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Ask an Expert: Where do I begin to create a workable budget?

Q. My bills are more than my income. I don’t make enough to create a workable budget. Where do I begin and what do I do to fix this? Dear reader, Budgets are tools that allow us to review and organize our finances to meet our financial responsibilities and achieve goals. Developing a “workable” budget depends on your current financial responsibilities and income as much as on your goals and …Read More

Ask an Expert: What options do I have to repay debt before collections?

Q:  I have overextended myself with credit card debt and acquired loans to try to pay them off and just gotten deeper and deeper. I am not behind on anything however it is getting harder to keep up. I do not want to let my bills get so behind that they fall into the hands of a debt collector. What options do I have to repay my debt? Dear reader, …Read More

Ask an Expert: How do I pay my credit card debt when my wages are garnished?

Q: How do I pay my credit card debt when my wages are garnished? Dear reader, I’m sorry to hear that you are having to deal with a wage garnishment while trying to keep your credit card payments on track. Paying your credit card debt when your wages are garnished can be very tough because you have limited options. However, you can carefully plan and enlist the help of NFCC certified …Read More

Ask an Expert: Will closing a credit card improve my score?

Dear reader, While closing a credit card may seem like a good way to improve your score, it could actually have the opposite effect. When you look at the factors that influence your credit score, the most important ones are the payment history (which accounts for 35% of your score) and the credit utilization ratio (30%), followed by the length of your credit history (15%), and your credit mix and …Read More

Ask an Expert: What’s a Good Credit Score?

Q. What’s a good credit score?   Dear reader, A “good” score is generally considered to be around 700 or above in a score range of 300–850. However, this number is more of a loose guideline than an actual rule. As you have probably noticed, depending on the credit bureau you consult, the website you use to view your score, or the lender evaluating your creditworthiness, your score will vary and …Read More

Ask an Expert: What can I do if I cosigned a car loan for a vehicle that is inoperable and repossessed?

Q. What are the options for someone who cosigned on a car loan for a vehicle that is now inoperable and repossessed?   A: Dear reader, A car repossession is one of those situations that requires fast action to mitigate the legal and financial impact.  An NFCC counselor can work with you to understand the financial implications of car repossession on your budget and credit.  However, you should also consider …Read More

Ask an Expert: Can I get my mortgage payments reported to my credit report to increase my credit score?

Q: Hi, my credit score is very low because of medical issues my family has been dealing with. Besides my own home, I own two other investment properties. On each of these properties, I have mortgages with friends, and I have been making my payments on time. I have been working hard on improving my score so I can refinance and lower my percentage rate. If we reported to the …Read More

Ask an Expert: How to Remove an Account From Your Credit Report

Q:  I am having trouble removing an account from my credit report. The account is not mine. Each time I dispute it and the credit bureau removes it; the account reappears about two months later. What can I do to get this off my report forever?   A: Dear reader, It’s easy to understand your frustration when it seems that you are doing all the things that should produce a final …Read More

Ask an Expert: When should you file bankruptcy?

Q: I am in over my head with medical bills and credit card payments, struggling to make ends meet each month. I’m several months past due. A friend mentioned that I should maybe consider bankruptcy. Where should I begin? A: Dear reader, You have taken a significant step to regain control of your situation by exploring possible solutions. As your friend mentioned, bankruptcy could be the only option for some people. …Read More

Ask an Expert: What Goes Into a Credit Score and How to Improve It

Q: I recently opened a couple of department store credit cards and noticed a drop in my credit score. Why did this happen? What goes into a credit score and how can I improve it? A: Dear reader, I appreciate your question because most of us overlook the long-term effects that opening new credit lines can have on our credit score. We usually think about the short-term benefits, such as …Read More