For many Americans, credit cards are a critical financial tool. They allow for financial flexibility and can be used to budget more effectively. But sometimes things happen, and credit card debt piles up. It might be an unexpected medical or vehicle expense. Or maybe you were temporarily unemployed. Whatever the case, you know you need to get your credit card paid off, but where do you start?
This blog will explore the benefits of paying down your credit cards, how to pay off your credit card debt, plus offer some quick tips on making that dream a reality.
Why You Want to Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt
While having some credit card debt can be okay, having a lot of credit card debt can be harmful to your financial future.
Here are a few reasons you want to get your debt paid down/off as quickly as possible:
Credit Score: The more debt you carry, the harder the hit on your credit score. 30% of your FICO score is determined by how much you owe on your credit accounts.
Reduced Expenses: Paying off your credit card quickly means you’ll pay less in interest and free up your cash flow for other expenses.
Financial Freedom: After you’ve paid down/off your credit card debt, the money you were putting towards credit card payments (and interest!) can be put into savings for the future.
You’ll also have the satisfaction of being that much closer to being out of debt – and that much closer to your financial goals, whether that’s retirement or the trip of a lifetime.
Pro tip: You don’t necessarily need to close your credit cards once you pay them off. Older accounts show you are able to manage debt responsibly.
How to Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt Quickly
Figuring out how to pay off your credit card debt quickly is challenging. Where do you start? How do you start? Here are three things you can do today to start paying off your credit card debt.
1. Make a List of All Your Credit Card Debts
If you’re like most people, you set your credit card payment on autopay and occasionally take a look at the bill to make sure you aren’t close to the limit. The first thing you need to do is make a list of your credit card debts.
These are popular approaches to listing your debts in order of importance:
List and pay off the smallest credit card debts first
List and pay off the credit cards with the highest interest rate first
Take a look at your overall list and see which approach makes the most sense to you.
2. Carefully Review Your Budget
To get really serious about paying off your credit card debt, you’re going to need to review your budget. You may need to cut expenses or redirect payments to get your debts paid off quickly. These cuts are usually just temporary, so don’t get too worried.
Possible expenses to cut or redirect include:
Commit to cutting out expenses like streaming services, eating out, and any big purchases
Consider making the minimum payment on most of your cards while you approach one card at a time
While you still want to put money into savings if you can, see if any money you’re saving might make more sense as credit card payments for the time being.
3. Consider Other Sources of Income
Let’s face it – no one wants to work an extra job, but paying off credit card debt may be worth spending a few months putting in some additional hours. You don’t have to take some miserable part-time job, though.
Consider these creative ways to boost your income:
Put your skills to use in the freelancing world – you can design, write, consult, whatever suits your skillset
Network with your social group to see if anyone has part-time professional opportunities you can take advantage of
You may even talk to your current employer about taking on additional hours if that’s an option.
Quick Tips on How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt
The most effective way to pay off your credit card debt quickly is simply to tighten down your expenses and find ways to increase your income until the debt is paid off. However, there are some small ways to make dents in your credit card debt:
Cashback rewards: Make sure you apply your rewards to your credit card bill rather than redeeming them for gift cards or miles.
Balance transfers: A 0% APR offer on a credit card may help save you money on interest, so long as you pay off the balance before the promotion expires.
If your credit score has improved since you opened your credit cards, you may also ask your credit card issuer about lowering your interest rate. This may save money in the long run.
Get Help with Your Credit Card Questions
Planning for your financial future is important. It doesn’t matter what stage of life you’re in, it’s never too early to get started toward financial freedom. A financial planner can help you figure out the best way to tackle your financial dreams, including your credit card debt.
Still have questions about how credit cards can impact your financial future? Contact the team of financial professionals at Eastex Credit Union today.
Now that the new year has begun, many of us are trying to get in shape. Getting in shape is something most of us struggle with, especially with the expense. We are here to tell you that there are ways to get in shape without breaking the bank. It’s easy to make excuses for yourself when it comes to getting fit. Make 2020 a different year without those excuses. Here are some tips on how you can get fit without hurting your bank account:
Say Goodbye to Your Expensive Gym Membership
You don’t HAVE to go to the gym to get in shape. Gym memberships can be very expensive. Only keep your membership if you get your moneys worth and go all the time. It’s not worth going to the gym to run on the treadmill. Go on a run in your neighborhood or a nearby park. After that, you can do some in-home exercises. There are many videos you can find online that provide you with many workouts you can do in the comfort of your home.
Ignore the Diet Ads
There are so many advertisements out there of people trying to sell you diet pills and supplements. These DO NOT work. Do not fall for these kinds of advertisements. They reel you in by telling you that you’ll be down 50 pounds in a month. That won’t happen, nor is that healthy. Don’t waste your money on a scam. Go buy veggies, fruit, and protein at the grocery store.
