As we make our way to the end of the year, it’s time to start thinking about your new year’s savings goals! We are all guilty of making resolutions that we don’t stick to, so let’s make this next year different. We encourage you to choose two things from our list below and focus on those two things for your 2021 resolutions.
Start Saving for Retirement
You may think you have plenty of time to start saving, but you need to start as soon as you can. You should actually aim to have about a year’s salary saved by the time you’re 30. If you start saving for retirement now, you’ll make money which saves you from making higher payments in the future.
Debt vs Credit Cards
Yes, if you aren’t responsible with your spending, credit cards can get you in a lot of trouble. However, there are many benefits to using them. Credit cards help you build credit, unlike debit cards. You still need to be cautious about the use of your credit card. It can be easy to go overboard, causing you loads of debt, so you need to set limits for yourself.
Start an Emergency Fund
This is a perfect New Year’s Resolution. Especially after the year we’ve all had. There were a lot of unknowns in 2020, which is what an emergency fund is for. You never know what tomorrow will bring, so having a money cushion to fall back on makes all the difference. Try to stash as much as you can in the emergency fund, so you’re covered in case of a job loss, unexpected medical bill, or anything that would put you in a financial burden.
Build a Budget
After all that holiday spending, it may be time for you to start a budget! All you need to do is create a list of expenses and incomes to get started. This can be a hard one to stick to because you have to evaluate your budget throughout the year. If you’re able to commit to that, you’ll be on track to achieving your financial goals.
This is a huge one! If you have the ability to free yourself from debt, try to pay off as much as you can. This all depends on how heavy your debt is, what type of debt you hold, and your income level.
If you’ve gone through the list and don’t think you can manage to choose two of these, start with one. We know it’s easy to give up on resolutions but try your best to stick to at least one. If you can do that, you will be on your way to achieving your financial goals for the future.
Let us know if Eastex Credit Union can help. We have Visa Credit Cards with rates as low as 6.99% APR.* Consider consolidating your debt into one monthly payment or refinance your car and save money each month. Whatever your need, we’ve got you covered. Stop by and talk to a loan officer today!
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.
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.
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.
The holidays may look a little different this year, but that doesn’t mean your traditions can’t stay the same! We know one of those traditions is Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping. This year, Cyber Monday may be your best friend to stay away from large crowds and skip waiting in those long lines, but, whatever you decide to do, we want you to be prepared for your holiday shopping! Below are some tips to help you get ready for the shopping madness.
Take Advantage of Curbside Pickup
That’s right. Let someone do your shopping for you! Pick out your items online, choose in-store pickup, and your gifts will be brought out to your car. Sounds pretty good to us. Many retailers are offering this such as Best Buy, Kohls, Nordstrom, Old Navy, and Walmart.
Many retailers are starting deals well before Black Friday, so it’s smart to keep checking online so you can get a head start.
Keep Shipping Delays in Mind
The majority of people will be doing their shopping online this year. This may cause shipping delays, so make sure you order your gifts ahead of time.
Make a List, Check it Twice
Write down all the gifts you need to buy so you can stay organized. That way, you can check things off as you go.
Plan Your Shopping Trips
Plan out all the stores you need to go to, and what you need at each store. This will save you time and save you from buying more than you need.
Support Small Businesses
This is always important, but especially this year. Shop at your local shops to help them out and find unique gifts for your loved ones. It’s a win-win!
This is a big one! Using apps like RetailMeNot will help you save money and get amazing deals. If you have coupons, definitely make sure to use them.
Following these simple tips will create a stress-free holiday shopping experience this year. We encourage you to do most of your shopping online to stay safe and avoid the in-store hassles. We hope you and your families have a wonderful holiday season. Happy Shopping!
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.
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.
It’s officially that spooky time of year. Pumpkin carving, haunted hayrides, scary movies, Halloween costumes and trick-or-treating! We know your little ones are getting excited for all the candy they’re going to get this year, but safety comes first. Eastex CU cares about the safety of our members and their families. We want to see your little ones with lots of treats, just no tricks. With that said, we thought we’d share some trick-or-treating safety tips for Halloween night.
Wear your masks
Unfortunately, this has to be a safety tip this year. If your child’s costume involves a mask already, then they should be fine. If it doesn’t, make sure to provide them with one. You can even make it fun! Create a mask that goes with their costume.
