■ Insurance or bonds?
■ Free FICO scores?
■ College savings plan
E-mail your personal-
finance questions to:
“Suze Orman Q&A”
in the subject line; or fax to
(425) 313-6718; or mail to
Q&A with Suze Orman
The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088.
Debts to be paid
By Suze Orman
My sister and I have a lot of problems with
credit-card debt. We are considering debt
consolidation. What steps do you recommend we take?
Suze will answer
selected questions in
this bimonthly column.
She regrets that
cannot be answered
Suze Orman’s TV
show airs Saturday
nights on CNBC. Suze
can be contacted at
CONTACT THE National Foundation for Credit
www.nfcc.org; 1-800-388-2227). This
nonprofit organization will connect you with a local
counselor who will work with you to develop a strategy for dealing with your debt. Avoid the come-ons
from firms that promise to take care of your problem. The debt-consolidation industry is full of bad
eggs who will take your money but won’t solve a
thing, and can even make matters worse. Stick with
the NFCC; they are honest and trustworthy.
I am 70 years old. I have two insurance policies, one I purchased for $10,000 and another worth $30,000. Should I cash in the
$10,000 policy and invest in bonds?
If you can get your FICO score free each month,
that’s obviously great. But if you know you have a
solid FICO score (at least 700) there’s no need to pay
to check your scores monthly. Once or twice a year
is fine. Be sure to check your score a few months
before you intend to apply for a loan; if there is a
negative surprise, you can clean it up ahead of applying for the loan. At AnnualCreditReport.com you
can get one free annual report from each of the
three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and
TransUnion). That’s a great free way to stay on top
of your credit reports.
Full disclosure: I have a business relationship
with FICO: Suze Orman’s FICO Kit. But I do not
receive one penny when anyone buys a FICO score.
Note: Costco offers a credit report and credit score
service as part of its Identity Guard® program. Go to
Costco.com and type “identity” in the search box.—Ed
THERE IS A big diference between insurance
policies and bonds. Life insurance is meant to
meet the financial needs of people who are financially dependent upon you in case of a death.
Bonds generate income as well as keep your money
relatively safe and sound while you are alive. So
what are your current needs? If you no longer feel
the need to have the life insurance for your beneficiary and you want income, then cash in the
policy and invest in bonds.
I have a CollegeAdvantage 529 savings plan
for my child that needs to be cashed out, as
this will be her last semester. I do not have
another child to transfer that account to, and
my daughter is not planning on getting a
higher degree. Can I leave the account alone
for now and cash out at a later date? If I can’t
wait, how soon do I have to cash out?
San Jose, CA
Is there any way to get my FICO score without paying money? What is the best way to get a FICO score, and how often should I check my FICO score and my credit-card reports?
TYPICALLY, ONE FICO credit score
costs $14.95, but FICO recently
launched a program where banks
and other financial institutions can
provide a free FICO score along
with the monthly statement to
customers who bank online. It’s a
new program, so not a lot of
financial institutions are using it
YOU SHOULD be able to leave the money where
it is; check with your plan to learn its policy. In the
meantime, understand that you have all sorts of
options. You can become the beneficiary and use
the funds to pay for classes at a qualified school;
that’s a great way to keep your skills sharp in this
rough economy. You could also switch the beneficiary to other family members, including siblings,
nieces, nephews, etc. Keep in mind that your
daughter may realize after a few years in the workforce that she does want to get that advanced
degree, so if you don’t need the money right now,
maybe you can let it sit tight for a few years. To
learn more about your options, go to
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