Teacher Appreciation Discounts & Freebies

Teachers work hard all year long, and they should feel appreciated all year long, too! Below is a list of all the freebies and discounts different businesses offer teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week and all year long. Know of another freebie that should be added to the list? Let us know by sending an email to csmith@gcefcu.org.


Teacher Appreciation Week Discounts (May 6-10)

Gulf Coast Educators FCU – Stop by any GCEFCU branch for free treats and giveaways all week long.

Chipotle – On May 7 from 3:00pm – close, teachers get BOGO free on burritos, burrito bowls, salads, or orders of tacos.

Grimaldi’s – Teachers get 15% off their order from May 6-10.

Raising Cane’s – Teachers and school faculty get one free box combo on May 7 from 6-9 pm when they present their school ID.

McAlister’s Deli – Teachers get free tea from May 6-10, 2019 with a valid school ID.

Chick-fil-A – Check your local Chick-fil-A’s facebook page for what discount is being offered during Teacher Appreciation Week.

  • Pasadena – Both Pasadena locations are offering a free chicken sandwich or 8 count nugget meal on May 7, 2019.
  • Deer Park – All educators can receive a free chicken sandwich, 3 count chicken strips, or 8 count nuggets through May 6-10, 2019.
  • Holcombe & Buffalo Speedway – Free chicken biscuit or chicken sandwich on May 7, 2019.
  • 45 & Wayside – Free chicken sandwich on May 7, 2019.
  • Sawyer Heights – Free chicken sandwich or 8 count nuggets on May 7, 2019.
  • I-10 & Silber Road – Free chicken sandwich or 8 count nuggets on May 7, 2019.
  • 96 & South Shore Blvd – All educators can receive a free chicken sandwich, 3 count chicken strips, or 8 count nuggets on May 7, 2019.

DiscountGlasses.com – Get 30% off with the promo code HEARTTEACHERS. This discount is valid May 6-10.

DiscountcontactLenses.com – Get 15% off with the promo code HEARTTEACHERS. This discount is valid May 6-10.

MOD Pizza – Buy one get one free pizza or salad on May 7. must show your teacher ID.

Smoothie King – Free extra or enhancer May 6-10. Must show your teacher ID.

Cicis Pizza – Free unlimited buffet on May 7. Must your your teacher ID.


Year Long Discounts & Freebies

The Container Store – Sign up for their “Organized Teacher” program to receive special discounts throughout the year to help organize your classroom.

Michaels – 15% off your entire purchase by showing school ID.

Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Store – 15% off your entire purchase.

Barnes & Noble – 20% off your purchase.

Apple – Up to $200 off a new Mac, and up to $30 off a new iPad.

Ann Taylor LOFT – Teachers get 15% off all full-priced items.

Banana Republic – Teachers get 15% off all full-priced items purchased in store.

Champion – Current and retired teachers get 10% off.

Costco – Teachers save $60 when they purchase a Costco membership.

Hewlett Packard – Teachers get 20% off HP Academy.

J. Crew – 15% off your entire purchase.

TOMS – 10% off your entire purchase.

Half Price Books – 10% off your entire purchase.

Lakeshore Learning – 15% off when you join their Teacher’s Club.

GMC Vehicles – The GM Educator Discount gives current employees of a public school, private school, college, or university special pricing below MSRP on the purchase or lease of eligible new Chevrolet, Buick, or GMC vehicles.

Microsoft 365 – Educators can get Microsoft Office 365 for free by using a valid school email address to fill out an online form. Teachers can also get 10% off Windows devices when shopping online.

Dress Barn – 15% off your entire purchase with school ID.

Colgate – Get a free Bright Smiles, Bright Futures kit, which includes toothpaste samples, toothbrushes, and teaching materials.

Hot Wheels – Teachers have the opportunity to request a ton of free toys for their classrooms with Mattel’s Hot Wheels Speedometry program.

SeaWorld – Teachers can get free admission for a day at Sea World Orlando, SeaWorld San Diego, and SeaWorld San Antonio. In addition, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens have been developing resources for educators for over 20 years. You can download entire teacher curriculum guides and individual activities, show the ShamuTV: Saving a Species series in your classroom, or learn more about how to prepare for careers in the zoological field on this site.

