It can be tough to make the holidays seem magical and special when you are a little strapped for cash. However, not having the money doesn’t mean you can’t make the holidays wonderful, with a little bit of creativity and some planning, you can have the best Christmas ever!
Giving gifts when money is tight can really cause a lot of stress. Your loved ones should understand, so you can always give them a heads up. Tell them you need to focus your finances towards your spouse or children. There is no shame in being honest. If you do find a little bit of wiggle room in your budget, of course do what you can/want for the extended family.
Presentation can make a huge difference. There may only be a few presents under the tree on Christmas morning, but when they are wrapped and decorated well, it’ll seem more exciting! While we are on the topic of wrapping, wrap everything. When we say everything, we mean it. From stocking stuffers to dollar store gifts. If you bought a gift with multiple items inside, open it up and wrap each one- boom- multiplying gifts right there.
This may be a little taboo, but if your child has received a gift and they haven’t even touched it or totally forgotten about it, snag it up and re-wrap it. This all depends on their age, of course. Little gifts like toothbrushes, mascara, body wash, socks can be great gifts for your children that they’ll actually use! Start early and you can pack rat these items away. Over time they will add up and you’ll find that maybe it didn’t put as much of a dent in your budget as you thought it might.
Gift giving doesn’t all need to be store bought. In fact, you might find that those gifts you crafted were the ones you hold most near and dear to your heart. When money is super tight- set a price limit, draw names from a hat, and whoever you drew you have to make something for them. (Recommend doing this early on, can take months trying to figure out what to make!) When giving gifts to people outside the family, get crafty! You can make ornaments, brownie mixes, pasta, hot cocoa mixes and more.
Once Christmas morning has arrived- get crafty with how you can spend time together to make it that much more special. Nothing has to be fancy here, and you’ll find that spending time with each other is the best gift after all. Try decorating the table with name cards, homemade centerpieces, or fun holiday themed dishes. Make paper snowflakes and hang them from the ceiling or make paper garland! Turn Christmas into an activity, cook breakfast together, play games or puzzles, start a new tradition, watch a movie together, go outside, cook the Christmas meal together.
End result you’ll have a magical holiday that you’ll never forget. Gift giving isn’t the reason for the season and when you embrace that, you’re guaranteed to have a wonderful time together.
We all love giving gifts when the holiday hits, however it can be a real strain on the budget. Some years are harder than others, and as much as we try to set money sometimes it just doesn’t go as planned. Our Christmas lists get longer and budgets get smaller. We look online for ideas on the best ways to save but sometimes they just aren’t practical, such as a gradual increase in your savings every week.
Your savings plan needs to be habitual, something that is consistent to create the savings that you want. A gradual increase each week can be hard to budget and often times you might not think you can accomplish it every week, which can cause some stress.
Everyone has a different financial situation so it will be different for everyone. A good way to start is to add up all your receipts from this past year and divide that by 47 weeks, and from there you can determine your budget from that amount.
Once you have your amount, set that aside every Friday. Maybe you use the cash envelope system, or open a new bank account specifically for this purpose, of create a new column in your budget. However you decide to do it, each week as you pass that milestone you can rest assured that by December 1st you’ll be shopping for gifts, guilt free!
To make it even easier, Eastex Credit Union offers a Christmas Club account. Every month the amount of your choosing is directly put into a savings account. Then before the holiday shopping season hits, your funds are directly placed into your primary savings account for easy access! Our goal is to help you achieve your financial goals!
Christmas time can be truly magical, especially for the younger, more care-free members of society. Sadly, for many of us, the overall appeal is diminished by the extra financial burdens that make the “magic” possible! This doesn’t have to be the case, though. With some planning and ingenuity, you can have all of the magic and dramatically reduce your stress levels over the holidays. We’ve compiled a list of awesome Christmas “Finance Hacks” that will help ensure that you’re no Scrooge next Christmas.
