Sunday, 31 October 2010

We're 'avin' a laugh...

From the height of their fame throughout the 1940s, this is one of several Abbott & Costello sketches that makes a play of money scams.

Perhaps it's just coincidence that sketches like this were popular in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Then again, maybe we too will see more of their like when we can laugh about high cost credit as a thing of the past?

You have two more days to put pressure on your MP to support Stellla Creasy's EDM to end legal loan sharking. Here's how to act now!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Belt up!

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21st Century Dressmakers have a superb blog and website for any point of entry with making your own clothes and accessories. There's even a great link to Jean Repair if you're not ready to throw your denim away just yet. 

We particularly like this step by step belt making and the Halloween mask, which could be adapted and applied to any number of evenings throughout the party season. 

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Friday, 29 October 2010

Clean Green and Save Money

Do you sometimes hate the smell of the house when you have cleaned with chemical cleaning products? Or are you worried about what toxins you are breathing in or getting on your skin? Not to mention the cost of some cleaning items. And do you really need a sink cleaner, a hob cleaner, a shower cleaner and a separate floor cleaner – well the marketing people would like us to think so, but the reality is – OF COURSE NOT!!!

All you need for a clean and sparkling home is some Bicarbonate of soda and some distilled white vinegar. A little lemon juice can help now and then, and of course smells wonderful.

So down to practicalities. Here is what you need... I bought the Bicarb and Spray vinegar from Wilkinsons. Bicarb is £1.29 and Spray vinegar is 98p.

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Kitchen First

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See this hob – needs a good clean especially as it has some burnt in stuff on it.

Well a little bicarb and a damp scourer and just a few minutes later

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Dah Daaahhhh! I shined it up with a spray of vinegar at the end.

And now for the sink

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Just a sprinkling of bicarb, scrub it round, spray some vinegar so it all fizzes. Leave for five minutes then scrub, rinse and final spray with vinegar. Sparkling as new!!

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I recommend you to try it you haven't already. Whether you are trying it out for the first time or are a dab hand with the bicarb and vinegar, please do leave a comment as to how well you think it works for you.

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Looks like we made it!

... to The Ashby / Coalville Times! Our local business launch and whiskey tasting event received a write up in the local press.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

UnLtd update

Great feedback from our meeting with our UnLtd project adviser today, our accounts are well kept and in order and we are okay to invest some of our marketing budget in #jobsforpeople t-shirts.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Family Meals for Much Less than a Fiver (2) ??? Chick pea and Potato Curry

Chick pea and potato curry is a favourite with everyone. It is filling and tasty, a warming comfort food. It is easy to make and costs around £2 for a meal for four, and takes less than 30 minutes to put together.

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Here is what you need:-

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200g Rice – I use easy cook basmati rice 35p

Curry sauce – from Sainsburys basics range 9p

2-3 medium potatoes 50p

400g tin of chick peas 53p

chopped onion – 18p

frozen peas 30p

If you like your curry with a little more spice, just add some chilli, cumin or other spices to the sauce.

  1. First place the
    rice in a pan and cover with boiling water. Simmer for about 15
    minutes until water is absorbed and rice is soft.

  2. Meanwhile chop the
    potatoes into small cubes and place in a pan of boiling water. Cook
    until soft – about 8-10 minutes.

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  3. Add the drained
    chick peas to the pan along with the frozen peas and simmer for a
    further five minutes.

  4. While the potato
    is cooking, fry the onion in a little olive oil in a large frying
    pan.

  5. Warm the curry
    sauce in a small saucepan.

  6. When everything is
    ready put the potatoes, chick pea and peas into the large frying pan
    with the onions.

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  7. Add the curry
    sauce and mix in thoroughly over a low heat.

  8. Serve on a bed of
    rice

 

Photography by Ian Nicholson

 

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E- E- EDM!

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If you have been following Zero-credit since the early days, you will know that I have supported numerous campaigns to end the so called legitimate scams of high cost credit. I've called it #WTFAPR, I've called it #institutionalbenefitfraud, I've called it's number on countless occasions, comparing interest rates internationally to illustrate just how expensive these loans are in the UK.

I could just give up, become jaded or disillusioned that debtors' voices are still not heard. The finance sector, government and the media seem intent on justifying exorbitant fees as a necessary evil: how else will the poor and ill-educated manage without a short term fix? Pedlars of our dependence is what they are.

