Tips for Hurricane Preparedness

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Tips for Hurricane Preparedness

As hurricane season is upon us, many people are wondering “How can I prepare for a hurricane?”. As the intensity of each hurricane can widely vary, it’s important to have a few levels of protection between your home and the elements.

As always, be sure to listen for official announcements regarding the hurricane as it approaches – if officials tell you to evacuate, do so. Do not stay in your home when it is deemed too hazardous!

Have a Family Plan

As you should do to prepare for every disaster (fire, flood, etc) you and your family should have a plan of what to do if a hurricane approaches. You should have a designated room that your family goes to (bathrooms are typically very safe) to ride out the storm and should have a preparedness plan for if a family member is stuck outside the home during an event (where should they go, who should they call).

An important part of this family plan is determining how you will communicate with each other. Have a backup plan in case phone lines are down/overloaded, such as contacting via text or social media.

Gather Helpful Supplies

During a hurricane event, a number of things can happen, including power outages (possibly for a few days), downed trees, blocked roads, etc. It’s important to have enough supplies in your home to be able to hunker down and stay safe until it is okay to venture outside again. It’s a good idea to create a basic disaster supplies kit that will hold a number of essential items:

Water

It’s always a good idea to have a few gallons of water on-hand in case you aren’t able to access clean water during a hurricane event. Water can also come in handy if you need to use it for sanitation purposes as well.

Flashlights

Crucial for those dark nights without power, having a few flashlights available can be a game changer. Having some head-mounted flashlights (such as these) can also be helpful for hands-free usage

First Aid Kit

It is extremely important that you have a first aid kit available, especially in the event you or a family member has an accident and you’re unable to leave your home. Be sure your kit has the basics: antiseptic wipes, band-aids, ibuprofen, gauze, etc.

Food

You should keep a three or four-day supply of non-perishable foods within your cabinets in case you lose power and are unable to get to a grocery store. Don’t forget to include pet food if you have animals in the home as well!

Gas

Fill up your car’s gas tank at least 36 hours prior to a hurricane event, just in case you need to evacuate or have a local gas shortage as a result of the storm.

Protect Your Home

There are some things you can do to prepare your home for a hurricane event that could help prevent exterior damage and flooding.

First, review your insurance policies to be sure you fully understand its terms and what kind of coverage you have. Call an insurance agent or your local credit union for questions about hurricane preparedness or your policy.

Do a walk-around of your home to determine any weak spots that may need to be addressed before the storm, such as windows that could be blocked off with hurricane shutters/plywood, trees around the property that may need to be trimmed down, etc. Consider utilizing sandbags in areas that are prone to flooding.

Similarly, check for loose objects around your yard that could become dangerous projectiles in high-velocity winds – these objects could include trash cans, children’s outdoor toys, patio furniture.


Eastex wants you to be fully prepared for any storms during this hurricane season. We are always here to help with any questions you may have – contact us today to discuss any concerns you may have!

How to Manage Finances with your Spouse

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Whether you’ve been married for 5 years or 5 months, finances have a nasty habit of causing friction between couples. In fact, money is the leading cause of relationship issues and can often lead to more serious consequences such as separation or divorce. Much like couples that take great care in improving and maintaining a healthy level of communication, those that work together on their finances – no matter if they keep them separate or not – find themselves more content in their relationship as well as more excited for the future. No matter your current financial situation with your significant other, here are some helpful tips on how to manage your finances with your spouse that can apply to anyone:

Be Honest With Your Significant Other About Your Financial Situation

As you would hope they’d do for you, it’s important that you disclose your financial status to your significant other – especially if you’re engaged to be married. Yes, this also includes any embarrassing information such as a low credit score, credit card debt, or anything else that would be important for them to know! You can make overcoming these obstacles a joint venture that can ultimately bring you both closer together. Hiding or not disclosing financial information from your significant other breeds distrust and can make it difficult to move forward in your relationship.

Manage Finances With Your Spouse in a Mutually-Accessible Way

There are countless ways to accomplish this to suit your particular needs – from utilizing a budgeting spreadsheet template, or signing up for a budget tracker app like Mint, having your finances out in the open will help keep everyone on the same page in terms of transactions, upcoming bills, and overall financial status. This also allows the responsibility of handling finances to be equally distributed instead of solely held to one person alone. If only one person has a handle on the finances, they may feel resentment towards the other for the additional responsibility, while the other may feel like they aren’t trusted.

