Should you keep your car after bankruptcy?

should-you-keep-your-car-after-bankruptcyIt’s a question we hear all the time – after a client files their bankruptcy case, they ask us “Should I keep my car?”

Many times, if you’re filing for bankruptcy, you’ve been struggling with debt for quite a while, so it’s likely that you were behind on car payments. Now that the bankruptcy case is filed, you’re wondering if keeping the car is a good choice to make.

In most cases, your car is an absolute necessity – you’ve got to use it to get to work, or to handle everyday errands. In some cases though, the amount owed on your auto loan might not make sense after your bankruptcy case.

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By |September 28th, 2017|Bankruptcy, Debt|0 Comments

Struggling with debt? Here’s how to avoid bankruptcy

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Debt is pretty much a fact of life for most Americans. Most families don’t teach their children how to responsibly manage money, which leads to problems down the road. The majority of today’s workforce has learned money management through trial and lots of error.

It’s far too easy to get overextended on your finances, and most people don’t realize that they’re in trouble until it’s almost too late. When you’re already stretching your finances to the limit, any unexpected bump can send you down the road to bankruptcy.

If you’re wondering if you’re overextended or starting to struggle with debt, the following signs show you’re in danger:

  • You don’t have any savings, or you have to pull from your savings every month for expenses
  • Other than your car payment and mortgage, you couldn’t pay off 100% of your debt within 1 year
  • You don’t actually know how much you owe
  • You use new credit cards to pay off old credit cards or loans
  • You use credit cards for everyday expenses
  • You always pay only the minimum due on your credit cards
  • You’ve paid your credit cards late, or skipped payments
  • More than 20% of your actual take-home pay goes towards debt
    • You don’t have to be behind – if you’ve got credit card balances that never seem to get paid down because you’re always making new charges, that’s a dangerous situation. A sudden accident with big medical bills or even the loss of your job would send you spinning out of control.

      If you said yes to any of the items above and think you might be overextended, you should take immediate steps to get your financial situation under control. If you can regain control and stay on a healthy path, you’ll be able to avoid filing for bankruptcy.

      Here’s how to get your finances on track:

      1. Figure out exactly what you owe. It can be scary to sit down and look at the big picture, but you need to know the exact number. Once you know exactly what you owe, you’ll be able to make a plan.
      2. Look at your total take-home pay for a single month. This is the most important number, because you have to create a plan where you’ve got more coming in than what you’re spending.
      3. Create a detailed budget. Figure out what you have to spend for the essentials – shelter, utilities, food, and transportation. Don’t count your credit cards or any other expenses here – you need to set your number for necessary expenses so you know what’s left over each month.
      4. Take the money that’s left over and start applying it to your debts. Pay the minimum amount due on every debt except one, and push as much as you can afford towards that balance. Once you’ve paid off that debt, move on to the next. If you make a solid, realistic plan for paying off your debts, it’s much easier to stick to your budget and be responsible with your money.
      5. Once you’ve paid off most of your debt, start saving. Build up your savings in case an unexpected event comes up – you don’t want to have to start all over!
      6. Most importantly – stick to your budget even after you’ve paid off your credit cards. If you stick to your budget and plan ahead for big purchases, you’ll find that it’s easy to stay on top of your finances and avoid debt altogether.

By |July 30th, 2017|Bankruptcy, Debt, Personal Finance|0 Comments

6 Tips For Avoiding Bankruptcy

tips for avoiding bankruptcyThe proliferation of credit cards and the “gotta have it now” American lifestyle have lead to a problem: for many Americans, living with debt is par for the course. In many cases, debt spirals out of control until filing for bankruptcy appears to be the only way out.

Most of our clients are regular, hard-working people who simply had a bump in the road. Whether it was the loss of a job, reduction in wages, or an accident, a single speed bump on the road of life can really send you in a different direction.

Once you start living on credit and spending more than you can afford to pay off, the debt multiplies quickly until it seems like there’s no escape.

The best advice we can give when it comes to bankruptcy is to simply avoid the situations that could lead to bankruptcy in the first place. These 6 tips can help you stay on a solid financial foundation and avoid bankruptcy:

1. Pay off your debt over time

If your debt isn’t too far beyond your control, sit down and take a look at how much you owe. If you can re-adjust your budget and stick to a plan, you might actually be able to pay down your debt on your own.

2. Sell some assets

If you’re like most Americans, you probably have lots of “stuff” that you don’t really need. Instead of hanging on, sell off the items you can live without to get some extra cash to pay off your debts. You can sell furniture, jewelry, or even electronics.

3. Ask creditors for help

The credit card companies would rather get something from you than nothing at all. Call your creditors and let them know you’re struggling to pay your bills. You might be able to lower your monthly payments or even decrease your interest rate. It’s important to stay responsible if you go this route – you’ll have to be sure to stick to your plan and pay off your debts.

4. Ask friends or family for help

It might be embarrassing to let your friends and family know about your struggle with debt, but a bit of moral support can go a long way. If your loved ones know that you’re trying to stay on the straight and narrow, they can help you avoid temptation. You won’t have to put on a show so that everyone thinks your financial situation is problem-free.

5. Live within your means

We’ve said this many times before – you simply can’t spend more than you earn. Credit cards make it far too easy to spend money you don’t have. Avoid the temptation and adjust your spending habits, and don’t buy things you don’t need.

6. Set a budget and stick to it

The single most important tip for avoiding bankruptcy is to set a budget – and stick to it. Obviously, a budget won’t matter if you’re not going to follow it. You’ve got to look at how much money you bring in, how much you spend, and what’s left over. Include your payment plan for paying off your debts.

