Stay Safe Online

These days, it’s all about buying stuff online. To be honest, it can be a life saver: you can find some great online discounts, avoid the mad Christmas shopper rush – BUT it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers on the web. To help you out, we’ve put together our top five points to online safety as you shop for the festive season:

  1. It doesn’t matter if it makes life easy, DON’T keep the same password for everything! Once an individual figures out one of your passwords, they have access to everything else which puts your data at serious risk.
  2. Get antivirus software installed onto your PC and be sure to keep it updated.
  3. Keep an eye open for Spam emails. There may be the odd email that comes into your inbox asking for personal information or asking you to click on a link – be weary of these emails. If it looks suspicious, contact the company directly and ask if they’ve sent the email. If they didn’t, it’s spam.
  4. Make sure you’re on a safe site. When you get to the part that asks you for sensitive information, check the URL. If the URL says HTTP and not HTTPS, then chances are it’s not a safe website so don’t risk entering your details.
  5. When paying for something, use your credit card or a service like PayPal as they offer greater protection.

Affordable Christmas Gift Ideas

Need some Christmas gift ideas that won’t break the bank? We here at the Credit Union have got your back. Behold our list of Christmas gifts that will both make an impact on the receiver AND help keep costs low. It’s a win-win situation!

Treasure Hunt

For the kids – how about a festive treasure hunt? In fact, get the adults involved too! Let’s be honest, we all turn into big kids during the festive season. So instead of just putting the presents under the tree, maybe hide some candy canes around the house that have clues written on them that’ll eventually lead them to their presents? Or one person in the family could be in charge of setting up the treasure hunt and the rest of the family team up to find the presents. There are loads of ways to do this, plus it’s different and a great way to make some memories with your loved ones.

12 Reasons We Love You

Or you could even just go for a jar full of however many things you love about someone – 12 just fits in with the festive theme. You could even include a few funny memories to make the person laugh.

Adventure Scrapbook

Another good idea that we actually found online: an adventure scrapbook. Perfect for the kids, BUT it’s also a pretty good way to get some quality family time. All you need is a little blank book and write up some items that the kids need to stick onto that page. It may take a little time to think of items for the pages, but it’ll all be worth it when you see the kids having fun and enjoying the quality family time.

Collage

You could create a family collage or maybe even a family tree. There are many templates available out there on the internet that you could use. Alternatively, you could create one on your own. Then all you need are pictures of the family members (you could just print these out from home or maybe even draw them) and a nice little frame to put it in.

The 12 Dates of Christmas

So this is another idea we found online and honestly, we think it’s our favourite one. Tell your partner that you’ve planed one date for the two of you for each month of the New Year. The dates don’t even have to be expensive – it could be a picnic in the park, a visit to one of London’s free museums, a night in with an amazing home-cooked dinner with a glass of wine followed by a sweet romantic movie, Kew Gardens in the spring and so much more.

You don’t have to follow our ideas to the letter; this is just a little something we put together to hopefully inspire you. Gifts don’t always have to be pricey, sometimes all you need is a few quid and a bit of imagination.

 

Content inspired by www.moneysavingexpert.com

The 12 Tips of Christmas

Christmas isn’t too far away!!! We don’t know about you, but here at the Credit Union we couldn’t be more excited. However, we understand that as amazing as Christmas is, it can be costly. So, in order to keep the financial burden away, we did a little research and put together a list of 12 tips that can help you save a little bit of cash this festive season so that you can fully enjoy the day and not bring any money worries into the new year:

Check out the sales

Make a list of the people you need to get presents for, then keep your eyes peeled for goods at decent prices and jump on them. You don’t have to just do this around Christmas time – shops have  deals going all year around. So not only will you save money, you’ll save time as you’ll have most of your gifts ready. Keep a little section of your cupboard free for Christmas gifts and stock it up.

Budget

Don’t forget, Christmas is just ONE day. Don’t bring stress into the New Year by ending up broke after spending so much in preparation for it. Instead, figure out what you can afford, sort out a budget and stick to it.

Write up a list

Santa isn’t the only one who should make a list and check it twice. We’re all guilty of impulse purchases when we’re out Christmas shopping. So make a good old shopping list and stick. To. It.

Secret Santa

When you’ve got a group of friends or work colleagues, Secret Santa is a great way to keep the costs down. All you need to do is set a budget, pick a name out of a hat and then just focus on getting that one person a present for Christmas.

