Smart Money: Shorten debt with higher payments


DEAR BRUCE >> I have a credit card with a balance of $11,058. The statement that came in the mail from the company says it will be paid off in 19 years if I pay only the minimum each month. I almost fell off my chair! I don't have the money to pay in full, and I don't have any extra money to pay toward it. Is there anything I can do to lower it?

— Reader

DEAR READER >> You're going to have to pay more each month, even if it means getting a part-time job. Nineteen years — that's something to look forward to! It shouldn't take anything like that amount of time. Maybe four or five years to pay off the balance by increasing the monthly payments. Do yourself a favor: Don't use this card. Put it away for emergencies only. Good luck.

DEAR BRUCE >> Can you tell me what liability coverage for cars covers? Does it cover damage to others?

— Reader

DEAR READER >> Yes, the liability covers damage you may be responsible for to others. For example, let's say you have a fender-bender and clearly it's your fault. This is what liability insurance is for. It also pays for damages to your passengers. Simply put, with liability coverage, if you're at fault for the accident and the insurance company agrees to pay, it will in fact pay for the damage you caused.

DEAR BRUCE >> I had an accident at a big chain grocery store while I worked as a temp over Christmas stocking shelves. The injury I sustained is a permanent one. I started the process for workers' compensation. My question is, how long do they pay benefits to me, and do they pay for pain and suffering?

— Concerned Reader

DEAR READER >> That the accident happened in a big chain store is good, but the fact that you were a temp is not exactly in your favor. In all likelihood you won't be given the same courtesy as you would if you were a permanent employee.

With that being said, I can't tell you how long benefits will be paid or if you'll be paid for pain and suffering. Making the assumption that you can demonstrate the accident was part of your job, you might be collecting benefits for life. Be certain that you get the best workers' compensation attorney you can find.

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