The great money-saving Easter egg hunt

Are you ready to embark on an adventure that’ll lead you straight to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Well, maybe not gold, but definitely some extra cash in your pocket. Get your baskets ready because we’re about to embark on the ultimate money-saving Easter egg hunt.

1. Hunt for hidden discounts:

Just like Easter eggs, discounts and deals are hidden all around us, waiting to be discovered. Keep your eyes peeled for coupons, promo codes, and special offers both online and in-store. Who knows, you might stumble upon a golden ticket to major savings.

2. Crack open budget-friendly recipes:

Instead of splurging on pricey meals, why not crack open some budget-friendly recipes? From DIY gourmet sandwiches to wallet-friendly one-pot wonders, cooking at home can save you a fortune. Plus, it’s a cracking way to impress your friends and family with your culinary skills.

3. Eggs-quisite DIY decorations:

Why shell out a fortune on fancy decorations when you can DIY your own eggs-quisite Easter decor? Get crafty with paint, glitter, and whatever else you have lying around the house. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also have a blast unleashing your inner artist.

4. Follow the thrift store trail:

Ready to embark on a thrifty treasure hunt? Head to your local thrift store and uncover hidden gems at bargain prices. From vintage fashion finds to quirky home decor, you never know what treasures you might stumble upon. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, after all.

5. Plant the seeds of savings:

Why not start your very own money-saving garden? Growing your own fruits, veggies, and herbs not only helps you save on grocery bills but also ensures you have fresh, organic produce at your fingertips. It’s a green way to save some green.

6. Share the savings love:

Just like Easter is all about sharing, why not spread the savings love with your friends and family? Organise a swap meet where you can trade clothes, books, and other items you no longer need. Not only will you declutter your space, but you’ll also score some new goodies without spending a dime.

So there you have it, folks – the ultimate guide to turning your money-saving journey into a fun-filled Easter egg hunt. Remember, with a little creativity and a keen eye for hidden treasures, you can unearth some serious savings this season.

Happy hunting!

Empowering women: balancing life and achieving dreams with Hertsavers Credit Union

Women today are unstoppable. They’re smashing career goals while building loving families, proving they can be amazing at everything they do. This juggling act takes incredible strength and adaptability, and it’s what makes women so powerful.

More than multitasking

We often see women compared to jugglers, keeping everything in the air. They lead in boardrooms, manage households, and somehow find time for themselves – all while staying calm. But this balancing act isn’t easy. Trying to excel at work and at home can be a struggle. Still, women persevere, driven by a desire to succeed in every aspect of life.

Financial empowerment: a key to success

Financial security is essential for this balancing act. Organisations like Hertsavers Credit Union understand this and offer support specifically designed for working women.

  • Saving made easy: The Salary Savings Scheme encourages women to save regularly through their payroll, building a safety net for the future and gaining financial independence.
  • Help when needed: Payroll loans provide a lifeline during emergencies, offering quick access to cash without turning to high-interest lenders.
  • Supporting working mums: Child Benefits Loans and Savings Plan help cover childcare costs, easing the burden on working mothers.
  • Savings goals for every dream: Hertsavers offers a variety of savings accounts to fit any goal, from education to retirement to that dream vacation.

Beyond the balance: shaping the future

Women’s power goes way beyond their careers. They nurture families, overcome challenges, and leave a lasting impact on the world. With the support of organizations like Hertsavers Credit Union, women continue to break barriers and prove their strength is limitless.

Jargon buster: What is a credit score and why does it matter?

What is a credit score?

Your credit score is a three-digit number. It’s calculated from the information a credit reference agency (CRA) holds about you. Your credit score usually comes with your credit report, which gives you more details about your credit history.

Lenders use your credit score, plus other information, to decide whether they will lend you money.

The better your score, the more doors open for you in the world of credit. Think mortgages, credit cards, or loans – the cream of the financial crop. And that’s not all – having a stellar credit score means you get the best deals in town. Higher limits, lower interest rates, great cashback etc.

Here’s a quick rundown on what those digits really mean:

0 – 550 = Very Poor
551 – 565 = Poor
566 – 603 = Fair
604 – 627 = Good
628 – 710 = Excellent

However, don’t let past slip-ups haunt you forever. We’re all human, and mistakes happen. Now, let’s talk about how you can give that credit score a makeover.

First up, keep tabs on your credit report. It’s like a real-time reflection of your financial health. Check it regularly, and if you spot any errors, don’t fret. You have the power to dispute them. And trust me, fixing these hiccups can do wonders for your credit score.

