Jul 16, 2020
credit card tips

credit card tips

7 Credit Card Tips You Should Know

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.

Balance Alerts

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.

Mid-Cycle Payments

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.

Rewards Cards

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.

Be Strategic

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.

APR Promotions

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!

Jun 18, 2020
Road Trip

Road Trip

Plan the ultimate summer road trip

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:

Waze

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.

Cooler

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.

Spare Tire

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!

Flashlight

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.

Bug Spray

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.

Toilet Paper

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.

Cameras

You can’t go on a road trip without taking photos! This way you can always look back on the memories of your trip.

Portable Wifi

If you need to stay connected to the outside world, this is essential.

Books

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!

Travel Games

If you struggle keeping your kids entertained, this is a great idea. It can make the car ride a lot more fun for everyone!

Sunglasses

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!

Hand Sanitizer

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!!

Toiletries

We can’t go on a trip without our everyday necessities. Toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo & conditioner, razors, hairbrushes, etc.

Sunscreen

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!

Jun 11, 2020
newlywed scene at wedding ceremony

newlywed scene at wedding ceremony

Getting married can be a dream come true for many. While you may have visions of happily ever after, you do need to consider the reality of your finances. There are some common financial hurdles that most newlyweds find themselves facing at one point or another throughout their marriage.

Not Knowing Each Other’s Financial Story

Finances are one of those areas that people tend to clam up about. We’ve all made financial mistakes in the past and admitting them is the first step in getting rid of them. For this reason, it’s important that you sit down with your significant other and discuss your financial history. This will help you both understand each other’s experiences with money in the past and the attitudes you’ve developed towards it.

When you can understand your partner’s experience with finances, you can better determine how to approach them in the future. You may find that your spouse likes to eat out often. After you talk about your financial history, you may find out that as a kid they were always told they couldn’t eat out because their parents couldn’t afford it. The fact of them wanting to eat out often nowadays is likely due to the fact that they feel wealthier and more capable than their parents.

Poor Credit Secrets

If you’ve never talked about your finances with your partner, you may be in for a rude awakening. Poor credit issues, high credit card debt, and even charged-off accounts can lead to difficulties in the future. When you go to apply for a mortgage or a new car loan, you don’t want to find out that your partner has horrible credit. It’s better to discuss credit issues now so that you both know how to approach credit situations in the future. It’s never good to keep money secrets from your partner as it will just resurface at some point in the future.

Sticking To A Budget

When you’re in love, it can be very easy to do all that is in your power to make your spouse happy. However, this love can fuel unhealthy habits with respect to your budget. Many newlyweds find it difficult to stick to a budget in the beginning. This is usually a result of poor planning. It’s best to take some time to set some financial boundaries that will keep you both on track.

A great one is to set a specific dollar amount that you both agree on and not spend above unless you check with the other partner. Depending on your budget, this can be as little as $50 or as high as $250. It’s really up to you, your partner and budget. Take some time to work on budget boundaries so that you’re both on the same page when it comes to spending your income(s).

Not Planning Financially For Children

Children are a large financial expense that will last for at least 18 years or more. You need to take the time to plan out how you’re going to fund children in the future. Many couples avoid this conversation because they believe it’s too early to talk about kids. The truth is that it’s never too early to discuss children and how they’re going to alter your financial future.

Newlyweds face a lot of issues together in their first few years of marriage. Finances tend to be one of the biggest. By understanding the top financial hurdles above, you and your partner can better prepare your financial future to avoid these hurdles.  Connect with a financial advisor at Eastex CU to overcome potential hurdles.

Jun 4, 2020
ATM Safety

ATM Safety

Safety Tips to Protect Your ATM Card

  • 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.

May 28, 2020
rings for newly weds

rings for newly weds

Getting married is one of the most eventful things many people will do in their lives. And along with all the excitement of being newlyweds comes the reality of having to share your finances. Money issues are among the top things that married couples fight about, which is why it’s important for newly married couples to work on financial planning. Here are some tips about what to focus on.

Set a budget

One of the most important things newly married couples can do is to sit down and formulate a monthly budget. Partners often have very different spending habits, so setting a budget sets guidelines and puts compromises down on paper. You should list all necessary expenses as well as discretionary spending and also look for places where it makes sense to consolidate. For example, if you have separate gym memberships, it might make sense for you to both join the same gym.

Decide on checking and savings accounts

Most married couples tend to pool their finances in joint accounts such as checking and savings, but some prefer to keep those accounts separate. One possible solution might be to have a joint account for things such as rent and other necessities and then keep separate accounts for discretionary spending.

Identify priorities

It’s often assumed that people get married with the aim of having children, but that’s not always the case. While children might be a priority for a newlywed couple, they may not want to start a family for a few years. It’s important to quickly identify what each partner’s main financial priorities are and find areas of agreement or compromise. For example, you might rank priorities such as saving for a home first, financially preparing for a family, second, and saving for retirement, third.

Layout tasks, expectations

Even if a couple decides to essentially consolidate all their finances and make joint decisions on everything, there still is the task of carrying out those decisions and who will do that. For example, will the couple split up the bill-paying duties or will they fall to one person for consistency’s sake? Will both spouses be responsible for balancing the books or will one take on the task with assistance from the other?

