• 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.

  • How Couples Can Have Better Communication About Money

    When couples combine their finances, it can cause some challenges as they adapt to each other’s financial management habits. By working together toward a common goal, they can make the most efficient use of their credit union accounts and services.

    Watch this video to learn how couples can have better communication about their finances. The key is to discuss things as soon as possible in the relationship and to continue to keep the door open to communication about checking accounts, auto loans, and more.

    At GCS Credit Union, we have all of the financial tools you need to reach your joint financial goals, from our Visa Rewards credit card to our home mortgage loans. For more information about our credit union in O’Fallon, call (618) 797-7993.

  • How to Get a Great Deal on Your Car Loan

    When you’re shopping around for an auto loan, you want to be sure that you choose the best lender for your needs. It’s easy to become overwhelmed as you search for a bank, private lender, or credit union in your area that offers competitive interest rates and auto loan terms. Here are some tips for getting a great deal on your auto loan.

    Be Aware of Your Credit Rating

    Your credit report is one of the most important pieces of information that lenders use to determine if you qualify for an auto loan. Even if you have a large sum of money in your checking account or savings account, your lender will want to know your credit history and credit score. Before applying for auto loans, check your credit report and be familiar with your credit score.

    Look for the Best Auto Loan Interest Rate

    Rather than financing your new car at your auto dealership, you should shop around for the best auto loan interest rate that you can get. Credit unions and community banks often offer the lowest interest rates on auto loans. You can ask different lenders what their typical rates and fees are for someone with your credit history and credit score. They should at least be able to give you a fair estimate.

    Choose a Short-Term Auto Loan

    A long-term auto loan means smaller monthly payments, but you’re also going to end up paying far more money in interest and fees over time. If you can, you should try to limit the length of your auto loan to no more than 48 months. You’ll have a higher monthly payment, but you’ll get out of debt much faster and you’ll pay less in the long term.

    If you’re looking for the best rates on auto loans in O’Fallon , come see us at GCS Credit Union. We offer competitive rates on new and used vehicles, and customizable auto loan terms. To talk to one of our friendly and experienced auto loan experts, call us today at (618) 797-7993.

  • A Guide to Your First Mortgage

    Before you even begin looking for a home, you should investigate your home mortgage loan options. If you have a well-paying job, good credit, and a decent amount of money in your checking account, it shouldn’t be difficult for you to secure a home mortgage loan. If you’ve had some financial difficulties in the past ten years, you may need to begin looking for a loan a year in advance of house hunting.

    Your lender will pull your credit report to determine whether you qualify for a loan, and at what interest rate. If you check your credit report ahead of time for potential problems, you can fix them before visiting a home mortgage loan officer at your credit union. Credit unions often have the most competitive interest rates and the lowest fees for home mortgage loans.

    At GCS Credit union, we offer the most competitive rates on home mortgage loans in O’Fallon . We will help you customize your financing, secure the best rate possible, and we’ll provide educational resources to ensure you understand the terms of your loan. To learn more about our home mortgage loan services, call us today at (618) 797-7993.

  • How to Help Students Build Good Financial Habits

    The earlier you learn how to make smart financial decisions and be responsible with your money, the better off your financial future may be as you grow into an adult. You can help your children form the right habits by helping them open up a checking account and teaching them how to save. Here is a look at how to help students build good financial habits.

    Many young adults have their sights on a life of luxury, but it is important that they learn about the stepping-stones that lead the way there. It is wise to help your student set up a basic checking account early on. Many modern banks and credit unions offer mobile or online banking, which can help students keep track of their funds. Teach your student to use an ATM, balance a checkbook, and maybe even open a credit card.

    Would you like to help students build good financial habits? Have your son or daughter open a checking account at GCS Credit Union in O’Fallon. We offer the convenience of online checking accounts as well as online bill paying. You can learn much more about our services by visiting our website or calling us at (618) 797-7993.

  • Tips for Avoiding Overdraft Fees

    You can only spend as much money as you have in your checking account, otherwise you may incur an overdraft fee. Watch this video for tips for avoiding overdraft fees.

    If you want to avoid the penalties for spending beyond your means, it is important that you have an accurate picture of your finances at all times. It helps to use mobile or online banking services with mobile or email alerts. In many cases, you can also link your savings and checking accounts with a protection plan. Check your balance often and try to keep some extra money on hand so that you can avoid these overdraft fees.

    For more tips for avoiding overdraft fees call GCS Credit Union at (618) 797-7993. We are dedicated to providing online banking, Visa rewards credit cards, and home mortgage loans in O’Fallon. Feel free to visit our website to learn more about our credit union .