Teacher Appreciation Week

We are showing our appreciation to teachers all week long! Stop by any of our branches between 3:30 – 5:00 pm to receive a special treat. We will also have a Teacher Survival Basket at each branch, that you can enter to win every day during Teacher Appreciation Week!

Monday, May 6

MondayPasadena – Tea & Lemonade from Chick-Fil-A
League City – Tea & Lemonade from Chick-Fil-A
Pearland East – Tea & Lemonade from Chick-Fil-A
Pearland West – Tea & Lemonade from Chick-Fil-A
Summerwood – Tea & Lemonade from Chick-Fil-A
Baytown – Tea & Lemonade from Chick-Fil-A


Tuesday, May 7

TuesdayPasadena – Pizza and Chair Massages
League City – Bundtinis from Nothing Bundt Cakes
Pearland East – Bundtinis from Nothing Bundt Cakes
Pearland West – Bundtinis from Nothing Bundt Cakes
Summerwood – Bundtinis from Nothing Bundt Cakes
Baytown – Bundtinis from Nothing Bundt Cakes


Wednesday, May 8

WednesdayPasadena – Cookies
League City – Cookies
Pearland East – Cookies
Pearland West – Cookies
Summerwood – Cookies
Baytown – Cookies


Thursday, May 9

ThursdayPasadena – Gourmet Popcorn
League City – Gourmet Popcorn
Pearland East – Gourmet Popcorn
Pearland West – Gourmet Popcorn
Summerwood – Gourmet Popcorn
Baytown – Gourmet Popcorn


Friday, May 10

FridayPasadena – Rita’s Italian Ice
League City – Candy
Pearland East – Candy
Pearland West – Candy
Summerwood – Candy
Baytown – Candy

Teaching Your Teen How to Budget

Putting the words teen and budget in the same sentence is enough to incite fear in many parents. Teaching teens about money is often difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. The trick is to start with the basics and take it one step at a time. Teens must first understand the difference between pre- and post-tax money before they can fully grasp the concept of a budget. They also should comprehend fully the importance of saving. Remember, perception is everything to young people. Start out by explaining that a budget is not a restriction, it is a plan for spending so they have the freedom to use their money within reason and without worry.


When teaching your teens to budget, listing their income is a good place to start. Talk with them about the different sources of income, including money from work and allowances. Teach them how W-2 income differs from 1099 income. You want your teens to understand that most of their income will be taxed and they will have to file taxes every year. They should also have at least a general understanding of what that means and how it will affect them. If a relative gave them stocks or bonds over the years, you should discuss the basics of the stock market, and interest and dividends. Here are the most popular sources of income for teens.
• Wages from a job (W-2 income)
• Allowance
• Tips
• Gifts
• Freelance work (1099 income)
• Interest and dividends (if applicable)
They also should know the difference between fixed and fluctuating income.


Next, talk about expenses, to help them prepare for that month and track their money. For instance, they may have an “automobile” category that includes the monthly payment, insurance, gas and maintenance. Help them set up categories that are relevant to them. It is also helpful to establish the difference between a need and a want. A new smartphone is a want, buying groceries is a need, for example. Some common teen expense categories are:
• Automobile: payment, insurance, gas, maintenance
• Savings
• School supplies
• Groceries: eating out, snacks
• Phone
• Entertainment: sports, music, friends
• Personal: clothes, toiletries, vitamins

Credit Versus Debit

Learning about credit versus debit will also teach them a great deal. Explain that expenses are debited from the account. When cash is paid out, the account is credited. In the accounting world, when one account is credited, another must be debited to maintain the balance. So, help your teens creates a budget, for the month or for a few months. Write down the total income minus each expense and see what is left at the end of the month. Creating a budget for a few months at a time allows them to see how their income and expenses may differ from month to month.

