• Tips to Save Money

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    Some people mistakenly believe that you need to earn six figures, win the lottery, or strike it rich on Wall Street to create a comfortable savings account. On the contrary, anyone can save money if they follow the right tips. Here are some small changes you can make right now that will yield big results over time.

    • Don’t delay: Implement these tips today. If you wait until you make more money, you’ll have to contend with the higher spending that comes with higher earnings. Start now to begin seeing the benefits sooner rather than later.
    • Start small: Even tucking away 5 to 10 percent of your paycheck can help you build a “rainy day fund.” Your first goal should be to save $1,000. Once you reach that milestone, aim to save the amount you earn in one month. Again, once you reach that point, keep going! The recommended amount of savings for a rainy day is three to six months’ worth of expenses.
    • Write out your budget: If you find that you’re spending more than you earn some months, think of ways to cut back. Cook instead of eating out, cancel one of your subscriptions, and stick to your shopping list to avoid impulse buys.
    • Direct deposit some of your income into a savings account: Many employers offer the option to split your paycheck into different accounts. To avoid the temptation to spend instead of save, allot a certain portion—perhaps as much as 20 percent—to go straight into a savings account.
    • Create an account for big-ticket purchases: Saving up for a new laptop, vacation, or down payment on a car? Create a savings account to keep these funds separate from your day-to-day spending money.
    • Take advantage of employer benefits: If you have the opportunity to contribute to a 401(K), Health Savings Account (HSA), or something similar through your employer, take advantage of it! If your employer matches your contributions, your savings will grow even faster.
    • Put spare change in a jar: Any time you pay with cash, put the change you receive in a jar. After several months of collecting, you may find you have enough money for a nice date night, holiday shopping, or even a weekend getaway.
    • Convert loan payments into an investment account: Once you make the final payment on your car or student loan, keep writing the check, but put it in an investment or savings account instead. Choose one with a high APY, and your money will grow faster than if you simply left it in your checking account.

    GCS Credit Union offers multiple personal savings account options to make your dreams of saving big come true. Ready to learn more about which account might be right for you? If so, please schedule an appointment with one of our team members today by calling us at (618) 797-7993.

  • Teaching Financial Responsibility to Children

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    If you don’t teach your children how to be financially responsible, who will? Here are some pointers for sharing money management tips with your kids at any age.

    Teaching Young Children About Money

    • Consider giving preschoolers or kindergarteners a small allowance. Keep the money in a small glass jar so they can watch the savings grow.
    • Let your children pick out and pay for a new toy with money from their allowance jar. Explain that if they earn $1 a week, they can afford a $5 toy in five weeks. Once enough money has accumulated, empty it, take it to the store together, and have your child hand the cash to the clerk. This practical experience is much more memorable than a lecture.

    Helping Preteens Manage Money

    • Give elementary and middle schoolers a “commission” where every chore they perform earns them a predetermined amount of money.
    • Teach your children the concept of “opportunity cost.” In other words, if they spend their money on a video game, they won’t have any left for new shoes.
    • Discourage impulse buys. If your preteen wants a new $20 dress, explain that she can use her well-earned commission money, but she should think it over for a day. If she still wants it just as badly tomorrow, you can return to the store together, and she can buy it then.

    Showing Teens How to Spend & Save Wisely

    • Open a student checking and savings account for teens. When you remain tied to the account as the responsible parent or guardian, you can continue monitoring your child’s spending and saving habits.
    • Encourage teens to save a portion of their commissions (or money from a summer job) to start saving for college.
    • Help your teen sign up for a credit card. Teach them that the best way to manage their money is never to spend more than they have in their bank account. While building credit is important, you may want to start with a debit card to get your child accustomed to swiping plastic without the risk of overspending.
    • Talk about how you plan to pay for college. To keep costs down, encourage your teen to apply for a community college or trade school, seek scholarships and grants, and work part-time while going to school. Loans should only be considered if you have exhausted all other options.
    • Show teens the basics of creating a budget. Even if they don’t have as many bills as an adult, you can help them balance their income with their expenses, such as car payments, car insurance, gas money, cell phone bills, and clothes.

    If you’re ready to help your child open an account or credit card at GCS Credit Union, schedule an appointment with a team member to get started today. We’ll help you and your child find financial success through our services. For more information, please call us at (618) 797-7993 today.

  • 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.