Whether you are drowning in student debt or in a never ending whirlpool loans, there are answers on how to get your head above water. Although it may seem impossible at times, when you decide to make it your mission to turn your life around it is truly possible!
It’s overwhelming when you look at everything you might owe but don’t be in denial. Once you really have a clear understanding of the type of money you have to work with you can begin to start paying down your debt no matter how large your burden. The biggest thing to remember is that every small step you take is one step further to financial freedom.
When you first start this journey, a few things starting out to try:
Write down every single person you owe and exactly how much you owe them
Rewrite this list in descending order- smallest at the top
Once you have that, tackle the smallest bill and give it all you got
Make it a goal to send all your extra cents to that debt each month until it’s paid off
Keep using this method over and over- each time you pay off a debt roll it over to the next debt
This is basically called the debt snowball method. You focus on paying off the smallest debt first (regardless of the interest rate) and once that debt is paid in full, you take the monthly payment you were making towards that smallest debt and add it to the next smallest debt! The main reason for you to use this method is because you will feel successful and you will continue forward momentum.
On the other side of the coin, you could try the debt avalanche method. This method has you starting with the highest interest rate first (regardless of the size of the loan.) You’ll still may the minimum on all of your loans but you’ll put all your extra cash towards the loan with the highest interest rate. This method will save you more money in interest.
Your debt can be scary but you are in control and it’s up to you to take the reins and decide there is a difference between what you need and what you want. Until you’ve paid off your smallest bill, your mindset should be that you have NO extra money for luxuries. If you are willing to sacrifice a little now you’ll be able indulge later without the guilt. Don’t give up, it takes longer to get out of debt than it does to acquire it. If it helps, get an accountability buddy to help you stay on track and stay encouraged.
Eastex Credit union – , we are here to provide people with the best financial solutions.
Saving money, especially when the holidays are swiftly approaching can be a challenge. We are tempted to spend but in the months leading up to the season we often put the shopping season in the back of our minds. Out of sight, out of mind. So with that in mind we figured a putting a list together of some practical ways to help you save money.
It’s difficult and something you hear all the time, but bear with us. If you want to save money then you have to plan to do so. You’re not going to get anywhere if you just hope this month will be different. It may sound a lot more difficult than it is, take a previous look at your bank statements and make a list of all your regular monthly payments. After evaluating your spending history a little bit, you can estimate your other expenses like food, clothing, repairs, gifts, or gas. It may take a little bit of time and effort but afterwards you’ll have a better understanding of your monthly budget and how you can plan accordingly.
Actually track your spending. You’ve created your budget and now it’s time for you to stick to it. If you prefer online expense sheets or physically writing it down, go for it. You know yourself better than anyone else so if a classic pen and paper is your thing, do it. This means everything, yes it could be a little tedious at first but once you get the hang of it, it’s a breeze. There are many online templates that can help you out too. Throughout the month you will be able to see how you are doing and make adjustments according to your goals. If you’re grocery budget is a little tight then maybe you can get a little creative with what you have on hand- Pinterest could be a great tool to utilize for creative meals! If you’re gas budget is getting close to running over- try to carpool or take fewer car trips. Tracking can also help if you’ve got a little room left in your budget, you can make that purchase you’ve been waiting on for awhile!
The whole point of this thing is to get to a bigger goal. You can’t get there if you don’t set small goals to help you get there. It’s important to make monthly goals- say you take a look at your budget/tracking and pick an area that you feel is a particular weakness. Maybe it’s shopping or eating out too much. Try to cut it in half. You might need an accountability partner here to remind you of your goals! Whatever your weakness is, identify it and try to cut back. Small amounts like 10 or 20% will still be savings! Achieving these smaller goals will give you the motivation to tackle those bigger goals!!