Establish Savings Goals, and Work Together to Accomplish Them

Every couple has dreams – a new home, a tropical vacation, repairing the fence, a new pet – all things that need to be adequately budgeted and planned for. A great way to grow together as a couple is to jointly work towards these goals – and you can do this in a number of ways. Some couples pool any leftover cash or change from the day into a communal pot to passively safe income towards a goal, while others dedicate a certain percentage of their income (such as 5% per paycheck) to be directly deposited to a joint savings account. If you choose to invest your savings, Eastex Credit Union has a great savings calculator that can help you forecast your wealth growth as well.


Eastex wants to see financial success not only for you but for you and your spouse jointly! Having open and honest communication in your relationship extends to your finances, so creating a financial strategy that works for both of you can drastically improve the quality of your relationship. For assistance in opening up a checking or savings account, adding a new credit card, or for personalized assistance to manage finances with your spouse, contact Eastex today

Annual Financial Checkups

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Financial Importance of Annual Checkups

Being fiscally responsible now can help you navigate through unforeseen financial burdens in the future. One of the most common reasons many Americans end up in debt is due to medical bills, and being unable to pay medical bills is the leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the U.S. While there will always be events that cannot be predicted, having an annual checkup can be important factor in ensuring your financial stability.

Annual checkups are often skipped, but a serious disease could have a profound effect on your finances. Many serious medical issues can be diagnosed at a regular checkup and then treated and managed, typically at a much lower cost than leaving a condition untreated until it becomes more severe. Annual checkups usually include preventative screenings, making sure you are up to date on vaccinations, and a physical examination to check your current health and risks. When you visit while you are healthy, rather than when you have a cold or another health issue, you establish a baseline that will help your doctor when treating you. Having regular checkups also helps you build a better relationship with your doctor.

Many young adults with no obvious health problems see annual visits as pointless, while for others it may be considered an unnecessary expense. However, seeing your doctor regularly can save you money in the long run. Following the advice of your doctor to minimize the risk of potential health issues and taking preventative measures could help you avoid expensive treatments and surgeries. Reviewing changes in your health and lifestyle in yearly increments allows your doctor to make recommendations that are specific to your health and health goals. Your doctor can also recommend which tests you should have done based on your age and family history, such as cancer screenings, hearing tests, or checking your cholesterol levels. Annual checkups are also the perfect opportunity to ask any health-related question you may have, which are often not mentioned when you’re at the doctor’s office for a sick visit. Make a list of your health concerns and bring these up at your annual checkup.

Catching health issues early, or preventing their onset by following your doctor’s orders, can reduce your total health care spending, but many people avoid seeing their doctor for routine checkups. The most common reasons for not scheduling an annual visit are not having a doctor, feeling fine, not having the time to spare, and not being able to afford it. If you don’t have a doctor, ask your local friends and family for recommendations. Be sure to select one that is in your health insurance plan’s network to minimize costs. If you are putting off an annual visit because you feel healthy, keep in mind that the early stages of many chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, are symptom free, but more manageable if caught early. If trying to find the time to see the doctor seems like too much of a hassle, consider the time required for a visit an investment in your future health. If you feel that you can’t fit the expense associated with an annual visit into your budget, see what free screenings are available to you at local health clinics or during health fairs. Not all health issues can be detected or prevented during a checkup, but they are important for the early diagnosis and treatment of many illnesses, which makes annual visits a healthy financial investment in your future.

The best way to keep your finances intact during a health crisis is by being as prepared as possible. Even with a health insurance plan, the amount you must pay to meet your deductible or out of pocket maximum can put a financial strain on your family. Having some money set aside for emergencies is always a smart decision, and will give you some peace of mind if you need to use it. Consider opening a separate Eastex Credit Union savings account for your emergency funds. Having a separate account for your emergency funds means that you’ll be less likely to spend that money on unnecessary purchases and will earn dividends on your savings while preparing for the unexpected.

