Having the best yard on the street doesn’t have to drain your savings account. Here are some budget-friendly lawn care tips to have and maintain a great lawn.
DIY Budget-Friendly Lawn Care
Hiring a landscaping company can be pricey; it’s much more affordable to do as much as you can on your own. The basic equipment you will require depends on your yard, but typically you will need a mower, weed-eater, and some basic gardening tools.
Pick the Right Mower
The type of lawn mower you need is determined by the size of your yard and how much time you are willing to spend cutting the grass every week or two. There are five basic types of mowers and each uses a rotating blade to cut grass at an even height.
- Push Reel Mower– These are the mowers that have been around since the 1830s and feature prominently in the “back in my day” stories that elders tell. These mowers do not have an engine and are powered solely by human force. These are an economical option if you have a small, flat yard.
- Walk-behind Mower– Also called push mowers, these are the most popular type of lawn mower. They can be gas or electric and come with a variety of features, such as self-propelling or wide-area options, which can help you find the best one for your lawn.
- Riding Lawn Mower– This type of mower is best suited for a large yard and is more expensive than the push reel or walk-behind. This mower features a large engine with a transmission and has a seat and gears which can be switched to fit the terrain of the yard and desired length of cut grass.
- Hover Mower– Hover mowers are used mainly by commercial landscapers on steep slopes, waterfronts, and areas with lots of tall weeds. The mowers work by pushing air downwards, which lifts the mower off the ground, so it can float over the grass while cutting.
- Robotic Mower– The most recently invented type of mower is the robotic mower. Much like there are robotic vacuums that will clean your house at the push of a button, the robotic mower will cut your lawn. This mower uses a wire buried a few inches underground, which defines a boundary of areas to be cut. Robotic mowers are powered by electricity and need to be docked prior to use, and the most recent models can be controlled remotely by a smartphone.
Make Your Own Lawn Treatments
Avoid handing over your hard-earned money for things you can make yourself for a fraction of the price. Fertilizing your lawn in the spring and fall can help it look healthy all year and helps to control weeds, but fertilizer is expensive. You can make your own budget-friendly lawn care fertilizer by composting your yard debris, such as leaves and grass clippings, and kitchen scraps, like fruit and vegetable peels and coffee grounds. Herbicides and insect sprays can also be made at home with common ingredients such as vinegar, dish soap, and garlic.
Watering your lawn frequently is a quick way to run up your water bill. Grass needs only about an inch of water per week and a single watering that soaks the roots can be more beneficial than frequent light watering. Also, check the weather forecast before you turn on the sprinkler. If rain is imminent, you might be able to skip watering that week. The time of day that you water your lawn is also important. Watering at mid-day means that most of the water sprayed on your lawn will be evaporated by the sun. Watering in the morning before it is too hot is the most effective time to turn on the sprinklers. To save even more money on watering, connect rain barrels to your house’s gutters and use the collected rainwater on your yard and plants.
At Eastex Credit Union, we want your yard to be the envy of the neighborhood. If you need help financing a new lawn mower, speak with one of our friendly loan officers today. Call us at 866-445-9622 or stop by any of our convenient locations and we’ll help find the best option for you and your lawn.
Sources: LawnEQ.com and U.S.News.com
Texas is known for having long, hot summers and the best way to cool down on a hot day is swimming. As the temperature soars in the 90s and you are scouting out the nearest swimming hole, you might start dreaming about having your own backyard pool. Let’s dive into the financial costs that come with owning a swimming pool, which primarily fall into three categories: initial investment, ongoing maintenance, and insurance.
Initial Investment of Owning a Swimming Pool
The amount of money you will be spending initially depends on the type of pool you want. The typical above ground pool costs less than $5,000, whereas inground pools that require heavy machinery to excavate the pool’s spot cost between $15,000-40,000 and higher, depending on the pool’s size and if the basic material used is vinyl, fiberglass, or concrete. The pool’s pump and decorative features, such as the shape of the pool, light fixtures, decorative tiles, diving boards, and slides will also add to the initial cost of installing a pool, as can fences and locks that are required for compliance with local safety codes.
