A checklist on how to save money on your energy bills

A checklist on how to save money on your energy bills

With the recent announcement of the energy prices rising by up to £96, here is a checklist of what you can do to use energy efficiently. This will save you some money and help the environment at the same time.

1. Turn off the lights

If you are about to leave a room and there is nobody else there, turn off the lights.

2. Use energy-saving light bulbs

You can easily cut energy bills by replacing traditional light bulbs with energy-saving ones. Over it’s lifetime, you could easily cut £180 from your energy bills (which.co.uk).

3. Shut off computers and entertainment devices when not in use.

According to Energy Saving Trust, you can save up to £35 a year if you switch off your devices rather than leaving them on standby.

4. Go natural

Where possible, use natural light, heat and cooling. For example, instead of using a tumble dryer, dry your laundry outside on a hot summer’s day or on a clothes rack on a cold winter’s day.

5. Make home improvements

This can be through:
Home insulation (save up to £315)
Installing a new boiler (save around £205 a year)
Cutting draughts (save approx. £20)
Install and use heating controls (save £75)

Estimated costs from which.co.uk

6. Replacing an appliance? Choose energy-efficient appliances (save £213)

Look at energy-efficient ratings to show how efficient a product is. Lab tests done by Which? show that you could save £48 on a washing machine and £69 on a fridge-freezer.

7. Make switches:

We don’t mean light switches here. We mean:

a) Switch suppliers if you haven’t done so in a while. You should always look around for better deals. You could save up to £350. (moneyexpert.com)

b) Switch to Direct Debit

By paying your energy bills through direct debit, you spread the energy costs over the year. This way you will avoid the shock of a winter bill and you could save up to £100 a year as it reduces admin costs. (moneyexpert.com)

You can get detailed information on the above tips on the following websites:

Moneyexpert.com 

Which?

 

 

Five ways to get into the habit of saving money

Some habits are easy to form and can occur automatically without you thinking about them. Some of these are nail-biting; binge-watching TV; or unhealthy eating. Unfortunately, saving money is not a natural habit. Saving money is one of those things that is “easier said than done.” However, we have a few ideas to help you get into the habit of saving money.

1. Set a goal of how much you would like to save by the end of the year. You can use SMART to make your goal.

Specific: Determine how much you would like to save by the end of the year. If you haven’t saved before, start with a small amount.

Measurable: Think about how much you need to save each month to reach your target amount.

Actions: How will you save money each month? Visit our News section to get some hints and tips on saving money, or maybe you can join the Payroll Deduction Scheme (more on this in idea 3).

Realistic: Set a target amount that you can achieve. You can’t say that you will save a million pounds if you have never saved before. If you start by saving as little as £1,200 a year, that’s more realistic. Create milestones and give yourself a little reward for reaching them. This will motivate you to continue saving.

Timely: Think about when you want to achieve your target amount – is it by the end of the year or Christmas?

2. Open a savings account
At Hertsavers, we have a wide range of savings accounts that you can open, whatever the occasion. You can find out more here.

3. Pay yourself first

Did you know that one of the most effective ways to start saving money is “paying yourself first”? You can do this by paying yourself each month through a Payroll Deduction Scheme.

This way you are automatically saving money even without thinking about it.

Find out more about our Payroll Deduction Scheme here.

4. Create a budget for how you will save money rather than spending money. This way, you will know how you would need to put aside to start saving. The Money Skills App has a good tool to help you. Learn more.

5. Are you about to buy something?

Especially if it’s an impulse purchase, simply think of it the following questions:

  • “Do I need, do I REALLY need it?”
  • “How many hours would I need to work to afford this purchase?”

Remember: Be a mindful consumer rather than a mindless one. By thinking about what you are about to spend (and if it’s worth it) is more step towards your habit of saving.

We wish you all the best with your habit of saving. Remember, you can always get in touch with us if you need help with saving your money.

