Back to School money-saving tips

From a survey that was done by Idealo, 52% of parents that were surveyed said that the back-to-school season put a financial strain on their family.

Whether it’s replacing your child’s school uniform, restocking stationery supplies, getting devices to support their education or organising school trips and more, back-to-school can be difficult. Therefore we have put together some tips on how you can save money for the new school year or term.

Do a stock-take and make a list

First things first, take a look at what you already have before making a list of everything that you need to buy. For instance, check whether your child’s shoes and uniform are fitting before going out to buy them. If you need them, add them to the list. This would apply to stationery and any other items.

Do your research and set a budget

Make a budget of how much you are intending to spend on all the school items. You should do your research to see what the prices are of various items (plus see if there is a sale). Don’t just go with the first deal that you see as it may blow your budget. If you think you are going to go over your budget, make a priority list.

Affordable alternatives

Find out if there is a school uniform policy. Do you need to buy from the school shop or can you get the basics from a regular shop? Also, see if there is a second-hand shop where you can find barley-worn pieces for a bargain. Also while shopping for uniforms, look for crease-free fabrics to save you ironing on a Sunday afternoon.

Plan ahead for additional costs

For instance, find out from your child’s school if there will be any upcoming school trips and the costs involved. This way, you will be able to add it to the budget and plan for the year ahead by putting some money aside each month for the expenses.

Meal planning

Ok, this is not for the actual back-to-school season but also applies for the school year as well. Plan ahead on what you will be making that week which can also be taken for lunch the next day. This way you will be saving money by avoiding takeaways and also less stressful when you are thinking of what to make for the children when they come home from school. By getting the children involved, you will have happy children, you can shop for your need, save time and also reduce food waste.

Label your children’s items

With school uniforms, every child’s items look the same and they may come home with the wrong shoes or cardigan, for example. By labelling ALL their items, your child will be able to find their missing items quicker and you will be less stressed about replacing items that are lost, especially if they are expensive.

Encourage your children to make their school supplies last

New lunchboxes, school bags and stationery can be quite expensive especially if you have to replace them every term or start of the school year. Encourage your children to look after their items by ensuring that they bring them home from school (for starters), keeping their property clean and in good condition. This will show your children how to be responsible and also encourages the habit of saving instead of spending.

You can even ask them to contribute towards the items to show them the value of money.

If you need help with the back-to-school finances, you can take advantage of our Child Benefit Loan. You can find out more here.

How to do a financial health check to improve your financial wellbeing

Did you know that 48% of adults admit that they feel stressed or overwhelmed about their financial situation at times?

Similar to a dental check-up or a medical check-up, a financial health check is important as it helps evaluate how you are managing your money.

Previously, this would be done with a financial professional however nowadays, there are several tools available online. For example the financial health check tool by the Money Advice Service.

Why should I take a financial health check?

It gives you a clear picture of where you are at with your finances.

By understanding your financial position, you will be able to find ways of improving your financial health. This in turn will help with your overall well-being.

Here is how you can conduct an effective financial check-up:

1. Identify your financial goals.

Whether these are long-term or short-term goals, creating specific goals is the first step to perform a thorough financial health check. You can use online tools to help you such as the MoneySkills App.

2. Understand where you currently are with your finances.

This means laying down all your expenses, debts and incomes to help you understand where you are and what areas of your finances need the most attention. This will then help you prioritise what you need to do. By understanding where you are with your finances and making any necessary changes can help you reach your financial goals.

3. Track how much you are spending.

This is an important exercise for your financial checkup as it means tracking what your expenses and daily transactions look like. If you haven’t already got a tracker, you can create a spending journal to see where your money is going.

This will help you see how EXACTLY you are spending your money and make you be more conscious of how much is going out from your bank account.

Tracking also helps with cutting your budget.

4. REVIEW your budget.

If you already have a budget, this is your chance to review it and make adjustments. However, if you haven’t got one, you can create one. Here is an online tool to help you.

5. Review your savings for the long term.

Make sure that you start saving for a rainy day. This will help in case there are any unplanned occurrences such as you lose your job; bills are unexpectedly high.

