• Understanding Mortgage Insurance

    If you get a home mortgage loan and don’t put down 20% as a down payment, then you may need mortgage insurance. This video explains more about mortgage insurance and what it could mean for your overall home mortgage loan payments.

    Mortgage insurance protects the lender in the case that you default on your loan. Once you reach 20% equity in you home, you can typically get rid of the mortgage insurance, as long as your lender agrees.

    GCS Credit Union can answer your questions about home mortgage loans in O’Fallon as well as all of our banking products, including checking accounts, online banking, and more. Call us today at (618) 797-7993.

  • The Young Adult’s Guide to Home Mortgages

    Buying a new home can be an overwhelming process at any age. For young adults, who are just starting to build their financial management skills, applying for and paying home mortgage loans can be particularly complex. The age at which people usually get home mortgage loans has increased over the years, which means young adults may have even more than questions than in the past, because they have fewer peers going through the process. However, mortgages are accessible to young adults, and it is still possible to become a homeowner in your 20s. If you are considering applying for a home mortgage loan, here is what you need to know.

    Pay Attention to Your Down Payment

    Having a down payment of 20% is standard for a conventional home mortgage loan. If you don’t have that amount of money, there are alternatives, such as using a lower down payment but carrying mortgage insurance until the equity in your home is equal to 20%. However, it is usually a good idea to come as close to 20% as possible, even if your lender is willing to give you a loan with less. A strong down payment will help you get the best interest rate on your loan and keep your monthly payment under control.

    Manage Your Debt

    One mistake that many young adults make is using financing to make purchases excessively. Although financing large purchases can make the cost manageable, it also leaves you with a lot of debt. Mortgage lenders look at your whole financial picture, including how much debt you already carry, so keep yours in check if your goal is to buy a home.

    Consider the Full Cost of Home Ownership

    Your home mortgage loan payment is just part of the cost of being a homeowner. When you are deciding what kind of payment you can afford, keep in mind that you will also need to pay for insurance, maintenance, landscaping, and home repairs, so you can budget effectively.

    If you’re looking for a home mortgage loan in O’Fallon, contact GCS Credit Union. Our team members can walk you through the process and help you get the right loan for your budget. To schedule an appointment at our credit union, please call (618) 797-7993.

  • Advice for Choosing the Right Credit Card

    A credit card can be an important part of your financial picture. It can help you build a history of smart financial management as you leverage the purchasing power than comes with the ability to charge purchases. However, not all credit cards are created equal, and choosing the right one for your needs is not always easy. Your credit union can offer plenty of advice when it comes to selecting the best card for your needs. These tips will also help.

    Skip the Mailbox Advertisements

    There is a good chance that you are bombarded with credit card offers in your mailbox, email inbox, and even when you’re out shopping. However, choosing a card simply because you have seen it advertised many times isn’t a good strategy. Cards that promise low introductory rates, great rates on balance transfers, and more great introductory features often have a lot of fine print that makes the deals less attractive. Pay attention to all of the details, and look especially closely at what the interest rate on the card after the introductory period has expired.

    Be Realistic About Your Spending Habits

    How you spend can have a big impact on the kind of card that is right for you. For example, if you plan to pay off the balance of your card in full each month, you can use a different set of criteria than if you plan to carry a balance. It’s important for your credit card to help manage your finances as effectively as possible.

    Know Your Credit Score Before You Apply

    Knowing where you stand with your credit can help you narrow down the selection of cards you can consider. Apply for the very best one you can get with your credit, but avoid applying blindly to multiple cards. The multiple credit queries on your account can drive down your score.

    The Visa Rewards credit card from GCS Credit Union was designed for the needs of our customers in mind. Talk to a representative at our credit union in O’Fallon today by calling (618) 797-7993.

  • Upgrading Your Car? Here’s How to Pick a Manageable Payment

    When you’re seeking an auto loan, there are many factors to consider. However, one of the things many people focus on, and for good reason, is the monthly car payment. You should never choose an auto loan based on the payment alone, but if you can’t make the monthly payment, then you risk having the car repossessed and destroying your credit. If you’re upgrading your car, here are some of the strategies you can use to make sure your monthly payment is manageable.

    Consider All of the Costs of Car Ownership

    Your monthly payment isn’t the only thing you have to pay on your car. You have insurance to consider, whether you pay it monthly, every six months, or once per year. You also have to consider gas, parking, maintenance, and repairs. In other words, you can’t be so over-leveraged on your car payment that you can’t get the oil changed or come up with a few hundred dollars when it needs a repair. Add up what these costs usually look like for you, so you can factor them in when considering your overall car budget.

    Base Your Payment on a Percentage of Your Income

    As a general rule of thumb, your car payment should not be more than 20% of your pay, and ideally, it should be below 15%. Aim for about 10% as a good figure for your monthly payment, as it allows you to set aside another 5% or 10% for repairs, maintenance, and those other ownership expenses.

    Avoid Lowering Your Payment with a Long Loan Term

    One way to get a lower monthly payment for a car you want is to agree to extend the loan term. However, the longer you pay on the loan, the more interest you will end up paying. This could cause you to pay thousands more for a car in the long run than if you had kept the loan shorter.

    Close-up view of car keys with red bow as present and calendar on wooden background on wooden background.

  • A Look at Our Payment Protection Plan

    Being able to pay your bills is on time isn’t just about being responsible. Unexpected illness, injuries, or a death can all cause late payments that are out of your control. Unfortunately, these late payments will still affect your credit score and can lead to years of credit struggles. Late payments on your auto loan or mortgage loan could even lead to repossession.

    GCS Credit Union is pleased to offer our Payment Protection plan for this purpose. If a qualifying event happens, your Payment Protection plan can kick in and minimize the effects of the unexpected on your financial wellbeing. The plan prevents late fees, protects your credit, and can even eliminate your loan balance.

    Talk to a GCS Credit Union representative today to learn how to add Payment Protection to your accounts. To speak to a representative from our credit union in O’Fallon, call (618) 797-7993.

  • 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.