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 am $15,000 in credit card debt, due to a relationship separation and being a single mom. I was fortunate to keep my home, thanks to a loan modification, but now I want to be debt-free. I am debating whether to use a credit counseling agency, file for bankruptcy or obtain a line of [...]

Q: I’m 25 years old. I have incurred large amounts of debt from school loans, hospital bills and even two payday loans. I’ve applied for jobs, but the only ones I’ve been able to get are part-time (20 hours a week). I’m actively looking for full-time work while pursuing a degree in international studies. I [...]

Q: How can we get car companies to stop selling us cars? Think about it, many of us are figuring out how to pay bills and buy food, and the president is funding car manufacturers to get us in more debt? Santa Barbara, CA A: So why don’t we also get electronic companies to stop [...]

Q: I have a niece who is about $30,000 in debt, primarily for credit cards. She is paying for a car as well (included in the $30,000). She wants to consolidate the loans and start paying them off. She says that she has stopped using the credit cards. Her income is about $1,600 a month. [...]

Q: Does a loan modification affect your credit score/report? Decatur, GA A: What gets included in the scores on your credit report (you have one from three different credit bureaus) and could hurt your credit is: too much debt; applying for new debt; and not paying your bills on time or as agreed in your [...]

Q: I attend college online for interior design and, like many students these days, I struggle to pay for school. Although my husband and I bring in about $60,000 a year, and we live with his parents and spend little money on ourselves, we struggle–mainly because of my student loans. I don’t know what to [...]

Q: I have approximately $8,000 in credit card debt. My husband died last June, and I am on disability. I am not late on any cards. It’s just that it costs me $400 a month to pay them, and I am not getting ahead. Panama City, FL A: You have two options. You could contact [...]

Q: I am having trouble disciplining myself to save money and pay off my bills. I would like to retire in two years. I make more than enough money! Would you recommend a personal accountant to manage my money for the next year? I’m not sure what would be a reasonable service fee, and would [...]

Q: I have a debt with a company on which the payments and interest rate are too high. I’ve been paying my debt on time, but since my job lowered our wages in the last two years, it has really been hard for me to make this payment of $591 per month. The interest rate [...]

Q: I am about $39,000 ($900 a month payment) in debt, in credit cards and one personal loan. I make my payments on time, but sometimes just the minimum. I’m thinking about taking from my 401(k) and paying off all of the bills. Then, I’d have more money to save every month. What do you [...]

Q: I have approximately $40,000 in credit card debt. I have not been late on a payment, but am not making a dent in the amount that I owe to several credit card companies. I am looking for an avenue to consolidate the debt into a manageable payment, but banks will not lend money of [...]

Q: Is debt reduction a better plan than bankruptcy? Grand Rapids, MI A: Can I be honest? Whenever I get this question, I cringe a little. Often, what people are really asking is what’s best for me when I have debt? I’m a huge advocate of helping people with their finances. I run a ministry [...]

Q: If I pay my debt off on my own, without any assistance, will that hurt or help my credit score? Suitland, MD A: I’m always intrigued when people ask me this question. In just about every case, paying your debt is the right thing to do, regardless of whether it hurts or helps your [...]

Q: I recently applied for a loan modification. My lender informed me they could only offer me a $23 reduction in my mortgage. What is the minimum reduction one can receive from a loan modification? I think this reduction amount is rude and a waste of time. I don’t see how this bank is helping [...]

Q: My husband read your book The Power to Prosper: 21 Days to Financial Freedom and is energized to begin budgeting. The problem: He’s not working and has no money, or his jobs are seasonal (a home contractor). I am retired and work three days a week for a retail store. I am not that [...]

Q: I was just discharged from a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and have no clue where to begin rebuilding my credit. What’s your best advice for starting over?
 Thea, Carrollton, TX A: For those who don’t know, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows you to wipe the slate clean of your unsecured debts. So, with this fresh [...]

Q: I am recently unemployed, actively looking for work and waiting for unemployment benefits to kick in. Right now, I am living off the mercies of my family, because I’ve gone through all of my savings. Please give me some tips on how I am to get through this crisis. Anitra, Goose Creek, SC A: [...]

Q: What should I expect if I have a rental property go into foreclosure? 
 Evansville, IN A: I’m afraid I have nothing but bad news for you about the rental property. If this were your primary residence, I could direct you to a lot of help. As you may know, the federal government has [...]

Q: I just recently came into a lump sum of money, and would like to invest a portion into a safe investment that would have a significant return. Are CD’s a safe investment? 
 Rodney A., Sacramento, CA A: Let me set you straight on a very important part that will help keep you from being [...]

Q: Do credit counseling agencies help or hurt your credit? I would love to have the interest on some of my credit cards lowered, but I don’t want to jeopardize my credit. Please advise. 
 Portland, OR A: First, it’s not the credit counseling agencies themselves that may pose a risk to your credit scores. By [...]

Q: I have a 401(k) from a previous job. The reason it’s still there is because I don’t know what to do with it. What should I do? Portland, OR A: You have a number of options with this leftover money. Here are some of those options: Cash out the retirement plan. This is a [...]

Q: We purchased a house two years ago in Alabama, in anticipation of retirement in June 2010, when my husband turns 62. Currently, we also have a home in Illinois–our primary residence–which we haven’t been able to sell. Now that retirement is near, we are panicking. The prospect of renting long distance horrifies us! Financially, [...]

Q: Just recently came into a lump sum of money. I would like to invest a portion into a safe investment that would have a significant return. Are CD’s a safe investment? Rodney A, Sacramento, CA A: I want to divide this question up, because there’s a lesson to be learned here about what it [...]

Q: On personal finance, what advice would best suit a May 2010 college graduate (Tennessee State) going out into this unstable economy? @justaaron1 via Twitter A: No matter what economy you face, the one critical piece of advice you should follow is this: Live below your means. And by that I mean, whatever you earn, [...]

Q: What is the best product available for someone looking to lower their monthly payment and get into a fixed-rate loan? @bandre1906 via Twitter A: There isn’t one product for every homeowner. Obviously, to lower your payment from what you have now, you need to lower the interest rate. The tried and true 15-year mortgage [...]

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