Yet you and I both know that it is not just the poor and less academic who are sucked into high cost lending to make ends meet. On average income, fewer and fewer of us are able to afford the rising costs of living and these debts pose a risk to the well being of us all. There but for the grace of God go I - and half a million public sector job cuts down the line, there am I.

End Legal Loan Sharks may be just another EDM to fight the cause, after all, you could say nothing much came of Greg Mulholland's EDM for the 2356 campaign last March - it was gazumped by the General Election. But each time a motion is tabled, we chip away at the status quo and this time could be the time that we cap interest rates for good. 

So I am inviting you on a personal note, because after working on Zero-credit for two and a half years, I have not given up and I'm asking you not to give up. The End Legal Loan Sharks campaign needs you to:

1. Join the facebook group

2. Ask your MP to attend this debate to show support for action on these issues and sign EDM 872. The more who show up, the more the Government will feel the pressure to act!

3. Share this group with friends and family and ask them to do the same to help spread the word. If your MP is on Facebook invite them to join too!

4. Conact Stella Creasy on stella@workingforwalthamstow.org.uk if you want to know more about this Bill or this campaign.

Just DO it?

Thanks :-)

Emma Bryn-Jones

 

 

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Twitter to the rescue

At Zero-credit, we're constantly amazed how good new technology has been to us. Without social networking there should be no Zero-credit, because we'd never have made all the contacts to exchange all the ideas and experiences which have led to our becoming a cooperative. And it's helped us again.

Business Development Director, Emma was hoping to attend the Responsible Credit Convention in London, yesterday, but was struck down with a stomach bug. A few tweets later and we had tracked down Brand Strategist @amoyal who was able to network and tweet live in our stead - a great creditfree business model we'll be using again, as it can cost as much to send key staff to an event, as to contract someone who understands our brand and objectives and what's more it's eco too! Due credit to Arie - he did a stirling job!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Halloween - Trick or Treat?

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Halloween is approaching fast although it would be hard not to notice with all the shops stocking costumes and accessories - grizzly masks and blood soaked appendages amongst spiders, witches hats and pumpkins. So what is your view of Halloween and its rise in popularity? Will you enjoy spending some money on an early winter party or will you feel the pressure from your children to join in with something that you don't want to be part of, feeling it’s just an American import?

In 2001 Britons collectively spent around £12m on Halloween. This year it is estimated to be worth well over £200m. That's quite a rise. It seems retailers are getting much more savvy when they see an occasion to get us all spending. Boost to the economy or unwelcome pressure to spend money you don't have? Well I guess it depends upon where you are standing.

As the nights draw in it might be seen as an opportunity to raise everyone's spirits (no pun intended). And of course you can have lots of fun with the children without spending additional cash. Read this great article about hosting a children's Halloween party - click here.

And its origins? Well after searching on the internet it appears it’s not altogether clear. The name Halloween undoubtedly comes from the eve of All Hallows Day – or All Saints Day which dates back to the 7th century and is a Roman Catholic festival celebrated on November 1st. It is still celebrated today in Roman Catholic and Anglican churches.  It is followed by All Souls Day which is celebrated on November 2nd to pray for the souls of those who have passed away. In medieval times the practice of ‘souling’ was prevalent where people asked for prayers for their loved ones who may be in purgatory (a place between Heaven and Hell) in return for gifts usually biscuits or cakes. The Protestant reformation forbade these practices by the sixteenth century but many family and local traditions surrounding this practice, continued.

It is also suggested that some aspects of Halloween came from the Celtic pagan tradition of Samhain, meaning summer's end, which was celebrated on October 31st. It was the end of harvest and the end of the light half of the year. It was also when spirits of the dead could pass through the world.

Like a lot of our traditions it seems that several cultures and traditions have been brought together, evolving to what we have today as Halloween and the festival has grown even more over the last ten years. Although it would appear that the term trick or treat itself certainly seems to have come from America and was little known in Britain until the 1980s many of the Halloween origins come from ancient festivals.

Whatever its origins, it looks like Halloween is here to stay and individuals and families must decide how much to take part in its traditions.

1.      Just like any other festival it is important to remember that it is the people coming together for fun that is most important – not how much you spend.

2.      Agree with your family the budget that can be spent so everyone can be involved in how to allocate the budget – it will be teaching the children some great skills and sets them a challenge.

3.      Don’t give in to pressure to spend more than you can afford.

4.       A few props and costumes can be made very cheaply – look for ideas on the internet or get books from the library.

