Building good credit and helping anxious kids

Dear Heloise: I’m interested in BUILDING MY CREDIT SCORE. What’s a good first step? — Conner T., age 18, Traverse City, Mich.

Conner, kudos to you for looking toward the future. A good credit score can help you rent an apartment, get a mortgage or obtain an auto loan. A potential employer may check your credit, too.

A good first step is a secured credit card. What is the card secured by? A cash deposit you make — usually at least a couple hundred dollars. You charge products and services on the card and make regular payments. This type of credit card is to show you can handle the responsibility of a credit card and is meant to be used temporarily.

If you don’t pay the entire amount in full each month, an interest charge is added. When you pay off and close your secured credit card, you’ll get your cash deposit back.

There’s more to know about secured credit cards. Ask your neighborhood bank or credit union for more information. — Heloise


Dear Readers: Did you know that a typical smartphone has about 64 GB of memory? That’s enough to hold around 200 apps.

Check your available memory under the “Settings” tab. — Heloise


Dear Readers: If your child or grandchild says, “My stomach hurts,” it may not be a stomachache at all. It may be anxiety. Kids are under tremendous stress these days: grades, peers, afterschool activities, online postings, etc.

Kids are overwhelmed with a lot of information and, maybe, not a lot of wisdom.

Restlessness, agitation, biting themselves, avoidance of people, meltdowns and constant stomach issues — these might be signs that a therapist should be called. — Heloise

P.S. Don’t discount meditation and yoga. These activities can help as well.


Dear Heloise: What happens to my husband’s debt when he passes away? — Carole B. in California

Carole, big question! It depends on the nature of the debt, and laws vary by state. A mortgage on a property typically has to be paid, or the property sold to satisfy the debt.

Unsecured debt (i.e., credit cards) does not have to be paid from life insurance proceeds, etc. Medical bills might be forgiven, or they can be considered the spouse’s responsibility. It can depend on your state’s laws.

Sit down with a financial planner and make sure you both have a will. — Heloise

P.S. Don’t be intimidated by collectors who may call you. They can be aggressive.


Dear Heloise: I had no idea resumes were being screened by AI (artificial intelligence) these days, as you mentioned in a recent column.

Twenty-five years ago when our son-in-law was looking for work, he drafted a unique resume. His last name is Pancake, which is unforgettable, but he scanned in the picture of a stack of pancakes and in big, bold letters he printed: “PANCAKE (yes, that’s my name).”

He is now a successful business owner and lives in the “Pancake House” with my daughter and their four children, lovingly called the “Short Stack.” — Marlene C., via email

You made me “flip”! — Heloise


Hints from Heloise run occasionally in Lifestyles. Readers may send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE, or email: Heloise@Heloise.com. Letters won’t be answered personally.


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