Friday, 30 September 2011

#Creditfree Cutbacks

We've said it before and we'll say it again: when money saving is such a buzz word, buyer beware! If you really want to kick butt with your spending then you need to start thinking about how to make it count - not just a cutback but a fightback too! #Itsourmoney after all!

1 Cutback on cover!

Have a look for any insurance policies and warranties you do not need and check your direct debits for those sneaky little beggars that have been set up for automatic renewal. Car insurers can be particularly crafty with this after an initial year of free roadside assistance. You may prefer to keep protection for outgoings that could become priority debts. Not so essential is insurance on every single electrical item you've ever bought, or anything else that's covered by home contents.

2 Fightback on banking!

Open a credit union current or savings account to make your money work for you! Many have the added bonus of low cost insurance and access to credit when you need it - at far better rates than doorstep or payday lenders - it's better to be safe than sorry. The banks are already moving in on charges for basic accounts and cash machine withdrawals, so keep your money with friends and family to have control over what's rightfully yours!

3 Inflation busting insulation!

You could spend a small fortune on all the latest green gadgetry - triple A this and solar powered that. Never mind what you could buy - start looking at what you can re-use to keep warm this winter. Many in the low impact living community share real eco-savings, from simple ideas like using cardboard to cover windows, or recycling waste paper and junk mail with a briquette maker. It may not be pretty but it's cheap!

4 Supermarket savers!

Have you noticed how everything comes in packages these days and that portions are getting smaller? Less is quite literally more, when it comes to supermarkets keeping you shopping every day... Why pay for packaging when you can weigh out what you want at a market or local independent? Fresh produce is often 60% cheaper on a market stall and you can stew, freeze or preserve what you don't use now.

5 Let there be leisure!

It's a fool's economy to believe you can live without a little me time, so cut the day to day spending that's a drain on your purse to create a dedicated pot for your pleasure! Are you after a touch of rest and relaxation in which case the quality of accommodation counts, or the buzz of city life when your spending money matters most? Focus on the biggest pick-me-up for your free-time and cut corners on what matters least.


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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Upgrading your mobile?

When a Zero-credit member recommends a new service, we just have to pay attention, and my goodness, are we liking our introduction to Kelly from Mobilife, who is guest blogging some top creditfree tips for us here! 

Apparently, consumers could typically save £13,000 over a lifetime by switching every time their contract is up. But if you’re happy with your current network and don’t want to change, how do you get the best deal? As you’ll be talking to your current network’s upgrade/loyalty department about a new contract, it’s useful to understand how these departments work. 

To get the best deal possible, it’s the LOYALTY team you should speak to.

When calling about renewal, you have the choice to speak to someone about upgrading or leaving. The upgrade team deals with standard renewals, but the loyalty team deals with customers who want to leave - meaning they have a bigger budget to play with when it comes to discounts! The amount of loyalty “allowance” they are able to give is usually based on your average spend over the last 3 months. 

So, if you’re looking for a new handset that isn’t out for a couple of months and think you may save some money by switching to a SIM-only deal for a bit, think again. This is likely to reduce your discount because your average spend will go down. You could be better off staying on your current tariff for a couple of months to attract a better discount when you do upgrade.



Before you speak to anyone though, you need to know what to negotiate for and here’s where Mobilife comes in. You can search our site for deals by network, price, allowances - you can even select not to see deals from third party retailers or just see the ones sold directly by your specific network. 

Even better, use our bill analyser to tailor the deals you see to exactly what you need, or this guide if you’re quite not sure what you want from a deal yet. Once you’ve found something you’re happy with, note down the key elements so you can quote it to your network’s loyalty team. If they think you have a deal lined up, your efforts will progress a lot quicker!


Whatever you’re offered first time round, challenge it!

Networks often have different offers, depending on what they feel they can “get away with”, so it’s rare they’ll give you their best discount first. If you say you are still thinking of leaving or even ask for your PAC, you may find they give you a better offer there and then, or call you back a couple of days later. Oh, and the beginning of the month is usually the best time to call, as the agents often have loyalty targets, so if they’ve already given a lot away one month, they can be a bit tight at the end of it!

