Apr 9, 2020
Rainy Day

Rainy Day

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!

Apr 2, 2020
Auto loan for new car

Auto loan for new car

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.

Dealership Financing

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.

Final Thoughts

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. 

Mar 26, 2020
Painting

Painting

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.

Stone Veneer

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.

Kitchen Remodel

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.

Deck Addition

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.

Replace Siding

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!

Mar 12, 2020

Spring break at the beach

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.

Split Costs

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.

BYOB

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.

Cook!

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.

Hotel Freebies

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!

Mar 5, 2020
student applying for a scholarship

Applying for scholarships

The cost of college is going up. That is why most people have to take out a loan in order to cover the cost of their education. The good news is that you can offset the cost of college by getting scholarships. There are several reasons that you should apply for a scholarship.

Simple Application Process for Scholarships

The type of scholarship that you apply for will determine what you will have to do to apply. However, the application process is usually simple. In fact, there are some scholarships that you can get without writing an essay. Spending a few minutes filling out applications can help you get thousands of dollars.

Avoid Student Loan Debt with Scholarships

You probably know someone who has a lot of student loan debt. Student loan debt can be a pain to deal with. However, you may be able to avoid student loan debt if you apply for scholarships. There are millions in scholarships that go unclaimed each year.

State Support Has Decreased

In the past, you could get a significant amount of funding from the state. However, funding has decreased significantly. That is why you may not be able to get much funding. Furthermore, if you or your parents’ income exceeds a certain amount of money, then you may not be able to get any funding from the state.

Easy to Qualify For

Many people think that the only people who can get scholarships are the ones who make straight A’s and are star athletes. However, there are many other scholarships that you may be eligible for. It is a good idea for you to apply for as many scholarships as you can.

Take the Burden Off of Your Parents

There are many parents who foot the bill for their children’s education. Even if your parents are making good money, you do not want to put this burden on them. You will be able to take the burden off of your parents by applying for scholarships and getting funding from multiple sources.

Cover Basic Living Expenses

It is important to note that tuition is not the only thing that you will have to pay for. You will have to pay for housing, food, and basic living expenses. You may be able to use scholarships to cover your basic living expenses.

Improve Your Performance in the Classroom

Your main goal should be to make the best grades possible. However, it can be difficult for you to focus on your studies if you are worried about money. If you have a scholarship, then you will be able to worry less about how you are going to pay for college. This will improve your performance in the classroom.

Professional Benefits

You can still benefit from getting a scholarship after you graduate from college. You can list your scholarships on your resume. This can help you stand out from the other competitors and make you more appealing to the employers. A scholarship shows that you have worked hard to achieve something.

Eastex Credit Union – Scholarship

Did you know Eastex awards six $500 each year? Applicants should be 2019-2020 graduating high school seniors or current college underclassmen. All you need to do is be a good standing member, complete a simple application and submit a 250-word essay. For more information or details, go to https://eastexcu.org/isave-cu/scholarships/ and download your application. Don’t wait, the deadline is Friday, April 10, 2020!

Feb 28, 2020
Cleaning

Cleaning spending

Start Saving More Today by Cleaning up Your Spending

Each month it is the same battle. The month begins with plenty of money in the bank and ends with a budget shortfall. You are left wondering what happened to all of your money.

How to Find Spending Problems

Before you think there is a hole in the bottom of your wallet, you should do a little budget spring cleaning. The process is simple. Begin with a piece of paper, a calculator, and your most recent bank statements. Take some time to look over each debit.

Create several lists on your paper. Write down the amount you spend in a month on expenses like eating out, an extra coffee, or other items. Take note of the extras, add them up, and decide what you can live without.

The second step involves carrying a notebook and a pen around with you for a week. Write down each expense. Even if it is as small as a pack of breath mints it needs to be recorded. Even if you use the change in your pocket to pay for these extras, it is still money spent.

Subscription Services

Subscriptions are an easy spending leak to find. While you are looking over your account statements, make sure you are aware of each recurring charge and the reason behind it. If you see several charges for entertainment streaming services, for example, make sure you are actually using the subscription. 

If you have signed up for services that have similar content or shows you never watch, save money by canceling the subscription. Another thing to check for is free trials you might have signed up for that have gone beyond the cut off date.

Daily Spending Habits

Your morning ritual gets you through the day. You pull up, order your favorite coffee, then drive around, and swipe your card or pay with your phone. Imagine writing that amount you’re spending down each day for a week.

If your bill is a mere eight dollars a day, added up over a week it comes to forty dollars. That can add up to about two hundred dollars a month. In the scope of overlooked expenses, that can really add up.

Little habits matter. Each daily expense adds up to a larger amount. Consider instead brewing your favorite coffee at home and taking it along.

Food Shopping

You might have heard that you should never shop while you are hungry. The truth is shopping without a little preparation can be just as destructive. A trip to the grocery store without a written list and a meal plan can turn into a free for all with your budget.

Regardless of the size of your household creating a meal plan helps prevent impulse buys at the store and forgotten items. Forgotten items mean another trip to the store. The more you go, the more chances you have to buy things that are extra, unneeded items.

