees, facilities, and parking. See NJbeaches.org for beach closings & advisories, and other health & safety information.

More Staycation Resources: Things to Do in New Jersey and Visit NJ have info on theme parks, zoos & aquariums, breweries & wineries, arboretums & gardens, arcades & miniature golf, plus trip ideas and more! MyCentralJersey.com’s Local Directory section includes searchable listings for central N.J. arts & entertainment, food & dining, sports & recreation, and more. Discover Jersey Arts is the hub for what’s going on in NJ’s arts scene, with a comprehensive event calendar, directory of cultural organizations, and more! FunNewJersey.com, FunNJ.com, and Weird NJ offer lots of additional information on where it’s at in Jersey!

P.S. If you’re traveling by car, don’t forget to check 511NJ.org [NEW!] before you head out, for up-to-the-minute traffic conditions and road closures!

DISCLAIMER

Webfinder: Genealogy Resources

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African-American Research – Information about Pre-Civil War, Military Records, and Post-Civil War Records at the National Archives, plus links to other helpful resources for African-Americans trying to trace their family history (National Archives and Records Administration). See the Afro-American Genealogical Research Guide for a list of useful print resources (Library of Congress). See also Slave Trade Voyages (Emory University et al.)

American Indian Ancestry [Link opens a PDF document] – Printable guide to acquiring the genealogical documentation needed to establish descent from an Indian tribe for membership and enrollment purposes (2013, U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs). See also Native American Records, which includes information about records at the National Archives, and links to many other useful resources (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration).

Civil War Ancestors – Advice on researching ancestors who fought in the Civil War (National Park Service). See also Genealogy Notes: Civil War (2006, National Archives and Records Administration) and Civil War Era Records (FamilySearch.org).

Ellis Island American Family Immigration History Center [FREE REGISTRATION REQUIRED.] – If any of your ancestors came to this country through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1924, you can find out exactly when they arrived, and on what ship. Enter the name of the passenger in the space provided, and click on ‘Start Search’ to get a list of matching records.

Family Tree Charts (Printable) – Choose one of three PDF charts to print and fill in with names and dates of your ancestors. See also family group sheets [Link opens a PDF document] and ancestor charts [Link opens a PDF document] (National Genealogical Society), and Library of Michigan Pedigree Chart [Link opens a PDF document].

Genealogy How-To Guide – An excellent step-by-step guide to researching your family history, from Genealogy.com (site includes advertisements). Genealogy Research Tutorials offers ‘simple tutorials that may answer some questions you have about getting started, gathering information from others, or turning professional.’ The tutorials are free, but include some references to publications for sale, and resources available only to members (National Genealogical Society).

Holocaust and War Victims Tracing Center – ‘A national clearinghouse for persons seeking the fates of loved ones missing since the Holocaust and its aftermath. We assist U.S. residents searching for proof of internment, forced/slave labor, or evacuation from former Soviet territories on themselves or family members.’ To begin your search, contact your local Red Cross chapter (American Red Cross). See also International Tracing Service (ITS), which ‘serves victims of Nazi persecutions and their families by documenting their fate through the archives it manages. The ITS preserves these historic records and makes them available for research.’

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) – Explains what genealogy resources are available through the U.S. National Archives and how to obtain them. Covers census, immigration, military, and other records, plus FAQs, tips for doing genealogical research, preserving your family records, and more. See NARA’s Ethnic Heritage Resources for online resources specific to various ethnic groups, including African-American, Asian, British, Eastern European and Russian, Hispanic, Jewish, and Native American. Prologue Magazine offers Genealogy Notes on a range of topics such as African American History, American Indians, Immigration & Naturalization, Prison Records, and various wars.

New Jersey Division of Archives and Records [UPDATED LINK!] – Searchable databases of marriage, death, & property records from the 17th – 19th centuries, World War I casualties, and other New Jersey historical records. NJGenWeb: New Jersey Genealogy Organizations provides a list of New Jersey genealogical societies, historical societies, libraries, museums, etc., arranged by town or county. Includes links to websites, where available. See also New Jersey Genealogy (Rutgers University Libraries) and NJ Digital Highway (State of New Jersey). For resources in other states, go to the USGenWeb: States page (run by volunteers) and links to official State Archives [NEW!] in all 50 states.

Preserving Family Records – Information on how to preserve family documents, photos, memorabilia, and home movies (National Archives and Records Administration). For information on how to preserve items that have been damaged in a flood or other disaster, see Save Your Treasures [Link opens a PDF document] (Heritage Preservation; non-profit organization).

Proquest Tips for Tracing Your Family Tree [NEW!] – Advice from a genealogy expert on researching your family history. (2014, from the publisher of Ancestry® Library Edition and HeritageQuest® Online)

Veterans’ Gravesite Locator – ‘Search for burial locations of veterans and their dependents in VA National Cemeteries, state veterans cemeteries and various other Department of Interior and military cemeteries.’ (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)

Vital Records: Replace Your Vital Documents [UPDATED LINK!] – USA.gov page offering information on ways to obtain copies of birth, marriage & death certificates, military service records and more.

Links updated March 2016.