Mindful Money Management

Money management made easy

Feeling stressed about finances? You’re not alone. But what if managing money could be less overwhelming?

This guide explores mindful money management, a strategy to build a healthy relationship with your finances. We’ll break it down into simple steps you can take today.

What is Mindful Money Management?

Think of it as being smart and intentional with your money. It’s about understanding your goals, values, and spending habits. This awareness allows you to make informed financial decisions that align with your dreams.

Building mindful spending habits

Track your spending: Knowing where your money goes is key. Track expenses to identify areas to save.
Budgeting: Create a plan for your income – how much you spend, save, and invest.
Prioritise needs vs. wants: Avoid impulse buys and focus on what truly matters.
Consider the impact: Think about how your spending choices affect the environment and society.

Growing a strong savings culture

Saving is crucial for financial security and achieving your goals. Here’s how to cultivate a strong savings habit:

  • Set realistic goals: Aim for something achievable, like a vacation or a down payment on a house.
  • Automate savings: Set up automatic transfers from your checking to your savings account.
  • Review progress: Track your savings regularly to stay motivated.
  • Build an emergency fund: Be prepared for unexpected expenses.
  • Save for long-term goals: Retirement, education, or a dream home – plan for the future.

Knowledge is power

Financial literacy empowers you to navigate the world of money with confidence. Here are ways to gain knowledge:

  • Educational resources: Many resources are available online or through your credit union.
  • Workshops: Attend workshops on topics like investing or debt management.
  • Personalised financial advice: Talk to a financial advisor for tailored guidance.
  • Credit score awareness: Understanding your credit score helps you access better loan rates.

The path to financial peace of mind

Mindful money management is a journey, not a destination. By following these steps, you can transform your relationship with money and achieve financial stability. Remember, your credit union is here to support you with resources and guidance every step of the way.

In addition to the above, here are some references you may find helpful:

The National Endowment for Financial Education
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

What is the difference between essential and non-essential spending?

In the world of personal finance, understanding the difference between essential and non-essential spending is important. It’s a important part of effective budgeting and financial management. Let’s delve into what essential and non-essential spending entail, and how striking the right balance can lead to financial well-being.

Essential spending: the foundation of financial stability

Essential spending encompasses the necessities of life, the fundamental costs required for survival and basic living standards. These typically include:

  • Housing: Rent or mortgage payments, property taxes, and essential home maintenance costs fall under this category.
  • Food: Expenses related to groceries and essential household supplies.
  • Utilities: Electricity, water, heating, and internet services necessary for daily living.
  • Transportation: Costs associated with commuting, such as fuel, public transportation fares, or vehicle maintenance.
  • Healthcare: Medical insurance premiums, prescription medications, and essential healthcare services.

Essential spending forms the foundation of financial stability, ensuring individuals and families meet their basic needs and maintain a reasonable quality of life. While these expenses are non-negotiable, there are often opportunities to optimize costs through careful budgeting and smart decision-making.

Non-essential spending: balancing wants with needs

Non-essential spending encompasses discretionary expenses, representing the wants rather than the needs in life. While not vital for survival, these expenditures contribute to quality of life, leisure, and personal enjoyment. Examples include:

  • Dining out: Meals at restaurants, takeout, and coffee shop purchases.
  • Entertainment: Expenses related to movies, concerts, streaming services, and recreational activities.
  • Travel: Vacation expenses, flights, accommodations, and leisure travel.
  • Luxury items: Non-essential purchases such as designer clothing, electronics, or upscale gadgets.

Unlike essential spending, non-essential expenditures are optional and offer opportunities for greater flexibility in budgeting. While they can enhance one’s lifestyle and provide enjoyment, overspending in this category can quickly derail financial goals and lead to debt accumulation.