Travel in groups
Older kids should travel together, and stick to routes that they discussed with their parents. If possible, try to travel in groups no larger than six people to promote social distancing. They should have a cell phone on them in case of emergency and return home by a set curfew.
Make sure your kids have a flashlight. You can even dress them up in glowsticks, so they are visible to cars driving by.
Safely Cross Roads
It’s easy for the little ones to get excited and forget that cars are still on the road. Make sure to use cross walks, look both ways before crossing, and make eye contact with drivers before crossing. If you’re driving around on Halloween, make sure to be extra cautious and stay off your cell phone.
Inspect the Candy
Before letting the kids rip open the candy, dump the entire bag out and check all of it. If you find any open packages or anything homemade, throw it away.
Pick the right size
Make sure costumes fit right. Stay away from anything too long that could result in a bad fall. You definitely don’t want a child that is uncomfortable all night, so be aware of this.
Make sure to follow these tips and you’ll be sure to get all the treats out of Halloween! We hope you have a safe, spooky and fun-filled Halloween!
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.
The precautions stemming from the coronavirus outbreak exist to keep us safe, yet the sudden slowdown forces everyone to pause, focus, and reevaluate their priorities. For many, the goal is to buy and/or sell a home. Eastex has a few tips on how to get your home ready to sell and succeed by putting these safety precautions into action.
Buy a Home or Find Lodging First
Most of the country is a seller’s market, meaning the seller has control of the industry due to fewer homes on the market and more buyers. The remainder is more 50/50 with inventory and buyers. Since homes will sell quickly, when able sellers should buy a home first before selling the current home. A contingency such as “the home sells when the seller finds a new home” is a case-by-case basis rather than a guarantee. Adding a contingency may drive buyers away rather than toward it. If you must stay in the home while selling said home, expect to leave the home on short notice often.
Go Virtual With Tours and Staging
Virtual tours are already a major, yet optional part of home listings, but now it’s mandatory. A virtual tour is a video showcasing the home in detail. Some virtual tours are 3D, and the rest are 2D. Some offer 360-degree views, and others choose to attach several photographs. Continue to incorporate professional, breathtaking photographs and a captivating home listing as both are first impressions toward the virtual tour.
Take it further by incorporating virtual staging to the mix. This technique includes digitally adding home decor to the photographs or the virtual tour video. A real estate agent knows how to sell your home using this technique. If not, the agent should refer buyers to a virtual staging professional.
Since staying at home is commonplace, sellers should reduce contact by forgoing cleaning companies and staging professionals and do the cleaning and staging themselves. Basic cleanliness such as mopping, vacuuming, and sweeping floors is a good start. Dust cobwebs off walls and remove dust from furniture, lighting, and shelves are second examples. The home must be immaculate to impress buyers, so what is clean now needs continuous cleaning until it sells. The agent will inform you what else needs cleaning and how to stage the home properly.
Also, the outdoors requires a makeover as curb appeal is the first impression of seeing a home offline. Keep the lawn tidy and neat. Sweep driveways, porches, patios, walkways, and decks. Remove debris. Replace light bulbs. These steps contribute heavily toward a sale.
Open the House
To reduce surface contact, buyers cannot touch anything in the house. In turn, sellers need to acquiesce agent’s and the buyer’s job easier. Turn on all lights in the home. Open all interior doors in the home, including bedrooms, bathrooms, closets, attics, and basements. Ask the agent whether it’s fine to open drawers and cabinets.
Because of coronavirus, home tours are going at a slower pace. Buyers are coming at spread-out 30 minute or 1-hour intervals rather than back-to-back or overlapping buyers (i.e., open houses). The slow pace means the listing needs more time on the market to attract buyer interest.
Prepare for Delays
Here’s another reason to practice patience: Delays will occur due to the pandemic. Improvise. Prepare for delays such as closing date, home inspection, appraisal, weather, coronavirus guidelines, and infection. It will make the situation easier to manage. Flexibility is how to sell your home in today’s environment.
A home sale in the real estate industry during this hectic time is possible. Eastex is here to guide members to the best home loans in East Texas and assist members on how to get your home ready to sell. Contact us online or by phone for more information about real estate, finances, or joining our credit union.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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