As an existing customer, you should find a better deal than a new customer, especially if your monthly spend is around £30 a month. If you spend £50+ per month, then you’ll probably get whatever you want, as your current network won’t want to lose you!

My Sensational Deal!

When I upgraded this year to the HTC Sensation I was spending around £30-£35 a month (including insurance for £5 a month, line rental at £25 a month and charges like Orange Wednesday texts and 08 number calls). My tariff was 400 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB of internet. By speaking to the loyalty team, I was offered a free Sensation, 800 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of internet for £25 a month on an 18 month contract. Pretty good huh?

So, get your bartering hat on and see what deal you can get! Don’t forget to earn some good money back by using one of the phone recycling sites like fonebank and tweet @mobilife_kelly to let me know how you get on!


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Debt management never looked so good

For those who feel that free advice may not be for them, it is important to be sure of a reputable company that sets and sticks to professional standards. But where are they? 

 Emma Bryn-Jones reports on her day at the annual DRF Conference. The Debt Resolution Forum is one of two professional associations for debt management companies (the other is DEMSA), and has been opening its doors to the wider communities of advice, collections and insolvency practice for some time. 

The Office of Fair Trading were there, The Insolvency Service, the Money Advice Liaison Group, the Money Advice Trust, Advice UK, DEMSA board members, countless banks, collections agencies, insolvency practitioners, technology specialists and a room full of professional debt management companies.

You’d be forgiven for thinking there’d be a show-down - money-grabbers brought to heel, so to speak. But the DRF were having none of it, for here was a group of people so far beyond basic housekeeping that their conference oozed hope and a new era of transparency and co-operation.

Perhaps, like so many British companies, commercial debt professionals are realizing that corporate social responsibility is so much more than a list of charities to which they donate, and are putting the relationship back into relationship marketing. We should hear them out, at least.

When the Insolvency Service talked openly about working within a remit for small government, there were parallels with the not-for-profit forums I've attended – how do we work smarter, achieve more for less and if the government will not legislate, are we able to self-regulate towards a common protocol? 

The Debt Advisor even suggested sharing investments in new technology with the free to client sector. Who’d have thought that a fee charger would want to help those uncertain of funding? And with not a mainstream journalist in sight, it was hard not to believe the offer was genuine.

When collections agencies complained about up-front fees, there was a kerfuffle – livelihoods depend on this – and I guess if you accept that free or paid, every advisor needs a salary, you can see why. Even so, talk of alternative payments ensued, a desire to offer the best deal, clearly genuine. 

With consumer interests to the fore, DebtWizard questioned how debts are sold on for a fraction of their value, yet debtors are still chased for the full amount. You’d have thought this would send the creditors and collectors packing, but far from it - an ethos of collaboration transfixed the room.

I found my own prejudices challenged. Nottingham based AMS Debt Doctor is direct and outspoken, fiercely defensive and, for some, a little too ready to question the status quo. They have just signed up to a comprehensive programme of the Edexcel CertDR training, showing commitment to a recognisable standard. 

On my journey home with the DRF Adviser of the Year, I was struck how a hairy rocker could talk so eloquently and passionately about customer service. I understood why it felt a bit like a vicar winning the Church raffle, when Cleardebt’s own David Mond presented his employee with this prize. Even industry leader, Paymex, laughed off the odd jibe.

Of course, grumbles emerged. People who have invested heavily in an ideology or a business model will always be fiercely protective of their achievements. It will take time before we see the fee chargers and free providers agree a level playing field, but there is most certainly hope that the OFT’s vision of transparency is coming.

So where does this leave the consumer? Far from the melodrama of boo to the baddies and hurrah for the good, the days of charlatan barbers hacking off pounds of flesh to recover your debts are numbered. Yes, there are scam artists, who thrive on the immediacy of the Internet, and we may never catch them all, but by working smart, we may not have to. 

