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Getting Ahead
2nd Quarter 2009

In this issue:

What To Do If You Are Unable To Pay Your Mortgage

Keeping Your Job In A Tough Economy

Tips On Getting Your Teen a Summer Job


What To Do If You Are Unable To Pay Your Mortgage

Many people avoid calling their lenders when they have money troubles. Most of us are embarrassed to discuss our money problems with others or believe that if lenders know we are in trouble, they will rush to collection or foreclosure. But if you seriously need mortgage help or mortgage refinancing assistance, why would you not call your lender?

The bottom line is lenders want to help borrowers keep their homes. Foreclosure is expensive for lenders, mortgage insurers and investors.

Don't know who your mortgage lender is?
Check the following sources for lender contact:

• Your monthly mortgage billing statement
• Your payment coupon book
• Web links or customer service numbers found under "help for homeowners" lenders

Information to have ready when you call:
To help you, lenders typically need:

• Your loan account number
• A brief explanation of your circumstances
• Recent income documents (such as pay stubs; benefit statements from Social Security, disability, unemployment, retirement, or public assistance. If you are self-employed, have your tax returns or a year-to-date profit and loss statement available for reference)
• List of household expenses

Call today. The sooner you call, the sooner help is available.

Do not ignore mail from your lender.
If you do not contact your lender, your lender will try to contact you by mail and phone soon after you stop making payments. It is very important that you respond to the mail and the phone calls offering help. If your lender does not hear from you they will be required to start legal action leading to foreclosure. This will substantially increase the cost of bringing your loan current.

Information for families with FHA loans
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) provides a wide range of relief options for borrowers. There are many alternatives and ways to get help. These may include mortgage modifications, mortgage refinancing, special forbearances and other actions you can take to avoid foreclosure.

Talk to a housing counseling agency
If you don't feel comfortable talking with your lender, you should immediately contact a HUD-approved housing counseling agency and arrange an appointment with a counselor. A counselor will help you assess your financial situation, determine what options are available to you and help you negotiate with your lender.

Prioritize your debts
For the unemployed, getting by will require a new, tightened budget. Prioritize your bills and pay those most necessary for your family: food, utilities and shelter.

For consumer debt advice, contact the Consumer Credit Counseling Service.
When you call a consumer credit counseling agency, you will be asked to provide current information about your income and expenses. Make sure you ask if the agency has a charge before you sign any documents.

Preserve your good credit

Do not underestimate the importance of preserving your good credit. Your future ability to purchase certain items, rent or buy a home and complete other transactions often requires a credit check. Consumer credit agencies and your lender can help you explore solutions to keep your credit from getting blemished.

Maintaining good credit is even important for job hunters. When you apply for a job, the employer probably will check your credit report to determine whether you have:

• Been sued
• Filed for bankruptcy
• Trouble paying your bills

Explore loan workout solutions
First and foremost, if you can keep your mortgage current, do so. However, if you find that you are unable to make your mortgage payments, you may qualify for a loan workout option. Check with your lender to find out which of these options may be available.

If Your Problem Is Temporary - Call Your Lender

Reinstatement: Your lender is always willing to discuss accepting the total amount owed in a lump sum by a specific date. They will often combine this option with forbearance.

Forbearance: Your lender may allow you to reduce or suspend payments for a short period of time after which another option must be agreed upon to bring your loan current. A forbearance option is often combined with a reinstatement when you know you will have enough money to bring the account current at a specific time in the future. The money might come from a hiring bonus, investment, insurance settlement or a tax refund.

Repayment Plan: You may be able to get an agreement to resume making your regular monthly payments, in addition to a portion of the past due payments each month until you are caught up.

If it appears that your situation is long-term or will permanently affect your ability to bring your account current:

Mortgage Modification: If you can make the payments on your loan, but you do not have enough money to bring your account current or you cannot afford the total amount of your current payment, your lender may be able to change one or more terms of your original loan to make the payments more affordable. Your loan could be permanently changed in one or more of the following ways:

• Adding the missed payments to the existing loan balance.
• Changing the interest rate, including making an adjustable rate into a fixed rate.
• Extending the number of years you have to repay.

Claim Advance: If your mortgage is insured, you may qualify for an interest-free loan from your mortgage guarantor to bring your account current. The repayment of this loan may be delayed for several years.

If Keeping Your Home Is Not An Option, Call Your Lender

Sale: If you can no longer afford your home, your lender will usually agree to give you a specific amount of time to find a purchaser and pay off the total amount owed. You will be expected to obtain the services of a real estate professional who can aggressively market the property.

Pre-Foreclosure Sale or Short Payoff: If the property's sales value is not enough to pay the loan in full, your lender may be able to accept less than the full amount owed. This option can also include a period of time to allow your real estate agent to market the property and find a qualified buyer. Monetary help may also be available to pay other lien holders and/or help toward paying a few moving costs.

