The Financial Services Authority has confirmed that the compensation limit for depositors will increase from £50,000 to £85,000. This increase in the limit came into effect from 31st December 2010.

This is the Sterling equivalent of the €100,000 compensation limit which comes into force within the European Economic Area (EEA) on the same date.

The new increased limit applies per individual, per authorised firm.

In addition, other areas also addressed included:

  • Faster payouts – most payouts should be made within 7 days with any outstanding ones made within a maximum of 20 days.
  • Gross Payout – this ring fences savings of those individuals who also have loans outstanding with the same institution – under current rules any deposit could be offset against liability outstanding before paying out any funds remaining to the individual account holder.

Further information on the recent changes can be found on the FSA website.

UK depositor protection is administered by the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme).

Although the new increased limit is welcomed it would be a shrewd move for those with large sums on deposit to ensure they hold no more than £85,000 with any one institution.

I have just been reading an interesting article by Rob over at about Personal Finance Management (PFM) tools available to us in the UK.

Personally I have been using Microsoft Money for over a decade to manage my personal finances, which, together with my personal spreadsheets which have developed over the years, seem to serve me pretty well!

Unfortunately it would appear that the MS Money software has been discontinued in the UK but the version I used is still available from Amazon.

It would however appear that these services are now moving online – which is a natural progression since most of our personal financial activity seems to occur online these days – online banking, managing our ISA/Unit Trust/Sipp portfolios as well as managing our credit cards and various other financial commitments.

Anyway – be sure to check out Rob’s article – the first in a series.

Rob over at Moneywatch has some handy tips for us all to bear in mind with the possible postal strikes in the run up to Christmas.

His excellent article, “Don’t Let the Postal Strike Cost You Money” looks at various implications which we should all think about with the possibility of there being a disruption in the postal deliveries.

The Need to Plan Ahead

He talks about the need to plan ahead, particularly when it comes to paying your bills, credit cards and other important items.

WARNING! Get your tax return to HMRC as early as possible.

Actions I have Taken

For my part, I have tried to move away from dependency on the post over the last 12 months, not only to avoid problems with items getting lost or delayed, but also to do my bit for the environment.

1. Plan ahead – know what bills have to be paid and when.

2. I have moved all bank statements to paperless – I now simply download them once a month from my banks website.

3. If you have to post and it is important consider sending it by “special delivery” – although there is no guarantee that your letter will get through in the event of a strike atleast you’re covered for compensation if it gets lost in the post.

4. If posting ask yourself “could this be emailed or could I phone them instead”?

5. Pay bills by Direct Debit – not only is this less hassle and saves you the cost of a stamp but with some bills you can actually save money by setting up your payments by Direct Debit.

6. If you’re concerned about Christmas shopping not getting through, consider shopping online through a discount voucher site – many online retailers are promising that deliveries will not be affected by strike action – and if you’re really concerned why not get the present delivered direct to the recipient – many online stores will gift-box your purchase these days.

Let’s hope there isn’t too much disruption through any postal strike action – but check out Rob’s article and plan ahead.

I thought you should be made aware that I received a spam email today – purportedly from HMRC (Inland Revenue)

The body of the email contained the following text –


Issue: Unreported/Underreported Income (Fraud Application)

Please review your tax statement on HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) website (click on the link below):

review tax statement for taxpayer id: simon-XXXXXXXXXXXXXXUK” 

Below the above text was a link to a website which looked like it was for the HMRC (Inland Revenue) website, but when you look closer you can see that the address is in fact not a HMRC address –

http:  / / www. online.  hmrc . gov.  nyyyyasz . com / …………………………………..

I have expanded the URL above to ensure it is not clickable (!) – notice that the above address contains nyyyyasz – what you would actually be clicking on would be a sub-domain of the website (nyyyyasz . com) but the above web address is made to look like the official UK HMRC (inland revenue) website!

If you do a DNS you will see that the above domain is not registered to the UK government anyway!

Be careful – there are people out there on the Internet who want to rip you off.

My Tips to Avoid Being Ripped Off

1. Shred all bank statements, credit card statements etc – opt electronic statements if possible.

2. Never click a link in an email from a source you are not familiar with.

3. (I) never click links in emails purporting to be from my bank, mortgage company or credit card company – I simply log in through the usual web address and check my “messages” – if in doubt phone/email your bank/credit card company/mortgage lender to see is they sent the email.