Being on the electoral register is another game-changer. It’s not just about voting; it shows lenders that you’re settled and stable. Whether you’re a student or a seasoned professional, make sure your address is consistent on credit applications.

Lastly, financial ties – they matter. Joint mortgages, shared bills, or acting as a guarantor can impact your credit score. Even if things change – relationships end or you move – it’s wise to keep an eye on your credit report to ensure it’s all up-to-date.

Loan sharks have many faces – make sure you know who’s behind the mask

What does a loan shark look like to you?

The chances are the image that springs to mind is the TV soap gangster. But in reality they are not always that easy to spot.

They could just as easily be that 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.

The one thing they have in common is that they are expert manipulators and masters of deception, often befriending victims and offering a quick-fix loan.

And with Christmas fast approaching they may be more active than usual, aware that with the cost-of-living crisis, people may be under increasing financial pressure.

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.

Figures from the England Illegal Money Lending Team, an organisation that works in partnership with trading standards authorities to investigate and prosecute illegal lenders and support victims, show that in the first half of 2023, 56 per cent of the people it worked with said they thought they were borrowing from a friend.

But there are warning signs to look out for, and alternatives available for those who need access to affordable credit but who might have been turned down by the mainstream banks.

What is a loan shark?

A loan shark is another term for an illegal money lender – someone who lends money and asks for repayments, but who does not have the necessary authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Why do people turn to loan sharks?

Often someone may be looking for a small amount over a short period to cover unexpected expenses. They may have been refused credit elsewhere and need cash at short notice. In the cost-of-living crisis, more people are being forced to borrow to cover basic living costs such as bills and food.

What are the warning signs that someone is a loan shark?

There are a number of giveaways that indicate the person you are borrowing from is not a legitimate lender.

They can include:

• You are given no paperwork or details about the loan
• The lender demands repayments that add up to much more than you initially borrowed
• They intimidate or threaten you if you struggle to pay
• They demand you hand over items like bank cards or a passport until you can pay

Where can I go to borrow money if I have been turned down by the banks?

Credit unions offer an alternative, ethical and safe way of borrowing for people who may have been refused credit elsewhere. They can offer small loans at affordable rates. Visit www.findyourcreditunion.co.uk to find one nearest to you.

What should I do if I think I have been targeted by a loan shark?

Contact the England Illegal Money Lending Team. There is a host of information on its website www.stoploansharks.co.uk.

You can:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text a report to 078600 22116
Join a live chat on the website www.stoploansharks.co.uk
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.

ENDS

Article written by the England Illegal Money Lending Team

Budget-friendly-winter-tips

Winter not only brings the joy of festivities but also a chill that often leads to increased energy bills. As we embark on this season, it’s the perfect time to explore budget-friendly ways to stay warm and cosy without breaking the bank:

  1. Layer up:
    Start with good base layers. Thermal shirts and leggings can work wonders, trapping heat close to your body. Layering allows you to adjust your clothing to stay comfortable as the temperature fluctuates.
  2. Seal the leaks:
    Check for drafts around windows and doors. Draft stoppers or weather-stripping can help seal gaps, keeping cold air out and warm air in. It’s a simple and cost-effective way to improve insulation.
  3. Warm drinks and foods:
    Embrace the power of warmth from the inside. Sip on hot drinks like tea, coffee, or cocoa. Opt for hearty, warm meals that not only satisfy your taste buds but also raise your body temperature.
  4. DIY insulation:
    For those on a tight budget, consider DIY insulation solutions. Heavy curtains can act as an extra barrier against the cold. You can even use bubble wrap on windows for a temporary insulating fix.
  5. Utilise sunlight:
    Open your curtains during the day to let sunlight in. Sunlight not only brightens your space but also adds natural warmth. Close them at night to trap the heat inside.
  6. Blanket comfort:
    Keep cosy blankets within reach. Whether you’re lounging on the sofa or working at your desk, having a warm blanket handy allows you to stay warm without cranking up the heat.
  7. Energy-efficient heating:
    If you use a space heater, make sure it’s energy-efficient. Place it strategically to maximise its effectiveness. Set it to a reasonable temperature and layer up, allowing you to keep warm without a hefty energy bill.

As the winter season unfolds, we hope these tips empower you to navigate the colder months with confidence, warmth, and financial savvy. Small changes in your daily habits and home environment can lead to significant savings, ensuring that you not only enjoy the beauty of winter but also have some extra funds for those holiday treats.

