Tips for Saving Money for Your Kids

Though having kids is a blessing in many ways, they can drastically change your financial picture. To save money for your kids’ college education and your retirement, you need to be smart about where you put your money.

This video offers advice on how to save money for your kids’ college education. A 529 plan is a good idea, though you’ll have trouble accessing the money until your kid goes off to college. One suggestion is to pull back on your retirement accounts and instead funnel the money into a general account that has a bit more liquidity.

For help making sound financial decisions, call GCS Credit Union at (618) 797-7993. Our credit union has been providing the people of O’Fallon, IL with auto loans,  checking accounts , and much more since 1941.  

Easy Ways to Save Money at Home

Millions of households across the country struggle with sticking to a budget. Between new gadgets, unexpected injuries, and impromptu nights out, expenses have a way of adding up. To give your family some financial breathing room, you should look for new ways to save . Here are a few tips to get you started:

Groceries Basket

Conserve Water and Energy
Many homeowners are focused on their mortgage, and underestimate their utility costs as a result. Some simple ways to save on energy include installing compact fluorescent light bulbs, turning the lights off each time you leave a room, and keeping your appliances in good shape. To save water you can take shorter showers, cut back on watering your lawn, and only run your dish and clothes washers when they’re full. Being mindful of your water and energy usage is great for the environment and can take a serious chunk out of your home spending.   

Buy Groceries in Bulk
Wherever you go to buy groceries, you’ll find that you can save money by  buying items in large quantities  rather than those same items in smaller quantities. Buying food items in bulk is especially a good idea if you have kids who are sure to eat large amounts of food in a timely manner. You should also consider buying certain house goods in bulk, including laundry detergent, toilet paper, and printer paper.

Consider Refinancing
One of the effects of the recent global financial crisis was the lowering of mortgage interest rates. If you bought your home before 2007, you might consider refinancing your home and getting a lower interest rate. Refinancing may sound complicated, but you’ll find it to be quite easy with help from a friendly neighborhood credit union.

The experts at GCS Credit Union will gladly help you find new ways to save money at home and everywhere else. We offer our clients everything from simple debit cards and checking accounts to  auto loans and home mortgages . Call our O’Fallon, IL office at (618) 797-7993 to find out how our banking services can make your life easier. 

GCS Credit Union: CU Savers

It’s never too early to start saving. With GCS Credit Union’s CU Savers club, kids from 11-13 can build savings, learn about financial responsibility, and have a great time doing it! For parents, the CU Savers program is a great way to teach kids about money. For young members, the club simply makes saving cool.

All it takes to open a CU Savers account is a $5 deposit. Kids can keep adding to the account or just sit back and watch as interest accrues on their initial deposit. Every quarter, CU Savers receive the exclusive Rockstar Saver newsletter, which is filled with great tips for getting smart about money. Even better, CU Savers get VIP invitations to exclusive kids’ events and access to contests with amazing prizes. After age 13, CU Savers graduate to the Get Mo’ Green club to help with things like saving up for a first car or college tuition.

Saving is fun if you think of your goal

GCS Credit Union is investing in making financial security a reality for all of our members, starting with teaching our young members the  importance of saving . Check out the saving plans our O’Fallon credit union has for your kids by calling (618) 797-7993.

A Look at the Various Member Services Offered by GCS Credit Union

At GCS Credit Union , we’re constantly looking for new ways to make membership more valuable. Our credit union offers a range of discounts and financial products designed to help your money go further. If you’re considering joining our credit union, here are some of the benefits you can expect to enjoy:

Piggy bank with dollars banknotes

Member Discounts
GCS Credit Union has arranged for members to receive discounts and cash back at a number of your favorite businesses. Use your GCS debit card to get cash back at Target, Macy’s, Gap, Apple, and many other retailers. Members are also eligible for discounts on Dell products, Sprint Wireless, and DirecTV. We frequently add new offers, so be sure to check our  credit union  website for new promotions regularly.

GCS Prime Time Club
Make the most of your retirement with the GCS Prime Time Club. If you’re at least 60 years old, have a minimum of $60,000 in GCS accounts, and have an open checking account with us, you’re eligible to join. Prime Time members get a .25 percent bonus rate on their share savings, unlimited check writing, free basic checking, and no foreign ATM fees. Members also get access to exclusive savings through GCS and the Invest in America Program.

Phone Banking
When your local GCS branch isn’t open, just call our 24-hour phone teller MARTI. To use MARTI, you will need to set up a PIN by phone or at a branch. Once you have your number, you can use MARTI to get up-to-date balance information, make account transfers, set up loan payments, and request payoff amounts on outstanding loans. You can also make payment calculations for loans you’re thinking about applying for and set up advances from open lines of credit.

In addition to these special services, GCS Credit Union in O’Fallon has an extensive selection of financial products, including checking accounts, debit cards,  auto loans , and more. To learn about everything we have to offer, call (618) 797-7993. 

