Making Your Money Go Further on Vacation

Everyone loves to go on vacation, but no one likes to pay for transportation, eating out, and accommodations. Fortunately, there are many ways in which you and your family can have a great vacation without spending a fortune.

This video discusses a few tricks to help you cut costs during your next vacation. To save money on airfare, consider signing up for a free service that notifies you of price drops on flights to your favorite destinations. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye out for coupons that help you save on everything from car rentals to meals at restaurants.

If you need some financial assistance this holiday season, consider taking out a Christmas or vacation loan from GCS Credit Union. Call our O’Fallon branch at (618) 797-7993 to  speak with a representative  about credit cards, auto loans, and other important issues.  

Exploring the Biggest Challenges of Sticking to a Budget

Creating and sticking to a budget are perhaps the most important parts of staying afloat financially . Knowing how much you make and how much you spend can prevent you from relying on credit cards and slipping into debt. However, life is full of complications that could compromise your ability to follow your budget.

Budgeting your Money

Anticipating Utility Bills
Electricity, water, gas, garbage, cable TV, and internet cost the average household hundreds of dollars each month. However, the cost of utilities tends to fluctuate throughout the year. For instance, heating your home in cold weather can make your winter utility bills significantly higher than late spring or early fall utility bills. When budgeting for utilities, be sure to overestimate. If your bills are much higher than you expect, there could be something wrong with your furnace or water heater.       

Losing Track of Spending
From buying a cup of coffee in the morning to having drinks with friends at night, there are a lot of ways you can spend money throughout the day. Though minor expenditures may seem harmless at the time, they can add up over the course of the month. To avoid an unpleasant surprise when you look at your account balance, be sure to include incidental expenses in your budget.

Incurring Unexpected Expenses
One of the most important aspects of  putting together a budget  is making sure you devote a portion of your income to savings. Living paycheck to paycheck is not sustainable, and is a recipe for slipping into debt. Having extra money in your account can help you deal with auto accidents, injuries, and other unexpected expenses. Though you hope you never have to use your emergency fund, it’s nice to know it’s available.

For additional help sticking to a budget, contact the team at GCS Credit Union. We’ve been providing apt financial advice and banking services in Southwest Illinois since 1941. Call us at (618) 797-7993 to speak with a representative or  visit our website  to learn about our auto loan and credit card services.

What to Do with Your Money When You Have Extra Income

Earning extra money is a great feeling, but what can you do to really make it work for you? Spending it on shopping and nights out might be fun, but doing so will rob you of the opportunity to really make a difference in your financial life . Here are some ways to make extra income work for you.

Start by prioritizing your financial goals. Think of short-term things, like paying off debt, and long-term goals, like putting aside money for a home or retirement. Work to build up a 12-month emergency fund so you have a cushion for hard times. Set up direct debits and have your extra income go straight to a specified account or bill so that you aren’t tempted to spend it mindlessly.

American Dollars in different views

Do you need help  reaching your financial goals ? Talk to a financial expert at GCS Credit Union in O’Fallon. We always put our members first and offer the same products as banks at competitive rates. Find out how to apply for membership by calling (618) 797-7993. 

What All Homeowners Should Know About Homeowner’s Insurance

If you own a home, homeowner’s insurance is essential. Not only will your mortgage company require it, but it will also help you recover financially should a disaster strike your property. However, it is important to understand your policy completely. Many homeowners make assumptions that they have coverage on their homes that they actually do not have. If you’re not sure if your insurance policy meets the requirements of your GCS Credit Union mortgage , call our mortgage loan center for help. Here are the basics that all homeowners should keep in mind about how this kind of coverage works.

Protect Your House

What Is Covered Under a Basic Plan?
Most  basic homeowner’s insurance policies  are similar. They cover things like fire and smoke damage, lightening strikes, ice and snow damage, theft, and damage from frozen pipes. Homeowner’s insurance policies also offer some degree of liability coverage to protect you if someone is injured in your home. For instance, if your dog bites someone who is visiting your house, your homeowner’s insurance may pay some of his or her medical bills. If you are unable to live in your home because of damage caused by a covered risk, your insurance will pay the cost for you to live elsewhere.

What Policy Additions Should I Consider?
Depending on where you live, you may need more than a basic policy. Flood damage is not covered under most basic policies and is a smart, affordable addition for many homeowners. You may also want to consider coverage for wind damage and earthquakes. Other available additions include coverage for damage caused by war or acts of terrorism.

How Much Should I Pay for Homeowner’s Insurance?
Insurance costs vary greatly depending on where you live and the value of your home. Keep in mind that you can reduce your monthly premiums by choosing a plan with a high deductible, but be sure you can meet that deductible if you need to file a claim.

At GCS Credit Union, we offer  competitive rates  on mortgages, auto loans, credit cards, and more. To discover all of the advantages of joining our O’Fallon credit union, call us today at (618) 797-7993.

 

Make a Budget Painlessly with This App

Managing your finances may seem like an overwhelming task, but it doesn’t have to be. With the Pocket Budget Android app, creating and tracking your budget is as simple as tapping your smartphone a few times.

