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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
As hurricane season is upon us, many people are wondering “How can I prepare for a hurricane?”. As the intensity of each hurricane can widely vary, it’s important to have a few levels of protection between your home and the elements.
As always, be sure to listen for official announcements regarding the hurricane as it approaches – if officials tell you to evacuate, do so. Do not stay in your home when it is deemed too hazardous!
Have a Family Plan
As you should do to prepare for every disaster (fire, flood, etc) you and your family should have a plan of what to do if a hurricane approaches. You should have a designated room that your family goes to (bathrooms are typically very safe) to ride out the storm and should have a preparedness plan for if a family member is stuck outside the home during an event (where should they go, who should they call).
An important part of this family plan is determining how you will communicate with each other. Have a backup plan in case phone lines are down/overloaded, such as contacting via text or social media.
Gather Helpful Supplies
During a hurricane event, a number of things can happen, including power outages (possibly for a few days), downed trees, blocked roads, etc. It’s important to have enough supplies in your home to be able to hunker down and stay safe until it is okay to venture outside again. It’s a good idea to create a basic disaster supplies kit that will hold a number of essential items:
It’s always a good idea to have a few gallons of water on-hand in case you aren’t able to access clean water during a hurricane event. Water can also come in handy if you need to use it for sanitation purposes as well.
Crucial for those dark nights without power, having a few flashlights available can be a game changer. Having some head-mounted flashlights (such as these) can also be helpful for hands-free usage
First Aid Kit
It is extremely important that you have a first aid kit available, especially in the event you or a family member has an accident and you’re unable to leave your home. Be sure your kit has the basics: antiseptic wipes, band-aids, ibuprofen, gauze, etc.
You should keep a three or four-day supply of non-perishable foods within your cabinets in case you lose power and are unable to get to a grocery store. Don’t forget to include pet food if you have animals in the home as well!
Fill up your car’s gas tank at least 36 hours prior to a hurricane event, just in case you need to evacuate or have a local gas shortage as a result of the storm.
Protect Your Home
There are some things you can do to prepare your home for a hurricane event that could help prevent exterior damage and flooding.
First, review your insurance policies to be sure you fully understand its terms and what kind of coverage you have. Call an insurance agent or your local credit union for questions about hurricane preparedness or your policy.
Do a walk-around of your home to determine any weak spots that may need to be addressed before the storm, such as windows that could be blocked off with hurricane shutters/plywood, trees around the property that may need to be trimmed down, etc. Consider utilizing sandbags in areas that are prone to flooding.
Similarly, check for loose objects around your yard that could become dangerous projectiles in high-velocity winds – these objects could include trash cans, children’s outdoor toys, patio furniture.
Buying a home requires having some cash on hand, steady income, and a good payment history for at least the past year. However, you don’t have to have a perfect credit score. Having a blemish or two on your credit report will not automatically disqualify you from a mortgage loan.
Know Your Number
If you are thinking about buying a house, you should be working to reduce your current debt and know where you stand financially. Examine your credit report and check your credit score. Look for errors and inaccuracies on the report that could be hurting your score. If you do have blemishes on your credit report, you will need to explain what happened, why it happened, and why it won’t happen again. If your credit issues all stem to a specific time and incident, you should not have a hard time proving to a mortgage underwriter that it was due to a situation out of your control, such as job loss, pay cut, illness, etc.
Find a Solution
We’ve all made mistakes in life, but financial mistakes can have a negative impact for long into the future. Work on ways to improve your credit score, such as staying well below your limit on credit cards and making it a priority to pay all bills on time. If you do have a low credit score, you may still be able to finance your dream property by bringing more cash to the table or demonstrating that you have a sizeable amount in your rainy-day savings.
Speak to Your Advisor
The best thing you could do is speak to a financial service representative regarding ways to finance your mortgage when you have less than perfect credit. The more individualized your service, the more helpful they can be to recommend the best path. Multiple factors influence the mortgage options available to you and having someone dedicated to helping find the best mortgage loan for you and your financial situation could save you money in the long run and potentially get you in your dream home sooner.
Applying for a mortgage loan is a big milestone, but an exciting one as well! While traditional mortgages are still a great choice for a lot of families, (Eastex offers up to 95% financing with approved credit), you do have other options available to you. For the best rates and mortgage plan, trust Eastex Credit Union. If you’re ready, click here to apply for a mortgage loan with Eastex today!
Has spring cleaning left you with lots of items that you no longer need or want? Are you unable to find places to put your new purchases? Are you parking in the driveway because your garage is used for storage? If you are currently experiencing any of these, it might be time for a yard sale.
Decide on a Date. The first part of planning will be to pick a date and time for your yard sale. You can do a single day, or several days depending on how much stuff you wish to get rid of and your schedule. Yard sales are most commonly held on weekends and during the spring and summer months.
