How to Spend Less at Christmas

how to spend less at christmas

It’s easy to let Christmas spending get out of hand. Don’t get carried away; instead read our tips on how to spend less at Christmas and still enjoy yourself without feeling like you’re scrimping.

  1. Check prices online before you hit the stores. Do some comparison shopping so you know where to go for the best deal. Certain things may also be cheaper online, so if there’s free shipping available you won’t even need to venture into town.

online shopping

Image: www.thedrum.com
  1. Look for discount codes and vouchers online. Try a quick Google search or check the Facebook and Twitter pages of the stores you’re planning on shopping at as they may have posted deals there.
  2. Have a plan – know how much you’re going to spend and who is getting what. If you set a budget for all of your presents and have a list, you’ll be less likely to overspend.
  3. Take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers. This is no longer an exclusively American event. UK retailers have embraced Black Friday, so there are plenty of savings to be had. If you’re brave enough to endure the crowds, you could score some great deals on things like clothing and electronics. But fear not, you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home to take advantage. Here’s a list of the major Black Friday sales this year.

black friday uk

 Image: www.businessinsider.com
  1. Use a rewards card such as our Engage card to earn cashback on your Christmas purchases from major retailers such as Argos, M&S, Debenhams and ASDA. Click here to learn more: http://www.nottinghamcu.co.uk/banking/
  2. Have you signed up for rewards cards such as the Tesco Clubcard and Boots card like we recommended in our blog post about saving money? Now is the time to spend all of the points you’ve accumulated. You might be surprised to find out how many points you’ve earned!
  3. Avoid signing up for store credit cards as they usually have very high interest rates. They will try to lure you in with free gifts and discounts, but resist the temptation! The risks are not worth the reward.

store credit cards uk

 Image: www.moneyfacts.co.uk
  1. Instead of buying presents for each and every one of your friends and coworkers, set up a Secret Santa. You’ll save a lot of money only having to buy one present, and the element of mystery makes it a lot more fun.
  2. Even if you’re not the best at crafts, you can still make Christmas gifts and decorations to save money. Instead of buying an expensive hamper, put one together yourself. Get the kids involved and make baubles and stockings. Check Pinterest for inspiration. After all, Christmas should be about spending time with each other, not having the most expensive gifts and decorations.

diy christmas decorations

 Image: www.popsugar.com
  1. January is the time to stock up on stuff for next year. Get things like wrapping paper and decorations on clearance and even find presents to save for next year or upcoming birthdays. You’ll thank yourself next Christmas for being prepared.

Need some extra cash this season? Apply for a Christmas loan with us. Borrow £500 over 52 weeks for £11.50 per week*. Click here for more details: http://www.nottinghamcu.co.uk/loans/

christmas loan nottingham

Categories: BLOG.

8 Easy Ways to Make Extra Money

easy ways to make extra money

With the holidays approaching and Christmas shopping underway, you might be feeling strapped for cash. Luckily, there are easy ways to make extra money quickly. These are by no means “get rich quick” schemes, but they are something you can do alongside your regular job.

  1. Focus groups

    If you would enjoy sharing your opinions about a product with a group of strangers, then focus groups are perfect for you. They are usually in person, although some are now online, and last anywhere from half an hour to a few hours. They generally pay pretty well and you can even make up to £200 depending on the length and what’s involved. Don’t count on this as a regular source of income though as researchers are always looking for a specific subset of people for a focus group and often you will not qualify.

