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From time to time we will provide you with some handy tips and suggestions to help you to make the most of your money!
Don't pay more than you need to at Christmas!
The festive season always means extra pressure on our purses and wallets, so it's important to shop carefully and make our money go as far as possible.
- When buying Christmas food, don't just go to your usual store. You could save a lot of money by shopping around and not being tempted by familiar deals.
- Rather than buying randomly, try to plan your meals and make a list. Special offers can be a great way to save but are only a bargain if you really need them! They can catch you out - so work out whether a ‘2-for-1’ or ‘3 for £1’ offer actually saves you money. Suppose your favourite cereal, which costs 1.50 a box, is on a ‘3-for-2’ offer. Three boxes will cost £3 so you’ve saved £1.50, right? Not necessarily. If another store sells the cereal for 80p a box you’d actually get 3 for £2.40 – a saving of 60p by buying it there instead.
- With big purchases, always compare prices in different shops and online to seek out the best possible deal. Comparison websites can be helpful and often show useful customer and expert reviews on anything from fridges and washing machines to digital cameras and TVs.
- Buying online is often cheaper. You may have the right to cancel for seven working days after you receive your goods. But you won't be able to try before you buy, so do think about the cost of returning them as it can stack up.
- Buying with a credit card gives you greater protection than cash or cheque, if something goes wrong. If the item or service costs over £100 you can claim against your card provider under the Consumer Credit Act to get your money back.
- Outlet stores can be a great way to bag a bargain, if you have a favourite brand. The prices are cheaper because the outlet stock is usually older than in other shops.
- There are many websites dedicated to emailing you regularly with discount vouchers to use against various purchases. They claim to offer discounts between 50% and 90%.
- Finally, some shops and restaurants give you vouchers if you sign up to a newsletter or follow them on Facebook or Twitter. Paying for items through a cashback site is another way to get money back on your shopping.
Beware of loan brokers
Loan brokers wrongfully charging to refer you to a credit union
Loan brokers are claiming to ‘work with’ credit unions and are charging people to refer them to us for a loan. Although credit unions are working hard to combat this problem, it's still happening.
If a loan broker tries to charge you for referral to a credit union, let us know who they are (firstname.lastname@example.org) – and more importantly, don’t give them a penny.
Payday loan brokers posing as credit unions
It’s also been noticed that there are payday loan brokers falsely placing adverts on search engines, calling themselves a ‘credit union’.
Not only has research proven that they are not credit unions, but the rates that they’re advertising are way above the credit unions maximum legal loan cap of 42.6% APR. They’re advertising rates into the thousands, which could wrongfully give people the impression of credit unions and goes against everything we believe in.
TV Licencing: Know the facts
How do I pay for my licence?
TV Licensing understands that some people may struggle to pay the licence fee upfront, which is why they offer a number of different ways to pay.
Their Payment Card allows people to spread the cost of the TV Licence into weekly, fortnightly or monthly payments. Payments can be made by cash or a debit/credit card at any one of almost 22,000 PayPoint outlets across the country, as well as by phone, online or via text message.
There is also a savings card available, which is ideal for people who want to save in advance for their licence in a secure way. People can make small, manageable payments at any time either online, by text, at any PayPoint outlet or over the phone.
Other payment methods include Direct Debit, which is currently the most popular payment method - used by over 14 million people – either annually, quarterly or monthly. An increasing number of people choose to pay on the TV Licensing website, using a credit or debit card or others simply pay over the phone.
To find out more about the payment options available, call 0300 790 6115 or visit TV Licensing.
Are there any concessions available?
TV Licensing concessions are set by government and include a free licence for those aged 75 and over, and a 50% reduction in the licence fee for people who are registered blind or severely sight impaired.
If someone is 74 and needs to renew their licence, they can apply for a short-term licence that will cover them until their 75th birthday or claim a refund on an existing licence for the months since they reached the age of 75.
In some residential care settings, residents are eligible for a concessionary TV Licence under the Accommodation for Residential Care (ARC) scheme.
To find out more information about TV licensing, call 0300 790 6071 or visit TV Licensing.
