Budgeting

Dec 10, 2020

couple planning a budget together

How To Make A Budget Plan as a Couple

Much like tango, it takes two to create a sensible budget. This notion rings especially true for couples. Though the topic of finances can be touchy in relationships, budget planning bodes well for a stable, prosperous future. If budgeting for couples is new to you, here are some tips on how you and your partner can establish and maintain a budget plan.

Communicate

Leaving one another in the dark about where your finances stand will prove disastrous for your budget planning attempts. Budgeting for couples requires open and honest communication, so don’t withhold any pertinent information from your partner. If you have a low credit score, a bad credit history, or compulsively overspend, let your significant other know. Your salary, debt, and assets are all worth mentioning while developing spending habits. With trust, you can ensure that you’ll reach your financial goals together.

Determine Your Needs

Determining your needs is the only surefire way to avoid overspending. If you’re in debt, it’s crucial to save, cut back, and stick to the necessities. Otherwise, you’ll fail to dig yourself out of your financial rut, which will inevitably result in relationship conflict. Some things to consider include rent, utilities, transportation, credit cards, and loans. When you have your priorities in order, you’ll find great comfort in knowing where your money is going.

Track Your Expenses

While your budget plan may appear sound, you won’t know until it’s in effect. With that said, make it a point to monitor your progress. Not only does this breathe simplicity into the process, but it also provides peace of mind. Fortunately, there are several online resources that can help you track your expenses. If you prefer to tackle this duty solo, creating a spreadsheet will do the trick. So long as you’re consistent and truthful, your results will reflect your success.

Discuss Long-Term Goals

When deciding on how much you and your partner can spend, don’t forget to account for the future. Perhaps you want to travel the world together someday. Maybe a family is in the foreseeable future. By having these conversations, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions on where your finances need to be in the coming years. These goals may seem unattainable at first, but the more you abide by your budget, the more achievable your aspirations will become.

Embrace Changes

Similar to Rome, your budget plan won’t be built in a day. This process requires time, patience, and adaptation. When revisiting your budget, don’t be alarmed if any adjustments need to be made. Try as you might, your lifestyle is bound to alter along the way. As a result, your spending habits also need to evolve. By embracing these changes, you’ll discover how financially savvy and resilient you are.

Normalize the Topic

Unfortunately, some people still find it taboo to talk about their personal finances. This may be true in some social settings, but it’s critical to be upfront with your partner. It might be awkward to broach the topic, but you’ll become more comfortable the more you talk about it. In other words, don’t shy away from the conversation for fear that it’ll make you uneasy. If you wish to set your relationship up for financial success, the good, the bad, and the ugly need to be addressed.

A Trusted East Texas Federal Credit Union

At Eastex Credit Union, you’ll find a team of financial and banking professionals that you can trust. As a sought-after East Texas federal credit union, we know what it takes to keep our members satisfied, financially secure, and at ease. Give us a call today at 409-276-2525 to learn more about our membership benefits, mobile banking options, insurance programs, and more.

Dec 3, 2020

shopping budget

The holiday shopping is in full swing, which means you’re probably spending more money than usual. That’s why we need to talk about your budget! Are you staying within your budget, or have you gone a little over? Either way, it’s important to look over your budget at the end of each month, so you can make changes for the next month. Since we are getting close to the end of the year, it’s the perfect time to think about this! When evaluating your budget, you need to go through a step-by-step process, which we’ll talk about below.

Compare Your Spending vs. Your Planned Spending

Once you’ve created a budget, you need to track your spending throughout the month. This way, you’ll be able to keep track of overspending, underspending, or staying within your budget for the month.

If you find that you spent more than planned, try to think of ways you can reduce your expenses for next month. If you stayed within your budget, you’re doing great, but you may still find changes you need to make for the next month.

Evaluate New Income and Expenses

Not every month will be exactly the same, that’s why a budget is specific to each given month. So, you want to think about the next month, and figure out if any incomes or expenses are changing. These changes can occur from a job loss, getting married, having children, and from the holidays.

Review Your Financial Goals

We know that income and expenses can change, but financial goals can change as well! If you pay off debt, you may have a significant amount of more money to spend each month. Your financial goals should always be included in your budget.

