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Jewish World Review March 30, 2000 / 23 Adar II, 5760

Bruce Williams

Bruce Williams
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Consumer Reports



The road back to good credit -- DEAR BRUCE: My fiance had great credit for over 10 years, but when we got married, I took over the bills, and that was the beginning of the end. I got deeper and deeper in debt, and finally the phone rang and it was the bank asking my husband why he hadn't made a house payment -- he had never been late with a payment before.

We have had a terrible time trying to get his credit back on track. As soon as he found out from the bank how much we were behind, he went right down there and squared it all away.

How are we going to regain our credit? Is there any hope? -- A.B. (e-mail)

DEAR A.B: You bet. There is life after bankruptcy, and there is certainly life after screwing up your credit. Sometimes I am surprised that relatively intelligent people, as you seem to be, would make these kinds of mistakes -- and you certainly wouldn't make them twice.

The road back to good credit is a long one. You do what you would expect to do; that is, pay the bills when they are due, keep your nose clean, and the bad marks will be washed away.

DEAR BRUCE: I hope that you can help us and the millions of others who fell into the time-share trap. Are we destined to pay $300 a year for maintenance fees for the rest of our lives? Is there any way that we can get rid of this condo? -- D.R., Okla.

DEAR D.R.: Yes, as you intimated, you are a member of a large fraternity -- people who have purchased time shares to their regret. There are several things that you might consider:

There are legitimate companies that resell time shares on a national basis with the average being 15 percent to 20 percent on the dollar. Say, for example, you paid $10,000; if you were very fortunate you would get $1,500 to $2,000.

You might be able to find a charity to which you could donate the time share and then claim your entire $10,000 as a gift. They, in turn, could use the time share, offering a weekly stay as a prize each year.

Aside from that, the only other alternative is just to stop paying. The likelihood is that they may fuss a little, but they will foreclose and that will be the end of it. There is no guarantee, though, that they won't pursue legal action if they think they have a possibility of collecting.

DEAR BRUCE: I am 41, single, and work for a small private company that owns hotels. I have been in the business for 15 years, and my current job title is Director of Operations. My salary is $50,000 with bonus potential of $10,000 a year.

I love going to work each morning, however, guys doing my job at other places are earning $10,000 to $20,000 more. Am I foolish for being happy and giving up the extra money? One side of my brain tells me to shut up and be happy, and the other side tells me to start looking before I am too old. -- T.L. (e-mail)

DEAR T.L.: It seems to me that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. If you are happy and enjoy going to work every day, then you are blessed. Relatively few of us experience that emotion.

Ask yourself, would an additional $150 to $200 a week after taxes make that much of a difference in your life if you were miserable or just not enthusiastic about your daily activities? I have always said that the guy who hates his job is underpaid -- and conversely, those who love their work are well-rewarded, with something other than money.

Send your questions to JWR contributor Bruce Williams by clicking here. (Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.) Interested in buying or selling a house? Let Bruce Williams' "House Smart" be your guide. (Sales of the book help fund JWR).


03/29/00: Pre-tax dollars in IRA taxed later
03/27/00: Gambling on business ventures
03/22/00: Old cars as hobby, not investment
03/20/00: Tax on foreign gifts?
03/16/00: How to buy government bonds
03/13/00: Buying treasury instruments
03/09/00: Subcontractors must pay S.S.
03/08/00: Real-estate lawyers are essential
03/07/00: Don't expect compensation for ideas
03/06/00: Too rich for a Roth IRA?
03/01/00: Is time-sharing a scam?
02/29/00: Paying for nursing-home care
02/28/00: Rely on a real-estate lawyer
02/23/00: Keeping child's money safe from divorce
02/16/00: Just how important is a 401(k)?
02/14/00: Shaky partnership buying house
02/11/00: Protection by residential zoning
02/09/00: Benefiting from a reverse mortgage
02/07/00: Ensure your insurability
02/04/00: Absurd community zoning laws
02/02/00: Money or securities?
02/01/00: Can we KO a custodian?
01/31/00: Why sell a home you love?
01/26/00: Everyone needs a will
01/25/00: Will splitting stocks affect rollover?
01/24/00: Should early retirees contribute to SEP?
01/21/00: Strategies for paying off debt
01/20/00: Is 15-percent growth achievable?
01/19/00: Selling a second home
01/18/00: Running from a time-share
01/14/00: Don't be a spendthrift!
01/13/00: Who gets the house?
01/11/00: It all depends on size of estate
01/06/00: Check references before hiring an advisor
01/04/00: Savings bonds a bad investment
12/31/99: Out of state ain't that great
12/29/99: Warranty rip-offs
12/27/99: Checking up on investment handlers
12/23/99: Options good only when company's strong
12/20/99: Capital gains tax sometimes best
12/17/99: Don't give up your nest egg
12/15/99: Small-claims court no panacea
12/13/99: Termite company not liable for termites?
12/10/99: Services provided must be paid for
12/06/99: How do we minimize house-sale gain?
12/06/99: Maximize your tax shelter!
12/02/99: My neighbor won't maintain even a modicum of civility
12/01/99: Long-distance rentals a bad idea
11/29/99: Mortgage strategy A-OK
11/18/99: Students can work and learn
11/16/99: Value is what will sell
11/11/99: Y2K: No big deal for real estate
11/08/99: Real life is tough luck
11/03/99: The right time to cash a savings bond
11/01/99: Slow road for savings accounts
10/29/99: What do you want from insurance?
10/27/99: You have a right to see your tax forms!
10/25/99: Why own a house at 65?
10/22/99: Online fine, but CDs?
10/20/99: Love, honor -- and separate credit
10/18/99: Find the value of your stocks
10/15/99: Property lien prevents trade
10/13/99: Clear up debt, only then tie the knot
10/11/99: If it ain't broke...
10/04/99: Should I stick with the company IRA?
10/04/99: Get a financial education!
10/01/99: Insurance: Not much one person can do
09/30/99: Lost tickets are lost cash
09/29/99: Trusting only one financial planner
09/27/99: Adult children should help out
09/24/99: Tips for first-time home buyers
09/21/99: Use the rule of 72s!
09/17/99: Legal strategy can be a pain
09/15/99: Teen drivers drive up insurance
09/13/99: Always use an attorney!
09/10/99: Whose taxes are they, anyway?
09/08/99: How do I roll over my 401(k)?
09/03/99: How can I work out my IRS payments?
09/01/99: When your company can't pay you
08/30/99: Beware of shady viatical investments
08/26/99: Landlords vary on security deposits
08/25/99: Educational IRAs must be spent on education
08/23/99: Finding out the value of old stocks
08/20/99: How to get an FHA refund
08/19/99: 100 percent financing is a scam
08/16/99: Will I have to pay a capital gains tax?
08/16/99: Thinking about PMI
08/13/99: Short-term mutual funds a-OK
08/11/99: It's your job to shop around
08/10/99: Sometimes, roots need to be uprooted
08/09/99: 'Pre-approved' doesn't mean a thing
08/06/99: Only you can determine your investments
08/04/99: Bank IRA the lowest-risk option
08/03/99: Reverse mortgages good for the elderly
08/02/99: Get the survey BEFORE you buy the house!
07/28/99: Get a lawyer -- it's worth it!
07/27/99: If it ain't broke...

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