Los Angeles Times

Liz Weston

Columnist Money Talk

Recent Articles

  • 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...

  • Personal finance Q&A: Freelancer wants to save in tax-advantaged account

    Personal finance Q&A: Freelancer wants to save in tax-advantaged account

    Dear Liz: I am a freelancer. I don't consider myself a small-business owner, just someone who gets the work done on time and gets paid. I max out my IRA every year, but would like to save more in a tax-advantaged account. I checked out SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, but they don't have a Roth option. Am...

  • Personal finance Q&A: What to do if payment to IRS goes missing

    Personal finance Q&A: What to do if payment to IRS goes missing

    Dear Liz: I just received a letter from the IRS informing me that I missed a quarterly tax payment last September with several resulting penalties. I made that payment with a check from a securities trust account that I don't closely monitor, so I didn't realize the check hadn't been cashed. The...

  • Personal finance Q&A: Time-tested advice for stock investing

    Personal finance Q&A: Time-tested advice for stock investing

    Dear Liz: I invest in real estate and have a secure pension, but I also have a managed stock account worth about $250,000 and would like to get more involved in investing that. Can you recommend some good books on how the market works and perhaps a couple of good middle-of-the-road websites? Everything...

  • Personal Finance Q&A: 529 plans vs. education tax breaks

    Personal Finance Q&A: 529 plans vs. education tax breaks

    Dear Liz: You recently mentioned in your column that you can't use any of the three education tax breaks — the American Opportunity Credit, the Lifetime Learning Credit or the tuition and fees deduction — for expenses paid with 529 college savings plan money. This has me wondering if those 529...

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