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Gerri Willis Commentary:
Top Tips by Gerri Willis Column archive

The Fed and credit cards

Gerri answers reader mail on the latest rate cut's effect on cardholders, first-time home buying and at-home businesses for moms.

By Gerri Willis, CNN

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Question 1: Will the lower rate affect the interest rate the credit card company charges me? - Kim, TX

The rate cut is a good thing if you're a credit card holder. If you have a variable rate card, you could see your interest rate go down slightly according to John Ulzheimer of Credit.com. That could save you hundreds of dollars if you have a very high balance.

But for the vast majority of people, this won't mean substantial savings. This cut will only save about $2 per month on a $5,000 credit card balance," says Bill Hardekopf, CEO of LowCards.com.

To find out if you're credit card is adjustable, your best move is to call the issuer and find out. Remember, credit card companies can raise their interest rates at any time, but it can take up to two or three billing cycles before you see any decreased interest rate.

And don't forget you can always negotiate a lower rate. If your credit is good, and you haven't called your issuer to negotiate a better rate in the last six months, call them to try to lower your rate.

Question 2: I am looking to buy a house. Can you share your thoughts on any federal resources for first time home buyers? - Dary, California

Your first stop should be the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Go to HUD.gov. Then type in Homeownership programs in the search bar. Here you'll be able to get a state-by-state breakdown of what regional or statewide programs are available in your area.

For example, you can find out what down payment assistance programs are available or homeownership vouchers that may help shoulder the cost of insurance or real estate taxes.

Question 3: Can you provide some suggestions of lucrative at-home businesses that would be a good investment for a mom? - Grace

The U.S. Small Business Administration has a Web site at www.sba.gov/womeninbusiness that list local business centers that help women start and grow their businesses. There are also representatives listed around the country who are trained specifically to assist women entrepreneurs.

If you're just testing the waters and seeing what other kinds of work-at-home jobs are available for you, check out freelancemom.com. This Web site posts job listings for people who want to work from home.

And there are articles and blogs on how to start your own business and tips on finding freelance work. You may also want to check out awomaninbusiness.com. This site also compiles home job listings and online forums. Top of page

Gerri's Mailbox: Got questions about your money? We want to hear them! Send e-mails to toptips@cnn.com or click here - each week, we'll answer questions on CNN, Headline News and CNNMoney.com.

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