Online Bill Pay

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Pay Bills the SIMPLE Way with Online Bill Pay

How many bills do you have to pay each month? Rent/mortgage, car loan, the internet, insurance, electricity, cell phone, credit cards, student loans, cable, and so on. Having to keep track of so many separate bills means that you are likely to be late submitting a payment on occasion, which can hurt your credit score. Many of us pay some of our bills online, but most use multiple websites to submit payments. Eastex Credit Union strives to offer products and services that can help you meet your financial obligations in an easy, convenient, and secure way. Online Bill Pay is a feature of our Online Banking that allows you to pay all of your bills from a single place, the Eastex CU website or Eastex mobile app. Online Bill Pay eliminates the hassle of writing checks each month, having to pay for postage to mail your payment, and potentially forgetting to make a payment.

Enjoy the control, security, and convenience of Bill Pay to pay ALL your bills.

  • Control. With Bill Pay, you schedule when you want each bill to be paid. You can schedule a payment days, weeks, or even a year in advance. Bill Pay helps ensure your bills are paid, even when you’re away.
  • Security. Challenge questions and a security key are used to verify your identity before you can access the secure Bill Pay website.
  • Convenience. Bill Pay eliminates the need to keep up with your payment information and payments can be made in just minutes from wherever you are. Recurring bills can also be scheduled to be paid automatically.

Getting started is EASY!

All you need to enjoy FREE Online Bill Pay is an Eastex CU checking account and Online Banking or Mobile Banking. If you need to sign up for free Online Banking, contact us or stop by a branch location.

To sign up for Online Bill Pay:

  • Login to Online Banking at the top of any page on the Eastex Credit Union website
  • Click on the Bill Pay link
  • Gather all your bills, including account numbers
  • Enter each payee’s information
  • Select when to send payment
  • Select if the payment is recurring or a single occurrence

With Bill Pay, you can pay everyone from the electric company to your child’s babysitter, or send money to a grandchild that is away at college, all from the secure Eastex CU website. Bill Pay helps keep you organized and on top of your financial obligations, so you’ll never be hit with an accidental late fee again. It also makes it easier to track where your money is going each month and when bills are due, to ensure you can make each payment and have a realistic picture of your financial situation.

Download our Mobile App TODAY

Simplify your life even more by using Bill Pay on our mobile app. Download the Eastex app on your mobile device or tablet through Google Play or the Apple Store.

With Eastex Mobile Banking you can:

  • Deposit checks
  • Check Account Balances
  • Review Transactions
  • Receive Alerts
  • Transfer Funds Between Accounts
  • Check Deposits
  • And More!

   

We maintain the highest standards in encryption and other security features, which means you can perform your banking transactions without worrying about identity theft.

Fathers Day Ideas

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Father’s Day

Sunday, June 18th is Father’s Day and chances are your dad would prefer not to receive yet another tie or wallet. Make the day more memorable by planning a special outing or activity. Here are some ways to thank your father for everything that he has done for you.

  • Hit the Trail. The BBQ trail that is. Texas Monthly has declared that we are in “the golden age of Texas barbecue”, so why not take a short road trip and sample the smoked meats at several of Texas’ well-known BBQ joints. Taste the offerings in a few different cities or fully conquer just one city. Discuss which pitmaster’s brisket, sausages, and ribs are the best, what wood infuses the most delicious flavor, and whose sauce you could drink straight from the bottle. Make sure your itinerary includes a few cult favorites, such as Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, Luling City Market in Luling, or Kreuz Market in Lockhart. Check out Texas Monthly’s most recent list of the 50 best BBQ joints to help plan your meat-inspired agenda.
  • Go Fishing. Texas has 191,000 miles of rivers and streams and over 3,300 miles of coastal shoreline along its islands, bays, and river mouths, making the state a fisherman’s paradise. Grab the tackle box, fishing poles, and bait and let your dad choose a local freshwater spot to cast a line, or head to the ocean for some deep sea fishing. June is the best month for catching red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico, while catfish, trout, crappie, sunfish, and bass are plentiful in freshwater fishing holes.
  • Have a friendly competition. If your dad is constantly boasting about the time he made a hole in one on the golf course, or threw a 100+mph fastball, plan a day full of sporty challenges. You can play 18 holes on the PGA course or at mini-golf, see who takes the checkered flag Go-Kart racing, or who has the best aim in paintball.
  • Take to the skies. Check with the local airstrips and book a sight-seeing flight over your city in a small aircraft. Let your dad observe the town’s buildings and roadways, as well as the features of the landscape from an entirely new perspective.
  • Lend a hand. If your dad is unable to do everything he once could offer to help with some tasks that may be difficult for him. Clean the gutters, pressure wash the driveway, or just pitch in wherever your assistance may be needed.
  • Make every month special. If your dad lives too far away to visit on Father’s Day consider gifting him a subscription that will deliver items to his home every month. Think about what your father enjoys doing and you are sure to find something to please him. Whether your dad likes to spend his free time exploring the outdoors, playing video games, reading, becoming a grill master, doing projects around the house, or could use a steady supply of socks or razors, there is sure to be one that is perfect. Beer and wine of the month clubs are also a great option if your dad likes to discover new brews and varietals.

