• What You Need to Know About Purchasing a Second Home

    Have you ever dreamed of owning a vacation home? A home mortgage loan from a credit union can make that dream a reality. However, there are several important factors you’ll need to consider. The location of the second home is a crucial factor. Make sure that you enjoy the destination enough that it makes sense to buy a second home there. And since it isn’t your primary residence, you’ll need to find a real estate agent who is familiar with the neighborhoods in the area.

    Mortgages for Second Homes

    Qualifying for a mortgage for a second home can be tricky if you’re still paying off your first home. You might consider talking to the credit union about refinancing your first house in order to take advantage of lower interest rates or a lower monthly payment. The money you’ll save can help you qualify for a second mortgage. Be sure to factor in closing costs and private mortgage insurance (PMI) in your budget.

    Additional Costs of Maintaining a Second Home

    Since you’re already a homeowner, you’re familiar with the typical costs of maintaining a house. You’ll need to factor in utilities, maintenance, and repairs. Be aware that the cost to maintain a second home is typically higher than the maintenance expenses for a first home. Since it isn’t your primary residence, you’ll need to pay a property maintenance service to check on the home while you’re away.

    Tax Implications of Owning a Second Home

    You might want to rent out your second home when you aren’t using it. This can help offset the additional costs of maintenance, not to mention pay off that second home mortgage loan. However, it’s a good idea to talk to a tax advisor before you turn your second home into a profitable business. You’ll need to pay taxes on the rental income.

    If you’re thinking about buying a vacation home, you can get the personalized financial guidance you need at GCS Credit Union in O’Fallon. Meet with our financial planner to discuss your financial situation and find out how much home you can afford. We offer highly competitive home mortgage loans with flexible, customizable terms. Call (618) 797-7993.

  • Tips for Saving Money on a Tight Budget

    Saving money is a subject that is deceptively complicated. Of course, everyone knows that it’s important to save money. But how much money should you save? And how can you save when your budget is tight? It’s important to have a reasonable plan. If you have trouble designing a budget that allows for savings, consider talking to a financial planner at your credit union branch.

    Cutting Your Transportation Costs

    The transportation category in your budget likely includes allowances for auto insurance and fuel. One way to reduce your costs is by shopping around for less expensive car insurance. Talk to an independent insurance agent about this. You can also lower your current premiums by taking an approved defensive driving course. You’ll need to submit proof of completion to your insurance company. In addition, work on maximizing your gas mileage to reduce the number of times you fill up the tank. Ease off on the gas well ahead of stop signs and stoplights, accelerate slowly, and stick to the speed limit.

    Planning Your Meals

    Meal planning is a smart activity that can simultaneously save you money and reduce your stress. Make a weekly meal plan the day before you typically go to the grocery store. Write a shopping list based on that meal plan, and don’t give into the temptation to make impulse purchases. You can get more mileage out of your ingredients by using leftovers in the next night’s meals. For instance, if you have a rotisserie chicken on Monday, you can make chicken enchiladas with the leftovers on Tuesday. Reducing food waste is an effective way to reduce your grocery budget.

    Automating Your Bills

    You can set up automated bill pay through your online checking account at the credit union. Many companies offer fee reductions if you set up automated payments. These include insurance companies and phone service providers. Remember to transfer the money you save to your savings account!

    GCS Credit Union can help you save more money and maximize your savings with free checking accounts, cash back programs, and savings accounts with competitive rates. If you aren’t yet a member, call our credit union in O’Fallon at (618) 797-7993 for help getting started.

  • Getting the Most from Online Banking

    Not all that long ago, online banking was a new idea that many people were hesitant to try. But these days, it’s considered a necessity. Between rushing around at work and meeting your obligations to your family, it’s tough to find the time to get to a credit union branch to manage your savings and checking accounts. GCS Credit Union understands. We’ve made our online banking experience as easy and hassle-free as possible, because our members are important to us.

    It can be particularly helpful to set up your bill payments in advance. Just log on to your account and schedule your payments to ensure they are received on time. Or, set up a one-time payment if you prefer, without having to deal with the hassle of mailing a check.

    You can get the benefits of online banking in O’Fallon when you become a member of GCS Credit Union. Call (618) 797-7993 if you have any questions for our member representatives.

  • How to Manage Multiple Credit Cards

    It’s generally not a good idea to have lots of credit card accounts open because this can encourage your debt to spiral out of control. If you’re having trouble getting out of debt, consider talking to a financial planner at your credit union. You can also watch this featured video to get some valuable tips on managing multiple credit cards.

    This video recommends a few apps that you can use to manage you credit cards, such as Mint. It’s always a good idea to set up notifications or email alerts so that you won’t miss a due date, as this will negatively affect your credit score. You can also commit to paying off the balance for the card with the highest interest rate first to save money in the long run.

    If you’re a GCS Credit Union member, you can easily apply for a Visa credit card with a low interest rate, no annual fee, and a valuable ScoreCard Reward Program. Visit one of our credit union branches in O’Fallon or give us a call at (618) 797-7993 if you have any questions.