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    Does Your Child Need a Credit Card?

    Last updated 9 months ago

    Many parents are wary to suggest credit cards for their children, but credit cards can help young adults build a solid credit history in college. However, it is important to take the right steps when selecting and using a credit card while in college.

    As this video explains, you should work with your child as he or she applies for a first credit card. This way, you can find a card with a more reasonable interest rate and spending limit. You should teach your child to only make smaller purchases on credit, avoiding bigger ticket items that can stack up when it comes to interest.

    You can find helpful financial solutions for your college student at GCS Credit Union in O’Fallon. Visit us online or call (618) 219-8600 to connect with your local branch. 

    How to Build a Budget as a College Student

    Last updated 9 months ago

    For most young adults, college offers the first taste of financial freedom, which can get some students into trouble with debt after graduation. To manage your money effectively in college and prevent a mountain of post-graduation debt, follow these budget-building tips from GCS Credit Union:  

    Create a Semester-Long Budget 
    It may be most beneficial to view your spending from a semester-long perspective rather than month-to-month. Because you may have extra expenses when the semester starts and a cash boost when you sell back your books, it is best to account for all of the semester’s income and spending all at once. You will want to calculate how much money you have from financial aid, work, and student loans, and then divide this among your major expenses. What’s left is there for spending, but you should monitor it carefully with online and mobile banking.

    Prioritize Your Expenses
    You might have to make sacrifices in your social life to afford the things you really need. For example, you might cut down on going out for drinks and taking high-cost vacations over school breaks to make more spending room for personal items and transportation. You can still have fun while you save, however. You just need to get a little creative by hosting social events at home or planning a lower-cost road trip over spring break rather than an expensive flight to a bigger vacation destination.

    Avoid Unnecessary Credit Card Spending
    One of the biggest budget pitfalls for college students is credit cards. While you are in school, it may seem easy to take out a credit card and let extra spending overflow into that account, but when the bill arrives, you may be in hot water. If you do have a credit card, only use it to make purchases you know you can afford. This way, you can pay them off and build credit in college instead of building up more debt.

    GCS Credit Union in O’Fallon can help you get a good financial start with a free checking account, online banking, and great member discounts. To connect with us, give us a call at (618) 219-8600 or visit our website today. 

    Why Savings Bonds Are a Good Investment

    Last updated 9 months ago

    Savings bonds may no longer seem like the most exciting investment in the world, but does that mean they have lost their importance in terms of value? In fact, though savings bonds often get overlooked, they remain a stable place to put money for safe, steady growth.

    Savings bonds are often given as gifts to kids, and for good reason. Bonds take many years to reach maturity, and when they do, they become a good source of money for big purchases young adults need to make, like college tuition or a first car. However, savings bonds aren’t just for kids. Good investment portfolios mix high-yield, high-risk investments with lower-earning, low-risk offerings like savings bonds. Savings bonds can play a helpful role in your retirement portfolio by offering a safe, reliable return you can count on.

    Do you have savings bonds? Cash them in at GCS Credit Union in O’Fallon. We can also help you purchase the new, electronic bonds. Get answers to your questions about all of our credit union services by calling (618) 219-8600.  

    Beat Financial Woes by Avoiding These Money Missteps

    Last updated 9 months ago

    Managing money is a process. There is no one formula that works for everyone, and it can take some time to settle into a plan that works for you. The way you manage your money is also likely to change several times over the course of your lifetime as your goals and needs shift. At GCS Credit Union, we’re invested in the financial wellbeing of our members and are here to help you make smart decisions about your spending and savings habits that suit your personal goals. However, there are a few missteps that can hurt anyone, no matter what their goals are. Avoid these mistakes, and you’ll be on your way to financial freedom. 

    Spending Without Looking Ahead
    Mindless purchases are the bane of financial health. Making impulse purchases and buying things you don’t really need, like your second coffee drink of the day, will stand in your way of achieving the bigger goals you have, like getting a new car or your first mortgage. Only spend money on things that are important to you and ban spending on a whim.

    Not Staying on Top of Financial Information
    Life is hectic, and it is easy to let bills, account statements, and other financial paperwork take a backseat to everything else. However, if you don’t stay on top of your paperwork, you won’t know where you stand. You may also accidentally miss payments, which can hurt your credit. Set aside a short time each week to review your financial info, from your bills to your credit union statements, so you don’t fall behind.

    Putting Your Savings Account Last
    Depositing money into your savings account may not feel like fun, but in reality, your savings is how you pay yourself. Set up an automatic deposit from your checking account to your savings account each month to make the process easier, or transfer a set percentage of each check to savings when you get paid.

    GCS Credit Union makes managing your money easier with our checking and money market accounts, savings accounts, and great rates on loans. Join today and take control of your financial health. Learn more by calling our O’Fallon credit union at (618) 219-8600. 

    Shop Online Without Getting Burned

    Last updated 9 months ago

    Shopping online is the ultimate in convenience. Of course, online scammers know that too, and they try to leverage your online buying habits to gain access to your accounts. A few easy steps will keep your money safe while you get your online shopping fix. This video explains.

    If you want to shop online, one of the most important things you can do is to make sure your home network security is strong. Update your anti-virus software or download a free program to protect yourself. Avoid shopping on public networks, and beware emails that ask you for account numbers, passwords, or your social security number, even if they appear legitimate. 

    GCS Credit Union can offer more tips on protecting yourself while you bank and shop online. Our O’Fallon credit union can also help if you do find yourself the victim of fraud. Find out more about our services by calling (618) 219-8600. 

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