Using a credit card for everyday purchases is something most of us do. Credit cards are convenient and can help build your credit score. It’s important to make sure you’re using your card the right way! Below are 7 tips you should know about credit cards.
Keeping track of your spending is a MUST. Most credit card issuers have the option of setting up alerts via text or email to let you know how much you’ve spent. Check out cardvalet.com to easily manage your cards and ensure you make your payments on time.
Spending Analysis Tools
This is a great tool to use! It allows you to see how much you’re spending, broken down into categories (restaurants, travel, merchandise, etc.). That way, you can see where you need to cut back on your spending.
Every month, the three major credit bureaus get information about your account from your credit card issuer. This can be sent at any time during the month. If you are charging frequently to your credit card each month, making payments mid-cycle will help keep your credit utilization score lower.
This is for you online shoppers. Using your credit cards rewards mall when making a purchase is a great way to earn extra rewards on everything you spend. Check out uchooserewards.com and earn 1 point for every $1 you spend. Redeemable for cash, merchandise, gift cards and more.
Change your Due Date
Missing a credit card payment is something you don’t want to happen! This is not good for your credit score. If your payment comes at a time of the month where you can’t pay, change the due date. This can be done online or by calling your card issuer provided on your monthly statement.
Having one credit card is great. But, having a couple can really earn you a lot of rewards! Swipe those cards strategically and use our credit card tips to your benefit.
This is a great option if you have debt or need to make a big purchase. Take advantage of the 0% rate on purchases or balance transfers offers. And remember to make your payments on time!
Are you planning a road trip this summer? If so, it’s important that you have all the road trip essentials to make your trip as stress-free as possible! We’ve come up with a list of things you should definitely have when you hit the road:
If you don’t have this app on your phone, get it now! This app gives you the fastest routes to your destination and alerts you when there’s traffic jams or accidents.
Pack your own snacks and food in a cooler. That way, you won’t have to spend as much money on fast food.
License & Registration
You should never leave your house without these! A smart thing is always keep these in your car.
Make sure your spare tire is in good condition before you hit the road.
First Aid Kit
You never know when you might need one, so it’s better to be safe than sorry!
These will come in handy if your bar breaks down in the middle of the night. Make sure to have two with you in case one goes out.
Bugs in the summertime can be a big problem! Especially if you’re planning on going camping, this is an essential.
Water, water, water!!!
Make sure you pack lots of water. Staying hydrated is so important in summer weather.
You can never go wrong with packing toilet paper. The last thing you want is to get stuck somewhere that doesn’t have any!
Phone charger/USB cord
It’s always best to keep a few of these in your car because they are easy to forget.
Road trip playlist
You can’t have a good road trip without the tunes! A great app for making playlists is Spotify. You can share the playlist with everyone joining you on the trip.
You can’t go on a road trip without taking photos! This way you can always look back on the memories of your trip.
If you need to stay connected to the outside world, this is essential.
If you get car sick, don’t bother with this. If not, this is a great way to keep you entertained on a long ride!
If you struggle keeping your kids entertained, this is a great idea. It can make the car ride a lot more fun for everyone!
Squinting is no fun, especially for a long amount of time.
Blankets and Pillows
This is another necessity. It’s great for the kids if they fall asleep in the car!
We all know this is a must right now. The last thing you want is for someone to get sick on your trip. So, wash your hands!!
We can’t go on a trip without our everyday necessities. Toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo & conditioner, razors, hairbrushes, etc.
This is a MUST in the summertime. Especially if you’re headed to the beach or planning on being outside for long periods of time.
Now you’re all ready to hit the road! Use this list when packing for your next road trip because we all know how easy it is to forget things. We hope you have a safe, comfortable and entertaining road trip with all your friends and family!
Keep your card in a safe place the same way you would cash, credit cards or checks. You should never have your card lying around the house or out in the open under any circumstance.
If your card is lost or stolen notify your credit union immediately.
Do not share your Personal Identification Number (PIN) with anyone.
Never share information over the phone about your ATM card or PIN#. No one needs to know what your PIN# is. If you receive a call asking for this information, hang up and call the police.
Using an ATM
Be aware of your surroundings, especially at night. For instance, if you notice any suspicious activity around the machine, do not use it.
Have your card ready and out of your wallet/purse as you approach the ATM.
