If you’re a part of a military family, you are no stranger to moving and have accepted it as a normal part of life. With every move, you become more organized and more efficient – but there are always ways to improve, especially on the financial side of things! Eastex Credit Union brings you a few tips and tricks to consider prior to a big military move so you can feel confident!
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Choosing a credit union or bank is a big decision to undertake, and choosing a facility that meets your needs in East Texas is no exception. While there are many benefits to choosing a credit union vs bank, there are still questions that must be addressed in order to become a member of a credit union that is right for you and your family’s financial goals. In addition to selecting a credit union that provides a high level of customer service, you also want to find comparative data for fees and savings rates to ensure you’re making a good decision.
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Paper has a way of piling up in various corners of our homes no matter how much we try to sort and organize it.
You get the mail, come inside and sort it into three piles (well, maybe): toss, keep and needs review. The toss pile *may* get thrown out that day if a trash or recycling can is nearby and you have time to shred or cover any personal info. The keep pile will likely join a larger “to file” pile sitting near your filing cabinet and the needs review file could stay right where it is for weeks before you finally have time to look at it. Then, there is the constant inflow of MORE paper every time the mailman comes. Coupons, catalogs, bills, medical and insurance records, credit card statements and so much more all must be sorted through to determine what should be kept and what can be tossed.
So, should you go paperless? Here are some tips and tricks for successfully going paperless at home.
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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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26 Quick, Affordable and Healthy Lunchbox Ideas
August is National Back to School Month as well as National Sandwich Month and these two certainly go hand in hand. As parents are preparing for their kids to go back to school, making sure they are well fed while is at the top of the list. By doing some simple planning, you can easily make sure your kids’ lunchboxes are well-rounded and healthy while still being affordable. Here is an alphabet of ideas to get you started.
Ants on a Log– Fill celery sticks with peanut butter and then top with raisins. Cheese cubes or yogurt and fresh fruit will round this out to be a very balanced lunch.
Bagel- Whether you make this into a turkey sandwich, pizza or just serve it with cream cheese, a bagel is a great addition to any lunchbox. Add some fruit and raw veggies and lunch is served.
Chicken Salad- Leftover chicken from last night? Shred it up and mix with mayonnaise, celery, craisins, salt, and pepper. Or, search online for a multitude of ingredient varieties depending on what’s in your fridge. The sky is the limit with what can go in a chicken salad. Serve it on a sandwich with something sweet, like graham crackers, on the side.
Deconstructed Salad- Load up a compartmented container (like a Bento Box) with carrots, tomatoes, cheese, nuts and more. Include dressing or hummus and let your kids dip to their heart’s delight.
Egg Salad- Hard-boiled eggs will last up to one week in the fridge (peeled or unpeeled) and they make a great addition to a lunchbox whether plain or made into a salad. Boil any extra eggs before they expire or on a weekend and you are just a few minutes away from an egg salad sandwich for lunch another day. Chop them up and mix with mayo, salt, and pepper. Makes a great lunch with some lettuce and pita bread and some fruit.
Frozen Greek Yogurt- Oftentimes, kids do not have access to a refrigerator to store their lunch until it’s time to eat. Freeze individual Greek yogurts (pouches or containers will work) and include one in their lunchbox. The yogurt will thaw out by lunchtime and it also serves as an ice pack for the rest of the items until then. Win-win!
Grilled Cheese- Throw some buttered bread and cheese into a skillet for a quick kid-favorite. If you want to get creative, you can add lunchmeat, avocado, tomato, spinach, or fancy cheeses. Cook ahead and refrigerate overnight. Send with a pickle or a thermos of tomato soup for dipping.
Hummus- You can serve it with vegetables, pita, crackers or bread. Just put it in a separate compartment so items don’t get soggy before lunch.
Ice Water- Always be sure your child has access to plenty of water throughout the day. It’s healthy and free!