GCEFCU’s Student Checking Account

Now that your teens have a basic understanding of how a budget works, they may be ready for a Student Checking account. It is a simple checking account for students 13 to 17 years old, with a guardian as a joint owner. They will have their own debit card and online banking login so that they can review and track their purchases. The Student Checking account is designed to help them gain financial independence as they work their budget. Help your teen set savings goals along the way and explain that working with a budget constitutes a spending plan. Above all, be patient and explain that it may take a couple of tries to get it right.

How to Read Your Credit Report

Your credit report is a snapshot of your financial health. It gives lenders a general idea of how you handle debt and cash flow. Just about everything related to your financial life is a part of your credit report. Lenders use this information to determine whether they will extend credit to you and how much that credit will cost.

Understanding how to read your credit report is paramount to improving or maintaining it. There are four main components to your credit report. Some of that data is then used to determine your credit score.


Parts of a credit report

While each credit reporting agency uses their own reporting format, the general categories on your credit report remain the same. The four main parts of your credit report include your:

• Identifying information
• Trade lines
• Public records and collections
• Credit inquiries

Your identifying information does not impact your credit score, although it is important to ensure the information is accurate. This includes your name, address, social security number and general employment history.

Trade lines on your credit report refer to credit accounts such as car loans, credit cards and mortgages. These accounts directly impact your credit score, as do public records and collections. Public records include bankruptcies, liens and foreclosures. Collections records could include delinquent debts.

Credit inquiries make up the last part of your credit record. They occur when a lender reviews your credit history because you have applied for some type of credit or loan. While these hard inquiries remain on your credit report for 24 months, they only impact your credit score for the first 12 months.


Credit Score

FICO® credit scores are calculated using the data on your credit report. While the exact calculation is a closely guarded secret, the five categories used and how much they contribute to your score are not. Here is a breakdown of the general information and how much each category contributes to your FICO® score.

Payment history 35%
Debt ratio 30%
Length of time 15%
Types of credit 10%
New accounts 10%

Your payment history is one of the most important contributing elements to your FICO® score. It shows lenders how responsibly you handle cash flow. Lenders use your payment history to determine how much risk they will assume by extending credit to you and how much that credit will cost.

Your debt ratio is the second biggest contributing factor to your credit score. It is calculated by dividing the amount of debt you have by the total amount of credit available to you. For instance, if your available credit is $10,000 and you are carrying a $4,000 balance, then your debt ratio is 40 percent. Lenders prefer to work with clients who have a debt ratio below 30 percent.

The next 15 percent of your FICO® score comes from the length of time your credit accounts have been open. Older credit accounts in good standing have a more positive impact on your credit score.

The types of credit accounts on your report contribute to 10 percent of your FICO® score. Lenders will look to see if you have revolving accounts, installment loans, retail accounts and mortgages. It isn’t necessary to have each of these accounts on your credit report, but maintaining a mixture of different types of accounts in good standing positively impacts your FICO® score.

New accounts contribute the final 10 percent of your FICO® score. Opening too many credit accounts too quickly represents risk to the lender. New accounts may lower your score, especially if you don’t have an established credit history.


Report Maintenance

It is essential to review and monitor your credit report regularly. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that one in five people have mistakes on their credit report. This means that over 40 million Americans have inaccurate information on their credit reports, which could be having a negative impact on their score. You must take a proactive approach to ensure the information contained in your credit report is accurate.

If you find errors on your report, you must contact the credit bureau as well as the creditor who supplied the information. They may ask you for documentation before making the correction, but they are bound to correct it under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

You may also debate the accuracy of an account on your credit report by filing a dispute with the credit bureau. If you find accounts that are unfamiliar, don’t belong to you or are inaccurately reported on your credit record, filing a dispute with the credit bureau will prompt an investigation. You will be required to provide supporting documentation to the credit bureau, who must investigate within 30 days.


How to get a free credit report

Since your credit report is such a big part of your financial health, Gulf Coast Educators is proud to provide members with a free credit report which includes your credit score. A loan officer can discuss your credit report with you and help you find ways to improve and maintain your credit score.

Social Security Fraud

A new scam is on the rise. Recently, several of our members have received phone calls from someone claiming to be from the Social Security Office. They claim that someone rented a vehicle in the member’s name, and then returned the vehicle with illegal items still in it.

