TODAY | March 21, 2012
>> "today's money 911" where we tackle your financial problem problems. jean chatzky, "today's" financial editor and author of "the money blues" david bach , author of "debt free for life" and sharon epperson is cnbc's personal finance correspondent. good morning to all of you.
>> good morning.
>> a lot of great questions to get to so let's get right to it. first one is an e-mail question comes from christine in pennsylvania and she writes, my now 72-year-old mother took a reverse mortgage loan out of her home, which was paid off, for frivolous reasons, without cutting family or learning more about the consequences. she now realizes that she will be losing her home after she either can't live there anymore or passes away leaving her children without an inheritance. is there any way out of this situation? okay, jean, tough one. a lot of seniors are taking reverse mortgages. is it a good thing?
>> it can be a good thing. and here's the deal, christine. when your mother took out this reverse mortgage , she went to a counselor. she knew what she was doing because you are mandated to go to counseling before you go through this process. so, getting out of it is difficult. it means you have to repay the loan, and you have to come up with the money or help your mother come up with the money in order to do that. i actually have a problem with this notion that she owes her daughter an inheritance. you know, if your mother has a place to live for the rest of her life, that is paid for, no worries, then you're not going to have to step in and pay for a place for her to live, and that in and of itself is a gift. and this notion that our parents, who put us through college and take care of us our whole lives then owe us something at the end. i have trouble with that.
>> i think she should be happy that her mother is financially free, that she's able to pay her bills, that she's not a financial burden on the family. and the reverse mortgage is for the parents. it's for the person who takes it out. it's not for her child.
>> the thing is --
>> last week talking about how more and more seniors are doing this now because they realize they better enjoy the money.
>> absolutely. and it's their money. and frivolous reasons is really a value judgment.
>> okay. i think you guys are ready for the professionals.
>> let's go to the phone lines now and we have christopher in new york joining us now with a question. go ahead, christopher. what's your question?
>> good morning. my wife and i, our two children have a couple of credit cards , both with balances of around $2,000. we do also have one major credit card that has a balance of $30,000. i wanted to know what the best way is to attack the credit card with the $30,000 debt. i have already contacted the credit card company and asked them to reduce the mortgage rate and they have from 17% to 12%. what's the best way to handle that? should we contact a debt reduction service, or is there any other options for us?
>> okay, david, sounds like they're on it already. they reduced the kritd card rate.
>> that's really a key thing that you just accomplished. i want to make everybody sure they heard what you said. you called the credit card company, asked them to reduce the credit card rate and they did. they took it from 17% down to 12%. now if you can make the payment, i would keep making those payments, and simply chunk that debt down. if you're having a hard time making minimum payments, then you may qualify for what's called a debt management plan . you can go to a credit card counseling organization, go to debtadvice.org you're referred to a nonprofit credit counselor. now i just spoke to them the other day. the average person that went to a nonprofit credit counselor last year had right around $27,000 in credit card debt . because you've got $30,000 in credit card debt my guess is you're a good candidate. with a debt management plan , what can happen, not promising, but what can happen is that your rate can be taken down to zero percent and they'll give you three to five years to pay off that credit card . here's the thing you do need to know . they'll freeze the credit card , you can't use it anymore, and it may, key word is may, get reported to your credit filing credit bureau so could impact your credit score in the short-term. last tip i'll give you is other than going and doing a dmp plan what you could do is try to take a chunk of that $30,000, maybe $10,000, transfer it to a zero percent interest rate credit card and there's all kinds right now. zero percent interest rate credit card no transfer fees . all the credit card companies right now are aggressively looking for new business. you can transfer part of that debt, get zero percent, no transfer fees , that might pave the way to start without going to a debt management plan .
>> how long do they stay at zero percent?
>> can be 12 to 18 months now. the key thing is you can't be late. if you're late the rate can go back up.
>> it's probably a good idea to figure out how you got in the $30,000 credit card debt in the first place.
>> exactly. next anna from maryland. good morning to you. anna , what's your question for our panel?
>> i spent the last about six years paying college tuition and this june i am finished.
>> congratulations. much applause here in the studio.
>> i am several steps behind in the retirement savings area. we need to find a financial planner , and we've used one in the past, and weren't real happy with him and just need to know how we find somebody we can trust.
>> all right. very important question. a lot of people looking for a financial planners and you don't have to be rich.
>> you definitely don't have to be rich to do this. and it's such a good idea to get advice. we talk about that all the time. a couple key things you need to do. first of all you need to ask some family friends, maybe a colleague. find someone you think is financially independent, on the right track and you want to follow them. find out who they're using. and then you want to look for someone who has the proper designations. try to find someone who has a cfp. that stands for certified financial planner . they have to go through a rigorous test, through the board of standards, and get that cfp. you can find them through cfp.net. the other thing you want to do is make sure you find out how they're compensated. a lot of financial advisers take commissions based on whether they're selling you certain investments, stocks, bonds, insurance products. so sometimes you may think i don't know if they're really unbiased or not if they're getting a commission. you can also get a financial adviser who is paid only by a fee, a flat fee , $ 1500 to help you with the initial plan. 1% of the assets. the total assets . that's one way to go. the other way is to just find someone that you can hire by the hour. there are financial advisers who will do that. two websites, the first is napfa.org and garrett planning network. this is a network of hourly planners and you can then just sign up. the key thing is make sure you can are they experts or do they focus on retirement planning because that's your goal right now. and also make sure they're not just pushing investments on you but talking to you about how you can manage your cash flow, cut back on your spending, and crank up your retirement savings because that's going to be your ultimate goal.
>> great advice as always. good luck to anna , as well. thank you again. jean chatzky, david bach , and sharon epperson .
>>> for those of you on the east coast we're going to be offering more of your questions during the next hour or so. head to today.com and our panel will get to your questions. coming