Steve Hennessy
Financial Expert

I am an independent financial adviser and I’ve been advising people on their personal finances for over ten years. The bulk of my work covers savings and investments for things like school fees, university funding or retirement planning. I also do a lot of work around estate planning and risk management. I love my job!

Many of the people I work with are more than capable of managing their own financial affairs but lack the time or inclination to do so. Very often they are put off by the jargon that permeates the world of financial services, and I get great satisfaction from cutting through the language and concepts so that they can make educated decisions for themselves.

Very often I will liaise closely with other professional advisers (lawyers, accountants, actuaries etc.) on behalf of my clients toensure that all the financial components of their life are coordinated efficiently.

I started my career witha large national firm, but I am now self employed devoting my energies and intellectual capital to those clients who prefer to work directly with me, and benefit from a more personal relationship.I am directly regulated by the FSA, and I work with Myers Davison Ginger Ltd – Chartered Financial Planners based in Buckinghamshire.

Outside of my business I’ve got a young family that occupies every spare minute I have, butwhen I can sneak off I like to read, run, and play golf. I have a BA (Hons) in Politics, Philosophy and History and as a result I spend a lot of time shouting at the television.

I am really proud to be associated with this website and the service it aims to provide. I firmly believe a trusted adviser can make a huge difference to people’s lives.

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Q. Hi, I could do with a little advice and also any idea what support options I may have. I am going to be a father but the mother and I are not together and live over 4 hours drive away from each other. It isn't currently an option for either of us to move to the other and as things stand it doesn't look like we can or will be in a relationship together. In all fairness to the mother she wants me to be involved as much as I can etc although the distance clearly means i'm going to miss out on so much and not allow me to be the father I ever could have wished to be! It's hard to deal with and take in but I am, and I have to. So
besides the distance etc I'm also aware that I have to consider my finances - am I right in thinking as the mother will be caring for the child I wouldnt be able to get any financial support? Ultimately the mother and I will be sorting things best we can in terms of myself being part of the childs life as much as possible but are there any suggestions to make any of this any easier? Thanks in Advance
A. The financial support available from the state is a complex area and, without knowing your personal circumstances, my first piece of advice is for you to arrange an appointment at either your local Jobcentre Plus or Citizens Advice Bureau where you can receive bespoke guidance on benefits and money issues.

Having said that, there are some very useful online resources that you may wish to use, and some of the following may be relevant in your circumstances:

The directgov website (www.direct.gov.uk) is very useful and here is a link to the page that deals with money, benefits and taxes:

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/MoneyTaxAndBenefits/index.htm

The following link takes you to a short questionnaire on the HMRC website which will establish your potential to access working tax credits:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/start/who-qualifies/quick-questionnaire.htm

If you are responsible for at least one child or young person who normally lives with you, you may qualify for Child Tax Credit. If you work, but earn low wages, you may qualify for Working Tax Credit, even though you do not live with your child. If you work and pay for childcare you may also be able to get extra tax credits to help with the costs.

In terms of child maintenance, this is something that separated parents can arrange between themselves by making a family-based arrangement. They can also ask the CSA or courts to get involved, but given that you have explained that you and your child’s mother want to maintain good relations, I would suggest a family-based arrangement is simplest way forward. The following link is a calculator that can aid this arrangement.

http://www.cmoptions.org/en/calculator/calculator.asp

It sounds like you have a good line of communication with your child’s mother and long may this continue.


Steve

Q. im a single mother, ive nearly finsihed my civil dicvorce and i had to stop working of a leg injury. and my lawyers bills have been pushed of, i was wondering is there any orangiztion that will me cover these fess?
A.
Q. I think I am about to become a single dad of two children, one is a year old, the other about to start school. I have a mortgage with 23 years left that that even when both parents contributed to just about
cleared us out. My question is how can I cope financially? Can I get help with this? Or will it be a case of losing the house & trying to find somewhere else to live?


A. You should contact the mortgage provider or talk to an Independent Mortgage Adviser (IMB) or an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). There may be possibilities with reducing your payments such as extending the loan, going on to interest only for a while or changing to a cheaper mortgage. Some providers also allow payment holidays which may help in the short term whilst you sort things out. Most of all do not get stressed about this and go and speak to a IMB or an IFA as there is a possible solution which does not mean losing the house..

Kind regards,

Philip O'Toole Cert PFS, CeMAP, CeRER

Q. Dear sir, I am contacting you on behalf of my brother as he is unable to research this. He is currently living with the mother of his daughter but is trying to leave the home due to relationship problems. He
works full time and earns roughly £1200 take home a month. After working out his monthly bills and house hunting for an adequately sized property he has realised that he cannot afford to leave. There must be some help he is entitled to? He just wants to make a new home for him and his daughter when she visits that isn't full of not nice tension but instead is forced
to stay there because of finances. Many thanks Maria Hebden

A. Hi Maria, could you give me a bit more information? Does he currently have a Mortgage? and if so is it a Repayment one? I ask this as he may be able to reduce the payments on this. Apart from this I can not see what help there would be as he is working so I presume not claiming Benefits? The cheapest way forward would be a house share or Local Housing association housing. Sorry but apart from increasing his income, which is easier said than done at the moment, I can not see any other ways forward.