Or agree to not buy gifts at all this year

If you’re tight for money, don’t be ashamed to speak to your friends and family and come to an agreement on no gifts this year. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s true: the people who really care about you won’t mind not getting gifts. You can limit your gift giving to just immediate family or, to save a little more money, you could do secret Santa just in the family.

Start saving well in advance

It’s never too early to start saving up for Christmas. If you need a little help doing that, the credit union has got the Xmas Club Savings Account available for its members. If you’d like to join the Xmas club, become a member of the credit union and let us know that you would like an account set up for you.

Planning a Christmas visit? Book your tickets in advance

Generally the later you leave it, the more expensive it gets. So, if you know you’re going home for the holidays, buy your ticket a month or so in advance.

Switch up the traditions

Traditions are what make the holidays what they are, but sometimes they can just be a financial headache. Changing up traditions like going away on a big family holiday or buying your kids extravagant gifts can really help you save some cash. Some personal favourite cheap activities include:

  • Seeing the Christmas lights in London
  • Having some homemade hot chocolate and watching a good ol’ Christmas film
  • Baking cookies or cakes (or both!) with the whole family

Show the kids that it’s not all about how much you spend on one another, but the quality time you spend with one another.

Never used it? Sell it!

It’s a pretty good way to earn a little extra cash for gifts and food and whatever else you need for Christmas. You could sell it on Facebook, Instagram, Ebay – wherever.

DIY it

Who doesn’t love a home-made gift? It shows that you took time out to create something special for that person.

Charity shops and car boot sales

You’d be surprised at the goodies you can find in a charity shop. Have a look in one local to you or find out where your nearest car boot sale is and check that out.

Go crazy with online discounts

And not just around Christmas time – there are online discounts ALL the time! Keep your eyes peeled and if you see something you think someone might like PLUS there’s a discount going, buy it and store it to give as a gift on Christmas day. There are also plenty of websites you could go to in order to get discount codes.

We hope this helps you!

Happy International Credit Union Day!

It’s International Credit Union Day! Today’s the day we celebrate the spirit of the global credit union movement. We also had another reason to celebrate; it was the 70th Anniversary of ICU day! This year, we thought of a great way to celebrate the good that credit unions around the world are doing; by hearing what our members have to say (yes, you). We asked you to send in some stories of how the credit union has helped you. From the responses, we’ve picked a few of our favourites:

“Thanks to the credit union child benefit loan I was able to take me 2 daughters on their first family holiday! I’m also able to save part of my child benefit so will be able to use the savings for another holiday next year. I wouldn’t have been able to do this if it wasn’t for the credit union. Thank you!”

“It’s amazing I was short of money due to a misfortune I ask for a £500 to help me through as I have two children and was given it straight away and plus I am now saving money too fantastic”

“I joined as I was in urgent need of a new car took out a loan and it has encouraged me to save which I probably wouldn’t have done. I now have money for a rainy day”

“The credit union is brilliant. It helped me so much financially. Also, the staff was lovely every time I phoned in was always very polite and helpful.”

“Just to say a big thank you to Thamesbank for the support and making my life better than before. Wish you a happy international credit union day”

Hearing stories like this remind us of why we do what we do. Whether you just joined or have been with us from the beginning, thank you for being a member of Thamesbank Credit Union. Here’s to another 70 years!

Did you know about our payroll deduction scheme?

Summer’s here and you might be thinking of getting your hands on a bit of cash for a holiday, or for holiday spending money, or those DIY jobs you’ve been getting round to for a while. Just to remind you: Thamesbank is owned entirely by our members (that’s you!) and our board is made up of unpaid volunteers. If you don’t like us, you have the chance to get rid of us every year at the AGM. Our administration is run by Credit Union Solutions, a workers cooperative. All our loans are straightforward and clear – there are no tricks and no hidden fees. We guarantee to match or beat any written offer you get from anyone else for a loan. You will be shocked by how much you could save by taking one of our loans rather than a bank overdraft, or a doorstep or payday loan, or buying goods from one of the rent-to-buy shops like BrightHouse.

We have plenty of money to lend and we’d rather it was supporting our members than lying in the bank. So, if you’re thinking of borrowing money, check out your Credit Union first. Also, think about whether you have other loans – or overdrafts or credit card balances – that you could pay off with a Thamesbank loan and save yourself some money!

