• How Do Late Payments Affect Your Credit?

    If the inner workings of your credit score are a mystery to you, you’re not alone. Most people simply aren’t sure how their credit scores are calculated. The formula is surprisingly complex and difficult to understand for something that is such a vital part of your financial wellbeing. If you’re a credit union member, the team there can answer many of the questions you have about your credit score, but one query comes up frequently: How do late payments harm your credit score? There is no easy answer, but there are some general facts that will help you better determine just how much a late payment will harm your score.

    When is a payment considered to be late?

    The good news is that if you remember you forgot to pay a bill a few days after the due date, your credit is unlikely to be impacted at all. Creditors can begin reporting late payments to credit bureaus when the payment is 30 days late. Creditors will report a payment and specify how late it is. For example, a creditor may decide to report your account to a credit bureau when it is 60 days late, and specify it as such. Late payments can be reported multiple times as the debt gets older, up to 150 days late, at which point it may be reported as charged off.

    How much can a late payment impact a score?

    There is no set rule for how much a late payment will impact your score. How late your payment is, how often you have paid late, and how long it has been since the late payment was reported will factor into how it influences your score. Generally, the higher your credit score is, the more a late payment will affect it. In some cases, a single late payment could reduce your score by 110 points, if your credit score is high. If your score is lower, the impact may be 80 points or less.

    Managing your credit score is hard, but at GCS Credit Union, our team is here to support you as make smart decisions to on the path toward your financial goals. Talk to a credit union representative in O’Fallon today by calling (618) 797-7993 for more information.

  • Financial Management for College Freshmen

    College freshmen face a whole new world when they go off to school, and that often includes being in charge of managing their own finances for the first time. For families, it’s important to make a plan for how freshmen will manage their money at school, from whose names will be on the checking account to how much spending money students will have. This advice will help families get through freshmen year without financial hiccups.

    Know What Is Coming In and Going Out

    Start by tallying up how much money is going to be coming in each semester and how much as to go out. After tuition is paid, how much will be left over from grants and loans? Will the student have a job, and if so, how much is he or she likely to earn? Next, add up fixed expenses, like cellphone bills, and estimates for things like entertainment and grocery shopping. This will give you a good idea of where you stand, and how much wiggle room there is in the budget.

    Be Ready to Be Flexible

    It’s difficult to anticipate exactly what expenses will be at college, so be ready to be flexible with the budget. It’s also very common for freshmen to make some financial missteps. These are great opportunities for leaning, so if a checking account gets overdrawn or a bill gets overlooked, use it as a lesson.

    Break Up Money into Small Chunks

    For parents of freshmen, it’s better to dole out a small amount of money each week or month than give kids a set amount for the semester in one lump. For freshmen, learning to budget this small amount of money and making it stretch is a good way to develop the skills necessary for managing larger amounts.

    At GCS Credit Union, we have a number of different savings and checking accounts designed for young credit union members to help them learn financial responsibility. Talk to one of our representatives about how our credit union in O’Fallon can help your freshman by calling (618) 797-7993.

  • Making the Most of a Debt Consolidation Loan

    Are you struggling to manage all of the bills you have to pay without missing due dates or spending all your free time making payments? If so, then you could benefit from a debt consolidation loan. With a debt consolidation loan from GCS Credit Union, you can combine all of your accounts into a single payment with a low interest rate, saving you time and money.

    With a debt consolidation loan, you can pay off your high-interest accounts and simply focus on making payments on the loan. Having a single payment means you won’t have to juggle due dates, and the attractive interest rate means you could save thousands. The key to making the most of your loan is to avoid running charges back up on your paid off accounts, so you don’t end up with additional debt. Set a budget that does not include regularly using your credit card and reserve those accounts only for financial emergencies.

    Could a debt consolidation loan at GCS Credit Union be right for you? Talk to one of our representatives to learn more about using debt consolidation loans effectively and the competitive rates on our other loans, including auto and home mortgage loans in O’Fallon. Dial (618) 797-7993 for more information.

  • Should You Focus on Investment or Paying off Debt?

    When you’re dealing with debt, such as student loan debt, you may be wondering if paying off that debt or investing your money will help you reach your financial goals faster. A good way to start is to discuss your options with your credit union, so you understand how different approaches can work for you.

    Watch this video to learn more about investing for retirement and paying off debt. Although a balanced approach is important, there may be more benefits to prioritizing investing in retirement savings than in paying off debt faster.

    GCS Credit Union is here to help our members make the most of their money, so that it works for them. For more information about credit union in O’Fallon, including checking accounts and auto loans, call (618) 797-7993.

  • The First Year of Homeownership: Advice for Creating a Budget

    When you’re house hunting, it’s natural for the cost of your home mortgage loan to be front and center in your mind, but it’s also important to remember that the cost of homeownership is much more than the your monthly payment. The additional costs can come as a surprise to many first-time buyers, especially during the first year that they are in the their homes. After you sign the agreement for your home mortgage loan, follow these steps for creating a budget.

    Learn About Property Tax and Insurance

    Property tax and homeowner’s insurance are unavoidable payments you have to make for your home. If you put down less than 20%, you will need to pay for private mortgage insurance. Know what these costs will be before you decide to buy a home so that you can consider them in your overall budget. Keep in mind that these costs can be significant, depending on where you live and the size of your mortgage, so plan ahead for paying them.

