Friday, 30 April 2010

#leadersdebate costs...

Planning to tune into the decisive TV event of this election? For some this could be a costly experience...

Find out more on how to end this scam from Liam at Church Action on Poverty in the next post and the e-mail address to lobby Buy as you View is:

csmgt@bayv.co.uk

End coin-op telly now!

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Daren Forsyth saved me two hundred quid!

Daz

Okay so it's a shameless "name n fame" hook, but it's the credit free truth! Some time back Daren mentioned a liftshare site and whilst I could not use it for the specifics of my journey, through discussion, I did find someone to split the journey with. By the end of the academic year at £10 a week, I'll be £200 better off - more sparkle than Daz with that tip, Daren ;-)

 


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Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Rip-off TV: act now!

Rip-off TV: act now!

For the last year, Thrive, a Church Action on Poverty project in Stockton-on-Tees, have been finding out what keeps people in poverty. Many people don’t have the money up-front to pay for a washing machine, TV or sofa. So having a coin meter on your TV, from the company Buy As You View, seems very simple. But the goods are more expensive and most people end up being talked into taking the expensive 'optional' service cover.

Please watch our comedy video and find out how YOU TOO COULD PAY MORE for household goods. Then email Buy As You View and ask them to change their ways. Visit www.ripofftv.net now.

Liam Purcell, Church Action on Poverty

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

#APDHOF - do you know what we did last summer?

 

Zero-credit was less than a month old when the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published "Poverty in the Media" on 6th July 2009. It took two of the key points very much to heart:

  • The internet provides new opportunities for self-expression. People can send emails, develop websites, write blogs and upload sound, stills and video clips.
     
  • An online audience could be developed by setting up a web portal to provide a reliable resource of material from people with experience of poverty. This would also be a focus for debate. A demonstration project with a specific community could test the potential of internet media to develop awareness of poverty issues.

The past ten months have seen the steady growth of the entirely voluntary Zero-credit project to enjoy considerable Klout - not bad, for a lone volunteer working one day a week! 

So, how does it work? Well, sharing positive experiences is the guiding principle. 

Take Zerocredit_UK's anti-poverty/debt Twitter list, for instance. How much easier is it to find the charities, social enterprises and individuals whose actions and ethos support the interests of those suffering from or at risk of poverty or debt?  Rather than fighting piecemeal the confusing swathe of those out to exploit financial difficulty, a clear body of support makes the unethical noticeable by their absence. 

More recently, #APDHOF - a series of tweets every #charitytuesday - celebrates organisations, campaigns and initiatives drawn directly from this list to include in an anti-poverty / debt hall of fame. And you can add to this, amplify it or simply verify an account's inclusion...  For whilst Zero-credit has been slow to formalise its not for profit status from an income which does not compromise integrity, the one thing of which you can be certain is the careful consideration of the project's connections.

And now? Well the good news is you'll see Zero-credit launch as a cooperative - an Industrial Provident Society to be precise -  within the next few months! Content at this site will remain free to use and free from paid advertising, bolstered by discourse from Zerocredit_UK's #APDHOF partners, readers' contributions to our credit free living blogs and turnover from a range of research and consultancy services about to be launched!

If you'd like to find out more about how to contribute or become involved, e-mail:

Every Child Matters

It is easy to feel useless about your ability as a parent when you're having trouble putting food on the table - don't!

Good child development provides a breadth of experiences for all abilities. Establishments which stick slavishly to averages are breeding grounds for mediocrity, so always ask questions. 

Avoid schools and colleges which restrict your child to a limited choice, or worse still attempt to force them into a particular set of options. They're feathering their own A*-C nest with stats to fool politicians

There is no bigger barrier to learning than being denied access to what interests you. Bear in mind that smaller schools may not always have the capacity to offer breadth, although they often provide the comfort of more intimate relationships. 

You know which is best for your child.