Assumption: A qualified buyer may be allowed to assume your mortgage, even if your original loan documents state that it is non-assumable.

Deed-in-lieu: Your lender may agree to allow you to voluntarily "give back" your property and forgive the debt. Although this option sounds like the easiest way out for you, generally, you must attempt to sell the home for its fair market value for at least 90 days before the lender will consider this option. Also, this option may not be available if you have other liens such as judgments of other creditors, second mortgages, and IRS or State Tax liens. Click here for other mortgage resources.

Source: National Mortgage Help

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Keeping Your Job In A Tough Economy

Mass layoffs are coming across corporate America, and while most will remain employed throughout the upcoming recession, millions may find themselves out of a job.

How do you keep your job? Here are a few places to start:

Be a star. Stars don't get laid off. Bosses care about delivering great results and the best way to do that is to have the absolute best players on the team. You can become a star through hard work, constantly exceeding expectations, and contributing to the organization as a whole.

Be nice. If people like to work with you, they will keep you around even if you are not the best performer on the team. Wear a smile on your face, have a positive attitude, be optimistic.

Solicit feedback. Talk to your boss and to your colleagues and solicit honest feedback regarding your performance. When they give you the feedback you requested, don't get defensive. Thank them for being helpful and go change.


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Help Your Teen Get a Summer Job

Teens who want jobs this summer will likely have to look harder than usual. (And they probably should have started earlier, say back in January, but that's water under the bridge now.)

About half (49 percent) of 1,100 hiring managers with responsibility for taking on summer help say they are not planning to hire anyone at all this summer, according to a recent survey by SnagAJob, a job board for hourly workers. Of the managers that do plan to staff up, about 48 percent say they expect more applications than last year, including some from older displaced workers, so the competition will be stiffer. Not only that, but 64 percent of the available seasonal openings will go to people who have filled the positions in previous years, the hiring managers said; only 34 percent of summer jobs will be open to first-time employees.

That doesn't mean your teen should just give up, but he -- and you -- will need to be persistent. "Don't let your child apply for one or two jobs and then stop looking," advises Shawn Boyer, CEO of SnagAJob. "Most teens have to apply for at least 10 or 12 jobs to get an offer."

As for your role in the job-hunting process, "There's a fine line between helping and interfering," Boyer says. "One helpful thing you can do is to set up a written timeline of your child's availability. What hours is he or she willing and able to work? When will the family be on vacation? When does sports practice or band practice start, so that work will have to take a back seat?" Spelling this out clearly beforehand will keep your teen from leaping at a job with an untenable schedule.

"You also need to take a look at proximity and transportation," notes Boyer. "If your child earns $8 an hour and the job is 35 miles away by car, what is he really making after gas money? He might consider concentrating his search in areas where he can take public transportation." Another factor that may influence his job search: Why is he working? Is it solely to earn college money, or would certain kinds of experience look better on a college application than other kinds?

Once you have helped him think through these aspects of his job hunt, Boyer says, feel free to start asking around among your own friends, colleagues, and other contacts, as well as poring over want ads. Check in with your child’s high school guidance counselor, who may know of opportunities that aren't advertised anywhere. Encourage your child to talk with his friends' parents and any other adults he knows (coaches, teachers, and church youth leaders) to let them know he's looking. This is good practice for the kind of networking he'll have to do later on in life.

Go over your teen's resume to correct spelling mistakes. (For a useful template of a first-time resume, see "With so much e-mailing and texting these days, spelling and grammar are often not a habit among kids," Boyer says. Also suggest that your teen include any extracurricular activities on his resume and job applications, especially if he has taken a leadership role. A couple of years as captain of the school hockey team, for instance, show a familiarity with teamwork and discipline, which employers value.

"Role-play the job interview with him," adds Boyer. "You play the part of a job interviewer -- and make it a fairly tough interview. Ask challenging questions like, 'Why should I hire you? What are you going to contribute?'." To the often-asked question of what to wear for a summer job interview, Boyer replies: "Kids should go to the interviews well-dressed, in fact overdressed. That means a suit and tie for boys and a dressy pantsuit or a skirt for girls, even if the job itself requires they wear shorts and a T-shirt. The point is to project an image of professionalism and reliability." Handwritten thank-you notes after each interview are an absolute must.

"But by far the most important thing is the right attitude," Boyer says. "Your teen needs to be enthusiastic" - even if he's offered a job with lousy hours. "Specifying 'no evenings or a weekend' severely limits an applicant's chances, because the employees who have worked there before have the first pick of the best hours," he adds. "Getting a foot in the door may mean taking the shifts no one else wants."


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