IMPORTANT!!

We are keeping a close eye on the "Heartbleed" bug you may have heard about. The vendor we use for Online Banking has completed a preliminary assessment and has not discovered any vulnerability. We will be sure to keep you updated should anything to the contrary be discovered. Rest assured that we are doing everything we can to help ensure that your information is safe.

It is always a good practice to use unique passwords for all of the online services you access. If your GCF Online Banking password has also been used with a different service, we do recommend that you change your Online Banking password at this time.





If you currently utilize GCF’s online banking EXPRESS TRANSFER function to make your loan payments, this service will be temporarily unavailable from April 25, 2014 through June 9, 2014. As an alternative to this temporary inconvenience, you can do one of the following:

  • Contact 1-877-589-6600 ext. 320 or 368 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, to manually complete the transaction.
  • Mail a check to Investors Bank, 101 Wood Avenue South, Iselin, NJ 08830.
  • Sign up for GCF’s online bill payment system and set up a monthly payment to be sent to Investors Bank.


Fast Access




GCF Bank is now part of the Investors Bank family!
GCFlash - March 8, 2011!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Edition #601


Today's Highlights:

Past issues of GCFlash:

March 1, 2011 Edition #600

February 22, 2011 Edition #599

February 15, 2011 Edition #598

February 8, 2011 Edition #597

Looking for articles from a past issue of GCFlash not listed above? Find them in our Knowledge Base!


Weekly Spotlight:

Have you been a victim of Identity Theft? Use GCF's Identity Theft Repair Kit, which includes a helpful Resolutions Worksheet to help you keep track of the organizations you contact.



Our Current Rates:

For a listing of our current deposit and loan rates, click here.

Today's National Market Rates
March 8, 2011 6 Mo Ago
09/08/10
1 Yr Ago
03/08/10
5 Yrs Ago
03/08/06
Dow Jones Industrial Average 12,214.38 (+1.03%)
(Up 636.87 or 5.50% since 12/31/10)
10,387.01 10,552.52 11,005.74
S&P 500 1,321.82 (+0.89%)
(Up 64.18 or 5.10% since 12/31/09)
1,098.87 1,138.50 1,278.47
NASDAQ 2,767.77 (+0.73%)
(Up 114.90 or 4.33% since 12/31/08)
2,228.87 2,332.21 2,267.46
10 Year Treasury Bond Yield 3.54% 2.65% 3.71% 4.73%
British Sterling 1.6160 1.5451 1.5119 1.7368
Euro 1.3902 1.2714 1.3653 1.1904

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1st Flash

More Tax Tips

Tax code is confusing. It may be intentionally so in order to scare honest taxpayers into skipping deductions they may truly qualify for, leaving more money in the IRS coffers. Perhaps they draft the rules to assure they're ambiguous enough to stand in a court of law when prosecuting tax evaders.

Whatever the motive, it can serve to your advantage. Here we'll clarify some common misconceptions for you to consider as we get further into filing season.

Do you know the difference between a tax deduction and a tax credit? A deduction reduces your gross income, thereby your tax burden. A credit is deducted from the tax you owe, as if you actually paid that money into the system. A tax credit yields a far greater benefit than a deduction.

One example is the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which offers up to $2,500 for higher education. It covers 100 percent of the first $2,000 in qualified expenses and 25 percent of the next $2,000. You only need to spend $4,000 to get the full credit. And as of 2009, textbooks are also considered a qualifying expense along with tuition.

A common mistake is to deduct these expenses on your Schedule A. The amount may seem larger when it's deducted from your income, but the credit actually provides a greater benefit. You can't take both tax breaks.

The alternative energy credit is another example of an often-misunderstood tax credit. Homeowners are eligible for a credit of up to 30 percent of the cost for installing alternative energy devices in their existing homes. This includes solar water heaters, geothermal heat pumps and the like.

This credit is also available to those who built a new home in 2010 with similar devices installed. Ask your builder for a cost breakdown.

Is all mortgage interest deductible? Not necessarily. The mortgage interest tax deduction is limited by the value of your home. Generally speaking, you can claim it for interest paid on mortgage indebtedness up to $1 million, plus another $100,000 of home-equity debt.