The Pocket Budget app is completely customizable and allows you to track several budgets at one time. Create separate budgets for different types of spending and stay on top of your savings goals. This app can help you get a clear picture of where your money is going so you can make smart decisions about spending.

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You can use the Pocket Budget app to manage your savings and checking accounts with GCS Credit Union. To learn about our  full-service financial institution  in O’Fallon, IL, please call (618) 797-7993.

 

Understanding the Dos and Don’ts of Debt Consolidation

When used correctly, debt consolidation loans can help you get out of debt and get a fresh start on your finances. When mismanaged, debt consolidation could leave you facing higher interest rates and even more debt. If you’re considering debt consolidation, the first step is to sit down with a representative from GCS Credit Union to explore loan options and see if consolidation makes sense for you. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you make a decision about debt consolidation.

Wiping out debt

Do Consider Interest Rates
One of the benefits of a  debt consolidation loan  is that the interest rate on the loan will almost certainly be lower than the interest rate of the credit cards and other debts you’re trying to pay off. However, consider how long you will be paying on the debt consolidation loan versus how long it will take you to pay off your current debts. If the consolidation loan will take longer to pay off, be sure that you will still come out on top financially, given that you will be paying that lower interest rate for a longer period of time.

Don’t Add New Debt
With a debt consolidation loan, you will be able to finally get those credit card balances to zero. The trick is to keep them there. If you go out and use those credit cards again, then you will be left with the payments on your debt consolidation loan plus a new stack of credit card debt. Although closing your accounts will have a detrimental effect on your credit score because it will lower your debt-to-credit ratio, doing so may be the best bet if you think you will be tempted to use your cards.

Do Get Advice
If you’re overwhelmed by debt, seek advice on the best way to tackle it from a qualified financial advisor. At GCS Credit Union, we’re here to help you make a plan for the future that gets you out of debt as fast as possible.

O’Fallon, IL’s GCS Credit Union offers the same services as banks, from  checking accounts and debit cards  to auto loans, but with a focus on you. Learn how to apply for membership by calling (618) 797-7993.  

Get Behind the Wheel for Less! [INFOGRAPHIC]

Buying a new car can be a stressful experience, whether you’re shopping for your first car or you’re a veteran car-buyer. In addition to narrowing down the right make and model for your driving habits, you’ll need to figure out your auto financing to pay for your purchase. Obtaining your auto loan from our credit union in O’Fallon, Illinois , is a smart move that could potentially save you money over the life of your loan. Credit unions offer personalized attention that you won’t find at commercial banks and will work with you to make sure you get the lowest auto loan rates possible. Take a look at this infographic to see the advantages of auto loans from credit unions and to find some handy car-buying tips. Please share with your friends and family!

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How and When to Apply for a Personal Loan

A personal loan can help you bridge a financial gap when money is tight . People seek personal loans for all kinds of expenses, both essential and non-essential. Home improvement projects, vacations, and debt consolidation are all reasons people apply for personal loans. Whatever your reason for wanting a loan, it’s important to consider how you will tackle the debt before you borrow.

To apply for a personal loan, sit down with a lender and discuss your situation. Many lenders have loans tailored to specific needs that may have more attractive rates than a simple personal loan. For instance, a home equity loan may be the best choice for a home improvement project. Before you apply for a loan, be sure to gather all of your necessary financial information, including proof of income. Secured loans tend to have better rates than unsecured loans, but keep in mind that defaulting on a secured loan could put your property at risk.

Time To Sign

If you’re in the market for a personal loan, make an appointment with a loan officer at GCS Credit Union or start your loan application online. Our  O’Fallon credit union  is here to help with all of your financial needs. Call us now at (618) 797-7993.  

Expert Tips for Purchasing Your Next Home

Purchasing a home is an exciting process, but there are many decisions to make along the way. From finding the perfect property to getting the right financing, there is a lot to consider. GCS Credit Union is here with affordable, easy-to-understand mortgages , but what about the rest of the process? Here is how to make sure you end up in your dream home.

Hispanic couple outside home with sold sign

Evaluate The Home and Neighborhood
When most people go  shopping for a house , they have a shortlist of things they absolutely want to have and another list of things they would really like to find but are willing to compromise on. Your list may include things like a big kitchen, proximity to local shops, or a neighborhood full of kids. A home is a big investment, so invest the time in finding a property you really love. Also, be sure to drive by your potential new home at a few different times during the day. That is the best way to find out if the neighbors throw big parties every night or if kids play outside daily until dinnertime before you move in.

Consider the Cost
Stretching your budget to get a bigger home is not a good financial play for most people. It is a better idea to find a home you can comfortably afford and upgrade in the future. If you’re not sure exactly what your budget should be, sit down with an expert at your credit union to evaluate your options.

Finance Your Purchase
Once you find your dream home, you have to pay for it. Credit unions offer competitive rates on mortgages because, as non-profit institutions, they can re-invest earnings back into loan products.  

Whether you’re getting ready to buy your first house or finally getting your dream home, GCS Credit Union is here to help. We can explain the mortgage process and help you get a loan that fits your budget.  Members of our credit union  enjoy great rates on checking accounts, mortgages, auto financing, and much more. Learn more about the benefits of being part of our O’Fallon, IL credit union by calling (618) 797-7993.