Graham Stuart MP has passed on some great information that we would like to share with our members:
Scammers can make an approach online, via the mail, over the telephone and even on our door steps.
Over four million people are scammed in the UK each year, but hardly any of these crimes are recorded – this is because people feel foolish that they have been conned and are reluctant to report the crime. Sadly this plays into the hands of the scammers – who can keep on scamming if we’re not talking about it.
Scammers are getting smarter and it is vital that we do too. Below are a few tips on how to defend ourselves better against being conned:
Top tips for dealing with scams
- If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
- Never give out bank details or send money unless you are certain you can trust the person contacting you.
- Contacted out of the blue? Be suspicious.
- Your bank and the police will never collect your bank card, ask for your PIN and are unlikely to come to your home.
- Make sure the website’s secure if you are buying online – check for the padlock or “https” next to the web address.
- If you haven’t bought a ticket you can’t win it.
- You shouldn’t have to pay anything to get a prize.
- Pressure to make a decision straight away? Take your time and just say: “No thank you”.
- Walk away from job ads that ask for money in advance.
- Computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help fix a computer.
- Don’t suffer in silence – tell others about scams.
What to do if you have been scammed
Visit your local Hull and East Riding Citizens Advice Bureau, or call 0300 3300 888 (East Riding) or 01482 224 608 (Hull).
- Report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to help stop it happening to others.
- Often we can't get our money back if we've been scammed, especially if cash has been handed over.
- If goods or services have been paid by credit card there is more protection and a debit card might mean that the bank refunds any money lost.
- Get advice and report scams to Trading Standards through the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 04 05 06.
Please pass this information on to others, especially elderly or vulnerable family members and neighbours. Together we can stand up to this horrible and depressing behaviour so that it can be stamped out.
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How to Report a Loan Shark
Loan sharks, who operate illegally, prey on vulnerable people, causing them to live in fear and misery.
For those who don't already know, there's a national Stop Loan Shark Project led by Illegal Money Lending Teams working in partnership with local Trading Standards Authorities. These teams consist of specialist officers who investigate and prosecute illegal money lending and related activity, and LIAISE officers who support victims and raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders.
Many people don’t know that you can report a loan shark in confidence:
|Call 24/7 hotline 0300 555 2222|
|Text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003|
|Private message facebook|
The Stop Loan Shark Project has helped over 20,000 victims. They have:
• secured 235 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity;
• reached more than 157 years worth of custodial sentences;
• written off £40.3 million worth of illegal debt.
Remember – you can report a loan shark in confidence
Giving Children a Good Financial Education
Learning about money from a young age helps children to make better financial choices when they are older. These simple tips will give your child a more realistic attitude towards money when they grow up:
- Explain - sit down and show your child the different coins and notes. Give examples of what each is worth.
- Encourage - get your child to put some of their pocket money in a container so they can see the coins build up.
- Plan - get your child to save up for something they are passionate about such as a pair of new football boots. This could be saved in a jar or even their own savings account. Let them see the balance build up as their goal gets closer.
- Shield - don't let your child hear you talk about impulse buys, or guilty spending. Instead, talk to them about things you are saving up for, such as an holiday.
- Involve - let your child help you plan the meals for a week. Show them how much you have to spend and take them to the supermarket with you. Set the challenge of staying within the budget, comparing brands for best value and buying the right amount to avoid waste.
- Timing - If your child gets pocket money, be exact with the timing and amount. This will get them used to managing their income, as they will need to later on when they have a job.
A lot of you will be thinking about taking a holiday round about now. We have put together some useful tips for you to think about.
- Research the best deals - sometimes it can be cheaper to buy flights and accommodation separately
- Keep your cards safe - only take the ones you need
- Tell your bank before you go - your bank may block your card for suspected fraud if it is suddenly used in another country without notice
- Don’t buy cash at the airport - this is very costly
- Withdrawing money abroad - be aware of any charges that may be applied
- Using your phone abroad - you could incur massive charges. Check this with your mobile provider first
- Insure yourself - if you receive an injury or become ill while abroad, it can cost thousands to see a doctor. Be prepared and hunt down the best deals
- Avoid scams - tourists who are not familiar with the area are perfect targets for scam artists. Stay aware and take care!