Here are some market research companies:

http://www.patriciaturner.co.uk/

https://www.jennysparrowresearch.co.uk/

http://gopodengo.com/

http://theviewers.co.uk/index.html

participate in a focus group

 Image: www.robrady.com
  1. Taste tests

Taste tests are pretty similar to focus groups, but are often a lot shorter in length. They may be only 10 or 20 minutes, so they also pay less than focus groups. But if you’re short on time, these can be great to do while you’re out and about. They’re also easier to qualify for than focus groups, so you can do more of them. However, be aware that you may have to try some not-so-great tasting food! Some of the above focus group companies will advertise for taste tests as well.

work as a taste tester

 Image: www.thekitchn.com
  1. Participate in research studies

University researchers are always looking for participants for psychological studies. With two major universities in Nottingham, you are sure to be able to find some studies to participate in. They won’t pay a ton of money, probably about £8-£10 per hour, but are very easy to complete. Medical schools also look for people to act as “patients” for their exams. All you have to do is pretend to be a patient with whichever medical condition they assign you. Look for these roles near to exam time.

  1. Invigilating

Another job you can take on during exams is exam invigilator. This involves setting up the room before students arrive, getting them all situated, announcing the rules of the exam, and making sure no one cheats. For the most part, you will be sitting for a few hours doing nothing. It can be very boring but it pays fairly well for hardly any work. Expect to make around £9/hour. Find work here: https://www.unitemps.com/

work as an invigilator

 Image: www.theslicedpan.com
  1. Sell your story

Got a funny or embarrassing story? Magazines such as Love it! and Woman’s Own will pay you for your stories, tips or photos. You can get anywhere from £20 to £100, but make sure you’re comfortable with the world reading your story before you submit!

  1. Christmas temp jobs

Many retailers and restaurants take on extra staff during the holidays, so there are many temp jobs available for a few weeks or months. This is a great option for students who would otherwise be sitting around at home over Christmas holidays. Whether you’re looking for full-time or part-time, there are many options available. They often start recruiting very early for these roles, so start looking around September or October. It’s a bit late in the year now, but it is still worth looking! Expect to make minimum wage.

  1. Sell your old stuff

If you’re in a bind and need cash quickly, or just want to clear out some clutter, you might be considering selling some of your stuff. Your best options will most likely be eBay and Facebook groups. For larger items like furniture or boxes full of children’s clothing and toys, look on Facebook for local selling groups. For adult’s clothes and smaller and more valuable items, try eBay. Don’t expect to make a huge profit unless you’ve got antiques or something truly valuable. But for a small amount of effort, it’s worth getting some cash back for your stuff rather than just throwing it out.

Here are some Nottingham selling groups to get you started:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/111261572355695/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/239977992786068/

  1. Work as an extra

Have you ever wanted to be on TV or in a movie? It’s easy to get a background role and you don’t even need acting experience. These roles are more widely available in places like London and Manchester, where more things are filmed, but occasionally there are opportunities in the midlands. Expect to work long hours, possibly very early in the morning or late at night, and receive minimum wage. It’s not the best pay but it is very exciting to see yourself on screen! Find extra work here: http://www.starnow.co.uk/

work as an extra

 Image: www.cla.auburn.edu
Categories: BLOG.

5 Myths About Loans: Debunked

myths-about-loans

  1. Myth: If you have bad credit your only options are payday and doorstep lenders.

While you may have trouble getting a loan from a high street bank, payday and doorstep lenders are not the place to turn to. They often have interest rates through the roof, and you will ultimately end up in a worse financial position. Luckily, credit unions offer loans for people with bad credit or no credit at fair rates. Click here to learn more about applying for a loan from Nottingham Credit Union.

  1. Myth: Applying for a loan is complicated and time consuming.

Applying for a loan is really not as scary as it sounds. To apply for a loan at NCU, all you have to do is fill in a short application form answering some questions about your finances so we can determine how we can help you. Decisions are made quickly and on a case by case basis so your individual needs are taken into account.

handing over money

Image: www.cashloanonline.com
  1. Your credit rating will be damaged by a rejection.

A rejection shouldn’t do much damage unless you have made multiple applications with different companies. To protect your credit rating, your best bet is to only make one application.

