The Resiliency of the Class of 2020

Congratulations to the class of 2020, you’ll always have a story to tell. The one word that I will forever associate with the Class of 2020 and those who helped them get there is: Resilient.

Class of 2020

Definition of resilient from Merriam-Webster
: characterized or marked by resilience: such as
a: capable of withstanding shock without permanent deformation or rupture
b: tending to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

All involved as a part of the Class of 2020 have exhibited resiliency in spades. Everyone from the students, parents, teachers, and administrators have shown resiliency during the events of this pandemic. The normal end of year ceremonies and traditions have been adjusted and changed.  There has been a lot of lemonade made lately through creative events such as: parades to honor the graduates, alternative graduations, online proms, etc.

The majority of what I observe from the Class of 2020 has focused on the journey to get here and not what they’ve lost. This mindset will serve them well as they embark on the journey to adulthood. Most would agree that change is happening at a faster rate now than ever before, and maybe that constant change has created this resilient characteristic in the Class of 2020.

My hope is that this resiliency will help them navigate their financial lives as they enter college and the work force. The Class of 2020 has shown they can use different tools to succeed and as they enter adulthood, the tools at their disposal to succeed financially is growing rapidly. Congratulations again to the Class of 2020. I look forward to witnessing your future successes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post author: Jamieson Mackay, CCUFC

The opinions expressed on this page are for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author of the article and may not reflect the views of the credit union.

Buying local always matters

Several years ago, as Chairman of the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, one of my top priorities was a buy local initiative. Buy into Bay Area was our vehicle for letting area residents and businesses understand the importance of buying local. We expanded this beyond just buying local, we wanted people to think local. We expanded it to every facet of life including getting your education locally, volunteering locally, and playing locally.

Why buying local mattersshop local

Study after study can be found about the benefits to the community of buying local. Three of the biggest benefits are:

  1. Strengthening your community’s economy. Buying local means keeping money in your community. Buying from local small business has an even bigger impact and more of that money stays in the local area. A strong local economy attracts more services and businesses that benefit community members.
  2. Taxes. Local sales taxes help municipalities provide services and infrastructure to keep communities safe and functioning.
  3. Jobs. Local businesses provide jobs for friends and neighbors and cut down on the need to look for jobs outside of your community. Working in the community you live in can add to your quality of life and work-life balance.

Matters now more than ever

Given the struggles our local businesses face due to the pandemic and stay at home orders, buying locally means more now than ever. As a credit union, we are a local business and appreciate the loyalty of our member-owners during the good times and the bad. We try to use local resources whenever possible and have built some great relationships with local businesses over the years.

I encourage you to look to the local businesses that have provided your community with services and give them the opportunity to serve you as they reopen. It could mean the difference between that business being able to keep its doors open and your fellow community members employed.

 

 

 

 

Post author: Jamieson Mackay, CCUFC

The opinions expressed on this page are for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author of the article and may not reflect the views of the credit union.

Comparison shopping can save you big

saving money

It never ceases to amaze me how certain companies take you for granted as a customer. They make you that great new customer offer and put their best foot forward only to raise the price on you each year you stay with them.

Insurance

I’ll never forget the first time I comparison shopped my homeowner’s insurance. I had been with the same company for years and thought they were taking good care of me. The comparison quotes told a different story. Each year (without any claims), the cost had gone up and I had just left it alone since it was paid by my mortgage company through an escrow account. Once I began paying for the insurance myself, I felt compelled to see what else was out there. What I found was the same coverage from another reputable provider at half the price I was paying. Now, I shop it each year. If you use an independent insurance agency like the credit union owned agency, you can get multiple quotes to compare.

Utilities

Another service I shop on an annual basis is my electric provider. This one makes total sense because the price is market driven and if the cost to make electricity goes down, shouldn’t I get to share in those savings? So I make my annual visit to powertochoose.org and select a provider based on current market conditions.

Travel

Given present circumstances, travel may or may not be something I shop for soon, but in the good old days we used to travel quite extensively. My wife even started working as a travel agent in her spare time and we discovered that pricing between providers can vary wildly – for the same trips, flights, cruises, hotels etc. With all the online tools available, this one is low hanging fruit.

