• How Much Money Should You Save Every Month?

    If you save as much as you can throughout your life, you shouldn’t have much stress as you approach retirement age. Of course, everyone saves different amounts because everyone’s financial situation is unique. What works for you might not work for someone else. If you’re having trouble sorting through your personal finances, or you just want an expert to review your situation, consider talking to a financial planner at a credit union. Here’s a quick look at how much you should be saving each month as you start planning for your future.

    Overall Savings

    Since people’s income varies widely, many financial experts recommend saving a percentage each month. A typical recommendation is to save at least 10% to 20% of your income. Some people are able to save more, others less. It may not be possible to save 20% of your income if you live on a $30,000 salary and have significant medical expenses, for example. Just try to save as much as you can every month, and be on the lookout for new ways to cut expenses and increase savings.

    Goal-Oriented Savings

    Within your overall savings, you should have separate funds. Your retirement funds should comprise the biggest portion of your savings. For example, if you save 20%, then your retirement savings may comprise 15%. The remaining money should be saved for other long-term and short-term goals, such as buying a house, buying a new car, and putting the kids through college. Additionally, everyone needs emergency savings. Ideally, you should have three to six months of income saved just in case of a major catastrophe, like prolonged unemployment.

    Saving Tips

    There are countless ways to cut expenses and increase your savings. You might decide to get a side hustle in addition to your full-time job, for instance. You could also eliminate your cable bill and opt for a less expensive TV streaming service instead. If you have a spouse or partner, and one of you works from home, perhaps it would be possible to only keep one car on the road. Figure out what will work for you, given your lifestyle.

    At GCS Credit Union, our members have access to a bundle of superior savings options, including money market accounts, share certificates, savings accounts, and Roth or traditional IRAs. Plus, members can use our online banking features in O’Fallon and beyond to take control of their finances. Join our credit union today by visiting a local branch or calling (618) 797-7993.

  • Strategies for Managing Your Credit Score

    Your credit score can open—or close—a lot of doors for you. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of what they need to do to build and maintain a good credit score, so they make easily avoidable mistakes that end up harming them financially. As a member of a credit union, you have access to financial information from qualified advisors whose only interest is seeing members thrive financially. Take advantage of this important asset of credit union membership that bank customers don’t get since their institutions are for-profit and not member-driven. In addition to seeking advice at your credit union, these tips will help you take control of your score.

    Check Your Credit Report—Often

    You can’t manage your credit score if you don’t know what is on your credit report. Your credit report lists all of your credit accounts for the past seven years and how you managed them, and often, people find incorrect information on their reports that are dragging down their scores. You should monitor your report multiple times per year and petition to have incorrect or outdated information removed. Note that, contrary to popular belief, checking your credit does not lower your score. Only hard credit pulls from lenders affect your score.

    Reduce Your Debt When You Can

    The amount of debt you have versus the amount of credit you have available plays a big part in your credit score. Reducing your debt is a great way to increase your credit score. Pay as much as you can each month towards your debt, but never pay less than the minimum payment, so you don’t have late payments reflected on your credit report. For a similar reason, don’t close old accounts, since it will reduce the amount of credit you have available and cause you to update your debt-to-credit ratio.

    If you need help managing your credit, call GCS Credit Union and set up an appointment to talk to a representative. We’re invested in your financial success, whether you’re just getting your first credit card or trying to dig your way out of debt for retirement. For more information about our checking accounts, Visa Rewards credit card or other credit union service in O’Fallon, call (618) 797-7993.

  • Never Miss Another Bill Due Date with This Advice

    Missing a due date for a bill happens to everyone at some point, but although it may seem like a simple oversight, it can have costly repercussions. If you miss multiple due dates on an ongoing basis, you could end up paying for your errors for an extended period of time, as late payments drag down your credit score and haunt you for seven years. Fortunately, there are things you can do to make sure you never miss another due date, and some of the tools may already be integrated into your credit union accounts. Try these suggestions to keep up with your due dates.

    Use Online Bill Pay

    If you prefer a set-it-and-forget-it approach to paying your bills, online bill pay could be exactly what you’re looking for. With online bill pay from GCS Credit Union, simply set up the date and amount of payment for each bill you have, and your payments will be automatically sent to your creditors at the right time. Make sure you have your payments set up for at least the minimum amount so you never miss a deadline, but be aware that you can change the amounts at any time to pay more when you want to. For bills that change monthly, such as utility bills, you can still use online bill pay. Just set up your payment when your new balance is available.

