WATERLOO (KWWL) -- We have financial experts answering all of your money questions. Here's a look at the questions asked, and how our experts answered them.
Question from Black Hawk County: My elderly parents have still not received their stimulus check. They did file taxes last year. Who do they contact about this? Also, my daughter received her money from her stimulus check, but was shorted the $300 for her daughter who WAS on her tax return last year as well. Who should she contact about getting this money? Thanks for your help.
Answer from Katy Hackett with Family Management Credit Counselors: You should contact the Internal Revenue Service or you can go to this website https://sa2.www4.irs.gov/irfof/IRServlet?app=IRACTC&selectLanguage=en and fill in your information. This will help you find out what happened to your parents and daughters stimulus check.
Question from Black Hawk County: I'm 63 and retired. I have my 401K in a mix of 48.4% in Bonds, 32.6% in Stocks and 18.9% in Short Term Reserves. Is this the best mix for me right now?
Answer from Katy Hackett with Family Management Credit Counselors: Given that I am not aware of your specific financial situation or your portfolio I cannot give you a specific answer. I would advise you to contact your financial advisor to talk about your diversity (high or low risk) and your specific financial situation (how much risk you can afford).
Question from anonymous: With retirement dollars at a premium, I would like to know how I can invest in an IRA without going through a broker. Can you invest this money through places like TD Waterhouse or some online investment company with low fees. When we invest we usually can pick better than the broker, so why should we have to pay a yearly fee and to buy and sell them? If so, how do you go about doing this?
Right now we are paying them to lose our money. I know that we have not actually lost money, because you don't gain or lose unless you sell, but by not gaining you are actually losing (losing that interest you could be getting).
Answer from Katy Hackett with Family Management Credit Counselors: You always have the option to do some type of on-line trading, however you should make sure that you education yourself on the funds that you purchase. You are really not losing money because they are continually purchasing more shares because the price is down per share. In the long run, when the market recovers, you will have more shares because you are purchasing low.
Question from Grundy County: Are settlement monies from a car accident and workmans' compensation case taxed? Do I need to claim it on my 2008 taxes?
Answer from Katy Hackett with Family Management Credit Counselors: Settlements from insurance companies are not taxed. We don't believe that work comp cases are not taxed, but would advise you to contact your tax advisor to double check with them.
Question from Linn County: My daughter just graduated from college in August. She has moved to LA and now has a job making $500 a week. She has never had a credit card [which I think is a good thing] and now needs one. She has been turned down by several companies. This was before she had a job. What should be her game plan to aquire one?
Answer from Katy Hackett with Family Management Credit Counselors: If your daughter is just needing a credit card to build her credit history, I would advise her to get a secured credit card. This is not based on your credit history or your income information. She could do this next time she is home at any Veridian Credit Union. This is the only financial institution that I am aware of that offers this product. She would need a $200.00 deposit and they would give her a credit card with a $200.00 credit limit. She could then build her credit history by charging a small item each month and paying it off in full each month. This will improve her credit history and score and show that she is responsible.
After approximately a year, they will remove the secured status on the credit card and she will have a "regular" credit card. The secured status will not show on her credit report, it will show as a regular credit card.
Question from Black Hawk County:We recently purchased a house for our 21 year old daughter. What is the lowest interest rate we should charge her and is there any tax breaks or anything we should do for our taxes at end of year with the house?
Answer from Katy Hackett with Family Management Credit Counselors: I'm going to answer your second questions first. Since you are the lender in this situation, you can deduct the any interest that you pay, but you have to report the interest that she pays to you as income on your taxes.
If you don't charge her interest, you do not have to report it on your income taxes. The choice as to what interest rate to charge her is a personal one. I would not charge any more than prime rate, which is 5.75%.
Question from Bremer County: I am a single woman and I've been able to maintain 2 homes for 14 months waiting for 1 to sell. It has sold now, but during the 14 month wait; I acquired a large credit card debt trying to keep everything going. I'm considering a debt consolidation loan as I believe it will lower my credit card interest rates and make it possible to pay them off. Will a debt consolidation loan lower my credit rating? It was high enough for me to purchase a second home to be closer to family, but I know it has suffered during the past 14 months because of my high debt ratio. I have not been late with any payments on anything during this time nor missed any payments. What are your thoughts?
Answer from Katy Hackett with Family Management Credit Counselors: I have a couple of thoughts in response to your question. You could consider contacting a consumer credit counseling agency to see if they could negotiate your credit cards to lower your interest/payments so that your budget is eased. They will give the disclaimer that your credit may be affected, but I would advise contacting them to see how it will affect your credit.
You could certainly do a debt consolidation loan. My only hesitation with this is the fact that you are taking unsecured debt and securing it with your house. This could become problematic if you are unable to afford the monthly payment, so please do a budget before considering this option. Once the debt is secured you cannot get out of it with bankruptcy.
Question from Benton County: We have 7 years left on our mortgage, 7 years on an Equity loan, and just 10 months left on a truck payment. And at least $40,000,00 left on Credit Cards. The payments on those credit cards are very high, and the finance charges are just killing us. I've already called several credit card companies to see if they would lower payments, it used to work real well for us, but now none of the companies want to oblige at all. We'd really love to just get rid of all this credit card debt for good. What is the best way to do this? What are our obtions?