Jelly & Peanut Butter- Also known as PB&J (hey, we needed a J), you can’t go wrong with this classic staple. Opt for whole wheat bread to get some added nutrition or wrap it up with a banana in a whole wheat tortilla for something a little different.
Kale Smoothie- Blend together chopped kale, almond milk, vanilla Greek yogurt, tropical fruit (pineapple, banana, mango, etc) and ice. Store in a smoothie bottle and shake when it’s lunchtime.
Lunchables Remake- Instead of buying the packaged kind, make your own version of a Lunchable with slices of meat, cheese, and crackers. Serve with a side of carrots and fruit.
Macaroni and Cheese- Make extra for dinner the night before and divvy it up into individual containers. The next morning, toss one in their lunchbox with a yogurt and a piece of fruit. This is best if there is access to a microwave.
Nutella- Who doesn’t love a chocolate hazelnut spread? It goes great on whole-wheat bread with some sliced banana!
Oranges- Mandarins (commonly referred to as Cuties) are the perfect size for a child’s lunch and kids love them. They’re also seedless and very easy to peel making them the perfect school lunch side item. You can also get packaged mandarin orange slices, just make sure they’re packaged in 100% fruit juice.
Pizza- Use store-bought pizza dough, English muffins or mini pita bread, then add pizza sauce, cheese, and toppings. Bake until the cheese is melted and cut into triangles or squares. These can be cooked ahead of time and refrigerated.
Quesadilla- Another easy make-ahead item. Add leftover chicken or steak and cheese to a tortilla and heat until cheese is melted. Cut into triangles and send with salsa or guacamole for dipping and tortilla chips or sliced bell peppers as a side item.
Rollups- Grab a tortilla (preferably whole-wheat) and roll up some deli meat and cheese and lunch is served. Get creative with other wrap ingredients like dressings, leafy greens, and other veggies. You can also include dressing in a separate container for dipping.
Sandwich Kabob- If you and your kids are sick of two pieces of bread with filling in between, try this fun twist on a classic. Get bamboo skewers and alternate chunks of grilled meat (chicken, steak, shrimp), cheese, bread, and veggies.
Tuna Salad- Easy to make ahead, mix tuna with mayonnaise, relish and/or boiled eggs. Put it on some bread to eat as a sandwich or serve it with celery, carrots, and crackers on the side.
Utilize Leftovers- A couple of the great things about leftovers is that they are free and they are already made. Plan your weeknight dinners around meals that you can easily repurpose (or just reheat) and serve up as lunch the next day. Cooked chicken, tacos, pizza, pasta dishes, stir fry, and burgers are all easy, inexpensive options the whole family will love.
Vegetarian- Why not try it? There are plenty of other ways to get protein besides meat and you can save money by skipping it a couple of days a week. Black beans, sliced cheese, nuts, cherry tomatoes, carrots, and fruit will fill up their tummies with non-meat proteins.
Waffles- Give them a sort of brunch with waffles (cut into pieces if need be), fruit, peanut butter and syrup in a compartmented container. Serve with sausage or bacon for a side of protein.
Xylitol- Ok, this one may sound like a stretch but when gum containing Xylitol is chewed after a meal it can help prevent cavities. Trident is a traditional favorite but many other chewing gums also include Xylitol, just check the label.
Yogurt Parfait- Let them create their own yogurt parfaits! In a compartmented container, put yogurt, chopped fruit, and granola. Or, layer ingredients in a mason jar so it’s ready to go. Just keep the granola separate or it will get soggy.
Zucchini Bread- Looking for a sneaky way to get your kids to eat vegetables? Zucchini bread is your answer. It’s sweet like carrot cake and easy to slice and send as a healthy side item or dessert. Need a good recipe? Here’s one of our favorites.
Although it may seem too early to start thinking about school again (didn’t summer just start?!), one of the best ways to get the most savings is to start preparing early. For many families, it may be difficult to make a large purchase at once, especially for multiple students. Eastex Credit Union has compiled a few helpful tips to avoid overspending when getting your children ready for the new school year!