Pool maintenance must be performed regularly to avoid having a backyard frog pond and mosquito habitat. Pools require frequent skimming to remove leaves and other debris that can clog the filter and vacuuming the things that have settled to the bottom of the pool. The sides of the pool need to be brushed prior to vacuuming to prevent build-up on the walls, and the pool filters need to be cleaned regularly. The water level needs to be maintained at the proper depth and will require refilling as necessary due to evaporation by the sun and water displacement from epic cannonballs. The pool water will require chemicals to maintain a balanced pH, and shock treatments will be necessary to reduce the ammonia and nitrogen that builds up over time. There are additional costs and maintenance that must be done when winterizing your pool after the swimming season, and prior to opening the pool. When problems, such as leaks, broken filters, and damaged pump motors occur, they can be pricey to repair. You should expect to spend between $100-300 each month for regular maintenance and budgeting for possible repairs is a good idea.
Insurance and Other Costs
When you have a backyard pool, you should expect to pay more for your home owner’s insurance. You will likely be required to have a certain level of liability coverage by your home insurance provider, due to the increased risk associated with owning a pool. Checking with your insurance provider should be the first step you take when looking into installing a pool in your yard. They will be able to give you an idea of how much you can expect to spend in your area and can put you in touch with reliable pool companies. Additional costs associated with pool ownership are higher electricity and water bills each month. The pool requires electricity to run its pump, filter, heater, and vacuum and water is needed to initially fill the pool and then to maintain the appropriate water level.
If your yard is not suitable for a pool, you might consider looking for properties that already have a pool. If you are interested in a property with a pool, be sure to have it inspected by a professional prior to signing the contract. Also, keep in mind that you do not always recoup the amount spent on a pool when you sell the house. While some people see a backyard pool as a selling point, others don’t see it as value-enhancing. If the costs associated with owning a pool are prohibitive, considering joining a community pool for a place to cool off while spending a fraction of what having your own pool would cost.
If you have carefully considered the costs and are ready to suit up and jump into your own pool, let Eastex Credit Union help with the financing. Speak with one of our friendly loan specialists by calling 866-445-9622 or come see us at any of our branch locations.
Sources: U.S. News and HomeAdvisor.com
Meal prepping is a trend that has recently taken America by storm – and for good reason. A great way to ensure healthy eating without spending time going to the grocery store or preparing it every day, it’s clear to see why many families are incorporating meal prepping into their weekly routines.
What is Meal Prepping?
Meal prepping is the act of taking one or two recipes, cooking them in bulk, and dividing them up into daily portion sizes to freeze and heat up every day. By creating all of your meals for the week, you no longer have to spend time cooking every day – which also helps you save money by eliminating that ever-present urge to just get takeout instead!
Many meal preppers find that establishing a meal plan ahead of time and then choosing a day off from work to pick up the ingredients at the grocery store and prepare all of the meals that day – depending on your work schedule, Sunday and Wednesday seem to be the best days.
Once you have cooked all of your food for the week, divide it up into Tupperware containers (make sure they are high-quality enough to withstand a few days in the freezer without freezer burn!) and store in the fridge or freezer, depending on what you cook.
Can You Meal Prep on a Budget?
Of course! Eating cheaply doesn’t mean breaking out the Ramen Noodles and Easy Mac anymore. In fact, by planning your meals ahead of time, you are able to avoid common money wasters like impulse buying, over-purchasing products, and leftover food waste.
Here are a few easy ways to eat healthier on a budget:
Take Stock of What Food Items You Already Have in Your Pantry
Nothing is more frustrating than being in the grocery store wondering if you already have cumin in the pantry at home, or if you need to buy more. Inevitably, it seems, you always make the wrong decision! Apps such as Out of Milk and websites like SuperCook help keep track of what food you already have, and what ingredients you’ll need to pick up from the store. By knowing this information ahead of time, you can also check out local grocery store deals and coupons to further save money.
Make Sure You Have the Necessary Tools
There are certain methods of cooking that can save a lot of time, but you need to be sure you have the right tools to do it! Foods such as stews, casseroles, and soups can produce a lot of food at a relatively low cost, but you need to have either a slow cooker, or a big pot to make large quantities at one time. You’ll most likely need larger pots and pans for the majority of your meal prep cooking, as you’ll be baking in much larger quantities than normal dinners. In addition, it’s always smart to have a meat thermometer in the kitchen to ensure everything is cooked correctly!