Make Changes to Your Budget

Once you’ve figured out your income, expenses, and financial goals for the next month you can modify your budget where changes are needed. Sometimes it may be a drastic change, and some months it may not change much at all.

Identify Spending Issues

After you’ve evaluated your budget for the next month, you may discover issues in your spending. Maybe you used your credit card too much or took too much out of savings, which means you need to put constraints on these things for following month. Before you make a purchase, think about how much you need the item. We are all guilty of buying things we don’t really need, especially when trying to save money.

Review Your Budget Monthly and Annually

As we said before, it’s important to review your budget at the end of each month, but also annually. An annual budget reveals a bigger spectrum of spending patterns and is a great way to see where your money is going over longer periods of time. That way, you’ll be able to achieve your long-term financial goals.

Sticking to your budget is so important, but it’s ok to treat yourself every once in a while! Being able to treat yourself makes it even more motivating to stay on track each month. And remember, Eastex CU is always here to help you with your finances.

Oct 29, 2020

credit card tips

The COVID-19 pandemic seemingly developed with little advance notice, and it was quickly followed by a deep recession that has touched many of our members’ lives. At Eastex Credit Union, we have seen how detrimental the recession has been to peoples’ finances. Those who have not yet been touched by the recession often stress about future uncertainties.

Many are increasingly focused on improving their financial situation, such as by reducing spending and increasing savings. If you are struggling with high credit card debt, debt reduction may also be at the top of your to-do-list. However, one question remains: Should you pay off your credit card debt or increase your savings account balance first?

Review Your Finances

As is the case with many things in life, there is not a clear-cut answer to this question that applies to all situations. To find the answer that is right for you, you must first review your finances. Begin by reviewing your budget to look for opportunities to cut back on expenses. By doing so, you may see how tight your budget is on a monthly basis. On the other hand, you could free up extra money that could be used for debt reduction or savings.

Your budget will tell you a lot about your financial security, but you also must consider how secure your job and income are at the present time. Not all industries have been hit as hard during the pandemic. Some industries may be busier than others, and some may have been affected by mandatory shutdowns for months on end.

Decide Between Saving Money and Debt Reduction

The importance of having a comfortable nest egg may be more apparent now than ever before. In addition to the possibility of losing your source of income, you and your family members may become ill with COVID-19. Lost wages and high medical bills will follow. Take a hard look at your savings account balance and estimate how far it would realistically take you if you were forced to live without income for any reason.

If you have a comfortable emergency fund and do not feel the need to pad your fund given the current circumstances, paying off high-interest debts is a great idea. By reducing these debts, you are lowering your monthly expenses progressively. This means that you may be able to make ends meet with less money a few months from now. As a result, you will be able to stretch the benefits of your nest egg.

Know How to Eliminate Credit Card Debt

Have you decided that paying down your credit card balances is in your best interest? These steps will help you to make the most of your efforts.

1.Create a Debt Reduction Plan

Experts agree that it is best to focus on eliminating one debt at a time rather than all debts at the same time. There are two strategies to consider. You can choose the debt with the highest interest rate, or you can target the debt with the smallest balance. Once the debt that you are focusing on is eliminated, you can move on to the next one.

2. Set Up Recurring Payments

After deciding which credit card to target, determine how much money you can allocate toward debt reduction each month. Set up a recurring payment so that you make steady progress toward your goals. At the same time, stop using your credit cards for a while.

3. Review the Benefits of a Credit Card Balance Transfer

To maximize the benefits of every dollar, you could take advantage of a credit card balance transfer. Eastex credit cards have a low-interest rates on balance transfers; you can bypass interest charges and focus your full payment toward debt reduction.

4. Consider a Debt Consolidation Loan

An alternative is a debt consolidation loan. Unlike a credit card balance transfer, these loans have a fixed term. This means that you will have a specified loan debt payoff date. In some cases, a consolidation loan establishes more affordable monthly payments and facilitates faster debt reduction.

