• Budget-Building for First-Time Homeowners

    Moving into a new home is exciting, but it also often means big changes to your budget. For first-time homeowners, these changes can be especially drastic when you buy a home for the first time. Your home mortgage loan is only one facet of the budgetary changes you will face when you move into a new home. There are other costs of homeownership that exist outside of the loan that you will have manage as well. Fortunately, with a little planning, you take control of your budget and prevent unexpected expenses from catching you by surprise. These tips will help.

    Know Your Numbers

    You can’t manage your budget if you don’t have a clear picture of your financial situation. Figure out how much money you have coming in each month. Then, calculate your usual monthly expenses. This should include your home mortgage loan payments, home insurance, HOA fees, landscaping costs, as well as auto loan and credit card payments, utility bills, and other money you spend on a monthly basis. If you’re not sure, a good place to start is your credit union checking account. Add up things like grocery store bills to get an idea of how much you can spend.

    Set Aside Money for Home Repairs

    Even if you have a brand new home, maintenance and repair costs are still something you should include in your budget. Try setting aside money each month in a savings account that you will tap for these expenses as they occur. You can also get estimates from maintenance companies in your area, such as pest control companies and HVAC maintenance teams, to get an idea of what your costs will be.

    Look for Ways to Cut Back

    Even with the best planning, when you own a new home, new expenses can creep up out of nowhere. Look for areas in which you can cut back so that you’re ready for these surprise expenses. For example, drinking coffee in your new home instead of your local coffee shop could help you save enough money to fix your fridge when it goes down.

    GCS Credit Union is here to help you manage everything from saving for a down payment to choosing a home mortgage loan in O’Fallon and adjusting to life as a homeowner. For more information, call our credit union at (618) 797-7993.

  • What Is Kasasa Cash Back?

    Wouldn’t it be nice to earn money just for doing what you do anyway—spending money on your debit card? It may sound like a dream, but Kasasa Cash Back from GCS Credit Union makes it a reality. Whip out your debit card and start earning 2% cash back on any of your purchases, anywhere you shop.

    With Kasasa Cash Back, you can earn up to $6 cash back every month. All you have to do is spend at least $300 a month on your debit card to be eligible. With the program, you also get checking accounts with no service fees, unlimited ATM refunds, and no minimum balance requirement. Online check ordering, mobile banking, and online bill pay are also standard.

    Get up to $72 per year simply for using your debit card with Kasasa Cash Back and GCS Credit Union. You can learn more about o ur checking accounts in O’Fallon and other credit union services by calling (618) 797-7993.

  • Questions to Ask When You Join a Credit Union

    Are you considering joining a credit union ? Many people move from their bank to a credit union in order to take advantage of the lower interest rates on loans and better returns on their savings. If you’re considering making the leap, these questions will help you make the right choice for your financial needs.

    Who can become a member?

    Credit unions are based on memberships. You have to be accepted as a member before you can join and open an account. Although there are requirements for membership, there is a credit union for virtually everyone—the trick is finding the one for which you qualify. At GCS Credit Union, membership is open to anyone who lives, works, or goes to school in one of the counties in which we operate across Illinois. Once you are accepted as a member in our credit union, you can maintain your membership even if you move out of the area.

    What are the benefits of joining a credit union?

    Unlike banks, credit unions are nonprofit institutions. As a result, they do not need to focus making money for a board of directors or owners. Instead, any profits generated by the credit union are re-invested into member services. Members are the owners of credit unions, so all decisions are made in their favor. This structure also allows credit unions to make decisions about loans on a more personalized basis, considering the full financial picture of the applicant.

    What services do banks have that credit unions don’t?

    Credit unions are full-service financial institutions. They offer all of the same products as banks, although their nonprofit structure typically lets them do so at better rates. You can expect all of the same services you would find at a bank at the credit union that you join.

    To find out more about how membership at GCS Credit Union could benefit your family, contact us today. You can reach a team member at our credit union in O’Fallon by calling (618) 797-7993.

