Q My wife has inherited a home with her two siblings. They have made the decision to sell it. We expect to have €200,000 in cash in six to nine months’ time. We have not been saving. She is self-employed and her salary fluctuates, but she has made a minimum of €50,000 in the last three years. I work as an engineer in a global software company and my salary is €90,000. I also take home €30,000 a year in bonus payments and shares. Can we use the €200,000 as our deposit, and still get a mortgage, even though we haven’t been saving?
A Yes, absolutely, you can use the €200,000 you are about to inherit as a deposit, is the answer from Joey Sheahan, head of credit at online broker MyMortgages.ie. If you have been paying rent, then the monthly rental payments will serve as proof to the lender of your ability to meet monthly mortgage repayments, he said. If you are not paying rent, then you have ample time, between now and when you receive the inheritance funds, to start saving now to be able to show the necessary savings record of six months to the mortgage provider, Mr Sheahan said.
Q My wife and I are currently insured under Vhi One Plan Extra. This plan has an annual cost of €1,646.78 each. She is aged 71 and I am 75. We are both relatively healthy and have full medical cards. Vhi Healthcare recently sent me an email saying that my plan is being replaced by a plan called Enhanced Care Complete 75. No details of this plan, or its cost, were provided by the health insurer. Could you recommend an alternative plan, or an alternative provider if necessary? We have been with Vhi Healthcare for almost 50 years now.
A The One Plan Extra scheme is one of the many plans that have now been retired by Vhi Healthcare. It covers up to semi-private in private hospitals with some refunds on eligible out-patient expenses, according to Dermot Goode of TotalHealthCover.ie. Before considering the alternative plan proposed by Vhi, which is the same cost as your existing plan at €1,641 per adult, Mr Goode said you should consider an alternative Vhi corporate plan called PMI 3613. This costs €1,340 per adult. He said this is an excellent scheme covering the same hospitals, subject to a small excess for each private hospital admission (€75 per claim). It includes excellent high-tech cardiac cover and higher refunds on eligible out-patient expenses with no excess to pay first, the broker said. If you are open to switching insurer, you could also consider the 4D Health 2 scheme from Irish Life Health at €1,351 each, or the Simply Connect scheme from Laya Healthcare at €1,361 each, Mr Goode said.
Q I contribute 25pc of my income towards my pension, which is with Irish Life. I’m fully conscious of how markets can fluctuate, particularly this year. That said, I am losing money at the moment, which is hard to accept. I wonder should I stop my contributions altogether or should I keep going? Any advice would be appreciated.
A Stock markets are volatile and will fluctuate up and down over time. They are particularly volatile at the moment given what is happening in the world. A long-term view is best, according to Joey Sheahan, director of MyLifeCover.ie. He said he would not worry about a loss like this in the short term, as it is inevitable that you will see losses for some of the years over, say, a 30 or 40-year period. When values fall in the market, that is the best time to buy as there is an opportunity to buy units at a lower level, which will hopefully recover to previous levels over time, the financial adviser said. Mr Sheahan said you should continue your contributions to your pension, on the basis that you are buying at a lower level than previous values. It is also important to review your risk profile and ensure that you are invested in the appropriate funds. For example, somebody with a high-risk appetite could invest in funds which could show much higher movements. This might include, say, a 20pc increase or decrease in values in a short period. Someone with a low-risk appetite could invest in lower-risk funds, which would have much smaller movements, maybe moving 3pc or 5pc up or down in a short period. Mr Sheahan recommends that you seek advice from a financial adviser before making any decision about your pension.