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Saving money with some Common Sense

We are happy to bring you this regular Common Sense With Money feature by Steve Allen, the business manager of Hillingdon Credit Union. He will be providing 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 interview with Steve.

Common Sense with Money #1

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 following free Turn 2 Us website. Even if you do not claim any benefits, it is always worth checking to see what you may be entitled to.

Smiling man, sitting down and looking towards camera
Steve Allen, business manager at Hillingdon Credit Union

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 monthUnltdUnltd15GBYesNo£7.95
SmartyNo contractUnltdUnltd4GBYesNo£5
An example of some sim-only mobile phone contract deals on offer via comparison sites

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 debt is.

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 – these are a not-for-profit financial co-operatives that serve their local community – 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 do not realise they are available.

Any residents struggling to get a bank account, or an affordable loan, can join a credit union. Hillingdon Credit Union (soon to be renamed the London Community Bank) has been trading for 31 years. It is based at Hillingdon Council but serves people living in our borough, and beyond, too. To find out more, read our interview with Steve.

Government energy and cost of living support

Following the government’s recent announcements of support, here is a summary of the key payments being made to help with energy bills:

1] There will be a £400 grant to each household payable from October over a six-month term – these funds are paid direct to your utility supplier. If you use a prepayment meter, the funds will be applied direct to your meter or vouchers will be sent direct to you. These grants are automatic and do not need to be repaid

2] There will be an additional £300 payment to pensioners – payments are expected to be paid in November/December

3] There will be an extra £150 for those on qualifying disability payments – the funds are expected to be paid in September but final details are awaited – there will be no need to apply

4] For those on Universal Credit, Tax Credit or Pension Credit there will be a £650 payment. This will be made in two payments – this July and in the autumn. The funds will be paid direct to your bank account and there is no need to apply.

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