  1. Myth: Taking out a loan will just make my debt situation even worse.

If you have multiple debts with different interest rates, it might benefit you to consolidate them by taking out a loan to pay them off that has a lower interest rate. It is also a lot easier to manage one payment plan rather than several different ones. If you make your monthly payments and pay off the loan on time, it will end up improving your credit score.

getting out of debt

Image: www.debt-consolidation-help-101.com
  1. Myth: There is an advantage in applying for more than you need.

You might believe that asking for more than you need will allow you to pay off the first payment of your loan, or even increase your chance of getting approved. However, lenders will only give out loans that it believes a borrower can repay, and you may end up in more trouble if you end up with repayment terms that are beyond your means.

Categories: BLOG.

Top 10 Credit Union Myths

credit-union-myths

Many people could benefit from joining a credit union, but their misconceptions could be preventing them from joining. We are going to debunk some of these credit union myths and hopefully reduce the confusion about credit unions.

  1. Credit unions have strict eligibility requirements.

While there are eligibility requirements for joining a credit union, they are not as strict as you might think. To join Nottingham Credit Union, you only have to live or work in Nottinghamshire. Other types of credit unions may require you to be a member of a union, a church or have attended a certain university. It is very likely you are eligible to join at least one credit union. You can check which ones you can join here.

You may even be eligible to join our Payroll Pro scheme if you work for one of our payroll partners. This entitles you to exclusive rates and offers. Find out if you are eligible here.

  1. Your money isn’t protected by insurance.

When you make a deposit into your Nottingham Credit Union savings account, your money is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). Individual depositors are entitled to a claim of up to £85,000 and joint accounts up to £170,000. On the off chance that NCU or any other credit union in the UK was unable to meet its financial obligations; your money would be fully protected. Your money is just as safe in a credit union as it is in a bank.

  1. They are unlikely to be around in ten years’ time.

Credit unions have existed in the UK since the 1960s and NCU was founded in 1992. It is unlikely that credit unions will disappear; in fact, they are growing in membership every year.

nottingham-credit-union

  1. Credit unions do not offer rewards programmes.

This varies by credit union, but many do offer cashback rewards and incentives. NCU is now offering the Engage card, which is a prepaid debit card that can earn you up to 15% cashback at various retailers. You can find out more here.

  1. The technology credit unions use is outdated.

Credit unions may not have as big of a budget as the banks, but their technology is still up to date. Online banking is easy with NCU and most other credit unions.

  1. There are fewer places to withdraw your money.

You can easily withdraw money from your NCU savings account by BACs transfer either online or by phone. The Engage card can be used at any ATM and anywhere Visa is accepted. Most credit unions offer access to a large network of ATMs, so accessing your money is not a problem.

  1. Credit unions are only for people who are low income or have bad credit.

Credit unions can be beneficial for people of all financial backgrounds. There are many benefits to choosing a credit union over a bank; we are able to avoid added on fees such as those for early repayment, so you may find that a loan with us would be more affordable. By saving your money with a credit union, you are also helping the local community by allowing someone else to borrow.

Print

Image: www.tctelco.net
  1. They are a good place to keep your savings, but not for much else.

Credit unions offer a variety of products such as loans with competitive interest rates and everyday banking. You may find that switching to a credit union is better for all of your banking needs as there are generally less fees.

  1. Credit unions are an old, outdated concept.

In contrast, credit unions are quite a progressive concept. With shopping local becoming more and more popular, it only makes sense to bank locally as well. Making large corporations wealthier is really the outdated concept.

  1. Opening an account is a difficult and lengthy process.

It is very easy to open an account at NCU. All you have to do is fill in an application form here. Just have your ID and bank details ready and you’re all set.

Categories: BLOG.