Time is the only investment

Comparison shopping is a lot like reading this post. It is only an investment of your time. You may learn something or you may not. You may save money or you may not, but the only way to find out is to put in the time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post author: Jamieson Mackay, CCUFC

The opinions expressed on this page are for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author of the article and may not reflect the views of the credit union.

Appreciating the teachers in our lives

Teacher appreciation week is coming up and it is going to be strange one. It is usually a week when kids eagerly bring their teachers gifts that they either made or picked out. It is usually a week where our team has special events in the lobbies to recognize and honor our members who teach. It is usually a week where our business development team is on campuses hosting appreciation luncheons. It is usually a week where we celebrate outstanding teachers by announcing our Appreciated Teacher award winners.

This year things will be different. My wife is a part time teacher for a local school district, so I’ve seen firsthand how different school has been for this last month. She’s been busy rewriting curriculum to adapt it for online delivery and consumption. It is a major undertaking and she’s been so positive about it. I’ve seen her in countless online meetings with teachers and they’ve all been so positive and upbeat during this uncertain time. So, to my wife and all the teachers out there, you are truly appreciated.

Here are some ideas for appreciating the teachers in your life that can be done virtually:

  • Send an electronic gift card
  • Send an email with scanned in artwork
  • Send an email to your teacher with some heartfelt words to show them your appreciation
  • Use social media to find a teacher who made a difference in your life and try to connect with them
  • Have the kids make a video to share with their teachers

Now more than ever we need to show appreciation for those that have a positive impact on our lives.

 

 

 

Post author: Jamieson Mackay, CCUFC

The opinions expressed on this page are for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author of the article and may not reflect the views of the credit union.

Take Online Security Seriously

Now that we all do more online than ever before, we need to be more vigilant about our security efforts. We have seen a spike in fraud and scams during the pandemic. The bad guys never miss an opportunity to take advantage of a disaster.

Tool #1: Keep login information private

One common crime is account takeover and it usually starts online. The criminal gets access to your login credentials and logs in pretending to be you. Sometimes they make changes to your contact information and sometimes they leave it, but in either case the aim is the same – pretending to be you to access your money and move it out of your account and into theirs.

The first tool to prevent this type of crime is you. You control the amount of information that is available about you online. Make sure you review privacy settings for all your social sites and that the information you are posting online doesn’t give the criminals information they could use to pretend to be you.

Tool #2: Update your operating system

The second tool is your actual device. Make sure your device has the latest version of the operating system with timely security update and virus protection. We’ve seen too many instances of members who didn’t keep up with device security and ended up with a key logger recording their every key stroke including usernames and passwords.

Tool #3: Set up alerts & dual factor authentication

The third set of tools are found in the sites you visit. Our digital banking system has tools you can use to make the experience safer. For example, instant alerts by text or email of a login (Settings è Notifications).  One of the most powerful tools available is Two-Factor Authentication where you receive a text with a code in order to complete the login process. Basically, you have to have the device in your possession to log in so even if a criminal knows your username and password, they are missing the final component (In the desktop version go to Settings è Security tab and set to require for desktop logins).

I encourage you to make sure you use all of the tools at your disposal to make your online experience as safe as possible.

 

 

 

Post author: Jamieson Mackay, CCUFC

The opinions expressed on this page are for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author of the article and may not reflect the views of the credit union.

Have you bought a vehicle online yet?

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our normal lives and forced so many people to turn to doing everyday things like school, shopping, banking and meeting in an online environment. But have you ever bought a vehicle online?

I’ve bought my last two vehicles completely online. Everything from the research to financing (with the credit union of course) and to actual picking the vehicle completely online. The only thing I had to do in person was go pick up the vehicle (and now delivery is even an option readily available). Best two car buying experiences I’ve ever had.online auto buying

All our local car dealers now have online sales capabilities. Here are a few things that I’ve learned from buying my last two vehicles online:

  • You can quickly compare prices without feeling pressured.  You aren’t face to face with a salesperson asking for a decision. Purchasing online allows you to work completely on your timetable.
  • If you use a vehicle shopping service, expect a few calls and emails from local dealerships, but you will be able to widen your search in a very short amount of time.
  • I found that the online departments at dealerships often had lower pricing.
  • The tools that the dealers use to showcase their vehicles are getting impressive. Some have very interactive tools that allow you to look the vehicle over completely from bumper to bumper.

