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Season 2 #8 Paul Merriman

Here, we explore the financial side of aging without children. I speak to financial advisor, Paul Merriman about the basic elements of understanding your money, making it work for you and planning for your financial future. Paul also highlights some opportunities that may be available to people who don't have children. Paul wants to take the fear out of money and gives practical advice on how to feel more in control of your finances right now.

For more information see and 'Ask Paul' on social media.

Episode Transcript:

Margaret O Connor 0:10

Welcome to season two of the Are Kids For Me podcast. I will continue to speak to people in a range of different circumstances of their personal and professional experience of answering this question. Thank you so much for your positive feedback on season one, and I really hope you find these episodes as well.

My guest today is Paul Merriman, Paul is considered one of Ireland's leading financial advisors. He's an internationally recognized Certified Financial Planner. He has over 15 years experience in the finance sector and now heads up his own brokerage Pax Financial Planning, which he has grown from a two man operation to one of Ireland's top financial planning firms. He appears regularly on TV and radio and has an ever growing social media presence. Today we discuss the basic elements of understanding your money, and planning for your financial present, and future. This information applies to everyone but Paul highlights the opportunities available to people without children. He shares many practical ways to feel more in control of your money right now, and have it working for you in later life.

Okay, so Paul delighted to talk to you today. We're looking at her our series of who's going look after us when we get old from a financial point of view so really looking forward to getting lots more useful information on that, thanks a million.

Paul Merriman 1:30

No problem, I'm looking forward to this as well, it's a great topic. So I'm looking forward to adding value hopefully.

Margaret O Connor 1:36

Lovely. So I suppose where would be a good place to start with kind of general financial advice? (laughter)

Paul Merriman 1:42

Wow (laughter) well I think from a financial planning point of view, it's no matter what our life situations is, always trying to put a little bit of money aside for the future. And obviously, if we're, from an audience point of view, for people that might not be having children, or had children, you know, it's going to be a lot, a lot easier to do that. Because obviously, having kids is a massive financial impact. I mean, it's some some reports say, it's at least 110,000 euro, to get a child from birth to college, and then it goes up substantially for college as well. And you're obviously gonna not have childcare costs, you're not gonna have college costs, etc. So I think it's trying to make use of that money and deciding whether you're going to put that money aside on a monthly basis, or an annual basis to look after not even just yourself from a retirement age or old age point of view. But you're obviously maybe able to retire much earlier, you know, because you don't have those additional costs. So it's trying to be very conscious of the fact that you have this saving, I suppose. And what do you want to do with that saving? So do you want to have a bigger house now? Or do you want to go on more holidays now? Do you want to put more money aside for maybe 10/ 15/ 20 years away when you'd like to retire maybe in your 40s or 50s? Do you want to see the world, do you want to travel? And you know, what do you want to do with your money, really, but it's just making those kind of grown up decisions to say, right, we have this extra income that maybe our friends and close family members mightn't have because they have children. And what are we going to do with it? I think that's what we're hoping to talk to people about during this episode.

Margaret O Connor 3:16

They sound like nice questions to be considering (laughter). We might not be able to do much with it at the moment, but hopefully in the future. Yeah. Okay. So these are quite practical issues. Yeah..

Paul Merriman 3:26

Yeah, they are indeed. They're very, very practical issues.

Margaret O Connor 3:29

Okay. Um, yeah, so where where's a good place to start with that?