Answer from Katy Hackett with Family Management Credit Counselors: I am interested to know what the interest rate on your home and home equity loans are, I may be able to help you with those.
Have you considered contacting a local credit counseling agency to see if they can negotiate lower interest and payments for you. They may be able to get those lowered so it eases your budget. The lowered interest rate will allow your principal balance to come down more quickly so that you can get out of debt faster.
You can consider a debt consolidation loan if your credit is satisfactory. I would contact a lender that you have an established relationship with to explore this option.
Questions from Black Hawk County: 1.) Is there an age related coverage limit for the CUNA Credit Union deposit insurance?
2) I am 87 years old. To what limit are my deposits in the Credit Union covered by CUNA insurance?
Answers from Katy Hackett with Family Management Credit Counselors: 1. No--there are no limits to your deposits.
2. At a minimum of $250,000.00 until the end of the year, and then they will vote on it again.
Question from Black Hawk County: My home has been on the market for 30 days with no offers. I am thinking of reducing the price. I don't want to give it away. Will a $5000 price reduction be enough to gain interest? We have had 10-12 shows it shows well just not big enough for those looking.
Thank you,My home has been on the market for 30 days with no offers. I am thinking of reducing the price. I don't want to give it away. Will a $5000 price reduction be enough to gain interest? We have had 10-12 shows it shows well just not big enough for those looking.
Answer from Katy Hackett with Family Management Credit Counselors: Lowering the price on your home will probably generate interest if it's priced right in the first place. I would encourage you to contact another agent to see what their thoughts are. If it's appropriate you could check into a dual listing, in which both realtors list the property and the one who sells it gets the commission. Keep in mind this my make your original real estate agent upset, but it sounds as if you really want to move the home and this may motivate the original listing agent to get it sold.
Question from Bremer County: Is there someplace to go to help get out of debt from credit cards or credit counseling?
Answer from Katy Hackett with Family Management Credit Counselors: In the Waterloo and Cedar Falls area you can visit Family Management Center at 319-234-6695 or Veridian Credit Union at 319-236-5600.
Question from Grundy County: Which is better? A company that promises to cut your det by up to 50% by negotiating with your creditors and taking your monthly payment or to file bankruptsy?
Answer from Katy Hackett with Family Management Credit Counselors: My first response would be to go with a company that can negotiate rates with creditors. That will look better on your credit report when it comes to applying for loans in the future. Secondly, I would encourage you to contact Family Management Credit to get more information. You can reach them at 319-234-6695. Additionally, feel free to stop in at any Veridian Credit Union Branch to speak with a loan officer. They may be able to help you with whatever questions you may have.
Question from Allamakee County: I am interested in consolidating my high credit card debts. Is there a non profit organization I can turn to for help with this. A phone number and address would be helpful in helping me to contact persons who could help.
Answer from Katy Hackett with Family Management Credit Counselors: There are actually two non profit organizations that you can contact. One is Family Management Credit and you can reach them at 319-234-6695 or Veridian Credit Union at 319-236-5600.
Question from Black Hawk County: My husband was laid off 2 months ago. I have tried working with one of our credit card companies to get the interest rate lowered from 29%. They are refusing to lower it. Where else can I turn to get this lowered so the payments are lower or who else can I talk to, to get the payments lowered? Thank you so very much for your help.
Answer from Meg Brady with the Warner Group: Congratulations on visiting with your credit card company and explaining your situation and trying to get this rate lowered. Working with creditor's is always a good first step. Have you visited with your banker? Do you have any equity in your home or in a vehicle? If you have already attempted these options then I would recommend that you visit with a local Debt Counseling agency. You can contact them at 319-235-6695 in the Waterloo and Cedar Falls area.
Question from Benton County: I recently received a check from the estate of my mother for $20,000. I would like to invest most of it for retirement but my question is how and where. IRAs? Money market? stocks are scary.
Answer from Meg Brady with the Warner Group: Congratulations on choosing to invest these funds for retirement.
No question stocks are scary in the current market environment. Should you invest in stocks now? Of course no one piece of advice can apply to everyone. Each of us has our own time frame for investments and comfort level with risk.
Do you have a Roth? This is a great way to invest for retirement and you can invest the funds inside the Roth in any investment type of your choice.
I would recommend that you sit down with an advisor and discuss your own personal situation to determine what will work best for you. If you don't have an advisor you might ask your tax preparer or a trusted friend for a referral.
Question from Tama County: My son recently divorced, has gone back to college, has a part time job. He is living with us (his parents) again while returning to school. He has a house in Urbandale that has been for sale for over a year without any bites. It is a brand new home. He is unable to make the payments now, and I'm wondering what happens to his credit rating if it forecloses. He recently re-financed also.
Answer from a financial expert: If your son has a foreclosure that will stay on his credit for 7 years. He could contact his mortgage company to see what his options are in regards to a short sale or deed-in-lo. He could contact the Iowa Mortgage Helpline at 877-622-4866.
Question from Black Hawk County: I just sold a home from my mothers estate. I will get about $40,000. What is the best thing to do with it. I do not need it for living expenses I am 59 years old.
Answer from a financial expert: You should invest it. If you have a financial advisor you should contact them to discuss which option you could use.