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Q: I need advice on how to save money. How can I achieve and maintain a better credit score and stay out of debt?
— K. Ross, Newark, NJ
A: One way to accomplish that goal is to write down your monthly expenses. That means everything from a cup of coffee to monthly bills.
If you have money left over at the end of each month, move that money into an emergency savings fund like a money market fund. It’s a great place to stash your cash and save for a rainy day. The first step to repairing your credit is to order a free credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com. Review the reports for any mistakes and make sure the debts are yours and not someone else’s. In addition, write a letter or two to have mistakes removed. Also, review your report for any negative information, like lateness, delinquencies, and high debt ratios. All of these can negatively affect your credit.
To get on the right track, pay your bills on time, don’t open any new accounts, and work toward lowering the balances on credit cards. For more information, read The Everything Budgeting Book by Tere Drenth (Adams Media Corp.; $14.95) and Credit Repair Kit for Dummies by Stephen Bucci (For Dummies; $24.99).