Sep 24, 2020
Springtime

Did you know that one of the benefits of your credit union membership is access to the TruStage® Auto & Home Insurance program?

Insurance the credit union way

TruStage helps protect your financial future with insurance policies that are designed to be affordable. Discounts are available for our members, and savings can really stack up. Credit union members can even save up to $586!

With more than 80 years of Trusage and credit unions working together to protect more than 20 million people, TruStage works with you the whole way to make sure you have the financial stability you need. They work with more than 3,500 credit unions across the country allowing them to personalize their services to best meet your needs.

By Credit Unions, For Credit Unions

Credit unions like ours make TruStage Insurance programs available because they’re founded in value, honesty and knowledgeable support. The companies behind TruStage were formed by credit unions, for credit unions and their members. As part of your financial planning, we invite you to work with TruStage to discover how these products and programs might be right for you.

If you haven’t compared rates lately, call 1-877-441-7486 to speak with a licensed TruStage insurance representative. You can also visit TruStage Insurance.  You’re never under any pressure or obligation.

To learn more, visit TruStage Insurance.

TruStage® Auto & Home Insurance Program is made available through TruStage Insurance Agency, LLC and underwritten by leading insurance companies, including Liberty Mutual Insurance Company or its subsidiaries or affiliates, 175 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116 USA. © 2020 Liberty Mutual Insurance. To the extent permitted by law, applicants are individually underwritten; not all applicants may qualify. Discounts are not available in all states and discounts vary by state. A consumer report from a consumer reporting agency and/or motor vehicle report will be obtained on all drivers listed on your policy where state laws and regulations allow. Please consult your policy for specific coverage and limitations. The insurance offered is not a deposit, and is not federally insured, sold or guaranteed by your credit union.

*Savings validated by 2019 countrywide survey of participating new customers who switched to Liberty Mutual. Savings may vary. Comparison does not apply in MA.

© TruStage Insurance Agency 2020

AUT-2948410.1

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!

Aug 27, 2020
drowning in debt

attack debt

Debt can be extremely frustrating and a big reason for financial stress, if you don’t have a plan in place. More than 50% of Americans actually spend more than they earn each month. Debt can continue to dig deeper and deeper to the point where you have a serious financial situation. If you’ve been struggling with debt, let’s get you back on track to becoming debt-free. Below are some ways you can work to attack debt.

Pay more than the minimum payment

Debt can take years or even decades to pay off. If you have a credit card balance of $15,609, pay 15% APR, and make the minimum monthly payment of $625, it will take you 13.5 years to pay it off. No matter what kind of debt you have, paying more than the monthly minimum payment will help you pay it off faster.

Try the debt snowball method

If you decide to pay more than the minimum monthly payment, the debt snowball method can help speed up paying your debt off.

To do this, you want to make a list of all the debts you owe from smallest to largest. Throw all your excess funds at the smallest balance, while making the minimum payments on your larger loans. When the smallest balance is paid off, put that extra money toward the next smallest debt until you pay off that one, and continue from there.

This process will knock off your smaller balances one by one, giving you more money to pay off the larger ones.

Get a side job

If you have time, this is a great way to make paying off debt a little faster. Any money you make with this extra gig should go towards paying off your loans immediately.

Create a strict budget

This is another very important step. You need to cut down your expenses as much as you can. This means you’ll be living pretty thrifty until your able to start paying off some debt.

 Sell what you don’t need

If you have things collecting dust in the attack that you know you will never use, sell them! This is a great way to make some extra cash. Have a garage sale or sell things on Facebook marketplace. Use the money you make to pay down those balances.

Transfer your high-interest balances to an Eastex Visa Rewards credit card

Our cards have low interest rates, no annual fees, and an interest-free grace period.

Drop expensive habits

Eliminate the expensive things your spending money on that you don’t need. If you don’t stop these bad spending habits, your debt will only get worse.

Living paycheck-to-paycheck is stressful. It’s time to take control of your debt so you can live a life without the financial strain this is adding. Don’t wait another day. Take advantage of these strategies so you can get yourself back on track.