Long Term Goals
Since we’re on the topic, setting big and long term goals is important! You’re always working towards a goal and trying to reach it with whatever money you can pull together. Paying off a vehicle, a credit card, or taking a vacation, can be an amazing motivator to help you save! Next time you find yourself wanting to go out to eat try whipping something up at home instead. Would you rather have a meal out or be one small step closer to your financial freedom! This is probably a no-brainer. Find your biggest goal and work towards it!
Finding the Free Fun
This one is about the mindset you have. Finding things to do for free can be a lifestyle choice and it can be difficult to change your mindset on “missing out” on that movie or that expensive night out with the girls. It’s definitely easier said than done but at the end of the month you’ll be surprised by the savings! The possibilities are endless when you really dedicate yourself to the savings and if you’re totally stumped at how to find these free events/ideas check out the internet and you’ll be sure to find some great ideas. You just have to open your eyes and look!
Chances are you are pretty close to a Target or Walmart and it can be tempting to run in to “pick up a few things.” Those small purchases can really add up, and most of the time they are impulse buys. If you hadn’t been on the store, do you really think you would’ve bought it? Probably not. You will continue to function without those impulse buys and it will slowly add up! Bottom line- go shopping less often.
Give Yourself Time
The holidays are going to be here before we know it and you’ve got a Christmas list! Keep it in mind to help you avoid those impulse purchases. When you do go shopping, make a list and stick to it! Before you hit the checkout isle, re-evaluate your impulse purchases and ask yourself if you really need it. If it’s something you don’t need immediately put it back, and wait a week. If you still desperately want it (chances are you won’t) then feel free to go back- this strategy could be easier implemented for items over a certain price.
Get Rid of It
Those closets full of junk could be making you money! All of us have stuff laying around that we don’t use anymore. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Other people could be willing to pay for those things you don’t use. Yard sales, Craigslist, clothing resale shops, eBay or area trading groups are good resources to utilize when trying to get rid of those unwanted items. Even small items like books could be sold and put a little extra cash in your pocket!
Minimize Reoccurring Payments
When you first set up your budget you listed out all our reoccurring monthly payments. Imagine if you didn’t have some of those payments, you could have more money for other things. What are some of those areas you could improve on? Recently there has been an uprising of cutting your cable and switching to a Roku or Apple TV. Once you make the initial cut it could take a bit of adjustment but many people don’t notice a difference! What about your home phone? Most people today only use cell phones, so is your home phone just an extra cost at this point? Shop around for better internet deals and make sure whatever you’re paying for is what offers the best rates. It could take a bit of homework but it’ll be worth it in the end when you realize you could save hundreds of dollars!
Move your Money
Instead of keeping money in your checking account, move it into your savings immediately. It’s all a mind game but if you check your balance and see all that extra money available you’ll think “Oh… I can totally buy _____.” If your money is locked away in a savings account, you’ll have to make that extra step to move it into your checking account to spend it. That small hoop to go through could be just what you need to help you NOT make that purchase. Slowly but surely it’ll add up!
Your financial success is important to us and we hope that you can take some of these small lessons to help you save! Whatever you decide to do, it’s one step forward to financial success and that’s always something to be proud of! Eastex Credit Union is here for you, and we have multiple products and services designed to help you succeed!
Holidays are swiftly approaching and the thought of those bills after the holidays can be frightful. However your mailbox could be hiding the scariest thing of all, your credit card statements. Here are a few terrifying things you should look for in your credit card statements and what you can do to fix them.
Those interest rates
You didn’t sign up for this! Those high interest rates that you all of a sudden are seeing happen when you make a late payment and a penalty interest rate is imposed. To avoid this scare, make sure you are making every effort possible to pay your bills on time. Set reminders or even automatic bill pay.
Those shocking fees
Added on fees are one of the most common things that cardholders fear. Foreign transaction fees, cash advance fees, balance transfer fees, annual fees, all of those can really suck your wallet dry. They should be clearly explained before you even apply, but most of the time consumers will sign up for the rewards but forget to check the fees. Don’t make this mistake. Luckily one of the perks with Eastex you have no annual fees!