Loan sharks attack surfers on social media

Did you know that one on five victims find their loan shark on social media?

The number of loan sharks has increased on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to advertise their illegal loans and target potential victims.

The loan sharks lure people in with attractive loan offers and won’t ask for paperwork or credit checks. They will quickly resort to intimidation, threats and violence to enforce repayment and trap borrowers in a spiral of debt.

With Christmas around the corner, more and more people will fall into such a trap. Therefore, we are supporting the Stop Loan Sharks Week Campaign  (#SharkFreeSurfing), from 3o November to 04 December 2020, to raise awareness of the dangers of such loan sharks and help people access advice and support if they have fallen victim to this crime.

Here are some ways that you can spot a loan shark.

If you have been a victim of illegal money lending, or are concerned about someone you know, please contact the Stop Loan Sharks 24-hour helpline on 0300 555 2222 or visit www.stoploansharks.co.uk.

How to be a savvy shopper during the sales season

With the sales season dawning upon us, here are six tips on how to be a savvy online shopper to save money and being vigilant.

1. Research, research, research!

Even though various websites give you Black Friday offers, sometimes these may not be the best deals that are out there. Always do your own research by comparing prices and see if you get the value for money before you spend.

2. Make a shopping list and budget and stick to it

Before any of the sales, make a shopping list before the Black Friday weekend so that you have ample time to do your research.

Make a note of what you are willing to spend on each item. By making a budget, this will help you avoid impulse buying.

3. Only spend on what you can afford

If you are already struggling financially, avoid spending money that you don’t have. Sticking to a budget helps with this. Also, ask yourself, “Do I need this, do I REALLY need this?” If you can think of three valid reasons why you need it and there are no cheaper alternatives, then put it on a wish list for next time.

**Remember tip number two…**

4. Protect yourself

Be as safe as possible when shopping online. Look out for websites that have ‘HTTPS’ at the start of their URL or a padlock sign in the browser. This shows that the website that you are purchasing from are more secure.

5. It’s about quality over quantity

Before making a purchase, check the reviews about a product to ensure that you buy the best for the value for your money.

Even though an item appears to be cheap, if the item breaks easily or spare parts are expensive, it’s not worth it.

That’s why you should always research before making your purchase, ahead of the sales season to ensure that you get the best value for your money.

6. Read the small print

  • Check for hidden costs such as delivery costs
  • Look at the returns policy and the ease of returning an item
  • Make sure you know whether you’ll be able to return the item as sometimes the item could be a final-sale item which means that once you’ve bought it, you won’t be able to return it.

Nine ways to protect yourself from fraud

Fraud can happen to anyone. With the rise of fraud cases, we thought we would share some information about fraud and how to protect yourself from falling victim.

How to identify a fraudster:

  • They try to gain trust by claiming to be from a well-known business or impersonate a known contact
  • Will suggest their own verification procedures, including redirecting you to websites they have created or calling numbers they provide to you
  • Know how to tap into your emotions to get what they want
  • Create a sense of urgency to get you to make hasty decisions without much thought.

9 ways to protect yourself from fraud and theft:

  1. Don’t click on any links in an email or text that you think is suspicious. If it’s a trusted financial institution, always type the name of that institution into the address bar of your browser or log into your financial provider’s app to check for any messages that may have come through
  2. Fraudsters try to create a sense of urgency within the message for example: “Your account has been suspended and requires verification. Please follow the link now. http://verifycreditunion.co.uk.”
    Don’t rush – take your time and think about what the message is telling you to do and consider whether it’s real. If you are still not sure, get in touch with the person/business who contacted you to find out if there were any issues. Sometimes they may not be aware of the situation and could have been a victim of fraud as well
  3. Memorise your security details and securely destroy anything that contains these details, once you’ve memorised them
  4. Always set or change your security details to something that can’t be guessed easily
  5. Never write down or record your security details
  6. Never allow anyone else to use your security details
  7. Always monitor your accounts and see if there are any unusual transactions or activity that you don’t recognise
  8. Inform us straight away if you suspect or discover that someone has your security details, your information has been misused, or in doubt of communication received from us. Please get in touch with us by calling our customer experience team on 020 8756 3868 or email office@hertsavers.co.uk
  9. If someone gets you to share your sensitive details via suspicious communication, such as usernames, passwords or account details you can report it to the police.

