Financial Literacy Games

Financial Football

Give your brain a Financial Football workout — play the NFL-themed video game developed by Visa.

Play

 

Financial Soccer

Put your financial skills to the test with Visa’s World Cup-themed Financial Soccer, a multiple choice question video game. Are you ready to play?

Play

 

Money Metropolis

Navigate Money Metropolis’ multi-dimensional world while making life decisions that will affect whether virtual bank accounts shrink or grow.

Play

 

Peter Pig’s Money Counter

Learning about money is fun with Peter Pig. In this interactive game, kids practice identifying, counting and saving money while learning fun facts about U.S. currency. After completing the game, players are rewarded with a trip to the virtual store to buy accessories within budget and dress up Peter Pig in fun scenes.

Play

Are You Prepared for a Disaster?

With the anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, we are reminded with just how devastating natural disasters can be. One year later, our community is still recovering from the impact that Harvey had. One bad storm does not exempt us from future catastrophes, so it is important to prepare in case disaster strikes again.

 

So why prepare?

Being prepared means everything. No matter the situation, disaster or not, being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety, and other loss. When you’re prepared and disaster strikes, you’ll know what to do and where to seek help. Knowledge is power when it comes to disaster preparation.

 

What basic things should I do to prepare for a disaster?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) suggests you should know how to respond to severe weather or any disaster that could occur in your area — hurricanes, earthquakes, extreme cold, flooding, etc. and be self-sufficient for at least three days. This means providing your own shelter, food, water, first aid and sanitation in some cases. Here are a few tips to help prepare for a disaster:

 

  • Learn your community’s evacuation routes and shelter locations (e.g., churches, libraries, community centers, etc.). It may also be helpful to have map keys in the event that internet connections are lost. Write down the phone numbers for these locations as well.
  • Purchase a battery-powered NOAA weather radio. Don’t rely on your cell phone, as you could lose power and run out of cell phone battery.
  • Sign up for emergency alerts and know how officials will communicate with you during a disaster. Most cell phone and cable providers send out emergency text messages with instructions from local communities. You can also download the Swift 911 app, which allows you to contact the city if you need help.
  • Put together a three-day emergency food kit for each member of your family (including water) and keep it in an accessible location. You may want to keep an extra kit and water in each vehicle you own.
  • Prepare first aid kits and learn how to perform basic first aid. Emergency organizations (e.g., FEMA, Red Cross, etc.) will have essential first aid supplies available online you can assemble in a kit. Keep these kits in easy-to-reach places, such as bathroom or kitchen cabinets, or in your car – or both. But, make sure you know how to use the items in the kit – take the time to learn now.
  • Make preparations for those in your family who need special care and keep prescription medication in easy to locate areas.
  • Don’t forget about your pets – make sure you have food, a leash and a kennel in an accessible location.
  • Other supplies: flashlights, extra batteries, whistle (to signal for help), dust masks, helmets (in case of tornadoes), manual can opener, fully charged cell phone power bank, wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities), garbage bags, moist towelettes, fire extinguisher, and important documents, such as insurance policies and identification.

 

At Gulf Coast Educators FCU, we have plans in place to respond to any disaster that may affect our branches. We will work with you to make sure your funds are available when you need them the most. In the event that there is a natural disaster we will update this page with current news and credit union hours.

 

 

Information is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author.

 

Sources:

 http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/be-red-cross-ready

 https://www.fema.gov/pdf/areyouready/areyouready_full.pdf

 

 

What Type of Term Share is Best for You

Looking for a way to get better interest rates than a money market account, but don’t want the risk of investing in stocks? A term share or certificate of deposit (CD) may be just what you need. It’s a low-risk way to build your savings.

When you open a CD, you agree not to withdraw the funds until its maturity date, which could be anywhere from a few months to several years. You can close a CD before the term ends, but you will pay an early withdrawal penalty for doing so. CDs offer a higher interest rate than traditional savings or money market accounts because the funds in a CD can only be withdrawn after a certain period of time. Typically, CDs with longer term lengths have higher interest rates.

How do you decide which CD to invest in?

Think about the length of your CD term and how long you can afford to invest your money.
You don’t want to withdraw your money early because you’ll be charged an early withdrawal fee. If you’re saving for a short-term goal, you may want a CD with a six- or 12-month term. But if you’re building your retirement savings, consider a five-year CD.

Compare CD rates before you invest in one.
Shop around to find a high-yield CD with optimal terms for your situation. Know what the current rates are before you make your choice. Comparing rates will give you an idea of how much you’ll make over the life of your CD term. Some financial institutions will even offer you a higher rate the more products and services you have with them. GCEFCU offers a Premium Deposit Account term share, where you earn ½% higher than normal.

