Teaching Teens How to Use Credit Cards Responsibly

Teaching your teen to handle their finances will set them up for future success. Giving them a credit card can help them learn how to handle their expenses responsibly.

This video suggests ways to teach your child financial responsibility with a credit card. One option is to secure a credit card for your teen from your existing credit card company. Get a card with a small limit of one or two hundred dollars. This will provide your child some freedom without causing you undue stress.

At GCS Credit Union , we offer great rates on our Visa credit cards! You can find out more about opening a credit and debit card account with us by calling (618) 797-7993 today. We invite you to check out our blog for more tips on raising your children to be financially responsible.

What Are My Retirement Planning Options?

Whether you’re just entering the workforce or looking to leave it in a few years, retirement planning is essential. Your credit union can offer many options when it comes to retirement planning, including IRAs, CDs, stocks, and more. Talk to a financial advisor today to find out which option could be best for you.

Senior couple happy about their budgeting

IRAs
Both traditional and Roth IRAs are popular retirement plans. A traditional IRA allows tax-deductible contributions today, while you pay taxes when you withdraw money during retirement. If you choose a Roth IRA, you pay taxes on your contributions today but withdraw your savings in the future tax-free.

CDs
CDs are low risk/reward savings options. They earn interest like a savings account, but at a higher rate because you must keep money in a CD for a specified period of time or you incur penalties. You can roll the account over into a new CD when it matures to continue accruing interest.

Money Markets
A money market account allows your credit union to invest your funds in money markets, with your earnings paid out each month. You can access your account at any time, though there may be a limit on the amount you can withdraw each month.

Stocks
Purchasing stocks can provide you with significant gain over the long term, which is ideal for retirement savings. Over periods of many years, the return on stocks can mitigate inflation, which is a major benefit during your retirement.

Mutual Funds
A mutual fund is a pool of money that is used to invest in a range of options such as stocks, bonds, or Treasury bills. As an investor, you receive a portion of the fund’s net gain over time. Mutual funds offer investment diversity beyond what you might be capable of as an individual investor.

Learn more about saving for your retirement by contacting GCS Credit Union at (618) 797-7993. We can help you explore your financial options and create a plan for your future with CDs, money market accounts, and more. Visit our website to find more great investing and retirement advice.

Common Retirement Account Mistakes

As life expectancy increases, so does inflation, which means that current retirees need to have more money saved than their parents did, and their children will need even more. People can now live two or even three decades after retirement if they are in good health, and they will need to budget accordingly so that they don’t have to live in increasing poverty as they age.

Some common financial mismanagement mistakes that people make with their retirement accounts include withdrawing too much money before actually retiring, mismanaging inherited or rolled over IRAs, and forgetting about existing 401(k) accounts from previous employers.

Retirement Plan

Planning for retirement can be a confusing, time-consuming process. A financial planner can help you manage your retirement and create concrete, achievable financial goals so you can enjoy your golden years. To speak with a  retirement services representative , call GCS Credit Union today at (618) 797-7993. 

Using a Personal Loan to Deal with Credit Card Debt and Expenses

Because credit cards often come with high interest rates, buyers often end up paying much more than the original price of the items they charge, especially if they only make the minimum monthly payment. If you have a large amount of outstanding credit card debt, you may wish to consider taking out a personal loan to essentially refinance that debt, or to make a large purchase without increasing the outstanding balance on your card. In order to successfully implement this financial strategy, follow the tips below.

Debt

Consolidate Your Debt
Using a personal loan to  restructure your credit card payments  can be especially helpful if you have outstanding balances on more than one card. Rather than keeping track of various monthly payments that are due on different dates, you can use the money from the loan to pay off all the cards completely, then repay the loan in one convenient monthly payment.

Look for Lower Interest Rates
Average credit card interests rates hover around 15%. If you have a good credit score, you may be able to secure a much lower interest rate for a personal loan, especially if you apply at a financial institution such as a credit union instead of at a large bank.

Don’t Run Up the Balance on Your Credit Cards Again
In order to ensure that the loan has a positive overall impact on your credit score, make sure that you keep the balance on your credit cards low while you are paying the loan off. Keeping the credit cards open and building your history will have a positive impact on your credit score—just make sure you keep your purchases small and pay the full balance off each month.

If you are considering restructuring your debt, or if you simply need money to make a major purchase,  call GCS Credit Union today  at (618) 797-7993. One of our financial professionals can help you take out a personal loan with a term and a rate that will fit your budget. 

Use Mint.com’s Trusted App to Get Help Managing and Budgeting Your Finances

Keeping track of your savings and spending can quickly become very confusing, especially if you have multiple checking accounts and credit cards. It’s very easy to spend more than you should, especially on little purchases that add up like lunches out, morning cappuccinos, and other incidental, everyday expenses.

