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Fergus answers your money questions

5 May 10 06:33 GMT

I'm Fergus Muirhead and I'm trying to answer any money or consumer problems you may be facing at the moment.

You can contact me by e-mail at

I will deal with a selection of your e-mails every second Wednesday on lunchtime Reporting Scotland, Scotland Live and on the BBC Scotland news website.

I also have a consumer page on Twitter:

Q. I am 75 years old. I invested £7,000 in HBOS Investment fund Managers in 2004. My latest statement value is £5,808.69. What is your advice? Should I cash it and transfer to an ISA? M Murphy

A. There are a couple of issues here, not least of which is the fact that your investment has dropped in value by more than 15% since 2004. This is the nature of investment funds and there are many people who have lost a bigger percentage of their investments over the same time scale. That is no comfort to you, however, and the short answer to your question is it depends. It depends on which fund you are invested in, how well it has performed against other similar funds and how much you are being charged for investing in that particular fund. Only when you know the answers to these questions, and you should be able to find them out by asking HBOS, can you decide whether you need to cut your losses, or stick with your investment and hope that the market recovers enough to make your money back for you. Your other issue was whether, if you do transfer, it should be to an ISA. There are certainly tax advantages to being invested in an ISA and if you transfer because you are unhappy with the risk that you could lose some of your money then you need to make sure that your money goes into a cash ISA where the values can't fall any further.

Q. Having sold my house in January, I was abroad until 1 March. I am now in a rented flat and deciding whether to buy a new-build flat in Edinburgh. I have reserved one. I have to sign missives in the next two or three weeks if I go ahead. The proceeds from the sale of my house are still in my current account. This was in case I found a house to buy quickly. What would be the best thing to do with this money until I would have to pay for the new flat, which is not until the end of this year or the beginning of next year? Ana Semple

A. You need to make sure that you find the best rate on a deposit account that will allow you access to your money in time to pay for your new house. The rates being paid on current accounts are nothing short of diabolical at the moment so you need to look for a notice account, making sure that you give yourself enough time to withdraw your cash in time to pay for your house. This might sound really obvious but if you do invest in a notice account then need to withdraw early you could find yourself suffering a loss of interest thus negating the benefits of the higher rate of interest in the first place.

Q. I am about to retire and I am in the fortunate position to have three pensions of various amounts. Firstly my old age pension, one from the NHS from my late husband and l also will have an NHS pension. The total value I think will be around £25,000 per annum gross. How will three pensions affect the way I pay tax? Will I end up paying more because they are split into three? I am willing to pay what I am due but like everybody I don't want to pay more than my fair share. I would be grateful for any advice you can give me. Carol Wishart

A. Your total income will be calculated and then you will pay the same amount of tax as you would if it was all coming from one place. It may be that all of the tax will be deducted from one of your pensions, but it will be the same amount that would have been deducted if all of your income came from one pension. Now what this means is that you need to then make sure that if you are looking to save any of your income, or leave it in the bank until you need to spend it, then you need to make sure that you are making investments as tax efficiently as possible. So use your ISA allowance where appropriate, and ensure that you are looking for the highest rate of interest you can find, tying your money up for six months or a year if you can to get a better rate.

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