Do an Inventory of Usable Supplies
One of the easiest ways to lose money from buying school supplies is purchasing items that you already have somewhere in the house! While it may be tempting to provide all new supplies for each new year, there are certainly some items that can be reused, such as staplers, pens, and even folders if they are still in good condition. Be sure to do an ink test for all of their pens and markers to make sure they are in good working condition to continue to use this year! Cutting down on these costs can save money overall, or help provide some extra funds for items you may need to buy year after year, such as backpacks and uniforms.
Plenty of stores are already starting to display school supplies with heavy discounts. In order to save money when shopping, be sure to make a list prior and stick to it! The school supplies displays are created to grab your attention, so resist the urge and only purchase what your child needs for school. Similarly, be sure to price check some supplies online to ensure you’re getting the best price available!
Get Rewards for Purchasing Supplies
Using your credit card correctly and responsibly is important if you want to maintain a healthy credit score and a manageable balance. It’s also important to choose a credit card that provides rewards such as cash back, points, or lower fees. Applying for a credit card from a credit union like Eastex can often provide you with better rewards than big banks, ultimately saving you money. Utilizing a credit card when buying school supplies is a great way to make a large purchase without hurting your weekly budget while also receiving awesome rewards in return.
Don’t Forget Lunches!
A big part of back to school expenses comes from preparing lunches daily for your students. To avoid unnecessarily spending money on daily lunches, try some of the following tips:
- Get a reusable lunchbox, food containers and utensils to avoid continually paying for baggies and paper bags (you’ll also be helping the environment, too!)
- Mealplan – it’s not just for adults! Creating and sticking to a pre-planned schedule can help avoid wasting food by preparing just the right amount of servings, and avoid having to pay for school lunches in the cafeteria.
- Buy in bulk – if possible, buying food in bulk can cut down on the cost per unit. Stores like Costco and Sam’s Club often have bulk items that could come in handy, like chips or beverages.
An integral part of the homebuying process is applying for and becoming approved for a mortgage loan. The majority of homeowners in the country purchase their homes with the assistance of a mortgage loan for financial peace of mind, so it’s important to not only know the process of applying for a mortgage loan but also how the stages of loan application can potentially change.
The Mortgage Loan Process
The mortgage loan process is relatively straightforward no matter which lender you utilize – they will evaluate your current financial health based on information you provide and will determine whether you are able to take out a loan with that institution, as well as provide a ballpark figure of what amount you’re pre-approved for. Be sure to know exactly what the mortgage loan will and will not pay for so that you can be adequately prepared for finances you will need to be responsible for. If you’re just getting started, checking out a mortgage loan calculator can help you see whether you are in a good financial place to take out a mortgage loan.
Find a Reputable Mortgage Loan Lender That You Trust
While a lot of people prefer to stay with their primary bank to finance their mortgage loan, some choose to look elsewhere. And as long as you feel comfortable and safe in the hands of that institution and their reps, either choice is typically fine. In addition to getting a fair and affordable repayment deal, an important part is that your lender should be able to explain your mortgage plan thoroughly to you and answer any questions you might have about the process, the repayment terms, etc. You should take a look at the different mortgage loan packages they offer to see which ones work best with your financial plans and capabilities. To see how Eastex Credit Union can be your trusted partner during your mortgage loan process, contact us here.
Apply for the Mortgage Loan
Typically, applying for a loan is an easy process – for example, you can apply for a mortgage loan immediately on Eastex Credit Union’s website for a seamless application experience. For other lenders you may have to come into their office to apply, so be sure to ask your lender how the application process works.
- If you’re applying for a mortgage online, be sure that whatever webpage you’re using to fill out your form is secure – you can see this indicated by a lock symbol in the URL bar of your browser.
- The information you’ll need to have handy in order to successfully fill out a mortgage application is:
- Social Security Number
- Contact and employment information
- Best estimates of income, assets, and liabilities
After Applying for a Mortgage Loan
Your mortgage loan provider should help guide you through the loan process, and afterward will contact you to complete anything else additional that is needed to complete your loan application package. Based on that, they will help you select the best program and interest rates.