Collect Your Goods. Gather up everything that you would like to sell. Go to each room in your house and look for things that no longer serve a purpose or don’t fit your current design aesthetic. Open each closet and purge it of clothes that haven’t been worn in more than a year or no longer fit correctly. Take the same approach to every part of your house, including the attic, garage, basement, and cupboards.
Get the Word Out. Tell your friends and family that you’re having a yard sale and have them help get the word out. Advertise on social media, including Facebook resell and neighborhood pages, Craigslist, and local yard sale sites. You might want to do a printed or online ad with your local newspaper if you have lots of stuff to sell or several high value items you want top dollar for. Make signs that tell when and where the yard sale is. If your location is hard to find, be sure to have some arrow signs to point everyone in the direction of your sale.
Payment Options. Have plenty of change on hand. Be sure to grab some rolls of quarters and plenty of small bills prior to the sale. You might even consider taking electronic payments via a card reader connected to your smartphone or tablet.
Set Your Prices. Price your larger and more expensive items individually. Think about what you would consider paying for the same item at a yard sale and price accordingly. The purpose of the yard sale is to make some cash while getting rid of things you no longer need or want. If you price things too high, you might not sell anything. Smaller, cheaper items can be placed in boxes marked with the price per item.
Let’s Make a Deal.
Time to Setup. On the day of the yard sale, get up a couple hours before your start time to begin setting up. Tables and clothes racks make it easier for people to shop and spend time looking at your items than when they are all on the ground or still in boxes. Have dedicated areas for each category, such as clothing, kitchen items, electronics, toys, etc.
Be Flexible on Prices. Once the sale has started, get ready for the bargaining to begin. If someone is indecisive, make them an offer lower than your listed price. Give discounts to those purchasing multiple items and be more willing to accept lower prices as time goes on and your sale is drawing to a close. If you are nearing the end of the sale and have lots still to sell, consider doing a set price for as many items as people can place into a plastic shopping bag.
Packing Up the Leftovers. Once your yard sale has ended, you will likely still have items left that did not sell. Consider donating these to a charity or thrift store, rather than bringing them back into your house. Some places will come to your house and pick up large items, but most smaller items will need to be dropped off.
Having a successful yard sale requires time, which will be spent planning and conducting the sale, but it is a great way to get some cash for items that are no longer serving a purpose in your house. Hopefully these tips will help you clear some clutter and give you some extra spending money this summer.
Whether you’ve been married for 5 years or 5 months, finances have a nasty habit of causing friction between couples. In fact, money is the leading cause of relationship issues and can often lead to more serious consequences such as separation or divorce. Much like couples that take great care in improving and maintaining a healthy level of communication, those that work together on their finances – no matter if they keep them separate or not – find themselves more content in their relationship as well as more excited for the future. No matter your current financial situation with your significant other, here are some helpful tips on how to manage your finances with your spouse that can apply to anyone:
Be Honest With Your Significant Other About Your Financial Situation
As you would hope they’d do for you, it’s important that you disclose your financial status to your significant other – especially if you’re engaged to be married. Yes, this also includes any embarrassing information such as a low credit score, credit card debt, or anything else that would be important for them to know! You can make overcoming these obstacles a joint venture that can ultimately bring you both closer together. Hiding or not disclosing financial information from your significant other breeds distrust and can make it difficult to move forward in your relationship.
Manage Finances With Your Spouse in a Mutually-Accessible Way
There are countless ways to accomplish this to suit your particular needs – from utilizing a budgeting spreadsheet template, or signing up for a budget tracker app like Mint, having your finances out in the open will help keep everyone on the same page in terms of transactions, upcoming bills, and overall financial status. This also allows the responsibility of handling finances to be equally distributed instead of solely held to one person alone. If only one person has a handle on the finances, they may feel resentment towards the other for the additional responsibility, while the other may feel like they aren’t trusted.
Establish Savings Goals, and Work Together to Accomplish Them
Every couple has dreams – a new home, a tropical vacation, repairing the fence, a new pet – all things that need to be adequately budgeted and planned for. A great way to grow together as a couple is to jointly work towards these goals – and you can do this in a number of ways. Some couples pool any leftover cash or change from the day into a communal pot to passively safe income towards a goal, while others dedicate a certain percentage of their income (such as 5% per paycheck) to be directly deposited to a joint savings account. If you choose to invest your savings, Eastex Credit Union has a great savings calculator that can help you forecast your wealth growth as well.
Eastex wants to see financial success not only for you but for you and your spouse jointly! Having open and honest communication in your relationship extends to your finances, so creating a financial strategy that works for both of you can drastically improve the quality of your relationship. For assistance in opening up a checking or savings account, adding a new credit card, or for personalized assistance to manage finances with your spouse, contact Eastex today.
If your Eastex CU Visa debit card has been lost/stolen or suspected of fraudulent activity, CANCEL YOUR CARD immediately. During business hours call 409-276-2525. After business hours call 1-888-263-3370.
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