    Align Your Due Dates

    Creditors will often allow you to shift your due dates, so consider making your bills all due on the same day or spacing them out on two or three specific dates each month. This will help to prevent anything from slipping through the cracks and also makes it easier to line up your payment with your paycheck dates.

    Set Up a Day Each Month for Financial Management

    If you automate your bill paying process as much as possible, you remove a lot of the room for error. However, it’s still important to check in on your finances monthly and make sure nothing needs attention. Pick a day each month to review all of your accounts and to make any necessary adjustments.

    GCS Credit Union offers easy and convenient online bill pay along with a variety of other tools for staying in control of your finances. To learn more, contact our credit union in O’Fallon by calling (618) 797-7993.

  • A Look at the Features of Our Visa Rewards Credit Card

    There are a lot of credit cards on the market, so it’s important to choose one that offers you benefits that you can use. You’ll find just that with the Visa Rewards credit card from GCS Credit Union. You’ll get the competitive rates you expect with your credit union membership plus the valuable benefits of the GCS Visa Rewards program.

    With the program, you get one point for every dollar you spend. The points are redeemable for everything from travel to merchandise, as well as special offers from GCS Credit Union. You can manage your points online at any time. With your card, you also get no annual fee, emergency card replacement, a PIN for ATM usage, and a 25-day grace period on all of your purchases.

    Find out more about applying for a Visa Rewards credit card by contacting GCS Credit Union. We also offer a variety of banking services, including checking accounts, savings accounts, home and auto loans, and much more. Talk to a credit union representative today by calling (618) 797-7993.

  • Tips for Dealing with Financial Stress

    Financial stress happens to everyone, no matter how much money they have in their checking account or on their credit card bills. The key to dealing with financial stress is to face it and find a solution. Your credit union can be a big help in this regard. The tips in this video will also help you manage financial stress.

    When you’re facing financial difficulty, it may help to write down the problem. Seeing it on paper may help you put it into perspective. Focusing on a solution that will deal with the short-term problem and prevent it from reoccurring will also help.

    GCS Credit Union is committed to the financial well-being of our members and can help you reach your goals with checking accounts, online bill pay, and competitive rates for auto loans in O’Fallon. Learn more about membership by calling (618) 797-7993.

  • What to Consider When You’re Planning for Retirement

    Retirement is the time when you get to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. However, without careful planning, it can instead be a time of financial stress. The key to successful retirement is planning. Even if you haven’t yet thought about retirement, the time to start is now. Sit down with a representative from your credit union to explore all of your saving options and to make a plan that works for your goals and budget. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re planning.

    There is never a wrong time to start saving for retirement.

    The ideal way to save for retirement is to start when you are young, so you have the maximum amount of time available to you to allow interest to work in your favor. However, if you didn’t start young, that doesn’t mean that it is too late. There is never a wrong time to start saving. You simply have to adjust your strategies based on your current stage of life, so you can maximize your returns.

    Goals will help you stay on track.

    Setting aside money without any goals in mind is an ineffective way to plan for your retirement. Instead, set savings goals, so you know exactly what you want to achieve. Know how much you want to have when you retire, and then set mini-goals along the way as you strive to accumulate that amount. You’ll feel more motivated if you’re hitting goals as you go, plus, you’ll be better positioned to do the things you want to do during retirement.

    Financial windfalls can pay dividends in the future.

    If you come into some extra money, such as an inheritance or tax refund, don’t start looking at the short-term rewards you could give yourself. Put that money in a retirement account so that it starts working for you. You’ll be glad you focused on the long-term potential of that money when retirement comes around.

    Let GCS Credit Union help you build a retirement savings plan that works for you by leveraging our competitive interest rates and member-focused financial services. To discuss your goals with a representative from our credit union in O’Fallon, call (618) 797-7993.

  • Understanding Mortgage Insurance

    If you get a home mortgage loan and don’t put down 20% as a down payment, then you may need mortgage insurance. This video explains more about mortgage insurance and what it could mean for your overall home mortgage loan payments.

    Mortgage insurance protects the lender in the case that you default on your loan. Once you reach 20% equity in you home, you can typically get rid of the mortgage insurance, as long as your lender agrees.

    GCS Credit Union can answer your questions about home mortgage loans in O’Fallon as well as all of our banking products, including checking accounts, online banking, and more. Call us today at (618) 797-7993.