As dialogue progresses, expect to see common principles, new technologies, specialist niches, social enterprise, free to fee hybrids and joint initiatives to tackle social exclusion. Look out for organisations that subscribe to the high standards set out by the Money Advice Trust, R3, the DRF and DEMSA and if they ain’t listed, don’t go there.


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Monday, 26 September 2011

No credit snobs

There isn’t one single person who knows for sure whether they’ll be accepted or declined for credit. Every lender has a different set of criteria, many of them automated and all of them carefully concealed to prevent fraud.  However, real fraud is committed by those who promise a loan come what may, exploiting our fears of no to low credit. 

To reach some £1450 billion of personal borrowing, there must be an awful lot of people, who borrowed beyond our newly refined comfort zones. Why then do we continue to pay for the shame of struggling? When countless economists failed to predict the impending recession, what makes anyone else so useless? 

Whether someone has lost a job, been ill, or on a silly spending spree, another loan is the last thing that any of us needs. Insolvency costs us all. We have a collective responsibility to say there is no shame in struggling and that tackling the problem shows courage.  None of us thrives on decisions made in shame or fear.


Unpaid bills levy charges that add to the costs of living, so like or not, your security depends on that of another. If you can afford more price hikes, by all means, mutter debt’s name under your breath. Pretend it’s not there. Ignore the payday, guarantor and no credit check loans. Only, don’t expect help when you need it. 


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Sunday, 25 September 2011

Lies, damned lies and averages

In the midst of recession, we are inundated with figures about how much we spend - more on this, less on that and we’re being played with deals to keep us spending. The thing about statistics is that they mean absolutely nothing without an understanding of distribution.  


Take two kiddies spending pocket money - for ease, let’s say ten pounds a week. Child A buys a chocolate bar for fifty pence every day and puts the remaining £6.50 in a piggy bank. Child B buys ten multi-packs of chocolate bars at four for a pound once a week and saves nothing. The total volume of chocolate bars bought is 47, the total value is £43.50 - simple enough.  

But supposing we use this information to work out what the average child spends, on what, how often, and then how much is saved? Easy: we divide the totals for volume, then value, frequency, then savings, by our nice little population of two. Every week, the average child buys 23½ bars of chocolate, spends £21.75 to do so, goes to the shop four times a week and puts £3.25 away in savings.  

By the end of one year, our kids will each have a nice little nest egg of £169. Twaddle. Child A will have money and Child B will get fat. Our kids are at opposite ends of the distribution. So, before you think of yourself as average, spare a thought for the excesses of rich and poor. You may find yourself more squeezed and less middle than you thought!


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Friday, 23 September 2011

Hands off my Granny!


It's no joke.

Since when were pensioners, who are quite literally dying in their thousands from winter fuel poverty, likely to promote a 4000% plus payday lender - and like muppets we just sit and watch?

If you ask Save our Savers what their members can expect from a lifetime of saving, it certainly isn't 4000%. Many are struggling to make ends meet because interest rates are lower than inflation - hard earned nest eggs shot to pieces by the greed for need.

This is elder abuse of the most insidious kind. The make do and mend generation portrayed to fit some marketer's whim - how sick does it get?


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Thursday, 22 September 2011

No More Excuses

Zero-credit is delighted to welcome fellow coop Member, David Jones, to our blog. Here, David explains his exciting new "No More Excuses" campaign to ensure that our right to a Basic Bank Account without account management, transaction fees or ATM charges is made law.


Hurrah! Banking reform is upon us! But are these the reforms that everyday bank users want to see?

Whilst the Vickers Report considers investment banking and seeks its separation from retail operations, it seems the poor old consumer will still lose out. The humble and simple Basic Bank Account looks doomed to extinction, along with every day access to our money. 

As always, the first to find out, are the vulnerable, the elderly, and the poor. Don't forget, some people are not able to have a normal bank account. This type of account was designed as a catch-all for our society and has been supported by successive Governments, but never made mandatory. It's about time it was.

It's that basic

Time and again promises to Parliament have been broken, while the very banks that we own continue to badger politicians for more ways to make us pay for their mistakes. Right now, they're bemoaning “unprofitable” banking, as used by you and me. 

