About AskTheMoneyCoach™

by Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach on December 28, 2009


AskTheMoneyCoach.com is a free, financial-advice blog designed to educate the public about a range of money-management topics.

This site was co-founded by Earl Cox, a publishing industry veteran and Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, a former Wall Street Journal reporter for CNBC.

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I recently received notice from the US Dept. of Education informing me that the amount of money representing the amount I owed in deliquent students loans that were forgiven due to a personal event, that were $11,682 , now that it has been 3 threes since the discharge; now has to be declared on my taxes as income, except if I have filed for bankruptcy, which I did in 2012, but unable to keep up huge payments was dismissed (not discharged). Is that true?


We are about to sell our business for a six figure amount. We would like to set up a trust that would
take care of the two of us in monthly income. We also
like to set it up to where, when we die, our two kids
will beable to continue to receive the same monthly
income, with restriction on their age. And make it
where they could never touch the principle, but they could always add to the principle. Could you give us some advise where to start and who to look at. We want to leave a legacy to our family.

Carol V

Declared Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in 2008. Didn’t reaffirm my mortgages and was unable to stay in the house due to the first mortgage company destroying me while trying to get into HAMP. I notified the mortgage companies and HOA that I could no longer afford the home and gave them the date I would be moving out. I got foreclosure notices, but they never foreclosed, therefore 5 years later, the home is still in my name. The 2nd mortgage discharged the mortgage. I’ve tried for 2 years to do a Short Sale but lost 6 contracts due to the mortgage company not responding. My realtor friend suggested I do the Short Sale I also have an attorney working with me on the Short Sale. The last contract was signed 8 months ago and the mortgage co just last night upped the price on the home. The buyer held on for 8 months, but he refused to pay more and killed the contract. I’ve tried to build up my credit from the Bankruptcy in 2008. Will Foreclosure or Deed In Lieu hurt my credit anymore than it has already been hurt? I hate to try another Short Sale to be held in limbo for another 8 months, then lose the buyer. Oh yes,the HOA has gotten a judgment against me for the dues. I now know that the amount of the judgment goes up every month. I need to get that judgment off of my credit report too. Had the mortgage company done the Short Sale in a timely manner, the HOA dues wouldn’t keep accruing. Any advice will be appreciated!

Susan R Cousins

I have had my pay check garnished for approximately one year. What can I do other then go bankrupt to stop the garnishment? Do I still have time to go to the courts? How much will it cost me?

Thank you for your help in this matter

The Money Coach

Credit reports do not get merged together due to marriage or any other reason. If “her” accounts appear on your credit report, it is because you are co-responsible for the obligation or you are an authorized user. You should sit down with your wife to go over all of the accounts in question and make sure that you know the status of each account going forward.


my ssn was a yr old i pulled out my credit report
that showed all the accounts my wife has
which is reflecting on my credit score
is this good or bad ?
is this because we have same surname and live at the same address ?

please respond i am very much concerned

The Money Coach

To more aggressively pay down your federal loans try these three options:

1) Inquire with Dept of Education to see whether consolidating your loans again would be financially beneficial. (You can consolidate a 2nd time, but the new loan carries an interest rate that is a weighted average of all your loans marked up 1/8th of a percentage point. The new consolidated rate can’t ever be above 8.25%. So if you can get a better consolidated average (i.e. below your current 6%), this is worth a shot.
2) Keep tabs on the Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012. Introduced by lawmakers in early 2012, this law – if passed would cap payments and 10% of a person’s income and help you get forgiveness or elimination of all our loans after 10 years. In your case, you’ve been paying for 5 years and have only knocked down $4,000 of your original balance. If this new Act becomes law, it will be retroactive. That’s great news for people like you who’ve already been dealing with student loans for years. After 5 more years (10 total), whatever debt you have remaining could be written off. Learn more about the proposed law here.

Finally, even though I know it’s hard to manage family finances on a single salary, it can help to look at areas of your budget and spending that can be cut. If you can reduce or eliminate some expenses, take that money you “saved” and put it toward more aggressively paying down your student loans.

Good luck to you and your family!

Gilbert Ehret

If I have some creditors showing my account closed and others showing open, do I need to have them show closed, if I have them show closed will that hurt my score or help?

The Money Coach

Using a credit counseling service or debt management company to get rid of your debt will not negatively impact your credit score at all. On the contrary, if you successfully complete their program (which typically lasts 3 to 5 years) and you become debt-free, that will positively boost your credit score.

The Money Coach

Unfortunately, no such investment exists as you describe it. By definition the more return you want, the more risk you must be willing to take. If you put your savings into something that is absolutely safe and has “RISK”, then you’d be looking at buying government securities, like Treasury Bonds or T-bills. But they’re not liquid and able to be tapped into whenever you want. Ditto for things like CDs or money market instruments.


QUESTION? Asking for a little help.
Where do you put your savings so that it is SAFE, NO RISK, but that it is growing consistently 4 to 5%, that is still liquid so you can use it if you need it. Preferably the growth should be tax free. Please help me out on this friends or who ever.


Im considering using a debt management /credit counseling to get rid of my debt. I would like to know how thi would impact my credit score in the long run.

Cassie Robbins

I am a college graduate that started off in 2008 with a $11,000 student loan that now is down to approx. $7000. I have three loans consolidated into one payment. The loans are through the Dept. of Education and I’m trying to find out a way to pay off the loans faster than what I have been doing for the past 5yrs. The interest rates on all three loans is around 6%.
I am a stay at home mom taking care of two small children and w/ my husbands income, we are able to pay only about $20 per month above the required monthly payments. Do you have any tips or know of any programs that would help me to pay off this debt faster than the track I am currently on?
Thank you!

