How to Convince Your Kids to Get Serious about Financial Responsibility

Financial responsibility is one of the greatest lessons you can teach your children. You don’t have to wait until your kids are entering their teen years and getting their first jobs to start talking about money. Even very young children can grasp basic concepts about saving and budgeting. At GCS Credit Union , we support parents’ efforts to create fiscally savvy kids with our range of youth accounts. Here are some ways you can convince your kids to get excited about managing their money: 

Father training son to the finance

Set Long-Term Goals
When your kids save up their money for special purchases and then actually get to go out and buy what they wanted, they learn that saving money comes with rewards. Help your kids pick out something special that they want, and then work out a savings plan to get to that goal. The trick is to not bail them out if they veer off-course along the way. For instance, if one of your kids is saving for a scooter but dips into his or her money for a new video game, let him or her experience the feeling of missing out on getting the scooter as quickly as anticipated.

Choose Age-Appropriate Savings Methods
For young kids, a piggy bank is a great way to save money, because it allows kids to watch their progress with savings. By age 10, kids are ready to handle the concept of saving money in a credit union account that earns interest. Be sure to count piggy bank money or check account balances regularly to show how their savings are growing.

Be an Example
Your kids will emulate your spending habits, so involve them in your financial decisions. Show them some of the bills. Ask them to help you do price comparisons on big-ticket items. Take them with you when you visit the credit union.

At GCS Credit Union, we want all of our members to find financial stability for life. This is why we offer a variety of accounts and products, including checking accounts, debit cards, auto financing, and more. Learn about our O’Fallon credit union services , including incentives for kids, by calling (618) 797-7993.  

Tips for Talking to Your Kids about Money

One of the most important things that parents can teach their kids is how to manage money , but it can often be difficult to know where to start. This video offers suggestions for ways you can teach lessons about money management to your children to help them become financially responsible adults.

In the video, you’ll learn that it is never too early to start talking about money with kids. You can turn nearly anything into a lesson in finance, from a trip to a fast food restaurant to the spare change in your pocket. Most importantly, don’t shy away from discussing financial matters in front of your children so they understand the value of money.

GCS Credit Union in O’Fallon has several youth-oriented account services that can help you impart financial lessons to your kids. To learn more about all of our  credit union services , please call (618) 797-7993. 

A Closer Look at Auto Loans

Few people have enough money to pay cash for a car. Instead, they choose to get auto loans. Auto loans are specially designed by lenders to finance the purchase of a vehicle. At GCS Credit Union , we offer competitive rates on auto loans and work with several O’Fallon-area car dealerships on financing deals. Before you take out an auto loan, it helps to understand how these loans work. Here is what you need to know: 

Man buying a car for his wife

Why Choose an Auto Loan?
Why can’t you just get a personal loan to buy a car? You can, but it isn’t in your best interest. Auto loans are designed to be used for car purchases and have terms and interest rates that are set up accordingly. By choosing another loan option, you may end up paying for your car longer than you actually own it, and increased interest rates can make the car cost more.

How Are Auto Loan Rates Determined?
When you apply for an auto loan, one of the biggest factors is your credit score . If your credit score is on the low end, your interest rate on the loan will be higher. Some lenders also charge higher interest rates on loans for used cars. The term of your loan, or how long you plan to spread out your payments, also factors into your interest rate. The longer the repayment period, the higher the rate will be.

Why Get an Auto Loan at a Credit Union?
Although you can apply for auto financing through a dealership, there are many advantages to getting your auto loan through a credit union. At your credit union, you won’t have the pressure of a dealership salesperson trying to upsell you on features. Your credit union can also help you decide if you’re getting a fair price for the car. Last but not least, credit union auto loans are simple-interest loans, unlike dealer loans, which front-load interest. Simple-interest loans are easier to pay off early.

Before you go car shopping, get pre-qualified for an auto loan at GCS Credit Union in O’Fallon. Apply online or call (618) 797-7993 to learn about our rates. 

Staying Prepared for a Financial Emergency

Even if you consider yourself to be in a decent financial situation, a sudden layoff or injury can drain your savings in a hurry. Though you hope you’ll never find yourself in an emergency situation , it never hurts to always be prepared for one.

Putting a substantial amount of your income into savings is a smart way to prepare for a financial emergency. In addition to a savings account, you might consider opening a 401(k) that you can tap into when faced with an emergency. Taking out a credit card with a high borrowing limit and a low interest rate can also help when you’re in dire straits—though it will only provide a temporary fix. Perhaps the best way to prepare for a financial emergency is to make sure you have decent auto, home, and health insurance.

First aid kit and Dollar Sign

For more tips on how to stay afloat during a crisis, contact GCS Credit Union. We’ve been providing  excellent banking services  and apt financial advice for over 70 years. Call our O’Fallon, IL branch at (618) 797-7993 if you have any more questions.

 

How to Pay Off Your Student Loans After You Get Your Degree

Though most agree that college is an enriching experience, tuition costs more than ever. The average student has about $26,000 of student loan debt by the time he graduates, and debts are not showing any sign of going down. If you’re in college or are about to begin classes, you should think about alternative ways to pay for tuition and start building a strategy for paying off your loans.

Students throwing graduation hats

Get a Stable Income
After college, many graduates earn money by contracting or working odd jobs. While this is a great way to gain experience, uneven work may not bring home enough money to cover monthly student loan payments. To ensure that you have enough money to cover living expenses and student loan payments, it’s important to earn a stable income and live within your means.

Consolidate Debt
Many students take out multiple kinds of student loans to cover their tuition—including federal loans and private bank loans. If you’re making multiple payments every month, you should consider consolidating your debt into one monthly payment. This won’t just make it easier to remember and  repay your loan , but it will also help reduce the total amount you pay in interest. 

