As temperatures begin to drop and the darker nights draw in, you may already have thought about the additional expense of the winter months. Between covering the cost of the festive season, and the sharp increase in fuel bills across the colder months, getting on top of your finances now can help as we head towards 2016.
We’ve put together some top money saving tips to help our members manage their money more effectively this winter.
Stop your home leaking heat – and cash!
Keeping on top of your home maintenance can help keep you cosy, and reduce fuel costs. Many energy companies offer free loft and cavity wall insulation, which the Energy Saving Trust estimates could save the average house around £300 a year. For a list of companies offering this service visit MoneySavingExpert.com. Even low-tech, quick-fix money saving ideas like putting up thicker curtains, or introducing a ‘sausage dog’ draft excluder will help keep the heat in your house – and the cash in your pocket.
Keep down the cost of the festive season
Christmas is a special time of year, but if you don’t keep on top of your festive finances, it can lead to a financial hangover running well into the New Year. Spreading the cost of Christmas with our Christmas Savings Club allows you to save all year round, and access your Christmas spending money in November each year – just in time to start your Christmas shopping. And with over a quarter of all UK Christmas shopping done online in 2014 it pays to search for voucher codes before you part with your cash. A quick Google search for UK voucher codes will bring up a number of sites offering money saving discount codes that could reduce the cost of your festive spend.
Stay on the road – make sure your car is winter ready
Bad weather or not, we need to stay moving. With breakdowns more common in winter preparing your car for the cold snap in advance can save expensive bills down the line. Check your car’s lights, tyres, battery and oil regularly, and make sure you have anti-freeze and a window scraper handy for the icy mornings. Just as importantly, make sure your car is stocked with the basics that you’d need to stay safe and warm in the event of breakdown in bad weather. To help you get organised, take a look at this handy checklist compiled by the AA.
Check if you’re entitled to winter fuel payments
If you, or someone living with you, were born before 5 January 1953 you may be eligible for help with your fuel payments. The Government Winter Fuel Payment could provide a one off payment of between £100 and £300 tax free to help you meet the cost of heating your home. Contact the Winter Fuel Helpline on 03459 15 15 15 to apply, or visit their website for more information.
Our most important money saving tip – beware high-cost borrowing
At this time of year, it seems that every advert, email or letter coming through the door is offering a loan or other source of credit. Catalogues, payday loans and doorstop lenders are notoriously expensive; with catalogues charging overinflated prices and APR’s in excess of 35%, whilst payday loans often charge up to 4500% APR.
A credit card may seem like a smarter option but unless you’re able to pay off your full balance on a monthly basis, or are on an introductory 0% rate you might still end up paying over the odds. Money saving site, MoneySavingExpert.com warns that by paying the minimum monthly repayment for a credit card balance of £1,500 and an APR of 17%, would take 21 years and 6 months to pay off!
At Glasgow Credit Union we are here to help you save for those larger purchases, however, we understand that sometimes it’s easier to borrow and repay over a sensible period of time. Find out more about our low cost Personal Loans.