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Ask an Expert: What’s the Difference Between Disposable and Discretionary Income?

What is the difference between disposable and discretionary income? Dear Reader, This is a very good question. Although you only have one income, there are many ways of describing it based on the amounts withheld or deducted. For instance, your disposable income is the amount of money you have left over after you’ve paid all of your federal, state and local taxes. On the other hand, your discretionary income is …Read More

Ask an Expert: What is a Judgment?

Q. What is a judgment?   Dear Reader, Dealing with a judgment can be a terrifying ordeal. As it relates to credit, it means that a creditor or debt collector has taken you to court to collect your unpaid debt and they have won the lawsuit.   Like any legal matter, a judgment is a process. It’s the debt collector’s last recourse to legally collect the debt after all other …Read More

Ask an Expert: What are the Consequences of Bankruptcy?

Q. What are the consequences of bankruptcy?   Dear Reader, Bankruptcy is a legal process that can eliminate many of your debts and even help you keep some of your property. It is the fresh start some people need to rebuild their finances, yet it has long-term negative consequences.   For instance, a bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for 7–10 years, depending on the type you file, even …Read More

Ask an Expert: What is a Charged Off Account?

Q. What is a charged off account on my credit report? Dear Reader, Seeing a charged off account on your credit report can be a bit confusing because the term is not self-explanatory. It doesn’t help that “charged off” is used interchangeable with “written off,” which in many scenarios means that the account has been paid off. In this context, charged off refers to an account that has become so …Read More

Ask an Expert: What is a credit report and why is it important?

Q. What is a credit report? Dear reader, A credit report is a very important document used by lenders and financial institutions to make their lending decisions and to set the terms and conditions of any credit they give you. To take control of your finances, it is recommended to review and understand your credit report thoroughly. So, let’s start by discussing the kind of information you will find on …Read More

Ask an Expert: When Can I Afford to Retire?

Q. When Can I Afford to Retire? Dear reader, The answer to your question depends on multiple factors. To estimate when you can afford to retire you have to take into account your age, your life expectancy, your current retirement investments, and the lifestyle you expect to have once you retire.   These questions are better addressed with a professional investment advisor. In the meantime, you can estimate the amount …Read More

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