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Christopher Spry
2 May 2014

Guide to managing personal finances with a PC, finance software and internet resources 

I am finding out how to manage efficiently in the UK my personal finances, including my bank accounts, investments and taxes, using my PC, finance software and internet. Here, I am recording the software and online resources that I have found useful and which others, in the same position, might like to consider. I conclude with a list of the online institutions which I use to manage my assets. I also have another page with links to more general finance resources.

Index:


Background information:

It is now possible for anyone with a PC and internet access to record, monitor, analyze and optimize the management of their personal finances. The individual takes control. This avoids many pitfalls that can lead to unnecessary losses and expenditure, such as high charges from institutional and advisory financial services which used to be the preferred or only way to manage personal finances. My aim is to manage my financial assets in the UK using my PC and internet resources in ways that allow me to optimize them. I wish to:

(a) Record and update bank, credit card and other personal accounts, investments and other assets
(b) Obtain information on investment strategies and options
(c) Purchase and sell investments sensibly
(d) Analyze the properties and value of my personal assets
(e) Submit accurate tax returns, including the tax benefits available to me

These are the options and ways that I am doing this::

Personal finance software

This is software to record income and expenditure in personal accounts and manage financial and other assets. I do not know what software is 'best' for home users now that the two main sources of this kind of software have closed the delelopment of their programs. There are reviews of personal finance software, such as TopTenREVIEWS.

Investment information and advice

Many online resources provide information about companies and can graphs their share prices with dates and times. I can both find out the financial health and financial market view of companies and chart their progress to guide me in making investment decisions. Here are some I have looked at:

Online investment (stock) purchasing

An increasing number of financial transactions can now take place online and they are generally cheaper than when carried out by letter, fax or phone. 'The Motley Fool' has advice and tables of comparative details about UK online 'execution-only' internet stockbrokers. Most internet stockbrokers hold shares in nominee accounts and charge annual fees, dealing charges and sometimes other fees, so their charges should be compared with traditional stockbrokers who are becoming more competitive. 

Investment analysis software

There is software to analyze and chart shares in personal portfolios:

Tax

The UK 'Inland Revenue' has detailed information on UK tax issues, including capital gains tax (CGT). Note 'taper relief' for retained assets, means that only 60% of a gain is chargeable when held for 10 years or more. Information is provided by the 'Inland Revenue' on Inheritance tax, 'self assessment' and tax forms can be downloaded. I use TaxCalc Personal costing £25.59 from Acorah Software Products Ltd., to make my annual tax return to the UK Inland Revenue. It is very easy to use and I simply fill in boxes with data that I obtain from my accounts in Quicke 2002 - see above.

My internet banking and asset management resources

There are few distinctions now, from the customer's viewpoint, between banks, mortgage companies and other types of institution that provide current, savings and investment accounts, except in the range and quality of services that they offer. The internet revolution is altering the way that they work. Fortunately, many of the major Banks and Institutions that provide personal accounts, have started to give customers online access to their accounts, but 'MasterCard' and 'Visa' do not allowed customers to view or manage their accounts online yet. I use the following online financial resources:

Other banks and credit card companies provide additional services or benefits. It is worth looking at those that provide cash benefits on purchases made with them and those that offer other benefits. For example, the Co-operative Bank is higly rated and worth switching to, especially when ethical issues are considered.

There are other large UK banking institutions with good online facilities, including:

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