Paul Merriman 3:34

I think we'll start with in relation in trying to put your money aside in to maybe an investment account on a monthly basis, and also maybe touching on pension planning. And then we might also touch on the fact that if something was to happen to you, what would happen to your estate from a tax point of view, what kind of plans you can put in place for that. So I suppose lets start off with the investment or the pension. So, you know, deposit interest rates are practically zero in the country at the moment, it's very hard to get a return on your money. I'd always recommend to any client regardless of what their kind of situation to try and put some money on a monthly basis into an investment account. People get scared, by the thoughts of investing and think it's daunting. And there's a number of options out there. And and it's very easy to set up an investment account. And we do it for clients here at Ask Paul all the time, on a daily basis, to be honest. And you know, there's some really, really strong return of fund out there when you do invest your money. And you know, the very sound of investment years ago, when do you think of maybe the first one for some, the first experience I had was a film called Wall Street as a kid in the 80s. You look at kind of real rich white men walking around New York Stock Exchange shouting at each other. It's completely changed now. You can invest on your phone, you can invest through your bank, you can invest through someone like ourselves, a financial planning consultant. But yeah one of the funds I recommend all the time is a Zurich Dynamic Fund that's been around since 1989, and an average return of nearly 11% a year. We put clients into it on a daily basis. It's just a direct debit that goes in and invests in 400 stocks. So it's done for you by a fund manager. And I think absolutely everybody in the country should be doing that to be honest, whether it's 75 euro a month, or 2000 a month, you whatever you can afford, because it's making your money work harder for you. And you know, it's up to you to make sure you're getting the biggest bang for your buck. You can't be leaving money on deposits or in, in credit unions or post offices, big amounts for long periods of time that is, so yeah, I think the investment piece is probably to first piece to go with.. Before you invest, you need to look at your own finances and make sure that you have what's called an emergency fund put aside as well, Margaret. So you know, if anything does happen, whether it be from work, or whether it be for from a sickness or an accident, sometime, you have some cash to go to, usually from 1000 euro up to about three months net income is usually where you need to start from that point of view. And but just to give you an idea, if you can afford and again, talking about people that maybe haven't got the normal expenses on a monthly basis that you'd have with children, if you can afford to put maybe even 1000 euro aside for argument's sake on a monthly basis over a 20 year period. And with a growth rate of 8%. And even after tax, it's looking at about 320k, being invested over a 20 year period of return. So you know, you'd have 320k in the fund of the end of that period. So that's a substantial amount of money, and for someone in maybe their early 30s, you know, that would definitely give a big hand to retiring much earlier than having to wait to 68 years of age for the state pension. And and that is something that has to be really considered and can't be ignored, you know, you're not going to have the childcare costs, you're not going to have the school costs, you're not going to have all that. So you should have technically more disposable income than the average person will with children. So I think I think that's an important thing to say. Other than that as well, the thing about people from a financial planning point of view, is there are three main components to a good financial plan, no matter what your circumstances. And that's to protect your income, to grow your income, and then replace it at retirement age and you want to stop working. So protection is the first part, we spoke about growing your income there a second ago. But I think everybody in the country needs what's called an income protection policy, something that protects your income right up to retirement age. And this is really important for single people. So I'm conscious you might have some singl people listening today who mightn't have children, but also mightn't have a partner or mightn't be planning to have a partner. And in that case, you're solely dependent on your own income coming in right up to retirement age. So you really are at risk where if something goes wrong, you're on your own, or else you have to go back to parents or back to brothers or sisters or family members, which is never a nice thing to do. So I think an income protection policy for those people is obviously.. an income protection policy that basically covers your income up to 75% of your income if you're out sick long term for kind of accidents, sickness or illness. It doesn't cover redundancies now, but any kind of major health problems. And the premiums are tax deductible, they're really cheap. And and I think it's the most obvious thing to do. I always use this analogy for people, it would be like, you know, if someone is on 50,000 a year. If you put.. or 52,000 a year, if you put a cash machine in your sitting room with an ATM, which was just spitting out a grand a week, just giving you a grand every week. And I said to you, you could insure that machine in case it broke down, it's gonna keep giving you income until you get to 65 years of age, but it might break down. If it broke down, would you want to ensure it, every one in the country would insure that machine and you in effect are that machine, your ability to get up and go to work, whether it's self employed or you work for somebody, your ability to earn an income can be insured. And I think that's an amazing thing to do especially you know, revenue can help with your premiums, your tax relief, generally they come in under 100 euro, with your tax relief on the higher income tax would be 60 euro so that would be 15 quid a week can give you an amazing income protection policy. And but yeah, I think that's the first fundamental part is to protect and grow your income, then you have to look at when you stop working. You know, if you don't have children, you should be able to do that a hell of a lot earlier than the average person with kids. I have to