Plan Your Meals
Have your meals planned out before your week starts. Then, go get only the items you need at the store. Waiting until the last minute to decide what you want for dinner won’t do you any good. By that time, you are so hungry that you don’t care what you eat. You will be more likely to eat junk food if you do that. Eating out is also way more expensive.
Set Realistic Goals
Getting in shape is all about having patience. We know you want to lose the weight immediately, but you have to take it slow. Create a schedule for yourself and stick to it. Being organized will help you save money as well.
Tell a Friend
If you’re worried about you might lose focus on your goal, tell a friend. This is someone who can hold you accountable. Choose someone that will motivate you. Maybe they will even want to do it with you! Then you will have a workout buddy and you can hold each other accountable.
Losing weight is NOT easy. Especially when you have so many temptations around you. We’re here to tell you that you CAN do it, and you DON’T have to break your bank in the process! No more excuses. Make 2020 a happy and healthy year.
Staying in your budget during the holidays can be tough. When you add entertaining to the list, things can get pretty stressful when you’re trying to budget your money! Here are some ways you can save money while still planning your Christmas parties:
Instead of sending your invitations in the mail, send them out using a free online service where you can create your own invitations! Even better, create a Facebook event. This makes it so much easier to see who is RSVPing and for your guests to see who all is coming to the party!
Make Small Desserts
To save money on food, you can make your party dessert only. This will allow you to make really yummy treats that your guests will love. You can even tell your guests they can bring something if they’d like.
Set up a Drink Station
If you’re on a really tight budget, then tell your guests this is a BYOB party. Set up a station in your home where your guests can make their own beverages. Make sure to have all the necessities such as sodas, mixers, ice and glasses. You want your guests to be able to have their drink of choice.
Coy Party Favors
Warm fuzzy socks are a great way to give out a good, yet cheap party favor. Who doesn’t love fuzzy socks!? Your guests will love them and they will be perfect for keeping their toes warm for the holidays.
Listen to FREE Holiday Jingles
You definitely want to have your playlist ready to go when it comes time for your party. Make sure to use one of the free streaming services such as: Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Music, or Apple Music. If you don’t feel like creating your own, you can find a station you like on any of these services and dance the night away!
Re-use your Decorations
Throwing a New Years Party? Don’t start fresh with your decorations for this. Use your Christmas ornaments and decorations to save money on buying all new décor.
Don’t want your party to be focused on dessert? Do small appetizers! There are many inexpensive appetizers you can make such as: Bruschetta, mini meatballs, deviled eggs, olive dip with crackers, jalapeno poppers, etc.
Have a Theme
Having a theme for your party will help you focus on exactly what you need to get. These can be themes such as: Ugly sweater party, white elephant gift exchange, secret Santa and so much more. Make it your own and it will be a blast.
You can’t have a party without games! This is how you keep things entertaining for your guests. Whip out your favorite holiday game or create your own. Your guests might have ideas too!
Make sure to take lots of photos and encourage your guests to as well. Before the party is over, make sure to get a group selfie with everyone. Then everyone will remember how much fun they had at your Christmas party!
Don’t miss out on having fun because you are worried about sticking with your budget. If you follow these tips you should be able to have a fun AND cheap Christmas party! Either way, you will get to make the best of memories with friends and family. We hope you have a cheerful and bright holiday season!
The holidays are right around the corner. Know what that means? Christmas shopping is here! It can be tough to budget your money during this time of year, so it’s important to remember some tips that will help you out! Continue reading »
Can you believe it!? Black Friday is only a few weeks away and the craziness of the Christmas shopping will begin. Are you the type of person to wait in line at crazy hours for stores to open or would you rather stay warm in bed? If you do participate in the Black Friday shopping, it’s important to know some things beforehand. Here are some tips to surviving Black Friday:
Have a Plan for Black Friday
It’s important that you know exactly what you want to buy and where it’s located. This will save you a lot of time. If there’s a HOT item you want, you need to plan on getting to the store hours before it opens. If not, you may not get what you’re wanting.
Bring Your Buddies
Get as many friends to come with you as you can. The more people you have with you, the better. You can help them, and they can help you. You never know who might try to steal those items in your cart. So,
if you’ve got your crew with you then you got your back up!
This is NOT a time to look cute. Throw on a sweatshirt, some sweats and sneakers and your set. Try to bring a cross-body bag so you don’t have to worry about getting pickpocketed. Plus, you don’t want to worry about carrying your purse anyways!
