Top Money Tips from Nottingham Credit Union: January 2019

 

We detail below a number of money tips that could help improve your financial well-being.

 

1.  Check your standing orders, direct debits and regular payments

Review your bank statements and check all your standing orders and direct debits.  Are they still needed?

Many people waste £100s a year paying for things they don’t need or use.  Can you cancel any regular payments or subscriptions that are no longer needed?  (Care – make sure you aren’t still in contract, if you are under a contract speak to the provider first to see if you can cancel – if you stop making payments you have to make contractually, you may be fined and it could impact your credit file).

Your Bank account provider will be able to provide you with details of your standing orders and direct debits and will be able to cancel them if necessary – it is advisable to instruct your bank to cancel the payments and inform the company as well.

 

2.  Gas and Electricity

When was the last time you checked if you’re getting the best deal?  How long have you been with your current provider?  You may find you can cut your bills by shopping around. Try ringing a few providers or use price comparison sites (bear in mind that these aren’t always accurate and don’t always cover the whole market) examples of price comparison sites are www.moneysupermarket.com; www.uswitch.com; www.gocompare.com

 

3.  Council Tax

Many people are in the wrong banding and may be paying more than they need to. If neighbours are living in a similar property to yours, check with them to see if they are in the same band – you may be paying too much and could be entitled to a refund.  Your local council should be able to help with any queries.

 

4.  Create a Budget

Work out a plan of how much you spend each month on essential items (rent/mortgage, council tax, food, gas, etc.) and then work out how much you have left over to either be saved or to go towards “discretionary” spending (clothing, cable/satellite, nights out etc.).

Set yourself a budget to make sure that your outgoings are less than your monthly income and then try to stick to those limits. If you can, delay spending until you have money available and only spend if you are sure you can cover essential bills during the month.

A tip – for just one month make a note of everything you spend, start by listing all direct debits and standing orders, and then keep a track of every penny spent.  You may be surprised at how much you spend on certain items, and understanding where your money goes may help you set a budget.

The Money Advice Service provide a free online budget planner: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/tools/budget-planner

 

5.  Car and Home Insurance

Do you always stay with the same provider? When did you last shop around for cheaper car or home insurance?  Don’t automatically renew your policy without checking elsewhere first, some providers increase prices year on year for regular customers and a quick phone call or quote online could save you £100s.  It’s always a good idea to check your policy and make sure that it still covers all your needs.

Price comparison sites can provide quotes for car and home insurance but these do not always cover the whole market and it is not always clear if you are comparing like for like but it is a good place to check if your current policy is competitively priced.

Some examples are www.gocompare.comwww.moneysupermarket.comwww.comparethemarket.com

 

6.  Bank Account Fees – Packaged Bank Accounts

Many people have a Packaged Bank Account that incurs a monthly fee (anywhere between £24 and £180 a year) and comes with additional benefits, usually bundled insurance products.

If you are eligible and benefit from the add-ons, the packaged Bank account may be right for you – but if not, what are you paying for?

If you find that a packaged bank account is the best option for you, make sure that you are not paying for the same benefits elsewhere for example mobile phone insurance – separate policy, breakdown car insurance – your car insurance policy, travel insurance etc., and check the terms and conditions of each policy.

Many people have successfully claimed that they were mis-sold a Packaged Bank Account – did your bank clearly explain what was involved? Are you eligible for all the add-ons?  if you have been mis-sold the bank account, you could get a refund of the monthly charge.

For more information visit:  www.moneysavingexpert.com/reclaim/reclaim-packaged-bank-accounts/

 

7.  Bank Fees for Overdrafts

Banks often “allow” you to go overdrawn and this can be helpful if you have miscalculated a few days before pay day – however you may find you pay a daily overdraft fee as well as interest.  Check your bank statements and add up how much you have paid in the last 3 months – the daily fee will not be huge but can soon add up.  Balancing your bank account more often and ensuring you do not go overdrawn may safe you £100s over a year.

