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!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Edition #659


Today's Highlights:

Past issues of GCFlash:

April 10, 2012 Edition #658

April 3, 2012 Edition #657

March 27, 2012 Edition #656

March 20, 2012 Edition #655


Weekly Spotlight:

Get your FREE Home Value Now! Use the link on our home page.


Our Current Rates:

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

Today's National Market Rates
April 17, 2012 6 Mo Ago
10/17/11
1 Yr Ago
04/17/11
5 Yrs Ago
04/17/07
Dow Jones Industrial Average
(Up 897.98 or 7.35% since 12/31/11)
13,115.54 (+1.50%) 11,397.00 12,201.59 12,773.04
S&P 500
(Up 133.19 or 10.59% since 12/31/11)
1,390.78 (+1.55%) 1,200.86 1,305.14 1,471.48
NASDAQ
(Up 437.67 or 16.80% since 12/31/11)
3,042.82 (+1.82%) 2,614.92 2,735.38 2,516.95
10 Year Treasury Bond Yield 1.99% 2.15% 3.37% 4.69%
British Sterling 1.5949 1.5816 1.6321 1.9889
Euro 1.3139 1.3875 1.4424 1.3553

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1st Flash

HARP II

All economic indicators point upward. The brunt of the economic, housing and employment crisis is behind us.

That's not to say all is well. We can't celebrate success until every person who wants to work is gainfully employed and homeowners are no longer struggling to make mortgage payments on a balance that exceeds their home's value.

But there is relief in sight. The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), initiated in 2009, didn't put much of a dent in solving the foreclosure problem. Enter HARP II with some key changes and help is on the way for struggling homeowners who didn't qualify for the original program.

HARP was designed to allow homeowners to refinance their mortgage to obtain a lower interest rate, whether or not you have equity in your home.

Say you bought your home at the height of the housing boom, securing a $200,000 mortgage on a property valued at $245,000 at the time. The bubble burst. Your home is now only valued at $175,000. Your monthly payments only scratch the interest, leaving $195,000 still due on the principal. Your home is considered underwater.

If you are current on your mortgage, you are eligible to refinance that mortgage at better terms through the government HARP program. This could be a shorter term, lower interest rate or eliminating some of the closing costs.

Loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on or before May 31, 2009 are eligible for this program. You can find out if your loan qualifies at Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac websites.

A few other qualifiers must also be taken into account. The current loan-to-value (LTV) ratio must be greater than 80 percent. There is no maximum LTV for fixed rate loans. An adjustable rate mortgage may not be over 105 percent LTV.

The borrower must be current on the mortgage at the time of the refinance, with no late payment made in the last six months and no more than one late payment over the past 12 months. The borrower must have a reasonable ability to make the new mortgage payments. And the refinance must improve the long-term affordability or stability of the loan.

This program gives creditworthy homeowners opportunity to either increase the equity in their home or pay down their principal balance more quickly, whichever goal is in their best interest. After you submit your application, you'll receive a "Good Faith Estimate" and "Truth in Lending Statement." Review them to learn if your new interest rate, mortgage payment and loan terms are an improvement over your current terms. A refinance may not be right for you.

Refinancing under HARP will not reduce the amount you own on your home. It merely enables you to refinance to a more stable product or one with better terms.

Troubled borrowers who are unemployed have a different recourse. The Home Affordable Unemployment Program (UP) may reduce your monthly payment to no more than 31 percent of your income or suspend payments all together for 12 months. Program details are available here.

If you're not unemployed but still struggling to make your monthly mortgage payments, the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) may be able to help. This program is expected to be available by June 2012. You'll be able to find details as they emerge here.


On The World Wide Web

Today is the deadline for filing your 2011 Federal income tax return. And area retailers believe you deserve something special in return. Discounts and even freebies are being offered by a host of stores, some only for today but many others will be available longer. Find a list of deals.

Looking for more information on government home affordability programs? Point your browser here.

Everything you always wanted to know about IRAs and more. Where? here.

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2nd Flash

Ira Insider

Today is the last day you can make an IRA contribution to credit against your 2011 income tax return. And since you're not likely reading this until after work or Wednesday morning, you've likely missed the window.

No need to worry. After learning your fate for the 2011 filing season, you're probably already scheming ways to soften next year's blow. Contributions you made in 2012 and didn't claim in 2011 will be ready and available for next filing season.

According to Investment Company Institute, almost 46 million Americans own an IRA as an income source in their retirement years. Withdrawals are permitted only after the owner reaches the ripe young age of 59-1/2. Penalties are assessed for early withdrawals on those who take their money too early.

But the folks who designed IRAs realize that life doesn't always go according to plan. They allowed for specific situations where early withdrawals are permitted with a limited or sometimes no penalty.

One circumstance is medical expenses. You can use IRA proceeds to pay for unreimbursed medical expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income without being assessed the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty.

If you lose your job, you may also use IRA funds to cover health insurance costs, including COBRA premiums. You must have received unemployment compensation for 12 consecutive weeks to be exempt from the penalty. You must also receive the distribution no later than 60 days after you become re-employed.

College costs mounting up? Use your IRA at any age to pay college costs for yourself, your spouse, your children or grandchildren. Don't risk retirement savings to do so, but if you're already putting enough aside this might be one option to explore.

Taking IRA distributions may impact your child's financial aid eligibility. And it counts as income on the following year's financial aid application so weigh this option carefully before tapping your fund.