Don't overlook deducting your taxes when you prepare your Schedule A. You have the option of deducting your state and local sales taxes rather than income tax. Did you make a large purchase last year like a car or RV? The sales tax may gain you a larger deduction when added to the base amount permitted. The amount allowed varies by state.

You came home from Atlantic City broke. "It's not so bad," you tell the wife. "We can claim it as a tax deduction." Your spouse may buy that, but the IRS won't. Uncle Sam will not pay for a bad night at the slots. Gambling losses are only tax deductible as a reduction against your winnings. And you'll need to save proof of your claim to be eligible for the deduction.

Business owners have always been allowed to deduct health insurance premiums for themselves and their family from their adjusted gross income on Form 1040. For 2010, you can also deduct it from your self-employment income on line 3 of Schedule SE. The write-off is not clearly identified so look closely to assure you don't miss it.

Electronic software and e-filing has greatly reduced most common errors on returns. Transposed numbers, math errors, illegible handwriting and missing signatures are almost a thing of the past. More than two thirds of tax returns for 2009 were filed electronically according to the IRS.

It's also prime season for scammers. Most people recognize their ploys by now, but enough people still fall victim to make their efforts fruitful. The IRS will never send you an email requesting personal information. Or a link to their site where you can provide whatever they're trying to bilk you out of. Don't end up paying more than your due taxes.

On The World Wide Web

Planning a trip? Estimate fuel cost, plan your route, get maps and learn about attractions at this site.

Learn the history of Daylight Saving (not Savings) Time. How is it observed worldwide? Find out here.

The Fillmore East was only open three short years. Yet the careers of every music giant to shape rock and roll launched on their very stage. Relive the magic.

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2nd Flash

Saving at the Pump

Just when you thought it was safe to get behind the wheel again, riots break out in Egypt. Libya is under siege by its own government. Insert any Middle East nation here along with a myriad of excuses.

The result is the same. Skyrocketing gasoline prices are back.

So how can the average American afford to get from Point A to Point B?

You can do a web search for gas saving tips. But beware. You'll find more myth than savings.

Myth 1: Running your auto's air conditioner burns more fuel.
Perhaps. But so does driving with the windows down. The air turbulence creates drag. Burning more fuel.

Myth 2: Gas is denser in the morning when it's cool, giving you less volume when you fuel.
Nope. Tanks are located deep beneath the pumps where air temperature is not a factor.

Myth 3: Keep your tires under-inflated to improve mileage.
Both under- and over-inflating tires can cause blowouts. For the best mileage, as well as your safety, always keep your tires inflated properly.

Myth 4: A clean air filter will improve mileage.
A clean air filter will improve intake. It will improve your car's performance. It will not improve fuel mileage.

Now that we've identified what won't work, here are a few tips that will.

Your driving habits play the biggest role in fuel mileage. Ever watch an auto race in any series? The difference between winning and losing often comes down to fuel mileage. The driver who can feather the pedal and maintain consistent speeds is often the one being sprayed with champagne in the winner's circle.

You don't have to be a professional race car driver to learn these tricks. Rapid acceleration and frequent braking are fuel bandits. Keep a consistent pace. If your car has a tachometer, watch that instead of the speedometer. Keep those rpm's steady.

Most vehicles burn more fuel when driven over 60 mph. And with traffic, you won't reach your destination any sooner at a higher speed. Stick to the speed limit. Use cruise control if you have it to assure consistent speeds.

If you'll be more than a minute, turn off the engine. It takes more gas to start a car than run it, but idling burns more yet.

Shed that extra weight. You'll use two percent more gas for every 100 lbs. in your vehicle. Spring is right around the corner. Soon you won't need to lug around that bag of sand in your trunk.

Keep your engine properly tuned. And use the recommended grade of motor oil. The grade indicates viscosity. Use the wrong one and you're increasing engine friction.

Plan your errands to avoid back tracking as much as possible. Choose a route with fewer traffic lights or heavy traffic whenever it's an option. The longer route may actually save you time and money.

The first gas station you see after a long stretch is usually the most expensive. Same with those whose sign you can see from the highway. Drive a bit further for better prices.

