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Start saving for Christmas now, urges Credit Unions of Wales

credit unionHAVING passed the halfway to Christmas mark, the Credit Unions of Wales are encouraging families to start saving now to put a stop to money worries during this year’s festive season. People in Wales are the second highest Christmas spenders in the UK, with the average Welsh household spending £596 on gifts each year. By setting aside £24 a week from this week on, families will be able to save their annual spend in advance of Christmas. This way they can avoid falling into debt and will only pay as much as they spend, rather than having to pay back interest on top of a loan to help them cover the cost. There are 21 credit unions in Wales and many of them offer special Christmas Saver accounts which ‘lock’ your monthly savings until November. This means you can only access your savings when it’s time for present shopping and won’t be tempted to spend them on something else before Christmas arrives. Several also offer incentives, such as a £10 bonus so people can start saving straight away or entering all account holders into a December prize draw. Many credit unions across Wales also offer low-interest Christmas loans which can be paid off within a year with small weekly payments. One example is Cardigan-based West Wales Credit Union which offers a £100 Christmas loan with weekly payments of £2.33 and a total repayment of £112.70. The Credit Unions of Wales have recently joined forces to participate in a Wales-wide marketing campaign to encourage more people to save, borrow or invest with their local credit union. Campaign spokesperson and General Manager of North Wales Credit Union, Barry Roberts, said: “Thousands of households across Wales struggle to balance their gift budgets with paying bills on time, but thankfully Christmas isn’t one of those unforeseen expenses such as a broken boiler or car repairs so you can prepare for it. “We’d always recommend saving in advance for such occasions so that you’ve already covered the cost before you incur it and by starting now you’ll be well ahead. “If you don’t manage to save everything you need in time, we also offer Christmas loans with much lower interest rates than payday lenders and we make sure you only borrow as much as you can afford. “With all of the sales on over the summer, it’s even worth thinking about taking out a loan now so that you can get your gifts at a better price and pay off the cost before Christmas arrives.” Credit unions are regulated by the same supervisory bodies as banks and customers’ savings are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, but credit unions offer additional member benefits such as no hidden admin costs, set-up fees or early repayment charges. Credit unions have no third party shareholders which means dividends are paid to savers instead, and they don’t rely on automated credit checks so all loan decisions are ultimately made by a real person. There are 21 Credit Unions across Wales, which means that everyone in Wales has a local credit union they can join. To find yours, visit www. creditunionsofwales.co.uk

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Dayne Stone

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