If you do go on holiday – enjoy!
Quick Review of Your Finances
Spending a few hours reviewing your finances could leave you better off. Imagine being able to save for things you want, it may be possible!
Step 2 Keep track of what you spend – Once on paper you can evaluate where spending could be nipped back. You may find that you could be spending more than you think on unnecessary items.
Step 3 Create a budget plan – Try not to spend on a whim. Allocate a set amount for shopping, clothes, etc and stick to it.
Step 4 Shopping – Consider buying cheaper alternatives or supermarkets own brand products. Most items are just as good quality as the expensive stuff! Posh branding can bump costs up. Writing up a shopping list beforehand can help you to stick to your budget too.
Step 5 Save the spare cash or even use it to clear a debt.
Saving on Energy Costs
Gas and electricity costs don’t seem to be getting any lower. Some people just accept this as a fact, but a bit of research could make a massive difference to their income. This is where we come into it. Find some of our wonderful tips and information below:
- Don’t rely on word of mouth - Your friend or neighbour may be very happy with their fuel supplier and recommend them to you. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are right for you.
- Explore your options - Dual fuel products aren’t always the cheapest. Explore all options including using separate companies for each fuel. To save hours of research, there are comparison websites that will do it all for you. Use a few different sites as they don’t all have the same deals available (as a bonus some will even offer you gifts for going through them to switch!). Remember to check regularly too as deals can change from week to week. Some popular sites are: Energyhelpline, Moneysupermarket, uSwitch
- Boiler cover – Imagine your boiler packing up right in the middle of winter and having to folk out a huge cost to repair it? Consider taking up boiler care – it could become a life saver. Bear in mind that you don’t have to go with the company who provides your fuel. As above, you can search comparison sites to get the best deals tailored to your needs.
- Read your meters regularly – supplier estimates can be way off the mark. You could be paying too little and end up with a huge bill at the end of the year.
- Upgrade your boiler - This option can cost a lot up front, yet it could save you big amounts of money in the long run (usually a few hundred a year!)
- Don’t be scared to question your bill – If you find that your bill is shockingly higher than anticipated, you should always question your energy supplier as there are occasions when these errors can be made, only to be discovered upon reassessment.
- Pay by Direct Debit – most companies offer a discount on your bill if you pay by this method.
Budgeting and Cutting Down
Why not make it your resolution by doing things a little differently to help you manage your money?
- Create a budget - Ever wondered where your money has gone? You thought you had enough to keep you going for the month, but now your pockets are empty. A good way to spot the areas where your money is being eaten up is to put everything you spend down on ‘paper’. There are many online calculators which are very helpful, such as the ever reliable Money Saving Expert Budget Planner - Moneysavingexpert.
- Review your regular bill payments - Use comparison websites to see if you could pay less for your utilities. Even if you only save a few pounds, it is worth it.
- Check for any benefits you may be entitled to - Some people don’t realise that there may be benefits available that they could be claiming. Call the HM Revenue and Customs or check online at Direct.gov or Turn2us.
- Negotiating with creditors - If you are struggling with payments for bills, etc, don’t ignore the problem. The best thing you can do this year is to ask for some help. Speak to the companies in question first and if you find they aren’t overly helpful, don’t think it is the end of the world as you CAN go further. The Citizens Advice Bureau are there to help you for free, as are the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, National Debtline and various other organisations. Avoid paying anyone for advice. Advice is available to the same standards for free.
- Shop around before committing - Always compare prices for things before making your final purchase. This could be applied to anything – clothes, insurances, electricals, etc. If you have access to the internet, apply this theory to websites. You could save a large amount of money.
- Use your car as little as possible - A tough one to stick to but as petrol prices rise, there’s even more of a reason to cut down. If you have a bike – use this where you can. Walk wherever you can – this will double up as a bit of exercise too and make you feel good!