Finding balance: key to financial well-being

The key to financial health lies in striking a balance between essential and non-essential spending. Here’s how individuals can achieve this balance:

  1. Prioritise essential spending: Ensure that essential expenses are covered first, allocating a significant portion of your budget to housing, food, utilities, transportation, and healthcare.
  2. Budget wisely: Create a budget that allocates funds for both essential and non-essential categories. Aim to save a portion of your income each month for future goals and emergencies.
  3. Differentiate needs from wants: Practice mindful spending by distinguishing between necessary purchases and discretionary indulgences. Ask yourself if a particular expense is truly essential or if it can be deferred or minimised.
  4. Set limits: Establish spending limits for non-essential categories to prevent overspending. Consider using cash envelopes or budgeting apps to track discretionary expenses and stay within predetermined boundaries.
  5. Evaluate regularly: Review your spending habits regularly to identify areas where adjustments can be made. Look for opportunities to reduce costs in both essential and non-essential categories without sacrificing your overall well-being.

By striking a balance between essential and non-essential spending, individuals can achieve financial stability, cultivate healthy spending habits, and work towards their long-term financial goals. Whether it’s securing a comfortable retirement, saving for a dream vacation, or building an emergency fund, mastering the art of balanced spending is key to financial well-being.

What are assets in a credit union? And how do they benefit you?

Have you ever wondered what happens to your money when you deposit it in your credit union savings account? It joins a pool of resources called the credit union’s assets. These assets are like the building blocks your credit union uses to serve its members, you!

Think of it like a community potluck. Everyone brings a dish to share, and together you have a fantastic feast. At a credit union, your deposits are your contribution to the pot. These deposits, along with other assets like cash on hand and investments, allow the credit union to offer loans, mortgages, and other financial services.

So, how does this benefit you? Here’s the win-win:

Stronger borrowing power: A healthy pool of assets means the credit union has more resources to lend. This translates to potentially lower interest rates and better loan terms for you when you need to borrow money.

Improved savings returns: The credit union reinvests some of its assets, which can lead to higher returns on your savings accounts.

Focus on members: Unlike for-profit banks, credit unions are member-owned cooperatives. This means their primary focus is on serving your financial needs, not maximizing profits for shareholders.

In short, a strong asset base is the foundation for a healthy credit union. By being a member and contributing your deposits, you’re not just saving money, you’re actively participating in a financial community that benefits everyone.

It’s your money, working together for a stronger financial future.

Christmas opening hours and application deadlines

Below are our deadline and opening hours for 2023

The office will be closed from midday on Friday, 22 December 2023 and reopen on Tuesday, 02 January 2024 at 8am.

The deadline for share withdrawals, if not made through the members’ area, to ensure processing before Christmas is Wednesday, 20 December 2023. For withdrawals through the members’ area, the cut-off is Friday, 22 December 2023 at 9am.

The deadline application for loans is Monday, 18 December 2023. We require the application and all supporting documents by the close of business on that day.

We will make every effort to process any late requests. However, we cannot guarantee immediate processing. Requests received after the deadline will be handled upon our return if unable to process immediately.

Festive frugality: savvy tips for a stress-free Christmas

Preparing for Christmas can be overwhelming, but planning ahead can alleviate stress and financial strain. Here are some tips to get ready for the festive season:

Gift giving

  • DIY Personalised gifts: Create customised gifts like photo albums, handmade crafts, or personalized items, adding a unique touch.
  • Experiences over material gifts: Instead of physical presents, consider gifting experiences like a spa day, concert tickets, or a cooking class.
  • Regifting or swapping: Organise a gift swap event where everyone brings a wrapped, unwanted item to exchange, promoting a more eco-friendly and cost-effective approach.

Decorations and festive touches

  • Upcycle decorations: Craft new decorations from recycled materials or transform old items to give them a festive makeover.
  • Host a decoration swap: Arrange a gathering for friends or neighbours to exchange decorations they no longer need, giving everyone a chance to refresh their holiday decor for free.
  • DIY holiday décor workshops: Host or attend workshops to create your own ornaments or decorations, adding a personal touch to your home.

