Deciding whether to holiday at home or abroad

So much to consider when booking a holiday but the first has to be on deciding whether to holiday at home or abroad. Weather obviously comes into it but not everyone is keen on hot sunshine and so staying home might be an option for that reason. Our weather is generally always unpredictable and so if you are wanting guaranteed cooler weather you might not always get it! At times July has been hotter than the Mediterranean!

Consider this!

Other obvious factors to consider are:

  • travel time
  • budget
  • accommodation and facilities
  • activities
  • length of stay

Ultimately it probably comes down to personal preference. Some people enjoy holidaying in England and there are beaches on the West Coast of Wales and down South around Cornwall that would rival most Spanish ones!

Food glorious food!

It isn’t always the case that a holiday at home is cheaper either. These days you can get deals on all inclusive holidays abroad and because you are guaranteed the weather, most of your expense is covered within this. It is surprising at just how much the costs add up for eating and drinking, especially if you have children who are in constant need of drinks, snacks and ice creams! If you are holidaying in England and have to self cater, look into whether you can get your weekly groceries delivered. If you are camping or staying on a caravan site this is not going to be an option, but if you have booked a cottage or place somewhere, you will most likely be able to get deliveries from the main supermarkets. Although you will want to eat out some of the time, getting your groceries delivered for the week means you won’t be paying out for all your food and drink at local stores which are much higher priced.

Are we there yet?

The time you have available is always a consideration because you aren’t going to be going to America or Australia in just a week. The time is takes to get to  your destination and how you get there are also to be taken into consideration, especially if you have children. How many times have you heard, ‘are we there yet’, before you have even reached the motorway!?

Bored!

The type of holiday will also most likely impact heavily on deciding whether to holiday at home or abroad. If you like action packed holidays you might prefer staying home, whereas if you enjoy lazing around in the sun, a beach holiday abroad will definitely be for you. If you’ve got children you will also want to ensure that their needs are met too in terms of things to do. There is nothing worse than bored kids while you are trying to relax in the sunshine!

Bon Voyage

Whatever you decide, make it happen. Work out the details before booking anything so that you know most of what you are looking for – it makes booking much easier and you are more likely to get what you want if you are clear about it!

 

Enjoy!

 

Categories: BLOG.

How to get the best deals on new furniture and appliances for the home

Shopping around is always a good idea if you are going to get the most out of your money. We’ve done some research for you and given our top 4 tips on how to get the best deals on new furniture and appliances for the home:

Top tip #1

Know what you want!

 

Such an important point. We might think we want a new sofa or fridge freezer but have we actually got in our minds of the type of furniture or appliance we want? Get specific. If you aren’t sure think about style, colour and size. Look at your existing space and think about colours. If you are redoing a room then take some inspiration from images online or home interior magazines. If you are choosing an appliance where will it go, what colour are the other appliances. What are your requirements. Skipping this step may mean you end up with a gorgeous looking piece of furniture that doesn’t fit or isn’t right for you. Take your time over this. Once you know what you want it will be much easier to find. If you are looking for a black fridge freezer that has 4 drawers, an ice dispenser and is of particular size you are much more likely to find it than if you blindly search for fridge freezer!

Tip #2

Budget

Once you’ve decided on all the specifics of what you are looking for, set yourself a budget. This is SO important because it is very easy to get carried away with something you love and then later regret purchasing because you couldn’t really afford it. By budgeting – and by this we don’t mean buying something of lesser quality, we mean simply having a clear amount of money in your mind that you can spend on this particular piece of furniture or appliance. If you need more time to save or borrow then give yourself that. Better to wait a couple of months and get what you really want than to spend less and end up with something that isn’t quite right or of inferior quality. Yes, you’ve guessed it, when setting your budget, you then need to stick to it!