By setting goals of how much you will save each month can help you in case an emergency does happen. You can then use this instead of getting into debt.

One of the ways that you can start saving immediately is by setting up a payroll deduction scheme with your workplace.

6. Check your credit score.

By doing this, you will be able to know what your creditworthiness is. You can use credit score reporting websites to find out.

7. Get accountable.

Share your goals with an accountable partner or partners who are either on the same journey as you or have already accomplished what you are trying to achieve.

By doing this, you will be motivated to keep going and stay on track.

TIP: To ensure that you conduct a financial health check, set reminders on your calendar so that you can review your finances on certain dates. Also, if something in your life changes such as a change of jobs (and salary); a new debt, you would need to do a financial review. By staying on top of your money will help you with your financial well-being.

 

How to teach children develop good money habits

In a recent newsletter competition, we had asked our members “What advice would you give to your younger self?” Our winner, Leah, said, “I would tell my younger self that although having fun is the best thing to do, while you are young and able. Rainy days will always happen when you’re least expecting. A few pounds a month adds up over the year. Don’t be afraid to say you can’t afford something! Be proud that you are saving for your future and not being frivolous for today.”

This has been quite valuable advice as it makes people aware that they need to save for a rainy day and be assertive if they can’t afford something.

By teaching children at a young age about good money habits, they will always be grateful that you taught them how to be responsible with money, a valuable life lesson.

Here are some ways that you can teach them how to develop good money habits:

Be a good role model by being responsible with your own finances

Children observe and emulate what the grown-ups around them are doing. Showing your children that you have set financial goals, created a budget, made a shopping list (and sticking to it) and finding ways to save money will have an automatic positive impact on how they perceive your attitude towards money.

Go back to basics with cash

Earning pocket money is still common where children get paid for completing chores or for rewarding good behaviour.

By showing your children the value of money, they will appreciate it and make them feel grown-up.

Also, take them shopping when you go so that they can see how a shopping list works and what the receipt looks like in the end. This will show them the importance of a shopping list and budgeting.

Open a Junior Savings Account

By getting them a Junior Savings Account, you can show them how their savings are growing. This would also be a good time to start talking to them about what they would like to do with their money in terms of future planning. This will instil a good saving habit that will stay with them into adulthood.

The concept of spend, save, give

If you are rewarding children with pocket money, show them the concept of spend, save and give.

How the concept works

Divide the money into three portions as follows:

  1. Spend – agree with your child as to how much they will spend on something of their choice.
  2. Save – the second portion is saved for a goal that your child trying to meet or for long-term saving which you may have put into the Junior Savings Account.
  3. Give – encourage them to use of their money to help others. For example, you can give some money towards a charity of your choice or through awareness days and events that they come across such as Red Nose Day. This is a good opportunity for you to talk to them about donations.

Controlling spending

Give your child the independence to make decisions as to how they will spend their money.

You can give older children pre-paid debit cards so pocket money can be paid straight from your bank account to theirs. You can control their spending limits and see how much they are spending and what they can buy.

While you do this, you can talk to them about setting a budget and make them aware of their spending/how much is left in the account. This will teach them how to be cautious when spending and track their spendings.

Staying safe

Teach them that they need to protect their personal information as much as spending and saving.

Ensure that their identities are protected online by keeping an eye on their social media accounts and making sure that they know the dangers of sharing any personal information on any digital communication channels.

Also, let them know about scams both offline and online. For example, that they shouldn’t share passwords or account details if somebody asks them.

 

Become a workplace champion

We are looking to recruit Workplace Champions in all the companies where we have Payroll Savings Schemes.

Our Champions will be the first to know about new offers and changes to our products and services. What’s more, when the referral takes an introductory loan of up to £2000, which is payable over three years, the Champion and their referral will both receive an additional £100 to their account. Terms and conditions apply.

We want to improve communications with our members, and we see establishing a network of Workplace Champions to do that.

Interested members should contact graham@cus.coop providing their own contact details and their work location.

Major improvements to our service delivery with Lace

January 2021 sees the change of our service delivery for our members with the introduction of a web app and an upgrade to our operating system. This will provide faster processing times for loans and share withdrawals.