Aug 20, 2020
tape measure to add value to home

tape measure to add value to home

Buying a home is an incredibly fulfilling moment- it’s almost everyone’s dream to have a place they can call home. A place where their family can grow and build strong bonds with each other. So, it’s no surprise that most homebuyers tend to be extremely picky when buying a house.
That being said, it’s not impossible to appeal to such buyers. Most homebuyers make up their mind as soon as they see the exterior of the home on sale; therefore, it’s important to ensure your home’s exterior looks elegant and well-taken care of. Here are four home improvement projects that add value to your home and should be part of your next renovation project.

1. Remodeling your bathroom

A bathroom renovation is one of the most important home improvement projects that add value to your home. If you plan on putting your house on the market, it would be advisable to remodel your bathroom, putting in completely new fixtures and fittings. This is one of the best ways to add value to your home; such projects are bound to return at least 74% of the investment you put in.

Invest in large translucent windows that will give your bathroom a lit and airy atmosphere, and a large comfortable tub that will make for great baths. Remember, most homebuyers prioritize the bathroom and kitchen over any other room in the house and your new bathroom may be all it takes to seal the deal.

2. Putting in new windows

This is one of the simplest projects that add value to your home. Replacing your old windows gives a home a newer, sharper look. And since it saves the homebuyer from having to do the renovation themselves, it will make your home a very attractive prospect.

Wooden windows are especially becoming popular among homeowners. These windows have an elegant, rustic look and also help create better insulation, making the home more energy-efficient. Upgraded windows generally wouldn’t cost you much in the grand scheme of things but will be incredibly valuable when it’s time to sell the house.

3. Renovating the kitchen

The kitchen is the soul of every home and is where life begins each morning. It’s impossible to downplay the importance of a comfortable and functional kitchen in safeguarding a household’s health and lifestyle. It would be advisable to commission a small remodeling project in your kitchen. This small project would be perfect if you’re wondering how to add value to your home.

Make sure to change the flooring, cabinets and backsplashes as this will give the kitchen a new, up-to-date look. It would also be a good idea to replace the kitchen appliances, putting in their place newer, energy-efficient models that will help make your monthly utility bills even lower.

4. Converting the attic into a bedroom

Just like remodeling your basement, having a finished and insulated attic is one of the best ways to add value to your home. For one, it will ensure you don’t spend too much money heating and cooling your home. A complete attic will also provide more space that can be used as an extra bedroom or a home office. It’s possible to receive funding from a local credit union to complete your attic and make your home more attractive to prospective buyers.

Adding market value to your home

When you’re looking to sell, it’s important to figure out how to add value to your home. Upgrading your kitchen, bathroom, and attic will help make your home more appealing to prospective buyers. These projects typically have a very high return on investment rate and will pay for themselves whenever you do sell your home.
For more tips and financial advice, reach out to our team over at Eastex Credit Union!

Aug 13, 2020
college student

college student

College is an exciting and rewarding time. But it can also be a financial burden. One of the main challenges for learners is the incredible expenses. Other than tuition fees, you will spend a significant amount of money on textbooks every semester. And this can add up fast. Statistics have shown that many students spend about $655 annually on textbooks. That’s no way to save money on college textbooks!

The expenses may be, more or less than that figure depending on your course selection. For example, loads of textbooks are used in math and science courses, and they tend to be more expensive than those required for literature. When professors assign books, students don’t have much choice in the matter. This increases the demand for such textbooks, and publishers have no incentive to offer them at a lower cost.

How can I pay for college books?

Here are six smart ideas to consider when wondering how to save money on textbooks:

Check the Syllabus First

Many students often go to the college bookstore or an institution’s online platform and search for their classes. They will find a list of books, add them to the shopping cart, and pay for them. This results in unnecessary purchases.

You should look at your syllabus first to see the textbooks you need for your class. The syllabus often shows which books are optional. Check that the syllabus expands the number of editions that you can use; it will make it easier to find used copies.

Run to the College Library

Once you receive the syllabus for a semester, the first thing you should do is head to the library. Usually, institutions keep a few copies of common textbooks. If you get to the facilities first, you can borrow all the books you need for your studies.

If you cannot find the prescribed books on the shelves, talk to the librarian. Most college libraries have partnerships with local branches. The librarians can make arrangements for students to borrow the books they need.

Use Older Versions

If your professor recommends a particular textbook version, send them an email and ask whether the previous versions are acceptable. Ask them which of the older versions can be used for your class. Most professors allow students to use previous versions.