While it may seem like your kitchen will be destroyed after a day of meal prepping (true, it does get a little messy!) you can always look up ways to minimize the number of dishes you use. Check out this list of 27 healthy recipes you can cook on one sheet pan – delicious and practical! For those who prefer to primarily use crock pots, be sure to use slow cooker liners to make clean-up a breeze.
Cook Recipes That Yield A LOT of Food – But Will Stay Fresh!
Meal prepping doesn’t necessarily mean you’re also on a diet, so it’s important to be sure that you make enough food so that each portion fills you up adequately every day. However, you should be sure that whatever you are preparing will stay fresh throughout the week, or you might decide a tasty burger sounds a lot better! Here are a few foods that keep very well in the refrigerator or freezer:
- Chicken Breast
- Rice (especially brown rice)
- Ground meats (like beef & turkey)
To start putting together a collection of meal prep recipes, start here to find some quick and healthy meal prep recipes to get started!
Eastex wants to help you save money any way we can, and meal prepping is just one of the many ways to do so. Another great way to save money is to open up a savings account with us – our three savings plans offer the best options for kids, young adults, and seniors.
Having a large number of official state symbols is unsurprising when you consider the vast size of the state and geological and cultural differences within the boundaries of it. Texas has a rich, diverse cultural heritage and tangible representations of it and its natural resources have become official symbols for the state. State symbols began to be adopted following the creation of a “National Garland of Flowers” for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, where each state was represented by a particular type of flower. The trend expanded from there and now each state has many symbols that acknowledge the unique natural beauty, landscape features, and cultural heritage of each.
Every Texan knows that the State Flower is the Bluebonnet and the State Nickname is The Lone Star State, but how many know what the State Dinosaur or State Snack is? Here is a list of some of the well-known and not-so-well-known Texas State Symbols:
State Amphibian – Texas Toad
State Bird – Mockingbird
State Crustacean – Texas Gulf Shrimp
State Dinosaur – Paluxysaurus Jonesi
State Dog Breed – Blue Lacy
State Fish – Guadalupe Bass
State Flying Mammal – Mexican Free-Tailed Bat
State Horse – American Quarter Horse
State Insect – Monarch Butterfly
State Large Mammal – Longhorn
State Pollinator – Western Honey Bee
State Reptile – Texas Horned Lizard
State Saltwater Fish – Red Drum
State Sea Turtle – Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle
State Small Mammal – Nine-Banded Armadillo
State Flower – Bluebonnet
State Grass – Sideoats Grama
State Native Shrub – Texas Purple Sage
State Plant – Prickly Pear Cactus
State Shrub – Crape Myrtle
State Tree – Pecan Tree
State Waterlily – Nymphaea Texas Dawn
State Bread – Pan de Campo
State Cobbler – Peach Cobbler
State Dish – Chili
State Fruit – Texas Red Grapefruit
State Health Nut – Pecan
State Native Pepper – Chiltepin
State Pastries – Sopaipilla and Strudel
State Pepper – Jalapeño
State Pie – Pecan Pie
State Snack – Tortilla Chips & Salsa
State Squash – Pumpkin
State Vegetable – Texas Sweet Onion
State Cooking Implement – Cast Iron Dutch Oven
State Epic Poem – Legend of Old Stone Ranch
State Fiber & Fabric – Cotton
State Folk Dance – Square Dance
State Footwear – Cowboy Boot
State Gem & Gemstone Cut – Texas Blue Topaz & Lone Star Cut
State Hat – Cowboy Hat
State Motto – Friendship
State Music – Western Swing
State Musical Instrument – Guitar
State Nickname – The Lone Star State
State Precious Metal – Silver
State Railroad – Texas State Railroad
State Shell – Lightning Whelk
State Ship – U.S.S. Texas
State Song – Texas Our Texas
State Sport – Rodeo
State Stone – Petrified Palmwood
State Tall Ship – Tall Ship Elissa
State Tartan – Texas Bluebonnet Tartan
State Tie – Bolo Tie
State Vehicle – Chuck Wagon
Sources: State Symbols USA, Bullock Museum, and Texas State Library and Archives Commission
While there are fewer visual reminders of last year’s hurricane season, one industry that continues to be impacted is the auto industry. Hundreds of thousands of new and used cars were flooded in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Some of the flooded vehicles are still showing up for sale in markets across the United States. While selling a vehicle that has flood damage is legal, not disclosing that information to the buyer is illegal. If you are in the market for a new or used automobile, here are some tips on how to avoid buying a flooded car that may have undisclosed flood damage:
- Look for mud on the carpets, which can indicate water was inside a flooded car. New carpets in an older vehicle could also be suspicious.