say that because you should be able to fund your pension quicker or have that investment account with a few 100,000 euro in it by the time you get your 50s. And you know one thing I work with clients all the time and mostly when they have children is probably putting the like of a children's education fund for when they get to 18 and they usually recycle the children's allowances into that, so that's 140 euro a month, over 18 years, would get you in or around round, with loads of assumptions, of course, and terms and conditions but will usually get you in or around 40 grand for a children's education fund, but trying to encourage people to maybe make a decision as to do I want to retire early or do I want to stop working at 50 or 55 and maybe getting a financial planning consultation so you know what your options are. But when it comes to pensions, you know, there's a lot of tax relief out there, if you're at a higher rate of income tax, you can get nearly 40% you will get 40% tax relief. So for every thousand euro you put into your pension, it's only costing you 600 euro. You're getting 400 euro back from Revenue. So remember the SSIA's Margaret, the SSIA's, years ago everyone always asking me on my page will they come back again. Well, a pension is and SSIA on steroids. You know, it's just amazing tax relief, and your funds grow tax free as well. So it gets you. It's amazing. So yeah, you want, you want to have a balance between the investment account and a pension account, and reason you don't want to put all your eggs in your pension is that you can't touch, with most company pension plans you get, until you're 60 or personal pension plans until you're 60, some company pension plans, you can access them from 50 or 55 if you leave work, which is worth noting for people, but yeah getting that kind of financial planning or that consultation for your holistic financial plan between now and 100 years of age, to be honest, what we do with our clients to make sure they never run out of money is important. And actually when we're talking about this actually Margaret, the big thing here for people is the likes of a financial plan, why do you plan for 100 years of age, we actually plan after that, because when somebody passes away, they now have an issue of inheritance tax, you know, and that's a big issue for people. And just from the rules, if you had got children, you can give your children an awful lot of money on an annual basis tax free, and they range in between what's your relationship is with the person you're giving your tax to. So for for a child, a child can receive 335,000 euro. So if you have three kids, you can gift them a million or and give them a million through inheritance with no implication. But if you haven't got children, the Revenue is going to get a lot of your estate because you know, for nieces and nephews, you can only give them 32 and a half thousand euro. So you know, even if you had 10 nieces and nephews, you're still only up to 320 / 325k. So you know other than that you're going to whoever gets your estate are going to pay 33%, what's called Capital Acquisition Tax or CAT tax. I think inheritance tax is the worst tax to pay. And now I'm not fond of any tax and I doubt any of the listeners today are fond of any tax but getting taxed when you pass away and your estate getting taxed is a killer, it's a kicker. So I think what I would usually recommend people do is take out what's called a Section 72 life assurance contract. And that section 72, life assurance contract, let's say you had a million, and you had 10 nieces and nephews, and you're gonna give them the 300 grand three and 20k odd. You could insure yourself for up the other 680 grand. So 60, at 33%, let's say be in around 200 grand, you can insure your life for 200,000 worth of life cover but that life assurance policy can be used to pay the revenue commissioners. So the millionis passed tax free then down to your nieces and nephews or your your friends or family, whatever you're going to do with it. So there's a really clever way. And in fact, I don't know if you ever saw that story a couple years ago where two guys, two gents got married, two best friends. And they weren't in that type of relationship, but they just got married to avoid the tax. So which I thought was very, very, very clever. But look the easiest thing for those two to do would have been when they were much younger to setup a whole of life section 72 life policy, which again we do on a weekly basis for our clients. But yeah, so there's a there's very clever things you can do. And it doesn't have to be that complicated. And what we try to do here at Ask Paul is to make money uncomplicated and make it jargon free. And you don't have to be afraid of your money. I mean, there's one or two recommendations you should do for everybody. Where it's the investment account and a pension, income protection, and then a section 72 policy, there's four main recommendations. And that's really all everybody needs. But I think for, obviously, for your podcast and for this subject, we do need to kind of say that people that don't have kids will have a lot more money generally speaking, and they they have a phenomenal opportunity to plan their money probably earlier in life. And the quicker you invest your money and the quicker you get your pension plan, the more compound interest you get, the more tax relief you get. So the quicker.. where most people decide to have kids in their 20s or 30s. Like most of my clients that I do see, in fairness are couples and single people that are maybe 40, early 40s and they've woke up and their kids are maybe now like nearly at secondary level. They've got the job promotions and they're on a very comfortable level with income, they've no personal loans, they're maybe 10 years in their house. So those.. those kind of those kind of issues people have in their late 20s and 30s getting on the property ladder, having kids and creche fees and all this type of stuff. They've got over that hump, where if you don't have that hump to get over, you should be planning like the 42 year old at 32 years of age. And that gives you a 10 year advantage. And to me that advantage should be really compounded to be able to get you out of retirement in around 50 to 58 no problem, compared to if you have kids probably looking at 65 to 68 years of age. So that's what I think is the biggest advantage financially for people in that situation. The main message here has to be the earlier you plan, the better it's going to be. It has to be that.

