Question: When I was growing up, no one taught me how to handle my finances and it got me into trouble as an adult. Now I’m a father, and I want to teach my children good money habits so they won’t face the same problems I did. How can I do this in a way they’ll understand?


Failing to pay the minimum on your credit card bill, or failing to pay altogether, can have a slew of serious consequences, both in the long and short term. There are many actions that can be taken against you, and they can get progressively worse the longer you’re unable to pay.

Question:I am an experienced rider. A few months ago, I was riding my motorcycle home from work, and as I crossed over into the left turn lane, my front tire hit an unmarked rut in the road. I was thrown from the bike and wound up in the hospital with several broken ribs and other injuries. My medical bills are skyrocketing, but my insurance company says I’m not covered. Is there anything I can do?

For some people, personal finance is second nature. Some were taught by their parents. Others were taught in high school as part of a class called home economics— long before home ec turned into a baking class. For many people, though, understanding how to budget, plan for expenses, manage, leverage and avoid debt is a mystery.

Question: I took out a 10-year, interest-only mortgage to purchase a new home in 2006, and now it’s adjusting. I’ve never missed a payment, but the payment is about to go up from $550 to almost $1,400 per month. I’m underemployed, I can’t afford the new payment and I’m also underwater, so I can’t seem to qualify for refinancing. Is there anything I can do?

Answer: Yes! And you should know, you’re not alone.

Question: I’ve been getting calls lately from a company that is promising to settle my credit-card debt for a small percentage of what I owe, as long as I pay an up-front fee for their services. How does this work? Is this a legitimate way to settle my debt?

In the Aug. 28 edition of The Sunday, we went over the basics of tracking your spending. But understanding your spending is just the first step in creating a simple budget.

I know “budget” is a scary word for some; it involves planning, math and discipline. But what is a budget? At the most basic level, budgeting means planning before doing. That’s it. That’s not too bad, is it?

Question: There’s a bunch of stuff on my credit reports that isn’t right. Some of it isn’t even mine. I wrote letters questioning the incorrect line items, but almost everything came back as verified or accurate. I’m desperate, but I don’t know what to do. 

Student loan debt and the cost of higher education in the United States are hotly contested and pressing issues for consumers, educational institutions and lawmakers. Marketwatch reports there is $1.3 trillion owed in student loan debt in this country, making it the second-largest type of consumer debt behind only mortgages. Further, about 11.6 percent of that debt ($146 billion) is delinquent. With an estimated 40 million Americans owing on student loans, understanding ways to help deal with this debt is important.

In previous weeks, we’ve gone over tracking your expenses and creating a basic budget for essential spending. Once you’ve started with these skills and made appropriate adjustments to ensure you’re bringing in more money than you’re spending, it’s time to start building an emergency fund.

Imagine the last financial crisis you had. It was likely something you didn’t expect, but you needed to handle right away. Maybe you blew a tire on the way to dinner. Maybe your refrigerator went kaput. Maybe you had an unexpected medical bill.