Solve points of conflict

Even two spouses who are very similar in their views on finances aren’t going to agree on everything, so it’s important to identify points of conflict and how to deal with them. For example, one spouse might be debt-averse while the other has no trouble borrowing for a car or some other large purchase. If one spouse earns significantly more than the other, that also could be a point of conflict when it comes to spending. A key to making newlywed finances run smoothly is to identify these conflicts early on and work out ways to deal with them.

There are a lot of serious issues that can sink a marriage, but finances shouldn’t be one of them. Communication and willingness to compromise are among the key factors that should be included for newlyweds to have success in financial planning. To approach your financial planning, give Eastex CU a call.

May 21, 2020
Hurricane Safety

Hurricane Safety

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.

May 14, 2020
kid planning finances with coin

kid planning finances with coin

Having a plan for the future is a good thing, especially plans that concern finances and the best way to reach your financial goals are by saving money. The good thing about saving is that in the end, it gives you money security. However, saving it’s not a walk in the park, you’ll have to sacrifice a lot to meet your savings targets.

Having a kid is a blessing and having plans for that kid is a great thing. One of these great plans is securing your kids’ education. You will realize that in most countries, college student’s loans are acquired through government institutions. This later becomes a burden when one has to repay, especially if you have a lower-income job.

Saving college funds for your kid can guarantee him/her a good and ample learning time in college. For you to start saving college funds you’ll have to employ proper planning. The following tips can help you on how to do so.

1. Choose an account that earns interest and is not taxable during withdrawal

If you are a parent, you’ll have to research to determine the best account for you to save for your kid college fund. The most likely account that is recommended for education Is a 529 account and Education Savings Account (ESA). These accounts enable you to earn interest and they are not taxable when you want to withdraw. This means that in the long run, you will earn extra cash depending on the period you had saved the funds. Another advantage of this account is the 529 plan; it is operated by the state and besides exempting you from paying taxes, it has a higher limit to allow you to save as much as you want to meet your financial educational needs. Remember the earlier you start saving for college funds the faster you will manage to meet your goals.

2. Make use of available scholarship, sponsorship, and bursaries

Make use of scholarships, bursaries, and sponsorships that are available in your current child’s grade; after all this is free money. By doing this the money that you could have spent on that grade/term, you can use it to save your kids’ college fund and also help you meet your target faster.

3. Project for a college that you can afford

Unless your kid earns a sponsorship or scholarship go for the ones you can afford. You can visit any of your college preferences, look at the current tuition fee, try to see how the fee rises annually, and generate an approximate figure you are likely to pay when your kid is about to join the college. This will help your strategies on how much you’ll be saving before your child attends college. Also make sure you check for other college expenses such as dormitory fees, food expenses’, school trips, and book costs and include them in your budget.

4. Know when to start saving

Financial gurus advise that you should not scrap your retirement aid to pay for your kids’ college funds and that is why you will have to choose whether your kid should attend local or out-of-state college or whether private or public university.

College funds can be overwhelming, but we can help get you there. Contact Eastex CU to get the ball rolling!

May 7, 2020
Affordable Vacation

Affordable Vacation

Save Money with an Affordable Vacation Plan

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:

  • Hostels
  • Vacation Rentals
  • Staying with Friends
  • Airbnb

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

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.

Let us know if Eastex can help!

Apr 30, 2020
financial planning for new baby

financial planning for new baby

There are a lot of important decisions that you will have to make as a new parent – one being how to plan your budget. There are several important financial decisions that you need to consider.

Get Life Insurance And Disability

You probably already know that it is important to have health insurance. However, it is just as important for you to have disability and life insurance. Life insurance will ensure that your family is still taken care of if something happens to you. Disability insurance will cover you if you become ill or disabled and are unable to work.

Create a Budget

You are probably well aware of the fact that having a child can be expensive. One of the best things that you can do to prepare for the expenses is to set a budget. This will ensure that you do not overspend and have enough money for the extras that your baby needs.

Increase Your Emergency Fund

There are a lot of unexpected things that can happen. For example, you could lose your job, get sick or have another big unexpected expense. It is a good idea to have at least three months of expenses in your emergency fund. This means that if you have $3,000 in expenses each month, then you will need to have at least $12,000 in your savings account.

Take Advantage of Your Tax Breaks

Even though having a child can be expensive, you may be able to take advantage of the tax breaks. For example, if you will need child care, then you can get a Child And Dependent Care Credit. It can cover anywhere from 20 to 35 percent of your child care expenses.

You may also be able to use a flexible spending account. This is a program that you get through your employer. You can set aside up to $5,000 per year to cover your child care expenses. You can use a child and dependent care credit for children up to the age of 13.

Don’t Rush to Buy a New Home

When many people have a baby, they automatically decide to buy their first home or move into a larger one. However, depending on your circumstances, that may not necessarily be the best decision. You will have to save up for a down payment and pay for moving costs. Ask to speak with an Eastex Mortgage Loan Officer to discuss when is the best time for you to buy a new home.

Meet With a Financial Planner

It is possible for you to budget and plan for your financial future on your own. However, it will be a lot easier for you to budget if you meet with a financial planner. They can help you plan for major investments that you may have to make, such as paying for your child’s college. Your financial planner can also help you plan for your retirement.

Your child will not go to college for several years. You may not be able to retire for several years. However, the earlier you start, the better. Being a new parent can be an exciting adventure, connect with the professionals at Eastex CU to limit the hurdles.

Apr 16, 2020
man getting New auto loan

man getting New auto loan

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.


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