  • Is Now the Time to Teach Your Kids About Money?

    At some point your children will probably make use of checking accounts of their own, but for now it is a good idea to start by introducing them to certain financial concepts. Watch this video clip to find out if now is the time to teach your kids about money.

    The sooner your children learn about money and financial responsibility, the more time they will have to integrate these positive habits into their adult lives. Teach your children about the concept of money, currency, and value when they are as young as three years old. As your children age, offer them allowances and teach them about saving money.

    GCS Credit Union specializes in home mortgage loans and online checking accounts in O’Fallon. If you would like to learn more about our credit union, please feel free to visit our website or call us at (618) 797-7993 for more information today.

  • How to Make Contributions to Your IRA

    Contributing to your IRA An IRA is a great way to save for your retirement, and the more you contribute, the better off you will be. By understanding tax guidelines and making contributing a priority, you can maximize your IRA savings. Talk to one of the member representatives at your credit union if you’re unsure about the basics of your IRA, and try these tips to keep money flowing into your IRA account.

    Understand the Contribution Guidelines
    Every year, the IRS sets contribution limits to both Roth and traditional IRAs. These limits apply collectively across your IRAs, so if you have more than one, you can still only contribute up to the maximum amount for that tax year. If you understand these guidelines, not only will you ensure you receive the best tax benefits for your contributions, but you can also budget for monthly contributions that allow you to save the ceiling amount.

    Set Up Direct Deposits
    The easiest way to save money is to not be tempted to spend it in the first place—and the more you contribute to your IRA, the longer your money has to earn interest for your retirement. Consider setting up a regular direct deposit from your checking account to your IRA account. If you set this up for the same day or the day after your paycheck hits your account, the money will go into the IRA before you even see it in your account and factor it into your available spending money.

    Look for Extra Cash
    Even if you are struggling to make the maximum contributions to your IRA because of your income, you can still find avenues to generate extra money to fund it. Have a yard sale, sell collectables online, cancel your cable, or consider a side job. Even putting a little extra into you IRA can have a significant impact on your retirement.

    GCS Credit Union makes retirement planning easy with traditional and Roth IRAs that offer competitive dividends with no set-up fees. Talk to a representative at our credit union in O’Fallon today about IRAs, online banking, and our other financial services by calling (618) 797-7993.

  • Spotlight on Savings Tips

    Everyone knows that they should put money aside for a rainy day, but that is often easier said than done. Even with the best of intentions, money you had planned on putting in your savings account can easily disappear on things like coffees, shopping trips, and nights out. However, with the help of your credit union accounts and some smart strategies, you can tackle your savings problems once and for all.

    Saving Money If you have a checking account, set up a direct transfer once a month into your savings account and plan for that transfer as one of your normal monthly expenses. You can also consider having a portion of your check deposited directly into your savings account. If you have an unexpected windfall, use online banking to transfer it to savings. You can also cut spending with simple swaps, like packing a lunch instead of eating out or making your own coffee at home.

    GSC Credit Union offers a range of accounts to help you manage your expenses. To join our credit union in O’Fallon or find out more about our services, please call (618) 797-7993.

  • Making Your IRA Last

    Investing in an IRA

    When you are planning for your future retirement, it is a great idea to talk to your credit union about setting up an IRA. An IRA can be linked to your online banking , and will provide you and your loved ones with a comfortable cushion when you decide to retire. After you join a credit union in O’Fallon, you may want to ask about your IRA retirement plan options. To help you get the most out of your retirement, here are some tips for making your IRA last.

    Set Up Yearly Payouts
    If you are planning on having non-spouse heirs attached to your IRA, you may want to set up yearly payouts. Many IRAs require that any heirs that are not married to the beneficiary withdraw from the IRA at least once every calendar year. By setting up yearly payouts, you can ensure that your IRA remains active .

    Extend Withdrawal Periods
    To make your IRA last for as long as possible, you may want to ask your financial advisor about how you can extend your withdrawal periods. By only taking out the minimum required deduction each year, you can allow more of your funds to become tax deferred.

    Consider Minimum Distributions
    When you set up an IRA, you will be required to take out minimum distributions after you are over 70 ½ years of age. By contrasts, any of your named beneficiaries must take out minimum distributions as soon as the account owner passes away. To help your IRA last, you should be sure to talk to your financial advisor about how minimum distributions work.

    If you are interested in setting up an IRA near O’Fallon, do not hesitate to contact GCS Credit Union. We proudly serve our many satisfied banking customers with a range of estate planning services, and we can help you prepare for retirement. For more information about our quality banking services , give us a call at (618) 797-7993.