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Los Angeles Times

Liz Weston

Columnist Money Talk

Recent Articles

  • Personal finance Q&A: How a cash-out refi can affect college financial aid

    Personal finance Q&A: How a cash-out refi can affect college financial aid

    Dear Liz: We have two children in college, both entering their junior years. We have two more in high school. The two currently in college need additional financial assistance, as they've tapped out their federal student loans. We are middle class, grossing about $125,000 a year, so we don't qualify...

  • Personal finance Q&A: Rules for filing gift tax returns

    Personal finance Q&A: Rules for filing gift tax returns

    Dear Liz: You recently answered questions about tax breaks for college education expenses. We are contributing $20,000 to our grandson's college education yearly. He is not our dependent. We are senior citizens with a gross income of about $110,000. Is there any deduction for this expenditure that...

  • Personal finance Q&A: How much of IRA contribution is tax deductible?

    Personal finance Q&A: How much of IRA contribution is tax deductible?

    Dear Liz: I am changing jobs because of a layoff. I contributed to my former employer's 401(k) to the extent possible. My new employer also offers a 401(k), but I won't be eligible for a year. I want to use an IRA in the meantime. I do not understand how I should answer the question on the tax...

  • Personal finance Q&A: Saving for retirement should be primary goal

    Personal finance Q&A: Saving for retirement should be primary goal

    Dear Liz: I'm engaged to be married and need your advice on getting started in the world of shared finances. My fiance is 43, I'm 31. He's debt free, with a savings account but no retirement fund. I have $34,000 in student loans (consolidated at 4.25%) and it weighs heavily on my mind as I'm desperate...

  • Personal finance Q&A: Installment loan debt vs. credit card debt

    Personal finance Q&A: Installment loan debt vs. credit card debt

    Dear Liz: I need to understand how credit reporting agencies treat personal unsecured loan debt versus credit card debt. I am considering getting a personal loan from a reputable lender to pay down my credit card debt. The amount of my overall debt will still be the same, just in a different category....

  • Personal finance Q&A: Will co-signing a student loan affect credit?

    Personal finance Q&A: Will co-signing a student loan affect credit?

    Dear Liz: I have two kids heading to college. Both need co-signers for their student loans. Will me co-signing have a negative effect on my credit? The kids have no choice. I'm middle class, having made enough to get myself by as a divorcee, but there's no college savings. To make matters worse,...

  • Personal Finance Q&A: Pay off student loans or seek debt forgiveness?

    Personal Finance Q&A: Pay off student loans or seek debt forgiveness?

    Dear Liz: I have $105,000 in medical school loans with an interest rate of 2.875%. I have another consolidated federal loan at 6%. I'm making $180,000 in the private sector and like my job. Should I consolidate everything, try to get a public sector job, and apply for loan forgiveness after 10...

  • Personal finance Q&A: How medical collections affect credit scores

    Personal finance Q&A: How medical collections affect credit scores

    Dear Liz: I am trying to help my daughter deal with enormous student loans. She is a doctor and very busy and simply cannot deal with the stress of almost $350,000 of education debt. I want to help her refinance, but to get the best rate I would like to help her improve her credit score (even if...

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