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Ask an Expert: Answers

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

Ask An Expert: When is it a good idea to seek a personal loan or balance transfer to take pay off a substantial balance on a credit card?

A: Dear reader, it’s very common for people to seek personal loans or balance transfers to pay off their credit cards when they feel overwhelmed with their debt or when it becomes difficult to make the monthly payments. Whenever you feel like that, it’s a good idea to look for debt repayment strategies immediately. If you are finding yourself in a similar situation, I recommend that before you move your …Read More

Ask An Expert: Should I Withdraw Money From My 401(k) to Pay Off Debt?

Dear reader, Paying off your debts with your 401(k) is not as practical and beneficial as it sounds, especially when you may have other avenues available to manage and eliminate your debt. If you are younger than 59 ½ when you withdraw money from your 401(k), you will be hit with a 10 % upfront early withdrawal fee and you will have to pay income tax on the amount you …Read More

Ask An Expert: How can I build credit if I have no credit history?

A: Dear reader, establishing your credit history for the first time can seem like a daunting task. Your lack of credit history tells creditors that you have no experience with credit and they may not want to risk lending you money. So how do you break the cycle? Well, your best option is to apply for a secured card. A secured card is a credit card that offers zero liabilities …Read More

Ask An Expert: What steps should I take to prepare as a first-time homebuyer?

Q. What steps should I take to prepare as a first-time homebuyer? Dear reader: The prospect of becoming a home owner is very exciting and it’s the beginning of a long-term financial commitment, probably one of your biggest. Many first-time homebuyers find the process a lot trickier than expected, so it’s wise to be prepared to ensure you will have a successful experience. Here are some tips to help you …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: How can I improve my credit score?

Q: I recently checked my credit score using an online service and discovered that my score is below 600.  I believe my low scores are largely due to a few thousand dollars I have in collections with a handful of collection agencies from accounts I have accumulated over the past several years.  I want to pay off debt and improve my credit score.  What are some strategies I should consider? Dear reader, …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: Does Income-Driven Repayment for Student Loans Affect Homeownership?

Q: I am in a position where I would like to buy my first home but I have some student loans that I’m worried about.  Right now, I am on the income-driven repayment (IDR) plan, will this be an issue I need to consider before taking the leap to homeownership? A: Dear reader, It’s definitely wise to consider your student loans if you plan to become a homeowner in the future. Getting approved for …Read More