As your trusted credit union in Evadale, Buna, Kirbyville, Kountze and Silsbee and East Texas, we want to help you manage your finances during these difficult economic times. Our team is available to answer your questions about debt consolidation and to help you determine if this is a suitable solution for you at this time. Contact Eastex Credit Union today to learn more.

Oct 8, 2020
picture of a clipboard with credit score on it

picture of a clipboard with credit score on it

Have you checked your credit score recently? Were you happy with the number looking back at you? If not, there are a number of reasons as to why your score may have dropped. Your credit score represents how well you pay your bills, control your debt and overall shows how financially responsible you are. While you may not even realize the mistakes your making, it’s important to be aware of what exactly causes a drop in your score.

Problem #1: Missed Payments

A missed payment can cause a huge dent in your credit score. It makes up 40% of your credit score, so making payments on time is so important. One missed payment isn’t going to do much harm, but a habit of this will be sure to have a negative impact.

Solution #1: Be Proactive

If you know you aren’t going to be able to make a payment on time, don’t wait until after the bill is due to do something about it. Call your creditor and let them know the issue. They may be able to work something out with you.

Problem #2: Using Too Much Credit

This is how much credit your using versus the amount available to you. You should only be using 10% to 30% of your available credit on each card. If you use more than this, your score will drop.

Solution #2: Payoff Some Debt

Get yourself on a payment schedule and try to get into the 10% to 30% range. You can also open another credit card, but you must be able to qualify and handle the additional credit. Doing this will make the credit available to you go up and your debt ratio will go down.

Problem #3: Too Many or Too Few Lines of Credit

You may not have known this, but closing credit cards will cause your score to drop. It will also drop if you have too many lines of credit open. The method here is to keep your utilization ratio in the right place.

Solution #3: Manage Your Credit Carefully

If you’re planning to apply for more credit in the future, don’t open another card. If there’s a card in your wallet you don’t want to use anymore without annual fees, don’t close it. Take it out of your wallet and put it in a safe place.

Problem #4: COVID-19 Dropped Your Credit

The pandemic has caused chaos in all businesses. This may have caused some lenders to lower credit limits and close out credit cards that aren’t being used. These types of things can lower your score.

Solution #4: Use Your Dormant Cards

If you have cards stashed away somewhere, get them back out and use them every so often. A smart thing to do is choose a bill that stays the same each month, put it on the card, and pay it off right away. If there was a decrease in your credit limit, call your lender. You may be able to get it changed.

A Trusted East Texas Federal Credit Union

At Eastex Credit Union, you’ll find a team of financial and banking professionals that you can trust. As a sought-after East Texas Federal Credit Union, we know what it takes to keep our members satisfied, financially secure, and at ease. Give us a call today at 409-276-2525 to learn more about our membership benefits, mobile banking options, insurance programs, and more.

Oct 1, 2020
falling behind on a loan

falling behind on a loan

What happens if you’re late on a loan payment? There are the fees and the credit score losses, of course, but there’s also often a general feeling that one’s finances are falling out of control. If you find yourself forced to make a late loan payment, don’t panic – you can follow the steps below to get yourself back on track.

Figure Out the Problem

One of the most important steps in determining what to do when you’re behind on a loan payment is figuring out why you’re falling behind. There’s a huge difference between falling behind because you’ve had a financial emergency and falling behind because you’re hitting long-term financial roadblocks, so take a few moments to look at where you stand.

The easiest way to do this is to think about whether you’re going to be able to make your next payment on time. If you had an emergency expense – a car that broke down or an HVAC system that failed – it’s entirely possible that you’re dealing with a short-term problem that will go away soon. If you’ve been laid off from your job or suddenly incurred another recurring expense, you’ll need to start examining the possibility that you’re going to have to radically alter your finances going forward.

Assess Your Finances

Whether you’re dealing with a temporary shortfall or a long-term problem, you do need to stop and look at your finances. If you can’t make your loan payment, you have a short-term cash flow problem that you need to address. For most, this problem can be solved by a little budgeting.