So, Is Pre-Approval on a Loan Final?
Receiving the good news that you have been pre-approved for a loan is certainly reason to be excited, but being pre-approved isn’t a binding agreement. For example, if your credit drastically changes after being pre-approved, the lending company may rescind your status. Avoid the following after receiving a pre-approval status:
- Incurring late or missing payments
- Drastic changes in income/employment status
- Making large purchases that affect your credit all at the same time
All lending companies have the right to check your credit at any point during the mortgage process up until the mortgage itself closes, so it’s wise to avoid any additional large purchases or credit checks until your mortgage loan is finalized!
Not only does your Eastex VISA PLATINUM REWARDS Credit Card offer convenience and a great low rate, now you can earn the rewards* you want and deserve! It’s simple: accumulate points when you make purchases with your Eastex VISA PLATINUM REWARDS Credit Card, then redeem your points for millions of items like travel, gift cards, and brand name products.
*rewards program is valid only on Eastex VISA PLATINUM REWARDS Credit Card accounts.
HOW DOES IT WORK? Sign Up, Shop, Select
- Sign Up – you are required to register your card at uchooserewards.com to begin earning points.
- Shop – each time you use your card for purchases in-store or online, you’ll earn 1-point per $1 spent.
- Select – check POINTS balance and redeem points on millions of items at uchooserewards.com.
Don’t have an Eastex VISA PLATINUM REWARDS Credit Card, it is fast and easy to apply!*
Click Here to apply online, call us at 866-445-9622 or stop by any of our convenient locations and speak to a loan officer today!
*normal credit criteria applies.
Get Started Today!
If you already have an Eastex VISA PLATINUM REWARDS Credit Card, visit www.uchooserewards.com and register to get started. Plus you will find information and tools to help you make the most of your rewards including:
- A complete list of in-store and online-only retailers
- Access to search tools to help find the right retailer – use keywords, categories, zip code searches and more
- A full online catalog of redemptions options – including cash back
- Create a Wish List to track items you really want
- Smart shopping advise so you spend your money wisely
- And much more!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is uChoose Rewards®?
uChoose Rewards is a rewards program where you earn points for shopping or using your Eastex CU Visa Platinum Rewards Credit Card, then redeem your points for anything of your choice from a huge online rewards catalog.
How do I earn points?
You earn 1-point per $1 every time you use your Eastex CU Platinum Rewards Card. Whether you shop in-store or online, you’ll earn points.
Where can I earn points?
You earn points everywhere your card is accepted.
What can I redeem my points for?
You can redeem your points for literally thousands of options. It all depends on your personal preferences. You can get event tickets, electronics and hi-tech gadgets, spa treatments, apparel, airline tickets, activity vouchers – the list goes on and on. Browse the redemption section to see all the exciting options available to you. We keep track of all the points you earn and will help you find just what you are looking for when you are ready to redeem. We even have a Wish List that will help you track when you have earned enough to redeem a specific item.
Click Here to apply online, call us at 866-445-9622 or stop by any of our convenient locations and speak to a loan officer today!
Everything is bigger in Texas and that can definitely be said about our state’s aquatic resources. Our large state contains 3,700 named streams and 15 major rivers, which eventually flow into seven estuaries. These waterways support more than 200 reservoirs and provide nutrients and habitat for countless fish and wildlife. They also provide a great opportunity for recreational activities for millions of Texans each year. One of the best ways to explore the Texas waterways is by kayak or canoe. There are currently 74 official Texas Paddling Trails, which provide maintained access to rivers, creeks, lakes, ponds, bayous, and bays, with more in the works.
Kayak or Canoe?