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Saturday, 24 April 2010

Back to college costs

To date, Adult Learning has tended to be dominated by skills for work, but as the future of work changes, so too must post-compulsory education. In the immediate term, money to learn is likely to focus on tracking the retraining of the under- or unemployed. Courses may double up with those offered at FE or post-16 in a bid to streamline centres. However, agencies like Learndirect offer accredited study from work or home.

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Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The opera ain't over...

Emma_sings

till the fat lady sings...And let's face it you have to be pretty fearless to parade around looking quite like this! Yes, it is Zero-credit founder, Emma Bryn-Jones, who is more than capable of making a great deal of noise, when it comes to tackling credit and debt!

Things are hotting up here at Zero-credit! The response to the #charitytuesday anti-poverty and debt shout outs on Twitter is gaining momentum and the plans to make this site a truly collaborative space are coming along very nicely.

All this takes time of course, not necessarily spent tweeting or blogging, so if you hear a little less from us, rest assured that the future that's in the making is well worth waiting for.

Radio 4 might have been discussing financial literacy this morning, but by the time Zero-credit's finished, lenders will be begging for lessons in reading consumers. Our time has come!

Friday, 16 April 2010

Debt Dependence

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt.
Saint Peter, don't you call me, 'cause I can't go;
I owe my soul to the company store.

Found at: FilesTube

Dad used to sing this for us - as he often did all sorts of spiritual and protest songs - probably from his deepest respect for Paul Robeson, whom I have chosen to perform it. I've often likened debt dependence to addiction. Not that abstinence is for everyone, you understand, but much as we limit the availability of substances like alcohol and tobacco, so too should financial products and services be better regulated. Let's hope those in power after the election choose to do something about it.

 

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

well cool tool (via @CarrieBish)

Welcome

March 24th, 2010 — 9:46am

iMoneyManager is not an advice service. iMoneyManager is a tool you can use to wrap your head round a debt problem, work out an affordable payment plan, and communicate that plan to your creditors, all in private, without needing to share your situation with anyone.

Most of us want to try to sort out our problems alone. We don’t want to admit defeat before we’ve even started. If you’re worried about debt or finances, iMoneyManager helps you do this.

If you do need help, then there are plenty of advice services, free and fee charging that are more than able to help, but whatever your situation, iMoneyManager is a good place to start. You can see how serious the problem is, and if you do need to talk to someone, you’ll understand your situation, know how much you can afford to pay each month, AND know how long it would have taken to pay back the debts.

All in all, it puts things in perspective.

Have a look around. Get involved, ask questions, this Blog is a two-way thing, not a promotional website. Read the story behind the software, more about us, our testimonials. Welcome to iMoneyManager…

James & Miriam

A real insight into my money…

March 28th, 2010 — 11:25am

(iMoneyManager Testimonial)

“I think it is great and productive. It helped me get a real insight into my money and did the letters automatically. I can handle my money better, and if I need to change anything it will help me to do so.”

Opened our eyes…

March 28th, 2010 — 11:22am

(iMoneyManager Testimonial)

“I found it very easy to use, opened our eyes to our true financial situation & helped deal with our creditors effectively, efficeintly & legally It has helped us liase with our creditors in a confident & equal manner. I feel less stressed, more in control & able to deal with our creditors without feeling persecuted.”

March 28th, 2010 — 11:21am

(iMoneyManager Testimonial)

“It is an extremely good way of keeping check on your finances. It has helped to ensure I can afford items before I buy. I feel very confident in controlling my finances now.”

March 28th, 2010 — 10:26am

(iMoneyManager Testimonial)

“It’s a brilliant resource! All the interactive materials, mini-tutorial videos and instructions are exceptionally clear, accessible, very easy to use. Voice-overs could not be more calming, encouraging and helpful — which is highly beneficial to the listener’s capacity to take in instructions and information. It deals with you as a proper person, without making you feel patronised.”

March 28th, 2010 — 10:25am

(iMoneyManager Testimonial)

“Using iMoneyManager was one of the most crucial, positive steps I took in facing the reality of my financial position. It gave me the chance to calculate for myself my detailed financial circumstances, to understand the full implications of my situation and to grasp — for real — what I need to do about it. It offers life-changing support in making significant changes for oneself.”