Our new system nicknamed Lace, will process loan applications and share withdrawals from our web app 24/7 which will be ready for payment by our staff during office open hours. This means that you will get results quicker and payments faster.

What does Lace do?

  • Provides real-time member account balances
  • Automatic assessment, approval and payment of loans which will give you an “end of next day” service
  • Sends you Loan agreements for electronic signatures
  • Arranges credit checks
  • Updates your account.

If you have any queries regarding Lace, please email us on office@hertsavers.co.uk.

CANCELLED: AGM 2020

Dear members,

We have been closely monitoring updates on the spread of the Corona virus. The health and safety of our members is our first priority so we have made a decision to cancel the AGM which was to take place on Thursday 19 March 2020.

Thank you for understanding and support.

With kind regards,

Hertsavers Credit Union team

Coronavirus Contingency Plan

Dear Member,

Due to the Coronavirus, we may need to change our work practice due to reduced staffing or staff working from home.

The rate at which emails are received has significantly increased with more members requesting withdrawals. This increase in emails means that the time we take to respond may increase and hence your withdrawal may take longer than usual.

By far the quickest way of getting a share withdrawal is through the Members Area on the website. If you have yet to register for the Members Area on the website you should do it straight away. You can register here.

Members Area share withdrawals are processed on a daily basis and if submitted before 9 am will show in your bank account the same day or after the next working day. By comparison, email requests for share withdrawals could take up to three working days.

Kind regards,

Hertsavers Credit Union team

February newsletter – Hertsavers Credit Union

Some of the topics covered in February’s newsletter include:

  • Details of the Annual General Meeting which takes place on Thursday, 19 March 2020
  • More information about Just Borrow and Open Banking
  • Pointers for ensuring a successful loan application
  • Call for volunteers and board directors
  • A few ideas on how you can celebrate Pancake Day
  • Money-saving tips: Beat the winter

Download February newsletter

All change

We recently introduced our new current account, with a debit card, called the Change Account. This replaces the former card, Engage Cards.

Members who had an account with Engage Cards should receive the new Change Account details and debit card in the post. If you haven’t received yours yet, please email us on office@hertsavers.co.uk. If you don’t wish to have a Change Account or card, please return it to us at The Bungalow, Pinkwell Lane, Hayes, UB3 1PE so that you don’t get charged.

If you would like to apply for the Change Account, please contact us on office@hertsavers.co.uk or call 0208 756 3868  to find out how to apply for this card.

Why have a Change Account?

From just £2 a month, you can enjoy great benefits with a Change Account. Some of these benefits include:

Full transactional account – with a dedicated Sort Code, Account Number and Debit Mastercard® (Chip & PIN protected) therefore you can use it in the following ways:

o Point of Sale, ATM withdrawals and online purchases

o Direct Debits, scheduled and faster payments

o BACS Credits (wages/benefits)

o Choice of single or joint account.

Secure budgeting wallets – allows you to subdivide spending, budgeting and bill payments. Encourages you to protect your money allocated for bills.

Clear payment alerts – automatic online payment alerts as well as optional alerts via SMS, Mobile App and email.

A wide ranging Rewards Programme – well-known brands like Asda, New Look, Pizza Express and Argos offering Cash Back (up to 20%) when you spend instore or online.

Online account management – you can manage your account online therefore enabling you to keep up to date with your balance, transactions or cash withdrawals.

Mobile App account management – manage your account ‘on the go’ with our Mobile App (available FREE through iTunes and Google Play).

24/7 UK based customer support – support via phone, email and secure messaging

Hertsavers Christmas 2019 newsletter

Hertsavers Credit Union is reflecting on a great year after introducing new products and exciting new service delivery improvements. Here is a copy of our Christmas 2019 newsletter which highlights some of these features including:
  • The Change Account, the new current account and debit card
  • Checking your account balance by telephone
  • Easier loan application with the introduction of editable forms and open banking.
For news and updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. While you are there, please feel free to share your Christmas tree pics with us, using the hashtag #CUChristmas.