Shop around and check each banks charging policy; it may be cheaper to switch your account to another bank depending on how you use it. Some banks will give you money for simply switching your account to them, switching is usually quick and easy with the bank doing all the work for you.

 

8.  Late Payment Fees or Penalties

Make sure you make payments on time – some firms will charge a penalty fee if you are a few days late making the repayment, which can quickly add up.  Late payments can also affect your credit score.

Always speak to someone if you are struggling they may be able to help you.

 

9.  PPI (Payment Protection Insurance)

The deadline for making a claim is August 2019 – Banks and other organisations mis-sold payment protection policies to thousands of people.  If you were mis-sold PPI at any time make sure you submit a claim as soon as possible otherwise, you may miss out on £1000s.

For more information: www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/reclaiming-payment-protection-insurance

 

10.  Sales and offers

There are often sales/discounts in the shops or online usually claiming massive savings, which can be tempting and result in 1000’s of impulse buys every year.  All is not always as it seems.  Do your research is the item really a bargain or sold at a similar price elsewhere and do you really need it?

Remember a bargain is only a bargain if you were looking to buy the item before you saw it on offer.  If you are paying using a credit card or overdraft and cannot repay it straight away – is it still a bargain when you add on the interest or charges you will incur before you’ve paid it off in full?

 

11.  Cable/Satellite TV

How long have you had your current package, do you still need all the channels? Have you considered buying a box that provides free digital television?  It is great to have many channels but how often do you use them?

If you wish to keep your package as it is, have you telephoned them recently to see if there are any discounts available?  New customers usually receive better offers to tempt them to join but providers are often willing to match those offers for long standing customers.

 

12.  Christmas

It may be over, but it’s now less than 1 year until next Christmas!  Christmas can be expensive.  Consider opening a savings account now and put in as much as you are able during the year– it will be safe and you will be surprised how quickly it can add up and will help you keep within budget.  Nottingham Credit Union can help with a simple Xmas Savings Account.

 

13.  Credit Card Balance Transfers & Consolidation Loans

If you have a balance on your credit card that you are paying back slowly, consider transferring it onto a different credit card, some cards offer interest free transfers for a specified period of time.  Always check if there are any fees and if they amount to less than the interest you would pay on your old card.

If you do transfer the balance keep this card separate and do not make purchases on it as usually the interest free element of the balance will be cleared first and you could find yourself paying interest on purchases for a prolonged period of time.

Alternatively you may wish to consolidate one or more Credit Card debts onto a new loan account – you may be able to borrow at a lower interest rate and start to make real reduction to the amount you owe – Nottingham Credit Union will consider a loan application for Debt Consolidation.

 

14.  Mobile Phone

Although you may be paying one amount for your contract, it is usually made up of two elements, the cost of the phone and airtime.  Once your contract has finished consider changing to a SIM only contract or shop around for a new one. If you simply carry on paying the direct debit you will continue to pay for the phone long after it has been paid off.

Most providers will let you know when you are getting to the end of your contract but will not generally advise you that you could reduce the amount you are paying.

 

15.  Sign up for loyalty cards

Many supermarkets, shops etc. reward customers by allowing them to collect points on a loyalty cards every time they make a purchase.  These points can generally be converted into money-off vouchers, one off deals or discounts. Make sure however, that you are not tempted to spend more just to increase points.

 

16.  Pay bills monthly where possible

Providers, for example gas and electricity etc. often give reduced rates if bills are paid by direct debit.  Consider swapping to this payment method where possible to benefit from better rates and aid with budgeting

 

17.  Supermarket Own Brands

Buying supermarket basic and budget ranges can produce significant savings and avoiding big brands doesn’t always mean compromising on taste or quality.

 

18.  Check your Credit File

Companies use your credit score to determine if they want to lend money to you, open accounts, provide credit facilities etc. They also use your credit score to consider what interest rate to charge you.

Your credit score is based on a number of factors including previous repayment of borrowing, history of debt problems (IVA, CCJ, and Bankruptcy), account management and how up to date bills are etc.

