• A Look at Credit Card Debt in America

    Americans have more than a trillion dollars in credit card debt, according to this video from credit reporting bureau Experian. If you’re one of the many people carrying credit card balances, you could be paying more for everything from auto loans to mortgages.

    Watch this video to learn more about credit card debt in America, as well as tips for managing your balances. Keep in mind that low balances and on-time payments can save you significant money in interest in the long run.

    At GCS Credit Union , in addition to our competitive rates for all of our accounts, including our Visa Rewards credit card, our credit union staff can help you make the right decisions about managing your money. Find out more about joining our credit union in O’Fallon by calling (618) 797-7993.

  • Is It Ever Too Early to Start Saving for Retirement?

    Saving for retirement is something that is on everyone’s mind, especially since people are working for longer than ever and traditional retirement is changing. When is the right time to start saving, and how should young people prioritize their savings goals at a time when they are also saving for things like home mortgage loans?

    Although young people may have different immediate financial priorities, it is never too early for anybody to start saving for retirement. People who start saving even a small portion of their incomes at an early age will have longer to let that money grow and collect interest, putting them in a healthy position when they reach retirement age.

    Let GCS Credit Union help you make the right decisions to make your money work for you at any age. To learn more about all of our services, from checking accounts to online bill pay, contact our credit union in O’Fallon at (618) 797-7993.

  • Online Banking Safety 101

    If you are considering using online banking to manage your credit union accounts, you may be wondering if it is really safe. After all, there are many horror stories about identity theft and security breaches. Is your information really safe when you use online banking?

    Watch this video to find out what the experts say about online banking. As long as you are using a trusted company, online banking is completely safe. At GCS Credit Union, our online banking has integrated, top-level security features to protect your information with every log-in.

    Do you have questions about online banking in O’Fallon? Call GCS Credit Union to learn more about online banking and all of our mobile services. Dial (618) 797-7993 for much more information.

  • The Dos and Don’ts of Buying a Car

    If you’re in the market for a car, you know how many decisions you have to make along the way to finding your perfect ride. Since cars are one of the biggest purchases most people ever make, it is important to take your time and make the right choices for your wallet and your lifestyle. As you consider your options for buying a car , keep these dos and don’ts in mind.

    DO: Research Your Purchase Before You Buy

    Before you start car shopping, research some of the models you are considering buying. Investigate reviews, quality ratings, trim options, and long-term value. All of these things will help you select a car that meets your needs, is safe and reliable, and has the features you want at a price you can afford. If you see any promotions from car dealerships that catch your attention, be sure to read the small print, so you know exactly what make and model is being offered.

    DON’T: Focus on the Monthly Payment

    Of course, having a monthly payment you can afford is important, but focusing on the overall price of the car, including the interest rate, will help you know if you are getting a good deal. Look at the total price of the car, keeping in mind that, with good credit, it should cost about $20 for every $1,000 financed for a 60-month auto loan. Although there are variations in that price based on credit history, it is a good guideline to remember when evaluating the deal you’re getting.

    DO: Get Advice from Your Credit Union

    Not only can your credit union almost certainly offer a lower rate on a loan than a dealership, but they are also motivated for you to make smart financial decisions. As nonprofit, member-owned institutions, credit unions listen to your needs and can advise you how much you can afford to spend on a car.

    GCS Credit Union offers competitive rates on auto loans in O’Fallon and can help you make the right choice about your car purchase. Contact our credit union today by calling (618) 797-7993.

  • Teens: Landing, Surviving, and Profiting from Your First Job

    A first job is a rite of passage for teens. Not only does having a job mean spending money, but it also gives teens a chance to learn about responsibility, work ethic, and financial management . Whether you’re a teen getting ready to start your first job or a parent who wants to give their working teen some solid advice, here is what you need to know to make this experience a success.

    Landing the Job

    Before you start working, you’ve got to make it through the interview process. No matter what the style of the workplace is, you should show up to your interview dressed professionally. Being on time for your interview is critical—show up a little early so you don’t run the risk of being late. Do some research about the company before you go, and be ready to answer questions about your schedule, school, goals, and why you think you would be a good fit for the position.

    Surviving the Job

    If you feel overwhelmed when you start working, don’t worry—that happens to everyone. The most important thing you can do is stick to your schedule closely and always be on time for your shifts. When you’re working, stay off your phone, and pay attention to the task at hand. Stay positive and polite with your boss, co-workers, and the public.

    Profiting from the Job

    One of the biggest lessons you’ll take away from your first job is managing your paychecks. Start by opening a checking account and savings account. GCS Credit Union offers the Student Success Account Package, which gives you the tools you need to track your spending, save money, and get used to using a debit card responsibly. Decide to save a little money from each paycheck, so you don’t leave the job without anything to show for it.

    GCS Credit Union can walk you through the process of getting your first credit union accounts, so you’re ready when the pay starts coming in from your first job. For more information about opening an account at our credit union in O’Fallon , call (618) 797-7993.

  • Automate Your Savings with Kasasa Cash

    Are you ready to make saving easier than ever? If so, then you need to take advantage of Kasasa Saver along with your free Kasasa Cash checking account. With Kasasa Saver, the rewards you earn with the Kasasa Cash account will be transferred to your savings automatically. You get a 0.50% APY monthly on your savings when you meet your rewards requirements, so you can watch your savings grow quickly.