The caller goes on to tell the member that in order to clear their name from this case, the member must “freeze” their account by taking all their money out. Then the member must purchase several gift cards and send the caller the serial numbers for the cards (this is how the member pays the caller for removing their name). Once this is done, the caller tells the member that they will be receiving a new social security number.

This is a scam! No legitimate government office will request money from you in the form of gift cards. To understand more about phone scams, see our tips below.


Signs of a Scam

• They request money over the phone
• They request payment by means other than credit card, such as in the form of gift cards, cash, or wire transfers
• They offer to send you a check, and then you send them a portion of the check back as their payment
• They ask for confidential information, such as your social security number, as “verification”
• They use scare tactics, such as saying you will be arrested if you do not comply


What You Can Do

If you feel that a phone call may be a scam, hang up. Fraudsters will try to manipulate you to send money right away, before you have time to think things through. Always ask questions, such as the person’s name, business, call back number, and reason for the call, if you feel it may be legitimate.

To prevent your number from being added to any call lists, you can add your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry. This won’t stop all unsolicited calls, but it will stop most. If your number is on the registry and you still get calls, they’re probably from scammers ignoring the law. Hang up, and report them at www.donotcall.gov.


We are here to help

If you receive a call or are worried you may be a fraud victim, give us a call. We deal with these types of situations every day and can tell you whether or not the call is valid.

Pictures with the Easter Bunny

Stop by our Pasadena branch on Friday, April 19 to have your picture taken with the Easter Bunny!

When: Friday, April 19
Time: 3:00 – 5:00 pm
Where: Pasadena branch
5953 Fairmont Pwky
Pasadena, TX 77505

Remember to bring your own camera!

What to Consider When Contemplating Changing Jobs

Finding that you are unfulfilled or not making enough money to support your lifestyle is depressing. It can also be the biggest motivating factor for changing school districts. However, changing jobs is a big move that shouldn’t be done in the spur of the moment. It will affect many aspects of your life in either a positive or negative fashion. Knowing what to consider when contemplating changing jobs by switching districts can help you avoid the major pitfalls of a bad career move. Here are some things to think about if you believe another school district may be right for you.


Monetary Goals

The last thing you want to do is make a bold career move that you will later regret. It is important to consider your alternatives carefully before changing jobs. Ideally, the new school district will offer a larger, more comfortable salary. While a bigger paycheck can be quite a motivator, it isn’t the only important aspect of your career move.

An attractive benefits package can also be a relevant precursor for a job change. Good insurance is attractive, and there may be other benefits that draw you to a specific school district. For instance, teacher performance bonuses often attract some of the best talents while giving students in the district a better education.

You’ll also want to think about grants, scholarships and educational reimbursements. Teachers’ pay often correlates with their skill level and personal education. If furthering your education is one of your goals, you’ll want to ensure that the new district supports that and rewards you for it. Depending on your age, the retirement benefit offered by a school district may be of specific importance. Each school district offers its own pension plan, and some can be quite enticing.


Personal Achievement

Your personal and career goals should be a big factor in your decision to change school districts. You’ll want to ensure that the new district offers advancement opportunities that correlate with your long-term goals. As you pursue advanced education, you will develop new skills. You’ll want your new school district to support those skills and challenge you professionally. However, what you read on paper isn’t the only important consideration. The professional culture fostered in the district you choose must be one that you not only agree with but also support. Ask about the district’s mission statement and ensure that it is one you can really get behind. You may be working in the new district for a long time so you want to ensure they have a socially responsible agenda that you can support.


Opportunity Cost

Opportunity cost is a big factor in your decision to change school districts. For instance, when will the new school district be ready for you to make the change? Will you have the downtime you need to make it a smooth transition? Changing jobs is a big decision, and you don’t want to feel rushed. Think about the location of the new school district and how it will affect your commute. If the commute is longer, are you being compensated for it? Will you need to arrange your schedule to make time for the longer commute?

Perhaps, it will be just the opposite, and the shortened commute will be a benefit. You should also consider talking to other teachers and professionals who work in the new district. Ask how they feel about it and see if they are willing to recommend it over others. Other professionals can often shed light on things that aren’t public knowledge, such as the way a district supports its teachers.