Community involvement and giving back

  • Volunteer together: Spend time volunteering at local shelters, food banks, or community centres as a way to bond and spread holiday cheer while giving back.
  • Charity donations: Instead of physical gifts, donate to a charity on behalf of friends or family members who appreciate such gestures.
  • Create care packages: Assemble care packages for those in need, including essentials like warm clothing, toiletries, and non-perishable food items.

Traditions and celebrations

  • Host potluck dinners or parties: Organise gatherings where everyone brings a dish, reducing the burden on the host and promoting a sense of togetherness.
  • Family activity nights: Plan game nights, storytelling sessions, or holiday-themed movie marathons to create lasting memories without spending much.
  • Create a time capsule: Encourage family members to contribute items or messages to a time capsule to be opened in future years, commemorating the holiday season.

Environmentally friendly approaches

  • Minimalist gift wrapping: Use eco-friendly wrapping alternatives like recycled paper, fabric, or reusable gift bags.
  • Plant a tree in celebration: Instead of a traditional tree, consider planting a tree or donating to tree-planting initiatives as a symbol of celebration.
  • Energy-efficient celebrations: Switch to LED lights or candles for decoration to reduce energy consumption during the festive season.

Don’t fall into the clutches of a loan shark this Christmas

Christmas is coming – a time of parties, presents, good food and family celebrations. But for many it also brings immense stress, worry and financial pressure.

Loan sharks recognise this and it can be a time of year when they take advantage of the most vulnerable by pretending that they are helping out in a time of need.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team, which works in partnership with trading standards authorities to investigate and prosecute illegal lenders and support victims, is warning people that however tempting that offer of a cash loan might be and however friendly someone might seem, be aware that there could be a loan shark lurking beneath the surface.

Illegal money lenders are masters of deception, they are not always easy to spot. They could be a neighbour who always stops to chat, a parent who you know from the school gate, a popular work colleague, even a long-standing family friend. In the first half of 2023, 56 per cent of the people supported by the IMLT said they thought they were borrowing from a friend.

And victims often aren’t aware that they have borrowed from a loan shark until it’s too late. Things can quickly turn nasty as they demand extortionate repayments and issue threats of violence when you can’t pay.

There are warning signs to look out for which may all indicate that someone is a loan shark.

They include:

– Being given no paperwork or details about the loan

– The lender demanding repayments that add up to much more than you initially borrowed

– Being intimidated or threatened by the lender if you struggle to pay

– The lender demanding you hand over items like bank cards or a passport until you can pay

If you do need to access affordable credit, the IMLT advises people to contact their nearest credit union, which offer an alternative, ethical and safe way of borrowing for people who may have been refused credit elsewhere. Visit www.findyourcreditunion.co.uk to find one nearest to you.

If you think you have been snared by a loan shark, get in touch with the IMLT as soon as possible in complete confidence. Their specialist officers can offer advice and support and investigate the illegal lender.

To get in touch:

– Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222

– Text a report to 07860 022116

– Join a live chat on the website www.stoploansharks.co.uk (available Monday to Friday 9 to 5)

– E-mail reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk

– Private message on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject

Remember you have done nothing wrong if you have borrowed from a loan shark. It is the lender who has committed a crime.

Make sure you’re not inviting a loan shark into your life this Christmas.


Celebrating 75 years of credit unions: a brief history

International Credit Union Day (ICU Day), celebrated on October 19, 2023, marks the culmination of our 75-year journey within the credit union movement. This day serves as a global platform, fostering awareness of the incredible work undertaken by credit unions and financial cooperatives worldwide. It also provides our members with a unique opportunity to become more engaged.

The roots of the credit union movement extend back to 1894, with the establishment of The First Savings Bank in Tottenham. Even earlier, in 1844, The Rochdale Pioneers, a collective of Lancashire weavers, sowed the seeds of cooperative values. These principles, including voluntary membership, one member one vote, and profit-sharing, remain the foundation of today’s cooperative movement.

As we reflect on the journey of the credit union movement, it’s evident how these principles have endured and evolved. In 1934, President Roosevelt signed the Federal Credit Union Act, laying the groundwork for the movement’s expansion in the United States. The UK, too, witnessed significant growth, with the formation of the Derry City Credit Union in Northern Ireland during the 1960s.