If you are still not sure what to do for Father’s Day, just ask your Dad what he had in mind for the day. If you will not see your dad on Father’s Day, be sure to call or video-chat with him. If your dad is no longer around, make sure to remember him on this day. If you have children, keep his memory alive by telling them stories about your father, spending the day doing his favorite activity, or eating his favorite food. Father’s Day is the perfect time to show your appreciation for your dad and how important he has been in your life.

   

8 Financial Tips for Young Adults

Finance advice for young adults

Studies have shown that 83 percent of teens do not know how to manage their money. While under their parents’ care, this might not be a big deal, but in just a few years these teens will be young adults, responsible for their own finances. This is the reason why a young adult needs to take a serious and active role in his or her finances. Consider the following financial tips that will teach you 8 simple lessons, which will pave the way for a bright financial future.

1. Save as Much as you can

One good tip for young adults, and perhaps the most practical is to strive to live off a small amount of your income. This will allow you to save more, which will give you a good cushion as you age. Make cuts where possible, like eliminating unnecessary expenses or not eating out so much. Your goal is to put away more than 10 percent of your income.

2. Strive to Live Debt-Free

You have probably acquired a credit card or two. Perhaps, you have seen credit card offers coming in the mail. Be careful and wise. Don’t get a credit card for frivolous spending. Use your credit cards for emergencies, and pay your balance off each month. Credit cards come with interest, which is basically money you will give away for free.

3. Redefine Your Needs

Consumerism has made it easy to confuse a need with a want. Needs are necessities in life, which include food, shelter, and self-care items while wants are desires. Desires are not vital. Make a list of what is necessary and what is not, which will make it easy for you to remove unnecessary expenses.

4. Spend Carefully

There should be a small amount of money allocated each month for spending on non-vital items like fun activities. The amount spent should be small and should not leave you penniless. Set aside money for trips and leisure travel so that your budget stays intact.

5. Build a Few Streams of Income

Smart investments can definitely be one stream of income, but there are others. For example, several phone applications give people the opportunity to offer people rides around town for a little cash. Another stream of income could be a self-funded small business of your own. Digital real estate is the way to go in these modern times. Websites have low startup costs and can offer you a big return.

6. Live Within Your Means

Too many people live beyond their means, which is why some people max out credit cards. These are tools that people often use to buy something their income may not afford. You should not use your credit cards or dip in your savings just to have a little fun. Practice more self-control if you feel this is necessary.

7. Set up Different Savings

There are many types of emergencies, and you should have a savings for each one. Of course, you may not be able to predict every emergency, but there are some common ones like the following:

  • Medical problems
  • Car issues
  • Family emergencies
  • Unexpected financial crisis
  • Loss of a job

8. Rethink Your Bank

Another good tip is to choose a local credit union like Eastex Credit Union . You do not have to worry about additional maintenance fees or fees for using an ATM. There are many benefits that help members save money. The key difference between credit unions and regular banks is that we look out for our members.

8 Excellent Financial Planning Resources

Financial planning resources

Do you find financial planning intimidating? You are not alone; there are millions of Americans just like you. Fortunately, there are resources available that can help you. Here are 8 resources that are free or low cost and can help you navigate your financial waters.

