I have just been reading an interesting article by Rob over at money-watch.co.uk 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 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.