It is always wise to keep an eye on your credit file and to try and improve it wherever possible.  Quick ways to improve your score include, check addresses on old accounts are correct, if you no longer have joint accounts with someone, ensure you financially de-link and cancel unused credit and store cards.  There are a number of companies that you can sign up to and who will provide you with your credit card score free of charge – you should not need to pay for this.  An added advantage is that you can check to make sure that borrowing or accounts have not been opened in your name fraudulently.

 

19.  Coupons

Although money off coupons are not as common as they used to be, there are often coupons in magazines and newspapers.  A number of large companies also offer customers coupons that can be printed off of the internet and can often provide quite large savings, particularly when used in conjunction with store offers.  Examples of companies who offer free coupons are:

Johnson and Johnson www.caringeveryday.co.uk  Proctor and Gamble www.supersavvyme.co.uk but there are many others.

 

20.  Tax

Take time out to understand your tax code and check that it is correct, if you are underpaying you could be faced with a hefty bill.  Also ensure you are not over paying and make sure you take advantage of the schemes that allow you to cut the amount of tax you pay:

  • Married Allowance –if you earn less than £11,850 you may be able to transfer your personal tax allowance to your partner, reducing their tax by £238 a year.  You can back date this to April 2015 as well.
  • Work Related Expenses Relief – if you work in a job that requires a uniform, tools, equipment or travel expenses that your employer doesn’t pay for, you can claim tax relief on the money  you have to spend.  You can also claim tax relief if you are responsible for cleaning a work uniform (such as a nurse’s tunic): https://www.gov.uk/topic/personal-tax/income-tax

 

21.  Consider Consolidating Your Debts

If you find that you have debts in multiple places for example a loan, credit cards, overdraft etc. it may be cheaper to transfer these onto a consolidation loan.  If you do decide consolidation is the best option, make sure that you cancel the overdraft and don’t use the credit card or you may find yourself back in the same position.  Nottingham Credit Union will consider assisting with a Debt Consolidation Loan

 

22.  Mis-sold Payday loans

MILLIONS of payday loan customers may be due refunds. Even if you’ve paid off your debts you may still be able to get a refund if you struggled to repay the money at the time.  Customers can still make complaints about firms which no longer operate, although it is less likely that they will receive a refund as they will have to apply directly to administration firms. Although, if their complaint is successful and they still owe debts this could mean you have to pay back less so it’s still worth complaining.

For more information: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/reclaim/free-payday-loans-refunds/

 

23.  Mortgages

Are you paying too much for your mortgage – a recent Competition and Markets Authority report suggest that up to one million people could be paying more than they need for their mortgage.

It is believed that 10% of people who have been with their mortgage provider for some time could switch and make significant savings.

What are the terms of your existing mortgage, what interest rate is being charged and could you switch?  You need to ensure you understand all the costs associated with switching and in the first instance it is worth speaking with your existing provider.

 

24.  Broadband providers

Broadband customers on older tariffs sometimes pay higher prices for similar services – according to ismybillfair.com broadband customers are paying between 35 and 41% in “loyalty” fees.

 

25.  Complete a Financial Health Check

Whatever the situation with your finances, it’s good to know where you stand and that you are making the most of what you have. The health check, a new online money adviser from the Money Advice Service, is for everyone.  The Money Advice Service is an independent advice organisation, here to help everyone understand and manage their money better.  Taking just 10 minutes to answer some straightforward questions on the health check will give you a personalised action plan to help you sort out your money priorities now, and plan for the future whatever your goals may be.

www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/tools/health-check

Nottingham Credit Union is community owned and operates “not for profit”.  It provides affordable loans and simple savings accounts.  Branches on Maid Marian Way, Nottingham and Clumber Street Mansfield.

For more information:  www.nottinghamcu.co.uk.

Categories: BLOG.