Kind regards,

Philip O'Toole Cert PFS, CeMAP, CeRER

Q. Me and my partner are going through a seperation we have an 8 month old daughter and im really scared of not being able to afford it.... is there anything out there that can help??
A. First of all assess your income and outgoings as though you were on your own. Look at any ways of reducing these costs if you are on a tight budget. Review the mortgage for instance. If you have no income in your own name give thought as to whether you can earn an income (considering child care) and on top of this any benefits that you would receive - you can find this out at http://www.direct.gov.uk once you have explored this route by using the on line calculator or contacting them you will be able to see if you can cope alone financially.

Q. Hi, I would like advice on the best savings account that I can open under my childs name that I can also have access to. Many thanks. Sara
A. Most of the building societies have some sort of childrens account , I don’t know where you are based but most are local so you would need to ask. A good website to look at is http://www.moneyfacts.co.uk/ You don’t say how old your child is but if under 16 it is usually held in the name of the parent and you do have access to the funds. Unfortunately the rates are poor at the moment on these type of accounts. If you wanted to invest regularly and are happy to tie it up then this website is the best http://www.childrensmutual.co.uk

Kind regards

Caroline

Q. hi my name is christina i have got into coventry uni that im really pleased about they say i can get 6.500 to help me financial but how will this affect my other benifits as i am on in-come support?
A. Hi Christina

This is a question that can only be asnwered by your local job centre who will have all the information on how your grant will effect your benefits.

Q. I am a teacher and earn just over £30,000 a year. I have two children (11 and 4). I have been on my own since just after the birth of my youngest.

I know I should be quite well off - but at the moment I am spending lots more than I earn. I know this sounds stupid and am blushing writing this!

I like my kids to look great and I know I spend money on myself as well. May as well be honest!

I am not sure if I should be talking to my bank or a psychiatrist - because I know what the answer is - "don't spend so much!"

But the truth is I have got into a habit of spending more than I earn and need some help.

Where do I go??!

Many thanks
A.
Thanks for your question. You are not alone, many people are in your situation but the first step is to talk about it and get to the root. You don't need to speak to the Bank Manager or the psychiatrist, just someone who understands finances and the emotional side to them.

You need to start by doing a budget, this will most likely show as you mentioned that you are over spending. Take a look at how you are borrowing that over spending (loan or credit card and review) then prioritise into things you need to have (mortgage, food basic clothing etc) and the nice to haves ( extra treats, eating out etc) Take a look at this short term and long term and set a plan - it is all then down to discipline just like a diet. You have to review the plan regularly and see if you are on track. The earlier you crack on with it the better. A good book to read is Alvin Hall - What not to spend.

I have a contact and ex colleague who is a financial coach, she doesn't give full advice ( she passes you to me for that) but by telephone she can coach you through the pain. The advantage of this against a normal life coach is that she has financial training. Please let me know via OnlyMums if you would like her contact.

Caroline Anstee
Q. My question is to do with pensions. I'm 44 and have worked for three companies all with pension schemes. On the advice of my bank, some years ago I also started a private pension (but have since stopped paying into this).

That means when I reach 60 (?), I will have four different pensions. My question is whether it might be wise to put all four into one new scheme. Or is this not possible. Thank you for your help.
A. This is a very common situation as it is unlikely these days for people to be with one employer throughout their working life. Unfortunately however we tend to just put all the paperwork in a drawer rather than reviewing it.

As you would expect , as it is pensions there isn't a simple answer. It very much depends on what type of pensions they are (and therefore what benefits are paid) , what costs are involved, what other benefits are payable such as dependents pension etc and what your personal situation is. So it isn't as simple as putting them altogether , it doesn't necessarily mean you will have 4 different pensions but you certainly should take a look at all of them and review them individually and then decide the best options, that way you will know what pension is likely to be payable , when payable and be able to plan accordingly.

The first plan of action would be to contact the various offices and get up to date information and ask questions about the different schemes.

I am happy to help you with this, there is no initial cost for the collating of the information , I will then be able to see what you have and guide you in the process.

If you want me to look at this for you please email me your contact details and we will take it from there.

Kind regards

Caroline Anstee
07906 080480
Q. Having been made redundant two months ago, I decided to work as a freelancer. My work is largely creative and I have never been strong with figures. I know I will have a tax bill to pay at some stage - how can I calculate how much I need to set aside each month so I don't have a nasty, and potentially business-destroying bill that I haven't anticipated?
A. Congratulations – first of all for starting out as a freelancer – and secondly for recognising your own weaknesses.

If this is your first year in business, the biggest shock is that when you prepare your first tax return, you not only pay tax for the previous year, you also have to pay six months ‘on account’ – effectively leaving you with a tax bill for 18 months’ work even if you have only worked for 12 months.

As a general rule, if you are not registered for VAT, setting aside around 40% of turnover should ensure you are able to pay your tax bill comfortably. Once you have filed your first set of accounts, you will have a better idea of what you need to save in the next year. I’d really recommend that you find a reliable accountant who you feel comfortable working with to advise you and help you keep your tax bill down. Talk to one now rather than a week before you need to submit your return as they will also help you set your record up in a way that will help you – and them – keep track.

Having accounts prepared and signed off by a qualified accountant will help you if you need to take out a loan or mortgage in the future, and should also help protect you against tax investigations. Ask for recommendations at local networking events or see the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales website at www.icaew.co.uk