The decline of the Basic Bank Account and access to “Link” machines is well under way. Existing Basic Account holders at Lloyds TSB and RBS may only enjoy free withdrawals from machines within the same group. RBS have gone one stage further by not accepting NEW basic accounts!! 


Everyone had therefore better hope for a nearby ATM that belongs to the same group or, as the bank's hope, you'll have to 'migrate' upwards to a 'Fee-paying' account, just to get 'your' money out whilst they 'make' money on it, as it sits in your account. Not only do they tinker with their promises, they have withdrawn from them completely.      

And there’s more. In Scotland, moves are afoot by Clydesdale and RBS (again) to charge not-for-profit organisations, like Credit Unions, for allowing their customers to use their ATMs! So if you dare to bank with your friends or colleagues and in an attempt to protect your nest egg, you’ll pay for that too. It stinks.

Can we trust them?

The spin banks feed us is that unless a service makes a profit, it simply will not do - they have “shareholders” to consider and need to recoup their losses. But aren’t WE the shareholders and aren’t WE recouping their losses by bailing most of them out. 

You know, there is a little known truth about Basic Bank Accounts. They DO and CAN make money and here’s how. 

Around one million RBS customers have been affected by the new cash machine strictures, if say, each had as little as £10 in their account at any one time, that leaves ten million pounds available to RBS 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - to 'invest' [cough] worldwide, as they see 'fit' [another cough], and return the profits to the bank. Across the UK there are an estimated eight million Basic Bank Accounts – so you do the maths!

Sadly, it’s not enough though. Services to ordinary people like you and me are a loss leader, loyalty as such, flies out of the window. As Basic Bank Accounts are not mandatory, one by one, banks who were encouraged  into promising the facility, as a matter of social conscience, are now endeavouring to make them so unusable and restrictive that people are given little or no choice but to consider switching to a fee-paying account. Somewhat unreasonable considering ALL the circumstances.

Unless we make a concerted effort to act now, whilst the proposed reforms take shape, true reform of the banks will not take place. The effort therefore is to make a Basic Bank Account MANDATORY with access via ALL ATMs free of stricture and circumstance.       

What can we do?

Please visit No More Excuses here, or follow Twitter @NoMoreExcuses_ or @DavidJones_dpaj. And, of course, sign our e-petition! The later stages of the campaign will see an integrated media effort together with letters to all MPs and other bodies. It leaves me to ask for your ongoing support... this WILL take time, be under no illusion. We really have No More Excuses not to do this.

It's Our Money...


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Monday, 19 September 2011

Now, that's what I call cheap!

Are you middle income? Then watch out – you’re under attack! Average rent hit £1025 a month in London last week, around half of average household income. Nationally, rents average £713 a month.

If you spent half your income repaying a mortgage, you’d be classed as over-indebted, and someone, somewhere would intervene, but because you’re not interesting enough (sick pun), your squeezed middle will not burst the 0.5% trap.

0.5% interest rates are a trap because they are protecting some 800,000 mortgage holders from negative equity, whilst 3 million renters foot the bill. Meanwhile, the number of residential tenants is growing...

How else could property prices have continued to rise after the volume of sales almost halved in 2008? If you’re not on the ladder, you’re a sitting duck - ripe for the foie gras of overcrowding.


Depending on which economist you listen to (perhaps none, after such accurate crash predictions), inflation is due either to historically low interest rates or the flat-lining economy. Of course, the real news is that neither makes a difference, when your pay is consumed by staying afloat.

Energy, food, fuel, housing, has anyone put the water rates up yet?  Anything and everything we need to survive has increased in price. But has it really?

Last week, in Nottingham, I saw park & ride for “only £5 a day”. The other month, in Coventry, I paid £2.50. Similarly, Arriva charges students in Birmingham £315 a year to get to college, while in the rest of the Midlands they pay £490 - a £175 premium to live outside the second city.

Then, there are wholesale energy prices that are lower than they were in 2008, yet consumers pay more in 2011. And what about the banks? No sooner had they received their kick in the teeth from last week’s Vickers report than the papers were full of their justifications for charges.

