Thanks for stopping by our financial education blog! We are excited to share tips on the best ways to save and manage your finances. Check back often for the latest tips for the community.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fun in the Sun..just add water

Well Summer is here and it is HOT!! Are you looking for something to do on the weekends or even a day trip with the kids? We have plenty of waterparks in the surrounding area that can "cool you off" and not empty your wallet.

Splashtown in Spring - tickets @ $21.00
Paradise Waterpark in Lumberton - tickets range from @$13.00 to $17.00
Schlitterbahn in Galveston - tickets range from @$27.00 to $35.00
Pirates Bay Waterpark in Baytown - tickets range from $12.00 to $15.00
Blue Bayou Waterpark in Baton Rouge LA - tickets range from $28.00 to $35.00

***(visit our website under resources and entertainment discounts to get Splashtown, or Schlitterbahn (all locations) tickets at a discount) Every dollar counts!!***

And don't forget the "free" splash parks in Groves and Port Neches.

Enjoy your summer days

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Energy Saving Tips

As the summer heats up, the last thing you want getting any higher in numbers is your electricity bill. Every year, people are faced with skyrocketing energy bills, but this year things can be different. If you are looking to save some money this summer on your energy bill, you have come to the right place. In this week’s blog, we are going to discuss some ways you can save this summer on your electricity bill that is quick and simple. Remember, some measures may not be relevant depending on climate, the age of your home and appliances, and past improvements made to your home.
Seal your ducts
· Leaking ductwork accounts for 25 percent of cooling costs in an average home, so have your ducts tested and have any leaks or restrictions repaired by a qualified contractor. Note: duct cleaning is not the same as duct sealing. As of October 1, 2005, if you install a new central air conditioner or furnace, your ducts will have to be inspected.
Install window shading
· Install patio covers, awnings, and solar window screens to shade your home from the sun. For additional future savings, use strategically planted trees, shrubs and vines to shade your home.
· Solar control window films applied to existing glass in windows and doors is an effective method to reduce peak demand during hot months and conserve energy anytime air conditioning might be required. In addition to the energy management benefits, the use of these films can also reduce exposure to ultraviolet radiation and reduce glare. Visit The International Window Film Association for more information.
Push a button to wash your dishes
Surprise! Your dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes by hand. Then let dishes air-dry to save even more!
Install a whole house fan
· A whole house fan is permanently installed in your attic and draws cool air into your home through the windows while forcing hot air out through your attic vents. Use after sundown when the outside temperature drops below 80 degrees, and in the early morning to cool your house and help reduce your air conditioning use.
Turn up your thermostat
· Set your thermostat to 78 degrees when you are home and 85 degrees or off when you are away. Using ceiling or room fans allows you to set the thermostat higher because the air movement will cool the room. Always take into account health considerations and be sure to drink plenty of fluids in warm weather.
Operating swimming pool filters and cleaning sweeps efficiently
Reduce the operating time of your pool filter and automatic cleaning sweep to four to five hours, and only during off-peak time.
Increase attic insulation
· If existing insulation level is R-19 or less, consider insulating your attic to at least R-30.

The opportunities are there for you to save big dollars this summer. Now it’s time to get out the tools and energy repair your house! If you have anything questions or want to send in your ideas on how to save this summer, give us a shout back because we love to hear from you!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Summer Time Jobs For School Aged Kids

Well Summer time is here. School is out or almost out for the kids. What are your kids going to do this summer?? If they are old enough for part-time work and want to earn a little extra spending money, share some ideas with them.

** Mowing grass for neighbors or family
** Cleaning house for parents, dusting, moping, cleaning windows
** Clean up that brush pile outside, rake leaves, wash the porch/deck off
** Clean the pool ( and even take a cool down swim when finished)
** Walk dogs
** Babysitting
** Snowcone stands always need summer help if you are old enough

Whether you are 9 or 16, earning summer money can be a breeze!!

Tell us what you plan to do this summer to earn extra spending money!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The skinny on saving for vacations big and small

The skinny on saving for vacations BIG and small

No matter what age you are, the idea of vacations will always bring a smile to your face! Whether you are going on that seven day cruise covering 3 countries or taking a weekend trip to Garner State Park, having a well thought out plan is essential before taking any trip. In this week’s blog post, we are going to list steps you need to take to plan either a small or extravagant vacation, so get your pen and pencil ready!
First, let’s look at expenses if you are traveling to Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio, Texas:
· Car Trip Expenses- 294 miles or about 4 hours 49 minutes
o Traveling by car will definitely save you money when looking to go to a place like this due to having your own car for transportation as well as in emergency situations.
· Lodging- Competitive hotel rates
o The ability to find great deals on lodging will be easy when traveling to San Antonio due to the amount of hotels located along the way as well as the amount in San Antonio itself. Be sure to check out hotels that are located right off of the Riverwalk as they can be a cheaper option.
· Entertainment- Lots of activities for all ages
o The different activities when traveling to and from San Antonio can be great for all ages. Whether you want to stop in a small town along the way or hang out in San Antonio at the Riverwalk, there are certainly many fun and affordable things to do!
· Dining- Many options to choose from
o The different choices of dining will please any picky person who is faced with the long drive to San Antonio. While in San Antonio, there are many places that range from Mexican (be sure to check out Mi Tierra’s) or head to the Riverwalk for fun, on the water dining.
Next, let’s check out the expenses of traveling somewhere outside the great state of Texas, Estes Park in Colorado is a great place to check out:
· Car Trip/Flight Expenses: 1,226 mile trip by car
o For the “experienced” traveler, you might choose the car trip route, but before you decide to do this, make sure you weigh the pros and cons. A pro would be having transportation when you get to Colorado. A con to driving would be the length in trip, which is roughly 21 hours drive time, and possible car trouble. Make sure you check and see how much tickets are and weigh that against gas money to give you a proper estimate.
· Lodging- Small amount of choices
o If you choose to travel to Colorado by car, the choices of lodging will be great, but once in Este Park, you are limited in your choices of hotels. Although there might be different places to stay, check online as to get the best deal. Websites like Expedia and Priceline can help you get the best deals. Or you can choose to camp instead to save on lodging expenses.