- Be more energy efficient - Reduce your fuel bills by making small changes. Use energy efficient light bulbs. Turn your appliances off at the socket. Don’t leave anything on standby. You could even purchase a plug-in meter so that you can get an idea of how much energy will cost you when you switch on an appliance (It may help to steer you away from leaving your mobile charger in the socket overnight!).
- Open a savings account! - Every little saving you make can be put somewhere out of reach of temptation – into a savings account. Don’t forget the various savings accounts we offer!
- The fun bit at the end - There are little tips that people follow, which really do save those pennies, such as; Do your food shopping on a full stomach – there’s nothing worse than shopping when you feel like you could eat everything in sight! Or, every time you purchase something and receive change, round the number up to the nearest pound and then pop the difference into a jar. For example; Spend £5.62 - round this up to the nearest pound - £6. The difference = £0.38p.
Credit Building and Repairing
Turned down by lenders when applying for credit and unsure why? Below are a few tips on how you can repair and build a good credit history.
- Keep a regular check on your credit report – There is a lot of fraudulent activity happening on all types of credit accounts, no matter how small. Anyone can be targeted, however careful you think you have been. So do check your credit record from time to time. The most popular credit reference agencies are Experian and Equifax. There will be a small charge to check your reports, but most of the time there are offers to sign up for a free months trial.
- Any errors on your credit file need to be corrected - The smallest of errors can ruin your credit rating. If you spot anything that looks wrong on your file, you need to contact the credit reference agency (they may ask that you contact the lender first if you haven’t already). If the ‘error’ is still not corrected because the lender refuses, you can in a worst case scenario add a ‘notice of correction’ to your file. This is basically a note which goes next to the item of credit on your report, for future potential lenders to see when making decisions. The notice of correction does not affect your credit score but also it is not guaranteed that it will be taken into account when credit decisions are made. If you are 100% sure that the ‘error’ on your report is not your doing, and they refuse to amend it, then you could take it further with the Financial Ombudsman, Office of Fair Trading and the Trading Standards Department of your Council.
- Get yourself on the electoral roll – Being on the electoral roll (also known as the voters roll) does not only mean that you can vote, but many lenders these days do not offer credit if you are not registered. As the electoral roll is a legal requirement, it is seen by lenders as a safeguard. Also, it is a good idea to get yourself on the register even if you do not want to apply for credit. If you do not respond to requests to register, or if you provide false information you could receive a £1,000 fine. For further information on how to go about registering, go to Aboutmyvote.
- Try not to apply for too much credit – When you apply for credit, the lender will undertake a search on your credit report. This will show on your report as a ‘search’. They stay on your report for a year. Leave as much space as possible in between applications. The more searches that show on your report, the less attractive you will be to potential future lenders.
- Pre-paid credit cards – Do you feel like you have done everything you can to repair your credit and want to build up your score? Still find that no one will give you a chance? That’s one of the reasons why pre-paid credit cards exist. The gist of these cards is that you ‘top up’ them up with money and use them as you would use a credit card. As it is your own money, there is no risk to the issuer, so they do not need to do a credit check. The majority of the companies that offer these services do charge a small monthly fee however, and you must also run the card for a minimum of one year. In return, the benefit is that they will update your credit report monthly, showing that you are making regular payments and gaining some credit history (this includes the fee, and/or money loaded onto the card).
- Ensure that any unused credit is closed – Many people have old credit cards, etc that they no longer use but have not officially closed the account with the lender. If you have credit limit amounts on these accounts that are not being used, this can affect the amount that a future potential lender would grant you, as they would include it as an item of expenditure. Also, if old addresses are shown on these accounts that have been long forgotten about, this can show inconsistency in ID checks and cause problems.
- Joint finances and break ups – Are you are ‘financially linked’ to somebody with a poor credit score? Have you previously had joint credit, such as bills, mortgages, bank accounts with them? Well, this could have an impact on your credit score. If you are no longer associated with this person, write to the credit reference agencies and ask for a notice of ‘diassociation’ to ensure you are no longer shown as linked to them.