• Financial Management for College Freshmen

    College freshmen face a whole new world when they go off to school, and that often includes being in charge of managing their own finances for the first time. For families, it’s important to make a plan for how freshmen will manage their money at school, from whose names will be on the checking account to how much spending money students will have. This advice will help families get through freshmen year without financial hiccups.

    Know What Is Coming In and Going Out

    Start by tallying up how much money is going to be coming in each semester and how much as to go out. After tuition is paid, how much will be left over from grants and loans? Will the student have a job, and if so, how much is he or she likely to earn? Next, add up fixed expenses, like cellphone bills, and estimates for things like entertainment and grocery shopping. This will give you a good idea of where you stand, and how much wiggle room there is in the budget.

    Be Ready to Be Flexible

    It’s difficult to anticipate exactly what expenses will be at college, so be ready to be flexible with the budget. It’s also very common for freshmen to make some financial missteps. These are great opportunities for leaning, so if a checking account gets overdrawn or a bill gets overlooked, use it as a lesson.

    Break Up Money into Small Chunks

    For parents of freshmen, it’s better to dole out a small amount of money each week or month than give kids a set amount for the semester in one lump. For freshmen, learning to budget this small amount of money and making it stretch is a good way to develop the skills necessary for managing larger amounts.

    At GCS Credit Union, we have a number of different savings and checking accounts designed for young credit union members to help them learn financial responsibility. Talk to one of our representatives about how our credit union in O’Fallon can help your freshman by calling (618) 797-7993.

  • Making the Most of a Debt Consolidation Loan

    Are you struggling to manage all of the bills you have to pay without missing due dates or spending all your free time making payments? If so, then you could benefit from a debt consolidation loan. With a debt consolidation loan from GCS Credit Union, you can combine all of your accounts into a single payment with a low interest rate, saving you time and money.

    With a debt consolidation loan, you can pay off your high-interest accounts and simply focus on making payments on the loan. Having a single payment means you won’t have to juggle due dates, and the attractive interest rate means you could save thousands. The key to making the most of your loan is to avoid running charges back up on your paid off accounts, so you don’t end up with additional debt. Set a budget that does not include regularly using your credit card and reserve those accounts only for financial emergencies.

    Could a debt consolidation loan at GCS Credit Union be right for you? Talk to one of our representatives to learn more about using debt consolidation loans effectively and the competitive rates on our other loans, including auto and home mortgage loans in O’Fallon. Dial (618) 797-7993 for more information.

  • Should You Focus on Investment or Paying off Debt?

    When you’re dealing with debt, such as student loan debt, you may be wondering if paying off that debt or investing your money will help you reach your financial goals faster. A good way to start is to discuss your options with your credit union, so you understand how different approaches can work for you.

    Watch this video to learn more about investing for retirement and paying off debt. Although a balanced approach is important, there may be more benefits to prioritizing investing in retirement savings than in paying off debt faster.

    GCS Credit Union is here to help our members make the most of their money, so that it works for them. For more information about credit union in O’Fallon, including checking accounts and auto loans, call (618) 797-7993.

  • The First Year of Homeownership: Advice for Creating a Budget

    When you’re house hunting, it’s natural for the cost of your home mortgage loan to be front and center in your mind, but it’s also important to remember that the cost of homeownership is much more than the your monthly payment. The additional costs can come as a surprise to many first-time buyers, especially during the first year that they are in the their homes. After you sign the agreement for your home mortgage loan, follow these steps for creating a budget.

    Learn About Property Tax and Insurance

    Property tax and homeowner’s insurance are unavoidable payments you have to make for your home. If you put down less than 20%, you will need to pay for private mortgage insurance. Know what these costs will be before you decide to buy a home so that you can consider them in your overall budget. Keep in mind that these costs can be significant, depending on where you live and the size of your mortgage, so plan ahead for paying them.

    Consider HOA Fees

    One expense that takes many homeowners by surprise is fees for HOAs—homeowner’s associations. Although these fees are modest in some places, they can be substantial in other communities. Find out what the fees and terms of payment are for your new community and be sure to include them in your budget. Failing to pay these fees will lead to costly fines, not to mention unpleasant interactions with your new neighbors.

    Get Real About Ongoing Costs

    The true cost of homeownership involves everything from buying furniture to replacing your water heater. It is helpful to put money into a savings account every month that you can use for unexpected repairs and other home expenses. Let this fund build up over time, and only tap it when you truly need it, so you won’t be caught underwater financially when an expense arises.

    At GCS Credit Union, our representatives will help you understand the full cost of homeownership when you apply for a home mortgage loan in O’Fallon. We also make it easy to manage your money with online banking and a variety of account options. For more information about our credit union, call (618) 797-7993.