Buy Used Textbooks

This is another common way to save money on college textbooks. Many students have been using this trick to reduce their expenses. Usually, the used copies are in good condition. Many people are tempted to select used books from the college bookstores.

However, you can also find lower prices online by using ISBNs. The numbers are specific and will enable you to get the exact copy and edition you need for your class. There are many platforms to shop around.

Search Beyond the College Bookstore

You are not limited to your institution’s bookstore when it comes to purchasing used books. Visit other stores in your area. You can also find amazing deals on various online platforms. There are many online comparison tools to help you find better prices for college textbooks.

Turn to E-Books

In some cases, a class may require brand new versions, and you may not find used copies. Teachers can also require students to use the latest editions only for assignments. This can be frustrating for many students. Fortunately, you can buy electronic versions of the recommended textbooks. You can find personal loans in East Texas for this purpose. E-Books are excellent ways on how to save on college books.

College textbooks can be expensive. Use the above tips and start saving money on college books.

Your East Texas Credit Union also offers loans for students to buy textbooks. For more tips and financial advice, reach out to our team over at Eastex Credit Union!

Aug 6, 2020
Tax Free Weekend

Tax Free Weekend

Are you ready for Tax Free Weekend 2020

It’s time for back to school shopping! This year’s sales tax holiday begins Friday, August 7th and ends on Sunday, August 9th at midnight. While you may not need as much to begin with this school year, especially with COVID making things unpredictable, you should still take advantage of the savings.

What items are tax-free?

Unfortunately, not everything is tax free! The items included in the sale are clothing, school supplies, and backpacks, under $100. Check out the full list of clothing and footwear items. Most school supplies items are tax-free, but you can check out the full list here.

Which items are NOT tax-free?

  • Accessories: jewelry, handbags, purses, briefcases, luggage, umbrellas, wallets, watches
  • Computers & Software
  • Textbooks
  • Athletic and Computer Bags

Can I shop online?

YES! We encourage you to shop online to promote social distancing. You can buy qualifying items online or by telephone. Shipping costs are part of the item’s total sale price so make sure to keep this total under $100 to avoid sales tax. If you decide to shop in-store, be sure to practice appropriate social distancing and don’t forget your masks!

Is Tax Free Weekend Worth It?

On average, you can save about $8 per every $100 you spend. That can really add up when buying back to school items for the kids! Make sure to shop around for coupons and other sales to increase your savings.

Happy Shopping!

Jul 30, 2020
happy dog

happy dog

Tips to Save on Vet Bills

There’s no doubt that our furry friends mean the world to us; they are not only an additional family member but also our best friends! With that said, we all know how expensive having a pet can be. While they are worth it, it’s important to know how to cut down on your vet bills. Below are some tips that may help.

Preventative Health Care

The cost of preventing disease is way less than the cost of treating it! We know that heartworm disease is common. So, spending money each month on heartworm medicine will be a lot cheaper than trying to treat it if your pet contracts the disease. Make sure you take your pet for regular check-ups so you can be certain about their health.

Don’t Over-Vaccinate

Talk with your vet about proper vaccination for your pet. Some vaccines only need to be given every three years. If you’re doing them every year, you may need to reevaluate.

Preventative Care Packages

Some vets will discount vaccinations, parasite control and dental care for continued business. You can either spread out the payments or pay for the package upfront.

Ask for Written Prescriptions

A lot of vets will mark up the medications they sell. Ask them for a written copy so you can shop around and hopefully find a better deal. Some veterinarians will also match online prices, which can save you a lot of money as well.

Pet Health Insurance

You never know when or if your pet might need surgery. Don’t wait for this to happen. Getting health insurance for your pet can help decrease the cost of surgery so you don’t have a more tragic situation on your hands.

Get Written Estimates

Before any service is provided for your pet, ask for a line by line estimate so you know exactly what you’re getting into.

Learn At-Home Pet Maintenance

Taking care of them at home isn’t as hard as you think. Trimming nails, brushing teeth, anal gland expression, etc. can save you lots of money doing it yourself. Check out YouTube videos for reference!

Schedule Appointments

If you suspect your pet is getting sick, make an appointment with your vet. Don’t wait for the weekend and spend a significant amount at an emergency clinic.

Watch Their Weight

Keeping your pet at a normal weight is so important. Obese pets can have a lot of health issues. Make sure you are feeding them the right foods. If you aren’t sure, your vet will be happy to give you diet information for your pet.

