John Lowe
Money Doctors 2020

The number 1 guide to organising your finances - and making your money go further. John Lowe has helped thousands of people get to grips with the basics of budgeting and learn how to save cash in all areas of their lives for fifteen years.  You can trust The Money Doctor to give independent, straight-talking advice.

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368 pages
245x175 mm
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The number one guide in Ireland to organising your finances - and making your money go further. John Lowe's finance annual has helped thousands of people get to grips with the basics of budgeting, planning and learning how to save cash in all areas of their lives for fifteen years. Now, The Money Doctor is back to give Ireland's consumers and business owners the tips and updates they need to make the most of 2020. Whether you buy this book every year or you're just in need of a fresh perspective on your finances, you can trust The Money Doctor to give independent, straight-talking advice.

Contains a major new financial guide to living in Ireland for non-nationals.


Acknowledgements 12
Preface 13
Is This Book for You? 15
Getting the most out of this book 16
Money doctors website 16
Consumer protection 17

PART 1: How to Become Financially Fit in 2020 20
1 All it Takes is a Little Planning 21
Why you need a financial plan 21
Supposing you don’t plan? 22
Instant savings and more 23
What does a financial plan look like? 23
How long should a financial plan last for? 23
If you think you need help 24
2 Writing a Financial Plan 26
How do you decide what your financial objectives should be? 26
Prioritising your financial objectives 27
Ten universal needs 29
Setting realistic aims 29
How far have you got? 30
Your monthly income and outgoings 31
Your assets 32
Your liabilities 33
The importance of making assumptions 33
Where do you need to take action? 35
3 Money is a Family Affair 37
Problem? What problem? 37
Are you and your partner financially compatible? 38
Opening a dialogue 38
Anything to declare? 39
Building a joint approach to money 40
Sharing out the chores 40
The importance of involving and educating your children 41
4 Getting Help 44
How far should you go? 44
Where to get help 45

PART 2: Your Financial Rights 49
5 Your Right to Social Welfare 50
The difference between contributory and non-contributory payments 51
The different types of social welfare 52
So, what is means testing? 52
What are you entitled to? Social welfare payments in detail 53
6 Your Employment Rights 63
You may be more protected than you imagine 63
Minimum wage 63
Annual leave entitlement 63
Holiday pay 64
Your working week 64
On-call workers 64
Dismissal rights 64
Time off work 65
What to do if you are unhappy with your employer 65
Redundancy 65
7 Your Rights as a Financial Consumer 67
How to complain 67
If you have been turned down for a loan or credit card for no apparent reason 68

Part 3: Banking, Borrowing and Getting Out of Debt 71
8 Banking 72
Understanding the banking system 72
What banks do best 73
Basic banking services explained 74
What price banking? 76
Cutting the cost of your current account 76
Other types of bank account 78
State savings: accounts from the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) 79
The credit union option 79
Banking on holiday 79
9 Getting Out of Debt 81
You may not even realise you have a problem 81
Sizing up the problem 82
Debt comes in many disguises 82
Beware the minimum payment trap 84
Debt threatens your future freedom 84
Seven excellent reasons to become debt-free 85
The first step to getting out of debt 86
Taking stock of your situation 87
The art of debt elimination 89
10 Borrowing 93
So, what is ‘sensible borrowing’? 94
Never borrow for longer than you have to 94
Build up a good financial/credit rating history 94
Why rates differ so widely 95
The first rule of cheaper borrowing 95
Choosing the best loan for your needs 96
The Money Doctors best loan guide 96

Part 4: A Complete Guide to Insurance 100
11 Protecting Yourself and Your Family 101
You know you should ... 101
Spend time, not money 102
Income protection cover 103
Critical or serious illness insurance 104
Life cover 105
Private medical insurance 106
Which types of cover should you choose? 107
How much life cover do you need? 108
Life cover tax tip 109
Keeping the cost down 109
12 Protecting Your Possessions 110
The importance of proper cover 110
The different types of ‘general’ insurance 111
Don’t just rely on brokers 111
Home insurance 111
Motor insurance 113
Insider tips on buying other general insurance 113

