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Taking command of your money

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If you are a homeowner, you're probably wondering about the economy and when the housing market is going to begin a solid recovery.  Most Americans believe that housing will recover sooner or later. Until that happens, what can you do to improve your financial situation?

Real estate expert John Adams joined Good Day Atlanta with advice.

1.  Take command of your credit

A huge number of Americans have taken a hit to their credit in the past several years.  Now is a great time to face the music, see how much damage has been done, then start repairing it.  If your score is above 780, you are good to go. Below 720, you need some work. Get started at AnnualCreditReport.com and go from there.

2.  Consolidate debts

Our nation is almost $16 trillion in debt, and most of us are personally in debt as well.  Find out which of your debts is tax deductible and which are not, then consolidate all the non-deductible debt into a home-equity line of credit.  You are potentially putting your house at risk, but the savings can be dramatic.  Non-deductible debt is usually considered "personal" as opposed to real estate related, so think about car loans, credit card debt, and many student loans.  In many cases, you can pay off non-deductible high interest rate loans with deductible low rate home equity lines of credit, and save a bundle, often with no out of pocket costs at all.

3.  Refinance at a lower interest rate

Everyone should run, not walk, to the nearest reputable mortgage lender and refinance! Rates are so low we will probably never again see rates this low. If you are able to stomach the payments, now is a great time to lock in a new 15 year loan. If you plan to stay in your house for more than a year, you owe it to yourself and your family to run the numbers and see what you can save.

4.  Protest your property tax

If you live in Gwinnett County, you've missed your chance to save a bundle on your property taxes unless you've already filed a protest.  But if you own a home in Cobb, Fulton, DeKalb, or most all other counties in Georgia, you still have a few weeks left to call your tax assessor and file a PROTEST of your NOTICE OF TAX ASSESSMENT.  Because values have fallen so low, if you protest, you will probably see your assessment lowered. But if you want just a few more weeks, you will have to wait until next January, and you'll be paying more than your fair share in the meantime.

John has the details on all four of these smart moves on his website at www.money99.com

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