By Caroline Sellers, Assistant Secretary at Co-op Group and Co-op Credit Union Member
I’m a bit of a fan of credit unions and I encourage everyone to join, particularly new colleagues who might not be aware of the services they offer. I always say it’s like a kind of hidden benefit, helping you spread costs when you need to borrow and build up savings for next time you need it.
No matter how good you are at budgeting, this time of year can be expensive for everyone – and even more so for parents. In my house, summer is the new Christmas with lots of different costs coming at us all at once. There’s the long school break along with all the extra childcare fees, holidays and on the whole keeping the kids entertained for six weeks. Not only that, we also have to do the annual, big back-to-school shopping trip.
My girls are 11 and 8 now, and growing so quickly. This means new uniforms, shoes, sports kits, and PE bags. Even the little things like socks, ties and stationery, all of which add up.
Instances like these are when a credit union can come in handy. It’s a great way to help you out with a loan to get through an expensive patch, or when bills come out of the blue – like car repairs or a washing machine breaking down. One of the big benefits with credit unions is that you also build up savings as you repay your loan. That way, you’ve then got rainy-day savings to hand the next time you need a boost.
Over the years, the credit union has been invaluable for me. It helped me out buying a new cooker when it blew up, and with a loan for a large car insurance bill – it actually worked out cheaper to get the credit union loan than to take out the instalment plan with the insurance company!
Now, I’m taking advantage of the savings I’ve built up with the credit union to cover some of the costs of moving house later this year. My savings will really help out with the removal fees and buying some new furniture.
I’d encourage anyone reading this to take a look at joining the credit union. It’s a benefit that’s there for you to make use of, come rain or shine!
What is a Credit Union?
- Credit unions are an ethical, co-operative choice for saving and borrowing
- They’re member-owned co-ops with no outside shareholders to satisfy, meaning they can pass on competitive rates to their members
- Any profits made by the credit union are shared with members in the form of an annual dividend (interest) on savings
- Members save regularly every month, and this forms a pool of money, which is lent to members by way of loans at reasonable rates of interest
- A big difference with a credit union loan is that you also build up a savings pot as you repay, giving you funds for a rainy day or unexpected expenses in future
There are over 1 million members of credit unions in the UK, and more than 260 million members worldwide (Source: WOCCU report, 2017)