The credit union has made its scholarship application for the graduating seniors of the class of 2021 available. I have a daughter in that class who plans on attending Texas A&M in the fall of 2021. Pausing for all of the whoops….and that’s enough. So along with encouraging every one of our members who is in the class of 2021 to apply for the credit union’s scholarship, I would also like to ask the question: Did you complete the FAFSA?
It’s not a new dance
When my wife first told me we had to complete the FAFSA, I had to ask for clarification, and she confirmed it isn’t a new dance popular with my daughter and her friends. No, the FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and both the student and their parent(s) should complete it. The deadline for priority consideration for the ‘21-‘22 academic year in Texas is January 15, 2021.
What if I know I won’t qualify?
You should do it anyway. Many schools now require a completed FAFSA even for academic or merit-based scholarships. It is never a good idea to leave money on the table, so filling it out makes sense.
Be forewarned, the FAFSA does require you providing a lot of financial information that some may find very intrusive. Some of the information you’ll need to complete the FAFSA includes:
Social Security Number
Account balances for checking, savings, and investments
The process shouldn’t take too long and could end up helping you with money towards your child’s college. Also, if your circumstances change, you’ve already gone through the process and will only need to simply update the information on application.
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.
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.
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.
Smartphones and tablets are no longer considered taboo in the classroom. In fact, teaching apps can be effective tools for streamlining monotonous classroom tasks and helping to immerse youngsters in the learning environment.
Teaching apps also help bridge the gap between classroom and home – and between parents and teachers – and are a great way to extend the classroom and make learning fun. The apps can help with everything from expanding the classroom to organization and lesson enhancement if you know which ones to use.
Communication Teaching Apps
Many teaching apps make it easier for teachers to send out assignments, give feedback and even grades. They also allow parents to track their child’s progress more actively throughout the school year. Some of the best communication teaching apps are:
ClassDojo – Teachers can easily message and communicate with parents. Photos and videos can be shared individually and even used to show parents their child’s classroom. It captures and generates behavior data to improve classroom behavior, and the app contains teaching tools such as Group Maker and Pair Share, syncing all of it across all devices.
Teacher’s Assistant Pro – Student actions, behaviors and achievements can be tracked and recorded, and teachers can add dates, times, notes and even photos. When conference time rolls around, they can have all the information they need in a single app.
Slack– A fantastic messaging app used by professors and teachers to host text-based office hours and send out reminders. College students love it because they can stay in touch with professors and others in the class when they’re not in the classroom. The app connects with many existing tools and allows you to read documents anywhere.
Technology Enhanced Learning Teaching Apps
Technology-enhanced learning is transforming education as we know it. Many apps allow children to learn through game play and even do additional work when necessary. Most of the apps enhance the teaching and learning experience inside and outside the classroom. Such apps help teachers reach students and convey information in an understandable way.
Blackboard – A free app that is ideal for online courses. It helps everyone in the classroom stay informed and allows teachers to update content, take assignments and tests from students, video chat for tutoring sessions, and even manage homework.
Educreations – This is an interactive whiteboard app with a screen-casting tool that helps teachers create easy-to-follow tutorials and lessons. They can create animations and diagrams with supporting audio of any kind to help students with assignments. Teachers can also share videos with the help of Facebook, Twitter and email.
Kahoot! – Another free for-fun learning app that helps teachers and students. Teachers can use exciting learning games and set up live games with students. The app allows them to challenge each other to competitive learning games and makes homework loads more fun.
Streamlined Organization Teaching Apps
Classrooms are busy from early in the morning until the afternoon, and it can be hard to stay organized. Throw in 30 kids and it’s nearly impossible. Teaching is easier and far more fun when teachers and students stay organized. Here are some great apps to help them do it:
Google Classroom – A light version of the G-suite used by teachers to store class materials in Google Drive. Teachers can also use it for making announcements and holding debates. The best part is that students can have easy access to materials that have urgent requirements.
Additio – Lets teachers ditch much of the paper by acting as a digital classroom and gradebook. They can take attendance, plan time tables and calculate grades using a smartphone or tablet. For a nominal fee, they can also get additional features such as the ability to take notes and performance analytics.
Seesaw – Allows teachers to record student strengths and weaknesses throughout the year for discussion at annual parent-teacher conferences. It’s often referred to as a student portfolio app because parents can see their child’s achievements and progress. Students love storing their best work on the app.
Financial literacy is important, and it should be integrated into modern education for all children. Students of today shoulder a lot of burden. Sending them out into the world without a financial education is an injustice that results in a lifetime of hardship. While it can be difficult to teach children and young adults about money, there are some creative lessons available that can make the job easier and help ensure that they are prepared for their future.