Be safe with us

At Hertsavers Credit Union, we would like to reassure you that your data is safe with us. Here are some of the ways that we do this:

• We are constantly upgrading our fraud protection software and changing our operation to make your details secure from fraudsters
• We now use R Post for electronic signatures that are fully safe and protected
• We have security checks for ID, physical and email address as well as mobile phone numbers.

Example of how we handled a fraud case
Recently, one of our members had their email account hacked and the hacker tried to order an expensive watch using credit union funds. Fortunately, due to our safe and secure systems in place, they didn’t get anything and were reported to the police.

If you suspect unusual activity to your Hertsavers account or receive suspicious communication, please get in touch with us on 020 8756 3868 or email office@hertsavers.co.uk.

How to manage your financial wellbeing during Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has left many of us feeling fearful about the risks to ourselves and loved ones. Even more so, it makes us anxious to think about what implications it will have on our financial future based on jobs, everyday life and income.

At Hertsavers Credit Union, we have our members’ best interest at heart. Therefore, we’ve put together some ideas that would encourage you to pay extra attention to your financial wellbeing during this pandemic as well as for the future.

1. Think about your financial goals – you can use the Money Skills App tool to add your goals.

2. Open a savings account with us – have a look at our range of savings accounts that can suit your needs here.

3. Set up a standing order to transfer money into your savings straight after each payday.

4. Visualise the holiday that you are saving for and decide not to buy one item today and instead put it towards one of your goals.

5. Review one of your payments such as your mobile phone bill or car insurance quote and try and reduce it. For example, try and use price comparison websites where possible.

6. Take a challenge and buy your weekly shop as cheaply as possible – make a shopping list and stick to it. Look out for offers and/or vouchers online.

7. Set or review your budget via the Money Skills app – by setting a budget, you’ll know how much you can spend and where you can save money.

8. If you have an expensive debt or payday loan, talk to us, Hertsavers Credit Union, about taking out a cheaper loan.

9. Be aware of loan sharks. Read our tips on how to spot a loan shark here.

The Money Skills App can help you set and manage all your goals and budget therefore helping your financial wellbeing during this period. Download the free app today.

REFERENCES:

Moneyskills app website

https://www.asklion.co.uk/

Birmingham City Council website

What are the benefits of a credit union?

A credit union, also known as co-operative, is a not-for-profit organisation which is set up by members that have something in common – whether it is the area they live in or work.

Here are seven benefits of choosing a credit union:

1. Credit Unions encourage you to save regularly with a variety of savings accounts and by doing so enable you to keep on top of your finances and access affordable credit.

2. Credit unions offer loans with affordable rates of interest that are way lower than payday and doorstep lenders. This is because they aren’t profit-focussed but just need to cover their operating costs.

3. If your employer is in partnership with a credit union, you can save and repay your loan directly from payroll.

4. Credit unions make saving regularly easy. In addition, their rate of return on savings accounts is higher than at a bank.

5. As credit unions are co-operatives and run by their members for their benefit, any profits that have been made will be shared as dividends on their savings. The dividend is agreed at the credit union’s AGM each year.

6. Credit unions often offer loans to those who may struggle to secure one from other mainstream lenders.

7. All money saved in a credit union is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) of up to £85,000 per person and may never be lost.