Tip #3

Window Shop

Window shopping isn’t something most of us enjoy, after all we love to buy! Window shopping is, however, really important when you are purchasing a larger item like furniture or an appliance. To get the best deals on new furniture or appliances for the home you are going to want to wander around different stores both on and offline. You know what you want and how much you have to spend so your task becomes far easier when armed with this information. Take your time to look at different options – online shopping can sometimes work out cheaper because the stores don’t always have the same overheads as physical high street stores do. However, larger stores sometimes discount heavily to make room for new stock too, so be sure to shop around and window shop until you drop to get the most out of your money. We loved this article recently by The Telegraph on !

Tip #4

Stick to your plan!

If you thought about what you want carefully and set your budget realistically you probably won’t need to change your plan. Stick to it! It can be very easy to get swayed by the price of something or the lure of a new colour or whatever it might be. Ensure you remind yourself of what you want, why you wanted it and how much you have to spend. Shopping is great fun but it can get out of hand if you don’t stick to your plan or you buy something impulsively. Following these simple steps should mean you end up not only with the best deals on new furniture and appliances for the home but actually get what you want too!

 

Categories: BLOG.

Ways to Spruce up your Home on a Budget

There are lots of ways to spruce up your home on a budget. You can get your home looking fabulous this spring without spending the earth to get it there!

Step 1

The obvious first step is to decide which rooms you would like to work on first. Have a clear plan because it will help you when it comes to spending. Here’s some tips for that:

  • Of all the rooms in your house which one do you feel needs a spruce up the most. Start with this one!
  • If there are a couple of rooms that perhaps don’t need too much doing you could choose to do these first.
  • Plan out in terms of your time and money which rooms you feel you could do now. You can always plan to do the others over the coming months.
  • Don’t bite off more than you can chew, make it an enjoyable process and not an overwhelming one.

Step 2

Once you’ve decided which room or rooms to start with, work out how much money you can spare to start with.

This step is really important because it is really easy to give yourself a vague idea but this is setting yourself up for failure. You will find that you will always spend more if you don’t be specific enough about how much you have to spend.

Be realistic and if it means delaying your start date for a month it is better to do that than start and blow your budget!

Step 3

Ask your friends to give you magazines, pop into the library or pick up inexpensive lifestyle magazines and start cutting out ideas that interest you. Just simply stick these onto a sheet of paper. Don’t worry if you don’t have a board or A3 sheet of paper, just work with what you have and you don’t even have to stick at all! The idea with this is to get inspiration for colours, furniture, themes and the whole look and feel of a room you would like to create.

When you have enough cuttings out you can start to think about the next step which is going and finding everything.

Step 4

Start by looking on eBay, Gumtree, classified ads, markets, car boots and other places where you are likely to pick up really great second hand or almost new items for a fraction of the cost. Use your ideas and cuttings out to remind you of what you are trying to achieve. When it comes to ways to spruce up your home on a budget, it is surprising how much stuff you can actually buy second hand from places like this. It is always worthwhile buying decent paint because if you skimp on that you will regret it. So saving on soft furnishings or furniture means you have more to spend on the paint or wallpaper for example.

Stick to your budget! If this means allocating an amount to each area; say a portion for furniture, portion for soft furnishings and accessories and a portion for materials then do that.

Step 5

Remember there is no right or wrong way to do this but you must stick to your budget. Have fun with it and treat it like a project. Use the fact that you have a budget and have to bargain hunt for items as part of the project. Who knows you could find your passion in it. Once you have done one room you will also find it so much easier to do the next! You’ll start to have a feel for the best places to buy second hand furniture from and where to get the best deals.!

Ways to Spruce up your Home on a Budget

Don’t forget to share with us too. We would love to hear how you get on with your own ways to spruce up your home on a budget!

 

Categories: BLOG.

The Benefits of Joining a Payroll Membership Scheme

Nottingham Credit Union offers payroll membership which means you can save and borrow by making payments directly from your salary. There are many benefits of joining a payroll membership scheme.

