• Tips for Saving Money on a Tight Budget

    Saving money is a subject that is deceptively complicated. Of course, everyone knows that it’s important to save money. But how much money should you save? And how can you save when your budget is tight? It’s important to have a reasonable plan. If you have trouble designing a budget that allows for savings, consider talking to a financial planner at your credit union branch.

    Cutting Your Transportation Costs

    The transportation category in your budget likely includes allowances for auto insurance and fuel. One way to reduce your costs is by shopping around for less expensive car insurance. Talk to an independent insurance agent about this. You can also lower your current premiums by taking an approved defensive driving course. You’ll need to submit proof of completion to your insurance company. In addition, work on maximizing your gas mileage to reduce the number of times you fill up the tank. Ease off on the gas well ahead of stop signs and stoplights, accelerate slowly, and stick to the speed limit.

    Planning Your Meals

    Meal planning is a smart activity that can simultaneously save you money and reduce your stress. Make a weekly meal plan the day before you typically go to the grocery store. Write a shopping list based on that meal plan, and don’t give into the temptation to make impulse purchases. You can get more mileage out of your ingredients by using leftovers in the next night’s meals. For instance, if you have a rotisserie chicken on Monday, you can make chicken enchiladas with the leftovers on Tuesday. Reducing food waste is an effective way to reduce your grocery budget.

    Automating Your Bills

    You can set up automated bill pay through your online checking account at the credit union. Many companies offer fee reductions if you set up automated payments. These include insurance companies and phone service providers. Remember to transfer the money you save to your savings account!

    GCS Credit Union can help you save more money and maximize your savings with free checking accounts, cash back programs, and savings accounts with competitive rates. If you aren’t yet a member, call our credit union in O’Fallon at (618) 797-7993 for help getting started.

  • Getting the Most from Online Banking

    Not all that long ago, online banking was a new idea that many people were hesitant to try. But these days, it’s considered a necessity. Between rushing around at work and meeting your obligations to your family, it’s tough to find the time to get to a credit union branch to manage your savings and checking accounts. GCS Credit Union understands. We’ve made our online banking experience as easy and hassle-free as possible, because our members are important to us.

    It can be particularly helpful to set up your bill payments in advance. Just log on to your account and schedule your payments to ensure they are received on time. Or, set up a one-time payment if you prefer, without having to deal with the hassle of mailing a check.

    You can get the benefits of online banking in O’Fallon when you become a member of GCS Credit Union. Call (618) 797-7993 if you have any questions for our member representatives.

  • How to Manage Multiple Credit Cards

    It’s generally not a good idea to have lots of credit card accounts open because this can encourage your debt to spiral out of control. If you’re having trouble getting out of debt, consider talking to a financial planner at your credit union. You can also watch this featured video to get some valuable tips on managing multiple credit cards.

    This video recommends a few apps that you can use to manage you credit cards, such as Mint. It’s always a good idea to set up notifications or email alerts so that you won’t miss a due date, as this will negatively affect your credit score. You can also commit to paying off the balance for the card with the highest interest rate first to save money in the long run.

    If you’re a GCS Credit Union member, you can easily apply for a Visa credit card with a low interest rate, no annual fee, and a valuable ScoreCard Reward Program. Visit one of our credit union branches in O’Fallon or give us a call at (618) 797-7993 if you have any questions.

  • What Are Some Misconceptions About Credit Unions?

    Credit unions offer a range of benefits that banks do not, but misconceptions about how they work keep away many people who could reap the rewards of membership. If you haven’t considered credit union membership because you think that it’s not for you, you could be making your decision based on outdated or mischaracterized facts. Here is a closer look at some of the common misconceptions about credit unions and the real facts behind them.

    Misconception: Most people can’t qualify for credit union membership.

    It is true that credit unions have membership criteria. As such, there are likely to be credit unions for which you do not qualify. However, the sheer number of credit unions means that almost everyone can qualify for membership in at least one. Many credit unions also offer membership to the family members of people who qualify, so even if you don’t qualify on your own for a particular credit union, if you have a family member who does, you may still be able to join.

    Misconception: Credit unions have limited services.

    Credit unions are non-profit institutions, so they tend to spend less on marketing efforts than banks do. This has created the perception that banks have lots of high-tech services to offer their customers and credit unions do not. In reality, most credit unions offer the exact same services as banks, from loans to mobile banking, and they often provide these services at better rates. You won’t be limiting your access to financial services by joining a credit union.

    Misconception: Credit union locations are hard to find.

    Credit unions frequently have fewer physical locations than large banks, but that doesn’t leave customers high and dry. Most credit unions are part of a shared national network that allows members to easily perform banking services, no matter how far they are away from their home base.

    Find out more about the benefits of credit union membership by contacting GCS Credit Union. We offer an extensive collection of services, including checking accounts, online bill pay, and auto loans. You can learn more about joining our credit union in O’Fallon by calling (618) 797-7993.

  • What Are the Benefits of Direct Deposit?

    Are you still taking paper checks to the credit union to cash on payday? If so, then you are missing out on all of the benefits of direct deposit. Even people who are resistant to direct deposit tend to become full converts after switching to this payment method. Whether you are an employer who is not yet offering direct deposit as an option to employees or an employee who hasn’t yet made the switch, here are some of the benefits on which you could be missing out.

    Direct deposit is convenient.

    This benefit is the one that convinces most people to make the switch to direct deposit. For employees, what could be more convenient than waking up on payday to find that the money is already in your checking account? For employers, it takes several steps out of the process of doing payroll. There is no need to print and distribute paper checks for every pay cycle. Instead, you authorize the payment amounts, and your employees get their pay, on time and much more efficiently than with traditional pay procedures.

