Charlie Weston is the Personal Finance Editor of the Irish Independent.He campaigns on consumer issues, with a focus on variable mortgage rates, credit unions and high motor insurance premiums. He was first to expose the tracker mortgage scandal.Charlie was honoured with an Outstanding Achievement Award at the annual Business Journalists’ Association and Smurfit Business School journalism awards in 2016. He was chosen as Campaigning Journalist of the Year in 2018 and he has won numerous other journalism awards.The country’s foremost personal finance journalist, he features weekly on ‘The Last Word’ on Today FM, and is a regular contributor on RTE radio, Newstalk and regional radio stations.
Q I am 46 years old and single. Unfortunately, I have stage four cancer. While I am on sick leave my income has come down by 50pc. Since it is more than likely that I won’t see pensionable age, which is 20 years away, can I cash in my pension so that I have the money now instead? I have no dependants but what I do have are bills to pay for now and maybe a bucket list.
Q I recently got a letter from my bank suggesting that I switch to a ‘green mortgage’. We are on a fixed rate with our lender and I didn’t even think that we could switch. The rate we were offered is a little better. Would we have to pay a penalty if we were to exit our current arrangement?
Q I am a teacher with a salary of €47,000. My husband, who works in tech in the private sector, earns €50,000 a year and can earn an annual bonus of up to 20pc of his salary, but it’s not guaranteed. Even though we are paying rent, we manage to save €2,000 per month and have saved a deposit of €60,000. We have a car loan that costs €400 per month. We clear our credit cards and overdrafts monthly. We spotted a house in Crumlin for €435,000. Can we borrow enough?
Q My family and I are planning to travel to Turkey later this year. I want to take out single trip travel insurance for the holiday, but I want to be sure that cover for Covid is included. What sort of cover are insurance companies providing in the case of any of us contracting Covid while abroad, or if we had to cancel our holiday or accommodation at any point?
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