Join a Growing UK Membership

There are over 1.5 million credit union members in the UK and national companies such as Royal Mail, British Airways, the NHS and BAE systems are among those UK employers who already offer their staff a payroll membership scheme. In Nottingham the following organisations currently partner with Nottingham Credit Union to provide their employees with payroll membership:

  • Rushcliffe Borough Council
  • Nottingham City Transport
  • Nottingham City Council
  • Mansfield District Council
  • Nottingham Community Housing Association
  • Nottingham City Homes
  • Nottinghamshire County Council
  • Newark & Sherwood District Council
  • Broxtowe Borough Council
  • Gedling Borough Council
  • Ashfield

What are the Benefits?

 The benefits of joining a payroll membership scheme are:

  • Annual return on savings
  • Access to affordable loans with fixed interest rates
  • No transaction fees for saving or borrowing money
  • Online branch and facilities

How does it work?

If your employer is not yet a partner you can ask them if they would like to join. It’s completely free of charge and we can set it up with them. If your employer is already a partner then when you have joined with us as a member you simply instruct your HR or payroll department that you would like to make regular payments to your Nottingham Credit Union account. The service is confidential which means that they don’t know whether the payment is for a loan repayment or for savings. You simply specify the amount you wish to send each month.

The beauty of payroll membership is that when money is taken from your salary directly you don’t really notice it as much as making payments from your bank in the usual way.

Visit www.payroll-pro.org.uk to find out more information about the benefits of joining a payroll membership scheme.

 

 

 

 

Categories: BLOG.

Planning for the Year Ahead

Last month we talked about getting to grips with your income and expenditure so that you can set some financial goals for 2017. This month we are focusing on planning for the year ahead.

 

What is Important to You?

 

Everyone has one thing that is most important to them and that seems to take priority over everything else. Sometimes this can be family, money or career. Ask yourself that question – what is most important to me? When you know what’s most important to you, planning for the year ahead is easier.

 

Prioritise when Planning for the Year Ahead

 

We will all have several things that we want to plan for in a year but be realistic. There is no point in thinking you want to have a holiday, move house, buy a new car, change jobs and go visit the relatives in Australia! That’s just too much to plan for in terms of managing your finances. Pick just two or three things you would like to plan for this year and work on those. You can start saving for each thing, adding more to the savings pot for the most expensive.

 

Saving vs Borrowing

 

Sometimes it might be necessary to borrow as well as save. When planning for the year ahead, figure out how much you will need to save each week or month and then work towards it.

 

If you find that there is no way you can save the whole amount, you might want to look into borrowing too. Talk to us here at Nottingham Credit Union about how we can help. Saving and borrowing at the same time means you become better overall at managing your money.

 

Don’t Give Up!

 

Things don’t always go according to plan. Sometimes you might allocate yourself £25 a week to save but something unexpected pops up that means you simply cannot save for that week. Don’t give up, you can continue on the week after, or add more to your savings pot another week when you have more money for example.

 

Live

 

Most of all remember we only get one life and it is meant for living. Try to get the most out of your budget and your time so that you are ultimately spending more time with your family and what is most important to you.

 

Categories: BLOG.

How to change your thoughts around money to be a better saver

 

Have you ever heard people say, or said it to yourself, that you’ll start saving when you have more money?

Money Mindset

Although saving is very much an action and something we actually do, what must take place first is having the mindset to save. It is easier to save up for something and am sure you have done it – like saving for a holiday or a new car, new furniture or appliances or for Christmas, but saving regularly just for saving is one of the best things you can do. Not only do you give yourself financial security; having money to fall back on if you need it, but you start to manage your money better too. When you get the balance right between saving and borrowing you will find that your financial situation just seems to improve!

Money is just Paper

If you think about money itself, it’s just paper. Yes it has a value in terms of what the Bank of England says that paper is worth, but if you just take a bank note at the end of the day it is just paper.

What makes money so hard or easy to come by is actually not what we do for it, that comes after, but more about how we think about it and you’ll be surprised what we actually think about ourselves and how much value we place on ourselves is actually reflected in the amount of money we have on a regular basis.

