Cost of living crisis: Credit Union in Sheffield offers advice
In a column for The Star, The Credit Union’s CEO Jackie Hallewell said:
“The cost of living crisis brings challenges to everyone. At Sheffield Credit Union, we see the effect on local people’s finances as we provide services and assistance on a daily basis.
What are we finding?
Some members are having to withdraw savings or apply for loans to meet the cost of unexpected expenses. They may reduce the amount they regularly save, or contact us to discuss difficulties with their loan repayments.
We work one-to-one with members to help them through difficult times, and recommend they contact us as soon as possible if there is a problem, to find a solution for them.
Check your spending
Covid lockdowns left us relying more heavily on take-away food and delivered goods, and some of these habits have continued since, taking a toll on day to day expenses.
TIP 1: Reduce how many times you purchase take-away food; try cooking simple, tasty meals instead. There are plenty of quick to cook alternatives which you can have ready before the take-away arrives.
TIP 2: Check your on-line gambling (if you do this). Another side effect of being locked at home, we saw a huge increase under Covid 19, and for many, this has remained high.
Dealing with debt:
A growing number of private companies offer magical solutions to deal with debts, but their charges are high. The person could have handled those debts themselves or through a charity and saved a lot of money.
TIP 3: If you are considering a debt-solution, check the charges. It may be better for you to contact the creditors yourself and make a reduced offer to help cope with the costs.
TIP 4: Do not ignore your debts. Contacting your creditors and making arrangements with them can help protect your credit record, and make sure you can still use affordable, reputable financial services in future.
Finding reputable and affordable financial services:
An increasing number of illegal lenders operate on social media and even through some social influencers. Knowing where to find safe places to take out loans, and to deposit savings is vital.
TIP 5: Make sure the lender you go to is FCA registered (check their website and paperwork), and check the APR (annual percentage rate) – Sheffield Credit Union’s maximum APR is 42.7 per cent - many lenders charge much higher interest than this, costing you much more.
TIP 6: Make sure your savings are FSCS protected. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme protects savings up to £85,000. Savings with Sheffield Credit Union are covered by the FSCS scheme, as with most banks and building societies.
Finally, continue to build savings if you can – even if this is only £1 per week or month. Many of our members save a little while repaying a loan, building a safety cushion for difficult times. Over 70 per cent of our borrowers have savings over £100 as a result.
To find out more or join Sheffield Credit Union, go to www.sheffieldcreditunion.com, or email [email protected]. Call 0114 2760787”