Valentine’s Day, the one day a year dedicated to the ones we love. Some participate with a simple “I love you” while others go all out with lavish gifts and events. It’s supposed to be one of the highest ranking holidays for spending! However, with a little bit of imagination and inspiration, Valentine’s Day can still be just as fun and NOT break the bank. Here are a few tips on how to make your Valentine’s Day special without giving you a heart attack.
If you decide to go out to eat, do your homework and make sure the restaurant doesn’t require a reservation. Valentine’s Day also brings into a question if they’ll even take a reservation, increase prices just for the holiday, or have a set menu with limited options. Staying in is also a valid option and you can make Valentine’s Day dinner- their favorite food, dim lights, favorite movie… you’ve got a winner. Choosing to do dinner on another night can also help your budget. Decide to go out on a day before or after Valentine’s Day. You’ll avoid the crowds and it’ll be your own special event- plus half off if it’s after, right?
The flower route can be a little pricier than what you intended but if that’s the route you want to go, remember that your flowers are best when they’ve been properly chilled. Simply put, they’ll last a lot longer which means more bang for your buck. Delivery is great, but wouldn’t it be better to deliver in person? Whether you’re going to a florist, grocery store, or warehouse and pick some out yourself.
For the kids, they smallest things can be exciting! Hearts cut out of construction paper and put in their school lunches, a treasure hunt, heart shaped cookies, using a heart shaped cookie cutter on sandwiches, and biggest tip- make everything red and pink. Serve red jello, red pudding, red apples, toast with strawberry jelly, tomato soup, red applesauce, red kool-aid, strawberry milk, red frosted cookies, anything!
If you’re planning on giving some gifts this year (or gift cards), you might want to look into websites like CardPool or PlasticJungle for discounted gift cards. If you’re buying something online you might have to pay extra to have it delivered by the 14th, which can really add up. Which is why doing your homework is crucial beforehand. If you didn’t, you could utilize a service like ShopRunner and get free shipping during your trial period. Another option for your gift giving is to make it! Homemade gifts are always filled with more love than any other gift. The internet is booming with DIY Valentine’s ideas if you’re a little stumped on this one.
It’s easy to go overboard for Valentine’s Day- but at the end of the day it’s all about celebrating those that we love.
A frivolous purchase beckons. But you’re a responsible adult. You can’t just go spending money, willy-nilly on things you might not need! If only there was a way to get the juicy little item you’re looking at AND feel good about your finances… That’s where this hack comes in!
Go ahead and make your frivolous purchase, THEN transfer the exact same value into your savings account, invest it, or use it as an extra payment towards your mortgage.
This is a hack that ensures you think carefully about your frivolous expenses, and also helps you save! Since it is essentially costing you twice as much, this way you KNOW you really want that new game / gadget / spa date / etc, and you can also feel great about getting it because you’re doing your finances a favor!
Simple enough, right?
Well, just in case you haven’t had your coffee yet, or are just feeling a little slow today, here’s a quick diagram:
Ways to Green Your Home (and keep some greenbacks in your pocket)
Switch to Energy Star-rated CFL bulbs, like GHRI fave Satco’s Mini Spiral S6202; they use 75 percent less energy and last 10 times longer than standard bulbs. You’ll knock $30 off your electric bill for each bulb over its lifetime.
Plant trees around the house strategically (on the south and west sides; shading the air-conditioning unit, if possible) to save up to about $250 a year on cooling and heating.
Install dimmer switches in the living and dining rooms and three bedrooms to dial down electricity fees about $37 a year.
Since 1992 legislation, all new showerheads must have a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute or lower. Replace your old showerhead and save up to $45 a month for a family of four.
Wrap an insulation blanket around your water heater and lower its running cost as much as 9 percent.
Run a full dishwasher whenever possible — it uses half or less of the water and energy of washing the same dishes by hand. And don’t waste water by rinsing before loading (today’s machines are designed to power off the mess).
Invest in a faucet-mounted water filter for a low $30, and use refillable bottles like our top-rated GHRI pick, the Nalgene OTG Everyday 24-ounce bottle. By giving up bottled water, a family of four can save about $1,250 a year.