March 28th, 2010 — 10:24am

(iMoneyManager Testimonial)

“My feelings of humiliation and shame about my situation have been paralysing, and had made it difficult to seek help face-to-face or on the phone. It was therefore a massive relief to be able to confront the details of my situation privately within the iMM system before having to share it with anyone else. Doing so has given me the space to come to terms with the severity of my position and to make real progress in regaining control, using appropriate additional help and implementing a stringent plan for action. Total disaster no longer feels inevitable; and this has given me constructive and positive energy to put toward the substantial financial challenges I have ahead. I actually feel there’s a degree of hope for the future.”

March 28th, 2010 — 10:22am

(iMoneyManager Testimonial)

“The imoney manager is a great tool to help you keep track of you finances. Its helped loads with budgeting and a overall view of what my expenses where and what i could cut down on. Sometimes you aren’t really sure of where your money is going. Much more in control!”

March 28th, 2010 — 10:19am

(iMoneyManager Testimonial)

“It was excellent in helping me to work out how much to offer my creditors. I have been able to address my problems and I now have agreements in place with my 5 creditors. It is such a relief to no longer have continuous phone calls and letters. I can now answer my phone without the fear of it being a creditor.”

March 28th, 2010 — 10:16am

(iMoneyManager Testimonial)

“Before I had the privilege to use iMoneyManager, I would have never dreamt that there was anything out there that was at my disposal & FREE! that could possibly help me get out of the mess that I was in. It is a truly remarkable piece of software, you would have to use it to know what I mean.”

March 28th, 2010 — 10:15am

(iMoneyManager Testimonial)

“After going through all the procedures as instructed by the video help, I really & truly felt like I had paid all of my bills. I could at last see a light at the end of the tunnel just by knowing how to deal with my creditors in a positive way.”

This is so good we had to post it right away! Have fun exploring the site :-)

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Monday, 12 April 2010

Wash up wash out!

Parliament_photo_1719_200811031

via http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/ 

Reform to bills of sale lending - often called logbook loans - was being reported before last Christmas, so why wasn't this on the Wash Up agenda? Don't forget to include it in your Question Time for budding doorstep members!

 

Priority Debts

Losing your home, telephone, or utilities, or facing imprisonment for non-payment of taxes will change your lifestyle completely. Contact providers of these essentials first as you may often keep some form of supply if they know what's going on. Page 5 of this booklet lists examples of priority debts. Due credit to Broadland Distict Council for publishing it and look out for similar advice from your local council - remember, your taxes have already paid for it!

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Sunday, 11 April 2010

Home delivery

A pint at the porch might cost less at a shop, but not if you pop out to top up in the week. Removed from the impulse of bag a bargain shelves, make savings on food miles by surfing for a local supplier. Until you count the cost of your A to B, this additive is an unknown on your shopping bill. Tap in your postcode at BigBarn for an A to Z of local delivery!

 

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Ride green, mean and clean!

Twig-says_0

 

Your vehicle may be built like one of those mountain bikes which can climb a flight of stairs, but does it need to be fed like a Sumo wrestler to do so? 

Give yourself a sweaty workout if you wish, but don't force an engine to feel that burn. Visit the world's only carbon neutral motoring organisation, the ETA for the latest green driving tips.

Owner forums are great for credit free expert advice on how to make regular savings with vehicle maintenance too, whilst Carbasics makes an ideal starting point for beginners.

 

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Don't take decisions - make them!

Being in debt is stressful. It is easy to agree to repayments you cannot afford because you feel foolish, guilty or intimidated - especially when the outcomes of bankruptcy are exaggerated. 

Giant_photo_5646_200904081

via http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Bankruptcy is not pleasant - it's not meant to be - but it's not the end of the world, nor indeed the only option, so read up on both this and its alternatives, direct from the Insolvency Service. 

Take your time to make the best decisions for you and your creditors. Explore what help is available and choose support which fits your lifestyle so as to be sure to use it. 

