Situations involving single mothers, holding Wal-Mart Stores shares of stock and various other concerns were discussed in a free financial advice program coordinated by the Akron Beacon Journal.
It was the sixth year for the free program, co-sponsored by Apprisen, formerly the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Northern Ohio, and the Financial Planning Association. Both organizations made counselors and planners available as they answered 32 calls on Wednesday.
The call-in program will put on another session from 9 a.m. to noon today. The number is 330-996-3644.
Victor Russell, Apprisen regional operations manager, took a call from a nurse’s assistant, a single mom of three kids, who had six different payday loans for $3,500. Every two weeks she was paying $75 in fees to the payday lenders and couldn’t get out of the cycle, she told Russell.
She had borrowed the money for a car repair several years ago and never caught up, he said.
Russell told the woman that she was paying $450 every two weeks or a staggering $900 a month in fees alone to the payday lenders.
“I told her to talk to each one and tell them she can’t afford it and to look into a repayment program,” he said.
Russell said he has heard of some payday lenders agreeing to a repayment program in order to recover at least some money. She cannot take out new payday loans and Russell suggested checking if a local credit union has a small loan program that could help her.
Russell said the woman could also redo her budget to pay the bills and get away from payday lending. Apprisen offers a free 1›-hour counseling session by calling 800-355-2227. Information is available online at www.apprisen.com.
Financial planner Darrell C. Claytor, with Securities America Inc. in Twinsburg, took a call from a 55-year-old single woman. The woman told Claytor that she had $500,000 in her 401k, but had virtually no personal savings because “she’s allowing needy relatives to bleed her dry.
“That’s a tough call. I don’t know that there’s a counseling source for saying no to relatives,” said Claytor.
Though the woman said she was not having trouble paying her bills, she was frustrated with what has turned out to be gifts to family members and not loans, in Claytor’s words.
“She needs to have a meeting with each person and stay firm. I told her, ‘Your issue is not a savings program. You have to learn to say no,’ ” he said.
Financial Planner David W. Demming, with Demming Financial Services Corp. of Aurora, took a call from a woman who had been a Walmart employee for 25 years. She has received stock in the company as part of her benefits and also bought additional Walmart stock, totaling about $52,000 in value. She said she had $8,000 in credit-card debt and $8,000 in margin debt (borrowed against Walmart stock) and her husband had been laid off.
Demming advised the woman to sell some stock to pay off debts and to diversify rather than only buying Walmart stock, he said. He also advised her to use the full match for the 401k program that she was not using.
Russell also took a call from a woman who had an old bill from an anesthesiologist. She said she missed one month and was surprised that the bill went to a collections agency. She paid the bill off and wondered if she could take the bad mark off her credit report.
Russell said no and that it would stay on her report for seven years. However, Russell suggested that she submit what’s called a “consumer statement” to each of the three credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. The statements, which are free and can often be done online, “won’t help the credit score, but explains her situation. There may be some creditors who look at her credit over a period of time and it’ll help that there’s a zero balance,” he said.
Ted Sadar, of Sadar Financial Management in Akron, took a call from a widow who said she still had stock in her maiden name. She wondered if she should change it for her children. Sadar said yes, that would make things easier on the children in an estate situation.
Sadar suggested she contact the issuer to change the name and probably use her marriage certificate to do so. Sadar told her it was important step toward avoiding probate court for her children.