Dear Harry:

I have officially joined the ranks of people with "not-so-good credit." I own an investment property that I started to renovate in August. In anticipation of a refinancing on my home to pay for supplies, I charged my credit card a little more than $5,000 for them. I hoped that the loan would go through in time to pay off the card balance without carrying it forward an extra month. Normally, I was told, a refinancing takes about a month. It's now almost four months. I have had to have two appraisals at $400 each. Ouch! In addition, both came through at about $100,000 under the sales price of a neighbor's house about a year ago. The lenders have me jumping through hoops with charges. There's a $5,000 fee for getting the loan, PMI (whatever that is ) of $4,500, and a bunch of smaller ones. Now my credit card has not been paid for the last two months, and my credit score of almost 700 is probably shot to hell. I'd be lucky if it's not under 400. I worked so hard to get an improved score, and now this. Why do they hurt the little guy with all this nonsense?

What Harry says: It would have been easier to get a home-equity line of credit (HELOC), and it's not too late to try. You would have fewer fees and you would not need the PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance). The interest rate, however, likely would be higher than the rate on a refinanced mortgage. After about a year, you could do a refi when the time pressures would be off.

Write Harry Gross c/o the Daily News, 400 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19130. Harry urges all his readers to give blood: Contact the American Red Cross at 800-GIVE LIFE.