Planning Ahead - March 12, 2008

Managing your debt

Bob CondronMarch 17, 2008 

Bob Condron, CFP, MSFS, is a registered representative of Bridge Financial Partners. He can be reached by calling 548-8875 or sending an e-mail to bcondron@bridgefp.com.

There has recently been consid-erable concern about the difficulties in the mortgage and lending market. Most recently, the current administration has proposed "Project Lifeline" also referred to as the "Second Chance Program."

Understanding how to manage debt and the credit that lending institutions loan to us is an important part of financial security.

In preparation for this column, I spoke with two people who have experience in this market. Lauren Richardson is president of Integra Commercial Lending. Integra has loan programs for both established businesses and for companies in business for less than two years, including start-ups. They also have a program for companies that are struggling financially and need a "second chance." Allison Hilliard is a mortgage loan originator with AgSouth Mortgages, which has been lending money for more than 90 years to landowners and homeowners in South Carolina and Georgia.

If you are applying for a loan, both Lauren and Allison agree that having your financial information organized is important. They also believe that, when you are going to borrow money, your credit score is an important factor.

Your FICO credit score is a number between 300 and 850. The higher the number the more likely you are to repay the loan on time.

To improve your score, Allison suggests, "paying all installments timely, disputing incorrect data and by limiting the total outstanding credit available."

To learn more about consumer credit, Lauren says: "Equifax has an especially good learning center for consumers at www.equifax.com/credit-information. Once each year, at no charge, you can see your credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-FACTACT."

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