7 Savings Accounts that will help you prepare for anything!
Even a careful, responsible person can be caught off guard by an unexpected expense. This has always been true. As long as trees are falling on houses or parts of cars can detach from the whole, expenses will arise. The trusted way to deal with this uncertainty in the past has been to develop an emergency fund that you can fall back on when times get tough. Something that has gained a lot of popularity recently is a variation on this idea. Instead of just keeping a generic emergency fund, why not create separate savings accounts for high priority expenses that you need to save for long-term?
This can either take the form of completely separate savings accounts, or a segmented savings account that allows you to deposit and track funds that have a specific purpose. This is an awesome way to prepare for upcoming expenses or ensure that you’re ready for the unexpected. Below are 7 examples of reasons you might start this type of dedicated savings account: Continue reading »
The New Year is here, and you want to change your financial habits. Well you’re not going to get rich overnight, unfortunately. Overnight success is a myth- it really takes years of hard work, but luckily it’s not a huge secret how you can build your wealth.
Spend less than you earn, but more specifically, spend significantly less than you earn. This might seem like common sense to you, but in reality most Americans spend a lot more than they earn. Resulting in debt. If you can ingrain this in your head and make it a habit you’ll be on the right track for financial freedom.
When you’re young you hear this all the time, invest! In reality, the earlier you start investing, the more time your money has to grow which is why it’s so crucial to start at a young age. Even if it’s as little as $20 a week or month, you need to do it. Small amounts can turn into something huge in twenty to thirty years!
Avoiding debt, again it seems like a no brainer here. Debt is your enemy. Those of you still paying off student loans already know this. Debt holds you back from so many financial and worldly opportunities. It should be your sole mission to avoid debt of all forms, if you’re currently in debt, get out of it. Once you are, you can build your wealth.
Save as much money as you can- it’ll help if you are saving for a bigger goal like a house, car, trip, or early retirement. Once you have a meaningful goal start stashing away your money. Save for all your current and future goals.
Finally, you need find a career that you love. You’re not going to be able to realize your full earning capabilities unless you are at least mildly enjoying what you’re doing. Plus, who wants to spend their whole life in a career they don’t enjoy? It might take awhile to find the right fit, but you’ll know when you do.
It’s a new year and one of your goals is to build up your financial wealth. Using these tips to create habits for your daily routine will help get you there. At the end of the day these are really simple but it will be something only you can change!
When people need a loan to buy a car or a house or to consolidate their bills, they often look to banks and forget about credit unions altogether. But that’s a mistake, because credit unions usually have the same choices of loans that banks do, and they often carry lower rates and fees and are easier to get.
Credit Union Mortgages
Most credit unions of any size provide mortgages, and there are several advantages to getting a home loan at a credit union. For one thing, credit unions usually offer lower rates than banks. This is due largely to the fact that credit unions are non-profit and often have lower overhead than banks. Credit unions also don’t sell the mortgages they write to investors, which means their underwriting standards may not be as strict, making it easier for you to qualify. Because credit unions have local ownership and management, they may be more flexible in considering individual circumstances. In addition to purchase mortgages for first homes, many credit unions offer mortgages for second or rental homes, home equity loans and home equity lines of credit.
Credit Union Auto loans
Among the most common loans from a credit union are auto loans. For many credit unions, car loans are their bread and butter. Again, because of credit unions’ non-profit status and lower costs, they often can provide lower rates on car loans than banks can. Whether you are buying a new or used car, you always should include a credit union in your search for loans.
Personal loans from Credit Unions
Most credit unions offer personal loans, which are loans that are not secured by collateral. These loans often are called signature loans, because the only promise the lending institution has that it will get its money back is the borrower’s signature on the loan documents. Because credit unions are smaller, more personal institutions, it may be easier to qualify for a personal loan, especially if you already have a relationship with the institution. And because personal loans already carry very high-interest rates, the possibility of a slightly lower rate from a credit union is very appealing.
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.
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