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    How to Pay Off Your Student Loans After You Get Your Degree

    Last updated 8 months ago

    Though most agree that college is an enriching experience, tuition costs more than ever. The average student has about $26,000 of student loan debt by the time he graduates, and debts are not showing any sign of going down. If you’re in college or are about to begin classes, you should think about alternative ways to pay for tuition and start building a strategy for paying off your loans.

    Get a Stable Income
    After college, many graduates earn money by contracting or working odd jobs. While this is a great way to gain experience, uneven work may not bring home enough money to cover monthly student loan payments. To ensure that you have enough money to cover living expenses and student loan payments, it’s important to earn a stable income and live within your means.

    Consolidate Debt
    Many students take out multiple kinds of student loans to cover their tuition—including federal loans and private bank loans. If you’re making multiple payments every month, you should consider consolidating your debt into one monthly payment. This won’t just make it easier to remember and repay your loan, but it will also help reduce the total amount you pay in interest. 

    Accelerate Payments
    Once it comes time to start repaying your student loan debt, your lender will suggest a monthly payment amount. You can choose to pay more than this amount if you have the means. In fact, increasing your monthly payment amount or making more frequent payments can help you pay off your principal balance much faster. The faster you pay off your balance, the less you have to pay in interest.

    For help tackling your student loan debt, don’t hesitate to call GCS Credit Union at (618) 219-8600. We’re proud to serve anyone who lives, works, or studies in O’Fallon or elsewhere in Southwest Illinois. If you need a credit card, auto loan, or new checking account, visit our website to find out how we can serve you.


    What You Need to Know About the Current Housing Market

    Last updated 8 months ago

    While millions of Americans dream of buying a house, some have trouble deciding when the time is right. Many prospective homebuyers insist on waiting until the housing market reaches rock bottom.

    In this video, a real estate expert discusses a few tips to keep in mind when buying a home in the current market. She advises against waiting to buy, as pinpointing the lowest prices can be difficult and the housing market tends to recover very quickly. Also, she recommends that sellers make their homes look as beautiful as possible to attract buyers.

    If you’re interested in buying a house, call GCS Credit Union at (618) 219-8600. We love helping O’Fallon, IL residents with their home mortgages and other financial concerns

    How to Make the Transition Between Financial Institutions

    Last updated 8 months ago

    In the wake of the recent global financial collapse, many people are making the switch from banks to credit unions. Banks are for-profit institutions that have to balance obligations to their clients and shareholders, whereas credit unions are nonprofit institutions that are owned by members. Here are a few tips to help you ease the transition from bank to credit union:  

    Find a Good Alternative
    When switching between financial institutions, it’s always a good idea to look before you leap. Credit unions often only accept members who live or work in a specific place; for example, GCS Credit Union accepts members who live, work, or attend school in one of 10 Illinois counties. Make sure you’re eligible to join your credit union of choice before you take money out of your bank.     

    Explore Rates and Services
    When choosing a credit union, decide which banking services you really need and look for an institution that offers those services. Some of the most convenient and important services include direct deposit and online banking. You might also ask about the credit union’s rates for money market accounts, IRAs, and loans, then compare those rates with your bank.  

    Ask for a Switch Kit
    A credit union should make it easy to switch with a pre-made “switch kit.” A switch kit is a packet that includes all the appropriate paperwork, plus some tips on how to make the switch as smooth as possible. After you move your funds, direct deposits, automatic payments, and close your old account, you’ll be ready to enjoy banking with your new credit union. You’ll find that your credit union has a much more community-friendly feel than your old bank.   

    When you’re ready to make the switch, call GCS Credit Union of O’Fallon at (618) 219-8600. We are a member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative that focuses solely on our members’ needs. Visit our website to find out how switching to GCS Credit Union can benefit you.

    Should You Consider a Christmas Loan?

    Last updated 9 months ago

    For kids, the holidays are a magical time of exciting gifts and fun vacations. For parents, the holiday cheer is somewhat dampened by the season’s numerous expenses. If you’re not sure if you can afford everything you need to make this holiday season perfect, you might consider taking out a Christmas loan with GCS Credit Union.

    A Christmas loan can help you cover all the expenses involved in giving your family the holiday gifts and treats they have come to expect. Christmas loans with GCS Credit Union are available from October 1 through January 31, and must be repaid within 12 months. Those who take out a Christmas loan are eligible for up to a 2% discount on their interest rate, making the repayment process much more manageable. GCS Credit Union also offers vacation loans that can be obtained at any time—including during the holidays.

    GCS Credit Union is dedicated to making life easier for O’Fallon residents. To learn all about credit cards, auto loans, and other banking or loan services, call us at (618) 219-8600 or visit our website.


    The High School Student's Guide to Money Management and Saving Cash for College

    Last updated 9 months ago

    Though high school is a time of increased independence, it’s also a time of increased responsibility. While you don’t have to let go of your childhood the minute you start ninth grade, it’s a good idea to start thinking about your future and what kind of adult you want to be. The best way to do this is to open checking and savings accounts and consider the following money management tips:

    Put Together a Budget
    As a teenager, you probably don’t have that many expenses. Still, you can get a feel for money management by creating your own budget. Write down how much you get from your allowance or job, then put down how much you expect to spend on movies, gas, and meals out with friends. Since you don’t have to pay for living expenses, now is a great time to save.

    Get into Online Banking
    If keeping track of your finances seems boring, you should try your credit union’s online banking service. Online banking makes it easy to keep an eye on your account balance, and can be fun to use. Getting into the habit of checking your balance regularly can help you rein in your spending now and for the rest of your life.   

    Put the Future Ahead of the Present
    High school is an extremely formative time in your life, and you should do your best to make the most of it. However, that doesn’t mean recklessly spending money on things you don’t need. Keep in mind that saving money now will reduce the amount of money you have to borrow for college, and thus reduce the amount of interest you pay in the future.

    GCS Credit Union can provide numerous banking services for O’Fallon, IL teenagers looking to get a jumpstart on money management. To learn how you can set up checking and savings accounts, call us at (618) 219-8600. We also offer credit cards, auto loans, and much more. 

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