The key is to start with an age-appropriate lesson. Later financial lessons will build on your foundation. Financial literacy for school children can be divided up into three main categories by grade level. General money knowledge begins in elementary school. Middle school students build on their financial literacy foundation by beginning to learn how to manage money. High school students can prepare for financial independence with valuable lessons about responsible financial management skills.
Elementary School: The Basics
It’s never too early to foster financial literacy in children. Elementary school is a great place to teach children the basics of exchanging money for goods and services. Teaching elementary age school children about money can be fun. Many educators incorporate games into lesson plans about money. This leads to open discussions and demonstrations about saving, spending and sharing money.
Earning & Spending Money – These activities for the very young include simple but important lessons like recognizing different coins and understanding what they’re worth.
Coins For Money – Download this free game for your students to learn how to recognize and count money $1 and under.
Money Booklets – Download these free printout booklets to introduce and review coins with your students.
Bank It! – Use this game to teach your students how to add and how probability works.
Peter Pig’s Money Counter – In this interactive game, kids practice identifying, counting and saving money while learning fun facts about U.S. currency.
Middle School: Money Management
As children move into middle school, they are more familiar with the concept of money management. It is time to begin molding and shaping their perception of money and responsible financial management. As youngsters become more independent in middle school, they are ready to learn how to apply some of the concepts they have learned about money. This is a good time for them to learn about banking and balancing a checkbook.
Writing Checks – Use these check print outs to teach your students how to write a check.
Financial Football – Give your brain a Financial Football workout — play the NFL-themed video game developed by Visa.
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?
Money Metropolis – Navigate Money Metropolis’ multi-dimensional world while making life decisions that will affect whether virtual bank accounts shrink or grow.
High School: Real-World Lessons
High school students are preparing to embark on real-world journeys, financial and otherwise. They are starting to make choices that will affect their future, and it is critical to instill responsible money management skills. With more advanced lessons on budgeting and bill paying, high school students have a better chance of becoming financially independent.
Balancing a Checkbook – Many high school students will soon start working their first jobs, so it is important for them to learn the difference between gross and net pay. They are learning to drive and preparing for college as they move closer to independence. It is a good time for them to practice budgeting successfully with take-home pay through classroom activities that can be reinforced at home.
Making a Budget – Information provided on topics such as: What is a budget? Why do I want a budget? How do I start a budget? How do I make a budget? How do I use a budget?
A resume is a snapshot of your strongest characteristics. It should be clear, concise and highlight the most relevant experience that qualifies you for the job. For a soon-to-be teacher or one changing jobs, the interview begins with the resume.
It isn’t rocket science, but writing a teacher resume is different from writing any other. Every aspect of the resume should point to your goal and reinforce the impression you want to make.
Your resume reflects what you can bring to an organization. Here are tips for building the perfect teacher resume.
For best results, open strongly. In addition to accurate contact information, use a professional contact email. That means avoiding personal or inappropriate monikers. A simple first and last name will suffice. If necessary, create an email address specifically for job inquiries and responses.
Also, list your GPA if it’s above 3.0. Employers like to see that you have achieved academic as well as employment success. When listing credentials and accomplishments, lead with the strongest.
Consider using a template for professional formatting and overall look and feel. A good template will provide ample space for your experience, education and skills, plus a brief headliner or introduction. Go with one that conveys your enthusiasm and professionalism.
When creating a resume, many teachers fail to consider that the competition for teacher positions can be quite fierce in some areas. That’s why it’s important that you create one that stands out favorably from all other applicants.
A strong headliner is the easiest way to get the attention of employment decision-makers. Some examples:
• Mayweather School District Teacher of the Year
• Innovative, Research-based Secondary School Educator
• Seasoned School Administrator with 25 Years Experience
Another excellent way to set you apart is to pay close attention to the wording of your bullet points. Be sure to start each bullet with action verbs and highlight your achievements rather than simply giving a historical account of your work.
For example, rather than merely recounting that you “created lesson plans,” you might point out what your particular innovations with lesson planning achieved. If your lesson plan design ensured that children with low scores had significant improvement by the end of the year, you might state, “created lesson plans that improved reading test scores by 40%.”
Properly place your education
When it comes to listing education on your resume, a good rule of thumb is to position that section after highlighting your experience.
In it, list just the facts, including the name of your school or institution, the date you started and completed your education and the particular degree or certificate received. Also, be sure to list relevant extracurricular activities. Those may include entries and prizes in writing or research contests, or success in academic clubs or volunteer organizations.
Take special care with experience
The experience section of the resume may be the most important one. Evaluators will use it to get an accurate snapshot of your skills, abilities and achievements. They’ll especially be on the lookout for ways you are particularly qualified for the job at hand.