Inspect the ATM for skimming devices such as sticky residue, scratches, damaged, crooked pieces, or extra attachments in or around the card slot. This is something criminals will apply to the machine in attempt to get your information.
When typing in your PIN, make sure your hand is shielding the keyboard.
Always take your receipts with you.
Once you take out money from the machine, immediately put it in your wallet/purse. Wait to count it until you are locked inside of your car.
If you go to a drive-up ATM, make sure windows are rolled up and doors are locked. If you walk to the ATM, make sure your car is locked.
Using an ATM Safety at Night
Park as close as you can to the ATM, in a well-lighted area.
Take a friend or family member with you, if possible.
If the ATM lights are not working, do not use it.
If anything is blocking the view of the ATM, do not use it and notify your bank.
Hurricane season is fast approaching. We care about the health and safety of our members and want you to take every step you can in protecting you and your family this season. The last few months have been very unpredictable. One thing we try and predict is the weather, so let’s take advantage of that and make sure we are prepared. Below are some basic steps to ensure your safety in case of a storm.
Hurricane Safety Tips:
Stock up on emergency supplies
A hurricane can cause roads to flood or they may be blocked off. Make sure your home and car are stocked with any supplies you may need such as food and water supply, medicine, flashlights, safety and personal items, important documents, etc.
Have a plan
Keep phone numbers handy in your home and program them into your cell phone. Locate the nearest shelter to your home and routes you can take to get there.
Know the difference between a hurricane “watch” and “warning:”
A hurricane watch means that there is a possibility of a hurricane in the area. This is usually announced 48 hours before the expected storm.
A hurricane warning is more serious. It means that a storm is expected in the area and is usually announced 38 hours prior to when they expect the storm.
Prepare your car
Make sure to fill your gas tank, move it into the garage and always keep an emergency kit in your trunk. If you don’t own a car, contact friends and family for help.
Get your family and pets ready
Sit down with your family and make sure they know your emergency plan. Continue to check for updates on the storm and contact the police department, hospitals and public health department for advice if you have a loved one that’s disabled. Find a safe place for your pets and farm animals.
Get your home hurricane safety ready
Move anything from your yard that could blow away and cause damage. Cover up windows and doors and be ready to turn power off. Make sure you have water in case you lose your water supply. Check your carbon monoxide detectors battery to avoid CO poisoning.
Be prepared to evacuate or stay home
Authorities may announce that you need to evacuate your homes. Do not ignore this. You may think your home can uphold the storm but don’t take the chance. If you get an order to stay at home, this means driving conditions may be too dangerous and you will be safer at home.
If you evacuate: Remember to grab your emergency supply kit and unplug any appliances. Take roads that are recommended by emergency workers and do not try to drive through flooded areas.
If you stay home: Make sure your emergency supply kit is in an easy to reach place and keep listing for updates on the storm. Stay inside, away from windows and be ready to leave. If your home gets damaged, you may need to call a neighbor or go to a shelter.
Eastex CU encourages you to follow these steps above in preparing for a hurricane. You can’t stop a storm from coming, but you can take the steps to protect you and your family. Find out steps you can take to stay safe after the hurricane.
Summer is right around the corner. While summer may be a little different this year, we can’t help but think about vacation – an affordable vacation! It’s safe to say we ALL need a vacation after the last few months. Money is probably tight for most us; read the tips below about vacationing on a budget. Traveling doesn’t have to break the bank.
Know Your Preferences
Before deciding where you want to go, know your preferences. Keep an open mind. If you have in your head that you want a five-star luxurious vacation, you may need to save up more money before you can book. If your preference is just relaxing, exploring a different culture, trying new foods, etc. you can definitely be successful on a budget-friendly trip.
Set a Budget
It’s easy to overspend when planning a vacation. That’s why it’s so important to know your budget so you don’t exceed your spending limit. Don’t let the internet tempt you with cheap fares, hotel reviews and various attractions. Those add up quicker than you think. There are many sites out there that allow you to set your budget so they show you only what you can afford. Take advantage of that!
Travel During Off-Season
Traveling during off-season is actually a better time to travel! Less crowds and more relaxation. If you travel during the summer months, you are likely to spend way more than you would in off-season. The best time to go is early in the year to early autumn. The holidays may seem like a good time, but prices go up during this time.
Explore Various Hotel Options
There are a variety of lodging options out there. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on a traditional hotel. Some other options include:
Staying with Friends
These are all very affordable options. Plus, when on vacation, how often are you in your room anyways? You want to be out exploring! So, remember that when looking for your place to stay.