- How does it smell? If there is a musty, stale odor, especially when running the air conditioner, there is a good chance there was standing water in the vehicle.
- Check the headlights for water lines and trapped moisture. Also, check for fogging on interior lights and excessive condensation on windows.
- Check under the hood, beneath the spare tire, and in gaps in the trunk for debris in hard to reach places.
- Look for signs of rust on unpainted surfaces and screws. Oxidation under the hood can also appear as a white powder or create small holes.
- Check to see if the rubber drain plugs are in place under the car and on the bottoms of doors. If they are missing, it may be because they were removed to drain floodwater.
- Test all the electrical components. Sunroofs, radios, Bluetooth systems, lights, wipers, automatic door locks, windows, air conditioning and heat, automatic seats, rear cameras, and all other electric devices within the car should be checked for consistent performance. Erratic performance is a strong indicator of possible water damage.
If you have found an automobile that passes all the above inspections, be sure to check the VIN number before signing anything. A reputable dealer or salesperson will be forthcoming with any possible issues the auto may have and don’t hesitate to have your trusted mechanic inspect it as well. When buying a car, it’s important to remember that if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Sources: The Morning Call, The New York Times, and Consumer Reports
Spring semester is here already, and before you know it Summer will be over and then…COLLEGE. We know you’ve waited for what seems like forever to get to college, and all your hard work has finally paid off. Have you decided where you are going, or still trying to decide between a few prospects? In addition to the quality of the education you will receive at each school, you should be aware of the financial cost to attend as well.
The price tag to attend college is much more than just the tuition costs. For the 2017-2018 academic year, the cost to attend a public in-state college averaged $25,290, although tuition averaged only $9.970. The cost to attend a private college averaged $50,900, with $34,740 being tuition. Tuition is generally charged according to units or hours per semester or quarter and can be more expensive for certain degree programs and for out-of-state students. In addition to tuition, colleges charge fees for services, such as student government and campus transportation and being able to use facilities like the library, recreational centers, and on-campus parking. Housing and meals for the academic year can cost as much as tuition and some schools have room and board requirements for freshmen. Textbooks and other supplies you need, such as a computer, also add to the overall price tag to attend college.
We know how expensive it can be, that’s why Eastex wants to help ease the expenses of college life!
We are happy to announce Eastex CU Scholarships: six $500 Scholarships to award to six deserving applicants. These applicants will be 2017 – 2018 graduating high school seniors and current college underclassmen that are members of this credit union and meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Submit a completed application (click here for the application).
- Submit a 250-word essay entitled “What field of study do you plan to seek? What are the most important issues your field is facing today?”
- Proof of a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.5.
- Two letters of recommendations from professors (underclassmen).
- An official transcript of classes (underclassmen)
- The applicant must be a member in good standing with Eastex CU.
To apply for one of the Eastex CU Scholarships, click here to download the scholarship application and to learn more about our criteria and eligibility. Local senior students and currently enrolled underclassmen are strongly encouraged to apply.
Deadline is Friday, April 13, 2018
For Saint Patrick’s Day this year, in addition to wearing green to avoid being pinched, consider going green as well. We’re not suggesting that you paint yourself green, we’re simply giving you some ideas of easy things you can do to be more environmentally-friendly. Go green with Eastex with these helpful everyday tips!
- Support your local farmers. Buying locally produced foods helps to cut down on pollution by reducing the transportation requirements needed to bring the item to you. This is also a great way to meet the growers in your area and ensure you are eating the freshest available fruits and veggies.
