• Saving Money on Your Food Budget

    If you are tired of seeing grocery stores draining money from your checking account but you don’t want to cut back on buying healthy items, which often cost more, you may be excited to learn that there is a middle ground. This video shows you how to save money on your food budget.

    You don’t have to clip coupons to cut costs, though that could help. The best way to save money on food is to plan your meals, make a list, and invest the time in finding the best prices for the food you need.

    GCS Credit Union gives you all the tools you need to stay on top of your finances, from checking accounts and our Visa Rewards credit card to online banking in O’Fallon. For more information, please call us at (618) 797-7993.

  • Staying in Control of Holiday Spending

    Even if you carefully manage your money all year, the holidays can take a significant bite out of your financial standing. Many people drain their checking accounts and run up their credit cards trying to cover the costs of gifts, decorations, and entertainment. With a little planning, however, the holidays don’t have to spell financial doom for the new year. Here are some ways you can control your holiday spending.

    One easy to reduce the financial burden of the holidays is to spread out the costs throughout the year. Buy next year’s décor during post-holiday sales, and pick up gifts when they are on sale during the year. It can also help to save up for the holidays all year. GCS Credit Union’s Christmas Club savings account lets you put money aside during the year that will automatically mature and transfer to your checking account in October, just in time for holiday shopping.

    Learn more about our holiday savings account by calling GCS Credit Union today. Dial (618) 797-7993 to get answers to your questions about our credit union in O’Fallon.

  • FAQs About Share Certificates

    If you are looking for a way to boost the power of your savings without making a risky investment, a share certificate could be right for you. Share certificates are issued by credit unions and reach maturity after a set period of time. Typically, they can be opened with a small deposit, making them a good addition to many people’s overall savings strategy. Could a share certificate be right for your savings goals? Here are the answers to questions you may have about this credit union savings tool.

    How is a share certificate different from a CD?

    Share certificates are essentially the same thing as a CD, or certificate of deposit. When this kind of savings vehicle is issued by a credit union instead of a bank, it is called a share certificate instead of a CD, but it functions in the same way. Share certificates are as safe as CDs, as they are protected by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund. The difference is that share certificates often earn higher interest than CDs, since credit unions are nonprofit institutions.

    What are the benefits of share certificates?

    Share certificates offer a way to earn higher interest on your savings than you would in a standard savings account. They are an alternative to risky investments and allow you to start saving with a relatively small opening deposit. Share certificates have fixed interest rates that increase incrementally, so you know exactly how much interest you can earn and how long it will take.

    What if I have to remove my money from a share certificate early?

    Share certificates are intended to be long-term savings tools, but sometimes, it is necessary to withdraw the money early. If you do, there may be a penalty, and you will miss out on some of the interest. The specifics of the penalties depend on the share certificate you choose.

    If you have questions about share certificates or other savings tools, call GCS Credit Union today. You can speak to a member of our credit union team in O’Fallon about how we can help you reach your financial goals by calling (618) 797-7993.

  • Is Your Christmas Club Account Overdue for a Deposit?

    GCS Credit Union’s Christmas Club account is the perfect way to avoid stress and debt during the holiday season. With this savings account, you can save up money a little at a time throughout the year and watch it grow with interest, so that when it is time to start spending, you’re ahead of the game. If you haven’t made a deposit into your credit union Christmas Club account recently, here are some of the benefits you could be missing out on.

    There is no minimum balance or service fee on the account, and it earns a competitive rate throughout the year. Funds mature on October 15 each year, when they are automatically transferred to your checking account. There are no penalties for early withdrawal, and you can set up a direct deposit into your account for easy savings.

    To learn more about all of our credit union accounts, call GCS Credit Union today. Get more information about online banking, auto loans, and more by dialing (618) 797-7993.

  • Saving Money as a Teen

    Learning to save money as a teen is a skill that will help throughout life, but learning the best ways of saving can be challenging. This video offers suggestions for teens who need strategies for building up the balances in their credit union accounts.

    Thinking before you spend is a critical part of saving money. For example, consider how long you had to work for the money you will need to spend on something. This will help you better evaluate your decisions, so you don’t spend needlessly when you could be saving.

    GCS Credit Union makes it easy for teens to learn how to manage money with our Student Success Account Package that combines savings and checking accounts. Contract our credit union in O’Fallon today at (618) 797-7993 to learn how to open one of our teen-friendly accounts.

  • How Do Late Payments Affect Your Credit?

    If the inner workings of your credit score are a mystery to you, you’re not alone. Most people simply aren’t sure how their credit scores are calculated. The formula is surprisingly complex and difficult to understand for something that is such a vital part of your financial wellbeing. If you’re a credit union member, the team there can answer many of the questions you have about your credit score, but one query comes up frequently: How do late payments harm your credit score? There is no easy answer, but there are some general facts that will help you better determine just how much a late payment will harm your score.

    When is a payment considered to be late?

    The good news is that if you remember you forgot to pay a bill a few days after the due date, your credit is unlikely to be impacted at all. Creditors can begin reporting late payments to credit bureaus when the payment is 30 days late. Creditors will report a payment and specify how late it is. For example, a creditor may decide to report your account to a credit bureau when it is 60 days late, and specify it as such. Late payments can be reported multiple times as the debt gets older, up to 150 days late, at which point it may be reported as charged off.

