Dear Mary: My wife and I inherited a small printing business 40 years ago and have run it successfully ever since. We’ve had our ups and downs over the years, but we continue to survive. Now we need to upgrade our equipment to remain competitive. We need to purchase a digital production press. With supplies, training and shipping the cost will be about $20,000.
The problem is that we do not have that amount of money to buy the press and our credit seems to be holding us back from getting a loan. We are confident that with the increased business the press will generate, we can pay it back, in the same way we have paid for all of our other machines and equipment.
Is there any lender you know of who will consider our 40 years of success and the potential we have for increasing our business?
Thank you and God bless all that you do to help others. –Jack P., Pennsylvania Continue reading
Dear Mary: My husband has two jobs–he is an artist and a salesman. He earns commissions from both jobs so we never know what our income will be. I work part-time and am paid hourly. How can we possibly live on a budget? –Jenn P., Texas
Dear Jenn: The mistake many people who live with an uncertain income (or what I call “mystery means”) make is they spend whatever amount of money they earn as it comes in.
They multiply a good month’s income by 12 and figure that’s about what their annual income should be and then set their lifestyles accordingly. Then they starve during the lean months, allowing all the bills to go past due hoping that a good month will follow soon.
The secret to living on an uncertain income is to determine the very minimum you need to live each month. What dollar figure must your husband’s commissioned jobs produce so that when added to your part-time paychecks will allow you to pay all of your bills? Whatever that number is, let that become his new salary. Continue reading
Dear Mary: I am a big fan of your column and love the tips and advice that you share with us. My wife and I have been married for 25 years and have been practicing the frugal lifestyle since before we were married. We have recently received an inheritance that we want to be extremely careful with. My question to you is how do I go about finding a competent and trustworthy advisor?
We each have an IRA account but mine is through a former employer (almost 5 years ago). I need to set up a new IRA and transfer my (meager) funds from the old one to the new. I also want to put some of my inheritance into it. Is there an unbiased source for information and evaluation of IRA plans and other investment vehicles? Enthusiastically yours, Gary.
Dear Gary: You are certainly on the right track with 1) realizing your need for professional advice and 2) looking for “unbiased” advice, which to me means advice that is in your best interest, not the advisor’s.
The services that financial planners offer can vary widely. Some financial planners/advisors assess every aspect of your financial life—including savings, investments, insurance, taxes, retirement, and estate planning—and help you develop a detailed strategy or financial plan for meeting all your financial goals. Other professionals call themselves financial planners, but they may only be able to recommend that you invest in a narrow range of products and securities like stocks and bonds. Continue reading
Dear Mary: About ten years ago my daughter co-signed on an automobile loan for a friend. The “friend” skipped out on payments and left town, so they came after my daughter for payment. All these years later, she still has not paid anything on the loan. Is there a time limit for how long they can come after her to pay? Is there anything that she can do to get out from under this problem? Thanks. Jeanie H., North Carolina
Dear Jeanie: I am not an attorney, so I cannot offer any kind of legal advice. That being said, my understanding is that in North Carolina a debt that is secured by a promissory note (like a car loan) does not have a statute of limitations (SOL) per se. Once the lender files suit and receives a judgment against the borrower (your daughter) for non-payment, the lender has ten years from that date to try and collect. Then the debt can be reported to the credit bureaus for up to seven years after it is “written off” as uncollectible, which is only slightly better than “bankruptcy” on the list of bad things on her credit report. Continue reading
Dear Mary: In one of your columns that I read years ago (Which Bills to Pay When You Cannot Pay Them All?), you recommended paying your rent (or mortgage) first because landlords are quick to evict. I just wanted to confirm this point, but also say that I wish I would have taken that advice to heart.
I’ve lived in the same house for over three years. I was evicted for being 18 days late, even though this was the first time I was ever late. I sent a certified letter to the landlord ahead of time explaining why I would be late.
ROBYN BECK / AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Since he didn’t respond to my explanation for why I would be paying late, I assumed it was acceptable. Instead, he sent me a Summons. It ended up costing me $900 in attorney fees and court costs and it is still costing me because I have my things in storage. Because I have an eviction on my record I cannot find anyone who will take me as a renter. I am basically homeless. Continue reading