Margaret O Connor 14:44

Yeah, yeah. I know what you're (laughter) what you're saying makes total sense. And I'm sitting here just nodding like terrified...But that's just me.

Paul Merriman 14:55

(laughter) But there is genuine genuinely no need to be terrified because it's not like that...we, for financial planning consultations, we take people through what's called a cash calc, which is a cash flow analysis where we take a look at where you are now. And we forecast all the way to 100 years of age. And I think you'd be.. anyone that comes through to cash calcs with our practice, usually walks out elated, because they don't realize how good they have how good their future financial situation is. But just one or two small tweaks, you know, and that's, that's the beauty of our role and why I love the job so much, you're bringing a lot of clarity and transparency to people's money. Very rarely we work with somebody that hasn't got enough money or has has a money issue. You know, we help people structure debt and do it all the time. But generally, people generally like 95, or 98% of people we work with are in really good shape, but just don't know it, because they haven't seen a cash flow analysis properly or don't know all about the taxes, or they don't know how much even investing even 500 euro a month, and how much of an impact that can make over 20 years, and how quickly they can pay that big mortgage or how quickly they can retire. So it's actually very, I think, everybody in the country, should do one to be honest with you. Yes, so it's amazing.

Margaret O Connor 16:06

I suppose I just think sometimes it's easy not to be able to look that far ahead. Because something happens like the washing machine breaks or you know, or the car needs a repair, so you know, you're or I know, I certainly do tend to look quite short term, I don't..I'm scared to look at the bigger picture in case of what I find. But that's reassuring to hear. Yeah (laughter)