Part 5: A Complete Guide to Property Purchase 115
13 Mortgages 116
Taking advantage of the mortgage revolution 116
Interest: All the difference in the world 117
Two mortgage options: Repayment versus interest-only 118
Fixed or variable rate? 120
Why you should try to make mortgage overpayments 121
How the right professional adviser will save you money 122
14 Property Questions 124
Should I buy or rent? 124
How much can I borrow? 125
What is APR? 125
Is it worth switching my mortgage to get a lower rate? 126
Help! I’m self-employed 126
What will it cost for me to buy my home? 126
The Finance Act 2012 127
Does it make sense to buy a second property as an investment? 128
What other state housing grants might be available to me? 128
Is it worth repaying my mortgage early? 129
What home insurance will I need? 129
If I have trouble making my mortgage repayments, what should I do? 129

Part 6: Savings and Investment Success 131
15 Saving for a Rainy Day 132
Good, old-fashioned savings 132
Saving made simple 132
How much is enough? 133
Your savings strategy 133
Emergency fund: Three basic requirements 133
Savings and tax 135
16 Investment Strategies You Can Count On 136
Basic investment planning 136
Pooled investments 140
Specialised stock market strategies 143
Alternative investments 143
Property 148
Tax-efficient investment options 149

Part 7: Planning for a Richer Retirement 151
17 Retirement Basics 152
Why you should make pension planning your number one priority 152
It is never too early or too late to begin 153
Start by taking stock 153
Where do you go for the answers to these questions? 154
How much will you need when you retire? 154
The good news 155
What to do if you work in the private sector 156
What to do if you work for yourself 157
18 Pensions Made Easy 158
A quick guide to pension schemes 158
Categories of pension schemes 158
Big tax relief – the Revenue Commissioners are on your side 162
What happens to your pension contributions? 163
What is it going to cost? 164
What benefits should you be looking for? 165
What happens when you retire? 166

Part 8: Why Pay More Tax Than You Have To? 168
19 Tax Basics 169
Keeping it legal 170
Get to know your tax liabilities, and the Revenue Commissioners in the process 170
Do you have to fill in a tax return? 171
20 Income Tax Basics 173
What sort of income do you have? 173
A quick explanation of income tax rates 174
Personal credits and tax allowances 176
PRSI – Another form of income tax 177
21 All About Income Tax Credits 178
How tax credits work in practice 178
Check your tax credits every year 179
A complete guide to personal tax credits and allowances for 2019 179
22 PAYE 185
the ins and outs of PAYE 185
Emergency tax 186
Getting your tax back! PAYE refunds 186
Making sure your expenses are tax-free 188
23 Income Tax for the Self-employed 189
How to reduce your income tax bill if you work for yourself 189
Self-assessment system 190
Preliminary tax 190
The mystery factor! 191
Make your payments on time … or else 191
Do you need to register for VAT? 193
And another thing 194
Working out your profits 195
Expenses 195
A word about capital expenditure 196
Other tax-saving possibilities 196
24 Tax and Property 197
The tax advantages of property investment 197
A word of warning 197
Tax incentives 198
‘Generous’ expenses 198
25 Tax, Benefit in Kind and the Company Car 200
Benefit in kind (BiK) 200
Motor and travelling expenses 202
Other tax-free and tax-efficient perks 203
Has your employer offered you an opportunity to buy shares? 206
Revenue Online Service (ROS) 207
How to slash the cost of your benefit in kind 208
Should you have a company car at all? 208
100% tax-free motoring! 209
26 Capital Gains Tax 211
How the tax works 211
Basic capital gains tax planning 211
One more useful way to reduce your bill 213
27 Capital Acquisition Tax 214
Take full advantage of the tax-free thresholds 214
Five completely tax-free categories 215
Two useful ways to avoid capital acquisition tax 216
Farms 216
Businesses 216
28 Love, Marriage and Lower Taxes 218
Marriage brings greater flexibility 218
Other tax concessions made to married couples 219
Even better news if you’re married and self-employed 219
29 Tax for the Ex-pat 221
It’s all about residency and domicile 221
What happens when you move abroad? 222
A money-back offer: tax rebates 222
What is your tax status? 222
Your personal tax credits and reliefs 223
Get professional help! 224
30 Special Tax Advice for Farmers 225
Income tax 225
Capital Acquisitions Tax 226
Capital Gains Tax 226
VAT 227
Stock relief 227
Compulsory disposal of livestock 227
Capital allowances 227
Stamp duty 228
Farm consolidation relief 228
Leasing of farm land 228

