Be careful when settling old debts

Dear Liz: I paid all of my old collection accounts except for two, which now are beyond the statute of limitations. I would like to find the best way to negotiate with the collection agencies without getting sued. Even though the original delinquency was over four years ago, the agencies are reporting these every month […]

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Get second opinion before buying cash-value insurance

Dear Liz: I think you missed one of the possibilities when a reader wrote to you about a pitch he received from an insurance salesman. The salesman wanted the reader to stop funding his 401(k) and instead invest in a contract that would guarantee his principal but cap his returns in any given year. You […]

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Settling co-signed student loan debt

Dear Liz: My daughter co-signed a student loan for a friend who failed to pay the debt. Now my daughter cannot refinance her home because this loan appears on her otherwise very good credit reports. She has been getting calls from a collection agency. I called the agency to discuss what it would cost to […]

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Skip a payment, trash your scores

Dear Liz: We are trying to negotiate our second mortgage and have not paid it since June. Will this affect my wanting to purchase an auto? Answer: It may not affect your desire to purchase a car, but it’s likely to affect the actual transaction if you’re not able to pay cash. Failing to pay […]

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The one money book you must read this year

You may not agree with everything Helaine Olen writes in her new book, “Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry.” That’s particularly true if you’re an uncritical fan of one of the personal finance gurus she skewers so effectively. For the sake of your wallet, you should read the book anyway. […]

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Insurance better than 401(k)?

Dear Liz: Recently, someone from an insurance company proposed that I stop investing through my 401(k) at work and instead invest in his insurance company contract with after-tax dollars. He claims the funds would be guaranteed so that I would never lose principal, although there would be a cap on how much I could make […]

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Getting help with a soon-to-be unaffordable mortgage

Dear Liz: I have an excellent credit rating, a steady job and an interest-only mortgage of $480,000 on a home now worth $400,000. I also owe $52,000 on an adjustable-rate home equity line of credit. In 2015, the interest-only portion of my loan ends and the principal payments will start, driving my payment to more […]

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Old check is probably worthless

Dear Liz: Twelve years ago I hired a moving company. I must have overpaid them, because in January 2001 I received a refund check for $235. I misplaced the check and didn’t find it until 2003. Ever since then I have made a number of phone calls asking for a replacement. All my calls were […]

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Kids, ignore your elders: college is worth it

Old folks can offer wisdom about many things, but you might not want to trust them when it comes to 21st century economics. I’m hearing too many older people espouse the view that college degrees aren’t as valuable these days because more people have them. They need an Econ 101 review. It’s true that the […]

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