5.      Make some small biscuits and cakes for trick or treaters coming to your door – it could be a change from sweets. Get the kids doing some baking!

6.      Charity shops may be a good source of material and clothes for costumes.

7.      Try freecycle for unwanted costumes, masks etc.

8.      Enjoy being creative and getting your children involved.

9.      Have fun!

We would love to hear about the way you celebrate Halloween – or if you have decided to ignore it. Please do feel free to comment.

 

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East Midlands Poverty Convention

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Our first paid job! Back in August we volunteered to support the East Midlands All in One Project for the 2010 European year for combating poverty and social exclusion. Project managers, CEFET agreed with us that it was a great idea to raise the project profile through social media, so we created a blog, Twitter and Facebook accounts to engage a virtual audience with events at The Workhouse on the 18th October.

From weeks of tweeting, blogging and generally getting as many people talking about #povcon as possible, we were then commissioned to capture as much content from the Poverty Convention as possible. Alongside Liam, from Concrete Solutions, we overcame the dank October day and walls that no amount of technology could not pass to create a whole host of film shorts, interviews and photos.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

It's not unusual? - via @The_Workhouse

Great post about the impact of our Virtual Revolution on the more vulnerable in our society.

We hope you'll be following the #povcon stream coming out of the East Midlands Poverty Convention and TUC Poverty Conference on Monday.

We need to ramp up the volume that 2010 is the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Excusion - it never ceases to amaze us how few people know about it.

Did you know that the UK is the only member state not to post a lunch day video to the EY2010 YouTube Channel?

Friday, 15 October 2010

Reducing Your Food Bills (3) ??? Back to Basics

We all want to get the best food we can fro the cheapest price. That is why knowing prices of the things you buy regularly will really pay off, so you know when you are getting a bargain. Comparing prices of the brands you use with others, will tell you whether you can save money by switching brands. Where there is a ‘basics’ version of the product, or a cheaper brand, try it. You could knock over 30% off your spend for that item.

I know there are certain foods where choosing the basics is just not an option – but unless you try it you don’t know - and it is all about personal taste. There are some things where I believe the basics product is just as good as a branded product. Potatoes (often just strange shapes and sizes), tinned pineapple (Sainsbury’s 13p for 225g), plain yoghurt (add your own fruit), frozen peas and tinned sweetcorn are all as good or certainly acceptable. Some things I really don’t like the basics versions are bread and coleslaw - but that's personal - you may think they are great! There are some things where the ingredients of the basic product are substantially different from the branded product and may be less healthy as a result. Basics Tomato sauce for example, has far fewer tomatoes in it.


It’s your choice but often it’s worth a try. If at all possible it is best to taste these products ‘blind’ so you know you are not being influenced by the packaging and the  fact that you know something cost less.


Sainsbury_curry_sauce

 

A hit for me is Sainsbury’s curry sauce for just 9p. Its fine, no dubious ingredients, and you can always spice it up a bit with a bit extra chilli, cumin or whatever your favourite spices are. Looking on the internet there are plenty of reviews that agree with me too that it is a perfectly pleasant sauce and an absolute bargain! Look out for one of my recipes soon on the ‘feed a family for far less than a fiver series’ that uses the curry sauce.


Meanwhile please report back on your favourite (and least favourite) basics products..

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UnLtd Potential

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As you can tell, Emma had a great time in Leeds on Tuesday, collecting our UnLtd Level 1 Millennium Award. The day gave us all sorts of useful ideas and connections, which we'll be sharing with from the end of next week after The East Midlands Poverty Convention on Monday and the Responsible Credit Convention on Tuesday and Wednesday. In the meantime have a great and creditfree weekend!


Thursday, 14 October 2010

Awards day in Leeds

Here's our founder and Business Development Director, Emma, picking up our UnLtd Level 1 award in Leeds, which we shall be using to buy vital equipment to take our business forward.

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Emma says "It was a superb day - I picked up some great ideas to kick start our business and really useful advice for managing our time. My top tip, however, is to avoid driving into Leeds, the one way system is a nightmare!".

 

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Family Meals for much less than a fiver (1) - Lentils

Feeding the family every week can be costly. It really is possible to cook filling, healthy meals for four people for much less than a fiver. In this series of articles I will be talking about how I keep the costs down and introduce some favourite recipes. Many such meals are vegetarian because often veggie meals are cheaper.