Plan Shorter Trips
If you have a long list of places you want to visit, booking shorter trips may be better. This allows you to explore more places without spending as much. You can even drive to these places which will save you airfare expenses.
Watch for Deals
Trying to plan a last-minute vacation, take advantage of last-minute deals! As long as you have flexibility, you can plan a very affordable vacation. You can’t be as picky about where you’re going if this is the route you want to take. You can find deals for any vacation you want to go on, last-minute or not. So, be on the lookout.
Travel with a Group
Group rates can make things a lot cheaper! Airfare, hotel expenses, and attractions will be way more affordable with a group of people. So, call your friends and family and get them on board! If you’re booking several rooms at the same hotel, you will likely get a deal.
Crowdfunding may be better for a special occasion. If you want to take a trip for graduation, honeymoons, birthdays, etc. Ask your friends and family for help. You can have a set amount and they can donate money to you! You may not get exactly the amount you had in mind, but anything helps.
Take a Volunteer Vacation
For these, you still have to handle your travel expenses, but the rest will most likely be paid for. Some examples include:
Habitat for Humanity- can do a trip to Mexico for $1200 to build structures for 9 days
STA Travel- 15-day Costa Rica trip for $749 working in turtle conservation
International Volunteer HQ- working in an orphanage in Cambodia for $550 for a month
This may not be your ideal vacation, but if you are dying to go somewhere and just can’t make it happen with your budget, this may be the best option for you.
Traveling is something we all want to do! It’s even better when we don’t have to break the bank. As long as you have your priorities set and you keep an open mind about your trip, you will be able to achieve a budget-friendly vacation. Use these tips as your guide when planning and you will be on your way to booking your get-away.
There are many reasons to get a new car; it could be that you require a more reliable, spacious, or modern vehicle. People often trade in their current vehicle for a new one. If you are still making payments on the current car, a dealer will offer to transfer the remaining balance into the new auto loan. This is a tempting offer, but before you take it, make sure you think about it. Examine the available alternatives, and consider the risks of taking the offer. The option could increase the amount you eventually pay for the car.
Disadvantages of Rolling the Current Loan into a New Auto Loan
Transferring or “rolling over” your existing loan can put you in additional debt, and that affects every aspect of your life.
Selling the car outright can also lead to losses because the selling price might not cover the outstanding loan.
In case of an accident, insurance companies will only compensate based on the value of the car, not the “rolled over” excess. you are still responsible to pay the original loan difference.
When possible, drive your existing vehicle until you pay off the debt or pay down the loan so you are not “upside-down” before purchasing a new vehicle. More and more people trade in their current vehicles for one they cannot afford without understanding the consequences.
Look Into Other Means of Payment
It is common for car dealerships to partner with lenders to offer auto loan financing. Although this is convenient, many times car dealership financing may not offer the best interest rates and terms. Before you visit a car dealership, it’s best if you get pre-approved with Eastex Credit Union. You can discuss your budget and terms with an Eastex Loan Officer to ensure you stick to your budget and don’t fall into any traps by salespeople. Our Loan Officers can help you conduct research, discuss extended warranties, guaranteed auto protection, and credit life and disability insurance before you ever step foot into the dealership.
Try Selling the Old Car First
A private sale might give you more money than trading in your car at the dealership. Several websites offer a convenient and user-friendly means of selling used cars. Before selling the car, determine its exact value through available car appraisal sites. Make sure you provide accurate information for mileage and the condition of the vehicle because it will affect the value of the car.
You will need to use the money from the private sale to pay your remaining loan balance. If you owe money after selling the vehicle, you can contact your bank or lender and see if you qualify to transfer the outstanding balance to a private loan or come up with a payment arrangement.
Negotiate For the Best Deal
Before signing the contract to get a new car, do everything possible to get the best price. You can negotiate for a lower down payment and even interest rates. You should also compare prices offered by different car dealerships. Although a dealership may offer an attractive offer for a new car, you should know that its value will significantly depreciate over time, and that will affect its value when it is time to sell the vehicle. Also, if you are in a position try to make a 20% down payment or at least pay tax, title and license fees upfront. In today’s climate, don’t forget to ask for available incentives.
Rolling over your current auto loan into a new auto loan should be the last choice. Make sure you explore every possible alternative before taking the offer. To speak with a loan officer, call 409-276-2525, option 1, or apply online today.