Take a moment to compile all of your monthly expenses, from the payments on your auto loans in east Texas to the money you spend going out to eat. Look at where your money is going and where you can start to save. If you’re dealing with a short-term problem that makes it hard to pay your loan, look to see if there’s something you can cut for the rest of the month to get that payment in on time. If you’re dealing with a long-term problem, find out if there are costs that you can eliminate or reduce in order to keep your head above water.

Think About the Consequences

What happens if you are late on a loan payment? This is going to vary by lender, but it’s something you need to keep in mind. A single late payment is probably not going to be catastrophic in the long-term, but it’s going to have consequences that you have to deal with. Take a look at your various bills and loans to figure out what penalties are going to occur if you are late.

As a rule, it’s wise to avoid being late on those loans or bills that have the harshest penalties. A single late payment will almost certainly bring with it a late fee, but it might be less than the fee on a different loan if you’re able to pay it shortly after the grace period is over. On the other hand, coming in a month late on that same mortgage payment might not only cause you to accrue a late fee, but it might cause a negative mark on your credit that makes future borrowing more difficult.

Call the Lender

If you know that you are going to have to make a late payment on a loan, make sure to call your lender ahead of time. Most lenders are willing to help out borrowers who make good-faith efforts to pay, especially when they know that they’ll be able to get their money in the long run. Remember, a lender’s goal is to ensure that you pay off a loan so he or she doesn’t want you to default.

Calling a lender isn’t a guarantee that you’ll avoid the consequences of a missed payment, but it’s a good way to establish that you’re trying your hardest. If the lender offers any help, make sure to get that offer in writing. Once that’s available, follow the agreement to the letter.

If you’re falling behind on a loan, try not to panic. You still have a way out, even if things look tough. If you’re looking for a lender who will help you to make the financial choices that make sense for your family, make sure to contact Eastex Credit Union today.

Jun 11, 2020
newlywed scene at wedding ceremony

newlywed scene at wedding ceremony

Getting married can be a dream come true for many. While you may have visions of happily ever after, you do need to consider the reality of your finances. There are some common financial hurdles that most newlyweds find themselves facing at one point or another throughout their marriage.

Not Knowing Each Other’s Financial Story

Finances are one of those areas that people tend to clam up about. We’ve all made financial mistakes in the past and admitting them is the first step in getting rid of them. For this reason, it’s important that you sit down with your significant other and discuss your financial history. This will help you both understand each other’s experiences with money in the past and the attitudes you’ve developed towards it.

When you can understand your partner’s experience with finances, you can better determine how to approach them in the future. You may find that your spouse likes to eat out often. After you talk about your financial history, you may find out that as a kid they were always told they couldn’t eat out because their parents couldn’t afford it. The fact of them wanting to eat out often nowadays is likely due to the fact that they feel wealthier and more capable than their parents.

Poor Credit Secrets

If you’ve never talked about your finances with your partner, you may be in for a rude awakening. Poor credit issues, high credit card debt, and even charged-off accounts can lead to difficulties in the future. When you go to apply for a mortgage or a new car loan, you don’t want to find out that your partner has horrible credit. It’s better to discuss credit issues now so that you both know how to approach credit situations in the future. It’s never good to keep money secrets from your partner as it will just resurface at some point in the future.

Sticking To A Budget

When you’re in love, it can be very easy to do all that is in your power to make your spouse happy. However, this love can fuel unhealthy habits with respect to your budget. Many newlyweds find it difficult to stick to a budget in the beginning. This is usually a result of poor planning. It’s best to take some time to set some financial boundaries that will keep you both on track.

A great one is to set a specific dollar amount that you both agree on and not spend above unless you check with the other partner. Depending on your budget, this can be as little as $50 or as high as $250. It’s really up to you, your partner and budget. Take some time to work on budget boundaries so that you’re both on the same page when it comes to spending your income(s).

Not Planning Financially For Children

Children are a large financial expense that will last for at least 18 years or more. You need to take the time to plan out how you’re going to fund children in the future. Many couples avoid this conversation because they believe it’s too early to talk about kids. The truth is that it’s never too early to discuss children and how they’re going to alter your financial future.