    How much can a late payment impact a score?

    There is no set rule for how much a late payment will impact your score. How late your payment is, how often you have paid late, and how long it has been since the late payment was reported will factor into how it influences your score. Generally, the higher your credit score is, the more a late payment will affect it. In some cases, a single late payment could reduce your score by 110 points, if your credit score is high. If your score is lower, the impact may be 80 points or less.

    Managing your credit score is hard, but at GCS Credit Union, our team is here to support you as make smart decisions to on the path toward your financial goals. Talk to a credit union representative in O’Fallon today by calling (618) 797-7993 for more information.

  • Financial Management for College Freshmen

    College freshmen face a whole new world when they go off to school, and that often includes being in charge of managing their own finances for the first time. For families, it’s important to make a plan for how freshmen will manage their money at school, from whose names will be on the checking account to how much spending money students will have. This advice will help families get through freshmen year without financial hiccups.

    Know What Is Coming In and Going Out

    Start by tallying up how much money is going to be coming in each semester and how much as to go out. After tuition is paid, how much will be left over from grants and loans? Will the student have a job, and if so, how much is he or she likely to earn? Next, add up fixed expenses, like cellphone bills, and estimates for things like entertainment and grocery shopping. This will give you a good idea of where you stand, and how much wiggle room there is in the budget.

    Be Ready to Be Flexible

    It’s difficult to anticipate exactly what expenses will be at college, so be ready to be flexible with the budget. It’s also very common for freshmen to make some financial missteps. These are great opportunities for leaning, so if a checking account gets overdrawn or a bill gets overlooked, use it as a lesson.

    Break Up Money into Small Chunks

    For parents of freshmen, it’s better to dole out a small amount of money each week or month than give kids a set amount for the semester in one lump. For freshmen, learning to budget this small amount of money and making it stretch is a good way to develop the skills necessary for managing larger amounts.

    At GCS Credit Union, we have a number of different savings and checking accounts designed for young credit union members to help them learn financial responsibility. Talk to one of our representatives about how our credit union in O’Fallon can help your freshman by calling (618) 797-7993.

  • Making the Most of a Debt Consolidation Loan

    Are you struggling to manage all of the bills you have to pay without missing due dates or spending all your free time making payments? If so, then you could benefit from a debt consolidation loan. With a debt consolidation loan from GCS Credit Union, you can combine all of your accounts into a single payment with a low interest rate, saving you time and money.

    With a debt consolidation loan, you can pay off your high-interest accounts and simply focus on making payments on the loan. Having a single payment means you won’t have to juggle due dates, and the attractive interest rate means you could save thousands. The key to making the most of your loan is to avoid running charges back up on your paid off accounts, so you don’t end up with additional debt. Set a budget that does not include regularly using your credit card and reserve those accounts only for financial emergencies.

    Could a debt consolidation loan at GCS Credit Union be right for you? Talk to one of our representatives to learn more about using debt consolidation loans effectively and the competitive rates on our other loans, including auto and home mortgage loans in O’Fallon. Dial (618) 797-7993 for more information.

  • Should You Focus on Investment or Paying off Debt?

    When you’re dealing with debt, such as student loan debt, you may be wondering if paying off that debt or investing your money will help you reach your financial goals faster. A good way to start is to discuss your options with your credit union, so you understand how different approaches can work for you.

    Watch this video to learn more about investing for retirement and paying off debt. Although a balanced approach is important, there may be more benefits to prioritizing investing in retirement savings than in paying off debt faster.

    GCS Credit Union is here to help our members make the most of their money, so that it works for them. For more information about credit union in O’Fallon, including checking accounts and auto loans, call (618) 797-7993.

  • The First Year of Homeownership: Advice for Creating a Budget

    When you’re house hunting, it’s natural for the cost of your home mortgage loan to be front and center in your mind, but it’s also important to remember that the cost of homeownership is much more than the your monthly payment. The additional costs can come as a surprise to many first-time buyers, especially during the first year that they are in the their homes. After you sign the agreement for your home mortgage loan, follow these steps for creating a budget.

    Learn About Property Tax and Insurance

    Property tax and homeowner’s insurance are unavoidable payments you have to make for your home. If you put down less than 20%, you will need to pay for private mortgage insurance. Know what these costs will be before you decide to buy a home so that you can consider them in your overall budget. Keep in mind that these costs can be significant, depending on where you live and the size of your mortgage, so plan ahead for paying them.

    Consider HOA Fees

    One expense that takes many homeowners by surprise is fees for HOAs—homeowner’s associations. Although these fees are modest in some places, they can be substantial in other communities. Find out what the fees and terms of payment are for your new community and be sure to include them in your budget. Failing to pay these fees will lead to costly fines, not to mention unpleasant interactions with your new neighbors.

    Get Real About Ongoing Costs

    The true cost of homeownership involves everything from buying furniture to replacing your water heater. It is helpful to put money into a savings account every month that you can use for unexpected repairs and other home expenses. Let this fund build up over time, and only tap it when you truly need it, so you won’t be caught underwater financially when an expense arises.

    At GCS Credit Union, our representatives will help you understand the full cost of homeownership when you apply for a home mortgage loan in O’Fallon. We also make it easy to manage your money with online banking and a variety of account options. For more information about our credit union, call (618) 797-7993.