Part 9: When the Last Thing You Want To Think About is Money 229
31 Redundancy 230
Background briefing on ‘redundancy’ 230
How much are you entitled to? 231
What happens if the employer doesn’t pay up? 231
What’s the tax situation? 231
Claiming tax relief on a redundancy payment 232
32 Separation 233
The implications of living apart 233
What happens when you live apart? 233
Legal separation 234
What is a judicial separation? 235
33 Divorce 237
The importance of budgeting 237
How your situation will have changed 238
Making proper pension provision 238
34 Coping With Bereavement 240
A short list of definitions 240
When there is a will 241
When there is no will or no valid will 242
The right of the spouse to inherit 242
Status of children under a will 243
Non-marital children 243
Non-marital relationships 244
The role of the personal representative 244
Obtaining the Grant of Representation 244
The importance of notifying the tax office 245
The benefits of joint ownership 246
How is it that assets can pass outside of the will or intestacy? 247
35 MARP, Personal Insolvency and Bankruptcy 249
The first steps in the process 250
Personal Insolvency Bill 2012 255
Bankruptcy 261
Regulation of PIPs 264
Here’s what to do 264
36 Non-nationals – A Guide to Living in Ireland 266
Permission, stamps and conditions 267
Business immigration programmes 269
So you have arrived in Ireland 270
10 things you may want to consider when you first arrive in Ireland 271
Support groups 278
37 Jim Power’s 2020 Economic Global Update 285
The World in 2019 285
The World in 2020 286
Interest rates 288
The Irish housing market 288
The context for the Irish economy 289
Economic background to Budget 2020 290
The economic assumptions 291
The fiscal assumptions 292
The key features of Budget 2020 293
Overall assessment 294
Appendix 1: Learn to Speak the Language 295
Percentages made easy 295
The vital difference between capital and income 298
The miracle of compound interest 298
Gearing 300
Appendix 2: Tax Rates and Credits 302
Appendix 3: Tax Computation Template 304
Appendix 4: The Money Doctors’ Annual Budget Account 305
Appendix 5: Money Doctors services 307
Appendix 6: Useful Addresses 313
Appendix 7: Important Tax Dates 317
Appendix 8: 100 Ways to Save Cash 320
Appendix 9: Mortgages for First-time Buyers 334
Appendix 10: The Money Doctors’ Tips For the Top 339
Appendix 11: Budget 2020 356
Index 362

John Lowe is a personal and corporate finance expert offering independent financial advice and popularly known as the Money Doctor ( He is a Fellow of The Institute of Bankers, an Accredited Product Adviser (APA), a Qualified Financial Adviser (QFA) and a Chartered Director (CDir). One of 114 Personal Insolvency Practitioners (PIP) in the country, he is also a bestselling author and writer on personal finance, with thousands of articles in print, along with many radio and TV contributions including weekly written contributions on and the Irish Daily Star (Thursdays). His popular corporate financial wellbeing seminars help attendees restructure their finances and maximise their income, not to mention reduce their stress levels! He does for your wealth what a good doctor does for your health.

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