This might all seem difficult to understand, so let’s just take it step by step and explain what we mean by that.

Value

The value of anything really is what it is worth to us. Someone might think a car costing £100,000 is of great value but someone who doesn’t have a car and pays £1000 for one will place more value on that because of their need and desire around it. The same approach applies to anything and it’s an individual thing. Although everything we can buy has a monetary value i.e. a loaf of bread will cost us a £1 and so on, it is truly what something means to us that creates the value.

If you think about your own situation and just look at what money you have, take a step back from that and then think about how much value you place on yourself. Do you think you offer a lot to your job, your partner. Do you really value yourself? This can be tricky questioniing because it is hard to try and look at ourselves from the outside in like this. Try to be honest with yourself. You will find most likely that the value (what we think and feel) about ourselves is mirrored in our financial situation and how much money we do or do not have.

What’s the Answer then?

Unfortunately, we do not have a magic wand but what we do know to be true is that if you start to value yourself more you will find that you value other things around you too and your money situation starts to improve. On a day to day level start being grateful for the money you do have. Value what you do buy and what you do with your money. Be grateful for the bills you pay and for the things your money does buy and ultimately value it so much so that you actually keep some!

Value the money enough to give some to yourself by way of regular saving. It doesn’t have to break your bank, just enough to start a small pot that will build over time. You can set this up to go out weekly or monthly, depending on how you are paid. If you put this into your Nottingham Credit Union account you will find that it is easier to save because you won’t be accessing the money regularly.

Understand Value

So really we are suggesting you start to value yourself more and value the money you do have. Start to change your thoughts around money and you will find that you become a better saver!

Good luck!

Categories: BLOG.

The Basics of Budgeting

 

The basics of budgeting does not necessarily just mean cutting back but actually also about looking at what income you have coming in, what bills and other expenses you pay out and then allocating money to the various purposes.

So let’s take a closer look at the basics of budgeting and where to start.

Income

Your income is the total sum of whatever money you have coming in each week or month. That may include salary or wages, tax credit, child benefit, maintenance or other payments. It is often easier to work this out on a monthly basis, so add everything up.

Expenditure

At this point list everything that you pay out. Even things that maybe you want to stop or change, just list all the bills, payments and other money you spend each month with the name that describes the payment and the amount. Then total it up each month.

Budget

The best place to start with setting a budget is to separate each of your bills or payments – so household bills like your mortgage, rent, electricity, gas, phone and necessary household bills each month. Go through each one and look at whether you could be saving money, for example taking out a new gas or electric contract or getting a better deal on your house insurance. Once you have these figures then set a budget amount for household.

Next go to your weekly food shopping and set a monthly budget amount for groceries.

Do the same for travel and fuel and so on until you have a list of budget categories and amounts next to each. You may be able to budget for less or more depending on what is important to you.

By working through each one you can start to see where you could save money and perhaps where you could put more money. For example you might be able to save money on household bills and put more in your budget for saving.

The Basics of Budgeting

The Money Advice Service have several resources you can look at for living on a budget and the basics of budgeting.

Categories: BLOG.

How to Set Yourself Money Goals for 2017

Whether we love it or hate it, money is a necessity and the better we manage it the better we find life to be.

Setting money goals is no different to setting other goals say around losing weight, starting to exercise and eat healthier or getting a new job for example, but because we generally tend to think about money differently, we don’t always achieve our money goals. Often the thoughts we have around money affect how we behave with it – why otherwise do some people have lots of it and others don’t. Although you could say it is about how much you earn, what you do with it once you have it is what’s important – so what this means is that it wouldn’t matter how much you had if you always end up with none…it might take you longer but you would still end up in the same situation.

We have to change how we think about money before we can change how we manage it.

Setting one or two goals is better than setting lots. So although you might have lots of things you want when it comes to money, setting a couple of goals means you are more likely to achieve them than setting yourself lots and becoming overwhelmed.

Start Small!