Next steps:
Become a member of Hertsavers Credit Union today.
Already a member? You can refer a friend and earn up to £50 per referral. Find out more

References:
https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/loans/credit-unions/
https://www.findyourcreditunion.co.uk/about-credit-unions/
https://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/1211/6-benefits-of-using-a-credit-union.aspx
https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/what-are-the-benefits-of-a-credit-union/

Tackling loan sharks through our payroll deduction scheme

Hertsavers Credit Union has teamed up with Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) to promote their Payroll Saving and Loan Plan across Hertfordshire to ensure that employees who work in organisations, that are part of our Payroll Deduction Scheme, have a safe and reliable place to save and be protected from loan sharks.

Did you know that:

  • 53% of loan shark victims are in employment
  • The average loan shark loan is £3,500
  • 38% of victims have a household income of over £20,000
  • 79% of loan shark victims are perpetually worried or stressed about their loan.

In order to protect the employees from illegal money lending, we request that staff be allowed to save with us through a deduction from their payroll which is already available to: DHS staff; many police forces; postal workers; firefighters; NHS staff and many other employee groups.

If you or someone you know has been intimidated into taking an illegal loan from a loan shark, please get in touch with us on office@hertsavers.co.uk.

Related articles:

Beware of loan sharks

Loan sharks attack surfers on social media

What is a credit union?

A credit union is a “friendly society” which is more commonly known as a co-operative. Credit unions are not-for-profit organisations which are set up by members that have something in common to benefit their community.

Credit Unions have a proven track record

In the UK, credit unions have been in existence for more than 50 years. They have continued to grow to provide loans and savings to over one million people across the England, Scotland and Wales. Currently, there are about three hundred credit unions in the UK. In fact, globally, there are 217 million credit union members in 105 different countries. This shows that credit unions are highly reputable (findyourcredit.co.uk, 2020).

Your money is safe

All credit unions are authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
All money saved in a credit union is protected up to the value of £85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). Therefore, you can be reassured that your money is safe.

Who are credit unions for?

Credit unions are for everyone where they provide a financial community. Credit union members are required to save regularly and after which they are able to borrow loans from the pool of savings.

In terms of management, credit unions have a Board of Directors who offer their services and advice on a voluntary basis. They are elected at an Annual General Meeting by members of that credit union.

To become a member of a credit union, you need to share a ‘common bond’ with other members. This could either be through working or living in the same areas.

For Hertsavers, our common bond is Hertfordshire.

Join us today.

References:
Money Saving Expert

Find your Credit Union

Beware of Loan Sharks

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) encourages people to join credit unions, in order to save regularly or enable them to obtain legal, affordable loans, when emergencies arise. They have launched a pilot scheme, Stop Loan Sharks, that helps in educating people about loan sharks and support those who have fallen victims of illegal money lending.

Here are six tips to help people spot the signs of illegal money lending and avoid falling victim to loan sharks:

1. Do not borrow loans from people who you speak to you in a public place including pubs, at the school gates or in your workplace.

2. Loan sharks look like ordinary people. However, this is how you can spot them:

  • You won’t get any paperwork like a credit agreement or record of payments
  • They will offer you a loan in cash or bank transfer
  • They may add a huge amount of interest to the loan
  • They will threaten you if you fall behind in your payments
  • You may be forced to hand over your passport, bank card, benefit card or driving licence as security on the loan.

3. You can call the 24-hour confidential hotline (0300 555 2222) for advice, if you or you know someone who has fallen victim of a loan shark. You can also report a loan shark using their confidential online form or by email.

4. You are under no legal obligation to repay the debt so don’t worry!

5. To find out if someone is an authorised lender, you can visit the FCA register online.

6. If you do need to borrow a loan from a reliable and reputable organisation, then look no further than a credit union. A credit union works to benefit their members, helping to provide communities with affordable loans and savings products. At Hertsavers Credit Union, we provide affordable rates with no hidden costs. What’s more is that we are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority which means that we have a set of rules that we maintain, and which set out how we are managed.

To find out more about the ‘Stop Loan Sharks’ Scheme and the IMLT, you can visit their website.