Skip the Bad Deals
One very important part of Black Friday shopping is knowing the difference between a good deal and a bad deal. Look for the deals that are 50% off or more. Anything less than that is probably not worth the trouble.
DON’T Bring Your Kids
First of all, don’t put your kids through this madness. Having your kids with you will only slow you down. Leave them at home. We promise they will be better off in their beds. Plus, how are you going to get those Santa gifts!?
Do Cyber Monday Instead
This is for those of you who want to stay warm in your beds. Skip all this madness because you will get plenty of good deals on Cyber Monday. The best part about that is you can do all your Christmas shopping from your bed if that’s what you want! Sounds pretty nice to us!
We want you to get the best deals this Black Friday! We also want you to be safe. Follow these simple tips to surviving your Black Friday and it should make your experience that much easier. Black Friday is no joke, so you want to make sure you’re prepared. Now, you will be! AND you can use your Eastex credit card to make all your purchases. Spend $1 = earn 1 point. Don’t forget!!
What should you do when you need an emergency car repair but don’t have the money?
We all get stressed out when an emergency car repair arises and we don’t have the cash to fix it. Unexpected car expenses can put you in a financial bind quickly. Where will you find the money, and how quickly can you get it? People face these types of situations every single day, and below are a few ways you can quickly get those repairs completed and find yourself back on the road again.
1. Try to Fix It Yourself
If you are not mechanically inclined yourself, ask a friend who might be handy with a wrench if they might be able to help. Keep in mind that most auto shops perform diagnostic tests for free. This test helps identify the issue with your vehicle, including problems with the starter, engine, transmission, battery and much more. Once you have an idea of the problem, check out some websites, such as YouTube, to see if anyone posted videos showing how to repair that issue. If the problem is fairly simple, try repairing it yourself. Anything major involving the engine or transmission might be better off in the hands of a true car professional.
2.Personal Loans/Credit Card
Consider taking out a personal loan from your credit union to repair your vehicle. At Eastex, you can check to see if you are eligible for the money in just a few minutes. Once approved, the funds are delivered to you quickly. You can always walk into your credit union during office hours and speak to a qualified associate to help you through the process. Eastex also offers credit card options that you can apply for online or inside the credit union to pay for your auto repairs. This allows a longer time period to pay back your debt on a monthly basis.
3.Borrowing Money from Family or Friends
If you have no money to make an urgent repair on your car, close family members and friends might offer financial help. This might be a tough thing to do, because you don’t want to put family or close friends in a circumstance if you cannot pay the money back. Only consider borrowing if you know you can pay it back in a short amount of time. Many people have ruined close relationships by not repaying the borrowed money, so make sure you are diligent about making those payments on time and as promised.
4.Payment Plan with Repair Shop
Most shops require immediate payment once they have fixed your car before they give it back to you. It is rare, but the shop might allow you to make payments to them if you ask. They might require a quick credit check or need to verify that you are employed for their protection, but it is well worth asking. Some shops might agree to take a postdated check or a plan that offers financing through one of their own creditors for a specific amount of time. Check with your repair shop for any special financing or payment options they might offer.
If your car is paid for, a title loan might be an option if you have no money for repairs. Keep in mind there is a downside, if you don’t make the payments as promised, your car could be repossessed. Some title loans have restrictions, so you must research first.
These are just a few options to consider when you have an emergency car repair and a depleted emergency fund. Consider all the options in front of you before making a final decision that works best for your specific financial situation. If you find yourself in a financial emergency or if you need financial advice, connect with our financial professionals at Eastex Credit Union for the best advice!
Planning for your future or just curious about how much interest you will pay over the life of your loan. Eastex has budget tools like savings, retirement, mortgage, and auto loan calculators to help you plan for tomorrow and your future.
The first budgeting online tool is a savings calculator. Whether you have a goal in mind or you just like to save, this tool has you covered. You can input the beginning amount that you saved or invested, the total number of years you are planning to save. Next, what you believe you should receive interest wise (rate of return), and how often your savings are compounded. Add to this any other contributions you plan to make and how often and this tool will show you what you should have at the end of any period. Remember that if you are saving, a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow.
The second online tool we offer is a retirement calculator. Do you know how to plan for a secure retirement? This tool can show you what you should do to make your retirement plan come true and if it can be done. With this tool, you can review your savings balance for retirement and your withdrawals every year until the end of retirement. In addition, remember that Social Security is figured based on your income. This retirement tool helps you not worry so much about retirement numbers and allows you to focus on more important things, such as time for children and grandchildren.