    Consider HOA Fees

    One expense that takes many homeowners by surprise is fees for HOAs—homeowner’s associations. Although these fees are modest in some places, they can be substantial in other communities. Find out what the fees and terms of payment are for your new community and be sure to include them in your budget. Failing to pay these fees will lead to costly fines, not to mention unpleasant interactions with your new neighbors.

    Get Real About Ongoing Costs

    The true cost of homeownership involves everything from buying furniture to replacing your water heater. It is helpful to put money into a savings account every month that you can use for unexpected repairs and other home expenses. Let this fund build up over time, and only tap it when you truly need it, so you won’t be caught underwater financially when an expense arises.

    At GCS Credit Union, our representatives will help you understand the full cost of homeownership when you apply for a home mortgage loan in O’Fallon. We also make it easy to manage your money with online banking and a variety of account options. For more information about our credit union, call (618) 797-7993.

  • Finding the Right Loan for Your Needs

    People must borrow money throughout their lifetimes for a wide range of reasons, from buying a home to purchasing a new car to managing unexpected expenses. When you borrow money, it’s important to borrow it the best way for your needs, so that you can more easily pay it back when the time comes.

    At GCS Credit Union, we offer personal loans for a wide range of needs. Our home and auto loans offer competitive rates, as well as personal lines of credit and loans that can be used for any purpose. Our debt consolidation loans offer the chance to get on top of your bills and reduce your interest rate, while our Christmas loans make juggling holiday expenses easier.

    If you need a loan for any reason, talk to a team member at GCS Credit Union about which of our services might be right for you. For more information about home and auto loans in O’Fallon and the rest of our credit union services, call (618) 797-7993.

  • How to Get the Most from Your Savings Account


    If you’re saving money, make it work for you by putting it in a savings account. At GCS Credit Union, we have a range of saving account options to help you make the most of your money and reach your financial goals. Here are some of the ways you get the most out of your credit union savings account with us.

    Choose the Right Account

    What are you hoping to achieve with your savings account? Consider your goals, and chances are that you’ll find a savings account at our credit union that will help you get there faster. If you’re simply looking for a place to increase your savings while earning interest, choose our free Kasasa Saver account or Member Savings. If you are saving a larger amount of money, opt for a money market account to earn higher interest rates. You can boost your interest even more with share certificates with high, fixed interest rates. Kids can start saving with our Youth Savings account, and you can work towards your retirement goals with our IRA options.

    Use Direct Deposits

    Saving money gets easier when it happens automatically. Set direct deposits for your savings account so that you don’t even have to think about putting the money aside. You may be surprised how quickly your balance will add up—and how little you will miss the money when it goes directly into your savings.

    Diversify Your Accounts

    You don’t save money for just a single purpose, so why put all of your savings into a single account. By using multiple savings accounts, you earmark money for specific needs and reach both short and long-term savings goals. For example, if you want to save for holiday expenses, open a Christmas Club account specifically for this purpose. These accounts reach maturity on October 15 annually, when the balance is transferred to your checking account for holiday spending.

    GCS Credit Union is pleased to offer a wide range of financial products to help our credit union members reach their goals. From online bill pay to savings accounts and auto loans in O’Fallon, you’ll find all of the services you need to manage your money. To learn more about membership, call (618) 797-7993.

  • Are You Saving Enough Money Every Month?

    Saving money is important for reaching both short and long-term goals, but how do you know if you’re saving enough? One way to determine if your savings is healthy is to examine your checking account to see how you’re spending.

    This video discusses the importance of making sure that your spending adds value to your life. If the things you’re spending on aren’t adding value or getting you closer to your goals, then you could likely be saving more.

    At GCS Credit Union, we give you the tools you need to manage your finances your way, with online checking accounts, competitive auto loans, and much more. To learn about our services or joining our credit union in O’Fallon, call (618) 797-7993.

  • What To Do if You Have Credit Card Debt

    Credit card debt is something that many people have, but it can also be an overwhelming drain on your finances. If you’re struggling with debt, don’t let your balances continue to grow. Start by talking to your credit union about whether paying off high-interest cards with a loan with a lower interest rate is a good option for you. These tips will also help you manage your credit card debt and get out of from under growing interest charges.

    Know Where You Stand

    You can’t make a plan for paying off your credit card debt if you don’t know exactly where you stand. If you’ve been avoiding checking your accounts or opening your bills, know is the time to look at all of your current balances and add them up so you know exactly how much debt you have. You should also know the exact balance for each specific card and the interest rate on each account.

    Pay Off the Highest Interest Rate First

    The card with the highest interest rate is the card that is costing you the most money. Shrug off that debt by paying as much money as you can afford on that account first, while paying the minimum on your other cards. Wiping out the highest interest rate debt quickly can save you hundreds of dollars as you make payments. Repeat the process with you other cards.

    Request a Lower Interest Rate

    In some cases, creditors are happy to reduce your interest rate by a point or two if you simply ask. You have a better chance of getting a reduction if you have a history of paying on time and if you have been a long-term customer. If your creditor won’t give you a lower rate, consider transferring your balance to a lower-interest card or taking out a personal loan with a lower rate to pay down your debts.

    GCS Credit Union is committed to helping our members achieve their financial goals, whether they need to get out of credit card debt, get a home mortgage, or simply manage their money more efficiently. To find out how to join our credit union in O’Fallon, call (618) 797-7993.


  • 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.