QUESTION: I have an old stock certificate for a stock that I inherited from my grandfather. How do I find out if the company is worth anything? - Richard D., Colorado Springs
ANSWER: Some older stock certificates can be valuable, but these days most stocks have gone to electronic transfers so most certificates are just duplicates.
The first thing to find out is if the company is still in existence. It could have changed names, been acquired by another company, etc. Find out the name of the company, when the stock was issued and where the company was incorporated.
Is a transfer agent listed on the front of the certificate? A transfer agent handles share transfers and should be able to tell you if the certificate is worth anything. You’ll need to mail the certificate to the agent; be sure to send it via insured mail. The agent will help you sell the shares.
If there is no transfer agent, check with your library to see if they have a copy of the Directory of Obsolete Securities.
Another option is to utilize the services of Scripophily.com, a company that will research an old company for a fee. Even if the certificate doesn’t have any value (doesn’t represent any ownership); Scripophily.com might buy the certificate from you for its collector’s value.
Question: I have several government student loans and I’d like to know how I could consolidate them. They have different interest rates. - Gary S., Monument
Answer: After exhausting their deferment and forbearance, students still struggling to repay their debt often look at consolidating their loans.
It’s much easier to consolidate federal student loans than private loans. There is no credit check because the U.S. government guarantees the loans. Your new fixed interest rate will be based on the average of the interest rates of all current loans.
To find out which consolidation program you would qualify for, contact the Direct Loan Organization’s Consolidation Department at 1-800-557-7392. Their website, www.loanconsolidation.ed.gov, offers useful information, including an online calculator to help estimate your new monthly repayment amount.
You might have to meet certain requirements before consolidation, such as bringing your balance current if you’re behind on payments.
Also, you won’t be able to include a Parent Plus loan in the consolidation, because it is in your parent’s name and can’t be transferred to your name.
The Income-Based Repayment Program (IBR) is another option if you are struggling with repayments. IBR will cap your repayments based on your income and the size of your family. Also, you must be in a partial financial hardship, which exists when the annual amount due on all of your eligible loans, as calculated under a standard 10-year repayment plan, exceeds 15 percent of discretionary income. Under this program, any remaining loan balance will be forgiven after 25 years of payments.
Lastly, check out PayBackSmarter.com, another cool tool to help you compare different repayment options.
Mystified by money and want to improve your financial effectiveness? Denisa Tova CFP®, CDFA, MBA is a Colorado Springs-based Certified Financial Planner and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. Contact her at DenisaTova.com or email email@example.com.