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, August 13, 2013

Edition #725


Today's Highlights:

Past issues of GCFlash:

August 6, 2013 Edition #724

July 30, 2013 Edition #723

July 23, 2013 Edition #722

July 16, 2013 Edition #721


Weekly Spotlight:

Financial planning can be difficult. We can help! We offer over 50 calculators to assist you on our website.


Our Current Rates:

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

Today's National Market Rates
August 13, 2013 6 Mo Ago
02/12/12
1 Yr Ago
08/13/12
5 Yrs Ago
08/13/08
Dow Jones Industrial Average
(Up 2,063.65 or 15.41% since 12/31/12)
15,451.01 (+0.2%) 14,018.70 13,169.43 11,532.96
S&P 500
(Up 267.97 or 18.79% since 12/31/12)
1,694.16 (+0.28%) 1,519.43 1,404.11 1,285.83
NASDAQ
(Up 664.93 or 22.02% since 12/31/12)
3,684.44 (+0.39%) 3,186.49 3,022.52 2,428.62
10 Year Treasury Bond Yield 2.71% 1.98% 1.65% 3.95%
British Sterling 1.5454 1.5738 1.5684 1.9040
Euro 1.3266 1.3383 1.2287 1.4898

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1st Flash

Budgeting 101

Financial experts agree that creating and sticking to a budget are the prime keys to an economically secure future. Great advice, no doubt. But much easier said than done. How do you get started?

A simple Excel spreadsheet can do the trick. List your monthly expenses in one column and how much you spend on each in the next.

If you use debit or credit cards for most purchases, all you have to do is review a couple months' history to find those totals. If not, you may need to save your receipts and do the math yourself.

Gauge your spending over a period of at least two months to calculate an average. You can't get an accurate picture by looking at only one month. There are too many variables.

Things like gifts or entertainment are not fixed expenses. They vary month to month. Insurance premiums are not always paid in twelve equal payments. You may buy a 90-day supply of regular prescriptions.

These all need to be considered when creating your budget. Calculate them as an annual amount, then divide by 12 to determine your monthly expenditure.

Creating this budget serves two purposes. First, you know how much money you need to make ends meet each month. Secondly, you get an understanding of your spending habits. If your expenses exceed your monthly income after taxes, you've got a picture of where you can reprioritize spending to get back to that even mark.

Don't automatically eliminate entertainment, savings, or that vacation you've been planning. Doing so is a surefire way to abandon your budget. You won't stick to anything that doesn't offer some sort of reward.

There are creative ways to spend less on essentials like groceries. We offered a few tips here.

Pay yourself first. Building emergency reserves is the cornerstone to security. You may have to start slowly and increase your monthly savings amount as you get back on track. The important thing is to establish a routine.

A goal will keep you motivated. Don't skip that vacation. Instead, determine how much you'll need and when you will need it. Watching your goal draw near, will make it easy to stick with the plan. And when you return home from vacation free of credit card debt, you will be all the more motivated to start stashing money aside for next year's getaway!

Perhaps your goal is to pay off credit card debt. Once gone, you'll have more disposable income each month. The tips we offered here will help.

Consider a debt consolidation loan at a fixed term while the rates are low. When they inevitably start to rise, interest charges on variable rate debt like a home equity loan or credit card debt will rise along with them. You may save a small fortune by locking in a low, fixed rate while you can.

Do you have financial planning tips that have worked for you that you'd like to share with GCFlash readers? Send them to editor@gcfbank.com and we'll include them in a future issue.


On The World Wide Web

Find step-by-step details on creating a budget at this site.

One of the greatest lessons a college student will learn is financial responsibility. Help them out with these tips.

More than 4,200 hospitals adhere to the American Hospital Association's Hospital Billing and Collection Practices: Statement of Principles and Guidelines. Read it here.

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2nd Flash

Control Medical Costs

Budgets are pretty easy to stick to. IF life went exactly as planned.

Despite our greatest efforts, it just doesn't work that way. Unexpected things happen. Your plumbing springs a leak or roof needs repair. Your car's transmission fails. Flooding, tornados or a hurricane ravage your town. You lose your job. Or your health.

Medical emergencies are a frequent cause of bankruptcy. The Centers for Disease Control reports more than 54 million people were having trouble paying medical bills at the start of 2012.

Medical bills can't be eliminated completely. But we can help you reduce them.

Do you have insurance? Research which hospitals and local doctors participate in their network before you need them. You won't have that opportunity if you're in severe pain or unconscious.

In-network providers agree to a fee schedule established by the insurance company. You are not liable for any amount they charge above the set fee, only your co-pay and deductible. Providers cannot bill you for the difference.

Doctors on staff at a hospital may not belong to the same networks as the facility. Don't assume that every one who checks on you participates in your insurance plan. It can be impossible to know for certain. You can ask to be seen only by those in your network, but don't count on the hospital to keep records of this type in order to comply with your request.

If you don't have insurance, ask about the hospital's financial assistance policy. They may have a program in place to help with expenses you can't afford. The government and certain nonprofits offer financial assistance for medical expenses, as well. If the hospital can't help, your local social service agency may be able to direct you to someone who can.

If your bills are related to a particular medical condition, contact local support groups to see if they offer financial assistance.

Ask for an itemized invoice. Check it carefully for duplicate charges. Call the billing office and ask for explanation of codes you don't understand.

The federal General Accounting Office estimates that 99% of all hospital bills contain overcharges. Make sure you're not paying $15 for an aspirin or $25 for a bandage. Many hospitals have patient advocates to help identify and resolve billing issues.

Is there an urgent care facility in your neighborhood? They are well equipped to handle anything that isn't considered life-threatening, such as broken bones or an ear infection. And at a much lower cost.

If you can't afford a good insurance policy, try to find one with a high deductible. The lower premiums may be within your budget. Even if you never meet your deductible, you'll pay lower care costs when the provider adjusts your bill to match the fee established by your insurance carrier.

Despite your best efforts, you may still be burdened with more medical bills than you can pay. Call the providers before they become past due and try to negotiate a settlement. They may agree to take a lesser amount if they know your position. They'll likely want payment in full of any amount you negotiate. Or a substantial down payment at the very least.

If they won't lower your bill, try to arrange a payment plan to pay the debt over time.

Delinquent medical bills will appear on your credit report. Unpaid providers can put a lien on your property. You can be denied credit based on non-payment of medical bills.

You can eliminate most of these problems by communicating with the provider before the bill becomes past due.


Tip of the Week

Healthcare services have become so complex that it takes specialized skills to navigate the maze. A new industry fills this need; helping consumers find errors in medical bills, appealing coverage denials with insurance providers or negotiating lower fees. For information, visit BillAdvocates.com.


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Quotable

"Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them ... life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves." - Gabriel Garcia Marquez


Today in History

1907 - The first gasoline-powered taxicab took fares in New York City.


Flash Fact

Today, you'll find 13,237 medallion taxicabs on the streets of New York City.

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.

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, click this link to send us an email to unsubscribe. 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