Data Overage Charges

Monthly data charges can add up. Depending on your service provider, home and mobile internet charges can add up over time. Especially if you have children and teens on their phones streaming videos and playing games, you may be charged for extra usage and not even know it.

The solution? Do a quick check through your service provider. Make sure your limits stay within range. If you are going over, don’t stop looking until you figure out where the overages are occurring. Most providers offer the ability to trace your usage to each device.

For more tips and financial advice, reach out to our team over at Eastex Credit Union!

Feb 20, 2020
Plant growing out of saving

Plant growing out of saving

Is it your goal for your child to go through college debt-free? Well, we won’t sit here and tell you this is an easy goal to achieve, but it is doable! College graduates have an estimated loan debt of $37,172. That makes the overall total $1.3 trillion. That means your child’s student loans will follow them for a long time after they’ve graduated.

When Should I Start Saving?

We encourage parents to start saving as soon as they can. We know this can’t always be the case, though. There are many other expenses such as mortgage/rent, medical bills, credit card bills, or maybe even your own student loan debt. Don’t put yourself in a hole trying to save for your kid’s college. Scholarships and grants are another way to pay for college. You need to make sure you’re taking care of your most important expenses first.

There are three things you want to do before you start saving for college:

  • Pay off debt
  • Set up an emergency fund that allows you to be prepared for unexpected circumstances.
  • Take 15% of your income and put it into retirement savings through your employer-sponsored retirement plan.

If you haven’t taken care of these, it’s not the right time for you to start saving the college fund.

Get your Kid’s Involved

We know your children are in school, but they can help too! Not only will this help them save for their college, but also teach them good financial habits for the future. Some ways in which they can help would be:

Applying for Scholarships

If your child does well in sports, academics, or extracurricular activities, encourage them to apply for a scholarship! This is money they get that you never have to pay back.

Take AP Classes:

These are known as “Advanced Placement” classes. These allow your child to earn college credits while still in high school. This means any college credit they earn in high school you won’t have to pay for when they go to college!

Get a Job

During the school year, they won’t be able to work full-time. Have them babysit, dog walk, or even do a part-time job for after school. In the summertime have them take on a full-time job. This will also help them build up their resume!

Create a Savings Account

Any money they earn, they can put into this account! Encourage them to save the money they receive instead of spending it.

If you’re at a point where you can start saving for your child’s college, do it now! This will save them from loads of student loan debt when they graduate. We want to help our kids out as much as we can and we hope you are able to make post-college life a little easier for them. Don’t stress out if you feel like you’re behind, any amount saved can help them for their future. We encourage you to sit down with your kids and talk about a plan! They may not understand how important it is now, but down the road they will be so grateful. Start that college fund today!

Reminder: Eastex CU offers Scholarships for members. Click Here to learn more about eligibility requirements and application.

Feb 13, 2020
Springtime

Springtime

Springtime House Maintenance Checklist to Get Your House Ready for the New Season

When warmer weather arrives, it is time to think about the house maintenance tasks that you can perform during the spring. Throughout the winter, it is difficult to care for the inside AND outside of a house, but the cold winter weather and severe weather conditions can cause multiple issues for a house. Here is a checklist for springtime house maintenance.

Checklist Tip 1: Inspect a Home’s Rooftop

You should check your home’s rooftop to determine if there is any damage from heavy rain or strong winds. Use a safe extension ladder to look at the roof, making sure to avoid any utility lines. If you can take photographs of the damage, then you can talk to a professional roofer about the necessary repairs. Working on a roof is a strenuous and dangerous task, so you should hire a licensed technician to perform the job.

Checklist Tip 2: Cleaning the Rain Gutters

While you are using the extension ladder, it is a great time to clean your home’s rain gutters to remove tree leaves and other debris. The proper flow of water through the gutters can prevent damage to the siding of your home along with keeping rainwater from entering the house’s attic space. You can use a small shovel to chop out the debris that has dried in the rain gutters before using the water from a garden hose to wash away the remaining substances.

Checklist Tip 3: Prepare Your Home’s Air Conditioner

In addition to making sure that your home’s furnace is clean and has a new filter, you should check the cooling system to verify that it is working. Turn off the central heating equipment before turning on the air conditioner, making sure that the device is working optimally without making strange noises or creating a foul odor. You should check the exterior air conditioner equipment to verify that it isn’t covered with any debris that could cause it to overheat.

Checklist Tip 4: Are Your Home’s Windows Still in Good Condition?

It is important to inspect your home’s windows from the inside and the outside of the house. You should verify that no windows are broken and that the screens are not ripped. On a warm spring day, you can also squirt additional liquid caulking around the windows to keep the climate-controlled air inside your home. Replacing the window panes or the window frames is a specialized job, so if the windows are damaged, then you should call a window repair specialist for assistance.