Paul Merriman 16:28

And like I said that goes back down for all our financial planning consultations, we would always make sure people have an emergency fund, maybe 10,000 set aside, so somebody comes to me tomorrow and let's say they have no money, no, no money saved, and they have a decent income. And they've been spending it or whatever, you know, we got a lot of people now that have money for the first time because of lock down. And they haven't been able to spend the money on holidays or, you know, weddings or hens or stags or whatever they've been usually spending their money on.. weekends away during the year or those type of things. But you know, they have money now. And in fairness, when they come to us, the first thing we will always do is say, well look, we give you a plan, we don't want you to necessarily have to set up an account today, like some clients I would work with, I'd say, right for next six months, get your emergency fund together, then come back to me in the seventh month, then we'll do the investment accounts. Does that make sense? So we put structure around the simple parts of your money as well as what are deemed to be the comp.. actually, they're deemed to be complicated by clients, but the investment account and the pensions and all that stuff are the easiest things to do. And we're trying to take ownership of your have money and being.. I do this slot on 2FM sometimes with Louise McSharry called 'How to be an Adult', it's a really good slot. But we we talk about how to be an adult with your money. And it really is something that everybody should do and I think like I've dealt with clients in their 60s who still don't know how to work on money. Money is very simple. It comes in after you spend your time working for somebody, or working for yourself, at the end of the week or the month the money comes into your account. And then you just have to be an adult about what you're doing with that money. If you're gonna blow it all, that's absolutely fine. If that's what you want to do, you blow it all, if you want to save a bit, you consciously saving a bit but you should always keep in mind the protect, grow and replace system, which is number one to protect your income. Number two to grow any extra income you have. So if you have got extra income left over at the end of the month or disposable income, you put it into an investment account, rather than leaving it sit in a deposit account, you know, put it in a pension for the future. And so it is literally that simple. And where I think people just get very afraid of money for some reason. I think that's an Irish thing. You know, I think we're brought up with don't talk about money. And money is a secret thing. And you never let your neighbour know what you're earning or what you're doing with your money. And we're trying to break down those barriers here at Ask Paul, so people can have a better relationship with the money and be able to plan everything that happens in their life events. You know, it's really important.

Yeah, sounds great absolutely. Okay, so having all those things put in place, what are some of the things then is, as you mentioned earlier that people so who don't have children might be able to do with that extra income if they have it?

Yeah, so I think the extra income, my main advice would probably be to make sure you get someone like myself to have a consultation with and be able to look at your own overall circumstances. Everyone's is different. So a very, very sailed proof plan for most people like as in a generic plan is to make sure your mortgage is under control, that you can pay your mortgage. I wouldn't pay your mortgage back too early. I'd prefer to see your money invested. So some people say to me, I've got an extra 300 quid a month, should I overpay my mortgage, I'd say no invest it. So because you don't want to be giving the bank the money back too early. I think the best thing to do after you have your mortgage under control is definitely to invest, medium to long term, which would be an investment account, and then long term would be a pension account, and making sure that they're invested and taking the opportunity to say right out of my net disposable income, if you're in a relationship, there's two people whether married or cohabitating or partnered.. maybe take the combined income and say, right, this is what you want..what do you want to do this year? Like how many holidays do you want to go on? Like what's the lifestyle you want between now and retirement age? And then if you want to retire really early and not have to go to work, you're gonna have to sacrifice some of those things, maybe whether it's your money or your time or your travel. What I love about my job, when I sit down with people, and especially when they have disposable income, which I will have to keep going back and saying that most people don't have children will definitely have way more disposable income. Then sitting down and talking about what they want with that money. So what what is it you want? Is it that you want to retire early? Or is it that you want the more holidays now? So it's like a trade off. And it's all about balance. It's trying to talk to clients, whether single or in a relationship as I said, earlier on, it's trying to talk to those clients about, well, what are your goals? What are your timeframes for your goals, and you know, I have clients that will work until they're 80, they're probably going to work until they die. And they want to spend their money, they want to have loads of experiences now and work really hard, they're usually self employed or business owners. And they work really hard, but have really amazing big holidays during the year, you know, they'll have the big Christmas, the big Easter and the big summer holidays. And they'll spend substantial amounts of money on those holidays, which is fine, because their business is probably funding a pension plan or their retirement, but they probably will never retire. Then I have other couples, and other people that I deal with and and you may find that they really want to work until they're only 50 or 55. And then they want to stop working. And then they want to do all those expensive holidays, and they want to have that type of lifestyle. So same advice, just different timeframes, if you know what I mean for those clients. But yeah, I think it's a it's a phenomenal opportunity for people, you know, if they have got that disposable income to really have themselves under control. The other thing I would say on this is you should have no loans or personal loans or kind of short term loans. When you have that extra income, you should be able to save for things you want to have where again, you do find a lot of families are in debt, they have a lot of personal borrowings, whether its the car loan, just a simple thing, like a car loan that people take for.. just it's normal now. I do find when I come across clients that haven't got kids, and they don't have car loans, you know, and they don't have credit card debt, because they they can plan their income much better. And there's no sporadic spending going on, or there's no big like I said earlier, creche fees or education, fees, all this type of stuff. So I do think that it's your opportunity to be the best in class with your money and your finances. You know, once you have the right plan and structure around it, you'll be top of the class and have all those structures in place.