    With a linked Kasasa Cash checking account, all you have to do is make at least 12 posted and settled debit card purchases each month, be enrolled and receive an eStatement notice, and be enrolled and log into your online banking account. If you do these things, you’ll earn rewards that will automatically transfer to your Kasasa Savings account.

    At GCS Credit Union, we’re committed helping you reach your financial goals by providing a range of financial products to get you there, from checking accounts and auto loans to Visa Rewards cards and home mortgage loans in O’Fallon. To learn more about our credit union, please call (618) 797-7993.

  • Is Mobile Banking Safe?

    Information security is a major concern these days, and unfortunately, it’s making some credit union members hesitate to take advantage of mobile banking. It’s always important to be aware of where your personal information is going, but, as you’ll learn when you watch this featured video, mobile banking is quite safe.

    When you use the mobile banking app from your credit union, it essentially serves as a secure tunnel to the institution. Since proprietary banking apps do not use Web browsers, they don’t fall prey to phishing scams. They also work with the financial institution’s personal security algorithms. Just remember to log out of the app when you’re done with your transaction.

    To learn more about mobile and online banking in O’Fallon, talk to a member representative at GCS Credit Union. Call us at (618) 797-7993.

  • IRA FAQs and Answers for Young Adults

    As a young adult, you’re probably juggling a lot. In the midst of moving into your own apartment, saving up for a house, dealing with car repairs, and paying off student debt, it can seem like retirement isn’t much of a priority. But the simple truth is that time will always pass more quickly than you think it will, especially as you grow older. The sooner you start saving up for retirement , the more comfortable and secure you’ll be later on. You have many retirement savings options, including IRAs. Talk to a credit union member representative about your plans.

    What is an IRA?

    This acronym stands for Individual Retirement Account. In other words, it’s a savings account that is intended specifically for retirement savings. IRAs are opened through financial institutions. You’ll transfer money to your IRA during the coming decades, and these funds will be used to invest in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.

    Why should I open an IRA? Can’t I just invest the money directly?

    Yes, you certainly can add stocks, bonds, and mutual funds to your portfolio without opening up an IRA. However, IRAs have their own special benefits. Up to the limits established by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), your contributions to your IRA are tax deductible. This means your quarterly or annual tax liability is reduced. The funds in your IRA are also tax-deferred. This means you won’t owe taxes on the gains until you withdraw the money.

    What’s the difference between Roth IRAs and traditional IRAs?

    These are the two main types of IRAs. They differ primarily in tax breaks. With a traditional IRA, the money you contribute for any given year is tax deductible for that year. With a Roth IRA, you pay income taxes on the money now, before it’s transferred to the account. This means your contributions aren’t tax deductible, but you won’t pay any taxes on the money you withdraw during your retirement.

    At GCS Credit Union , we do much more than just online checking accounts and auto loans. We also offer personalized financial guidance for our members, including retirement planning. Call (618) 797-7993 to join our credit union near O’Fallon, and ask us about our traditional and Roth IRA plans.

  • Meet MARTI: Our Automated Teller

    Here at GCS Credit Union, we’re always on the lookout for tools and resources that better serve our valued members. It’s our mission to make your financial management tasks as easy and quick as possible, so you can get back to doing what matters most to you. Call our credit union or visit a branch to ask a member service representative for your unique, four-digit PIN. You’ll be registered to use MARTI, our automated teller.

    With MARTI, you can conduct many common transactions from wherever you are, without having to drive to a branch. Using MARTI is simple. Just call the appropriate number, enter your member account number, and then enter your four-digit PIN. The voice prompts will walk you through the process of completing your transaction or inquiry.

    If you have any questions or concerns about using our automated teller, a member service representative at GCS Credit Union is always happy to assist you. Call a credit union branch in O’Fallon at (618) 797-7993, or browse our website for information on how to become a member.

  • At What Age Should a Child Have a Credit Union Account?

    Financial literacy is best taught from an early age. Kids who learn how to manage money responsibly earlier in life are more likely to enjoy financial stability in adulthood. One effective way to introduce your child to the world of personal finance is by opening a credit union savings and checking account in his or her name. Until a child reaches the age of majority, a parent or guardian must remain on the account.

    Deciding to Open an Account

    One common assumption by parents is that they should wait to open an account for their child until the child demonstrates financial responsibility. But children learn best by doing. Achieving financial literacy can take some trial and error, and kids learn from their mistakes along the way. It’s far safer for your child to learn from financial mistakes early in life than later on when he or she has moved out. Every child develops differently, but in general, most kids are ready to open a credit union account when they turn 14 years old.

    Exploring the Account Features

    Make the experience a collaborative one right from the start. Ask your child to read the account information with you, and discuss what it means. If your child has questions, it would be a good learning experience if he or she called a member representative or visited a branch to ask. Until your child turns 18, you’ll be listed on the account too. This means you’ll have complete access to view the balance and statements to make sure your child is behaving responsibly.

    Making a Financial Plan

    Now that your child has an account, it’s time to make a plan. First, sit down with your child and do some quick math to demonstrate how interest rates allow money to grow over time. Recommend to your child that he or she set aside a specific percentage of his or her allowance and extra earnings every week for savings. Together, calculate how much that would add up to by the time your child turns 18. To stay motivated, your child may need occasional reminders of the benefits of long-term saving.

    GCS Credit Union invites young consumers to practice financial responsibility by opening a Student Success Account Package. This includes a savings and checking account in O’Fallon, and it’s available for individuals ages 14 through 23. Call a friendly member representative at (618) 797-7993.