Rain…rain go away, come again another day. We all have those days where nothing seems to go our way. Whether it be a small house repair, flat tire, or parking ticket, it happens to all of us. Because of this, having a rainy day fund can help you be prepared for these unfortunate events. So, what is a rainy-day fund? We are here to tell you!
What is a rainy day fund?
A rainy day fund is similar to an emergency fund. An emergency fund is there to help you with bigger issues like an unexpected surgery or job loss. These funds are for those short-term issues that you can most of the time predict could happen. We know these unexpected things will happen, so let’s be prepared for them.
How much should I save?
The good thing about a rainy day fund vs. an emergency fund is that it’s for less severe issues. With that said, you don’t have to save as much as you would for an emergency fund. For your fund, you may want to have between $200 and $1,000. You shouldn’t need anymore than that to help you take care of a small unexpected expense.
How do I start?
It’s time to dig out that piggy bank! You can stash your funds in a piggy bank or an Eastex Credit Union designated account. Pretty much any place that’s easy for you to access. If you want to start adding cash to it immediately, have a garage sale! Sell things you know you never use. It may be hard to let go of things at first, but you’ll be glad you did.
We encourage you to start saving today. Always expect the unexpected and have your umbrellas ready for those rainy times. If you’d like to open a savings account, we can get you set up with the account that’s right for you. Open an account with Eastex CU today!
Getting a new or used car is a very exciting time. In most cases, you need to get an auto loan to cover the cost of your new or used vehicle. There are a few methods to go about obtaining an auto loan, however, with pros and cons of each.
The best way for you to get an auto loan is dependent on your credit, your financial history, and your personal needs. There are many factors that go into each method listed below. Continue reading to learn more about four of the best ways for you to get an auto loan.
Most dealerships offer financing. These are arrangements made between a dealer and the bank or lender in many instances. This is a very convenient and simple method, but there is a chance of a higher-interest rate due to additional fees and no previous banking relationship.
Some dealerships offer in-house financing. There are certain disadvantages to this option and mainly available to individuals with a lower credit score. The financing department can either be owned by the car dealership themselves, or there could be a partnership arrangement with a specific financing company.
Credit Union Financing
As you know Eastex Credit Union operates as a non-for-profit, as a result we typically offer lower interest rates and minimal fees. If you are a member of a credit union, like Eastex, this could be a great option for your next auto loan.
Before you visit a car dealership, get pre-approved with Eastex Credit Union and take out the middle-man. You can discuss your budget and terms with an Eastex Loan Officer. This will help ensure you stick to your budget and don’t fall into any traps by salespeople. Our Loan Officers can help you conduct research, discuss extended warranties, and guaranteed auto protection. They also look into credit life and disability insurance before you ever step foot into the dealership.
Purchasing a vehicle is very exciting, but it involves many important decisions such as determining the best way to get an auto loan. Among the options above, go with the one you know and trust – Eastex Credit Union. We offer low-interest rates, a personalized experience, and great financing to best meet your needs. To speak with a loan officer, call 409-276-2525, option 1, or apply online today.
Home improvements can be beneficial to you in many ways. First of all, you get to enjoy them! They also add a lot of value to your home, which is great if you’re planning to sell in the future. There are a variety of improvements you can do to your home, but not all add value like you would think. We want to focus on the ones you should be doing. Below are some tips that will help you invest in the right home improvements.
Best Home Improvements
You may be planning to sell your house soon or you may be staying right where you are. Either way, it’s important to know the projects that add the most value to your home.
Garage Door Replacement
This project costs about $3,611 to complete, with a resale value of $3,520. You can regain 97.5% of your investment, which is almost every penny you spent on it! This price estimate is based on turning a two-car garage door into a four-section garage door with heavy-duty steel tracks. This will enhance your home’s curb appeal and is a great investment, especially if you’re planning on selling.
This involves replacing some of the vinyl siding on your home with stone veneer. You will see a lot of these done on a home’s entryway. This adds so much curb-appeal. The price of this type of project costs around $8,907 with a resale value of $8,449. You can regain 94.9% of your investment. The estimate is based on installing 36 linear feet of sills, 46 linear feet of corners and one address block along with two layers of water-resistant barriers and corrosion-resistant lath and fasteners.
