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Common Sense with Money #2

We are happy to bring you this regular Common Sense With Money feature by Steve Allen, the business manager of London Community Bank (formerly Hillingdon Credit Union). He provides tips and help with managing your money and providing ways to reduce save money and improve your finances – especially useful given the cost-of-living issues we are all facing. To find out more about what he does, you can read our recent interview with Steve.

Reduced broadband tariffs

There are discounted broadband deals available for residents who are on Universal Credit or Pension Credit, plus some other benefits. These are known as social tariffs and large companies such as BT, Sky and Virgin offer this service, often undercutting their main offers by as much as 50%. For a full list of companies that offer this service and the reduced prices available, visit the OFCOM site.

Benefits check

Ever wondered if you are on the correct benefits? How can you check what you are due and are you eligible for any grants in your local area? There is help at hand – use the free website Turn2Us. Even if you do not claim any benefits, it is always worth checking to see what you may be entitled to.

Mobile phone costs savings

Whilst most costs are increasing, mobile phone costs are reducing, especially if you are out of contract or own your own phone. Do you know how much you are paying each month – do you know how much data you use/need each month. If you do then you will be able to look at a number of comparison sites to see what the best deals are, that meet your needs.

A useful site for sim only contracts is Uswitch. Have a look at a few of the example costs below. Take the challenge – most people will be able to make good savings and, remember, you can retain your existing number by requesting that your number is ported over from your existing provider to your new provider. All these examples have very short contract lengths of one month or less, so you can leave for a better deal at any time with limited notice

ProviderContract termTextsMinutesData5GData rolloverMonthly cost
ID1 monthUnltdUnltd60GBYesYes£10
Talk Mobile1 monthUnltdUnltd30GBYesNo£7.95
SmartyNo contractUnltdUnltd4GBYesNo£5
Sim-only contracts available online at the time of writing the column

To see which plan fits you best, visit Uswitch or any other comparison sites, and see how much you can save.

Reduce borrowing costs

If you have and overdraft or credit card debts, do you know what interest rates you are paying? By law, all finance providers must tell you the interest rate although some will quote a monthly rate. There is an agreed way of comparing interest costs – this is known as the ‘annual percentage rate’, or APR for short. The lower the number, the cheaper the interest costs are.

The golden rule is: If you have debt, always seek to repay the most expensive first. This will save you money. You may be surprised at how much you can be charged – for example, a standard agreed overdraft facility with some high street banks is as high as 49.9% APR and some credit cards are up to 60% APR.

It is often cheaper to borrow from a credit union, such as London Community Bank. These are not-for-profit financial co-operatives that serve their local communities – it never hurts to get a loan quotation to see how much you can save.

More than a million people in the UK are members of credit unions, but many people do not realise they are available.

Any residents struggling to get a bank account, or an affordable loan, can join a credit union. London Community Bank is the new name for Hillingdon Credit Union, which had been trading for 31 years. It is based at Hillingdon Council but serves people living in our borough, and across the capital, too. [To find out more, read our interview with Steve.]

Cost of living support

There is a wide range of support available to residents of Ealing from the council and the government. A number of these support schemes have been updated but for a full list of what is available, you should visit the cost of living section on the council’s website, which has a full breakdown of all support available for individuals and families who are facing rising energy costs and are worried about their finances because of the current cost of living crisis.

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