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.

What is an emergency fund?

An emergency fund is a savings account that you set aside to cover unexpected expenses. These expenses can be anything from a car repair to a job loss to a medical emergency. Having an emergency fund can help you avoid going into debt or having to sell your belongings to cover these expenses.

How much should I save in an emergency fund?

A general rule of thumb is to save 3-6 months of living expenses in your emergency fund. This means that if you lose your job, you will have enough money to cover your rent, food, and other essential expenses for 3-6 months. However, the amount you need to save may vary depending on your individual circumstances. For example, if you have a lot of debt or have a high risk of losing your job, you may need to save more than 6 months of living expenses.

Where should I keep my emergency fund?

Your emergency fund should be kept in a separate savings account that is easy to access but not so easy to access that you will be tempted to use the money for everyday expenses.

How do I build an emergency fund?

The best way to build an emergency fund is to start saving small amounts of money on a regular basis. You can set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account, or you can make a point of saving cash every day or week. Even small amounts of money can add up over time.

Here are some tips for building an emergency fund:

  • Create a budget and track your expenses so you can see where your money is going.
  • Cut back on unnecessary expenses.
  • Set realistic savings goals.
  • Get a side hustle or sell unused items to make extra money.

Benefits of having an emergency fund:

  • Peace of mind: Knowing that you have an emergency fund can give you peace of mind and reduce stress.
  • Avoid debt: An emergency fund can help you avoid going into debt to cover unexpected expenses.
  • Better financial decisions: Having an emergency fund can help you make better financial decisions, such as saving for a down payment on a house or retirement.

Here are some examples of how an emergency fund can be used:

  • To cover the cost of a car repair
  • To pay for a medical emergency
  • To cover your expenses if you lose your job
  • To make a deductible on your insurance

An emergency fund is an essential part of any financial plan. By saving for an emergency fund, you can protect yourself from the unexpected and improve your overall financial security.

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.

ENDS

‘Do One Thing’ for financial wellbeing: Talk Money Week 2023

This year, Hertsavers Credit Union is excited to participate in #TalkMoney Week, an initiative encouraging individuals, stakeholders, partners, organisations, and businesses across the UK to inspire financial wellbeing by doing one thing. We believe that it’s the small steps that count, and we want to make some noise about it.

Our goal is simple: get everyone talking about money together.

1. Review your budget

Start with the basics by reviewing your budget. This is a small but powerful step in understanding your financial health. Take a closer look at your income and expenses to identify areas where you can save more.

2. Save automatically

Setting up automatic transfers from your checking account to a savings or investment account can make a significant difference. It’s an easy way to ensure you’re consistently saving for a rainy day or future goals.

3. Address your pension

Checking the address on your pension might sound minor, but it’s crucial. Ensuring that your pension information is up to date can prevent issues down the road and secure your financial future.

4. Talk to your children about money

Start financial education early by discussing pocket money and financial responsibility with your children. Teaching them good money habits from a young age can set them up for a more secure future.

5. Use financial tools and calculators

Take advantage of the free tools and calculators available on the MoneyHelper website. Whether you’re planning for retirement, managing debt, or setting savings goals, these tools can provide valuable insights.

6. Review subscriptions

Take a few minutes to go through your monthly subscriptions and cancel any that you no longer use or need. This can free up extra funds.

7. Shop with a list

Before going grocery shopping, create a shopping list and stick to it. This simple step can help you avoid impulse purchases and save money.

8. Negotiate bills

Contact your service providers, such as internet or cable companies, and negotiate for better rates. You might be able to lower your monthly bills.

9. Set up an emergency fund

If you don’t already have one, establish an emergency fund with a small initial contribution. Even a modest fund can provide peace of mind during unexpected financial challenges.

10. Sell unused items

Declutter your home and sell items you no longer need online or at a garage sale. The extra cash can be a great boost to your finances.

11. Plan meals

Plan your meals for the week, reducing the need for takeout or dining out. Cooking at home is not only cost-effective but often healthier too.

Why it matters

Talking about money may seem intimidating, but it’s essential. When we share our financial experiences, we make better decisions, strengthen relationships, and reduce stress. These small actions collectively create a financially educated and resilient community.

Financial wellbeing is about more than just money; it’s about peace of mind, opportunities, and security for yourself and your loved ones. By participating in #TalkMoney Week and doing one thing to improve your financial situation, you’re taking a meaningful step towards a brighter financial future.