Explore different product options.
With a traditional CD, you deposit a fixed amount of money for a specific term and receive a predetermined interest rate. But, you usually can’t add funds to the CD prior to maturity and there are stiff penalties for early withdrawal. For more flexibility, consider a College Saver CD or a My Savings Goal account. Remember to check the terms of each type of account to see what matches your needs.

Check the minimum deposit requirements and withdrawal fees.
This is an important step because these vary between financial institutions and from CD to CD. Always make sure your CD is insured by the NCUA or FDIC.

By looking at these factors, you’ll be able to choose a CD that meets your needs and time frame. For more information about CDs offered at Gulf Coast Educators, click here, or give us a call at 281.487.9333.

Information is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author.

First-Year Teacher Advice

Teaching is hard. Being responsible for shaping the young minds of our future generations is a daunting task. And when it’s your first year, you may be overwhelmed with everything – from lesson plans to seating charts, to that one kid that just won’t listen. So we’ve gathered some advice from experienced teachers who know a thing or two about what is important in a classroom.

 

The first year is always the hardest

The first year is the hardest!! Hang in there!
Aimee Frederick Elder

Give yourself a break. You’re doing to make mistakes and it’s going to be ok! You’ll probably even cry at least once but you’ll get through it and remember the first years always the hardest!
curlzwillbecurlz

 

Make your rules known from the very beginning

You can always ease up on the rules later on, but it’s really hard to set boundaries AFTER the fact.
Lindsey Kang

Be strong and consistent the first week, focus on getting to know the kids…they matter above the scores.
Alicia Hilliman

Be consistent. Set clear expectations. Don’t bring work home every day and make sure to take time for yourself!
Kristena Stokes

 

Try not to sweat the small stuff

If it all seems like things are not going right, just step back, breathe and keep your focus. You are going to make mistakes and that is okay as long as you learn from them to make it better later. Stay positive and have fun!
Mark Gonzales

Patience. If you work in special education, have lots of patience. Not everything is going to go smooth at first. Schedules will change a million times. Learning new students and their ways is always the hardest but as long as you are patient and willing to learn each student individually every day. You will be just fine. Trust me I’ve been in the game for 9 years already. Lol. Patience is key.
Carlos Torres III

 

Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! The first year is challenging and you will get overwhelmed, but it will get better!
Jessica Thomas

Pray, accept help, support from your family, friends, and co workers. It takes a village to mold, teach, support students and parents. Manage your time and take time for yourself. Eat healthy, take your extra vitamins, pamper yourself, and BREATHE!
Oralia Balderas

 

Take time for yourself

Don’t forget to take time for yourself. The papers can wait but your well being can’t.
Stephanie Vincent Blondeau

Family first. Do not work late. Go home & spend time with your family. There is always work to do.
Kellie Jackson

Take care of yourself. Self-care is very important for your mental and physical health. Also, Throat-Coat Tea with a little lemon juice and local honey is fantastic for your tired voice and a little immune system boost.
Kelsey Burg-Fennell

If you are passionate about your calling, give yourself some self-care, cause you will need it to serve the students who deserve our attention.
mollysavala

 

Get to know your students

Get to know your students and welcome everyone of them with open arms. Plan one day at a time. Take care of your needs. Plan to take a full day off on the weekend so you will feel more rested and ready to go for the next week.
James David Turnage

Remember that every child is someone’s whole world no matter what the issues may be. Also, remember to be flexible. Nothing is ever set in stone.
Debbie Jones Hardy

Get to know your kiddos! Be genuine and true with them and they will love you endlessly.
Angela Diane Martinez

That sometimes students will teach you things you never knew about yourself.
edelossantos08

 

Remember why you became a teacher

Never forget that many students think of their teacher as their hero and role model. Always remember to laugh and make memories!!! 🙂
Melisa Gonzales Evans

Every child has an untold story. Treat them as if one day they’ll choose YOU to share it with.
Jamie Smith Adamson

Any day you’ve shown up with a smile, you’ve made a difference – the rest will come in time! Hang in there.
Britt Elliott

The Psychology of Saving

Caylee Smith, Marketing Coordinator

As your typical millennial, I like to question everything. Why do I still go out to eat when I’m trying to save money? Why do I even go to Target when I know very well that I will spend too much? Some might say I have no self-control, and others will say I have a fear of missing out. Both of which are slightly true.

I’m not alone here, though. According to a recent survey by Bankrate, 19% of Americans have no savings at all, and 21% save less than 5% of their income. Savings guru, Dave Ramsey, says that you should save at least 15% of your paycheck for retirement alone (that doesn’t include emergency or travel savings either).

