Liz Weston

Columnist Money Talk

Recent Articles

  • What to consider before paying off a vehicle loan

    What to consider before paying off a vehicle loan

    Dear Liz: In January, I used financing to buy a used car, and now I have about $8,000 left to pay off. I recently received a windfall and can pay off that debt in full. Is there any reason to not go ahead and do that? This car loan is my only current debt. However, I do anticipate buying a home...

  • Why surviving spouses aren't always entitled to Social Security benefits

    Why surviving spouses aren't always entitled to Social Security benefits

    Dear Liz: I am confused. I thought all wives were entitled to Social Security if the husband's earnings qualified. My husband is deceased and he received a larger Social Security benefit than I because he worked longer in a qualified system. We were married almost 49 years. Most of my earnings...

  • How to avoid hiring a Madoff-like financial advisor

    How to avoid hiring a Madoff-like financial advisor

    Dear Liz: What is the best way to pick a financial advisor to make sure they don't make off with all your retirement money? I don't want Bernie Madoff handling my retirement savings. Answer: Even if you turn over day-to-day investment decisions to an advisor, you should make sure your money is...

  • How to improve your spouse's chances of a well-funded retirement

    How to improve your spouse's chances of a well-funded retirement

    Three key decisions about retirement benefits can help couples make their money last — or dramatically increase the chances that the survivor will end up old and broke. Widowed women are twice as likely as their male counterparts to live in poverty during retirement, according to a March study by...

  • How to get rid of home-equity loan headaches

    How to get rid of home-equity loan headaches

    Dear Liz: We have taken several withdrawals from our home equity line of credit. Now the balance is close to $100,000. It’s the interest-only type. We don’t know how to pay off this amount systematically. Can you help? Answer: As you’ve discovered, it’s not a good idea to pledge your home as collateral...

  • Getting a new mortgage after a foreclosure

    Getting a new mortgage after a foreclosure

    Dear Liz: Is it true that we can't refinance our home until seven years after a foreclosure? We lost a rental property six years ago. Our credit scores now are in the 740 range, and we are anxious to take advantage of lower rates since our mortgage rate is 5.75%. Other than the foreclosure, our...

  • Factors to consider for refinancing into a 15-year mortgage

    Factors to consider for refinancing into a 15-year mortgage

    Dear Liz: I am considering refinancing my home from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year loan and wondered if it would be a wise decision. I am 57, divorced and make a little over $100,000 a year as a high school teacher (and I plan to keep working until at least age 65). Other than a car loan, I have...

  • How to improve your credit scores

    How to improve your credit scores

    Dear Liz: I don’t have a credit score. I have one item on my credit report that’s a court judgment. What can I do to get a score? If I pay the balance due for the judgment, would it be removed? Answer: Paying a judgment doesn’t remove it from your credit reports, but it does limit the amount of...

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