This project is FUN. Who doesn’t want a brand-new kitchen? It makes cooking that much better! The price estimate for this project is $22,507 with a resale value of $18,123. You can regain 80.5% of your investment. This involves appliance replacement, energy-efficient models, new cabinets, countertops, hardware, sink/faucet, flooring, and paint.
If you love sitting outside, enjoying the outdoors, this project is for you. A pretty backyard is also very appealing to potential buyers. The price estimate on this is $13,333 with a resale value of $10,083. You can regain 75.6% of your investment. This is based off a 16-by-20-foot deck with railing, pressure-treated wood posts, and balusters.
You don’t want old and worn out siding on your home. This is not attractive to buyers. You want the outside of your home to make people want to see the inside. The average price on this is about $16,036 with a resale value of $12,119. You can regain 75.6% on your investment. This includes upgrading factory film at the openings and corners.
Replacing Front Door
This project costs about $1,826 with a resale value of $1,368. You can regain 74.9% of your investment. This is based on replacing your main front door with a 20-gauge steel door with a clear dual-pane half-glass panel, jambs, and an aluminum threshold. A beautiful front door just makes everyone want to come inside!
If you are thinking about doing some home improvements, do your research. Not all projects will add value to your home, so it’s important to be aware of this! You also want to make sure you have the money to pay for your improvements! You can save your money or use the equity in your home by using a home equity line of credit. Either way, we want you to invest your money the right way. Take advantage of our tips above. We wish you luck on your home improvement projects!
Spring break is just around the corner! Whether you’re heading to warm weather or cold weather, it’s important to know that you can still have fun while on a budget. You don’t want to come home from your vacation stressed because you may have spent too much. So, let’s talk about how we can do spring break on a budget!
Planning Ahead for Spring Break
As spring break is approaching, there is not much more time for planning. Do what you can. Plan restaurant reservations, excursions, and just day-to-day activities as ahead of time as you can to avoid stress and extra last-minute expenses.
Get a Travel Agent
Have a travel agent help you plan your entire vacation and get you the best rates. Some schools even have on-campus travel agents that can help you get special discounts!
Deals, Deals, Deals!
LOOK for DEALS. Check out sites like Restaurant.com, Groupon, and Living social for your destinations. Deals will pop up on these sites for hotels and restaurants.
Talk to Locals
This is a great idea if you’re trying to find places to go on your trip! Locals can tell you the best spots and things that are overpriced.
Skip the Souvenirs
We know it’s fun to buy souvenirs on vacation. But be honest with yourself…most of these things end up sitting in a closet when they get home. Don’t waste your money.
Know the Laws
Make sure you do some research on your destination before going! Especially if you’re going out of the country. The laws can be very different and you don’t want to get a nasty fine that follows you home.
If you’re going with a group of friends, this is great! You can split the costs of cars, hotels, food, etc.
Make a Packing List
We know packing is NO fun. But we advise you to make a list of everything you need to bring and don’t pack last minute. Things like sunglasses, clothes, shoes, toiletries, camera, phone charger, bathing suits, etc. This will save you from forgetting anything and having to buy it on your vacation.
Alcohol can get expensive. Different locations have different prices as well, so it’s smart to just bring your own.
Go for Walking-Distance
Vacations are so convenient when you can just walk everywhere! Pick a place where everything is close by so you don’t have to spend money on gas or a rental car.
Check with Friends/Family
You may have friends or family with a condo or house that you can use. This would save you loads of money if you do! All you would need to do is give them some money for electricity and any food you eat.
Look at Rental Sites
Go on Homestay, Airbnb or VRBO to look for places to stay. These sites have a lot of good deals!
Look up Happy Hours
Ask your hotel or look online for happy hour deals. This way, you can get your drinks for cheap and some restaurants even do happy hour food deals.
If the place you’re staying has a kitchen, make a few of your meals. It’s a lot cheaper than going to restaurants each night.
Many hotels offer a complimentary breakfast. That’s a free meal every day! Take advantage of that. Don’t let that mini-bar tempt you, though. That can be dangerous.
Everyone needs a vacation every once in a while. But you shouldn’t have to be stressed about money the whole time! Take advantage of these tips above. They will help you stay relaxed and stress-free on your vacation. We hope you all have a FUN and SAFE spring break. Share your adventures with us on our Facebook page!
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.
*Annual Percentage Rate. Rates based are based on creditworthiness. Contact credit union for details.
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