Changing jobs is a big move, and you want to approach your decision with caution. Take the time to ensure that this district change will benefit you and your career by doing your due diligence. You will find that it makes your decision easier, and you will be much happier with your choice in the long run.

What to consider when choosing whether to file your own taxes

Since everyone is in a different financial situation, it can be difficult to know if filing your own taxes is a good idea. To further complicate matters, individual finances change with the tax laws. What worked last year may not be the best option for your current situation.

If your tax situation is uncomplicated and you are comfortable using the software, you may be able to file your own taxes. However, major life changes may dictate the need to hire a professional. Here are some general guidelines to help determine the best option for you.


A Straightforward Tax Situation

Preparing your own taxes can be a time-consuming process, even for those considered tax savvy. You should only attempt to prepare your own tax returns if you have a simple and straightforward tax situation. This will help minimize the possibility of making mistakes or submitting an incorrect return.

A simple tax return is used by individuals who do not own a business or intend to itemize deductions. These individuals typically do not have any significant assets or investments that must be claimed on their return, including real estate. There are no dependents for them to declare, and the standard deduction is their best option.

A 1040EZ is a simple form often used to file uncomplicated tax returns. If your tax situation is straightforward, you can often file your federal taxes for free. However, there is usually a charge to file the state taxes even if they are self-prepared.

The good news is that using tax software minimizes the work involved by prepopulating subsequent forms.



If you are filing your own taxes, it is important to choose your software wisely. You can prepare your taxes by hand, but the software is often more reliable.

The tax software you choose will guide you through the filing process and help ensure that your return is prepared correctly. In many instances, your tax software can affect the size of your refund or your ability to get one at all. The most reliable programs will also save you time and aggravation.

The great thing about utilizing software is that it is expected to be up to date on all the tax law and form changes. Many times, you can also purchase an audit guarantee. The software allows you to see how entering different numbers impacts the calculations at the end.

Using the right software will give you the confidence and peace of mind that your taxes have been filed correctly. It can also save you quite a bit of money over hiring a professional.

Tax software can often be purchased at a discounted rate, such as the discount offered to members of GCEFCU. The amount paid for tax filing software is also a deductible expense when you file your taxes.


Hire a Professional

Those who have a more complicated tax situation are often better off paying a professional to file their taxes. This typically applies to those who have substantial earnings, assets and investments.

A professional understands which tax laws apply to such items and which forms must be filed to claim them properly. They can also determine whether it is in your best interest to itemize deductions for the current year. For instance, the standard deduction nearly doubled for 2018.

Changes to the standard deduction amount coupled with additional changes to itemized deductions may make itemizing less attractive in some situations. However, if you own a business or side business, then you may need to itemize.

A tax professional can help determine the best approach for your situation and minimize your total tax liability. They will also consider any major life changes that may directly impact your tax liability. Getting married, buying a house or having a child are all considered major life events that have significant tax implications.


Choosing Wisely

What works for you may not work for someone else in a similar situation.

Aside from the necessary tax software, you should also consider your schedule and current obligations. Filing your own taxes requires a considerable amount of time and patience, even with the right software.

If you do not have a quiet place to get this task done or access to a computer, it may be in your best interest to hire a professional. The price you pay for a professional to file your taxes is deductible, and it may be worth your sanity.

If your situation is straightforward, then you can probably handle things yourself with the right software. Just be sure to utilize any available discounts when purchasing the software and minimize distractions until you are finished.

Retiring Comfortably on a Teacher’s Salary

Retirement is a time that many people look forward to. However, preparing for retirement does present some challenges. People are living longer, and Social Security benefits are not an option for some teachers.

Believe it or not, it is possible to retire comfortably on a teacher’s salary even without social security. The right financial plan and practical financial habits will allow you to live out your golden years securely while still enjoying all the activities and hobbies you crave.

The key is to plan early, create a budget and utilize the financial tools available to you. Invest in employer-sponsored retirement plans, especially if they match contributions. Work a side hustle and put money in the right places.