Accelerate Payments
Once it comes time to start repaying your student loan debt, your lender will suggest a monthly payment amount. You can choose to pay more than this amount if you have the means. In fact, increasing your monthly payment amount or making more frequent payments can help you pay off your principal balance much faster. The faster you pay off your balance, the less you have to pay in interest.

For help tackling your student loan debt, don’t hesitate to call  GCS Credit Union  at (618) 797-7993. We’re proud to serve anyone who lives, works, or studies in O’Fallon or elsewhere in Southwest Illinois. If you need a credit card, auto loan, or new checking account, visit our website to find out how we can serve you.

 

What You Need to Know About the Current Housing Market

While millions of Americans dream of buying a house, some have trouble deciding when the time is right. Many prospective homebuyers insist on waiting until the housing market reaches rock bottom.

In this video, a real estate expert discusses a few tips to keep in mind when buying a home in the current market. She advises against waiting to buy, as pinpointing the lowest prices can be difficult and the housing market tends to recover very quickly. Also, she recommends that sellers make their homes look as beautiful as possible to attract buyers.

If you’re interested in buying a house, call GCS Credit Union at (618) 797-7993. We love helping O’Fallon, IL residents with their home mortgages and  other financial concerns

How to Make the Transition Between Financial Institutions

In the wake of the recent global financial collapse, many people are making the switch from banks to credit unions. Banks are for-profit institutions that have to balance obligations to their clients and shareholders, whereas credit unions are nonprofit institutions that are owned by members. Here are a few tips to help you ease the transition from bank to credit union:  

Successful negotiations

Find a Good Alternative
When switching between financial institutions, it’s always a good idea to look before you leap. Credit unions often only accept members who live or work in a specific place; for example, GCS Credit Union accepts members who live, work, or attend school in one of 10 Illinois counties. Make sure you’re eligible to join your credit union of choice before you take money out of your bank.     

Explore Rates and Services
When  choosing a credit union , decide which banking services you really need and look for an institution that offers those services. Some of the most convenient and important services include direct deposit and online banking. You might also ask about the credit union’s rates for money market accounts, IRAs, and loans, then compare those rates with your bank.  

Ask for a Switch Kit
A credit union should make it easy to switch with a pre-made “switch kit.” A switch kit is a packet that includes all the appropriate paperwork, plus some tips on how to make the switch as smooth as possible. After you move your funds, direct deposits, automatic payments, and close your old account, you’ll be ready to enjoy banking with your new credit union. You’ll find that your credit union has a much more community-friendly feel than your old bank.   

When you’re ready to make the switch, call  GCS Credit Union of O’Fallon  at (618) 797-7993. We are a member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative that focuses solely on our members’ needs. Visit our website to find out how switching to GCS Credit Union can benefit you.

Should You Consider a Christmas Loan?

For kids, the holidays are a magical time of exciting gifts and fun vacations. For parents, the holiday cheer is somewhat dampened by the season’s numerous expenses. If you’re not sure if you can afford everything you need to make this holiday season perfect, you might consider taking out a Christmas loan with GCS Credit Union.

A Christmas loan can help you cover all the expenses involved in giving your family the holiday gifts and treats they have come to expect. Christmas loans with GCS Credit Union are available from October 1 through January 31, and must be repaid within 12 months. Those who take out a Christmas loan are eligible for up to a 2% discount on their interest rate, making the repayment process much more manageable. GCS Credit Union also offers vacation loans that can be obtained at any time—including during the holidays.

Gifts

GCS Credit Union is dedicated to making life easier for O’Fallon residents. To learn all about  credit cards , auto loans, and other banking or loan services, call us at (618) 797-7993 or visit our website.

 

The High School Student’s Guide to Money Management and Saving Cash for College

Though high school is a time of increased independence, it’s also a time of increased responsibility. While you don’t have to let go of your childhood the minute you start ninth grade, it’s a good idea to start thinking about your future and what kind of adult you want to be. The best way to do this is to open checking and savings accounts and consider the following money management tips:

Piggy bank or credit card

Put Together a Budget
As a teenager, you probably don’t have that many expenses. Still, you can get a feel for money management by creating your own budget. Write down how much you get from your allowance or job, then put down how much you expect to spend on movies, gas, and meals out with friends. Since you don’t have to pay for living expenses, now is a great time to save.

Get into Online Banking
If keeping track of your finances seems boring, you should try your credit union’s online banking service. Online banking makes it easy to keep an eye on your account balance, and can be fun to use. Getting into the habit of checking your balance regularly can help you  rein in your spending  now and for the rest of your life.   

Put the Future Ahead of the Present
High school is an extremely formative time in your life, and you should do your best to make the most of it. However, that doesn’t mean recklessly spending money on things you don’t need. Keep in mind that saving money now will reduce the amount of money you have to borrow for college, and thus reduce the amount of interest you pay in the future.

GCS Credit Union  can provide numerous banking services for O’Fallon, IL teenagers looking to get a jumpstart on money management. To learn how you can set up checking and savings accounts, call us at (618) 797-7993. We also offer credit cards, auto loans, and much more. 

Like and Win Christmas Cash!

We want to help you score some cash for the Holiday Season. We will be giving away a $100 Visa gift card to one of our lucky Facebook fans. All you have to do is like our page & fill out the form on the “Like and Win Christmas Cash” tab at the top of our Facebook page! Share the contest on Facebook and Twitter to get bonus entries! This contest runs until December 15th.

Christmas Cash Like and Win