Payroll Deduction

Many Thamesbank members have arrangements with their employer to make payments to Thamesbank direct from their pay packet. Members who have this arrangement are the lucky ones because it saves the hassle. It also means that loans can be processed quicker and at much better rates, as the credit union won’t have to worry about repayments. Many members like it because they put a small sum aside each month – maybe they do this with a pay rise – and find they have saved money without really noticing it because they never had it in their bank account in the first place.

If you like that idea, why not talk to your employer about offering this service? It doesn’t cost them anything and it’s good for their staff. If you don’t fancy talking to them yourself – just let us know and we’ll approach them.

Tell your friends and colleagues about Thamesbank too: it’s easy to join the Credit Union. Credit Unions are about people banding together; to help themselves and their friends and neighbours. So don’t be shy about playing your part.

Best wishes and enjoy this lovely summer,

Guy Lambert
Chair – Thamesbank Credit Union

Working with ABCUL for their Work Not Worry campaign.

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Thamesbank Credit Union Privacy Notice

Thamesbank Credit Union is a community-based, financial co-operative that delivers a range of fair, affordable and accessible financial services to people who live or work in Hounslow, Richmond, Kingston, Wandsworth or Spelthorne.

We are committed to protecting our members’ privacy. This is explained in our full privacy statement available here. A summary of your rights is given below.

How we use your personal information

Thamesbank credit union may process, transfer and/or share personal information in the following ways:
• To set up and manage your account and loans
• To provide marketing data to help us advertise and set up appropriate saving and loan accounts
• To report to various management, regulatory, and financial bodies

We guarantee that your data will be used with your consent and not be shared with anybody for other purposes.

Your rights to the use of your personal data

Under the data protection legislation, you have the following rights
• To access your personal data and have any errors corrected
• The right to restrict, or object to processing and for data to be deleted once no longer required
• To withdraw consent
• To complain to the Information Commissioner’s office at https://ico.org.uk or by post

Contact us about your rights

For more information about how your rights apply to your membership of Thamesbank credit union or to make a request under your rights, you can contact us at admin@thamesbank.org. We will respond within 1 week or provide an explanation of the reason for our delay.

Contact details of Thamesbank Credit Union

Thamesbank Credit Union
The Bungalow, Pinkwell Lane, Hayes Middlesex, UB3 1PE
Phone 020 8756 3865
Website www.thamesbank.org.

Changes to this privacy policy

We can update this Privacy Policy at any time and ideally you should check it regularly here [URL] for updates. We won’t alert you for every small change, but if there are any important changes to the Policy or how we use your information we will let you know and where appropriate ask for your consent.

Policy agreed May 2018

Removing the Imposition of VAT

In 2011 our auditor advised we contact our accountants and register for VAT. On registering for VAT our client members took a terrific hike in charges for our services and for some of them is has taken a long time to recover from this imposition.

Over the last few years we have been trying to develop a “VAT Sharing Group” which is a concept that was developed by the European Union but ignored by HMRC until they were threatened with legal action.

In 2015 we engaged Kreston Reeves to develop an application to HMRC for a VAT Sharing Group which would have removed the VAT burden from our clients. 80% of our application was accepted and we are continuing to work on ensuring the last 20% meets HMRC requirements.

Interestingly a quite separate VAT expert at Kreston Reeves has suggested that we should never have been VAT registered in the first place.

Be assured one way or another we are determined to remove the VAT imposition and free our members to grow and develop.

Business Planning Front and Centre

The Second Training Event this year for Directors of our Client credit unions was held on Saturday 18th June at the Hilton Garden Hotel.

Gareth Evans Director of GRE Consulting gave a brilliant presentation covering the following key areas;

  • Having and keeping up to date Business Plans is a requirement of our Regulator and not optional. Businesses of all sizes and shapes rely on Business Plans to keep them focussed on the important issues facing their operation.
  • The planning process kicks off with a strategic planning session which should develop a consensus about the credit union’s vision and goals; strategic priorities and tactical plan.
  • This is followed by a more detailed delivery plan which considers timing; the key players that need to be involved and the resources necessary to deliver the results.
  • The next stage is to develop a budget and to allocate staffing resources to deliver the results planned.
  • Probably on a quarterly basis there should be a review of progress looking at KPIs and milestones.
  • The planning cycle becomes complete with an annual review of the results and consideration of any changes that need to be made.

 

The Business Planning Session was the second training event we have developed to answer the call from our clients that are keen to become more effective at what they do for their credit unions.

 

The next session will probably be in September and related to Anti Money Laundering policies and procedures.