Download Mint.com Personal Finance for your iPhone, and you can consolidate all your financial accounts in one easy-to-read app. Mint can even factor in any loan debt and retirement accounts that you have, and keep track of your discretionary budget.

null

If you are searching for a reliable financial institution that you can trust with your savings, call  GCS Credit Union  today at (618) 797-7993 to discover the benefits of opening an account with 

A Parent’s Guide to Helping Children Build Develop Responsible Savings Practices

Beyond instilling moral values in them from a young age, one of your main jobs as a parent is to equip your children with the skills they will need to live as independent adults. Financial responsibility is one of the keys to a successful life, so you should teach your kids how to budget and save from a young age. Even before you open a savings account for them, you can begin to teach your kids financial skills with the strategies below:

Responsible girl putting money into piggy bank for future saving

Provide Them with an Allowance
Even if they are too young to have a job, you can still show your kids how to budget on an income by providing them with a weekly allowance. Some parents like to make their kids perform household chores such as doing the dishes or cleaning their rooms in exchange for allowance money, but others feel that chores should be a family duty independent of financial concerns.

Let Them Learn From Their Mistakes
Parents sometimes try to micromanage their kids’ budgets, but one of the  ways that children learn good financial habits  is by making mistakes. For example, if your child wishes to spend $10 on a giant ice cream sundae on $30 on an expensive toy, allow her to make the purchase and evaluate on her own whether the temporary gratification was worth depleting her savings account.

Open a Checking Account for Them
Sooner or later, every kid will have to outgrow the piggy bank and learn about interest. Once your child has amassed a small savings in coins and bills, you can take her to the bank and have her open an account. It’s a good idea, however, to wait until your child is high-school aged before providing her with a debit card.

GCS Credit Union can help you teach your child financial responsibility by allowing you to  open a savings account  for him or her. We also offer a wide range of financial services for adults, including mortgages and auto loans. To speak with one of our friendly team members, call (618) 797-7993 today.

Consolidated Personal Loan Basics

Borrowers who are making several payments per month on different loans and debt obligations may wish to consider merging all debts into a single consolidated personal loan . This can considerably simplify the repayment process, and may result in a lower overall monthly payment. Also, the fewer bills you have to keep track of, the less likely it is that you will miss a payment and accrue late penalties and added interest.

When consolidating your debt, you will take out a loan that is enough to pay the full balance on all your other outstanding loans at once. Then, you will pay back the principal and interest at one rate, to a single lender. As you make payments, your credit score will also improve rapidly. Having all your debt consolidated into one payment will also make it easier for you to calculate when you can afford to make more than the minimum payment.

Personal Loan

You can  apply for a personal loan  to consolidate credit cards and other forms of debt by calling GCS Credit Union today at (618) 797-7993 and speaking with one of our helpful staff members today. 

Funding Your Future: Mortgage Basics

Buying a home is the dream of millions of Americans. Most families that purchase a house can do so only by taking out a mortgage from a lender. As you can imagine, acquiring a mortgage requires a lot of forethought and preparation. Central to securing a mortgage is understanding the difference between loan options and knowing your credit score. Mortgages can be either fixed-rate loans or variable-rate loans, and both kinds have their advantages. To receive the best possible interest rate on either mortgage type, you need a high credit score that reflects little to no debt and timely loan payments. This infographic from GCS Credit Union, an O’Fallon, Illinois credit union , outlines the mortgage process. Please share this infographic with all the prospective homeowners in your network. 

Funding-Your-Future-Mortgage-Basics-Infographic

How to Set and Achieve Realistic Financial Goals

A solid financial plan for your future is not a static item that you can simply create and implement—rather, it is a work in progress that you will build and modify throughout the course of your life and your career. To make sure that you have enough in your checking account and your retirement account , it helps to set achievable financial goals. Use the tips below to help you create a sound financial plan.

Investment

Set Concrete Timelines for Your Goals
Avoid vague goals like “getting out of debt.” If you don’t  set a timeline on the goal , then large purchases will always come up and add back to the debt that you’ve already paid off. If you want to pay off all your debts, give yourself a deadline of three to five years (one year is probably not realistic unless you get a sudden large raise). You can set short-term goals, such as

Quantify Each Goal
If you want to have a comfortable retirement with discretionary income to spend on vacations and other leisure activities, you will need to crunch some numbers and calculate the monthly income you will need to support your desired lifestyle. Set a savings goal for your retirement, and set aside more than your goal during the months when you spend below your budget.

Prioritize Your Goals
Buying a brand-new convertible may be a financial goal, but it should be lower on your priority list than other necessities, say for example purchasing a home or saving a certain amount of money for retirement. When creating a financial plan for your life, remember that you will have to sacrifice short-term enjoyment for long-term security.

No matter what your financial plans are, GCS Credit Union can help you achieve them. We offer a wide variety of financial products and services, including personal loans,  tax-deferred IRAs , and basic checking accounts. Call us today at (618) 797-7993 to find out more.

When to Start Saving for Retirement

When starting their first job, retirement is often the last thing on most young professionals’ minds; 25 or 30 years seems impossibly far away. But if you would like to enjoy a relaxing post-retirement lifestyle with enough discretionary income to dine out, travel, and engage in other leisure activities, you need to start planning now.

You should begin saving for retirement as early as possible, because inflation works against you over time, and you need to make sure you have enough money set aside to comfortably enjoy the lifestyle you want once you retire. This video will provide you with more information about saving for retirement.

The finance professionals at GCS Credit Union can help you set up  a retirement plan  that won’t leave your checking account empty today. To speak with one of our friendly representatives, call us at (618) 797-7993 today.