Newlyweds face a lot of issues together in their first few years of marriage. Finances tend to be one of the biggest. By understanding the top financial hurdles above, you and your partner can better prepare your financial future to avoid these hurdles.  Connect with a financial advisor at Eastex CU to overcome potential hurdles.

May 28, 2020
rings for newly weds

rings for newly weds

Getting married is one of the most eventful things many people will do in their lives. And along with all the excitement of being newlyweds comes the reality of having to share your finances. Money issues are among the top things that married couples fight about, which is why it’s important for newly married couples to work on financial planning. Here are some tips about what to focus on.

Set a budget

One of the most important things newly married couples can do is to sit down and formulate a monthly budget. Partners often have very different spending habits, so setting a budget sets guidelines and puts compromises down on paper. You should list all necessary expenses as well as discretionary spending and also look for places where it makes sense to consolidate. For example, if you have separate gym memberships, it might make sense for you to both join the same gym.

Decide on checking and savings accounts

Most married couples tend to pool their finances in joint accounts such as checking and savings, but some prefer to keep those accounts separate. One possible solution might be to have a joint account for things such as rent and other necessities and then keep separate accounts for discretionary spending.

Identify priorities

It’s often assumed that people get married with the aim of having children, but that’s not always the case. While children might be a priority for a newlywed couple, they may not want to start a family for a few years. It’s important to quickly identify what each partner’s main financial priorities are and find areas of agreement or compromise. For example, you might rank priorities such as saving for a home first, financially preparing for a family, second, and saving for retirement, third.

Layout tasks, expectations

Even if a couple decides to essentially consolidate all their finances and make joint decisions on everything, there still is the task of carrying out those decisions and who will do that. For example, will the couple split up the bill-paying duties or will they fall to one person for consistency’s sake? Will both spouses be responsible for balancing the books or will one take on the task with assistance from the other?

Solve points of conflict

Even two spouses who are very similar in their views on finances aren’t going to agree on everything, so it’s important to identify points of conflict and how to deal with them. For example, one spouse might be debt-averse while the other has no trouble borrowing for a car or some other large purchase. If one spouse earns significantly more than the other, that also could be a point of conflict when it comes to spending. A key to making newlywed finances run smoothly is to identify these conflicts early on and work out ways to deal with them.

There are a lot of serious issues that can sink a marriage, but finances shouldn’t be one of them. Communication and willingness to compromise are among the key factors that should be included for newlyweds to have success in financial planning. To approach your financial planning, give Eastex CU a call.

May 14, 2020
kid planning finances with coin

kid planning finances with coin

Having a plan for the future is a good thing, especially plans that concern finances and the best way to reach your financial goals are by saving money. The good thing about saving is that in the end, it gives you money security. However, saving it’s not a walk in the park, you’ll have to sacrifice a lot to meet your savings targets.

Having a kid is a blessing and having plans for that kid is a great thing. One of these great plans is securing your kids’ education. You will realize that in most countries, college student’s loans are acquired through government institutions. This later becomes a burden when one has to repay, especially if you have a lower-income job.

Saving college funds for your kid can guarantee him/her a good and ample learning time in college. For you to start saving college funds you’ll have to employ proper planning. The following tips can help you on how to do so.

1. Choose an account that earns interest and is not taxable during withdrawal

If you are a parent, you’ll have to research to determine the best account for you to save for your kid college fund. The most likely account that is recommended for education Is a 529 account and Education Savings Account (ESA). These accounts enable you to earn interest and they are not taxable when you want to withdraw. This means that in the long run, you will earn extra cash depending on the period you had saved the funds. Another advantage of this account is the 529 plan; it is operated by the state and besides exempting you from paying taxes, it has a higher limit to allow you to save as much as you want to meet your financial educational needs. Remember the earlier you start saving for college funds the faster you will manage to meet your goals.

2. Make use of available scholarship, sponsorship, and bursaries

Make use of scholarships, bursaries, and sponsorships that are available in your current child’s grade; after all this is free money. By doing this the money that you could have spent on that grade/term, you can use it to save your kids’ college fund and also help you meet your target faster.