25 Ways to Start Saving Money Today

Budgeting and saving money can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are is list of small changes that you can make that will save you a lot in the long run:

  1. Set money aside without having to think about it. Make regular contributions to your Nottingham Credit Union savings account by standing order or from your salary (if you work for one of our employer partners). Before you know it, you’ll have saved up a fair amount of money without ever realising it had gone.
  2. Switch energy providers. You can find the cheapest deal with Money Saving Expert’s Cheap Energy Club.
  3. Unplug appliances when they’re not being used.
  4. Use comparison shopping sites like http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk/ to find the best deals for your weekly food shop. You can compare individual items across stores to see which one has the lowest price at any given time.
  5. Take advantage of supermarket loyalty cards like the Tesco Clubcard and Sainsbury’s Nectar Card that allow you to earn points and vouchers.

tesco clubcard vouchers

Image: telegraph.co.uk
  1. Buy food in bulk and store it in the freezer to get lower prices and avoid waste. You can find a list of freezable foods here.
  2. Use a slow cooker to prepare meals for the week instead of eating out. It’s cheaper than using the oven and you can leave it on while you’re at work to come home to a freshly cooked hot meal.
  3. All of those meals out with your friends can start adding up. Instead of going to a restaurant, take turns cooking for each other or have a potluck. It costs a lot less and can end up being more fun!

potluck dinner

Image: linkedin.com
  1. You can also save a lot just by taking your own lunch to work instead of eating out. Just set aside a few minutes the night before or in the morning before work.
  2. Invest in a reusable water bottle rather than buying bottled water.
  3. Buy store brand instead of name brand. Often times you can’t taste the difference and it can end up saving you a lot in the long run.
  4. Make your own beer and wine. You can buy a kit at Wilko’s for as little as £10 for 40 pints. Not only is it 25p per pint, but it’s also fun to make as well.
  5. You can also grow your own herbs as opposed to buying them as you need them. A basil plant from Sainsbury’s costs £1.50 and keeps growing back, whereas a bunch of fresh basil costs 80p and will go off in a few days.

basil plant

Image: guide-to-houseplants.com
  1. Take advantage of reward cards like our prepaid card that offers cashback at many national and local retailers.
  2. Check to see if your children are entitled to any benefits such as free meals or school uniform.
  3. Do your holiday shopping right after the holidays when everything goes on sale. You may not want to think about Christmas in January, but it will save you money later in the year.
  4. Buy presents in advance during seasonal sales. The recipient will never know you got a discount on it and you won’t have to worry about finding a gift at the last minute.
  5. Exercise at home instead of paying for a gym membership. There are plenty of workout videos you can watch for free on Youtube on channels such as PopSugar Fitness and GymRa.
  6. Youtube is great for learning how to do all sorts of things. You can save money by doing things yourself instead of paying someone, such as cutting your own hair.
  7. If that sounds a bit intimidating, you can always go to a beauty school to get your hair done at a discount or even for free.
  8. Sell old mobiles and electronics for cash by finding the best deal on http://mobilevaluer.com/.

selling old mobile phones

Image: howstuffworks.com
  1. Sell things you no longer need on Ebay and get good deals from other sellers on things such as clothing and home goods.
  2. Take advantage of free trials such as Amazon Prime and Netflix, but don’t forget to cancel them before the trial period is over!
  3. Quit smoking. You no doubt know the health impacts of smoking but it could be burning a hole in your wallet too.
  4. Avoid payday loans – come to us instead for competitive interest rates regardless of your credit history.
Categories: BLOG.

Things to do in Nottinghamshire on a Budget

You don’t need to break the bank to have a nice day or weekend out with your family. In fact, you don’t even have to leave Nottinghamshire! There are many free and low cost activities that are sure to please everyone in your family.

  1. City of Caves

City of Caves

Image: tripadvisor.com

Nottingham has a very unique feature; it has the most man-made caves in Britain. There’s a whole world underneath our feet just waiting to be explored. It’s not only fun for kids, but interesting for adults as well. A family ticket is just £23.50 (2 adults + 2 concessions or 1 adult + 3 concessions). Adult tickets are £7.95.