Volunteering Opportunities at Nottingham Credit Union

 

We are looking for volunteers to join us and help develop the Credit Union so we can help more people across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire

Nottingham Credit Union is a community owned provider of simple savings and affordable loans. Many people are not able to obtain affordable credit from the high street banks and may resort to either high cost lenders, doorstep lenders, rent to buy retailers or illegal loans sharks.  The Credit Union provides alternative, simple affordable loans for people who may not have a perfect credit record.  Many Nottinghamshire people save with us as they know we will look to lend their money to people in their communities who may otherwise struggle to obtain affordable credit.

The Credit Union is owned by its members and any profits made are either reinvested or distributed to members by way of a dividend. It has been helping people in Nottinghamshire for over 25 years and has offices on Maid Marian Way, Nottingham and Clumber Street, Mansfield.  The Credit Union has expanded steadily and currently has 7,500 members.

The Credit Union is authorised by The Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and regulated by the PRA and The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

We have a number of voluntary roles available:

 

Board Director

We are seeking a Director to join the board, who can bring his/her own experience and voice to help us make further progress in serving our current and future members as we move forward. The Board is entirely voluntary and made up of people from the private, public and voluntary sectors.

If you are interested in becoming a Board Director please email the Chair, Liz Blackman at lizzieb26@hotmail.co.uk 

 

Member Services Assistant

Based either at Nottingham or Mansfield.  Working agreed days/times.  Providing face-to-face or telephony service to members.  Using our systems to update member records, completing membership opening, loan processing and handling cash.  The role may suit people who have had previous experience of dealing with the general public in retail or finance.

 

Credit Union Ambassador

Working with the General Manager, The Credit Union Ambassadors would help promote the Credit Union in our local communities.  They would maintain contact with a group of local partners for example local community groups, charities, churches, schools, debt advice organisations, local companies etc. and identify opportunities for promoting the Credit Union.  They would be comfortable talking to small groups of people about what The Credit Union does, answering queries and signing up new members.  These roles wouldn’t necessarily work fixed days, rather they would be available as and when an opportunity arises. As such they can be home based although there would be a need to visit the Nottingham office from time to time. This role may be ideal for someone who wants to volunteer but isn’t able to commit to working fixed days/dates. We are particularly interested in talking to people who could assist promoting the Credit Union in Newark, Mansfield and across Nottingham city.

 

Digital & Social Media Marketing / Website Design & Maintenance 

This role would help us develop our digital/social media presence. Ensuring content is relevant to our members/potential members and clearly articulates why we are different. Need to ensure any online promotional activity is legal, relevant and effective.  This role would suit someone who already works in a similar role and has some spare time they are willing to commit to support their community or may suit a Marketing Student who has some skills and is looking to develop their work experience to support further employment applications.

 

Marketing Assistant

Assisting in creating Marketing and Promotional material that is engaging and relevant. 

 

Arrears Assistant  

Based in our Nottingham Office and working agreed days/times the role would support the Arrears Manager, speaking with members who are struggling to repay their loans and trying to agree a repayment plan that takes into account their circumstances and is consistent with our policies and legislation.

 

General Maintenance

Based in our Nottingham Office this person would help us with basic maintenance, repairs and decoration.

 

Please note:-

  • All of these roles are voluntary roles.
  • Expenses for travel and lunch allowance (when working more than 5 hours) would be paid.
  • We would need a completed application and we would undertake referencing.
  • Hours can be discussed/agreed to suit you.

 

If you are interested, or would just like an initial discussion please email: JasonEaves@nottinghamcu.co.uk

Jason Eaves

General Manager

Tel: 0115 8283120

Categories: BLOG and LATEST NEWS.

How to Avoid a Christmas £££££ Hangover

Christmas can be a great time to relax and enjoy some downtime; but for some, Christmas can create a New Year Debt Hangover that lingers for far longer than the left-over Turkey.

 

1/ Make a list.  Yes, it sounds boring but planning ahead and setting yourself a budget can work.

2/ Amongst your family and friends, set a limit of how much you will spend on each other.

Most people prefer to receive a small gift and know it has not caused you financial hardship rather than lots of big gifts that soon end up in landfill!

3/ Think about “Secret Santa” – many people do this for work colleagues but why not for friends and family?