It’s always best to organize your experience section in reverse chronological order. Starting with your most recent experience first, list and convey your abilities and completed tasks for each position. Use bullet points to summarize, starting each with an action verb.
Go beyond merely listing tasks you completed at each position, by noting the particular things you accomplished. Show decision-makers that you are more than just a doer, you’re an achiever with significant and unique accomplishments.
Relevant training and skills
Although it may be tempting to submit a teacher resume without listing relevant training and skills, it’s not always the best choice. That is particularly the case when specific certification or training is required.
List continuing education, certifications, advanced certification and even community service to show what you’ve achieved beyond basic education requirements. That’s also a great place to list unique and applicable skills that put your best foot forward.
Polish your resume to perfection
Beyond the basic sections of education, experience and relevant training, a few ways to ensure your teacher resume is polished to perfection are:
• Refrain from using abbreviations.
• Definitely triple check for spelling and grammatical errors.
• Avoid the word “I.”
• Check for bullet points that are verbose.
• Remember, keep it short and to the point.
Last, but not least, make sure there are no gaps in experience. If that is unavoidable, be prepared to give a reasonable explanation during the interview or in your cover letter.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Year Long Discounts & Freebies
Panera Bread – Teachers get a 10% discount on all in store purchases. Must show a valid teacher ID badge. Valid only at the Panera Bread on 5855 Fairmont Pkwy, Pasadena, TX.
Rothy’s – Teachers get 20% off select Rothy’s styles that are perfect for the classroom.
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.
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.
About Gulf Coast Educators: We are a credit union dedicated to serving the financial needs of educators and school district employees in the state of Texas. Here you will find all the products and services of a big bank, but designed to help make our members more money, save time, and provide peace of mind.
Buying a house is perhaps one of the best investments you can make, but it does take some preparation. A good credit score and an appropriate down payment make the process easier and more affordable. It is important to plan accordingly for your big purchase by improving your credit score and saving for a down payment.
Buying a house on a teacher’s salary is totally possible with budgeting and planning. It is also important to get pre-approved for a home loan before shopping, so you know how much house you can afford.
Considering how much you can afford to pay as a down payment for the purchase of your home is also important. With down payments, the general rule is always the same: Bigger is better. In other words, the bigger the down payment you can make, the easier it will be on your pocketbook. This is because more down equals lower payments.
If you put down at least 20%, you can avoid paying Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). If you put down less than 20%, you will be required to pay PMI each month, which generally costs 0.5% to 1% of your entire loan amount. This means that for a $100,000 loan, you could pay as much as $1,000 extra a year, or an additional $83.33 per month.
Also worthy of note is the fact that down payments must come from nonborrowed funds. Since you won’t be able to finance your down payment, be sure you have a savings plan in place. It’s wise to consider an automated savings plan that can be deducted straight from your paycheck and funneled into an interest-bearing savings account.
Next to consider is your credit score. You simply cannot get most home loans without at least a good (or consistently improving) credit score. Banks and credit unions alike use it to measure your personal financial health.
You’ll first need to find out what your credit score is, and decide from there how to raise it, if necessary. Ideally, home loans require scores above 700 to qualify. You can always visit your credit union for a copy of your free credit report, and they can give you tips on how to improve your score.
Although it may seem taxing, it’s good to focus on the highest credit score you can muster. Higher scores equal lower interest payments, and good credit buys more home.
Teacher Mortgage Program
There are some financing programs available to assist teachers specifically in the homeownership process. These programs often take into consideration the special circumstance involved in buying a house on a teacher’s salary and have designed their terms to specifically address these.
For instance, the Gulf Coast Educators FCU Teacher Mortgage requires $0 down payment and offers 100 percent financing to teachers who qualify. The program also requires no PMI insurance and has a maximum home loan amount of $300,000. Keep in mind a credit score of 680 or better is required.
When calculating how much house you can truly afford, be sure to leave room for homeowner’s insurance. This is an expense that’s included in monthly payments, so it’s important to get the numbers to fit your monthly budget without compromising quality.
It’s added into your monthly payment, so it should also be figured into your overall calculations to determine maximum affordability on a month-to-month basis. This is yet another reason to select lenders with special financing programs available to assist teachers with the purchase of a home.
Buy a House on a Teacher’s Salary
From checking your credit score to saving for a down payment, there are some steps you can take today to ensure that buying a house on a teacher’s salary is not the impossible endeavor it sounds like it could be.
Take some time to assess the kind of payments you can afford, and work from there. Also, be sure to take advantage of any special financing programs available specifically to teachers. In the end, you may be surprised how easy buying a house on a teacher’s salary can be.