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Saturday, 10 April 2010

Out Of Control

It's been a busy few days at Zero-credit, though not out of control - well, not quite... The fact is we're losing control with good reason, as we hand over the reigns to our readers. Contributors are signing up to Property, Transport, Leisure, Household, Fashion, Welfare, Communications and Finance on Zero-credit to share credit free ideas and experiences in a combined effort to end debt stigma. It seems quite a lot of us agree that financial exclusion is wrong.

Why should the cash strapped endure sub-standard lending and dodgy debt advice when such institutional benefit fraud costs us dear?

More and more people are recognising that the lifestyle changes required to make ends meet are similar to those used to make savings. No one can cut spending arbitrarily when household needs are dependent on age, health, dependents, location - the front line services of our domestic lives. The principles of cost cutting are less about where the gains are deposited than the practicality of how cuts can be maintained and savings achieved. Such is the common ground between debtors and savers.

We cannot change the credit culture which brought us to economic ruin: there is no turning back, but we have to deal with it. To stigmatise poverty and debt leaves those most at risk of insecurity, through illness, redundancy or even pay cuts and shorter hours, wide open to abuse. There is no potential for recovery in that. UK lending needs to focus on innovation for our economy to survive. Debt drunk consumerism has had its day and as this clip amply demonstrates, our capacity for creativity needs few tools to be inspiring.

 


http://vimeo.com/134034

 

If you'd like to end lending that's out of control then why not share your credit free tips on Zero-credit? Just pick a category to e-mail and provided it's not offensive, an advert or debt advice (not-for-profit advisers by invitation only) we'll post it!

 

post@property-zerocredit.posterous.com

post@transport-zerocredit.posterous.com

post@leisure-zerocredit.posterous.com

post@household-zerocredit.posterous.com

post@fashion-zerocredit.posterous.com

post@welfare-zerocredit.posterous.com

post@communications-zerocredit.posterous.com

post@finance-zerocredit.posterous.com


So what are you waiting for? It's time to give credit where it's due!

Friday, 9 April 2010

Poacher turned Gamekeeper

Ticket prices to get to the big festivals can be hugely expensive. A serious dent in a low annual budget and that's just to get to one. What about trying to get into a summer's worth? How many times have you tried to get into a festival with "I'm with the band" or "I've left my handbag in there"?

Well, I can say that I've climbed over fences, bribed security guards with cans of Stella, hidden under instruments and mattresses in the back of the band bus, been a friend of several bands and blagged - that was all before I was 21. Since then, and 21 years have gone by, I've been the band, been the door steward, hooked myself on barbed wire fences trying to unhook others, and most of what's to follow - and I'm now an organiser.

The last thing we need as organisers is a bunch of people getting over the fences with bags of booze - What a headache!!! It not only means that the festival loses revenue from ticket sales but it's also a nightmare for the security staff. Did you know that if you have a ticket into a festival you are covered by the festival's public liability insurance. If you dont have a ticket or band and something happens to you - where do you think you stand legally? That would be for a judge to decide.

Most festivals are licensed - this isnt just to sell alcohol or put on live music. It means that if there is trouble, the event can be removed from licensed premises legally. Just like a landlord refusing to serve someone because they became abusive.

If you'd like the cheap option - then getting in for 'free' couldn't be simpler...

First of all, choose a small festival. OK so you might not see some really famous chart topping band but you will be able to get into the festival atmosphere by offering a few hours of your time by being a steward or volunteer.

Most festivals are desperate for volunteers - YES desperate - but its volunteers with experience they need... so that's why I said choose the small festivals first. Offer your 12 hours to your local event organisers. It could be helping put out chairs, minding a fire exit or just giving directions to other festival goers.

Did you know that many festivals rely on volunteer 'time in kind' as a form of income to be able to obtain fairly large grants? Volunteer time is currently worth £10 an hour - so by giving 12 hours to a festival, in most cases, you've paid for your ticket.

Get a few festivals under your belt before trying for the really big festivals. Get to know your volunteer co-ordinators. You can in some cases ask them for a reference. Seriously, this stands in good stead for getting work as a volunteer on other festivals. Most festival organisers are aware of each other and talk.