First-time homebuyers may use up to $10,000 of their IRA funds as a down payment to buy, build or rebuild a primary home without penalty. Those who have not owned a home in the past two years are considered a first-time homebuyer. If you and your spouse both qualify, you can each receive a penalty-free $10,000 distribution.

Do you already have a comfortable amount stashed away for retirement? Use your IRA for estate-planning purposes. Name your kids or grandkids as beneficiaries and the money passes along tax-free.

If you become disabled and unable to work, you can tap your IRA at any time without penalty. But you have to furnish proof of your disability. It must be expected to result in your death or last for an indefinite period of time. If you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, you'll qualify for the disability exception.

Traditional IRA holders must pay income tax on their distributions as it was contributed on a pre-tax basis.

These options should be considered only as a last resort. The purpose of your IRA should be to supplement your retirement income. Early distributions cost you more than just the amount you withdraw. You lose the interest or dividends you would have earned on that money, too. Your financial advisor can help you decide which option is best for you.


Tip of the Week

Flashback should serve as a wake up call to Mac users who believe the myth that only PCs are vulnerable to security threats. While several other viruses have been distributed through Macs in the past, none have been as widespread as Flashback. Protect your Mac by installing a strong security program, updating your operating system and web browser and installing security patches as they are released.

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Financial Insights

The DJIA surged today, once again above the 13K mark amid strong earnings reports from such stalwarts as Coca-Cola, Hewlett Packard and darling of the Street... Apple, Inc. New optimism also came out of Europe, as Spain's issuance of some new debt met strong demand, albeit at very high yields. And late last week, China further reduced restrictions on the Yuan (the Chinese currency), opening the way for greater Chinese imports. All in all, the anemic world recovery slogs on...

We left our story last week at the juncture whereby Seabiscuit Owner Charles Howard made the unconventional decision to spare Seabiscuit from the almost certain fate of virtually every other broken down racehorse: euthanasia. The auto magnate simply did not care that it would cost "a small fortune" to spare his horse. Perhaps even more surprising was another decision Howard made. Unable to ride or earn a living, jockey Red Pollard was nearly destitute. Yet the always benevolent Charles Howard would have none of that, and took Pollard in as well during his extended convalescence.

With no money or visible means of support, Red Pollard joined Seabiscuit at the Howard ranch. Howard was content to allow both to live as long as they chose, relaxing together under the juniper trees. Indeed, the two soul mates spent untold hours together limping around the luxurious Howard ranch - very content in each other's company.

Charles Howard, like Milton Hershey and a few other "benevolent capitalists" of the time, believed his vast fortune was his own to spend, and often spent large sums of it to make the lives of others better. It was who he was.

Beneath the juniper trees, Seabiscuit healed faster. Under Tom Smith's careful therapy, the limp was soon gone, and Seabiscuit took to frolicking around the paddock. When often asked why he and Howard did not use whips in their stable, Smith would state that great horses responded best when "asked" to perform. Indeed, Seabiscuit had been brutally whipped by previous owners early in his career, and as a result lost more races than most other horse ever ran.

Yet Seabiscuit later became a champion under the careful nurturing of Tom Smith, Charles Howard and Red Pollard. Seabiscuit was indeed a horse who needed to be asked. And so it was, one afternoon, while Seabiscuit was playfully trotting around the paddock that a flock of birds startled him and he bolted. And there, for a brief few seconds, was that old familiar blinding speed. From his porch, Charles Howard saw it. From the stable, trainer Tom Smith also saw it, and the two exchanged a long glance. At dinner in the ranch house that evening (Howard always included all his guests and employees in his meals), Howard asked Smith, "Is it possible Seabiscuit could race again?" "Maybe," was Smith's non-committal reply.

Seabiscuit was moved to a local track away from the media and exercised. The results were promising. No sign of injury and blistering track times. With Red Pollard still unable to ride, Howard summoned George Woolf who agreed to ride Seabiscuit during his training for one last shot at the "Hundred Grander."

With the race just a few weeks away, it was clear to Howard that Pollard's leg was simply not healed enough for the jockey to ride. Yet Pollard pleaded with Howard to let him ride. He had constructed a special boot that helped brace his leg. Howard told Pollard he would let the doctor decide. The doctor informed Howard it was out of the question - the x-rays showed the bone in Red's leg was barely connected. If it broke, Red would likely never walk, much less ride again. Howard thought of Red Pollard as much a family member as a jockey, and simply could not bear the thought that Red could be crippled for life or worse. Woolf would ride.

As the race day drew near, Pollard continued to plead. It was his very last chance - the chance of a lifetime. He could do it. But Howard could not bring himself to take the risk. Looking for support, Howard visited Woolf. The selfless Woolf emphatically argued that Pollard should get the shot. Howard pleaded with Woolf, "If Red falls from that horse, he might never walk again", to which Woolf famously responded, "it is better to break a man's leg than his heart."

In a quandary Howard went to the track and sat in the empty stands. He so wanted Red to get the chance, but he couldn't stand to risk his life. Howard's beautiful young wife Marcela found Howard at the track, and argued on Red's behalf. "But Marcela," Howard pleaded, "It is too risky!"

Marcela reminded Howard of the bold risks he had taken as a young entrepreneur to build his fortune. Soon both were weeping. "Just let him do it, Howard," Marcela pleaded. And with that, auto magnate Charles Howard made the toughest decision of his life.


Quotable

"A child's life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark." - Chinese Proverb


Today in History

1967 - A group of 1,400 CIA-trained Cuban exiles launched an unsuccessful invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in an attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro.


Flash Fact

The United States has paved enough roads to circle the Earth over 150 times.

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