In both cases, they wanted me to meet with their finance department but once I told them I already had a pre-approval from the credit union and that all I needed was the final details and that the credit union would let me sign electronically by email. They were impressed with how quickly our loan team was able to get everything over.

Give it a try if you are considering a new vehicle. It is the ultimate social distancing way to buy.

 

 

Post author: Jamieson Mackay, CCUFC

The opinions expressed on this page are for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author of the article and may not reflect the views of the credit union.

GCEFCU named in Top 200 Healthiest Credit Unions

A+ health gradeOnce per quarter, DepositAccounts.com evaluates the financial health of over 10,000 banks and credit unions in the United States. A comprehensive health score is calculated, as each institution is graded on several factors including capitalization, deposit growth, and loan-to-reserve ratios.

Gulf Coast Educators FCU was awarded with an A+ rating; the highest health grade given out by DepositAccounts. Financial institutions are graded on a scale from F (worst) to A+ (healthiest). GCEFCU was ranked as #44 out of the 5,321 US credit unions that were analyzed.

The Deposit Account Health Grades analysis was created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and has continued releasing a new analysis annually, with quarterly adjustments posted to each credit union’s dedicated page on DepositAccounts.com. During times of economic uncertainty, consumers want to feel confident that their credit union is on solid footing financially.

Experts analyze the call reports for every NCUA insured credit union in the United States and run the data through a proprietary algorithm to rate financial health. Results are published on their website for free so that consumers can make more informed decisions and feel confident in the financial institutions where they deposit their money.

Gulf Coast Educators FCU is proud to be named one of the Top 200 Healthiest Credit Unions, and to be included in the 11% of financial institutions that received an A+ rating. Our management team and board of directors strive to provide quality and sound service to all of our members. For a complete listing of the 2020 Top 200 Healthiest Credit Unions in America, visit https://www.depositaccounts.com/banks/health.aspx

 

Top 200 Healthiest Credit Unions

From Sandy Saver to Super Saving Mom

As a first time mother, I knew when my daughter was born last year that there were a lot of new things that I would need to learn to ensure she received the best of everything. When you think of newborns, you think of cribs, bouncers, onesies, and bottles – but you don’t usually think of savings accounts and College Saver CD’s. We all know that infants grow up fast and how rapidly time flies, but that’s why saving at an early age is so important.

When I was around 5 years old, my grandmother had an account with GCEFCU and opened my first Sandy Savers Account. I remember the feeling of excitement when I would lug my piggy

bank up to the coin counter to make deposits to my account and earn a prize from the treasure chest. My grandmother would match whatever I saved to my account as well. Although I may not have fully grasped the concept of saving at the time, as a young child I did understand that seeing the amount in the account grow meant that I had the potential to spend that money on toys. Anytime that we took a vacation, my grandmother would allow me to take $10 or so out of the account, but she would always remind me of how hard I worked to save that change. Thinking about having to work hard to replace that $10 always discouraged me from spending the money frivolously.

As an adult, saving can be a daunting task. Even if we have a difficult time saving for ourselves, saving for our children is extremely important because it teaches them the habit of saving from an early age. When I think about my daughter growing up into her teenage and adult years, I want her to know the importance of saving so she can always feel secure knowing she has money set aside for important things like school, her first apartment, or her first car. With the money that my grandmother saved with me, I was able to buy textbooks and art supplies for my first few years at The Art Institute.

April is Financial Literacy Youth month, so now is a great time to start saving for and with your children! If you open a youth account this month, you also are entered to win $500 or a free laptop. For tips on how to save, feel free to visit our website here, or reach out to me directly and I will be happy to assist you with finding a savings plan that fits you and your child.

 

 

Post author: Elizabeth Thornton, Team Member since 2013

The opinions expressed on this page are for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author of the article and may not reflect the views of the credit union.

Who wants to pay more for the same thing?

Credit Score Image

I seem to remember a commercial where the commentator asks why anyone would want to pay more for the same thing. The answer, of course, is that nobody wants to pay more for the same thing. In today’s age of comparison shopping, you’ll see people at the store checking their phone to make sure they aren’t paying more for the something they are buying.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happens if someone neglects their credit score. Look at an example where two people pay different amounts on the same thing, a home loan:

Member A’s credit score is 700 and mortgage rate is 4% APR for 30 years on $150,000 loan. The total interest Member A would pay would be $107,804. Now consider Member B who has a score of 600 and a rate of 6% APR on the same loan amount. Member B would end up paying $173,757 in interest. That’s a difference of about $66,000. Now this example is for illustration purposes, but you get the point. The better your score, the less you pay for the same thing.