Margaret O Connor 22:28

Ok..and I'm just wondering, for people who maybe are in more, I don't know is that is the word irregular employment. So they might have kind of maybe short term contracts or you know that they're not necessarily in a permanent pensionable job? How how can you adapt kind of for that situation?

Paul Merriman 22:48

Well, again, it's a good plan. There's a personal budget template, actually, on my website,, if you head over there, you get the personal budget templates. And a personal budget template is where you put in all your money that's coming into the household. So whether it be you know, social welfare, whether it be part time income or full time income, and they put it in all your outgoings, so you know, like your rent, your mortgage, your gas, your ESB, your your insurance, your car, whatever you have going on your life, your food obviously, and I recommend anyone that's in that shift work kind of environment to get the personal budget template to put it in, but you put it in like a normal 12 month period or 52 weeks, for getting paid. And then you just try and balance it out for the weeks that you're going to maybe work either more or work less. I think everybody needs to know their number. Regardless whether you do shift work or full time, whatever it is, you need to know your cost of living. So your cost of living is basically your rent, or your mortgage payments, and all your bills for your house, your broadband, your ESB, your gas, they all have to be paid every week, and then you're food shopping. So everybody has a cost of living. And you need to make sure you're nailing that on a weekly. So just for argument's sake, if your cost of living was a grand a month, or 12 grand a year, and you know, you need on average on a four weeks on average, say, would you need about 250 euros a week, just to survive, you know, that's obviously really low because your rent alone would be roughly a grand, but let's say it's 24 grand a year. So let's say it's two grand a month and 500 euro a week. If you're on shift work and one week you get 700 euro and the other week you get 400, you need to just be spending your five and your other surplus income should be in your account to cover your shorter weeks. Does that make sense? So it's a very easy way to balance it. I do think as well for shift workers I love giving this advice for anyone who has sporadic income whether you're self employed or whether you're your consult your consultant to different companies, whatever you're doing. An easy way to do this is if you have a main working account, so for those that are interested in saving money the EBS money manager account, now I'm not promoting them. They're just the cheapest bank in Ireland to use but it's a good Irish bank and they have a money manager account that's free, you get your debit card and everything else so it's a really good account. So set your money manager up with the EBS to be a free bank so you're saving cash straightaway, you're not paying silly bank fees and you use that for your income and your expenses. So let's say all your money comes in and all your outgoings as in your living standard outgoings go out, your living standard outgoings would be your rent, your mortgage, your ESB, your food shopping etc. So let's say it's 500 euro a month, 500 quid a week, it's two grand a month. Now, let's say you earn 2800. Okay, and you say, look, I want discretionary spend. So I want to spend 100 quid a week in the pub, or on hair, makeup, nails, or I want to go to the bookies or whatever you want to do with your money, you should transfer that to a Revolut account or an N26 account, they are free online banking apps. And there are fine for that little kind of play money as I like to call it, so you transfer your 500 euro over there, and that's all you use. And that means your other account with your 2300 2800, you should have 2300 left over. And two grand we know is going to go out from your food, your rent, your mortgage, your bills, etc. And you should have 300 a month surplus income there all the time, you can either save that on a regular basis or invest it. And then you have your 500 discretion in Revolut. So every month, it doesn't make a difference whether you're up or down the or share your your your shift worker is up or down, you know, you have your 500 euro in your Revolut. That's all you can spend, and your money will just manage yourself then on a monthly basis. So one month you might have 3,000 and another month you might have 2300. But it will average out. And yeah, that's how I'd probably set up a shift workers kind of salary or income or someone that was self employed, with sporadic income payments or getting paid sporadically. I think that's a good way to do.

