• How to Manage Money from Your Side Hustle

    Full-time, 9-to-5 jobs generate steady income that’s easy to predict and track. If you decide to pursue your passion and turn it into a side business, you’ll have extra money coming in each month. Having multiple streams of income isn’t a bad thing, but without proper management, your personal finances could become disorganized. Be smart about it and—who knows?—maybe your side hustle could become a full-fledged business one day.

    Open a Separate Bank Account for Your New Income

    This tactic offers a few benefits. First, having a separate checking account for your side hustle income makes it easy to track how much money you’re bringing in outside of your regular day job.

    The account also creates a clearly defined pool of money that you can put back into growing your side hustle without dipping into your regular income. This provides peace of mind that you’ll never accidentally spend more on the side hustle than what it’s generating—no accounting effort required.

    Maintain a Spreadsheet

    Whether you keep your side-hustle money in a separate bank account or not, it’s wise to track your incoming and outgoing funds in a spreadsheet, especially if you have multiple income streams apart from your steady paycheck. As your side hustle grows, the information in your spreadsheet will help you realize when you start earning more money per hour pursuing your passion than working at your day job. Once you reach that point, it may be wise to siphon more hours into your side hustle.

    Grow Your Side Business Slowly

    There’s more than one way to turn a side hustle into a main hustle. One option is to funnel money into it from your regular income, as well as from personal loans and lines of credit. This helps your business grow more quickly, but you should still be wary of taking on unnecessary debt. Another option is to keep your day job to pay for necessities and only reinvest money from your side hustle to grow it slowly and steadily.

    Perhaps the best option is to implement a combination of these tactics, learning to live frugally as the income from your side hustle grows more and more. One day, it may become your full-time focus, and you can drop your day job altogether. It’s a gradual process that requires careful planning, but with the right money management techniques, you can do it!

    GCS Credit Union offers checking accounts, personal loans, and lines of credit to help you manage and fund your side hustle. To learn more about these options and the benefits of banking with GCS, please call us at (618) 797-7993 today.

  • How to Save Money on Your Kids’ Expensive Extracurricular Activities

    With school back in session, your kids are probably eager to enroll in extracurricular activities. You want them to be involved in the clubs, sports, or music lessons of their choice—after all, these activities help kids hone new skills and make new friends, use their time constructively, and build a resume for jobs and college applications.

    Unfortunately, opportunities for enrichment come at a cost. If you’re having a hard time justifying the expense, consider these tips to make your kids’ extracurricular activities more affordable.

    Check Out Government or Nonprofit Programs

    Before you sign up your kids for a traveling sports team or private piano lessons, see if you can find similar offerings from your child’s school or church. The local library, community college, parks and rec department, or YMCA may also sponsor programs that spark your children’s interest.

    Look into Discounts

    It never hurts to ask the activity provider about available discounts before signing up. Become informed by asking these questions upfront:

    • Is there a trial period where my child can try a class or two for free before we commit?
    • Do you offer discounts for returning participants?
    • Can I pay less per child if I enroll more than one?
    • Do you offer referral discounts if I recommend your program to another family?
    • Is there a reduced rate for early registration or signing up for a package of sessions?
    • Can I volunteer to coach in exchange for a reduced rate?
    • Do you offer scholarships?
    • Can I pay based on my income?
    • Can I set up a payment plan?

    Reduce Associated Costs

    Many activities cost more than just the enrollment price. You may also need to purchase uniforms and equipment, pay for travel and performance tickets, or participate in fundraisers. To reduce these costs, try the following:

    • Arrange carpools.
    • Buy used equipment and attire.
    • Limit your family’s attendance at performances so everyone can go to the big show at the end of the year.

    Pursue DIY Extracurricular Activities

    Children can benefit from activities that don’t come with formal fees or tuition. Here’s how to DIY your extracurriculars:

    • Check YouTube for free music or dance tutorials.
    • Look up recipes online to try with the budding chefs in your family.
    • Ask your local library for free software to learn a foreign language.
    • Arrange a network of friends and family who take turns teaching lessons out of their home on topics they have mastered.

    Explain Budget Limitations to Your Kids

    Sometimes, you simply have to say no when your child asks to sign up for yet another activity. You don’t want to put financial stress on your kids, but it’s reasonable to be open about the constraints on your budget.

    GCS Credit Union offers banking solutions to help you manage your money and pay for activities. Contact us at (618) 797-7993 to learn about becoming a member and taking advantage of our great financial products and services.

  • How to Get Your Finances in Order After Buying Your First Home

    Homeownership is something many individuals, couples, and families aspire to. If you just bought your first house, congratulations! Your money is now going toward building equity instead of lining a landlord’s pockets.