So how do we fix this? How do we re-wire our brains to make saving a priority?

First, you need to make saving money a habit. This is what they tell you when you start working out for the first time, too. The same logic applies here though. In order to make any type of lifestyle change, you need to build it into your routine. You need to make it a habit.

The 3 R’s of Habit Change

According to Charles Duhigg (author of The Power of Habit), every habit you have, both good and bad, follow the same 3-step pattern.
1. Reminder – The trigger that initiates the behavior (ex: reminder on your phone once a week)
2. Routine – The behavior itself; the action you take (ex: transfer money to savings)
3. Reward – The benefit you gain from doing the behavior (ex: savings – yay!)

Step 1: Create Your Reminder

The first step in creating your savings habit is to create a reminder, something that is automatic or that you do every day without hesitation. Since transferring money to your savings isn’t something that someone typically does every day, we can start with creating a habit to simply check your account balance every day. This isn’t technically saving money, but watching your account and monitoring your spending is always a good habit to create anyways. To give an example, create a habit of checking your account by downloading your credit union’s mobile app, and checking your account from your phone first thing in the morning before you get out of bed. The trigger/reminder here could be turning off your alarm clock.

Step 2: Get in Routine

It is easy to create a routine when it is something that you can’t say “no” to. What harm is there in checking your account balance? Hit the snooze, and pick up the phone. Once your hand is in motion, eventually your fingers will begin to automatically hover towards your credit union’s app.

“How will checking my account save me money?” I’m glad you asked! There is an area of our brain called the insula, which is stimulated when it experiences something unpleasant. The more stimulation in the insula, the less likely you are to keep doing what you are doing. According to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research, individuals who viewed expensive buying decisions had increased insula stimulation. Whereas individuals who saved and had cash in an account brought intense pleasure. Therefore, seeing yourself spending too much money every day will eventually cause you to stop spending so frivolously, and seeing your savings build up will cause you to save more.

Step 3: Reward Yourself

People do things that make them happy. Your reward doesn’t have to be something big. It could be something as simple as getting to write a checkmark on the calendar for that day. Or simply telling yourself, “good job!” It may seem silly at first, but go a whole month with writing checkmarks on a calendar, and see how you feel after missing one day.

In addition to viewing your account every day, you also need to create a paycheck habit. Something similar to your checking your account habit, but one that only occurs once a week or whenever you get paid. To make it even easier, you could set up an automatic transfer to your savings account, this way you don’t even see it. For those that don’t like setting up automatic transfers, create a weekly reminder on your phone to transfer money instead. The process is the same.

Remember, building a savings takes time. I like instant gratification just as much as the next person, but that isn’t something that happens with saving money. Create your habit, and watch your savings grow.

 

Sources:
Bankrate: https://www.bankrate.com/banking/savings/financial-security-0318/
Three Steps in Habit Change: https://jamesclear.com/three-steps-habit-change
Journal of Consumer Research: https://www.moneycrashers.com/psychology-of-money-saving-spending-habits/

New discount available to Lone Star Flight Museum

Lone Star Flight Museum Logo

Lone Star Flight Museum
Ellington Airport, 11551 Aerospace Ave., Houston, TX 77034
(346) 708-2517
www.lonestarflight.org

Soar down to the Lone Star Flight Museum – Houston’s premiere aviation history and STEM learning facility!
EARN your wings in the Flight Academy featuring live-action simulators; COAST through our collection of historic aircraft in two 30,000 sq. ft. hangars; CLEAR yourself for takeoff in the cockpit of a Curtiss Jenny or P-51 Mustang; GLIDE through Texas aviation history in the Heritage Gallery and Texas Aviation Hall of Fame.

GCEFCU members can purchase $10 tickets. (regular price: $12.95 -14.95)

Offer may be redeemed online or in person. Discount Code: GCEFCU

Click here to purchase tickets.

Teacher Book Fair

If you are a teacher in the greater Houston area, you are in for a treat! We will be hosting a Teacher Book Fair on July  27, giving away free books to teachers in need. There will be a limit of 10 books per teacher, while supplies last. Please bring your school ID to redeem free books. See all the details listed below.

Friday, July 27, 2018

8:00 AM – 3:00 PM

PasadenaPasadena Branch
5953 Fairmont Parkway
Pasadena, TX 77505
[MAP]

Lessons of a First Paycheck

Jamieson Mackay

Jamieson Mackay, Sr VP Marketing & Business Development

My daughter turned 15 recently and decided that this Summer she would get a job as a lifeguard to earn money for a new phone. I must say, that made me a super proud dad. Not just the initiative to get hired, but setting a savings goal is something we talk about often. It’s nice to know she’s listening.