4. Often emails like this are made to provoke a negative reaction from the recipient – the wording is such as to infer a negative outcome if you don’t click and take action immediately – they are simply trying to catch you off your guard such as

“warning – we will cancel your account”

“you owe us tax”

“someone has tried to log into your account fraudulently”

you get the idea.



Please tell friends, family and colleagues about this scam – it could save the a lot of hassle, time, money and heartache.

I thought I would post about a few interesting articles I have read recently – I thought you might find them interesting reading – a little light relief from all this ISA allowance increase, change in pension age malarkey!

Rob over at MoneyWatch posted an interesting article “Create a Home Inventory” which got me thinking about an old game we used to play at cubs – the cub leader would bring our a tray with about 20 different items on and we used to have a about 20 seconds to look at the tray. The tray would then be taken away and we had to try and remember as many as possible.

I am sure if the worst happened and I was burgled or had a fire I would be able to remember a lot of things but I know for sure that I would not remember everything – I am therefore going to start cataloguing all my possessions – a spreadsheet will do the trick!

Meanwhile, Lee over at FivePencePiece, when he was not busy with Labour Party conference or his appearance on the radio wrote an article entitled Patience is a Virtue. Lee reminds us that nothing happens overnight and that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.

I read a book many years ago on the subject of goal planning – one of the most important chapters for me talked about the need to take any task which at first glance might seem very difficult and break it down into smaller, more manageable “chunks” – for example, if you’re overweight and need to lose say 3 stone then this in itself is quite an achievement.

But if you break it down and say “I will lost 1lb per week” which is more than possible given some exercise and changing your diet, then you would achieve your waste loss goal in 42 weeks!

The final blog post I liked recently was “51 Unusual Money-Saving Tips” from over at WiseBread – I love lists – I am always making lists (mainly “to do” lists!) and love this kind of post – it acts like a hub with so much information coming off this hub in a series of “spokes” – just like a wheel on a bike.

Anyway – there should be enough for you to be going on with there – please let me know which posts you have read recently by posting a comment and a link below – please feel free to link to other personal finance blogs you visit.

I was reading this interesting article over on the thisismoney website about Alistair Darling’s plans to spend “whatever we can” to keep people in jobs during this recession. Now this course of action might be commendable as it is an attempt to keep people in work and off benefits – which I guess would cost the country more in the long-run.

In a country where the economy is inextricably linked to the housing market, can it be wise for a Government to simply try and spend its way out of recession?

I don’t like “big government” and feel that the exit from the recession should be down to market forces. What this government should be focussing on is improving the education system and retraining those people who are currently or who have recently been working in dying industries – those industries in which we are no longer competitive on an international playing-field.

Funding this expenditure will only lead to further raising of finances by the Governement which will generally be through higher taxation.

Whilst the Government is spending, most of us will be saving, rebuilding our portfolios and taking advantage of depressed stock markets for longer term capital growth and real income.

Just a reminder – the ISA allowance increases for the over 50’s on 6th October 2010.

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I came across a really interesting story whilst surfing the web earlier today.

A technical error has led to the Royal Mint issuing between 50,000 and 200,000 20 pence pieces which have been struck incorrectly.

The coins were issued following the introduction of a new design with a partial image of the Royal coat of arms being shown on the reverse (or “tails”) side of the coin with the date (year) the coin was struck being moved to the heads side of the coin, which shows the Queens’ head.

The date needed to be moved to the “heads” side of the coin to accommodate the new shield design on the “tails” side.

However, the batch in question was produced using the new “tails” side with the old “head” side, which resulted in the coins being issued without a date shown.

It is believed that it is nearly 300 years since the date was last not shown on a UK coin.

These 20 pence coins are being deemed to be collector’s items and indeed a quick search on shows that some of these coins are receiving bids of several hundred pounds.

It would therefore be very shrewd to check your change now to see if you are the lucky holder of one of these miss-struck 20 pence pieces.

You could be literally sitting on a fortune!!

Have you found one? Please let us know by leaving a comment below –