Eastex also offers an easy to use mortgage calculator. Whether you are buying a home and financing it or have paid on your home for a while, this tool can help. You can know instantly how much interest you are paying with each payment and how much principal you still owe. This tool will also show you the impact of any prepayments of principal. This tool needs to know the balance or expected balance on your mortgage plus other available details. You can even choose how you want the amortization to display, annually or monthly.
Auto Loan Calculator
The last online budget tool we offer is an auto loan calculator. Everyone needs a car, the big question most of the time is how much car. Using this calculator, you can enter current information about your loan. The calculator will display graph options so you can see how different variables such as time financed affects the loan. One can also see a complete amortization schedule so you can schedule any extra payments into your budget. The tool also has an option for sales tax calculation and/or trade-ins.
One of our goals here at Eastex Credit Union is to help you achieve your goals, whether these goals are next week, next year, or in retirement. The budget tools we offer online can help. For further help, stop by any of our branch locations or contact us anytime!
We read this great article over on Dave Ramsey’s website on flood damage and wanted to share it with you – it is full of beneficial information to help you out and get prepared for the worst-case scenarios when it comes to flooded homes. Continue reading »
Data breach. That’s been the “it word” for cybersecurity in 2019, and you can’t seem to go more than a week without hearing of another security breach of a huge company. Then, if your information was compromised, thus begins the process of minimizing the negative impacts.
Identity Theft and Fraud Trends in 2019
Identity theft is occurring at alarm rates and is showing no sign of slowing down. In 2018, the FTC processed 1.4 million fraud reports totaling $1.48 billion in losses. According to this recent Consumer Affairs study, cybercriminals are getting more and more advanced in their methods of committing identity theft/fraud and they’re attacking a broader group of targets. Here are a few recent statistics on identity theft.
Formjacking is up 117%
Nearly 58,000 websites were compromised by form jacking in 2018. This is when cyber criminals hijack credit card data from online payment forms and it’s affecting millions of people worldwide.
New account fraud is up 13%
Last year, new account fraud accounted for $3.4 billion in losses. Be extra cautious if you open a new account for a mortgage, car loan, student loans or credit card.
Account takeovers are up 70%
This is when a fraudster uses someone else’s personal information to obtain products and services illegally. Credit card fraud is the most rampant but skimming and phishing are also common types. Both individuals and enterprises are at risk for account takeovers.
Who’s Most at Risk?
Anyone with a Social Security number is at risk for identity theft; however, the very young, the very old, and members of the military pose the highest risk.
Children are targeted because their Social Security numbers are seen as a “clean slate” to identity thieves. Seniors are most often targeted with telephone or internet phishing scams. Older people tend to check their credit less often and have become more trusting as they age, making it difficult for them to detect those with malicious intentions.
According to FTC reports, members of the military are most affected by credit card and bank fraud. Deployed active duty military members are also at a heightened risk because they may not check or notice mistakes on their credit report and wouldn’t get a call notifying them of a (potentially) fraudulent charge. Other criteria that could make you more vulnerable to identity theft and fraud include social media users, those that have had their identity stolen previously and the deceased.
How Do I Protect Myself?
Of course, stay vigilant. Check your credit reports often and be smart with your password selection. Here are some other tips to help protect yourself against fraud.
Know who you’re working with
Make sure any business you conduct transactions with is credible. Check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or other consumer protection agency and call the phone number listed on the website to verify its legitimacy.
Pay with a credit card
When making online purchases, credit cards are the safest way to pay. Any unknown charge can be disputed, and you won’t be missing the money from your checking account while it’s investigated. Plus, Federal law limits your liability to $50 for any unauthorized charges.
Don’t hand out personal information
Always take extreme caution when giving out your personal information (name, DOB, Social Security #, bank account info, etc) and never give out any information unless you are confident the person/company requesting the information is legitimate.
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is
Sorry, but you can’t make money by doing little to no work. Anyone promising you a “get rich quick” idea investment is likely a scammer.
Want to read up on even more tips to protect yourself? Check out this list from Fraud.org or contact us for more tips!
We have good news for you: it is indeed possible to get a car loan online. You can obtain a loan through the internet for both used and new vehicles. While there is an undeniable appeal to completing this process from the comfort of your home, there are some important facts to consider before making any decisions.Continue reading »
If your Eastex CU Visa debit card has been lost/stolen or suspected of fraudulent activity, CANCEL YOUR CARD immediately. Call us during business hours at 409-276-2525 / 1-866-445-9622. After business hours call 1-800-791-2525.
By members' choice, your deposits are insured by American Share Insurance up to $250,000 per account. This institution is not federally insured. Members accounts are not insured or guaranteed by any government or government-sponsored agency.
*Annual Percentage rate. Rates are based on creditworthiness. Contact credit union for details.
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