Banks are businesses with shareholders, and they need to make a profit,” said Kevin Mountford from the very Moneysupermarket that refers people to the Samaritans for free debt advice.  Yeah right, Kev. “So” busy paying for surfboards and ape suits, you forgot all about the specialist debt charities. Never mind that some poor sod might snuff it, waiting to speak to an adviser for whom you have not paid.

The rising costs of living? I see only the greed for need.



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Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Solidarity with the Broken of Britain

Zero-credit is proud to repost this blog, taken directly from

After an incredibly constructive debate yesterday in the House Of Lords the government appear to be concerned about how many Lords had significant concerns about the Welfare Reform Bill, even those Lords who in principle supported the bill had major questions they wanted answers to.

For a bill of this size and importance, convention dictates that the next stage of the bill should be kept in the main chamber of the House of Lords for debate. It's particularly important the bill be continued to be debated in the main chamber as disability access to the smaller committee rooms is very limited and people will not be able to access the committee rooms to exercise their democratic right to observe the passge of the bill from the public chamber.

At 3.30pm today the govermnent are tabling a motion to move the grand committee stage of the bill into one of the smaller committee rooms. Presumably the government are hoping that by moving a bill into the committee rooms it will be harder to scrutinise - there won't be enough space in any of the committee rooms to allow for all the Lords to participate, let alone for us to scrutinise online or attend in person.

This is an outrage - the government are clearly concerned by the level of queries and opposition to the Welfare Reform Bill highlighted by yesterday's debate and wish to quietly sideline it to a committee room where they hope it will pass with less opposition. Tabling the motion for the afternoon following PMQ's is also an underhand trick as it means it will be harder for us to object through the main stream media.

This is our call to arms. This bill affects us, our families and every aspect of our lives, as well as the lives of those currently paying into the system in anticipation of protection should they require it. If we can make enough noise in the next few hours the government will be forced to keep the passage of the bill in the main chamber of the house of lords where it can be effectively and appropriately scrutinised by all.

What you can do to help is this:

Please post copies of this blog onto your facebook, your twitter, stumbleupon, wikio etc. Please email it to everyone you know, please talk about this on your own blogs. Email or phone your MP to register your objections, email or phone the house of lords to explain your concerns, email or phone the media, local or national and explain that whether or not people are in favour of this bill, that it is a fundamental democratic right to have it debated in the main chamber of the house of lords where there is space for all who wish to attend and observe. Highlight the injustice and hypocrisy of the governments behaviour in trying to sideline this important bill into a room too small for all the Lords to attend and certainly too small to allow those in wheelchairs, or with guide dogs, the very people most affected by this bill to be able to observe from the public gallery.

If we make enough noise before 3.30pm today the government will have to drop this underhand tactic and the Bill will continue to be debated in the main chamber of the House of Lords where everyone who wishes to can attend and observe.

UPDATE 13.30
The email addresses to contact are; – this is the chief whip to whom you should send the email and cc it to the others . – opposition chief whip

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Are you kidding... Free Money Day?

Zero-credit is delighted to invite Brazilian journalist, Renato Gianuca, to share his views on the forthcoming Free Money Day, which takes place across the world on Thursday 15th September.

What would our communities look like if some of us had less money but more time to care foreach other? That is one of the main questions posed by Free Money Day, which is an initiative of the Post Growth Institute, a global network spanning Australia, Europe and North America. Imagine that in your life, only for a day, you could live this experiment. What would it be like?


Free Money Day
Fortunately, the opportunity is about to be presented. Prepare yourself and your friends: Free Money Day will take place on September 15th, 2011 at various public locations worldwide, such as streets, squares and parks. And you could host one of them.

It will be very simple: people will hand out their own money – two coins (or two notes) at a time – to complete strangers. They will ask these strangers to then pass on one coin (or one note) to someone else.

Is it a strange notion? Maybe. Will it actually change the economy? Not likely. The intention behind Free Money Day is twofold: to invite people to experience the freedom of physically letting go of money, and to start conversations with strangers about the possibilities and benefits of more sharing economies.