Start small – if you haven’t been great with money in the past that doesn’t mean you can start now – and pat yourself on the back for wanting to start now and set yourself some money goals for 2017!

Like anything things start to snowball, so when you have achieved your first small money goal you will have lots of confidence to move on and set more goals. Taking actions in smaller steps are also easier to deal with – that’s why people always learn easier in smaller chunks too! We can deal with small steps but when we have much larger ones it becomes overwhelming and we can easily talk ourselves out of it.

Which Money Goals to Set

Everyone’s money goals will be different but a good goal to start with would be setting a budget. This will help you manage your money from the start and pave the way to being able to have spare money too. Really setting a budget is about looking at the income you have coming in and the expenses you have going out – just simple maths really of your Income minus your Expenditure leaving what you have left to spend or save. As well as working out what you have left, doing this exercise will also give you an opportunity to look at where your money is going. Are you in a lot of debt, do you pay money out on things that perhaps you don’t need. Setting a budget is all about this and so spending some quality time working on this is a great goal to set. The idea of a goal is really having the intention – which is truly just the commitment to wanting to make it happen and then taking the action steps to achieve it. What’s also important is setting a time limit on it, so you work towards it. Otherwise you might just keep putting it off. Writing it down also makes it seem more real and there is something more real about putting pen to paper so get yourself a little notebook or something to jot your goals and actions down in. Doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just something you write any notes or thoughts around your goals in. So our first goal might look something like this:

GOAL #1 – WORK OUT A BUDGET

Timescale – 1 month, by February 11th 2017

Actions

  1. Read through the Money Advice Service Budget Planner Guide (there is actually one here)
  2. Decide where I can make changes to the things I pay out for so that I have more money left each month
  3. Work out how much money I owe.

There may be other actions you have too but the goal is simply to achieve a budget – so you know how much you have coming in, what is going out and to where and how much you have left. You could then move on to your next goal which might be to make a plan for paying off your debt. If you have a lot of debt that might take some time – it doesn’t matter how long it takes, the fact that you are working towards it means you will achieve it. Don’t forget, you don’t have to do this alone. There are lots of organisations out there who can offer free advice and help you with paying off debt. Work out your debt in the same way that you worked out the budget by putting the overall goal, which would be to create a ‘Paying off  Debt’ and then list the actions you need to take to do that. You can also set timescales for each action. So using our example of working out a budget, you might set yourself an action step each week.

Something else that really works and this is used by people  who manage army operations so it definitely works, is to work backwards. So if your goal is to  pay off your debt you start with that goal as your end result and then work backwards. So think to yourself it is February 2018 (or when you would like that goal to be achieved by) and I have paid off my debt and then work backwards taking all the action steps you would need to take to get there – you then have a list of things to do that lead you back to now….

Remember the Hare and the Tortoise

You might have read the Aesops Fable story about the Hare and Tortoise – racing off doesn’t always mean you will finish first and in that story the tortoise won the race by plodding along. The point here is to keep moving – take small steps towards your goal but keep going forwards and you will achieve it. Once you have achieved one goal it makes it much easier to achieve another and another and before you realise it you will be one of those people that others look at and say, he/she is great at managing their money, I wish I could be like that. You have everything you need right now to start managing your money better – set the intention (the goal), write down the actions (the steps) and start taking them!

Good luck and we hope that 2017 brings lots of good things for you around money and managing it better!

Categories: BLOG.

Christmas on a Budget

Not long now! Just a couple of weeks to go and it will be Christmas! No doubt you are still running around getting last minute presents and preparing for the holidays.

 

Although Christmas is probably the most expensive time of year, you can do Christmas on a budget. We posted a few weeks ago when we talked about avoiding the Christmas spending hangover, so today we thought with just a couple of weeks left we will focus on food and entertaining!

 

Here’s our Top 5 Tips

 

Shop Around

 

When it comes to food there are always savings to be made. We have listed further down the cheapest supermarkets when it comes to Christmas dinner. As you can see there is a lot of difference, so spend the time shopping around to get the most from your budget.