3. Project for a college that you can afford

Unless your kid earns a sponsorship or scholarship go for the ones you can afford. You can visit any of your college preferences, look at the current tuition fee, try to see how the fee rises annually, and generate an approximate figure you are likely to pay when your kid is about to join the college. This will help your strategies on how much you’ll be saving before your child attends college. Also make sure you check for other college expenses such as dormitory fees, food expenses’, school trips, and book costs and include them in your budget.

4. Know when to start saving

Financial gurus advise that you should not scrap your retirement aid to pay for your kids’ college funds and that is why you will have to choose whether your kid should attend local or out-of-state college or whether private or public university.

College funds can be overwhelming, but we can help get you there. Contact Eastex CU to get the ball rolling!

Apr 19, 2018

meal prepping, containers, food prep, healthy food

Meal prepping is a trend that has recently taken America by storm – and for good reason. A great way to ensure healthy eating without spending time going to the grocery store or preparing it every day, it’s clear to see why many families are incorporating meal prepping into their weekly routines.

What is Meal Prepping?

Meal prepping is the act of taking one or two recipes, cooking them in bulk, and dividing them up into daily portion sizes to freeze and heat up every day. By creating all of your meals for the week, you no longer have to spend time cooking every day – which also helps you save money by eliminating that ever-present urge to just get takeout instead!

Many meal preppers find that establishing a meal plan ahead of time and then choosing a day off from work to pick up the ingredients at the grocery store and prepare all of the meals that day – depending on your work schedule, Sunday and Wednesday seem to be the best days.

Once you have cooked all of your food for the week, divide it up into Tupperware containers (make sure they are high-quality enough to withstand a few days in the freezer without freezer burn!) and store in the fridge or freezer, depending on what you cook.

Can You Meal Prep on a Budget?

Of course! Eating cheaply doesn’t mean breaking out the Ramen Noodles and Easy Mac anymore. In fact, by planning your meals ahead of time, you are able to avoid common money wasters like impulse buying, over-purchasing products, and leftover food waste.

Here are a few easy ways to eat healthier on a budget:

Take Stock of What Food Items You Already Have in Your Pantry

Nothing is more frustrating than being in the grocery store wondering if you already have cumin in the pantry at home, or if you need to buy more. Inevitably, it seems, you always make the wrong decision! Apps such as Out of Milk and websites like SuperCook help keep track of what food you already have, and what ingredients you’ll need to pick up from the store. By knowing this information ahead of time, you can also check out local grocery store deals and coupons to further save money.

Make Sure You Have the Necessary Tools

There are certain methods of cooking that can save a lot of time, but you need to be sure you have the right tools to do it! Foods such as stews, casseroles, and soups can produce a lot of food at a relatively low cost, but you need to have either a slow cooker, or a big pot to make large quantities at one time. You’ll most likely need larger pots and pans for the majority of your meal prep cooking, as you’ll be baking in much larger quantities than normal dinners. In addition, it’s always smart to have a meat thermometer in the kitchen to ensure everything is cooked correctly!

While it may seem like your kitchen will be destroyed after a day of meal prepping (true, it does get a little messy!) you can always look up ways to minimize the number of dishes you use. Check out this list of 27 healthy recipes you can cook on one sheet pan – delicious and practical! For those who prefer to primarily use crock pots, be sure to use slow cooker liners to make clean-up a breeze.

Cook Recipes That Yield A LOT of Food – But Will Stay Fresh!

Meal prepping doesn’t necessarily mean you’re also on a diet, so it’s important to be sure that you make enough food so that each portion fills you up adequately every day. However, you should be sure that whatever you are preparing will stay fresh throughout the week, or you might decide a tasty burger sounds a lot better! Here are a few foods that keep very well in the refrigerator or freezer:

  • Soups
  • Chicken Breast
  • Lentils
  • Rice (especially brown rice)
  • Ground meats (like beef & turkey)
  • Pasta
  • Cauliflower
  • Zucchini

To start putting together a collection of meal prep recipes, start here to find some quick and healthy meal prep recipes to get started!


Eastex wants to help you save money any way we can, and meal prepping is just one of the many ways to do so. Another great way to save money is to open up a savings account with us – our three savings plans offer the best options for kids, young adults, and seniors.


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