Margaret O Connor 26:27

That immediately sounds better. Instead of checking tentatively your balance each time (laughter)...

Paul Merriman 26:33

There is nothing worse than doing that. But again, it's about being an adult and deciding yeah, well, I'm getting 2300, I'm only gonna spend 500. Now if you don't do that, and all everything comes from your one account, and you're just I like to call it tap dancing around town with your debit card, and you're just dropping 50s or 30s everywhere you go, you're going to run into the problem that you're going to spend too much, you're gonna miss a direct debit, you're gonna have a missed payment, you're gonna go into your overdraft because you're not managing your money. But it's not rocket science, you just take in what's coming in, what's going out. And whatever's left over how much am I going to blow and how much am I gonna save? Another tip there actually is to save before you spend. So if you get paid on the 28th of every month, on the 28th of every month, put your money into your savings, your 300 quid in that example, or your grand or whatever you're going to save, put it aside then, you know, don't wait until all your money is gone, and then say, oh, I should have saved or don't wait until during the month when you're struggling to say, oh, I can't save any money. And as we always say put your discretionary spend in the Revolut or the N26 account, and just use that. And when it's gone, it's gone. You know? So you know, if you've spent 500 quid in week two you know you're going to have a tight rest in a month. And you'll soon get used to it, (laughter) you'll soon understand.

Margaret O Connor 27:44

Yeah, no, that's really actually that makes it really clear. And yeah, that makes a lot of sense..

Paul Merriman 27:50

Yeah like I said it isn't rocket science.

Margaret O Connor 27:53

Okay, okay, so there's lots of really good information there. Which again, I suppose kind of applies to everybody, really, you should have all those things in place first, and then seeing where you're at, and what you want to do with.

Paul Merriman 28:03

Yeah, and that's the good thing about financial planning. Financial Planning is the same for everybody. So it's just the different person's circumstance are different. So the advice of protect, grow, replace, the advice of the EBS accounts and the Revolut accounts, they're the same for everybody. it doesn't make a difference whether you have children or no children, it doesn't make a difference whether you're in a couple or single, it doesn't make a difference, whether you're full time or part time or whether your shifts work. They're the basics of financial planning, you know, to me, and I think that's really important. And once you to have the basics nailed, there's nothing really, there's nothing really.. people think that investing is sexy, or investing has to be this big thing you do where you have a stockbroker, and you're getting trades every day. It's not, it's just an account that someone manages for you. It's very simple. And they look after it, they manage your money for you. And that fund I mentioned earlier on, we do it on our website. It's called the Ask Paul investment club. And we said we set this up last year where I you invest 750 a month. And every week, every Monday, I send an email down to everybody letting them know what the markets did last week and what's going on with the fund. And then every month I login online to my investment account and I share it with everybody and I send it to the email, there is about 700 or 800 people in it now. But yeah, people can put it in from 75 euro a month, right up to hundreds of thousands if they wanted. And so it's really I think it's really good. I think I think it's so logical. You know, you set up a direct debit into Zurich and they just manage it for you and the funds going since 1989. Like 11% per annum on average, it's just a really good thing to do I think. It will go up or down in value and it has those rides because it's linked to stocks and shares but over the long term, it does give phenomenal return. And so I think I think that's probably the biggest kind of tip I can give everybody today is to do that, like you you it's not it's not that hard to do. And then we're here for financial consultations. We have a fee based service, you can book in through online and you know they start from 250 euro and you got to lower for an investment account. It's just 149e. Or a mortgage is 199e for a mortgage consultation. But generally speaking, we bring you through everything, personally then, you know, we personalise it for you and give you a report to show you what it's like to retirement age or up to 100 years of age and discuss all the pitfalls that you may experience because everybody is different. And everybody wants that kind of a little bit of individual advice and support. That is important.