Jennie Lynn Schlageter

I watched good morning america and you had some tips on Wah. I have been looking for a legit work at home sicne August. After 34 years I was laid off due to downsizing. I need to find a wah job due to some personal reasons. I checked out Answer mti and submitted application but looks like Atlanta..I live on Long Island. O desk.com has alot of negative things about it so I am skeptical. I am on line 8 hours aday looking..any advice? I am a hard worker. thanks

john hinkley

question…have a 800 plus credit score, have cash 1.5 mil in the bank, am retired with only 60 k income, cant re-fi because I cosigned a condo loan for my son..so my DTI is high.banks wont refi my loan because of freddie and fannie guidelines…sons makes good money but banks combine my home loan with the condo loan which make my dti high…can i go some where else to re-fi my primary home like credit unions and small banks that wont be so strict…havent missed a single payment thanks

The Money Coach

Yes, your daughter can still use her Social Security number to apply for student loans. In fact, she must list her SSN in order to request a college loan. She may also have to have a co-signer. If there is a fraud alert on her credit report, a lender or potential creditor will be required to call her first to verify that she is, indeed, the person seeking credit. You can learn more about fraud alerts here.


My daughters social card was stolen. She just turned 18 n is going to be applying for student loans. Can she still use her social if I put a fraud alert on it. Please help!!

Perry R.

I just completed my MBA, and I have 80,000 in student loan debt. I work for the federal government, and have heard about the student loans discharge. I will start making payments within the next few months, aren’t the payments computed to be repaid in 10 years? How is it that there will be any remaining?


I owe interest only on student loans will the IRS take my refund to put towards the balance?

gaberille powell

I have a medical bill of a 100 dollars, its now with a debt collector.I tried to get my health insurance to pay for it that didnt happen. I called the debt collector and it will show on my credit if payed. Will that affect my credit score??? I dont have credit to begin with and I dont want to start on the wrong foot. Thank you.

Joan Hamilton


I would like to find out if I have a 401K laying around, and I cannot seem to see any space on this site, to ask the question, that is: there is no space for First Name, Last Name, City, State – so I cannot find out about this important issue. Can you help me?

Thank you,

Joan Hamilton

Anita Taylor

I have to start receiving money from my IRA in December($3400), where can I put this money to get the best interest rate?



I have a Private Loan of $120k. I can not afford to pay this debt. One of my relative is the co-signer of this debt and they are paying off the loan, but with this economy they can not afford to keep paying the loan.

Is there any tip or something I can do to lower this loan or get rid of this private loan?

Thanks in advance

Darnell Dotson

hello , I am 24, and have been getting a disability check since I was born of 700.00 a month , and it goes directly to my bank account , am I too available for a loan>>??


I read your article about paying back student loans and have a follow-up question about having your employer pay for them.

I have recently been asked to spend 2 years as an expat and would like to use opportunity to negotiate the payment of my student loans as an incentive to move.

Can the company use the money paid towards my loans as a tax write off (in Germany)? What is a realistic amount to ask them pay? It will be around 60k € for them to pay them all off.


I understood that at a salaried position, the fewer allowances you claim on your W-4, the more money will be withheld for federal taxes (typically resulting in a refund at tax time). The last two years I have changed jobs twice and claimed 0 allowances on my W-4, but both years I ended up owing at tax time. How is this possible, and how to I remedy it?


My husband and I recently got married about a year ago. My credit was almost completely ruined at that point because of a foreclosure that is now six years old, and several credit card charge offs and a vehicle repossession that are all almost now four years old. I was very young when I got married the first time, went through a terrible divorce resulting in all of these credit issues. I had no idea at that time the lasting effects it would have on my future credit abilities. My husband went through a similar situation with his ex, and with several months of unemployment that resulted in almost $20,000 in credit cards being charged off. All of these accounts are now in collections, and are about two years old. Now, we recently had a baby and only have one income again. I’m looking for part time work. His car payment is $513 per month, which is much more than we can afford. Would we be better off letting the car go back to the bank since both of our credit is already ruined? The car is in his name only. Since his credit is already ruined for the next five years at least…what should we do? Catching up on his car payments is unfortunately not an option for us. Since we both have terrible credit, we can’t even qualify to get a loan for a less expensive car.

Laura S

If I become delinquent or default in my student loan, can sallie mae garnish welfare benefits such as tanf?

john campbell

direct loan/sallie may wants to consolidate ALL my subsidized and unsubsidized federal student loans to a high 6.8 percent. How do i negotiate this down as they are not budging!


I have been separated for six years and have filed taxes in this manner. My ex and I have separated everything including bank accounts BUT we kept each other on as an “OR” so that if anything happened to either of us, we would have access. We have three kids. Now I just found out, he never changed his address for W2 and banks because they were online? We just filed financial aid for one of our kids and we need to submit documents – is this going to be a problem? I am so mad!

David Barter

Why is it not a good idea to get a tax refund?


I have a car that’s in my name and it is paid for. My husband is on the insurance. He wants to trade the car in, but I don’t. Can he trade the car in without my consent?


should my wife file seperately if i have a tax lien for child support?


I have a 401k from an old job that I left in 2003. this 401 is almost back to what it was prior to the economic plummet. I had contributed to that 401k for about 10 years. I left it untouched when I left the organization. I have since been working for a new organization that has a similar plan and actively participating since I went full time about 4 years ago. The size is much smaller than the old 401k. Is it better to move the old 401k to the new 401k, leave them separate or other option? I am 60 years old. Although we are not quite ready for retirement, we have to look at all the options. Your suggestions are greatly valued. Thanks

Claire Lind

I am a 62 year old female and I am working full time. I have a simple IRA through my job and I was wondering what per cent of my portfolio (about seven thousand dollars) should be in stocks. I want to play it safe, but not too safe. Thank you