The key to cheaper meals is cooking from scratch rather than using pre-cooked or processed food (as well as getting the best deals in the supermarket – see Reducing Your Food Bills). And to use good value basic ingredients to which you can add flavour.

Take pulses for example, packed with protein, low fat – and cheap. Lentils are particularly good because they are quick to cook, as unlike many pulses they do not require pre-soaking. If you are new to using pulses, try changing one meal a week to a veggie meal.

A 500g bag of lentils from Sainsbury's is 88p. That is enough to be the main event in at least two meals for four.

 Lentils with rice and vegetables – less than £2.50 for 4 people

 225g split red lentils                                  40p        Sainsbury’s 88p for 500g

75g easy cook basmati rice                        14p        Sainsbury’s £1.74 for 1kg

1 litre vegetable stock                                10p         Sainsbury’s 66p for 6 cubes

1 medium leek, sliced                                60p

2 garlic clove, crushes                                 7p

400g tin chopped tomatoes                        33p         Sainsbury’s basics

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp garam masala

1 red pepper                                               40p      Sainsbury’s basics mixed peppers £1.28

50g frozen runner beans                                6p      Sainsbury’s own   £1.19 per kilo

40g frozen peas                                           4p       Sainsbury’s basics £1.52 for 1.81kg

You can vary the vegetable with your own preferences – broccoli, baby corn for example.

 In a large heavy bottom saucepan or flame proof casserole dish put the lentils, rice, and vegetable stock and simmer for about 20 minutes or until lentils and rice are cooked. Stir occasionally to prevent any sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add all the other ingredients, bring to the boil and cook for about 15 minutes. Serve by itself or with some green salad and crusty granary loaf.

Lentil and Tomato Soup

Good for a substantial lunch – less than £1.50 for 4

125g  red lentils                                       22p

1 litre vegetable stock                                6p

2 large carrots, chopped                           25p

2 onions chopped                                     25p

400g chopped tomatoes                            33p     

2 garlic cloves, crushes                              8p

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

1 fresh chilli, or 1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp turmeric

1 tbsp lemon juice

200ml milk                                                16p

In a saucepan put the lentils, carrots, onion, tomatoes and garlic and the stock. Add the spices and stir. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 30 minutes or so until all the veg is tender. Add the milk and lemon juice. Blend the soup in a food processor. Leave some lentils and onions unprocessed to give the soup more texture. Serve with crusty bread.

What are lentils? (just in case you didn't know and were curious)

Lentils are the seeds of a bushy plant which is part of the legume family. It was originally grown in India and has probably been part of the human diet since Neolithic times. Lentils are eaten all over the world and often play an important part of vegetarian diets.

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London and back for ??2.75.......

Exeter to London and back for £2.75? Yes it is possible ….and for everyone. This is not a student rate or for those with bus passes, but for anyone. It was a journey I completed recently – train from Exeter on Saturday morning and returning Sunday evening by coach.

The key to all cheap travel is book as far in advance as possible – whether on train or coach. There are fares for just £1 if you plan ahead. There are two main sites for such cheap fares – www.megabus.com (which also includes some train fares) and www.nationalexpress.com/coach/Offers/funfares.cfm – national express coach cheap fares.

It's simple really – input where you wish to go and the date you wish to travel. The more flexible you can be, the more likely you are to get the cheap fares. The Exeter trip was booked over two months in advance.

The services operate to main cities and towns only, but if your ultimate destination is not included it can still be worth using these sites to get as far as you can before completing your journey with a local ticket. When you book a train through megabus, it is not permitted in their Terms and Conditions to get off the train at an intermediary stop. For example, the train from Exeter stops at several stations on the way to London but it is not permissible to get out at these stations without being liable for the full fare.

There are only a limited number of services at the very cheapest prices of £1, but there are cheap fares much closer to the time of travel even the day before, so it is always worth looking.

Megabus give you a reference number which is your ‘ticket’. You can have the reference texted to you and you can use the text on your phone as your ticket. 

Please feel free to relate your experiences of cheap coach and rail fares.

 

 

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Monday, 11 October 2010

Supermarket Sweep?

Who needs checkouts?! Um, we do?

As we face the most comprehensive spending review for decades, where will the private sector jobs come from if contactless transactions become the norm?

How will SMEs, markets and community fundraisers compete or collect - have you spared any change of thought for that?

Already, we see five jobs lost to one worker, teaching up to six customers at a time how to use a self service checkout, yet the supermarkets still maintain that they create employment.