Jul 16, 2020
credit card tips

credit card tips

7 Credit Card Tips You Should Know

Using a credit card for everyday purchases is something most of us do. Credit cards are convenient and can help build your credit score. It’s important to make sure you’re using your card the right way! Below are 7 tips you should know about credit cards.

Balance Alerts

Keeping track of your spending is a MUST. Most credit card issuers have the option of setting up alerts via text or email to let you know how much you’ve spent. Check out cardvalet.com to easily manage your cards and ensure you make your payments on time.

Spending Analysis Tools

This is a great tool to use! It allows you to see how much you’re spending, broken down into categories (restaurants, travel, merchandise, etc.). That way, you can see where you need to cut back on your spending.

Mid-Cycle Payments

Every month, the three major credit bureaus get information about your account from your credit card issuer. This can be sent at any time during the month. If you are charging frequently to your credit card each month, making payments mid-cycle will help keep your credit utilization score lower.

Rewards Cards

This is for you online shoppers. Using your credit cards rewards mall when making a purchase is a great way to earn extra rewards on everything you spend. Check out uchooserewards.com and earn 1 point for every $1 you spend. Redeemable for cash, merchandise, gift cards and more.

Change your Due Date

Missing a credit card payment is something you don’t want to happen! This is not good for your credit score. If your payment comes at a time of the month where you can’t pay, change the due date. This can be done online or by calling your card issuer provided on your monthly statement.

Be Strategic

Having one credit card is great. But, having a couple can really earn you a lot of rewards! Swipe those cards strategically and use our credit card tips to your benefit.

APR Promotions

This is a great option if you have debt or need to make a big purchase. Take advantage of the 0% rate on purchases or balance transfers offers. And remember to make your payments on time!

Jun 18, 2020
Road Trip

Road Trip

Plan the ultimate summer road trip

Are you planning a road trip this summer? If so, it’s important that you have all the road trip essentials to make your trip as stress-free as possible! We’ve come up with a list of things you should definitely have when you hit the road:

Waze

If you don’t have this app on your phone, get it now! This app gives you the fastest routes to your destination and alerts you when there’s traffic jams or accidents.

Cooler

Pack your own snacks and food in a cooler. That way, you won’t have to spend as much money on fast food.

License & Registration

You should never leave your house without these! A smart thing is always keep these in your car.

Spare Tire

Make sure your spare tire is in good condition before you hit the road.

First Aid Kit

You never know when you might need one, so it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Flashlight

These will come in handy if your bar breaks down in the middle of the night. Make sure to have two with you in case one goes out.

Bug Spray

Bugs in the summertime can be a big problem! Especially if you’re planning on going camping, this is an essential.

Water, water, water!!!

Make sure you pack lots of water. Staying hydrated is so important in summer weather.

Toilet Paper

You can never go wrong with packing toilet paper. The last thing you want is to get stuck somewhere that doesn’t have any!

Phone charger/USB cord

It’s always best to keep a few of these in your car because they are easy to forget.

Road trip playlist

You can’t have a good road trip without the tunes! A great app for making playlists is Spotify. You can share the playlist with everyone joining you on the trip.

Cameras

You can’t go on a road trip without taking photos! This way you can always look back on the memories of your trip.

Portable Wifi

If you need to stay connected to the outside world, this is essential.

Books

If you get car sick, don’t bother with this. If not, this is a great way to keep you entertained on a long ride!

Travel Games

If you struggle keeping your kids entertained, this is a great idea. It can make the car ride a lot more fun for everyone!

Sunglasses

Squinting is no fun, especially for a long amount of time.

Blankets and Pillows

This is another necessity. It’s great for the kids if they fall asleep in the car!

Hand Sanitizer

We all know this is a must right now. The last thing you want is for someone to get sick on your trip. So, wash your hands!!

Toiletries

We can’t go on a trip without our everyday necessities. Toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo & conditioner, razors, hairbrushes, etc.

Sunscreen

This is a MUST in the summertime. Especially if you’re headed to the beach or planning on being outside for long periods of time.

Now you’re all ready to hit the road! Use this list when packing for your next road trip because we all know how easy it is to forget things. We hope you have a safe, comfortable and entertaining road trip with all your friends and family!


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