The Short Answer: Quick Reader Questions of 2010

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As the year winds down, we catch up on our readers' questions – especially the short ones.

Every Friday, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson answers reader email in his “Ask Stacy” column. But he’s only one man, and there are often dozens of good questions every week, so we never get around to answering them all.

Some of those good questions require in-depth answers that Stacy simply can’t sum up in a single blog post. Others questions are so personal, we don’t want to answer them on a website read by hundreds of thousands of people.

But this year, we received dozens of short questions we didn’t address because the answers were so short that they didn’t warrant an entire post. So here are some of our favorites, gathered together and answered in a couple of sentences…

We have not had a mortgage for several years. Our home could use an infusion of cash for necessary repairs and improvements.  Do you have a recommendation on reverse mortgages? – Ronald

Like most questions Stacy receives, his answer is, “Depends on your circumstances.” But he did delve deeply into this topic last year, and you can read his words and watch his video in The Mortgage That Pays You.

I know that the government has minority loans for women and I would like to open a sandwich shop. How do I go about getting in touch with someone about this loan and is this the best way or do you know something else? – Rita

You’re probably thinking about the federal government’s Minority Business Development Agency, which offers advice on loans – but not the loans themselves. Still, start with the MBDA’s Grants and Loans page for how to get sound business advice and financial assistance.

How can I get my an “official” college transcript without paying an old college? I read your story before and I have been looking for it. Can you help me? – Mary

Neither Stacy nor the staff here could find any such advice on our website – and I couldn’t find it anywhere else. But as someone who recently ordered his transcripts from the University of Florida dating back to the 1980s, I can tell you it cost only $12 (but $186 in unpaid parking tickets – that hurt).

If you’re looking to go back to school, the price of your transcripts is the least of your financial burdens. Check out 6 Tips to Pay Less for a College Degree and College for $1,000 a Year? But before even doing that, ask yourself: Is the Cost of College Worth It? Because 2010 Grads Are Seeing Lower Salaries.

Is there a website or organization that I can use to check on the capabilities of bankruptcy lawyers? What should I look for to make sure I hire someone who knows what they are doing? – Lisa

Our friends at MSN Money (who often pick up our stories) offer excellent advice in 13 ways to avoid a bad bankruptcy attorney. But before you go that route, are you sure it’s your only option? As Stacy says, “Bankruptcy is by far the most serious way to deal with debt.” Have you tried credit counseling? If you’re in deep because of credit card debt, see the question below. But if bankruptcy is all that’s left, learn what you need to know by hearing one man’s tale in How Ron Dealt with Debt: Bankruptcy.

Is there any legitimate company that can really help bring down your credit card debt so that it can be paid off? – Rose

First, try it yourself. Earlier this month, Stacy shared the story Reader Shrinks Credit Card Debt – about a reader who paid off more than $10,000 in one year using Stacy’s Life or Debt book. But if you’re looking for someone else to help, Stacy earlier this year offered 5 Tips to Find the Right Debt Relief Agency. In my mind, they aren’t tips – they should be laws: Debt relief agencies can be life-saving or soul-crushing, because there are so many scams out there.

Keep those emails coming in 2011, and we’ll answer as many as we can!

Stacy Johnson

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