So 12 hours sounds like a lot? If you are able to turn up to a festival the day before it kicks off - then you could help with the set up. There are chairs to put out, fencing to put up, help to get traders to their pitches. After the festival closes, there's always the clearing up to be done. Again, if you have the time you can work it that you do the set up and the take down - leaving your festival free to chill and enjoy. Manual work - yes, but there are other jobs.

Box Office and Festival Information all need volunteers too. If you are chosen as an honest face, it's always good to keep it that way. But 4 hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday soon flies by and if you have some friends or a partner, then you can work at the same time and still have the time off together.

Bar work at festivals again is hard and fast work. If the festival are running their own bars - they need volunteers. This really does not mean free drinks. But it does mean that being busy makes your shift fly by. 


Stage management takes some time to get into - but always needs spare hands to take gear on and off stage and you get to meet the bands. Artist Liaison is another job for people who find manual work difficult. It's making sure the artistes get their passes, wristbands and welcome packs. It might just mean making cups of tea and welcoming people. All it takes is a smile.

Every festival will have an Employees Liability Insurance and as a registered volunteer you will be covered if anything untoward happens and you are involved.

Some festivals provide refreshments for volunteers, some even provide food. It all depends on the type of festival and its location.

Where to find festival details? Well there are several places on the web - a Google search will bring up thousands and yes, there are literally thousands in the UK and Europe. Approach a festival about 3 months in advance - check their websites for Volunteer Application Forms.

Froots Magazine Online has a comprehensive list of festivals by date and location.

So you want to get into a festival FREE - nothing is 'totally' free, but as a volunteer it's a balance of being able to enjoy the festival and feel a part of a team. (The after show party is sometimes put on by the organisers. Invites are hard to get, but great if you get one - though please dont expect one after your first festival!)

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Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Between the lines

The Internet has made it incredibly easy to tailor a credit free break, but to stay one step ahead of the game, pay particular attention to review ratings because not all resorts with middling scores are average. Some have that "love it or hate it" factor - identify with a "love it" and you stand a good chance of bagging a great price, especially if new owners aim to improve their score.

 

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Low season loophole

Tongue

via http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

For low season rates out of term time, check dates across a range of schools. Yours may be just right! Summer half term always coincides with a Bank Holiday, but October and February do not. An early or late Easter can also make for credit free perks - Easter Monday falls on April 25th in 2011, a week before May Day. Some schools are rolling the two into one fortnight, whereas others will take a shorter break earlier, returning to public holidays in term time - a nightmare for bookings at top whack! 

 

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Pocket the difference

Abandon all notions of buying a wide screen TV and save thousands - armed with an LCD projector hooked up to the TV of your choice, spend an evening watching a blank wall instead! At under two hundred quid for the projector compared to over a grand for the mega-telly, give new meaning to reality TV, as you make credit free savings against fifty inches plus.  

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Saturday, 3 April 2010

It's fun to shop at the YMCA!

The YMCA is one of several charities selling second hand furniture. After a quick lick of paint or a new furniture cover, you can donate items back when you're ready to move on. Zero-credit rates their electricals too - tide me over TV, or carry on cooking to feel good about tackling homelessness...

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Thursday, 1 April 2010

Compare the sponsors dot . com

Comparison sites are basically brokers - databases are cheaper to search than phoning around for deals so it's easy to see how revenue is created from payments for poll position.

Accrediation from Consumer Focus ensures energy comparators sign up to a Confidence Code and it's interesting to see the prime time TV advertisers that don't. Duel fuel isn't always the cheapest and it's worth your while exploring options with and without standing charge too.

However, if you have better uses for your time than comparing costs all day or simply believe in loyalty that isn't abused, you might want to sign up with ethical energy supplier, Ebico, where bills are the same however you pay. 

Zero-credit also recommends using Government funded, FSA mortgage and insurance advice at Money Made Clear to package deals yourself - after all, you've paid for it already...

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