Strategies

Dec 17, 2020

new years saving goals

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.

Become Debt-Free

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!

Nov 19, 2020

holiday budget gifts

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.

Shop Online

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!

Use Coupons!

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.

Nov 12, 2020

loan application

What Is a Line of Credit?

A line of credit is an amount of money that a credit union agrees to lend you. You are not required to take possession of the entire sum. Instead, you will be able to make withdrawals when you need to until the entire amount that you were approved to borrow is gone. You will only need to pay interest on the amount that you withdraw.

Line of credit loans provide you with an amount of money at the moment you need it. It is a great financial product for those unexpected expenses that come up when you are least prepared to address them. For example, your car breaks down and needs very expensive repairs. Rather than place this expense on your credit cards, you will be able to withdraw the money from your line of credit.

How Does the Interest Work?

You will only need to pay interest on the amount of money that you withdraw. You will be required to repay the principal and the interest, but after you have done this, the money will be available to you to borrow again. Every time you need a sum of money to pay an unexpected expense, you can withdraw it and pay it back, and you can do this several times. You only need to make sure that you adhere to the terms and conditions of your loan. This means that you must pay back what you borrow in full, and you must pay it back on or before the due date.

How Does a Line of Credit Work?

We can make this easier to explain by comparing a traditional loan to a line of credit. With a traditional loan, you will receive the entire amount in one lump sum, but you will be required to begin repaying this loan right away. Line of credit loans provide you with an amount of money that you can access when you need it, and you don’t have to begin paying interest until you do.

To qualify for a line of credit in Kirbyville, Silsbee, Buna, Kountze and Evadale Texas, you don’t need to offer anything to the credit union as collateral. If you were to apply for a traditional loan, you would be required to offer your home as collateral for the loan, and this puts your house at risk.

Your credit scores will be considered when your lender determines what your interest rate will be. For example, if you have good or great credit scores, your lender will be willing to offer you the lowest annual percentage rates.

The Draw Period

The draw period is the amount of time that you will have to withdraw money from your approved line of credit. This draw period can last for years. The credit union may give you a special checkbook for the purpose of using your funds, or your lender will offer you a credit card. Your credit union may also deposit the money into your checking account when you need it.

After you withdraw a sum of money, the interest begins to accrue. You are going to need to begin making the minimum payments, or you can pay more. If you only make the minimum payments, it will take you longer to repay this loan and cost you more in interest. These payments will be returned to your line of credit loans as you repay them. At the end of the draw period, you will be in your repayment period and need to repay the remaining balance.

When Is This Type of Loan a Good Choice?

If you would like to consolidate several debts, this is a good loan for this purpose. You will reduce the number of bills you are paying to one and make lower monthly payments because you will have a lower percentage rate. It doesn’t require you to offer anything as collateral. It is also good for large expenses that you must make, such as home repairs or college expenses. You may even be able to deduct your payments from your tax returns.

If you are interested in becoming a member of Eastex Credit Union in Evadale, Silsbee, Kountze, Buna and Kirbyville, contact us today!

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.

Sep 17, 2020
new homeowners wonder is 20% down required to buy a home?

new homeowners wonder is 20% down required to buy a home?

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.

DIY Everything

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.

Practice Patience

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.

Sep 10, 2020
photo of piggy bank on top of a pile of money

photo of piggy bank on top of a pile of money

A money market account is exactly like a savings account but with some checking account features. They typically have a higher minimum deposit or balance requirements than a savings account. So, it’s important to look at your options before choosing a money market. You will usually see them come with checks or debit cards that allow a limited number of transactions per month. For banks, money market accounts are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and for credit unions, they are insured by the National Credit Union Administration. Eastex is privately insured by American Share Insurance. This way, if your financial institution happened to go out of business, you won’t lose your deposits.

Money market accounts vs. other accounts

Don’t get confused on what a money market account actually is. A money market account is NOT a money market fund or a checking account.

  • A money market fund is an investment that can lose value if the market falls. Money market accounts are insured.
  • A money market account has a lot of the same features as a checking account. But, you are limited to six transfers or withdrawals per month. This includes check, debit card swipe or online transfer.

Are money market accounts worth it?

Let’s talk about the pros and cons.

Pros

  • Receive some of the best rates from your financial institution.
  • Ability to access funds much easier than a savings account. This is helpful if you’re caught in an emergency.
  • You are protected by insurance, so your money is safe.

 

Cons

  • You may be more likely to spend the funds.
  • Some accounts require high minimum balances to open or avoid fees.
  • Most of the time, savings accounts pay just as much interest.

 

It’s important to pay attention to the rates of each at your financial institution. You may be better off sticking with a savings account to avoid high minimum balance requirements.

How to choose a money market account

If you choose a money market account, make sure it has a high interest rate, no monthly fee and a reasonable minimum balance. You will find that some require $10,000 or more to open an account.

Is a money market account right for you?

Eastex CU offers high interest rates that will give you a better return on your money. If you think this may be right for you or you would like to hear more about them, contact us!

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.

Aug 15, 2018

Photo of coin jar collecting money for charity for community involvement

Donating to charity, whether to your religious organization or an independent non-profit, is a great way to give back to your community. Despite the fact that we are biologically wired for giving, studies have shown that when you donate to charity, or volunteer your time, positive physiological reactions result in your brain. Especially as holidays approach, charities will start their outreach to potential donors, and it may become overwhelming to know which charitable program to pick. No matter whether you donate once a year, or once a month, it’s always important to ensure that you are being responsible with your decisions and getting the best value for your donation.

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