Road to Wealth

Road to Wealth Archives

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
- Benjamin Franklin

In this column, “A Wealth of Knowledge,” Michelle Singletary answers your basic personal finance questions every week. Put yourself on the road to wealth by seeking answers to financial questions that you don’t know.

Expert Advice

Q: I currently have unsecured debt of about $40,000. My credit scores are 704, 710 and 750, for an average of 721. I have not missed a payment, nor have I been late with my creditors. How do I get an interest rate reduction? My payments have become too high, and I have reduced my [...]

Q: I am a U.S. citizen living in India. I have a few loans that are in default after they were in deferment. I graduated from Rutgers University. Currently my credit rating is spoiled, and I want to know how to recover from my debt. Is it possible if my loans are in default? Amit, [...]

Q: I was recently in a debt management plan (DMP) with CredAbility (CCCS of Atlanta). This worked well for about five months; then, I suffered a great loss of expected income. I was unable to keep up, and my DMP was closed by CredAbility. Can I start a new plan with another company to get [...]

Q: My younger sister has several derogatory items on her credit report, mostly unpaid or disputed medical bills that are now held at collection agencies. She’s trying to buy a home and having problems getting financing due to the poor credit history. Her real estate agent has referred her to a for-profit credit repairman that [...]

Q: I did some fast reading online on spending, and I would like you to clarify something for me. When it comes to buying food for the household (this is one of my huge problems), where do you limit yourself? I could easily spend between $200 to $400 a week just for a family of [...]

Q: I have significant credit card debt, and I’m worried my car might break down soon, and I’ll need to get a car loan that I’d have to pay back. Is it better to save all of my money, so I have a lot of money if I need a loan? Or, is it better [...]

Q: I currently have accumulated debt on three credit cards: $8,000, $7,000 and $3,000. I have spoken to a debt consolidation agency that states they can cut my debt in almost half by negotiating with the credit card companies. The company further states that there is no penalty for early re-payment. I was thinking of [...]

Q: I am a 24-year-old holding two B.A. degrees. I work full-time and make an after-tax income of $350 a week. I live with my parents and have no debt besides three unsubsidized federal student loans with a combined balance of $8,500. Each loan has a fixed rate of 6.5%. I have never been late [...]

Q: Is it better to work with your credit card companies when you are behind in your payments or with a credit relief agency? Fort Bragg A: It’s always better to work directly with your credit card companies if you can. But often, people don’t know how to do it or don’t follow through. And [...]

Q: I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. I’m a 40-year-old woman, with a 21-year-old son. I’m a single mom; his dad died when my son was three years old. I became terminally ill last year and lost my job. I can’t work and am on a fixed income. I want my son [...]

The following question will be longer than my answer, but it’s a tale worth reading because it’s an example of what can happen when you make money decisions based on your emotions without considering all of the consequences.Q: I am a 60-year-old veteran who receives disability compensation for active duty injuries. In 2004, I purchased [...]

Q: I have a payment due on a credit card and can’t pay by the due date because I’m laid off. I can make the payment later in the month, but the credit company won’t work with me at all. Evansville, IN A: I’m so sorry that your credit card company won’t work with you, [...]

Q: I’ve paid off all of the bills on my credit report, and I still can’t get any credit. What do I need to do to get my credit back into shape? I only pay a car note and rent, both on time. Dawn, Capital Heights, MD A: First, I have to ask: Why do [...]

Q: I owe around $34,000 in credit card debt. The interest was getting to be so high that I was paying more than $500 a month just in interest, and my minimum payments were around $900. I was given bad advice and joined a debt settlement program. I am beginning to realize that was a [...]

Q: What is your advice on taking out long-term healthcare insurance at age 76, with premiums amounting to $6,000 per year? Costa Mesa, CA A: It’s important to understand what that long-term care insurance covers. It covers the cost of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and in-home care. In most cases, the insurance will cover [...]

Q: I’m a caregiver of a disabled sister. We lost $700 in income. How do we proceed to make up the loss? I’m retirement age and years on disability. Are there any legal jobs on the Internet? Philadelphia, PA A: Please be very careful about any jobs you see advertised on the Internet that claim [...]

Q: When I lived with my boyfriend of six years, he managed (or didn’t manage) my credit cards. Now broken up, two years later, I have paid off all except one card of $12,000. Does the fact that it was my boyfriend using the card, saying he would pay it back, or that the card’s [...]

Q: My savings account is going down quickly because our small business took a hit this past December. So, what should I focus on: saving more money or paying off my debts? I know at the rate I’m going I cannot pay off all my debts. Where should I go from here? Save my house [...]

Q: My husband and I started our plumbing and sewer business this year, in hopes it will benefit our two sons–ages 5 years and 5 months–in the long run. We started out great, because of our income tax, and had a few larger projects, which we have already completed. After paying for everything we had [...]

Q: I am a current homeowner and plan on moving and taking out a new home loan within the next six to nine months. Currently, I need to purchase a used car and may take out an auto loan. Will this loan inquiry and the opening of a new account hurt my credit score or [...]

Q: How do I remove an old address from my credit report? I recently moved, and I found a pre-approved credit card offer in the mailbox of my previous residence (where I lived for only six months). I am scared they will keep coming and might get tossed in the trash and end up in [...]

Q: I have been unemployed for almost two years now. I am single with no children. With credit cards, student loans and car payment, I have about $50,000 in debt. I have credit card protection, so I have not had to pay those bills while I have been unemployed. Unfortunately, they only allow up to [...]

Q: After my divorce, my ex got the house. I got the credit card bills. Unfortunately, he also had the larger income and was not legally responsible for repayment of the credit card debt. My once stellar credit rating has been ruined as a result of my inability to pay my creditors. My $15,000 a [...]

Q: Do you help couples with debt counseling? If so, please tell me what the charge is for this service, as well as methods of payments. Vincent, Richmond, VA A: I only work with individuals through my volunteer efforts at my church in Maryland. I’m the director of a free program that helps individuals and [...]

Q: I have extensive student loan debt of $120,000. I have a master’s degree, but my take-home pay is only $29,000 a year after taxes and insurance. What are my options for repayment? One of my two loan companies mentioned graduated repayment, but I work as a public librarian, and I don’t expect my income [...]

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Last modified: April 27, 2011 at 3:29 pm