All your personal finance questions answered.
Question: I am looking into taking my two teenage kids away for a skiing holiday in Andorra for the first time in the new year. It’s something we have always wanted to do, and I really want to pack as much into our week as possible.
I am thinking early March, as it is a bit less expensive around then. But I am wondering whether it would be better value to go through an agent to book everything in advance, such as accommodation, insurance, ski hire and all that, or to organise it independently?
Answer: There is a lot to be said for shopping around when it comes to designing the right ski holiday for your needs and budget.
If you are travelling on a package, your operator will normally offer ski gear rental at the time of booking. But booking this separately in advance can mean a difference of hundreds of euro in costs over a week, particularly if you are booking for two or more people. When considering a ski pass, choose a pass that gives you only what you need, according to Deirdre McCarthy of Insuremyholiday.ie. An “access all areas” ski pass may seem the best value, but if you are just a beginner or even an intermediate skier, is it really worth paying extra for advanced-level slopes?
Self-catering accommodation can help reduce expenses significantly, and it is a good idea to stock up on food and essentials in the nearest large supermarket before hitting the resort. Skipping a slope-side lunch and choosing a packed lunch instead could save up to €10 per person per day – a saving of €150 for three people over a week, Ms McCarthy added.
Winter sports insurance is highly recommended on any ski trip, particularly for first timers, and can save you both a headache and expense in the case of one of your party suffering an injury. There is a wide range of cover available at considerably low cost, which also protects in the case of loss or damage to personal equipment, piste closure and more.
Question: My health insurance renewal notice has just landed and it’s very expensive. How do I know if I’m over-insured or paying too much?
Answer: The odds are you are paying too much for your cover if you are on the same plan for three years or more, if you have not considered a corporate plan, if you don’t have a small excess on your policy, if you are not getting guaranteed refunds on your out-patient expenses, and if you have everyone insured on the same plan.
Dermot Goode of TotalHealthCover.ie advises anyone paying in excess of €1,800 per adult to get their cover reviewed before their next renewal to make sure they are getting the best return for their premium. In many cases, you can actually get better overall cover and still reduce your costs.
Question: I recently went professional as a freelance content creator in the area of cosmetics and beauty. I work mainly through Instagram and, due to a successful campaign, recently I have found a lot more work beginning to come through the door. I
earned in the region of €6,000 since I started full time around five months ago, but it has been so crazy I am only getting around to thinking about tax issues now. I have been keeping my receipts and accounts of my income, but I don’t know what I need to do to set up as a sole trader, and if I wait until 2019 to file my income so far for this year?
Answer: Tax compliance can easily get lost in the flurry of setting up an online business, but it is a key part of the picture for all budding entrepreneurs.
Whether a full or part-time blogger or content creator, you will need to declare your income, and that means declaring everything, including any financial gifts, according to Taxback.com commercial director Eileen Devereux.
In Ireland, if your business earns you over €5,000, you will need to set yourself up as a sole trader. This is done using a TR1 form, which registers you for income tax with Revenue.
Registering as a sole trader means you will need to file a self-assessed tax return each year, stating all income earned. It is good practice to keep all receipts. The deadline for submitting returns and payments for income earned in 2018 is October 31, 2019.
Give yourself plenty of time to complete and file your return or you may be subject to penalties for late submission. The sort of expenses you can file for in your return vary considerably, from IT equipment, stationary and internet, to travel to meetings and events.
The general rule of thumb is that only expenditure which is wholly and exclusively incurred for the trade is allowed as a tax-deductible expense.
Winter sports insurance is highly recommended on any ski trip, particularly for first timers and can save you expense if you suffer an injury.
The odds are you are paying too much for your health insurance if you are on the same plan for three years or more and are not getting refunds on GP expenses.