· Entertainment- Activities can be limited if you are not into outdoor entertainment
o When you are traveling to a resort type of location, there may be a limited amount of things to do. If your family is looking for a place to only ski, then resorts like this might be a better place to travel to, but make sure everyone knows that “skiing” will be the main thing that everyone will be doing. Although your choices might be limited, the main activity of the resort will be excellent.
· Dining- Choices might be limited
o The amount of restaurants might be limited when traveling to a place like this. It is a good idea to check and see what type of food will be available and run it by everyone who is deciding to go on the trip. If everyone is dead set on going but the food isn’t good, maybe it would be a better choice to purchase food and store it in the hotel room or at your campsite.
When deciding where to take a vacation, make sure you take all the areas of planning into consideration, especially if you are going on a group trip. Weigh the pros and cons of staying local versus going out of state to really get a good idea of how much money you are going to spend and how easy it will be to take the vacation because after all, vacations are suppose to be fun, not a headache! Happy planning!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Credit Scores

If you are in the market for a new home, car or are trying to get a personal loan, there is one thing that you must know: your credit score. You may already know the importance of your credit score as it is determined by a report that contains all of your credit activities. The goal is have the best (highest) score possible in order to get the best rates. Here are a few simple tips that can help you boost your score:

1. Pay all of your bills on time. This one component makes up 35% of your credit score total. Take a moment today to look at all of your monthly due dates and write them down on a calendar You can set a reminder in your cell phone or on your computer to keep up with these dates as well. Also, if you are having trouble remembering when to pay which bill, take a moment to sign up for Bill Pay online to eliminate stress. If you commit to paying each bill on time, then your credit score will begin to show improvement.
2. Reduce your overall debt. Of course, your goal here is to strive to be debt free, but while you are making those payments, work on widening the gap. This gap is what you want to increase between your credit limit and the actual amount you owe for that card. The larger this gap is, the better your credit score will be.
3. Call in the experts. If you are unsure of where to start, then you may want to check out some resources. Here are some free online resources to help you improve your credit score or if you would like to chat with someone, feel free to stop by one of our branch locations.

Do you have any helpful tips for boosting your credit score? Please share your tips and thoughts with us! Be sure to check back next week for fun ideas for charitable giving instead of just writing a check.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Take the Retirement Road Test

Take the Retirement Road Test
Do you have a red, yellow or green light?
A Message from John Pat White II

Have you taken the time to calculate how much money you’ll need to set aside for your retirement? Do you feel confident in how you’re investing those dollars you’ve already saved?

As a valuable member benefit, the MEMBERS financial services will offer all members of Gulf Credit Union a complimentary retirement analysis. This will only take a few minutes to complete, yet provide you with information that will last a lifetime. The output is straightforward and will rate your current progress with a red, yellow or green traffic light. Whether you’re just starting to save, or you’re getting close to retirement or already living in retirement, this analysis will provide you with solid recommendations to help you achieve your unique vision of retirement.
When it comes to planning your retirement, we understand the importance of a trusted partner. Call John Pat White @ 409.984.7452, your MEMBERS Financial Representative, today at for a no-cost, no-obligation appointment. Or simply stop by the office and you’ll receive a Retirement Road Test analysis while you wait. Find out how you can “green light” your retirement savings plans.

Representatives are registered, securities are sold, and investment advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, A Registered broker/dealer and Investment Advisor, 2000 Heritage Way, Waverly, Iowa 50677, toll-free (866) 512-6109. Nondeposit investment products are not federally insured, involve investment risk, may lose value and are not obligations of or guaranteed by the financial institution. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution, through the financial services program, to make securities available to members.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Getting Credit Card Debt in Check

Spring Clean Your Finances: Getting Credit Card Debt in Check

You’re ready to get your house in order with spring cleaning, but are your finances in order as well? Maybe it’s time for a check in on your finances and some financial spring cleaning. One of the best ways to do this is to take control of credit card debt. The task of evaluating and then cleaning up your credit card debt can be a pain-free (well, almost!) process that will not only improve your credit score, but will also give you a sense of financial relief. Let the financial cleaning begin by following these four steps.

1. Calculate all of your credit card balances and their interest rates to understand where to start. To make this easier to manage, take a look at our free debt calculator.
2. Next, take a look at your spending habits and create a budget that includes your monthly credit card payments. The goal is to understand your spending habits and look at ways to reduce unnecessary spending (this extra money can be put toward paying off your credit card debt). Use this tool to easily calculate this information.
3. To see results quicker, a good rule of thumb is to pay the credit card with the highest interest rate off first. Aim to pay double the minimum payment each month.
4. To stay in control of your finances, read How to be Creditwise and More Ways to be Creditwise for great credit savvy tips.

Make it a priority to complete step #1 by the end of this week. Seeing your credit card debt on paper will be great encouragement to get started on the next step. If you have a tip for managing and eliminating credit card debt, then please share your advice. Check back next week for great tips on planning your retirement!