Dear Dave: I really don’t have any established credit, because I’ve never taken out a loan or had a credit card. What will happen when I’m ready to get a mortgage loan and buy a home? — Jillian

Dear Jillian: There are basically two ways to be in a position to get a home loan. One is to have credit at lots of places and a huge FICO score. This is kind of dumb when you really think about it, but it will get you a home loan almost instantly.

When you have no credit, a lender has to do what’s called a manual underwriting. It’s something lots of banks did back in the day, when they actually used common sense when it came to making loans.

Fortunately, a few places will still work with you in this manner. They take a look at your work history to see if you have a stable job and a good income. They want proof you pay your bills on time, too. This can be as simple as showing them several utility bills, rent statements, and other receipts. They’re basically looking for a long history of proof that you honor your financial commitments.

Remember, buying a house with cash is always the best way to own a home. But I don’t beat people up over having a mortgage, as long as it’s on a 15-year, fixed rate note. Do your very best to save up for a down payment of at least 20 percent, too. That way, you’ll avoid the added expense of PMI (private mortgage insurance).

Great question, Jillian! — Dave

First, define long term

Dear Dave: What is your advice when it comes to investing a one-time, lump sum of $4,000 for a long period of time? I recently received an inheritance from an uncle who passed away, and I want to make the money work for me. I’m 33 and my home is paid for, plus I have no debt and an emergency fund of six months of expenses. I am also maxing out my 401(k) at work. Thank you for your advice. — Pat

Dear Pat: I’m sorry to hear about your uncle, but I’m sure he was proud of the responsible young man you’ve become. You’ve made some very mature decisions where your finances are concerned, and as a result you’re at a great spot in life.

When it comes to investing, I consider a “long period of time” to be 10 years or more. If this is the case with you, I’d suggest a good mutual fund with a solid track record of between 15 and 20 years.

I know some folks like to take chances and play single stocks on a one-time investment like this, but I don’t think that’s a good idea. Single stocks just don’t consistently generate the kinds of returns a good mutual fund will over time. — Dave

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