Los Angeles Times

Liz Weston

Columnist Money Talk

Recent Articles

  • Personal Finance Q&A: Don't cash out retirement fund to pay off credit card debt

    Personal Finance Q&A: Don't cash out retirement fund to pay off credit card debt

    Dear Liz: I owe about $49,000 on my credit cards and now have the money to pay them off in full. Should I? Or should I slowly pay them in large amounts? Answer: There's typically no reason to delay paying off credit card debt. Carrying balances costs you money and doesn't help your credit scores....

  • GAP coverage may not pay off your car loan

    GAP coverage may not pay off your car loan

    Dear Liz: In 2012, I financed a 2008 Honda at my credit union. The car was priced at $16,500. With a trade-in, the loan came to $22,000. GAP coverage was factored into the loan payments, which were $464 a month. Last year, the car was wrecked and deemed a total loss by the insurance company. They...

  • Personal Finance Q&A: Taking out a loan to boost credit scores

    Personal Finance Q&A: Taking out a loan to boost credit scores

    Dear Liz: I have little to no information — good or bad — in my credit reports. I am considering obtaining a secured loan from my credit union to establish better credit. Does it make any difference to my credit score if the credit union reports the loan as "secured"? Answer: Credit scores don't...

  • Use a credit card that offers purchase protection

    Use a credit card that offers purchase protection

    Dear Liz: A few months ago, I purchased a large television from a nearby store. I was offered no interest for 12 months using the store's credit card. The TV was stolen from the back of my pickup truck before I was able to bring it into my apartment. I called the police and filed a report. The...

  • Deciding which student loan to pay off first

    Deciding which student loan to pay off first

    Dear Liz: I am going to pay off one of my daughter's private student loans. One has a balance of $8,500 at 4% interest and the other is for $7,500 at 6%. Which one should I pay off? Answer: You have a lucky daughter, either way. In addition to balances and rates, the other variable you need to...

  • Why your W-4 forms are likely 'wrong'

    Why your W-4 forms are likely 'wrong'

    Dear Liz: After being an unmarried couple for 15 years, we were married in February 2014. Though I sent this information to my company's benefits department, I neglected to change my W-4 status from "single" to "married." I'm crossing my fingers that when all is said and done, we have paid the...

  • You can't keep your money safe and grow it at the same time

    You can't keep your money safe and grow it at the same time

    Dear Liz: What is the best way to protect my 401(k) now and in the future when I draw from it for retirement? What is the least risky place to "bank it"? I have a fear of a crashing stock market in the middle of my retirement years. Answer: The bigger risk is that the stock market will crash early...

  • Personal Finance Q&A: Health insurance subsidy is based on household income

    Personal Finance Q&A: Health insurance subsidy is based on household income

    Dear Liz: We're living on a very tight budget and often have to put groceries and unexpected expenses on a credit card that's in my husband's name only. I have no personal income. My husband is on Medicare, but I'm too young to qualify and need to find low- or no-cost healthcare, (I haven't had...

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