1) Money Magazine
Founded in 1972, Money Magazine has a circulation of almost two million and is owned by the same corporation that owns TIME. Topics include investing, saving, retirement, and taxes. How will you pay for college, with its skyrocketing cost? How will you maximize your career? Which home improvements make sense? Learn more by reading Money magazine, it is a fascinating magazine! Next time you see publication in the news stand check it out. It is easy to read.

2) Kiplinger magazine
Founded in 1947, Kiplinger has a circulation of 700,000 and covers many of the same topics as Money. Recent topics include dividend-paying stocks and smart ways to invest $1,000. Kiplinger, like Money, is an excellent publication for those trying to become more money savvy. It’s definitely worth the twenty or so bucks to subscribe for a year. Their website is also extremely helpful, with lots of high-quality articles.

3) Mint, a powerful, free, app
It updates you on your finances. This is great, as other programs force you to download updates to your computer. Mint is automatic. This is a great way to get a financial snapshot of how you are doing financially. Know up to the minute of how you are doing. For many, this is much better than waiting until the end of the month when you’ve done your finances for the month. It’s made by the same people behind Quicken (Intuit.)

4) For power users, there’s Quicken
Quicken does pretty much everything Mint does, but it offers even more. Quicken can be used to record tax-deductible expenses, forecast cash flow, create spending records, pay monthly bills and track investment performance. If your situation is more complex and you have time on your hands to analyze activity, then Quicken is for you. However, remember Quicken costs money. Personally, I prefer Mint and a little bit of spreadsheet work. But I have friends that use Quicken and would highly recommend it.

5) Numerous free finance blogs
For example, check out Mr. Money Mustache. It’s written by a guy who was able to retire in his 30s. There’s a blog for everyone out there. If you like spending money on travel reward cards and getting free trips, there are blogs for that too. Content is usually free and advertising is usually not the intrusive. For the most part, sites do not have popups or spyware. Use Google to find these sights. Alternatively, you can ask for recommendations on forums.

6) Speak with a Financially Savvy Friend or Family Member
Sometimes they can be a great resource! Fortunately, they often love to help people out with their financial issues. This is free advice. Just be sure to occasionally fact check what they say. But often their advice is as good as an expert. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to take them out to dinner and run your finances by them. Just be sure that you can trust them and that they won’t talk about your money details to friends and family. That can be embarrassing and awkward.

7) Library Books
There are hundreds of great personal finance books out there. Although finance books can sometimes be a little dry and slow reads (there are some easy reads, however), you can usually check out books for two weeks or more. Fortunately, if you’ve read a few you likely do not have to read more. Personal finance usually just means sticking to a few rules. The most important of course is living beneath your means, saving and investing. But check out a book from the library to learn more.

8) Hire a Financial Planner
For someone very busy, sometimes leaving it to the experts is the best possible solution. Many people have stressful jobs. After their family life, they have little time left over to learn financial planning. This is why financial planners exist. Their entire profession is based on giving other people financial advice. Some even have the CFP designation, which stands for certified financial planner. A financial planner has to take extra classes and pass a very difficult test to gain the CFP designation. Be selective, choosing a financial planner is an important decision.

Financial planning can be difficult. Use the 8 resources listed above to help you plan.

5 Tips for Safe Online Shopping This Holiday Season

5 Safe Online Shopping TipsMalware. Phishing. Straight up identity theft. These are just a few of the ways cyber crooks look to separate you from your cash. But shopping for holiday gifts online is a phenomenon that is not going away. After all, there are no long lines, fistfights over the latest toy craze, or creepy mall Santas to contend with. And despite the raging paranoia the media tries to infect Internet shoppers with each year, a handful of simple precautions goes a long way towards a safe experience. Here are 5 safe online shopping tips to keep in mind:

Unsafe Email Links

You just received an official-looking email offering a 99% discount on festive widgets from [insert your favorite big box retailer here]. Click on the link and off you go. Wait! Double check the link. The offer might be legit or it might be a phishing scam where some neer-do-well has set up a web page, or entire site mimicking said big box store for the sole purpose of stealing your credit card information. Just Google the store or type the store’s URL into the address bar to make sure you are taken to the actual website. If you don’t see the widget sale listed, congratulations. You just avoided being scammed.

