By Ann Francis

Cambrian Savings and Loans

Starting a savings habit

With studies showing alarming levels of unmanageable debt, Ann Francis looks at how we can protect ourselves in uncertain times.

Debt advice charity Stepchange has sounded a warning about unmanageable debt. The charity reported that it had advised more people on 3 January, after the festive break, than on any day in 2022.

It believes that Christmas has left a debt hangover that could take some people months or even years to pay back.

The reality of Christmas spending often hits home in January, but when we are facing rising bills and expenses, there’s little doubt that this year many people will find credit harder to pay back.

As CEO of a credit union, it may come as no surprise that I advocate saving. Having no cash to back you up can leave you vulnerable.

Putting just a small proportion of income aside can prove to be a lifeline in uncertain times. ‘Pay yourself first’ is one of the oldest and most sensible rules of personal financial management and if you can save, no matter how small the amount may seem to be, little by little, it will add up.

If you are employed, an easy way to set aside money is through a payroll savings scheme. With this system, you decide on a set amount of money to be transferred directly from your salary into your savings account. The money is deducted at source, like pension or national insurance, and deposited in your savings account.

Many people who use payroll savings claim they barely even notice that it’s gone. But come that big-ticket occasion such as Christmas, summer holiday or that big bill you weren’t expecting, it makes a real difference.

Setting aside £5-10 a week between now and Christmas could really take the pressure off in January 2024.

Cambrian is part of Moneyworks Wales – a nationwide payroll savings and loans scheme that more than 160 employers across Wales have signed up to, giving their staff access to savings and loans direct from their salary.

With employers including health boards, local authorities, Welsh Government through to leading local businesses such as Archwood Group, Kingspan and Thorncliffe Building Supplies, your employer may well be part of Moneyworks Wales.

For more information on payroll savings and loans or to find out how your employer can join the scheme, go to