The 1970s marked the birth of numerous credit unions in England, including the pioneering employee credit union, The Pitney Bowes Credit Union. In 1979, The Credit Union Act was enacted, the very legislation that continues to govern credit unions today.

Subsequent decades, particularly the 1980s and 1990s, saw sustained growth, with 258 registered credit unions in Great Britain by 1990, boasting combined assets of approximately £12.3 million. The transformation of the Credit Union League of Great Britain into the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd (ABCUL) in 1981 was another significant milestone, a body to which Thamesbank proudly belongs.

In 2002, the Financial Services Authority assumed the role of regulator for credit unions, succeeding the Registry of Friendly Societies. This change marked a crucial moment in the movement’s history.

Today, as we celebrate International Credit Union Day, we remain steadfast in our commitment to the financial well-being of our members. Our dedication to providing financial education and support remains unwavering, and we eagerly anticipate future growth and assistance. The history of the credit union movement is a testament to the enduring strength of cooperation and financial inclusion.

Unforgettable summer adventures: budget-friendly activities for kids in the UK

Summer in the UK offers a plethora of opportunities for children to have fun and make lasting memories without breaking the bank. Engaging in low-cost activities not only keeps the little ones entertained but also helps them explore the wonders of nature and develop new skills. Here are six fantastic budget-friendly summer activities for kids in the UK.

Picnics and nature walks

Picnics in local parks or scenic spots can be a delightful way for kids to spend their summer days. Pack a homemade lunch, grab a blanket, and head to a nearby green space. Many parks offer playgrounds, which provide a great chance for children to socialise and enjoy outdoor games. Nature walks are also an excellent addition to picnics, where children can explore the wonders of the countryside, appreciate wildlife, and learn about the environment. Spending time outdoors encourages physical activity and fosters a love for nature.

Arts and crafts

Unleash your child’s creativity through arts and crafts projects. Craft supplies can be inexpensive, and you can often find great deals at discount stores or online. Engaging in DIY activities like making friendship bracelets, painting, or creating colorful collages not only enhances their artistic skills but also keeps them occupied for hours. You can find many crafting ideas online, making it easy to find projects that match your child’s interests.

Library visits and reading challenges

Local libraries are a treasure trove of free entertainment and learning opportunities. Many libraries host summer reading challenges, where children can participate in activities and win small rewards for completing books. Reading not only stimulates the imagination but also improves language skills and cognitive development. Encourage your child to explore various genres and discover the joy of books.
Local Community Events and Workshops
Keep an eye out for free or low-cost community events and workshops organized during the summer. Many towns and cities host outdoor concerts, movie nights, art exhibits, and educational workshops for children. These events provide excellent opportunities for kids to socialise, discover new interests, and engage in community life.

Outdoor sports and games

Organise a day of outdoor sports and games with your child and their friends. Sports like football, basketball, or cricket require minimal equipment and can be played in local parks or open spaces. You can also introduce them to traditional British games like rounders or British Bulldog. These activities not only keep them physically active but also promote teamwork and friendly competition. Moreover, they’re a great way to encourage children to spend time outdoors, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.

Fruit picking and homemade treats

During the summer months, many farms across the UK offer fruit picking opportunities, where children can pick their own strawberries, raspberries, or other seasonal fruits. Fruit picking is an enjoyable and educational activity, teaching kids about agriculture and the origins of their food. After the fruit-picking adventure, bring the harvest home and involve your child in making homemade treats like fruit jams, smoothies, or fruit salads. It’s a delicious way to spend quality time together and savour the flavours of summer.

DIY science experiments

Foster your child’s curiosity and love for learning by conducting DIY science experiments at home. You can find numerous simple and safe experiments online using household items. From creating volcano eruptions with baking soda and vinegar to making colourful slime, these experiments are not only entertaining but also educational. Your child will be thrilled to discover the wonders of science while having a blast at the same time.