Deciding to use a kayak or canoe is generally determined by your personal preference and what the water conditions are like where you will be paddling. The main differences between the two types of watercraft are in the cockpit, seat, and paddle. Canoes are spacious and open, while kayaks have closed cockpits for the paddler to sit in, although open-top options are also popular. In a canoe, you sit on a bench-like seat, raised off the boat floor, whereas in a kayak you sit much lower, typically on a seat molded into the bottom of the kayak. The other main difference is the paddle; a canoe paddle is single-bladed and you use it on either side of the canoe, while kayakers use double paddles to move through the water. The main types of canoes are recreational, whitewater, and racing and the main types of kayaks are recreational, whitewater, touring, sit-on-top, inflatable, and racing.
The best boat for you depends on your agenda. Think about where you will be paddling the most, who will be with you, how long you want your excursions to be, and how you will be transporting your boat. Canoes are great for carrying lots of gear and are more stable than kayaks. You can stretch out your legs and stand up while paddling a canoe, and you also get a better view of what is around the next bend because of the higher vantage afforded by canoe seats. If you’re bringing the whole family or your pet, a canoe will be much more comfortable, and they are easy to get into and out of. Kayaks, on the other hand, are easier to steer and can go faster with fewer effort thanks to the double paddle. Kayaks are lighter and typically shorter, which makes them easier to transport via car, truck, or SUV. Kayaks are more maneuverable and handle whitewater better than canoes. The time of year can also factor into what watercraft you wish to use; as you are more likely to get wet in a kayak due to its low profile in the water than you are in a canoe.
Find the Perfect Watercraft
When you are ready to paddle the Cooks Lake to Scatterman Paddling Trail through Big Thicket National Preserve or take a water tour of Village Creek or part of the Neches River, there are many outfitters in our area who rent kayaks and canoes for excursions. Renting a watercraft is a great way to see which type of boat you prefer and will be the best fit for your adventures before buying one. When you are tired of paying the rental fees, let Eastex help you float through summer by financing your kayak or canoe with a low-interest rate Personal Loan or Eastex Visa Credit Card.
Sources: Texas River Guide by Texas Parks & Wildlife and Cool of the Wild.
One of the struggles of adulthood is getting a handle on your credit score – and once you do, maintaining a healthy credit score is equally necessary. Having a good credit score is imperative for getting good rates when applying for a loan or mortgage, so your credit score isn’t something you can ignore!
Overall, a credit score is a combination of the following:
- Credit history/length
- Capacity used
- Payment timeliness
- Types of credit used
- Previous credit applications
What is My Credit Score?
You should check your credit score at least once a year to be sure of your status (you can get one free report a year here), and to see if you’ve increased or decreased your score since you last checked. If your score has gone down, you should definitely do some sleuthing to find out what happened. It is possible to dispute penalties towards your credit score – click here to find out how.
Check your Credit Balance
In order to maintain healthy credit, it’s important that you utilize your credit cards in the smartest possible way. This means you shouldn’t have maxed-out credit cards, cards with a high balance on it for long periods of time, etc. A good strategy, if you have multiple cards with a balance, is to pay off the lower balances as quickly as possible (but don’t close out that card!) and work towards paying off the larger balances as you can. Having a few credit cards that are in good standing can also help maintain a healthy credit score, but don’t overdo it.
Continue to Make Payments On Time
If you are already making your credit card and bill payments on time – keep it up! That is one really easy way to maintain a healthy credit score as well as avoiding costly late fees. Not only is this easy to do, it is one of the biggest factors that can affect your credit score. A great way to ensure you are making on-time payments is to enroll in auto-pay if the company offers it.
Avoid Frequent Credit Inquiries
You may have noticed that when you make large purchases, businesses will check your credit score/credit history. While this is usually okay, it’s important not to have too many “hits” or checks in the same time period. While there is a difference between the effect of a hard credit inquiry and soft credit inquiry you should always be aware of who is requesting your credit history so you can avoid overdoing it.
Eastex Credit Union wants all of our members to be well-informed about their financial health. Contact us today about how we can help you maintain a healthy credit score!
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