David McCarthy, Galway Talks Blog, 8th November 2012

Question:  I am having difficulty getting finance for a car from my bank.  Can you advise me on what alternatives there are?

Answer:  You might possibly try your local Credit Union as they are quite active in the Car Finance market.  Alternatively a number of car manufacturers are providing finance directly themselves on a hire purchase basis.  However, Hire Purchase Agreements are complicated and you need to familiarize yourself with the terms of these contracts before you agree to go this route.

Question:  I took out an investment with New Ireland some years ago and I thought the fund had a Capital Guarantee on it.  I found out this is not the case and I am suffering a loss of about 20% on the original investment sum.  Can you advise me what I should do?

Answer:  This is a common problem I come across where an investor thinks that they have a Capital Guarantee on an investment which turns out not to be the case.  Whether or not you have a case to proceed with the Financial Ombudsman would depend very much on the circumstances at the time when you purchased the Bond.

I would suggest however that you consider protecting the value of your investment at the moment and maybe look at moving your funds to a Capital Guaranteed alternative.

Question:  I understand there may be some changes to taxation of Pension benefits in the next budget.  I am 60 years of age and wondering can I drawdown the benefits of my Personal Pension Plan before Budget day?

Answer:  This listener seems to be concerned about the changes in taxation of the lump sum on retirement.  Yes you are correct, as a self employed person, you can drawdown the pension benefits at age 60.  Whilst there would be no indications that the budget will change the taxation of these monies, obviously this cannot be guaranteed.  I would therefore recommend, if it is of considerable concern to you, that you need to act fast, with the budget looming next month.

Question:  I understand that there is a new bill about to be introduced which will allow me to write off some of my debts.  I saw recently where there are certain assets that you cannot hold like jewellary, cars etc if you proceed down that route.

Answer:  The Personal Insolvency Bill has not become law due to the number of amendments that are currently going through the Dail. It is however expected to be up and running in the New Year.

There are certain conditions attached to the amount of personal assets that you can hold.  It is going to be difficult to see how these issues will be addressed on a practical basis by this legislation, but this will become apparent in the New Year.

Question:  I have a Credit Card bill and I am wondering would the card issuer agree to a moratorium on the interest?

Answer:  If you are in very severe financial difficulty, they may consider some sort of arrangement with you.  However, there is no obligation on the credit card company to agree any form of moratorium with you.

If it is possible for you to get a personal loan from a Credit Union or your bank and clear the credit card company then I would think this would be a far more suitable alternative.