- Generate less waste. Find ways that you can reduce how much garbage your household creates. Some easy ones to try are switching from plastic water bottles to a sturdy reusable tumbler, composting food scraps to make a rich soil for your garden or flowerbeds, using real plates rather than disposable ones, and donating gently used items you no longer want to a local thrift store or charity rather than tossing them in the trash.
- Borrow or rent instead of buying. If you have a project that requires special equipment, see if you can borrow it from an acquaintance or rent it from a store. Special events, such as weddings and proms, are also a time when there are options to rent everything from dresses and accessories to decorations.
- Share your Leftovers. Prior to your next big family reunion, quinceañera, or annual crawfish boil, have a plan for what to do with the inevitable leftovers. You can ask your church or food bank if there is someone who might appreciate having a meal delivered to them, send a plate home with each guest, and deliver each of your neighbors a slice of cake. If you used fresh flowers for your event, afterward you can deliver them to nursing homes and hospitals to help brighten up someone’s day.
You can Go Green at Eastex CU too!
We believe that taking care of our members means taking care of our community too!
- Bank Online. Save fuel by making transfers, viewing your statements, and applying for a loan or new account online, safely and securely.
- Sign-Up for E-Statements. Ditch the paper and get electronic statements instead.
- Use Mobile Deposit. Save paper and fuel by downloading the Android or iPhone app and using Eastex CU Mobile Deposit feature. With it, you can securely deposit checks into your checking or savings by simply taking a photo.
- If your employer offers direct deposit, sign up. You can skip a trip to the credit union on payday and have your payroll deposited directly into your account.
Teachers have the most important job in the world. They are responsible for educating the future leaders, entrepreneurs, writers, inventors, doctors, and every other profession imaginable. Teachers are hard workers, always busy interacting with students and adapting lesson plans and teaching methods to make sure the concepts and material is not just memorized but comprehended. They continually inspire and encourage their students and help teach them the life skills necessary to be a productive, kind, and educated member of society.
Teachers invest lots of their personal time to their students, by tutoring those who need some extra help after school, scheduling conferences with parents in the evenings, and grading papers late into the night. They also invest their own money into creating classrooms that will inspire and excite their students. While most schools have lists of supplies that students in each grade will need, teachers are often left purchasing their own supplies when those are depleted. In addition to serving every other hard-working member of the community, Eastex Credit Union is proud to consider itself a credit union for teachers. That’s why we created a way to help ease the financial burden for five local teachers.
Teachers Deserve Extra Credit
Eastex Credit Union will award $500 to one teacher from each of the following school districts; Buna, Evadale, Kirbyville, Kountze & Silsbee ISD’s. Eastex CU wants to provide teachers with the tools and resources required to shape their student’s future.
Award Entry Details
Each entry must include the following information:
- Completed Online Application Click here for Application.
- Minimum 500 Word Essay: The essay must consist of a minimum of 500 words explaining why the entrant’s classroom deserves this award and how it will impact the students.
- A $500 Extra Credit Award will be given to one teacher from each of the following school districts: Buna, Evadale, Kirbyville, Kountze & Silsbee ISD’s for a total of $2,500 awarded.
- Only one entry per teacher. No transfers of award allowed.
- The award winners will receive a check for $500. Winners are to use the money for classroom supplies or related items.
- Winners agree to provide pictures of items purchased with the Extra Credit Award. These pictures may be used in Eastex CU newsletter, website and social media.
- Winners will be announced at respective “Back To School” breakfast or lunch. Eastex CU is the sole judge of all matters regarding the Extra Credit Award and reserves the right to change, modify or discontinue the award at any time without notice. All decisions by Eastex CU are final.
Application Deadline: Monday, April 30, 2018
Only complete applications will be considered. Applications must be received by 11:59pm on 4/30/18.
For questions or additional information please contact Connie Hawthorne via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March Madness and Sweet Sixteen are terms that are heard everywhere this time of year. Typically, they are referencing the best college basketball teams in the country, but our sweet sixteen list is compiled of the sixteen top things about Eastex Credit Union.
16. Convenient branches. With full-service branches in Evadale, Kirbyville, Silsbee, and Kountze, plus a Connect on the Go in Buna, you have several locations to choose from.