By |January 26th, 2017|Bankruptcy, Debt, Personal Finance|0 Comments

5 Tips to Lower Your Debt

5 tips to lower your debt

Sometimes, we talk to potential clients who are surprised when we tell them that bankruptcy might not be their best option. During every free consultation, we map out the financial picture for a potential client, then walk them through every available option.

Many times, people are overwhelmed by their mountain of debt. Someone told us recently that they felt like they were trying to dig a hole using a single chopstick. Even though it feels like a lost cause, many times you can avoid bankruptcy by using one or two of these tips:

1. Talk to your creditors

It never hurts to ask for a little help. Hopefully, you know everyone that you owe, but if you’re not sure, pull your credit report. Make a list of everyone you owe, and how much you owe each institution. Figure out how much you’re able to pay each one. Call each company you owe and tell them that you want to pay off your debt, but you’re only able to afford a certain amount. Sure, debt settlement will go on your record – but it’s better than not paying anything and letting your debt continue to spiral out of control.

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By |January 31st, 2016|Bankruptcy, Debt|0 Comments

7 Tips for Saving Money and Avoiding Debt

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As we’ve mentioned in the past, the easiest way to avoid bankruptcy is to avoid accruing debt in the first place. Millions of Americans live with thousands of dollars in debt, and a single bump in the road like a car accident or the loss of a job could send them spiraling towards uncontrollable debt.

The sooner you form responsible spending habits, the sooner you’ll build a solid foundation that will help avoid the possibility of bankruptcy. If you follow these 7 simple tips, you’ll be able to save money and avoid accumulating debts that you struggle to pay off.

1. Plan all of your meals

Eating out is the biggest monthly expense in most households. If you plan all of your meals each week and cook at home, you’ll save money – and you’ll probably eat healthier as well.

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By |August 28th, 2015|Bankruptcy, Debt, Saving Money|0 Comments

What happens after bankruptcy?

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One of the most common questions we hear from our clients is “So – what happens AFTER bankruptcy?” Most people are so caught up in the overwhelming debt, the collection calls, and the possible repossessions or foreclosures that they don’t take the time to think about what will happen once bankruptcy gives them a fresh start.

At the end of your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case, you receive your discharge. Now that your financial troubles are settled, it’s time to move forward. You’ve got to start rebuilding your credit and forming solid financial habits that will keep you debt-free.

Keep a copy of your paperwork handy

It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes creditors might try to harass you to collect on a debt, even after it’s been settled by your bankruptcy case. Even though they can get in serious trouble, it does happen every once in a while. If you’ve got your paperwork handy, it’s easy to stop them cold with your discharge.

Make sure your credit report gets updated

A few months after your discharge, get a free copy of your credit report and check it out. Sometimes it takes a while for the report to get updated after your bankruptcy, but it SHOULD show that each debt included in your discharge is listed as “discharged in bankruptcy.” If you find any that still show that you owe, you can send a copy of your discharge and the schedule that shows the debt was included in your bankruptcy case. (more…)

By |July 28th, 2015|Bankruptcy, Debt|0 Comments

Rapper 50 Cent Files For Bankruptcy

50 Cent files for bankruptcy

In case you hadn’t heard yet, rapper 50 Cent has filed for bankruptcy in a Connecticut court. While the Internet has been making punchlines for the last few days since the news broke, most people don’t seem to know the details of the case.

50 Cent, whose real name is Curtis Jackson III, filed for Chapter 11 protection immediately after losing an invasion of privacy case last Friday. He had posted a sex tape on his site with his own audio commentary, and was ordered to pay $5 million in damages.

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By |July 20th, 2015|Bankruptcy, Debt, Personal Finance|0 Comments

Is Chapter 13 Right For You? [VIDEO]

Bad things happen to good people all the time. If You’ve hit a bump in the road and you’re struggling with overwhelming debt, Chapter 13 bankruptcy might be the answer you’ve been looking for. Our latest video walks you through the basics of a Chapter 13 filing – we can stop collection calls immediately, save your home from foreclosure and your vehicle from repossession.

Call us today at 214-760-7777 for a free, no obligation debt consultation.

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By |May 28th, 2015|Bankruptcy, Debt|0 Comments

How Will Bankruptcy Affect Your Income Tax Refund?

The most common question we hear at this time of year is “What will happen to my Income Tax Refund if I file bankruptcy?”

IF you’re filing for Chapter 7, it’s likely that your refund will be protected, as it’s considered an asset. IF you’re filing during tax season, your attorney can work with you to be sure you’re maximizing your refund. Many times, we encourage clients to file when they get their refund, as this extra money can be put towards the cost of your case.

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By |March 26th, 2015|Bankruptcy, Debt, Money Management, Videos|0 Comments

Eliminate Income Tax Debt With Bankruptcy

eliminate income tax debt with bankruptcyIt’s tax season again, which means we’re getting more questions about income taxes and tax debts. Many times, we talk to clients who’re already struggling with overwhelming debt, and the possibility of additional debt to the IRS is incredibly stressful.

The government tightened bankruptcy laws in 2005, but in many cases, it’s still possible to reduce an income tax debt. You’ll definitely want to meet with an experienced bankruptcy attorney who can explain your options and any possible relief you might be able to achieve.

If you’re already being audited, a bankruptcy proceeding won’t stop your audit. It will, however, stop any collection action while the bankruptcy is pending.

If you didn’t file a tax return (or if you didn’t file several), you’re not allowed to discharge any of the debt. Before you file for bankruptcy, your attorney must prove that you filed your four most recent tax returns.

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By |March 18th, 2015|Bankruptcy, Debt|0 Comments