The key message is this:  sharing is common sense.

A World Beyond Growth
Relying on less ‘stuff’ and less money is an important step towards both individual wellbeing and collective sustainability. It reduces our global environment footprints. It encourages us to deeply consider the question: ‘how much is enough?’ It enables us to see the fallacy of believing that constant growth (of our bank accounts, salaries and economies) is an indicator of progress in and of itself. It reduces social isolation. It increases interdependence and community. The list goes on…

Beyond considering the potential benefits of a decreased reliance of money, it is also important to critically engage with some of the realities that our current growth-fetish propagates. This engagement lets us better recognize the necessity of economic transformation. First, despite unprecedented affluence, we live in a world of ever-growing social inequality. Second, we continue to rely on the exploitation of finite natural resources, despite the steady production of more and more ‘efficient’ products. Finally, as we have all been witnessing since 2008, when global economic systems crash, the suffering is widespread and often hits hardest those without the luxury of a ‘safety net’. With the social, environmental, and economic costs of growth clear, it is up to us to chart new paths towards global prosperity.

We are living in uncertain times, worldwide. In the USA, for instance, writes Barbara Ehrenreich,  “media attention has focused on the ‘nouveau poor’, that is the formerly middle and even upper-middle class who lost their jobs, their homes and/or their investments in the 2008 financial crisis and the economic downturn that followed it. But the brunt of the recession has been borne by the blue-collar working class, which had already been sliding downwards since deindustrialization began in the 1980s”, she adds. With deeply interconnected global economies, we are seeing that this is not only an American problem.  It will take a large-scale systemic shift to alter this trajectory.

A Global Movement
Initiated by the Post Growth Institute, Free Money Day is intended to engage citizens worldwide in conversations that question current economic realities and encourage consideration of realistic alternatives. As the Institute’s website states, this is an organization committed to “the end of bigger, the start of better.” According to the group’s spokesperson, Dr Donnie Maclurcan, a big part of doing so involves “preparing for societies that consume much more collaboratively”, in which wellbeing and justice are prioritized over economic growth for its own sake. Whilst justice and economics may often be seen as distinct issues, Ehrenreich sees it otherwise:

“The most shocking thing I learned from my research on the fate of the working poor in the recession was the extent to which poverty has indeed been criminalized in America. (…) The second – and by far the most reliable – way to be criminalized by poverty is to have the wrong color skin. (…) Whole communities are effectively ‘profiled’ for the suspicious combination of being both dark-skinned and poor,” writes Barabara Ehrenreich in the afterword of her new book “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America”, published August 2011 by Picador USA.

According to Dr Maclurcan of the Post Growth Institute, “Growth is simply not working for most of us, including the natural systems of which we are all a part.” If the financial meltdown of the Global Financial Crisis has been horrendous, it will be nothing compared to an ecological collapse. Continuing to idealistically rely on exponential growth in a finite world is nothing less than exposing ourselves and the world to immense risk.

The observations and concerns from the Post Growth Institute reflect the considerations of the French writer Edgar Morin, who was in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in August 2011. In his speech in the Rio Grande do Sul Federal University, Morin said emphatically: “It is possible to conceive another policy away from the simplest concept of ‘we must grow’.” And added: “We are speaking of a policy capable to offer more life quality to all citizens and an economy more social, with more solidarity and cooperation. We must go on to the positive aspects that promote global solidarity among citizens and the riches brought by these exchanges. But we should de-globalize … to protect the local and regional realities.”

Get Involved
There may still be some doubt among readers: aren’t notions of post growth economies nothing more than utopian dreams?  Maclurcan of the Post Growth Institute sees things differently: “You’d have to be an idealist to think we can grow on like this”, he says. Rather, referring to movements such as Transition Towns, collaborative consumption and open source software, Maclurcan believes that post growth futures are, in many ways, already here, “we just haven’t yet named it as such, or developed an over-arching vision, like a ‘not-for-profit world economy’” he says.