 

Save Leftovers

 

Christmas leftovers are so delicious! You can make your turkey go a long way with sandwiches, stews and curries. Be creative. If you are having buffet food, again put the food in the fridge for the next event and you’ll find you won’t need to buy as much!

 

Share the Entertaining

 

If you have people coming over or if you are going to other places, share the entertaining. Ask people to bring something and if you ask enough people you might end up just having to do only one course. Everyone is always more than happy to bring something and contribute, so don’t be shy and ask!

 

Go to Supermarkets Late

 

Shopping later in the day usually means you get the best deals. Although it is going to be busy this time of year, over the Christmas period it will be quieter and there will be lots of discounts, so go later in the day or evening and pick up some bargains!

 

Keep it Simple

 

We all love Christmas but allow yourself to enjoy the experience. Don’t feel pressured into spending what you cannot afford. Often the simplest things are always the best so try to keep your Christmas dinner menu simple and the same for other buffets and entertaining. You could do a whole pot of chilli or something similar and feed a large party and it would cost you far less than putting on an elaborate spread that a lot of which may get left anyway.

 

To help you along your way, here’s the Good Housekeeping’s Top 10 supermarkets for the cheapest Christmas dinner. This is based on 8 people so if you have fewer people then it will be even less!

 

Aldi: £22.03

Lidl: £24.57

Iceland: £24.81

Tesco: £28.08

Asda: £29.68

Morrisons: £31.12

Co-op: £31.26

Sainsbury’s: £35.40

Waitrose: £40.02

Marks and Spencer: £49.90

 

Whatever you are doing this Christmas, we hope you have a wonderful and relaxing time…enjoy!

 

Categories: BLOG.

How to Avoid a Christmas Spending Hangover

Naturally, we have been talking a lot these past few weeks on affording Christmas. As we reach the middle of November we wanted to focus further on Christmas spending and so sharing some great tips on how to avoid a Christmas spending hangover.

Tip #1

Budget!

OK, so we realise that it may be a little late for that, but you can still set a budget with what you have now. You may have already started your Christmas shopping and if you have finished then please share your tips with us! If you still have much to do make a list – as Santa says, check it twice! Make a list of the gifts you still have to buy, food to get and any other Christmas expenses you know you will need to afford.

Once you have your list, put an amount next to each item. If you find that you have gone overboard don’t worry, we will get to that in a moment. Just be realistic and it is better to over budget than under.

Tip #2

Be Creative with Gifts

Even if you budgeted to spend £10 on each person, but had 20 people to buy for, that still amounts to £200 and if you have children, your budget will be much higher! When it comes to giving gifts, be creative. Making jams, mince pies, truffles, cakes and festive food can be a great way of giving a gift to someone without a massive expense.

Tip #3

Share the Entertaining

If you have people coming over, talk to them about sharing the cost of entertaining. If you have several people over you could split the food up; one person brings starters, one dessert, another drinks and so on. You’d be surprised at how much money you can save if you aren’t having to pay for everything. Don’t forget, keep leftovers for the next day. It will always get eaten and what could be better than having cold turkey sandwiches or turkey stew!

Tip #4

Be Sensible!

We are talking about money here. Although we all want to spoil our loved ones for Christmas, it is all too easy to get pulled in to buying every gadget going and spending far more than we intended. Rather than buying so many gifts, think about each person individually and what they would really like. Making the gifts more meaningful means you are less likely to buy several of them and spending this way also keeps the overall costs down.

Tip #5

Borrow Wisely

Finally, if you do find that you do not have enough for what you have budgeted to spend avoid turning to high cost lenders, like payday loans for example. Although these are attractive in promising to give you the money on the same day and low repayment amounts, they can come with unreasonably high interest rates. You don’t often realise until it is too late and your new year is bogged down with debt and mounting interest. Nottingham Credit Union offer lower interest loans, quick decisions and flexible repayment options – apply online and see how we compare.

Categories: BLOG.