The loss of six minimum wage jobs - for surely the DIY demonstrator ultimately faces redundancy too - should save the supermarket some £72,000 a year, but what will it cost the taxpayer?

There are only three employees, throughout the entirety of this IBM video, in one very large supermarket.

Before plunging headlong into the virtual revolution, let's at least estimate the human cost of implementing a new technology and in an age of austerity, #jobsforpeople come first, we say.

CAP in Ashby #Local

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Leicestershire County Council may be considering cuts to the debt advice work at the Marlene Reid Centre, but thank God (quite literally it seems) for Christians Against Poverty!

From The Hub, in Ashby de la Zouch, CAP are now running their renowned CAP Money course, just in the nick of time for Christmas.

And remember, Good Samaritans that these people are, there is NO requirement to be a Christian to sign up, so go on - gear up for the season and perhaps this year, it wont cost you...

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#povcon 18.10.10

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You may have heard us tweet this hashtag a few times over the past six weeks. This time next week, we're hoping you'll be seeing rather a lot of it, because two key events are taking place to mark 2010, the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion - #EY2010.

 

Ey2010

Here in the East Midlands, Zero-credit has been supporting CEFET's All in One Project with preparations for their Poverty Convention at The Workhouse in Southwell on Monday 18th October and we'll be tweeting, blogging, vlogging and audiobooing all the fantastic grassroots activists and commentators live on the day.

But there's an added bonus!

You see, the TUC are hosting a Poverty Conference on Monday 18th in London too. Not only do we have friends and associates attending that, but guests at both events will tag content using #povcon. So tune in. Monday 18th October 2010 is your chance to engage with live commentary and resources and to mark #EY2010 with us.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Credit Union Comedy!

We liked this video from across the pond so much that we couldn't resist sharing it with you! Thanks to our friends @increditunion for tipping us off and of course to the fine folks at Bucks First Credit Union for making it.

Of course we can't have quite the same fun with our monetary slang here in the UK, but the sentiment is the same - you get a great deal more for your savings at a credit union! We've been posting that all over the blogosphere this month so why not check out ABCUL to see where your nearest is?

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Saturday, 9 October 2010

Moira Community Fun Day

Photo

Every year the whole village participates in a Community Artwork - this is the effort for 2010 about two hours in with two hours to go!
Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Recession Busters

Rather than haggle to bring prices down, look at what sellers are prepared to reduce as sales draw to a close. Miniature toiletries enjoy two peaks in demand - for summer time travel and Christmas gift sets. Buy them in season to pay the premium, or wait for the lull when you won't.

Mini_toiletries

Stores which specialise in surplus and clearance stock provide a valuable service, recouping costs, keeping businesses afloat and people in work. Retailers like Poundland, Pound shopsThe Works, Home Bargains and TK Maxx sell items from functional to frivolous - their breadth and diversity hard to price.

Even better, are discount warehouses such as Latif's near Digbeth Coach Station in Birmingham, or our local, I.C. Discounts at the Chapel Warehouse in Hugglescote, near Coalville. Perhaps you could post details of a creditfree warehouse near you in the comments below?

 

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Do we or don't we...?

Hmmm. When we first started considering creating a Zero-credit cooperative back in February this year, we signed up for a Social Enterprise Start up Grant - £1500 to be paid into our account as soon as it opened. Almost two months since we incorporated and did this, however, there is still no sign of the money, which we desperately need to finalise our business plans and seek funding. We've been calling our Businesslink adviser for weeks, but get no reply, although we have been told that due to cuts we may now only get £750 or £1000. Funny, we rather thought they could not go back on a signed contract...

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Household goods for less...

We all like new things and its tough when you don't have the funds. But do not despair! There are many ways to get things for only a few pounds – or even free!So next time you would like a new piece of furniture, an electrical item, stuff for the kitchen, don't let buying new be your first thought. There are so many things in the world already with life left in them and not being used.

And since the manufacture of all things increases the carbon footprint, buying second hand is much more environmentally friendly, and probably prevents a perfectly good item from going to landfill.

Freecycle

Freecycle is wonderful. Freecycle is a website where people exchange goods in your local area – free. Just go to www.freecycle.org and find your local group. Scan through the items offered. If you don't see what you would like, put in a 'Wanted' request for what you seek. For example when I wanted to try out a breadmaker I wasn't keen to invest £££s in something I was not sure I would use. And I had a feeling there would be some breadmaking machines in the back of some people's cupboards – so I put a request in on freecycle and within a couple of days I had one – which I now use all the time to make fantastic bread economically.