  • The Young Adult’s Guide to Home Mortgages

    Buying a new home can be an overwhelming process at any age. For young adults, who are just starting to build their financial management skills, applying for and paying home mortgage loans can be particularly complex. The age at which people usually get home mortgage loans has increased over the years, which means young adults may have even more than questions than in the past, because they have fewer peers going through the process. However, mortgages are accessible to young adults, and it is still possible to become a homeowner in your 20s. If you are considering applying for a home mortgage loan, here is what you need to know.

    Pay Attention to Your Down Payment

    Having a down payment of 20% is standard for a conventional home mortgage loan. If you don’t have that amount of money, there are alternatives, such as using a lower down payment but carrying mortgage insurance until the equity in your home is equal to 20%. However, it is usually a good idea to come as close to 20% as possible, even if your lender is willing to give you a loan with less. A strong down payment will help you get the best interest rate on your loan and keep your monthly payment under control.

    Manage Your Debt

    One mistake that many young adults make is using financing to make purchases excessively. Although financing large purchases can make the cost manageable, it also leaves you with a lot of debt. Mortgage lenders look at your whole financial picture, including how much debt you already carry, so keep yours in check if your goal is to buy a home.

    Consider the Full Cost of Home Ownership

    Your home mortgage loan payment is just part of the cost of being a homeowner. When you are deciding what kind of payment you can afford, keep in mind that you will also need to pay for insurance, maintenance, landscaping, and home repairs, so you can budget effectively.

    If you’re looking for a home mortgage loan in O’Fallon, contact GCS Credit Union. Our team members can walk you through the process and help you get the right loan for your budget. To schedule an appointment at our credit union, please call (618) 797-7993.

  • Advice for Choosing the Right Credit Card

    A credit card can be an important part of your financial picture. It can help you build a history of smart financial management as you leverage the purchasing power than comes with the ability to charge purchases. However, not all credit cards are created equal, and choosing the right one for your needs is not always easy. Your credit union can offer plenty of advice when it comes to selecting the best card for your needs. These tips will also help.

    Skip the Mailbox Advertisements

    There is a good chance that you are bombarded with credit card offers in your mailbox, email inbox, and even when you’re out shopping. However, choosing a card simply because you have seen it advertised many times isn’t a good strategy. Cards that promise low introductory rates, great rates on balance transfers, and more great introductory features often have a lot of fine print that makes the deals less attractive. Pay attention to all of the details, and look especially closely at what the interest rate on the card after the introductory period has expired.

    Be Realistic About Your Spending Habits

    How you spend can have a big impact on the kind of card that is right for you. For example, if you plan to pay off the balance of your card in full each month, you can use a different set of criteria than if you plan to carry a balance. It’s important for your credit card to help manage your finances as effectively as possible.

    Know Your Credit Score Before You Apply

    Knowing where you stand with your credit can help you narrow down the selection of cards you can consider. Apply for the very best one you can get with your credit, but avoid applying blindly to multiple cards. The multiple credit queries on your account can drive down your score.

    The Visa Rewards credit card from GCS Credit Union was designed for the needs of our customers in mind. Talk to a representative at our credit union in O’Fallon today by calling (618) 797-7993.

  • Upgrading Your Car? Here’s How to Pick a Manageable Payment

    When you’re seeking an auto loan, there are many factors to consider. However, one of the things many people focus on, and for good reason, is the monthly car payment. You should never choose an auto loan based on the payment alone, but if you can’t make the monthly payment, then you risk having the car repossessed and destroying your credit. If you’re upgrading your car, here are some of the strategies you can use to make sure your monthly payment is manageable.

    Consider All of the Costs of Car Ownership

    Your monthly payment isn’t the only thing you have to pay on your car. You have insurance to consider, whether you pay it monthly, every six months, or once per year. You also have to consider gas, parking, maintenance, and repairs. In other words, you can’t be so over-leveraged on your car payment that you can’t get the oil changed or come up with a few hundred dollars when it needs a repair. Add up what these costs usually look like for you, so you can factor them in when considering your overall car budget.

    Base Your Payment on a Percentage of Your Income

    As a general rule of thumb, your car payment should not be more than 20% of your pay, and ideally, it should be below 15%. Aim for about 10% as a good figure for your monthly payment, as it allows you to set aside another 5% or 10% for repairs, maintenance, and those other ownership expenses.

    Avoid Lowering Your Payment with a Long Loan Term

    One way to get a lower monthly payment for a car you want is to agree to extend the loan term. However, the longer you pay on the loan, the more interest you will end up paying. This could cause you to pay thousands more for a car in the long run than if you had kept the loan shorter.

    Close-up view of car keys with red bow as present and calendar on wooden background on wooden background.