Thursday, July 30, 2009

Foreclosure: Don't Let It Happen To You


The possibility of losing your home can be a frightening experience. If you find yourself in this position don’t freeze up. Taking action quickly will help you hang onto your home. The first thing you will want to do is ask yourself the following question.

  • What happened to make you miss your mortgage payment (s)?
  • Do you have any documents to back up your explanation for falling behind?
  • Have you tried to resolve the problem? How?
  • Is your problem temporary, long-term, or permanent?
  • What changes in your situation do you see in the short-term, and in the long-term?
  • What other financial issues may be stopping you from getting back on track with your mortgage? What would you like to see happen?
  • Do you want to keep the home?
  • What type of payment arrangement would be realistic for you?
Answering these questions will help you understand your situation more clearly and assist you in communicating your circumstances to your loan servicer.

Avoiding the problem will not make it go away and it could potentially hurt you, so be proactive, diligent, and assertive in your quest to save your home.

Join Pinellas County Extension Specialist, Karen Saley on August 12th to learn more about the foreclosure process, how to avoid scams, and the new government assistance program. For information you can use now, click on the link below.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Getting Organized


by Karen Saley/Extension Specialist

Getting your important papers organized can be a daunting task. It will take a little time and patience but it will be well worth it in the long-run. How do you know if you need to organize your record? Ask yourself these questions.

Do you have easy access to all of your receipts and paid bills for the last six months?
Do you know where your insurance policies are and what they cover?
Do you have a list of people who are your important financial contacts, such as tax advisor, attorney, broker, banker, and human resource officer at work?
If you become incapacitated, how easy would it be for other members of your family to figure out your filing system and gain access to your records?

Keeping good records will come in handy during a crisis, when a major life change takes place, at tax time, or just when you need to review them while establishing your financial goals.

Here are a few ways to keep your records organized.

Make once person the lead in the process
File papers on a regular schedule (once a week, twice a month, etc.)
Have a designated work area

Now you may be asking “which papers do I keep and where do I keep them?”

There are about 40 different types of papers you should consider keeping for a number of years. Some you will want to keep handy in your home files, others you will want to keep in a safe deposit box and still others you may want a copy held by a family member or attorney. Attached is a list of important papers and an example of where or with who may want to store them.

Remember; be persistent in getting your records organized. You will be making life much easier for yourself and anyone who would have to take over for you in an emergency.

Monday, July 6, 2009

What's Your Score?


By: Karen Saley, Extension Specialist

Your FICO score is an important number when it comes to applying for credit. You may be asking “what exactly is a FICO score?” It’s a number that summarizes your credit risk, based on a snapshot of your credit report at a particular point in time. What this means is that your FICO score is constantly changing depending on several factor such as payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, new credit and types of credit in use. This chart shows what percentage of these factors is considered when calculating your credit score.

A FICO score can range from 300-850 with most of the population falling between 750 and 799. How high or low your score is may determine your ability to secure credit and influence what the interest rate on that credit will be.

Unlike your credit report, which you are entitled to free of charge, there is a fee you must pay to get your FICO score. The cost is about $16.00 and can be purchased through any of the three credit reporting agencies; Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. To obtain a copy of your credit report or FICO score you can click on

Because your FICO score is a direct result of your credit history it is very important that you are aware of and understand the information in your credit report. For more information regarding your credit report and your FICO score visit

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