  • How Much Should a Car Down Payment Be?

    If you’re seeking an auto loan, then you may be wondering how much money you will need for your down payment. There is flexibility when it comes to down payments, but there is typically a trade off if you save money up front on your down payment with a higher interest rate over the course of the loan.

    Watch this video for insight on making a car down payment. Typically, 10% to 20% is a good target, but paying more could you save you money on interest in the future.

    Let GCS Credit Union help you choose an auto loan that is right for your needs and budget. Our credit union in O’Fallon offers competitive rates, online bill pay, and much more for our members. Learn more by dialing (618) 797-7993.

  • Home Equity Loans: Dos and Don’ts to Know

    If you have a home mortgage, a home equity loan can be an affordable and convenient way to get money for unexpected expenses. However, it’s important to tread carefully when using a home equity loan, since your home is the collateral. These dos and don’ts of using home equity will help you decide if this kind of loan is the right choice for your financial goals.

    Do Use Equity to Invest in Your Home

    One of the best ways to use your home equity is to make your home better. Spending money from a home equity loan on improvements that will increase your property value can be a wise investment for your future. Avoid using home equity loans to make small repairs and instead use the money to invest in one-off renovation projects or major repairs, such as roof replacement.

    Don’t Pay for Your Lifestyle with a Home Equity Loan

    Knowing that you can easily access the equity you have in your home can make it tempting to use it to indulge in things you want, like a boat, sports car, or extravagant vacation. However, using your equity for these purchases give you secured debt for expenses that should be in your household budget if you want them. It’s risky to use your home as collateral for unnecessary purchases.

    Do—or Don’t—Pay off Debt

    There is disagreement about using a home equity loan for credit card debt. Credit card debt is unsecured, so if you don’t pay, you don’t run the risk of losing your home. However, it is also high-interest, so paying it off with a home equity loan gives you the chance to save a significant amount of money. Keep in mind that if you use a home equity loan to pay off your cards and then run them up again, you’ll be further in debt and will now have debt that is secured against your home. Your credit union can help you weigh the pros and cons.

    GCS Credit Union offers competitive rates on home mortgages in O’Fallon and can help you decide what kind of borrowing is right for you. To speak to a representative at our credit union , call (618) 797-7993.

  • Spotlight on GCS’s Elite Money Market Account

    If you are looking for a high-interest account for managing your money, then the GCS Credit Union Elite Money Market account could be right for you. This high-interest account offers the credit union’s highest interest rate while giving you the maximum flexibility for managing your funds.

    The Elite Money Market account allows you to make six withdrawals per month, with a minimum amount of $5,000, before a $15 fee applies to withdrawal transaction. You get direct check writing ability and free online banking and eStatements. The account requires a $150,000 opening deposit. Maintain a balance of a $150,000 to avoid monthly service fees in the amount of $15.

    The Elite Money Market account is just one solution from GCS Credit Union that helps you manage your money as efficiently as possible. Find out how our credit union in O’Fallon can help to make your money work for you by calling (618) 797-7993.

  • Why Mobile Banking Apps Are Safer

    Using online banking is convenient, and if you’re always on your smartphone, using mobile banking apps can make your life even easier. The question most people have about using a banking app is: Is my information safe?

    Mobile banking apps have sophisticated security systems built into them. When you download the app from the app store, you can be confident that it’s legitimate and not a phishing site.

    GCS Credit Union is pleased to offer safe and secure mobile and online banking in O’Fallon to our credit union customers. You can learn more about our credit union and our membership requirements by calling (618) 797-7993.

  • Maybe Baby? What to Know About Saving for the First Year

    Starting a family is a major decision. Among the many factors you have to weigh when you’re thinking about having a baby are your finances. Are you ready to add a new baby to your family now, or should you spend time saving? Your credit union can help you explore your financial health and make smart decisions about planning for the future. This information will also help you decide if now is the time to plan for a pregnancy.