    Still, you may need a little time to recover your finances after funding a down payment, paying closing costs, and renting a moving truck. Here’s how to get your money situation back in order now that you’re a homeowner.

    Update the Household Budget

    Revising your budget isn’t as simple as changing “rent” to “mortgage.” You have many other new expenses to plan for as well, such as property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, private mortgage insurance, HOA fees, and higher utility bills. Be prepared to cut back in other areas, at least initially, until your savings account recovers.

    Keep Saving for Retirement

    Yes, you have some new expenses to juggle now, but don’t forget to continue funding your retirement. If you already have a 401(k) through your employer, you’re on the right track. If not, consider opening an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). You don’t receive an employer match, but you benefit from competitive dividends above standard savings account rates and deferred taxes.

    Check Your Credit Score

    You probably kept a close eye on your credit score before buying a home, but don’t stop monitoring it just because you were approved for a home loan. Now the task is to recover from the dip that occurred after taking out a mortgage so you can qualify for low interest rates on a new car, credit card, or personal loan you might need in the near future.

    Wait for Coupons in the Mail Before Furnishing Your Home

    Many new homebuyers are “house poor” for a little while. To help you furnish your new space and complete home improvement projects without breaking the bank, wait for valuable moving coupons to arrive in the mail. These trigger automatically when you submit a change of address to the post office.

    Get a Homeowner Discount on Your Car Insurance

    Owning a home can qualify you for a discount on your car insurance, especially if you obtain homeowner’s insurance from the same company. However, don’t simply tack this new coverage onto your existing policy—take an afternoon to shop around and compare rates. You might be surprised by how much you can save.

    Set New Financial Goals

    You just checked off a huge milestone from your financial bucket list, but buying a home shouldn’t be your only investment. Once your bank account is used to this change, start exploring other ways to invest your money. Working with a financial advisor is the best way to learn about your options and garner tips to meet your short- and long-term financial goals.

    GCS Credit Union offers banking solutions to help get your finances in order after buying your first home. Contact us at (618) 797-7993 to learn how we can help you save, invest, and fund purchases for your new home.

  • What Happens After You File for Bankruptcy?

    If you’re swimming in debt and looking for a fresh start, declaring bankruptcy has probably crossed your mind. Just be aware that bankruptcy isn’t an “easy way out.” It may be better than having your wages garnished or your home foreclosed, but you should only consider it as a last resort. Learn more about what happens after you file for bankruptcy so you can go into the process feeling more informed.

    Your Creditors Leave You Alone

    When your case enters the court, you are immediately protected from the aggressive collection efforts of your creditors. This bankruptcy benefit, known as the automatic stay, prevents creditors from harassing you over the phone, at your door, via email, or by sending letters.

    Your Credit Score Takes a Hit

    Bankruptcy leaves a big black mark on your credit history that lasts up to 10 years. Of course, if you’re considering this option, your credit score is probably mediocre to begin with. Once you file and get creditors off your back (and out of your bank accounts), you can begin rebuilding your score.

    You Could Lose Your Property, Including Your House

    If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the process includes working with a trustee to liquidate (sell) your non-exempt items—which may include your house, car, family heirlooms, and other valuable assets—to repay your creditors. If the sale of these items doesn’t cover your entire debt, the remainder is discharged (forgiven).

    You May Still be Required to Repay (Some of) Your Debt

    If you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy because your income is too high to qualify for Chapter 7, you will work with a trustee to reorganize your debts into a feasible payment plan based on your income. Your assets aren’t liquidated, meaning you get to keep your house, but you must stick to a strict repayment plan for three to five years. After this time, your remaining debt is discharged.

    Not All Debts are Forgiven

    There are some significant exceptions regarding which debts can be discharged by filing for bankruptcy. For instance, student loan debt, child support, alimony, taxes, and fines and penalties most often won’t be forgiven. In the case of recent expensive purchases, such as jewelry or a new car, you can either reaffirm the debt, which means you remain responsible for paying it off, or you agree to have it repossessed and sold to help pay off your other debts.

    The Details of Your Bankruptcy are Made Public

    This negative consequence of filing for bankruptcy means that family, friends, and future landlords, lenders, or employers can find out the details of your court proceedings, including how much money you owed and whom you owed it to. The loss of privacy could be a deal-breaker for some people.

    GCS Credit Union offers banking solutions to help you rebuild your credit and get your finances back in order after declaring bankruptcy. To learn how you can become a member, please contact us at (618) 797-7993 today.