By saving and following a budget, you can ensure a comfortable retirement on a teacher’s salary. Here’s how:


Tax-Advantaged Retirement Accounts

Tax-advantaged retirement accounts are a great place to start saving for your golden years. Aside from building a nest egg, these plans also help minimize the tax burden every year. Tax-advantaged retirement accounts are often employer-sponsored retirement plans with low fees.

Many teachers who work full-time for a public school, or even a tax-exempt private school, can take advantage of a 403(b) plan. Some district employees have access to a 457(b) plan. These are both tax-advantaged retirement plans with high annual contribution limits.

In addition to employer retirement plans, you can also fund your own retirement using a high earning Individual Retirement Account, such as our Premium Market IRA. This IRA’s rate fluctuates monthly, depending on what the market rate is. However, it never goes negative, making your money safe and secure, even in times of market volatility.

For the 2019 tax year, contribution limits are set at $19,000 per person. Both plans have provisions that allow catch-up contributions for employees ages 50 and older. Catch-up contributions are limited to $6,000. That means that one person can theoretically stash away $19,000 or $26,000 in pre-tax dollars annually, depending on their age. The best part is that contributions to these plans are tax-deferred. It lowers the taxable income for the year the contributions were made. Instead, distributions are taxed when they are taken in retirement. Many employers will match these tax-deferred contributions up to a certain amount. The higher annual contribution limits and employer contributions can help fund a retirement account and fill it up.


Invest Side Hustle Money

It is often necessary to earn more than just your salary to reach your financial goals. Creating a side hustle is a great way to generate extra cash every month. Investing side hustle money can help your retirement account grow quickly.

As an educator, the best way to do this is to market your finest skills. Selling some of your lesson plans makes efficient use of your time and helps generate extra cash. You must create them anyway, and some websites make the marketing easy.

New teachers and homeschooling moms are always on the lookout for great lesson plans, and they will pay handsomely for them. You could also tutor students for extra money. You can offer one on one tutoring in your community, or you can tutor people online.

Do what comes easiest to you and earns you that extra money to sock away for your retirement. Some educators even teach English as a second language to make extra money. You could also write a book about something you are passionate about. E-books are easier to format, they don’t have to be long and you can self-publish.

The internet allows access to many tools that make it easier to earn side hustle money. Prioritize retirement funding and make efficient use of your skills. Then, invest the profits wisely for your retirement. It will grow quicker than you think and before you know it, you will have a sizable nest egg.


CDs and Money Market Accounts

You’ve already seen how socking away money can help you retire comfortably on a teacher’s salary. However, where you put your money matters. A simple savings account doesn’t earn enough interest to really multiply your savings.

A CD, or Term Share Account, is a locked savings account that earns high interest rates without any associated risks. These are federally insured accounts that are offered in various terms, from three months to five years. You choose the term that is right for you based on your individual situation.

If you don’t want your money locked up, a Money Market account is a great option. It is a hybrid account between a CD and a checking account. You earn a higher savings yield, but can still make up to 6 withdraws per month.

GCEFCU named one of 2019’s best of the best

MemberXP, a credit union member experience measurement platform, has designated Gulf Coast Educators FCU as one of 2019’s “best of the best” credit unions.

The MemberXP Best of the Best designation is awarded to credit unions that consistently provide exceptional levels of member service during a calendar year. This prestigious award is given to fewer than one in five of the high-performing credit unions using MemberXP’s service evaluation platform. A credit union cannot apply for this award. It is independently granted by MemberXP based on specific criteria including member service and ease of use.

MemberXP is a voice of member platform that allows credit union members to provide immediate feedback on the service they receive. The platform utilizes mystery shops and member surveys to gauge the overall member experience across multiple delivery channels and specific experiences such as getting a loan or opening a new account.

“We are proud of the way our employees work tirelessly to make sure our members have a great experience. We continually seek feedback from our members and are continually looking for ways to improve the member experience,” remarked Eric Stegall, Senior Vice President of Operations.

“Gulf Coast Educators FCU’s top scores indicate a real commitment to doing what is right for members,” said Constance Anderson, founder of MemberXP.