Since your score is so important, we will give it to you for free. We’ve made your score and report available in our digital banking system via SavvyMoney. It is a great tool that explains what factors went into your score and practical advice on improving your score. Oh, and it send alerts which act as credit monitoring. And did I mention it is free.

It is also important to know what is not in your credit score. For example, your income is not part of the equation. So, you could make a million dollars a year and have a low score based on the factors that make up the score such as poor payment history, too much owed, etc. Also, the score is a point in time and can move up and down. This is especially important if you want to improve your score to save money on things like a mortgage.

Knowing your score is the first step to not paying more for the same thing.

 

 

 

 

Post author: Jamieson Mackay, CCUFC

APR = Annual Percentage Rate

The opinions expressed on this page are for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author of the article and may not reflect the views of the credit union.

 

Why Youth Financial Literacy Matters

April is Youth Financial Literacy month and there’s no better time than now to start teaching kids the importance of money and to provide them with information on how to properly manage it. Whether they are new to the concept of money or they understand what it means to have money, it’s up to us as parents, caregivers or educators to embed valuable financial habits into our kids. The earlier they learn some beneficial lessons on essential topics such as earning and spending, needs versus wants and saving, the more likely they are to continue developing these skills and making them more profound well into their adulthood.

One of the most basic concepts that children should know is that money is used for purchasing items. It is used to determine how valuable something is and having access to money allows you to have the liberty to purchase goods or services. Exposing children to different brands and pricing between the same goods and services is always a good learning lesson as well. Is it worth it to spend more on an item just because it’s a name brand or is buying the generic version of that same item just as good? These are questions that will aid children in understanding the value and cost of things. We also need to teach kids the difference between needs versus wants. The latest trends such as new shoes, video games and or electronics are all wants, and children should learn this at an early age. Remind your children that the food they eat and the home they live in are all things that require money, and that these are essentials and needs to everyday life.

Girl with money

Another important concept that children should know, especially younger ones, is that money is earned. It’s important to remind kids that money does not “grow on trees”. This is one important lesson that was ingrained in us from early on. Some ways you can teach your kids to earn money is by rewarding them for making good grades in school or for completing certain chores around the house. When money is worked for instead of just given to them, they learn to value and appreciate it so much more.

Lastly, we want to teach kids the most critical yet sometimes most difficult concept for us to grasp even as adults, and that’s learning to save. Most teens will begin working their first jobs as early as 16. While you want your kids to learn what financial independence means, you always want to remind them to make wise choices with their money. Teach them to save a portion of their check and to not spend on frivolous items. Having a sense of financial security is so imperative, especially in the times we are currently living in today. If they set a goal for themselves, such as saving for a new car or the latest tech gadget, they will be more motivated and even put more thought into what they spend their money on. The earlier children are exposed financial topics, the more comfortable and knowledgeable they’ll be at managing their money as adults.

Through our youth accounts you can help your child establish good savings habits. For example, with our Sandy Savers account, your child can be excited to save by being rewarded with cool prizes. When opening an account, members will receive a punch card and after 5 ($10) deposits, your child can pick a prize from our treasure chest. Once your child turns 13 they are able to open a free Student Checking account. With this, you can easily transfer your child’s allowance from your account to theirs and keep an eye on their spending. At 18, your son or daughter is automatically pre-approved for a GCEFCU credit card and can start working on building their credit score.

Overall, there are different ways to teach young children how to save, including apps on your phone, tablet, computer or even get creative at home and do a fun activity by pretending you are at the grocery store, or having them do small chores so they can start learning the value of money and saving. We believe that children are our future and becoming financially independent is essential to becoming a successful adult. Whichever you decide is best for your child, Gulf Coast Educators will always be here to help them get started.

 

 

Post contributors: Jessica Rodriguez, Rebeca Gonzales, Marissa Alvarez & Angeles Lopez (Business Development Team)

The opinions expressed on this page are for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author of the article and may not reflect the views of the credit union.