  1. Galleries of Justice

galleries of justice

Image: hauntedrooms.co.uk

When you’re done exploring the caves, you can head over to the Galleries of Justice to visit the museum of Crime and Punishment. They also host murder mystery events and ghost tours. A family ticket is £29.95, or you can purchase a joint family ticket with the City of Caves for £45.95. Adult tickets are £9.95.

  1. Stonebridge City Farm

stonebridge city farm

Image: indymedia.org

If you’re looking for something a little more cheerful, Stonebridge City Farm is easily reachable from the city centre. It’s a great place to take your kids to see farm animals or go on a nature walk, and best of all its completely free!

  1. The Beach

nottingham beach

Image: nottinghamriviera.co.uk

Summer may be winding down, but there is still time to go to the beach. And you won’t even have to leave Nottingham. The beach is open every summer in Market Square complete with sand and water. There are also rides to entertain your children and a beach bar for the adults. It officially closes on the 1st of September.

  1. National Videogame Arcade

national videogame arcade

Image: leftlion.co.uk

The weather doesn’t always cooperate, so it’s good to have a rainy day plan. The National Videogame Arcade, part of GameCity, recently opened in the city centre offering exhibitions, workshops and more. Family tickets are £25 and adult tickets are £8.50.

  1. Green’s Windmill and Science Centre

greens windmill

Image: nottinghamcity.gov.uk

For more of an educational day out, you can visit Green’s Windmill, which is a working windmill located in Sneinton. You can learn how flour is made and there are activities available for children to learn about science. You can also purchase organic flour made from the mill itself. Admission is free.

  1. Mr. Straw’s House

Image: nationaltrust.org

Mr. Straw was a grocer in the 1920s that lived at number 7, Blyth Grove for over 60 years throwing little away and living without modern comforts. You can now visit this house and take a step back time into the 20s. Family tickets are £16.80 and adult tickets are £6.75.

  1. Nottingham Castle

nottingham castle

Image: nottshistory.org

You probably already know about or have visited the castle, but you may not know that kids can go for free until the 28th of August! Up to three under-16s can go for free with one paying adult (Adult tickets are £6 or 32 with a Citycard) with the voucher which you can get here: http://www.nottinghamcastle.org.uk/kidsgofree.

  1. Wollaton Hall & Deer Park

wollaton hall

Image: nottinghamcity.gov.uk

You can visit the Natural History Museum or take a walk around the deer park. It’s perfect for a relaxing day out with the family to escape from city life for a bit. Entry is free.

  1. Sherwood Pines Forest Park

sherwood pines

Image: willgoto.com

If you’re willing to go a bit further outside of the city, Sherwood Pines Forest Park is a great place to experience nature or participate in the many activities that they have on offer. The park itself is free to enter but the activities range in price. They have walking and cycling trails with cycle hire available. Go Ape is also located here, but is a bit pricey at £31 for adults and £25 for ages 10-15. Whatever your budget, there is something fun to do at Sherwood Pines.

  1. Attenborough Nature Centre

attenborough nature centre

Image: attenboroughnaturecentre.co.uk

If bird watching is your thing, then Attenborough Nature Centre is the place to go. There are also many trails to walk and activities for children. Entry is free.

  1. Holme Pierrepont Country Park

national watersports centre

Image: nottinghampost.com

The National Water Sports Centre is free to walk around but there are many activities on offer at reasonable rates. For instance, the high ropes course and mini golf package is £7.50 per person. For the more adventurous, there are many types of water sports available ranging from canoes and kayaks to white water rafting. Prices can get a bit expensive, but a one person kayak is only £6 per hour. There is sure to be something for everyone at Holme Pierrepont.

Whether or not you can afford a holiday abroad or elsewhere in the UK, there are more than enough things to do in Nottinghamshire on a budget that you really don’t have to leave to have a nice time with your family and friends.

Categories: BLOG.