15. ATM Partners. We offer our members the benefit of withdrawing cash from other credit union locations surcharge-free. The list of no-surcharge credit union partners is available here.
14. Budgeting Tools. Make informed financial decisions with the help of Eastex CU’s financial calculators. Estimate your monthly mortgage or auto payments, plan for retirement, and see how much you can save with these helpful budget tools.
13. Safe Deposit Boxes. Rest easy knowing that your most valuable documents are safe, secure, and protected in an indestructible steel safe deposit box designed to hold up against fire, theft, and flooding. Safe deposit boxes are available at our Silsbee branch.
12. Transparency. By having an account at Eastex CU, you are a shareholder. As a shareholder, you are invited to our annual meetings and have access to the information compiled for our annual reports.
11. Payment Protection. At Eastex, we are proud to offer payment protection services to keep our members’ lives, homes, and finances secure.
10. Deposit Insurance. Each and every account our members have comes with deposit insurance up to $250,000, which is provided by ASI.
9. IRAs. Make Eastex part of your retirement plan. We offer two types of IRA accounts, Traditional and Roth.
8. Certificates. Grow your savings with investment certificates from Eastex. You can open one with as little as $500 and terms as short as three months.
7. Credit Cards. Visa credit cards from Eastex CU feature low-interest rates, no annual fees, interest-free grace periods, and rewards. They are a great way to build credit and nice to have for unexpected expenses.
6. Savings. At Eastex CU, your savings account earns dividends that are calculated and paid quarterly.
5. Mobile Banking and Online Banking Account Access. Stay on top of your finances by being able to access your Eastex CU accounts, no matter where you are.
4. Teaching Financial Responsibility. Teaching the younger generations how to be financially smart is a top priority. We strive to do this with our iSaveCU and CU Days at Your School initiatives.
3. Community Involvement. We are committed to giving back to the communities we serve. Local scholarships, fundraisers, and sponsorships are just a few of the ways we support our towns.
2. Best Loans. Whether you’re buying an automobile, motorcycle, ATV, RV, farm equipment, new home, renovating, or just need a vacation, we’ve got the best loans in Southeast Texas.
1. Our Members. The top thing about Eastex CU is our members. They are definitely the winners in our bracket.
Going to college is essential in order to obtain the necessary skills and training for most jobs these days. However, the costs associated with college are increasingly high and the majority of students need financial assistance in order to attend. There are 44.2 million Americans who have student loan debt, and an estimated 70% of students graduate college with debt. These numbers are staggering, but it is possible to borrow responsibly for college. February is Financial Aid Awareness Month, the purpose of which is to provide students and families crucial information regarding federal, state, and institutional student aid and how to borrow smartly.
Once you begin applying to colleges, you should be thinking about how you will be paying for school. Tuition costs can be drastically different from school to school, so be sure to take these costs into consideration when sending out applications. If you receive scholarship offers, be aware of what exactly is included and what you will still be responsible for. Scholarships are frequently for set dollar amounts, or cover tuition only, leaving the student responsible for all other associated costs, such as housing, meal plans, books, and additional university fees. Many colleges will have calculators available on their website which can provide a realistic overview of what it will cost to attend that school.
Financial aid is available so that students can attend college even if they can’t pay their tuition ahead of time, and scholarships and assistance from family members are not enough. There are many ways students can get financial aid for college, including:
- Being financially qualified to receive it based on income
- Performing well academically
- Being a first-generation college student
- Talented in sports
- Planning to pursue a degree in a specific field
- Serving in the military
- Agreeing to work in particular locations or certain fields after graduation
- Having a special need or disability
Even if you think you will not qualify for financial aid, you should still fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is used not only for financial aid, but to determine eligibility for federal and state student grants, fellowship programs, work-study opportunities, and federal loans.
If you are a graduating senior or college underclassman, be sure to apply for Eastex Credit Union’s scholarship. Every year we select six of our members to receive $500 to be used towards their education. In order to be considered for this scholarship you must submit a completed application (click here for the application), a 250-word essay, official transcript, two letters of recommendation, have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher and be in good standing with the credit union. More information about our scholarships is available here.
Sources: Fastweb.com, NASFAA.org, and FAFSA.ed.gov
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