Offers you can't refuse
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the vast array of financial products on the market. Most of us just go with offers from our banks and building societies - or leaflets taken from the supermarket checkout.
But how many professions have their own building society, finance house, credit cards and experts batting out the best deals and financial advice for them?
Well, teachers have. A profession involving thousands of hard-working, trustworthy folk who club together in six strong unions brings the financial giants out in force.
Such is the clout of teacher organisations that companies thrash out offers aimed specifically at their members - and not generally available to Joe Public.
For the unions, sound financial advice is now seen as part of their wrap-around professional support.
So if you don't have the time to shop on the high street for the best financial deals, simplify matters and log on to your union website and take your pick from their offers. Here is just a snapshot: The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) have teamed up with Norwich Union to offer a Just For Teachers car and home insurance package. Both advertise the same offer - pound;50 cashback on either home or car insurance or pound;100 if you take out both. The only difference is the telephone number - 0800 0101 99 for NUT members, 0845 840 03 10 for ATL.
As well as the cash incentive, Norwich Union offers a teachers-only perk of cover for school property and personal items at home or work. In your car, you are covered while transporting students, colleagues and any others on trips to do with teaching.
When it comes to personal loans, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has a 7.9 per cent annual percentage rate (APR) deal with MBNA, while ATL is offering 6.9 per cent APR with Frizzell and the Professional Association of Teachers (PAT) and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) is offering the same rate with the Co-op Bank.
Moving house? Then the Wesleyan Mutual Society, with its specialist team of teacher-advisers, will help you find the best mortgage if you are with the NASUWT. If you're with the NUT, there are mortgage deals with the Teachers'
Building Society, while the Teachers' Provident Society provides a range of financial products.
The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and ATL have linked up with Your Move, which offers 10 per cent off estate agency fees for members.
There's also help with getting the best rates for your gas and electricity bills. For example, ASCL uses utilities brokers LSI (01923 680222) to assess whether you are being ripped off. ATL plumps for Union Energy - a service backed by 50 trade unions in the UK - offering special rates on electricity and gas for teachers.
You can even get a deal on your road rescue service. The favourite is Britannia Rescue (0800 591563) - but watch those discount rates.
ASCL members are offered a 10 per cent discount, while the NUT has struck a deal worth 15 per cent off and NAHT members can get a whopping 20 per cent off. PAT also offers discounts with the RAC. Oh, we could go on - a free will-writing service (NASUWT), cheap holidays (NUT, ATL, NAHT), 10 per cent off airport parking (PAT) and special deals on union credit cards.
Or how about a 10 per cent discount on bespoke interior designs and furniture (NAHT), 20 per cent off membership of the Ramblers' Association (PAT) or even a new or secondhand car from NAHT Autosave?
The deals might not always be the most competitive but they have at least been brokered with you in mind Teachers' Building Society: www.teachersbs.co.uk Wesleyan Group: www.wesleyan.co.ukteachers Teachers Provident Society: www.teachers-group.co.uk Norwich Union: www.norwichunion.com