To find out more about Free Money Day, please visit There you can subscribe to receive updates, find out where events will be taking place near you, or even learn how to organize your own FMD event. Remember, it’s September 15th. Anything you can do to support the movement: host or attend an event, participate in conversations online or on the ground, or give thought to notions of alternative economies… these are all valuable contributions to embracing post growth futures.


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Monday, 12 September 2011

Our response to the OFT's Debt Management guidance

Okay, so we did not answer all the questions, except that we said that besides these, we were broadly happy with the new guidance.


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Friday, 9 September 2011

Why would I join a Credit Union?

Hurrah for Credit Unions, where they understand that "It's our money"! This week, we're delighted to welcome the CEO of Waltham Forest Credit Union, Claire Walters, to our blog. You can follow their twitter stream @WFCreditUnion too!




Why would I join a Credit Union? I'm not poor...

I would be very rich indeed if I’d got a pound for every time I’d heard that, or variations on that theme. Credit Unions used to be thought of as a “poor man’s bank” and perception seems to have got stuck in a time warp somewhere!

We have are thousands of members who have lots of financial options who also choose to become members of Credit Unions.

Why choose a Credit Union?

They’re ethical, local, mutual and startlingly efficient and effective at making the money saved by the members work really hard in the communities they serve.

They don’t pay fat-cat salaries (I wish!) and any surplus gets paid back to members at the end of each year.

They also offer free life assurance and all deposits are fully guaranteed under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme so it’s safer than houses, especially at the moment...

High rates of Return!

Our Credit Union paid a dividend of 1.5% last year which knocked spots off most easy-access savings accounts on the High St. Kids accounts got 3% from us. Other Credit Unions are offering as much as 8% if you’re in an area which has had their Credit Union running for a while and some are big enough to offer mortgages, ISAs and other major financial products.

Ethical and affordable lending!

We also offer affordable loans to anyone who needs one as long as we can assure ourselves that they can actually afford it in practical terms – i.e. we need to see a budget and will help applicants to develop one they are of the “fingers-in-ears-la-la-la” variety! 

If you have an erratic credit history, we won’t just write you off as a no-hoper. If we can, we will still try to help you and together we can work towards repairing your credit rating. If we can’t help, we will refer you to somebody who can help you deal with your debts.

For first-time borrowers who haven’t saved with us, a £500 loan paid back over a year would cost around £65 in interest whereas someone who’s saved with us for a while could pay about the same amount of interest for £1,000 paid back over the same period.

For longstanding savers with a good credit history, we can beat just about any standard bank offer – a car loan of £7,000 at 6.3% APR, for instance, again, as long as we can see the affordability...

A safety net!

So, essentially, putting a regular bit of cash aside in a Credit Union, makes a lot of sense for anybody. It means you’re likely to get your finances back on track if you’ve been trying to ignore them recently, it means you’re very likely to get a loan if you need it and if you don’t, you’ll be helping lots of people in your own community who need a helping hand and getting a dividend too. 

This means that you can be a good citizen without it costing you anything and getting payback into the bargain – in my world, that’s a win-win.

If you’re the sort of person who recycles, gives to charity when you can, tries to shop ethically – why in the world haven’t you joined a Credit Union?!

It's our money!

If you just want somewhere safe to put your money which doesn’t line the pockets of bankers and city suits and makes money work really hard in a profitable but accountable and ethical way – hopefully, by now, you know what I’m going to suggest...

To find your nearest Credit Union go to


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Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Creditfree Business Tips


Can you imagine having a #creditfree business expert on your doorstep? Well that's what we found through our very own local networking guru @richardbeldon.

Garry Finch at operates from a village but a few miles from our own and specialises in cutting costs for business.

We caught up with him at the YHA in Moira for a quick chat and those all important #creditfree tips, which we know so many of our NFP, SME and #socent colleagues will want to hear.

Not surprisingly, Garry's work has been crucial to a number of agencies in our region, because frontline services remain a priority.

That's one of the things we like most about Garry - his work takes him all over the UK, but he has gone out of his way to use his expertise for our community. Due credit!