    Check Your Savings Account Balance

    Experts recommend that you have at least $20,000 in your savings account before you start a family. Medical care during pregnancy, labor, and delivery can be expensive, and it isn’t always completely covered by insurance. Having this amount of money in your savings account will help you face these expenses as they arise. It will also give you a foundation from which to grow your family’s savings during your baby’s expensive first year of life.

    Save 10% of Your Salary

    Ideally, you should be able to comfortably save 10% of your salary for baby expenses, in addition to your retirement savings. Ask your credit union to set up an automatic transfer to your savings from your checking account on every payday. Unexpected expenses can occur with babies, and having a nest egg will help you deal with them.

    Consider Your Child Care Plans

    A significant expense for new parents is child care. Decide now what you will do for child care, so you can save accordingly. Research infant daycares and nannies in your town, and decide if you have family or friends who can provide care on some days. Calculate how much child care will cost, so you’re not surprised when the need arises.

    GCS Credit Union provides members with the financial advice they need to reach their goals, from starting a family to buying a house . Find out how to join our credit union or talk to a representative at our credit union in O’Fallon by calling (618) 797-7993.

  • How a Roommate Could Save Your Budget

    For many people, wages aren’t growing, but rents definitely are. This is especially true of you live in a city, where rents are increasing at significant rates every year. Although many people discount the idea of living with a roommate after they are done with college and enter the working world, it could be one of the smartest money management moves you can make. Here is a look at how sharing a home could be the key to making your checking account grow.

    Cut Your Rent

    If you decide to get a roommate with whom you share a room, you can cut the rent of a one-bedroom apartment in half. When you’re not sharing a room and opt for a two-bedroom apartment, you most likely won’t be able to reduce the rent you would pay if you lived alone by a full 50%, but in many big cities, you will save 30-40%, which is still significant. This savings alone is enough to make many people decide that roommate living is right for them.

    Cut Your Bills

    The ability to split bills is another budget-friendly boon for roommates. Although your usage of some utilities, like electricity, may be higher because you have more than one person in your home, being able to cut the bill down the middle is still worthwhile for most people. There are some bills, like cable and internet, that don’t fluctuate with usage, and so you’ll save a full 50% with a roommate over living alone.

    Pay Off Debt

    By living with a roommate, you can focus more of your income on paying down debt. This can be especially helpful for people dealing with student loan debt or who are coping with high-interest credit cards. Living with a roommate could be key to getting the fresh start you need.

    At GCS Credit Union, the financial well-being of our members is our top priority. Let our credit union team help you make smart financial decisions about everything from auto loans to savings strategies. Not a member? Call (618) 797-7993 to find out how to join our credit union in O’Fallon.

  • A New Member’s Guide to Switching to GCS

    If you have made the decision to join a credit union and switch to GSC , our team will make the process as smooth and easy as possible. Our Member Services reps are on standby to help with any issues that arise as you make the switch. After you have applied to join the credit union and have received your approval, take the steps to make your switch complete.

    Change Your Direct Deposit Information

    To avoid any delays in getting paid, the first thing to do is notify your employer and anyone else who sends you money via direct deposit about your new account. You will need to provide your new credit union account number and the routing number of GCS

    Credit Union—281076853. Be sure to specify whether the money is being paid into a checking account or savings account. As soon as the party making payment adjusts your information, your direct deposits should continue to flow as before.

    Move Automatic Payments

    If you have automatic payments coming out of your previous checking account, update that information so that the payments come out of your new account. GCS Bill Pay allows you to manage all of your bills online in a single location. You can also set up automatic withdrawals using your account and routing numbers or update your payment arrangements with your new debit card number.

    Close Your Previous Accounts

    Once all of your new deposits and payments are set up, you can close your old banking accounts. Before you make the transition, be sure all of your outstanding checks have cleared our old account and that all of your automatic transactions have been successfully updated with your new account information.

    Are you ready to make the switch to GCS Credit Union? We offer competitive rates a comprehensive range of financial products, including secure online banking in O’Fallon . You can learn more by contacting our credit union at (618) 797-7993.