4/ Consider “second hand”, there may be bargains in your local charity shop or online. Children can soon grow out of toys/gifts so why spend top dollar!  How many sheds are full of bikes that are hardly ever ridden?

5/ Can you use your supermarket vouchers or reward points to reduce the cost of the big Xmas shop?

6/ Remember Xmas only last a few days. Don’t buy perishable food that you will not eat & throw away.

And finally:-

7/ Only spend if you have the cash to pay but if you need to borrow money this Christmas:-

Make sure you can repay within the next 12 months.  Christmas only comes once a year but it comes every year – so you don’t want to go into Xmas 2019 with debt round your neck from Xmas 2018.

 

Borrowing money on your credit card can seem easy – but if you are only making minimum repayments it can take you many years to repay.

Make sure you understand how much in total you will repay and make sure you can afford the repayments – there can be a big difference in how much you pay back.

 

For example: –Borrowing £500 from the Provident and repaying over 52 weeks would cost £936. A similar loan with the Nottingham Credit Union would save you £339!!

(source: www.providentpersonalcredit.com, 25/10/2018)

If you buy an iPad costing £368.31 from Brighthouse, you can pay £6.50 per week which sounds like a great deal. However you would be making payments for 104 weeks and would pay back £676 in total. (source: www.brighthouse.co.uk, 25/10/2018)

If you had a loan from your local Credit Union and paid back at £6.50 per week, you would repay the loan in 73 weeks and would save £206!!

 

If you are not already member of Nottingham Credit Union you can apply here: https://www.nottinghamcu.co.uk/ or visit the Branch on Maid Marian Way, Nottingham or Clumber Street, Mansfield.

A Credit Union is a community owned bank, run on a not for profit basis.

 

 

Categories: BLOG and LATEST NEWS.

Blog: Universal Credit

Question: – What is Universal Credit?

 Universal Credit is a new benefit that replaces most existing benefits and tax credits for people of working age – wrapping up all these kinds of payments into one benefit.

The benefits being replaced include:

  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

The Universal Credit will be ‘means-tested’ which means that anyone who applies will have their income and savings assessed, and if they, or a partner, earn over a certain amount or have a certain amount of savings they will be unable to get the Universal Credit.

There will be a basic rate called the ‘standard allowance’ and extra amounts for people in different circumstances – for example, if they have children, a disability or need help with housing costs.

 

Question: – I already receive one of these benefits what will happen to me?

Between 2017 and 2021 all existing claimants are being moved to Universal Credit.

 

The program for switching existing claimants to Universal Credit is as follows;-

Date Council Job Centre
May 2018 Newark and Sherwood District Council Newark JCP
September 2018 Mansfield District Council Mansfield JCP
October 2018 Nottingham City Council Bulwell JCP

Nottingham Loxley House JCP

Nottingham Central JCP

Rushcliffe Borough Council Nottingham Central JCP
November 2018 Ashfield District Council Ashfield JCP
Broxtowe Borough Council Beeston JCP
Gedling Borough Council Arnold JCP

 

Question:- I am about to be moved to Universal Credit, what does it mean for me?

  • You will receive one single monthly payment, paid into your bank account.
  • If you get help with your rent, the rent money you get will be included in your monthly payment – and you must then put it aside to pay the landlord/council/housing association
  • If you live with your partner and you’re both eligible for Universal Credit, you’ll get one monthly payment between you.

 

Question: – What do I need to do?

1/  If you are due to be moved to Universal Credit you will receive a letter from the DWP – it is vital you make sure you understand the content of this letter and are clear on how much you will receive each month and when

2/ As you will receive one payment per month, you need to quickly understand what this mean for your monthly budget.  The overall amount you receive should not change but you do need to ensure you have enough money to meet your financial responsibilities as they fall due.  If you are going to be late paying your loan, gas bill or similar, it is important you speak to your lender/utility company etc. before the payment is due and do not leave them to chase you for repayment.  They will be more able to help if you speak to them before missing a payment.

Categories: BLOG and LATEST NEWS.