That unexpected fraudulent charge can really make you freak out. While larger unauthorized charges are easier to spot, it’s those tiny ones that tend to go unnoticed. Thankfully with most cards you aren’t responsible for anything more than the first $50 of a fraudulent charges. However, end game, it’s sort of up to you to monitor your statements.
Bottom line, your credit card’s interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products frequently change. Therefore you should be sure to verify all of these things yourself but Eastex Credit Union offers a credit card with your best options in mind.
As young people transition from living at home to living on their own, they visualize a life of promise and fulfillment. Along the way, the difficulties of navigating toward that dream often pop up. Some of the most common dilemmas revolve around money and finances. Here’s a few that resonate with many young adults: How am I going to finance my education? How can I buy a car? I haven’t saved much and my rent is due?
The key to successful navigation in these often uncharted waters is to become aware of your situation, develop a good and actionable plan, create a savings fund, use credit wisely, and partner with trusted professionals. We’ve put together some of the best financial advice for young adults Continue reading »
The earlier that you make your financial goals a priority, the better off you will be. However, it is never too late to get started on a detailed financial program. Below we will list a few time-sensitive goals that you may want to consider setting for yourself at each stage of your life.
Financial Priorities for Your Pre-Twenties
If you are prioritizing your financial life in this stage of your growth, then you should congratulate yourself. You have great opportunities here that many other people would gladly turn back the clock for. You have the ability to take financial risks that may pay off a great deal; at the same time, you can also begin a conservative program of saving and safe investments that will help to ensure your financial stability later on in life. Most people your age will just be starting out in the workforce. If you have a job that allows you to save any money at all, begin to save it with the goal of removing yourself from the so-called “rat race” – that is, being in a position where you have to trade your time for an income stream.You want to bolster a savings account that can serve as an investment core – from these savings, you will be able to secure lines of credit for large asset purchases such as real estate and business. You will also be able to invest in securities and businesses that will give you dividends and other passive income streams. In short, you will building a savings account that will eventually work for you. Continue reading »
School loans, car payments, credit cards… the list of potential debt areas is pretty extensive. We’re all aware of the benefits of paying off debt, and if you’re like me, you probably get a kick out of paying a little extra or finally wiping out a credit card or loan from your list of monthly bills.
So what’s the hack? In order to get the best bang for your buck, follow these 2 steps: 1. Always make your monthly payments. Pay on time to avoid late fees, and where possible, keep credit cards as close to a $0 balance as possible. 2. When you have the freedom to do so, pay down your HIGHEST INTEREST debt first. Focusing on the debt that’s costing you the most money over time will save you money in the long run. Don’t pay above and beyond the required amounts into your other loans.
Interested in learning more about managing your finances? Why not give us a call at 409.276.2525 or come in and visit with a friendly Eastex representative today!
Eastex Credit Union brings its members the first Interactive Teller Machine in Southeast Texas.
What is an ITM?
ITM stands for Interactive Teller Machine. An ITM is innovative technology that offers the convenience of self-service transactions with the personal touch of a teller. Members can receive the same devoted, consistent service, with the efficiency of a machine.
Eastex CU is proud to be the first in our area to provide this convenient service to our membership.
Our New Interactive Teller Machines, will be called “Connect on the Go” and will be installed and ready for use beginning October 2015. The locations will be at 525 Hwy 62 in Buna and Hwy 69 & Maplewood in Kountze… While these ITMs look like an ATM machine, they allow you to have a real-time, face-to-face conversation with an Eastex CU Member Service Representative (MSR) at the machine. This MSR can guide you through every step of your transaction and answer any questions you may have about your account.
Using a two-way video, built-in speakers and a microphone, the Eastex CU Connect on the GO allows you and the MSR to interact as if you were speaking in person. All transactions are safe, private and secure. Most importantly, you can complete almost any transaction that you can with an MSR in our lobby; make deposits, withdrawals, transfers, loan payments, cash checks and more.
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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