Margaret O Connor 30:23

Okay, okay. No, I think as I said that's really, really useful, a lot of practical information there for people to think about maybe and start getting their accounts in order and things like that.

Paul Merriman 30:33

Yeah their house in order, or their accounts in order (laughter)

Margaret O Connor 30:37

Alright, is there anything else you'd add in? Or do you think that's ok for now?

Paul Merriman 30:41

No I think that is it. I would just say again just probably to highlight the tax issue, you know, the tax issue was a killer. And now some people, you know I have a lot of clients and they'll say, look Paul, I don't care about the inheritance tax, you know, my nephews and nieces are going to earn all this money well so be it. The other thing to work out here is if you're cohabitating, and you're not married, there's inheritance tax on the house. If you have a couple living together, and they're not married, and let's say the house is worth 300,000 euro, and one of them passes away, the other person is technically inheriting 150,000 euro off the dead partner and even if they've been living together for 20/30 years. And it's quite a bit of a shame, because technically, they're only allowed get 16,250 with that Capital Acquisition threshold. So there could be inheritance tax bill at 33% of that 135 odd thousand euro. So, you know, you could have a surprise 40 grand landed on your door from revenue. And again, you can protect from that when you're setting yourselves up correctly, just in case anyone listening today is not married, and they don't have kids and are in that situation. Yeah, I think I think that's it but do keep an eye on tax. As I said I have got some clients that don't really care about the taxes, they say look the nieces and nephews are going to get it, they're getting a lot of money let them pay the tax, which is which is actually you know fair enough. I on the other hand, don't want, I've paid my taxes all through my life and I don't want the revenue getting anymore. I'd rather it go to the dogs and cats home, rather than the revenue to be honest (laughter). So I'd make sure that inheritance tax plan is in place which again, I do think is very important, you know.

Margaret O Connor 32:16

That's actually another point. I know, Karen the solicitor mentioned that about gifting money to charity, how does that work?

Paul Merriman 32:21

Well, the charities are free, so you can give as much money to charity as you want. There's no inheritance tax issues there. Good question, actually. But yeah, there's no tax implications they're ever given to the charity. But, you know, it's, it's more nephews and nieces and everybody else in there after that are gonna get hit with the taxes.

Margaret O Connor 32:38 you know, see how you feel about them I guess (laughter). Okay, well, look, that is definitely really useful. And I'm going to put in links, obviously, to your website and the things there.

Paul Merriman 32:53

I'll just say there is a lot of free information. I did mention that we have consultations. but on our website and on our Instagram page, we have hundreds of hours of free content, going into more details about the topics today. So it's not a situation we're trying to get people to pay for consultation. We were very, we try to educate people on finance. That's our main job. And obviously people do want the book in which is fine to get their personal reports, and that kind of stuff, which is which is which is valuable. And there is a lot of free content there as well on the website so do check it out.

Margaret O Connor 33:19

Lovely will do. All right. Thanks a million , I really appreciate your time today.

Paul Merriman 33:23

Thank you so much, thanks for having me on Margaret. Much appreciated and I enjoyed that chat.

Margaret O Connor 33:34

Thanks very much to my guests for taking part and to you for listening. I would love to hear your feedback and any suggestions for other topics you would like to see covered in this series. I would also love to build a community of like minded people. So please follow the Are Kids For Me pages on Facebook and Instagram if you want to find out more on this topic. I look forward to hearing from you and watch over the next episode coming soon.

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