Be a Savvy Searcher

In a similar vein, any criminal with a little bit of web savvy and SEO chops can get his or her financial-information-scraping website to rank high in the search results. You should always skim these listings with at least a little suspicion. Double check the URL! For safe online shopping, you’re better off typing whichever store you seek directly into the address bar.

Use Credible Apps

Apps for your mobile device are a retailer’s (and shopper’s) dream come true. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t download yours from a sketchy source. A hacker can create an app that looks great but acts rotten. If you have the misfortune of installing a malicious app, you might as well take out an ad broadcasting your financial information. For apps, stick to places like Android Market, Apple App Store, and Amazon App Store. The vast majority of places you want to shop will have their apps available in these locations.

Shop from Safety

No matter how much you may love your local coffee shop, public wi-fi networks can be a bad idea when it comes to online holiday shopping. These networks are notoriously hacker-friendly. With the right tools, that innocent-looking guy over there sipping on his sixth latte just might be scooping up everyone’s sensitive financial data with an electronic shovel. Don’t be his next victim. Safe online shopping from home on a (hopefully) secured network is the way to go.

Check for SSL – Secure Sockets Layer

Never buy anything online without visually confirming that the website has deployed Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology to protect your data. Simply put, SSL assures you that the transaction is oodles safer due to the implementation of the latest encryption technology. You don’t have to be a techno-geek to make this determination. The URL should start with HTTPS:// rather than the standard HTTP://. See that extra “s” in there? It makes all the difference. You also should see a locked padlock icon either in the address bar at the top of the page or the status bar below.

None of this stuff is hard to do, people! Just use your brain and you’ll be fine. A final bit of advice – never, never, never send your credit card information through email. We’d love to talk about how we can help with your finances. Why not contact us today?

5 Emergencies to Save up For

Emergencies to save for

Regardless of how well-prepared you are and how fool-proof your plan is, there’s always going to be rainy days in life. If left unabated, these emergencies can quickly snowball into more dire problems and create more financially debilitating situations, such as foreclosure of assets and bankruptcy. To help you overcome these financial troubles, below are five emergencies you should be saving up for.

Car Problems

If given the choice, most people would not want to take the subway or bus. A private means of transportation is, nowadays, the preferred mode of getting from Point A to Point B. If your car breaks down, however, this could mean either you go back to taking public transportation or fix it so you can get back on the road, the latter choice being more desirable. Repair costs will vary based on a handful of factors including the car make, model, and year as well as the type of service needed. Car problems extend beyond dead batteries or blown up tires. There’s brake caliper replacement, heating and cooling repairs, and so on, each costing differently to repair or replace.

Family Emergencies

Family emergencies encompass events such as your college kid needing tuition next week or medical bills incurred after an accident. Allocating a savings fund for family emergencies is key to ensuring that your family’s day-to-day lives are not interfered with, or, if so, are restored back to normal as soon as possible. The dollar amount of your savings fund allocated to family emergencies will depend on family size, living conditions, and lifestyle. The two last factors will determine how prone your family is to accidents that lead to property damage and personal injuries.

Home Maintenance

Remember, your emergency funds should be shelled out only during emergencies. A home renovation that is unnecessary breaks this general rule of thumb. On the other hand, water leaking from pipelines and roof shingles falling off into your front yard are serious issues that not only reduce the property’s value but can also act as safety hazards to the property’s occupants as well as neighbors in the area. The rule is to save at least 1 percent of the property’s purchase price. So, for instance, if your home was bought at $250,000, your budget for home maintenance should be $2,500 per year.

Unemployment/Layoffs

Your primary source of income can vanish into thin air within a week or two week’s notice. Layoffs can happen abruptly. Unfortunately, bills will keep flowing from month to month. And since it’s unlikely you’ll find new work to replace your primary source of income in a matter of a month, you’ll want to save up for such an unfortunate event. Determine how much you and your family needs to live off of per month then try to save up for at least three times that amount. This means that if you are laid off from work, you’ll have three months of space to find new work without resorting to daily showers at your local YMCA gym or eating with packets of ketchup as your main flavor.