Summer in the UK doesn’t have to be expensive to be enjoyable for kids. With a little creativity and enthusiasm, you can provide your child with a summer filled with exciting adventures and valuable experiences. Engaging in outdoor activities like picnics, nature walks, and sports encourages them to stay active and explore the beauty of the world around them. Meanwhile, arts and crafts, library visits, and DIY science experiments stimulate their creativity and foster a love for learning. And let’s not forget about the joy of fruit picking and creating homemade treats. So, make the most of the sunny days, embark on new adventures, and create treasured memories with your kids without putting a strain on your budget. Happy summer!

What is a Share Account?

A share account is a type of savings account offered by credit unions. It is the primary account that credit union members open to become part of the cooperative. When you open a share account, you become a member-owner of the credit union, holding a share of ownership in the institution.

The term “share” reflects the cooperative nature of credit unions, where members collectively own and govern the institution. Instead of being just a customer, you have a say in the credit union’s decisions, typically exercised through voting in board elections and participating in annual meetings.

Earnings in a share account are called “dividends,” emphasising the cooperative aspect of credit unions. These dividends represent your share of the credit union’s profits, which are shared among the member-owners.

A share account serves as a foundational step for accessing various financial services and benefits offered by the credit union. Additionally, it provides a secure place to save money, and deposits in share accounts are often insured up to a certain limit by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

Overall, a share account in a credit union is not just a savings account; it symbolises membership and ownership in a cooperative financial institution where members work together for their mutual benefit and financial well-being.

4 fun and creative ways to teach children the art of saving money

Teaching children the importance of saving money is a valuable life lesson that will benefit them for years to come. While the concept of saving may seem dull or complex to young minds, it doesn’t have to be! In this article, we’ll explore four fun and creative ways to introduce the idea of saving money to children. These activities will not only make learning about money engaging but also help instil good financial habits early on.

The saving jar challenge:
Transform the act of saving money into an exciting game by introducing the Saving Jar Challenge. Provide your child with a transparent jar and colourful stickers or markers. Set a specific goal together, such as saving for a new toy, a family outing, or even a future vacation. Encourage your child to save spare change or small amounts of money regularly and celebrate their progress by adding stickers or colouring the jar each time they reach a milestone. This visual representation of their savings will motivate them to continue saving and watch their money grow.

Reward-based savings:

Create a reward system that encourages saving by offering small incentives for reaching specific savings milestones. For instance, you could offer to match a percentage of the amount they save or provide rewards for achieving certain targets. Let your child be involved in setting their goals and selecting the rewards they desire. This approach helps them understand the value of delayed gratification and instills the habit of saving for something they truly want.

Entrepreneurial ventures:

Spark your child’s creativity and entrepreneurial spirit by encouraging them to start a small business or offer services to earn money. Depending on their age and interests, they could set up a lemonade stand, offer pet-sitting services, or even create handmade crafts to sell. This hands-on experience will teach them the value of hard work, money management, and the satisfaction of earning their own income. Encourage them to allocate a portion of their earnings towards savings, emphasizing the importance of setting aside money for the future.

Interactive budgeting:

Introduce your child to the concept of budgeting through interactive activities. Create a mock budget with different categories such as savings, spending, and giving. Use play money or an online budgeting tool specifically designed for children to allocate funds to each category. Engage them in discussions about prioritizing needs over wants and making thoughtful financial decisions. As they get older, involve them in real-life budgeting discussions, such as planning for a family vacation or managing monthly household expenses. This practical approach will empower them with essential money management skills.

Teaching children about saving money doesn’t have to be a boring or overwhelming task. By using creative and interactive methods, parents and educators can make financial education enjoyable and memorable. The four ideas mentioned above – the Saving Jar Challenge, reward-based savings, entrepreneurial ventures, and interactive budgeting – provide children with practical experiences that foster a positive attitude towards money and saving. By instilling these skills early on, we can empower our children to become financially responsible adults in the future.

Additionally, consider opening a Junior Savings Account to help them develop good financial habits from an early age.