Checklist Tip 5: Look at a Home’s Water Pipes and Plumbing Fixtures

Colder winter temperatures can cause problems for your home’s plumbing fixtures and water pipes. To look at the plumbing fixtures and water pipes, you will need a flashlight to see water spots on the floors or the walls. If you have a multi-story home, then you should also look at the ceilings areas that are below the fixtures in a bathroom. For exposed water pipes, you can touch the metal or plastic to find small holes that indicate that the items require replacement.

Checklist Tip 6: Washing Machine and Dryer Maintenance

Spring is the perfect time to remove the lint from your dryer’s venting system so that the appliance will work better. It is possible to remove the buildup of lint from the dryer’s hose, but if the hose has degraded, then you should replace it. You should also check the rubber hoses that are located on the back of a washing machine to make sure that the items are not leaking. Follow Eastex for more helpful tips!

Feb 6, 2020
Emergency Fund

Emergency Fund

As we all know, life can throw us a curve-ball at any point in time. Unfortunately, most of the time it’s when we least expect it. That’s why we should be prepared for the worst. One way to make sure you are prepared, is with what we call a safety net. This is the cushion you have to fall back on during those times. In other words, you may call it your emergency fund.

What is an emergency fund?

An emergency fund is money you set aside for those curve-balls that get thrown at us. This can be things like a car repair, medical bills, home repair, job loss, etc. And no, that new car or purse you want or vacation you want to go on is NOT an emergency. We know it’s hard not to splurge on these types of things but don’t do it! Having a safety net is so important.

Why should I use an emergency fund?

The reason for this is simple. You never know when or what life will throw at you. We don’t like to think about bad things happening to us but it’s better to be prepared than not at all. This will save you large amounts of financial stress.

How much should I have in my emergency fund?

This all depends on your income. Each month, we suggest pulling a certain amount of money from each paycheck and putting it in your emergency fund. Whether it be $20, $50, $100, anything helps. You will be surprised at how it adds up! This also depends on how many people you provide for and how many incomes you’re working with. If you’re married and both you and your husband work, then a three-month emergency fund is probably fine for you. If you’re working with one income, you may want to consider a six-month emergency fund.

Where should I keep this emergency fund?

Don’t keep it in the same place as your regular funds. Open a savings account and do not touch it unless it’s an emergency! It can be tempting to pull from this account, so you may want to open your account at a completely different bank than the one you usually use.

We encourage you to start your emergency fund today. You will be doing yourself a huge favor, one that saves you loads of stress. Imagine the feeling of having no debt and being in complete control. And when you do come across an emergency, you will be fully prepared. Your emergencies won’t feel so big after all! Let’s do 2020 different than 2019 and be more in control. Be prepared and start building your safety net! Stay up to date with news and blogs from Eastex for more helpful information in the future.

Jan 30, 2020
Resolutions

Resolutions

Maintaining your New Year’s resolutions concerning finances takes a lot of resolve. Too many people take aim at Mars, then give up prior to building their rocket.

The reality is that keeping a financial New Year’s resolution is an exception to the rule. Only around 64% of the average American make it past the first month.

However, it’s not impossible to do. There are many strategies at your fingertips that can put the odds in your favor. If you’re looking to keep your financial resolutions, keep reading to find out how.

1. Keep It at the Forefront of Your Mind

There are studies that show how people who write down New Year’s resolutions are nearly ten times more likely to succeed. After writing it down, post it somewhere that will allow it to be a daily reminder. Even consider creating a vision board and placing your resolution in a prominent place on it so that you look at it as often as possible.

Another idea is to set reminders on your calendar so you continually check in on your financial goals and see if you’re on track. The important thing here is to find a way to remind yourself about your goal as often as possible.

2. Use Technology

Keeping and maintaining your resolution is simpler than ever thanks to budgeting, debt and savings apps. In recent years, these have been popping up all over the place.

Strongly consider utilizing budget tools provided by Eastex to help you stay on top of your resolutions and finance goals. If you struggle with your monthly budget, regularly utilizing these tools will help keep you in check.

As long as your phone is on you, you’ll be able to quickly check your budget situation and see where things stand at any given moment.

3. Make Sure Your Resolution Is Realistic

Sometimes, crafting a New Year’s resolution is a lot like swearing off drinking alcohol when you’re struggling with a horrendous hangover. It’s a pointless vow you make without considering the details of how you’ll maintain it down the road.

Instead of making wild proclamations, such as saving $2,000 each month or paying off your mortgage before the end of the year, set a goal you can reach.

As an example, take a look at your current budget and find areas where you can make simple changes. Decide what you can realistically cut out, then use that sum to help determine how much you’ll actually be able to pay off your mortgage or put in savings.

Perhaps your goal is to pay off $10,000 of unsecured debt by year’s end. At first glance, that may not seem realistic. However, when you break it down monthly you’ll see that you only need to cut out $833 of expenses each month. That may actually be doable.

Remember that no matter how realistic your goal looks on paper, you need to use accurate numbers. Then make sure you have a simple system in place that allows you to track all of your finances.

Find Resolution Success This Year

A New Year’s resolution is only as good as your ability to keep and maintain it. With these three simple tips, you’ll be well on your way toward keeping this year’s financial resolution.


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