Be a Member, Not a Customer!

When you walk through the doors at a big bank, you’re a customer. In many cases, this means being just an account number to the person behind the counter. At GCS Credit Union, the experience is different. We don’t have customers—instead, we have members . When it comes to planning your financial future, this difference figures prominently.

Watch this video to hear more about the GCS Credit Union difference. We’re members of the communities we serve. Unlike banks, we don’t sacrifice the customer experience to earn profits. We’re invested in the financial security of our members, because we can only succeed if they do. This philosophy shapes every financial product our credit union offers.

Are you interested in joining the GCS Credit Union family? Call our O’Fallon credit union today at (618) 797-7993 with all of your questions about  membership and more

Tips for Staying on Top of Your Finances after Paying Off a Loan

Paying off a loan brings a certain sense of accomplishment. You’ve tackled a debt successfully through monthly payments and now have a little extra freedom to spend. However, that feeling may be short-lived if you aren’t careful about how you spend your money going forward. Don’t make the mistake of replacing your old debt with a new one by making bad financial decisions. Here are some ways you can continue to succeed with your finances after you’ve satisfied a loan:

Approved the loan application

Track Your Spending
When you’re done making payments on a loan, you suddenly find yourself a little richer every month. What will you spend that money on? If you’re not careful, it could vanish in a haze of coffee drinks and movie tickets. Write down everything you spend for a month. You will quickly see the areas where you could cut back. Leaving your debit card in your wallet instead of making several small purchases here and there can add up to big rewards in the future.

Make Saving a Priority
Commit to saving a portion of your income every month. Decide on a set amount you will put aside, and try to top it whenever you can. It can be too tempting to leave unspent money in a checking account; instead, open a savings account or buy a CD so the money will be harder to access and will accrue interest.

Use Credit Wisely
Credit cards  are a convenience, unless you use them to live beyond your means. If you can’t pay your bill in full each month, you may be overspending. Leave your credit cards at home and rely on your debit card if you can’t stop charging.

GCS Credit Union  has all of the tools you need to achieve financial security. In addition to a range of checking and saving products, we offer great rates on auto financing, mortgages, and more. Stop by one of our branches or call our O’Fallon credit union at (618) 797-7993 to learn more about membership. 

Protecting Yourself against Identity Theft

Identity theft is a modern epidemic. Millions of people fall victim to this crime each year, and the effects can be devastating. GCS Credit Union is committed to doing everything in our power to protect our customers, but we also need your help. Here are some ways you can keep your personal information safe:

If you lose checks, debit cards, or credit cards, or believe they were stolen, report the issue to GCS immediately so we can freeze your accounts. Shred all of your financial documents, including unsolicited credit offers, before putting them in the trash. Always safeguard your PIN, and never give out your social security number or account numbers over the phone, unless you made the call yourself. Don’t allow mail to pile up in your mailbox. Lastly, help us keep your money safe by complying with our requirement for identification for large cash transactions, wire transfers, and bank check purchases. Occasionally, we may spot check IDs on other transactions in an effort to fight fraud at our credit union.

Identity theft

Do you suspect you’ve been the victim of identity theft?  Contact GCS Credit Union  right away so we can help you minimize the impact. Call our O’Fallon credit union at (618) 797-7993 for more information.  

Everything You Need to Know About Joining a Credit Union

Are you considering joining a credit union ? The services you receive from a credit union may seem very much like a traditional bank’s, but these institutions differ in significant ways. When you join a credit union, you stop being a customer and start being a member. There are several benefits to taking this approach to your finances. Consider these facts about credit unions:

Smiling Piggybank Girl

Non-Profit Institutions
Unlike banks, credit unions don’t exist to earn profits by selling services to their customers. Instead, they are  non-profit institutions . After operating expenses are covered, any profit generated by business done at a credit union is rolled back over to the members. Members see these profits in the forms of lower interest rates on loans, higher rates on savings accounts, and free or discounted financial services. 

Member-Owners
As soon as you put money into an account at a credit union, you become a member of that organization. This means that not only do you get the benefits of lower rates and free financial products, but you also get to take part in the credit union’s governance. Every credit union has a board that consists of democratically elected members and answers directly to other union members. There are no stockholders to pressure the board to institute policies that are financially harmful to the members.

Access to Membership
Many people mistakenly believe that credit unions are extremely exclusive. In the past, credit unions served narrow groups, but now, nearly everyone is eligible for membership in at least one credit union. For instance, credit unions may serve members of a specific geographic region or people who are affiliated via a particular industry.

If you want to explore credit union membership, let GCS Credit Union walk you through the process. We offer the  same products as your bank , but designed in a way that puts our members first. Representatives at our O’Fallon credit union are ready to answer your questions now at (618) 797-7993.