So after a few days of working, it was time for the first paycheck. Her excitement about her first paycheck faded a bit when she noticed the amount was a bit lower than she was expecting. Yes, this was her introduction to taxes.

My wife and I decided that this was a great teachable moment, so we explained the different taxes that come out of your paycheck and how next year in February or March she’ll have to file her taxes with the IRS. We told her that she will get a refund on some of the Federal Income tax, but not the Social Security or Medicare taxes paid.

Another thing my wife insisted on was that at least 10% of each paycheck be put into savings at the time of deposit. It’s a rule my wife & I live by and are trying to teach our daughter. She has been really good about keeping up with her student checking account and using the mobile app to check her balances before making any purchases. But if she wants that shiny new phone, she’ll have to save at least 10%, if not more.

The main point in all of this is that you need to have open communication with your teens about money. Once they start earning a paycheck, it gives them a greater appreciation for all you’ve done for them over the years and hopefully gives them a greater appreciation for money. Without any discussion about the subject, you’re relying on your teen to make wise decisions. As I wrote in a previous entry, those wise decisions did not come naturally to me and I had to learn the hard way.

New Overdraft Fee Schedule

Fees assessed to Regular and Advantage Checking account holders: (effective July 1st, 2018)

Overdraft Fee, NSF fee for check or ACH item – within a one year period from January 1st to December 31st.

Occurrence – An occurrence is defined as anytime your account is taken negative to pay an item or an item is returned due to insufficient funds in your account. VISA debit transactions count as occurrences but are subject to different fees (if applicable) than the tiered structure below.

 

Tier 1 – first and second occurrence
Per item of ACH, or check item paid or returned
$10.00 each

Tier 2 – third and fourth occurrence
Per item of ACH, or check item paid or returned
$20.00 each

Tier 3 – fifth occurrence and beyond
Per item of ACH, or check item paid or returned
$30.00 each

Skimmers & PIN Based Fraud

Melanie Ortiz

Melanie Ortiz

With technology playing a big role in fraud, it is the credit union’s duty to try to combat fraud to the best of our ability. With Fraud Prevention, Breach Alerts, and EMV Chip Cards, specific types of fraud trends have decreased. However, technology is ever evolving and thieves are continuously finding ways around the security measures that financial institutions and merchants have put in place.

The most recent increase of fraud seems to be the outcome of skimmers.

Skimmers are devices that can be placed both inside and outside a terminal (card machine) to collect data once a card is swiped. Basically how it works is, the skimmer is placed on/inside a terminal for a period of time collecting data as it is being used. Once the information is obtained, a counterfeit card is made, and used to make purchases.

Skimmers are most commonly founds at gas pump terminals, and ATM machines; two of the most used machines, that are also usually isolated enough to tamper with without being noticed.

The use of PIN numbers being entered during gas pump purchases is increasing the loss per cardholder, and increasing the gain for thieves. If your PIN is entered at the time of the skimmed transaction, that information has also been obtained. Because your PIN (PERSONAL Identification Number) is supposed to be known to you only, thieves are able to move around more discretely making purchases. The PIN number also allows thieves to check your account balance at an ATM, as well at withdraw funds. This is where the effects of skimming are becoming catastrophic.

Fraud patterns show that fraud activity with counterfeit cards typically occur on the weekends while financial institutions are closed. This gives thieves an extra day or two to go undetected and continue to conduct transactions. While you may be able to close the card once fraud is discovered, you are left waiting for the next open business day to try to recover your funds. Electronic payments, checks, loan payments are all affected at that point, causing NSF or return check fees.

In order to protect your account, it is highly recommended that during gas pump transactions, to avoid using your PIN. Instead, opt for credit and use your zip code only, or go inside and pay with the cashier. Be observant while using ATM machines. Look around at it to see if anything looks tampered with. A wiggle to the card insert can help detect outside skimmers, but will not be able to detect one placed inside the terminal.

Because skimmers are becoming more sophisticated, it is becoming more difficult to identify them. If you do use an outside pump terminal, it is better to give out as little information off your transaction as possible. This can help decrease the impact of fraud in the event that it takes place.

We are here to help you as well. We understand the severity of the situation when funds are taken out of your account without your authorization. Provisional credit is given to help you while your claim is being investigated. We do reach out to law enforcement in these cases, so filing a report of ATM fraud can be very helpful in pin pointing where a skimmer was placed or putting a face to a fraudulent withdrawal.