We've seen this up-and-down gas price cycle so many times that it's pretty much old news. But that doesn't make it any easier on the wallet. Use these tips to keep your wallet as full as possible.

Tip of the Week

Are you thinking about trading your car in for a hybrid with better fuel mileage? Use this car buying guide for reviews and prices.

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Financial News

With changing employment opportunities, some people are starting their own small businesses. Starting a successful business requires several well-oiled components. The basic ingredient is, of course, offering a product or service that others are willing to purchase. Before you spend your money to start the business, you will want to have a solid plan. A business plan includes defining the objectives, customers, marketing, costs and financing. You will want to make sure that you have planned to have enough cash flow to weather the rough beginning phases.

The government has had an agency in place, the Small Business Administration, whose goal it is to further the development of small business. The SBA offers online and local counseling and training as well as sample business plans.

Financiers are reluctant to loan to a new business without a proven track record. The SBA has several loan programs in place to help a small business obtain the funding it needs. To qualify as a small business under current law, a business must demonstrate that it has less than $15 million in tangible net worth and two years' net income after taxes of less than $5 million. From this point, various SBA programs have other requirements.

The 7(a) Loan Program is the main SBA loan program and the most flexible for a variety of general business purposes. The SBA guarantees loans under this program by participating with commercial lending institutions. Loan terms can be up to 10 years for working capital and 25 years for fixed assets. Other loan programs include 504 Loans for fixed-asset projects and Microloans for short-term working capital or other short-term needs.

Starting a business is a commitment of both time and money. Use the resources available to you! See sba.gov for information on starting a business.


Quotable

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day that says 'I will try again tomorrow'." - Mary Anne Radmacher


Today in History

1968 - Fillmore East opens.


Flash Fact

Daylight Saving Time began in the U.S. during World War I in order to save energy for war production by taking advantage of the later hours of daylight between April and October. Turn your clocks ahead at 2:00 am on Sunday!

Have a comment about something you read in GCFlash? Suggestions for future articles? Drop us an email!

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PURPOSE:

GCFlash is a weekly e-mail sent only to its listed customers and associates free of charge. GCFlash informs customers of special product offerings which may be of interest, current interest rates on both deposit and loan products, selected financial news and other financial tidbits. GCFlash is intended to supplement the more comprehensive information listed on the GCF Web site at http://www.gcfbank.com.

For more comprehensive information, visit our Web site at http://www.gcfbank.com or call (856) 589-6600 Ext: 337 (Timothy P. Hand)

GCFLASH PRIVACY STATEMENT

For a copy of our Privacy Policy, visit www.gcfbank.com/gcflash_privacy.aspx

GCF maintains your e-mail address in a confidential and secure database along with much of your other account information, such as mailing address and telephone number, etc. Before aggregating our e-mailing list each week, we filter out any duplicates. In most cases, this inhibits the unintended e-mailing of multiple copies of GCFlash to a single e-mail address. However, because these account records are kept by both individual and account, there is a chance members of the same household could each receive a copy of GCFlash or any other transmission at the same e- mail address - resulting in multiple copies. For example, a husband and wife that both have accounts with GCF may both receive a copy because the names are different but listed at the same e-mail address. This is similar to the manner in which each individual may share a common telephone number. To handle this situation, GCF recommends you simply delete any extra copies of GCFlash as this will ensure that ALL individuals receive any future promotional mailings, which might only be targeted or offered to specific accountholders meeting certain criteria. GCF has the capability to suppress customer e-mail addresses so they are omitted from our transmission list. If you would rather have a specific household member’s e-mail address suppressed in our electronic database, simply send us a reply, as stated below, and indicate the accountholder for which you would like to have e-mail suppressed. Please keep in mind that this suppression will mean that NO future e-mails are sent, including special promotional offers. If you have any questions about this process or need additional information, please contact us at netaccess@gcfbank.com.

If you would like to be removed from this electronic mailing list, please hit reply and place the word REMOVE in the subject line. Please note, removing your name from our electronic mailing list means GCF will send NO FUTURE NEWS or SPECIAL OFFERS.


GCF Bank
381 Egg Harbor Road
Sewell, NJ 08080
(856) 589-6600
www.gcfbank.com