    Direct deposit saves money for employers.

    In addition to the cost-saving benefits of improved payroll efficiency, distributing salaries by direct deposit saves money for employers in other ways. The cost of printing checks can be significant, and with direct deposit, employers no longer need to invest in the paper, printers, envelopes, and inks associated with a paper payroll. It also eliminates the cost of replacing lost or stolen checks. Often, credit unions offer incentives to employers for using direct deposit that can translate into savings as well.

    Direct deposit is safer for employees.

    Even with the best of intentions, losing a paycheck or having a paycheck stolen is a real possibility. For employees, direct deposit means protecting a paper paycheck—and the personal financial information on it—is no longer an issue. Your pay goes safely and securely into your account each pay cycle.

    GCS Credit Union is committed to making financial management convenient and secure for our members through direct deposit, online banking, and mobile banking in O’Fallon. Get the answers to all of your questions about our services by calling 618-797-7993.

  • How You Can Get Rewarded for Using Your Credit Card

    At GCS Credit Union, our Visa Rewards Credit Card offers the convenience of shopping with credit combined with the chance to earn valuable rewards. Our credit card comes with the low-interest rates you expect as a credit union member, plus a 25-day grace period on purchases and no annual fee.

    Our Visa card comes with membership in the valuable ScoreCard Reward Program. Each dollar you spent is worth one point. Points can be cashed in for travel, merchandise, and other rewards via GCS. The rewards can be easily managed online at any time, so you can see exactly where you stand and work towards building up points to cash in for your chosen reward. These rewards come in addition to all of the other great card benefits, from auto rental waiver insurance to emergency card replacement.

    If you’re a current GCS Credit Union member, contact your local branch or apply online for our Visa Rewards credit card. If you’re not yet a member, you can contact our credit union in O’Fallon for more information about membership and all of our financial products by calling (618) 797-7993.

  • How Couples Can Have Better Communication About Money

    When couples combine their finances, it can cause some challenges as they adapt to each other’s financial management habits. By working together toward a common goal, they can make the most efficient use of their credit union accounts and services.

    Watch this video to learn how couples can have better communication about their finances. The key is to discuss things as soon as possible in the relationship and to continue to keep the door open to communication about checking accounts, auto loans, and more.

    At GCS Credit Union, we have all of the financial tools you need to reach your joint financial goals, from our Visa Rewards credit card to our home mortgage loans. For more information about our credit union in O’Fallon, call (618) 797-7993.

  • Simple Financial Advice That Everyone Can Follow

    From home mortgage loans to investments, personal finance can get pretty complicated. But there are some simple financial rules that anyone can follow to achieve better financial stability. When you watch this video, you’ll hear a financial expert talk about what he’s learned over the years.

    Some of his financial guidance includes avoiding buying and selling individual stocks, and instead buying well-diversified mutual funds and index funds. He also recommends saving 10% to 20% of your income and paying off your credit card balance in full every month.

    For financial advice tailored to your specific situation, talk to a financial planner at GCS Credit Union. Call (618) 797-7993 to locate our credit union in O’Fallon or to find out about becoming a member.

  • What to Do if You Fall Behind on Auto Loan Payments

    If you’ve lost your job or faced recent unexpected expenses, you may be worried that you’re going to fall behind on your auto loan payments. Ideally, you should take action before you miss a payment. As soon as you know that you can’t make an upcoming payment, get in touch with your auto loan lender to work out a solution.

    Request a loan forbearance agreement.

    If you have a temporary financial problem, a loan forbearance agreement can give you the wiggle room you need. Your lender may agree to let you skip a couple of payments. Those payments would be added to the end of your loan, so you’ll still end up making them eventually. A similar agreement is to make small payments for a few months. However, if you think your financial problem will last longer than the forbearance period, it may be best to explore other options.

    Refinance your auto loan.

    If your financial problem is a long-term one, and you have strong credit, then refinancing the auto loan may be your best option. Refinancing the loan may give you a lower interest rate or a longer life of the loan. Either modification would result in smaller payments. Of course, your original lender might not be willing to refinance. Consider going to a credit union instead. Credit unions are known for working with their members to develop customized financial solutions.

    Sell your vehicle.

    While it might not be the most ideal option, selling your vehicle may be the only feasible path forward if you can’t refinance or get a forbearance agreement. Of course, selling your vehicle will only improve your situation if the sale price is at least equal to the amount you have left on the loan. Another option may be to sell your car to someone you know who is willing to take over the loan or lease.

    GCS Credit Union offers auto loans in O’Fallon at the highly competitive rates you need and the customized terms you deserve. Come in and speak with a member representative today, and we’ll work to structure your auto loan to suit your needs. Call (618) 797-7993.

  • Becoming a Member at Our Credit Union

    If you’re looking for an online banking option, and you’re also interested in getting great interest rates on loans and savings accounts, then it’s time to join GCS Credit Union in Illinois. If you live, work, or go to school in one of our covered counties, then you’re eligible to become a credit union member. Legal entities, including businesses, members of approved employee groups, and the family members of credit union members are also eligible. Once you open an account, you’ll remain eligible for life, even if you move to a non-qualified county or stop working for a qualified employer.

    If you’re eligible, all you have to do is complete the simple application form. We’ll ask you for identifying information, including your date of birth. A representative may ask to see your driver’s license or other proof of identification before approving your membership.

    To become a member at our credit union in O’Fallon, call (618) 797-7993, visit a branch near you, or complete our online application. The entire team here at GCS Credit Union looks forward to helping you save money and benefit from better interest rates.