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Ask an Expert: Answers

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: How do I begin to build credit?

Q:  How do I begin to build credit? Dear Reader, Building your credit, whether you are starting from scratch or recovering from past financial mistakes, requires time, dedication, and a strategy. Since you have already taken the first step by asking yourself this question, we will look at some of the next steps you can consider.   One credit building option to consider is a secured credit card. Secured credit …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: Should I try to move a negative mark on my credit report to my business credit report?

Q: Should I try to move a negative mark on my credit report to my business credit report? Dear reader, Small business experts always recommend separating business from personal finances so you don’t have to rely on personal credit to finance your business. Also, keeping them separate can help you prevent business liabilities affecting your personal life. Still, this can be tricky to do for small business owners. As you’ve experienced, …Read More

Ask An Expert: What is a credit report and how do I read it?

Dear reader, we all know that credit reports are important. But not many people know what reports look like or how to read the information on them. Understanding a credit report is easier than it seems if you know what to expect when you review your report. Your credit reports are generated by the credit bureaus or consumer reporting agencies, each containing detailed data about your credit behavior. This data …Read More

Ask An Expert: What are the credit bureaus?

The credit bureaus are agencies that collect, keep, and maintain consumer’s financial information. They also share and distribute this information in the form of credit reports. There are several credit bureaus or consumer reporting agencies in the U.S., but the most well-known are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These agencies collect and receive information from credit card companies, lenders, collection agencies, and other businesses who have pre-arranged business relations with them. …Read More

Ask An Expert: How do I remove negative remarks on my credit report?

A: Dear reader, removing negative information from your credit report could be a good strategy to boost your score and improve your credit history. Negative data can reflect past financial mistakes you’ve made (like paying your credit cards consistently late) or they can be errors made by the credit bureaus or the creditors reporting to the bureaus. These errors might include having other people’s account reported on your file or …Read More

Ask An Expert: I’m struggling to make payments on my student loan. I have all federal and Perkins loans. Should I consolidate them to get lower interest?

A: Dear reader, consolidating your federal student loans could be an option to help you manage your payments and potentially avoid default. However, combining your loans may help you for other reasons that do not necessarily include lowering your interest rates. If you are thinking about consolidation, you can start by looking into Direct Consolidation Loans. This type of loan offers a consolidation option at no cost to you through …Read More