Downsides? Well normally the person wanting the item has to collect so that you may need to borrow or hire a van for larger items. You don't get to view it before you collect but you can request a photo and further description. When popular items are offered, you need to be very quick in replying as usually its on a first come, first serve basis.

Of course you may well have something you don't want you can offer on freecycle, hassle free. It's a good idea to give as well as receive, when you can.

There is also www.freegive.co.uk – in some areas only. Would love to know if anyone has experience of this site.

Charity Shops

Charity shops provide a perfect win-win situation. Give to charity whilst getting a bargain! If you are in need of crockery, dishes, bowls etc. this can be a good place to look. And you may get something different and interesting rather than modern and mass produced. Some charity shops such as the YMCA also stock furniture.

Second Hand Furniture shops / Antiques

Second hand furniture shop or antiques warehouses can be fun to walk around as well as a great place to pick up a good piece of furniture or bric a brac.

Car Boot Sales

A fun couple of hours can be spent at a car boot sale – and you never know what you might find! Just be careful not to buy stuff that you don't really need or want – just because its a bargain!

Books

The library is an amazing facility, and often underutilised. Use your local library for your reading books – free to join and free to borrow books (provided you get them returned or renewed on time.) You can order books not currently on the shelf for a small charge (around 50p). You can get to read the latest book by your favourite author for just this small fee. You will also be supporting a much needed facility – and help to keep it open. Books can be ordered and renewed online if you can't get to the library too often. You can hire DVDs and CDs too for a small charge.

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Tuesday, 5 October 2010

COGOF?!

Increase your oven output by adding a dish like rice pudding to a Sunday roast - it's creditfree and eco!

You can double your money with less hovering at the hob time too by sit boiling or with a bamboo steamer to stack vegetables.

Give your arms a work out whenever you need to grate - dump the food processor and skip the gym fees!

 

 

 

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Monday, 4 October 2010

Reducing Your Food Bills (2) ??? Supermarket Special Offers

We all love a bargain! We feel clever when we have got more for our money such as Buy 1 get 1 free, 2 for £2, economy packs etc. Supermarkets know we love them too which is why they encourage us.

The key to making the most of these offers is knowing what you want – and knowing prices.

Buy One Get One Free

  1. Don't buy just
    because its a bargain. A bargain is only a bargain if its something
    you would normally buy. If you buy something just because its on
    offer, the result is you spend more than you intended – unless it
    substitutes for something else that is more expensive.

  2. Know your prices –
    make sure the price hasn't gone up making the 'free' less of a
    bargain. It pays to know the prices of the items you regularly buy –
    prices fluctuate alarmingly sometimes.

  3. Share with a
    friend. If you are concerned about taking the buy 1 get 1 free
    resulting in waste, team up with a friend to take the free item and
    share the cost. This will work only for basics or things you know
    your friends will buy.

Two for £x

Where you can get two or three for a fixed price this can appear to be a bargain – but again beware!

  1. Remember once
    again that its only a bargain if it's something you wanted in the
    first place

  2. Check the saving
    (take a calculator) as sometimes the saving is only a few pence. If
    its something you only need one of this month and one of next month
    it might be better to buy just one – buying more still costs more
    out of your budget

  3. In combination
    buys ask yourself if you want all that is included – eg the
    sandwich 'meal deals' that most supermarkets do, often include a
    sandwich, crisps and a drink. If you work in an office where drinks
    are available (eg water) it may be cheaper to forgo the 'meal deal'
    by not having the drink – or the crisps – an apple will be
    cheaper and healthier!

Economy Packs

Buying in bulk is often more economical.

  1. Don't assume
    larger is always cheaper - check the price of smaller packs –
    there are times when they are cheaper per gram/litre than the
    economy size.

  2. Be sure you will
    use up the product before its Use By date.

  3. Ask yourself if
    buying the bigger pack will make you simply eat more (eg smaller
    packs of crisps, chocolate, biscuits might be the wiser buy unless
    you have lots of self control!)

Please feel free to comment on your shopping experiences and share your thoughts about saving money at the supermarket.

Want a say in how we do things?

For £1 a year, Zero-credit membership
is open to anyone, 
aged 16 or over
with personal experience of debt.

Come on, join us today!


