Ask Stacy: Can I Make Money at Home?

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One reader wants to find a legitimate work-at-home job, and another wants to know if taking out a credit card will help her rebuild her credit history.

Here’s a question I got this week about finding legitimate work that can be done from home…

Hi Stacy,
I stumbled across your site a few weeks ago, and just find it SO informative. Was wondering if you could advise on how I could find ways to make extra money doing something like data entry from home. I’ve researched endlessly with no available opportunities. What suggestions would you have to advertise some data entry services as side work? I wouldn’t even know what to charge for doing something as simple as entering data for business professionals for a few hours? Any suggestions?
– Shevon

The short answer, Shevon, is that, depending on your skill set, you actually can find work that you can do at home. The problem is the vast number of rip-offs out there that make it a job to find a real job.  Not to worry, however: I answered a question very similar to yours back in December and put together a whole bunch of information and links that might help. Check it out here.

Here’s another one:

I am recently divorced, and my ex managed to deceive me into a very low credit score. I have since paid off all of the credit cards and am left with only the medical bills. All of the credit accounts have been closed, because at the time we were still together and I did not want him to be able to run the charges back up. Now that I am on my own with a score in the 400’s I need some suggestions to get it back up. I have a vehicle loan current 1 year in, medical bills of about $3500 in total, a “sideloan” from our house for $12,000 and my student loans of $13,000 also current. I am going to be back in school, so the student loans will be on hold and I was going to use that towards the medical bills. we were forced to do a deed in lieu so my utilities will be considerably less as well. My ex is a bit of a dead beat so I don’t plan on him helping with any of this which used to make me angry. Now I just know that I have to make myself better and move on. I don’t know that I could even get a credit card from anyone even just to put my gas on every month and pay off just as somewhere to start? What do I do?

Krushed in Kansas

Here’s your answer, Krushed!

It made me exhausted just to read your email – that’s a lot to deal with. So here’s my advice: Stop, take a deep breath, and don’t worry about doing anything today. The two most important things you can possibly do, you’re already doing: You’ve taken responsibility for your own future, and you’re staying current on your bills. These are the most powerful things you can do to eventually restore your credit history, credit score, and self-esteem.

In my latest book, Life or Debt 2010, I said that most people approach rebuilding a credit history like a video game, when in reality it’s more like building a ship in a bottle. In other words, it takes time and patience. You have some major problems on your credit history: That deed in lieu of foreclosure, for example, suggests a delinquent mortgage, and from your description, you probably have other issues that only time will heal – a gas credit card isn’t going to do much at this point.

So here’s my advice: If you’re paying your bills, that’s enough for now. If you find that you’re having trouble paying them, however, call your creditors and see if they’ll help. For example, your medical bills: Most doctors and/or hospitals will be so grateful that you’re actually willing to pay your bills at all that they may help with lower payments, or even reduced principle.  And if you need professional help, here’s a story that will help you find it.

In short, Krushed, the last thing you need right now is to go out and get a credit card.  Eventually? Sure. But for now, just keep doing what you’re doing. Pay your bills, then let time do its thing. A few years may seem like an eternity, but the time will pass quickly, your debts will eventually be paid off, and your credit score will head north all by itself.

In the meantime, you’re going to learn a couple of hugely valuable lessons: First, paying with a debit card or cash isn’t all that bad, and second, it’s not how many times you fall down that matters – it’s how many times you get up.

Stacy Johnson

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