Retirement

Although it’s not exactly an emergency since you’ll have several decades before it comes, seldom people prepare for it, at least adequately. Retirement should be prepared for by opting for retirement plans that give you tax benefits or even free cash, such as a 401(k) or Roth IRA. You should also set up individual trading accounts from which you can invest in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and the likes. Retirement life can still feel like a financial struggle you experienced in your 30s or 40s. Don’t let it ruin your retirement by adequately preparing your finances.

Saving up for an emergency can cushion the financial impact and allow you to recover more quickly. Keep in mind that these five emergencies are not the only ones you should be looking out for. These are only categories from which you should further expand your quest to a fool-proof financial plan.

Must-Have Tips For Traveling Abroad with Debit Cards and Credit Cards

Traveling abroad can be easy with your credit and debit card!

There are few things as mind-blowing as traveling abroad. It could be for work, vacation, visiting relatives or more. Prior to leaving, you may be concerned about dealing with finances in a foreign country. It can be challenging to access your money while abroad to pay for anything. The use of debit or credit cards when traveling abroad is possibly the most convenient way to manage your finances while on any trip. First, though, it’s important to understand everything that goes with it.

Traveling with Credit Cards

Travel experts recommend a person use their credit card when traveling abroad for large purchases. This includes hotel bills, meals in restaurants, airline tickets and more. The advantage to using a credit card is the purchases are exchanged at a rate based on the interbank exchange rate. This is considered the best rate a person can get for the exchange of currency. The conversion fee for purchases is often 1 percent when using a MasterCard or Visa card. There is usually an additional 2 percent for the financial institution. These fees are still less than what a person would receive if they paid to convert their own currency at a local currency change bureau. It pays to do some research when choosing a credit card to use while traveling. Some credit cards do not charge any type of foreign transaction fees, and these are great for using internationally.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, though…
It’s always important when traveling abroad to have a certain amount of cash available. There are stores, hotels as well as restaurants that do not accept credit cards. It is possible to get a cash advance abroad from an ATM using a credit card. When you do this, you will be paying finance charges set by the credit card company.

Traveling with Debit Cards

Using a debit card is another effective way to get money in the local currency. When making cash withdrawals using a debit card, you’ll get the same interbank exchange rates as when purchasing anything with a credit card. You’ll reliably find that there are ATMs conveniently located in any large city, airports and just about everywhere else! Using a debit card with an ATM is typically the most cost-effective way to get local currency. It’s a good idea to limit the number of times you use an ATM while abroad. With every cash withdrawal made in foreign currency; a conversion fee will be charged. There will typically also be a fee charged for using a foreign ATM. There may also be additional charges from the host financial institution as well as the financial institution that maintains the ATM. Do a little homework before your trip and it should be smooth sailing.

Paying With Local Currency

Individuals who use a debit or credit card abroad will have two options when it comes time to pay a retailer. Depending on the country, a person could pay in local currency or other acceptable currency such as the Euro. It is more cost effective in many situations for a person to pay in local currency. When they pay in local currency, try to hang on to your receipt or a record showing the amount paid in the local currency. That way, if you feel there is any discrepancy in terms of the cost or exchange rate, you’ve got proof of what happened.

Lookout for the Fees

When traveling abroad you will be paying a currency conversion fee each time you use your credit or debit card. This fee will also apply when you use a credit or debit card to get money from an ATM. It’s typically calculated as a percentage of the total amount of the transaction. It is also pretty common to have a minimum charge given for each transaction. Be aware that when using your card regularly, these small fees tend to rack up quickly.

Lost Or Stolen Cards

According to the laws of the United States, a person must report a lost or stolen ATM or credit card within two business days. If you do this, your liability is limited to $50. If you wait longer, your liability for unauthorized charges could amount to hundreds of dollars. Don’t wait! Call it in! (It’s also probably a good idea to save the “Lost card” phone number – from the back of your card – into your phone’s contact list, whether at home or abroad!)
If you’re planning a trip overseas, you should talk with a financial expert. Let’s talk about what you’ll need to ensure your trip is a dream come true, and discuss any ways in which we can help with your finances. Why not contact us today?

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