In Unity, we trust

Treasurer, Helen, and Business Development Director, Emma, went into Central Birmingham today to meet our account managers at the Unity Trust Bank. We're delighted that we can use our local post office in Moira for almost of all of the transactions we need, because we're great believers in supporting local business. However, even better news is that we shall be in a position to look at a low cost and ethical prepaid credit card for our members, in the longer term. Looks like it'll be a busy few months planning Spring Summer events for 2011 at which to share the Zero-credit message...  

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Know your enemy

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, so take your time to make the best decisions for you and your creditors. Explore what help is available and choose support which fits in with your lifestyle so as to be sure that you use it. Why sign up for something you cannot manage? Fear invariably makes circumstances seem worse than they are, so look at the worst case scenario by getting it straight from the horse's mouth.

Insolpcwithweb

The Insolvency Service is so called for a reason - a government agency, it provides up to date information about Bankruptcy and Alternatives to Bankruptcy because it authorises and regulates the insolvency profession. You might be in debt, but your taxes have paid for this service and what you won't find on their site is any scare-mongering or bullying tactics. Pages 10 to 13 of Finance on Zero-Credit shares brief descriptions and links to a range of free debt counselling services and if you cannot find one of these to suit, use the DRF or DEMSA member lists to be sure of bona fide paid services - these guys are working with the Office of Fair Trading to shape standards for their profession.

If your financial situation is as bad as you thought, you may have to live on reduced means for some time, but there's no point in pretending that things you like do not matter. Just like dieting, a binge to make up for hardship could undo all your good work, so you can't economise on everything all of the time. Rotate our creditfree tips across household spending categories to make regular savings, yet still find an occasional perk for yourself. That way you'll stay motivated for the long haul. Good luck!

Want a say in how we do things?

For £1 a year, Zero-credit membership
is open to anyone, 
aged 16 or over
with personal experience of debt.

Come on, join us today!


Friday, 1 October 2010

Initial Management Committee

Paul Beck - Secretary

Paul

 

Emma Bryn-Jones - Business Development Director

Emma

 

Helen Chandler - Treasurer

Helen

 

Lisa Hart - Community Relations Manager

Lisa

 

Flo Williams - Chair

Flo

Reducing your Food Bills (1)

Reducing your Food Bills – (1) Supermarket Bargains.

 

After several years practice at reducing food bills whilst eating healthily, this is the first in a series of blogs where I pass on some tips and help others to spend less and eat well. My family – myself and my husband and two teenagers - consists of two vegetarians, a confirmed meat eater and a mostly veggie but happy to eat some meat (me!), so cooking to please all is not without its challenges!

 

I have worked at eating on well on as little as possible - £30-£50 per week for all of us.

 

Over a series of articles I will pass on my ideas and include a few recipes too.

 

Firstly - Supermarket Bargains

 

Find out what time is the best time to visit your supermarket to get the end of day reductions and if it is possible, visit the shop at that time.  Some items can be reduced by 50%-80% – a huge saving on the original cost.

 

But Beware!! Do not buy something just because it is cheap.

 

My rules for buying end of day reductions are:-

 

1.      Only buy fresh produce that can be frozen – unless they are point 4

2.      Only buy things that would be bought at full price – unless they are point 3 - otherwise it is just extra expense and may get wasted.

3.      Buy things that you consider are only good value when reduced eg premium brands, puddings, special treats and only if the premium price is now at least as cheap as the standard brand that you would normally buy.

4.      Only buy things that can't be frozen if they can be consumed today or tomorrow – may mean changing your plan for dinner that night – fine if it doesn't waste what you would have had.

5.      Know how much room you have in the freezer – if no room left DO NOT BUY

NB – Having your freezer really full reduces the electricity consumption of your freezer.

6.      Having a full freezer means you can have a week when you eat only what is in the freezer giving you a week of little spend on food.

7.      In my experience Sundays and Mondays are usually the best days for bargains.

 

Remember - we all love a bargain, but it’s not a bargain if it’s excess to requirements. Resist temptation to buy something just because it is cheap – remember it still cost money and without it your weekly bill will be less.

 

It is very satisfying coming out of the supermarket with a full bag of bread, rolls etc and its only cost you £2-£3. It’s what makes frugal living enjoyable – knowing you have got the best value for money – and you still have some money left for another day!!

 

Want a say in how we do things?

For £1 a year, Zero-credit membership
is open to anyone, 
aged 16 or over
with personal experience of debt.

Come on, join us today!